Ice fishing is a vastly different experience for someone who’s been lake fishing for years — and you’ll soon find out (like I did), why it’s much more than drilling a hole in the ice and waiting for fish to appear.
It’s a recreational sport best enjoyed with a couple of buddies, careful planning, and the right tackle, i.e. equipment.
If you’re looking for a light ice fishing rod at an affordable price point, the Berkley Cherrywood Ice Fishing Spinning Combo is a good bet.
It’s ideal for a novice looking to venture into ice fishing, especially when you need a rod sensitive enough to detect small fish like perch or crappie.
Here’s a detailed test of the Berkley Spinning Combo. Depending on your requirements, this combo could be in your top 3 or a hand-me-down to your nephew – so read on!
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The Berkley Cherrywood Ice Fishing Spinning Combo
This is a 100% fiberglass rod with cork handles. The reel is exceptionally lightweight, pre-spooled, and with interchangeable retrieve for right or left-handers.
The rods are pretty short, from 27” to 30” depending on the strength you choose, which means it’s better for sitting out on a bench near your drilled spot than in a tent.
This is perfect for sitting across a friend for idle chatter. Do not use a 40” rod with someone sitting across you — you’re gonna end up whacking them in the face midst fighting with a particularly feisty trout.
This brings us to a good first question to ask that’s obvious but key — what kind of fish will you catch? If it’s small panfish like bluegill, sunfish, perch, or crappie you’d choose an Ultralight or Light rod.
If it’s the 4 pounder trouts and pike you’re after — a Medium or Heavy rod would have the right line test (i.e. line strength).
- Great value for money, especially if you’re starting out
- Durable fiberglass rod with a solid backbone and flexible tip perfect for some light action
- Cork handle is smooth and comfortable to hold – way better than some of the cheaper plastic handles in the market
- Low line memory in the pre-spooled reel
- Most users have trouble with the reel. The quality isn’t as good as the rod, and many recommend to swap it with a better one. The issue seems to be that the bail is weak and the drag slips considerably for smaller fish.
- The line that comes pre-spooled might have to be replaced if you’re looking for one with a higher pound test, which is for bigger fish.
- The Light and Ultralight rod tips are prone to breakage. So you might have to be extra careful while storing them. I store mine in cable sleeves.
Detailed test for rod and reel
The rod is 100% fiberglass with medium action. Fiberglass is always a better choice for novices as compared to graphite; primarily because they’re cheaper and more forgiving.
With a slow-medium action rod, you’re giving the fish a chance to latch on to the bait before any pre-emptive yanking (which is a common mistake beginners make)
The tips can be a little delicate on the Light and Ultralight rods, but this isn’t something that a little TLC can’t protect. Berkley Cherrywood rods have a reputation for being fairly durable.
The rod itself is the perfect blend of fight and give, which is rare. As long as you’re backed up with a sturdy string of the correct pound test, all three variants (Ultralight, Light, Medium) will carry you through some mighty thrashing fish.
If you’re unsure of the fish you’re gonna encounter: you might want to play it safe with the Medium rod which is remarkably sensitive even for smaller fish.
If the Ultralight catches hold of a Northern pike, it might snap.
This is a pre-spooled ultralight graphite spinning reel. Since it’s so lightweight, a couple of users have even assumed it’s made out of plastic.
The look and feel is a bit of a letdown, it feels cheap and is nowhere as sophisticated or high-performing as some of the other reels in the market.
The general consensus is that the reel doesn’t live up to the quality of the rod. The front drag isn’t as smooth as it claims to be, and the reel has been known to make a grinding noise.
Furthermore, the sliders that hold the reel to the rod are made of plastic slide stoppers that aren’t the sturdiest. One of them sliding off mid-catch would be less than ideal.
However, if you’re a novice, you may not be able to tell the difference. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing: higher quality reels are an investment and require a decent knowledge of technical specifics.
Purchasing the Kerley Cherrywood Ice Fishing Spinning Combo is a quick and easy choice, for a first-time user or for teaching someone else (perhaps your reluctant kids) how a reel works.
Things to consider before purchasing an ice fishing spinning combo
- When you’re buying an ice fishing spinning combo, you need to make sure that you’re happy with both the rod and the reel. If any one isn’t up to the mark, you might as well buy them separately.
- However, spinning rod combos are at a discounted price compared to the original price of both items, so it is more affordable .
- The rod power you select has to be most suited for your fishing requirements, i.e. how big of a fish you’ll encounter. The dangers of going with a Light rod is it’ll snap with a huge fish, and a Heavy rod will not be sensitive enough to detect small fish biting.
- The pound test of the line that comes pre-spooled on the reel should be strong enough for your requirements.
Alternate ice fishing rod+reel combo
1. Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 Ice Fishing Reel & Rod Combo
As the Amazon bestseller for the category, this ice fishing rod+reel is far more popular and better rated.
It’s not as affordable as the Berkley Cherrywood – but you do get a much better quality reel.
However, even the sturdier Medium and Medium Heavy rods seem to be a bit fragile when compared to the resilience of the Berkley Cherrywood rods.
If you’re keen on a combo and don’t want to compromise on reel quality: the Shakespeare Ugly Stik might be a better choice.
But if you’re certain you’re gonna encounter some big fish: stick to Berkley and possibly swap it for a better reel.
2. Tailored Tackle Ice Fishing Rod Reel Combo
This is a higher-end version of the same combo. It is more than double the price of the Berkley Cherrywood, but you can be ensured more durability and better performance.
As a 28” Medium Light, the rod is surprisingly sturdy and can catch some seriously big fish — hello 6-pounder rainbow trout!
It also comes with a 14-page booklet on learning how to catch different species. Seems like the perfect gift for a new ice-fishing enthusiast!
Ice fishing is an up and coming winter sport. Every year the number of anglers seen on frozen lakes increases, with creature-comfort-giving winter shelters going up to 5,000 on a single lake (Mille Lacs Lake in Minnesota).
Most people don’t know you can actually go along with a guide during ice fishing. An expert to show you the fish-populated spots rids you of the burden of hopeless guesswork.
And just like other winter sports, ice fishing can be a bit expensive. The modern version of ice fishing goes beyond the rod and reel, with solar-powered shelters, portable stoves, augers, and really warm clothing.
That’s precisely why one would benefit from an affordable rod and reel. I’d rather spend on some basic creature comforts than splurging on tackle – because I don’t want to end up freezing on a stool waiting for something to bite the line.
The Berkley Cherrywood Ice Fishing Spinning Rod is for someone dipping their toe into icy cold water (a metaphor and not recommended).
If you have a few seasons of ice fishing experience under your belt and would be insulted if I called you a novice: you’re probably going to want a higher-end reel than this one.
Happy fishing this winter!