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Spud bars are an essential tool for the ice fishermen, and everyone should have one for early and late ice. Spud bars come in different lengths and weights, so how heavy should your ice fishing spud bar be?
A quality, solid Ice fishing spud bar should range from 5 to 10+ lbs with lengths between 50″ to just over 60″. Hollow spud bars can weigh as little as 2 to 3 lbs. A longer, heavier spud bar is more efficient when testing ice than the lighter ones. Choose a weight and length which fits you best.
Spud bars are generally used most often when walking out on early thin ice and even thick ice! Keep in mind it’s the quality of ice and not so much the thickness of the ice. 2′ of bad ice can be as inadequate as 2″ of good clear ice!
There are pros and cons to both the heavier and the lighter spud bars. I’ll go into those further below!
How Much Does an Ice Spud Bar Weigh
Most of the solid spud bars will weigh in the neighborhood of 7 to 10 lbs, while the hollow bars can be as light as a couple of pounds. Then there are smaller 19″ bucket style bar/hammer combinations that are fairly light.
As you can see from the table below, there is a wide variance in the weight of spud bars and their length.
|Eskimo CH12 Triple-Action Chipper Head Design||64″||10 lbs|
|Eskimo CH11 Multi-Faceted, Triple-Action Chipper||59.5″||7 lbs|
|Eskimo CH7 Single-Action Head Design||52.5″||1 lb|
|HT Enterprise HTIC-1 Heavy Duty Ice Chisel||54.5″||5.35 lbs|
|Jiffy 3541 Mini Mille Lacs Chisel||30″||3 lbs|
|Jiffy Deluxe Mille Lacs Chisel||52″||10.3 lbs|
|Rapala Two Piece Ice Chisel||62″||2.2 lbs|
The ice chisel I test with when I walk out on the ice is the Jiffy Deluxe 52″ model. I believe it’s the perfect balance of weight and length for chipping ice hard and fast. Check the price on Amazon.
Too Heavy of a Spud Bar
If you build or purchase a spud bar that is too heavy, you’ll find you become tired fairly quickly when testing the ice with each step you take.
The heavier bars are also known for being longer one-piece bars, making them a bit more cumbersome to carry and travel with.
Pro Tip: You can find a nice two-piece bar that breaks down and travels nicer! If you’re looking for a good one, the Eskimo CH12 Triple-Action Chipper breaks down nicely!
With the 10 lb bar, if I walk out very far, my shoulder will become tired after a while. Switching from arm to arm when spearing the ice helps. And the added 10 lbs can make a difference when carrying your other gear.
I chose a heavier bar because I want a bar that will not lie to me when it’s checking ice! I trust the heavier ice chisel and believe a heavier bar will penetrate the ice better.
It also gives a better sound when it hits the ice, and I can tell by the sound if the ice is thick enough to walk on or not.
Too Light of a Spud Bar
Pretty much the opposite is true with the lighter spud bars when it comes to weight. I will tell you I’ve never used a hollow or hollow two-piece bar when ice fishing. I’m a believer in heavier bars.
One advantage of the lighter bars would be walking around on the ice without all the extra weight! And I think my shoulders wouldn’t tire as quickly.
These lighter bars often weigh in around the 2 lb mark, and you might be comfortable with that weight size. I’ve seen many people on the ice over the years, and I have seen them using lighter and shorter bars.
Being able to break them down when traveling and storing them in your sled when not in use is a definite advantage over longer, heavier bars.
What Is a Spud Bar for Ice Fishing
Most fishermen generally purchase ice fishing spud bars from a sporting goods store or discount box store. Some are handy with a welder and make great homemade spud bars too!
A spud bar is a single length of steel rod or two-piece that on one end has a sharpened blade or point and the other end a type of handle and a lanyard to keep it from falling through the ice. Its use is primarily to test ice as you walk out. You can also use the bar to chip out ice fishing holes.
This short 3:05 minute video from Colorado’s ice fishing guide at Tightline Outdoors will give you a quick idea of spud bar use and ice safety.
The main takeaway when using a spud bar, regardless of its weight, is to strike the ice hard and strike it at every step. Ice conditions can change in just a few inches from where you’re standing!
Cheaper Spud Bar Alternatives
Let’s face it, why would you want to save $50.00 on an ice fishing chisel and risk falling through the ice? Unless you’re one of the folks, who wait until everyone else is out there!
If you cannot fabricate one yourself or know someone with a welder who will do it for you, you’ll have to make a purchase.
A length of rebar from Home Depot or a local contractor will make do, but you’ll need to tie the lanyard around the top to keep it from falling to the bottom of the lake if it goes through.
Get a larger diameter of rebar if you can. Thinner pieces lack the spine and stability when spearing the ice.
Another cheap alternative is the 60″ Pinch Point Bar from Harbor Freight. Again, some type of lanyard will be needed to keep it top side. They generally run around $25.00.
Having gone through the ice several times over the years, I certainly would go with a heavier ice chisel for peace of mind. They’re not that expensive when you consider the problems when falling even into the waist-deep icy water!
Choose a spud bar that fits you and your fishing style the best!
Have fun and stay safe out there!