Drilling or chiseling quality holes when out ice fishing is imperative to having a good time. There’s nothing more frustrating than a dull or impaired auger that gives you a trouble when trying to drill your holes for the day. If the water bodies that you fish on don’t typically freeze to ridiculous depths, a hand auger will be all you need to comfortably reach the fish. Even with thicker ice conditions, manual units perform just fine. They’re cheaper, more portable and safer to use than mechanized augers — and some hand units can even be modified to run on drill power for those particularly frozen days.
We’ve tracked down five of the best hand augers available so you can cut to the chase and choose what’s best for you. Although they might not cut a crispy clean hole like the hand crank augers, ice chisels and spuds are none the less absolutely effective tools for making your ice fishing holes. It’s the cheapest available option and also the easiest device to carry with you out onto the ice. On the other hand, the spiral-drill manual augers cut ice remarkably well and might be a better choice if you’re drilling lots of holes through water bodies with deeper ice. Of course, always confirm ice conditions are safe before gearing up and walking out. Whatever design you think will suit you best, you’ll be saving a good bit of cash by refraining from purchasing a mechanized unit — make sure to check out our Top 10 Best Ice Fishing Accessories post and put your savings towards some righteous new equipment.
1. Eskimo Hand Auger
Here’s a great quality hand auger from Eskimo that comes at a super reasonable cost. This unit comes with replaceable steel blades so you can keep it in prime working condition season after season. Eskimo offers this auger in three different sizes — six, seven or eight inch diameter. All three models are an adjustable length from 49 to 58 inches so you can set it to the optimum height for your build. This thing really cranks through ice — the hand pommel paired with the ability to set this unit to your ideal height provides you with some serious torque. Perhaps the best feature of this auger is that is assembles and disassembles rapidly with the crossbolt fastener system. It’s only six pounds total, so this one will ride in your gear sled or clip to your backpack no problem. Eskimo even offers a one year warranty on this product — no doubt an awesome value auger! Check out the video below for a look at how easy and effectively this unit operates.
Price: $36.99 – $54.94
- Three different diameter blades to choose from
- Auger height is adjustable
- Steel blades are replaceable
- Comes at a very reasonable price
- Super lightweight
- The lighter weight although very convenient for carrying this unit makes it a little bit more flimsy than some of the heavier crank augers
2. Strikemaster Mora Hand Auger
Here’s another great value hand auger that comes well reviewed by anglers. The Mora hand auger by Strikemaster is another impressively efficient unit for not running on anything but man power. The replaceable high alloy carbon steel blades coupled with the design of this unit make it a seriously effective drilling machine. If you get a lot of days in on the ice each winter than it’s awesome being able to replace your blades at the start of the season. Powder coated paint reduces ice build up while actively drilling and soft rubber grips provide a solid, ergonomic grip. It’s a mindfully designed auger that anglers insist gets the job done. This unit also has an adjustable shaft — it can be operated from 48 to 57 inches. This model is a bit heavier at around 9 pounds (for the eight inch model), but the added weight no doubt adds to this unit’s long term durability. All in all a great choice from Strikemaster you should own for years with the proper care. Check out the video below to see the Mora in action.
Price: $51.29 — $69.14
- Powder coated paint finish reduces ice build up when actively drilling
- Adjustable shaft length
- Blades are replaceable
- Soft rubber hand grips ensure operating this unit isn’t uncomfortable
- Some complaints that the bolts employed with this model aren’t the best quality — they can be replaced if you find it necessary
3. Eskimo Ice Chisel
The effectiveness of an ice chisel or spud should not be overlooked. A properly weighted chisel makes holes in a matter of minutes, and there’s no moving parts or pieces to become damaged. You gotta love the simplicity of just breaking your way through the ice with a tool you can use for years. This is a 59.5 inch long model — it should be a good size for both shorter and taller fishermen due to the nature of how you use a chisel. The chipper head is built with a unique multi-faceted, triple-action design that chips more ice in fewer strokes. It’s a fully welded, steel unit that should be able to handle some good wear and tear. The handle is equipped with a foam grip and is has been built with vibration reduction in mind. There’s even a tether rope included so this bad boy is ready to fish. Another sweet product from Eskimo.
- Highly affordable
- Versatile tool that can be utilized for other tasks other than ice fishing
- Tether rope included in the handle
- Rubber hand grip designed for shock reduction
- This chisel is a bit on the heavy side at 10 pounds — but the added weight is helpful when using the tool
- If the ice is more than a few feet deep, it will be challenging to effectively use this tool
4. Strike Master Lazer Hand Auger
Here’s another hand auger from Strikemaster that’s very comparable to the Mora listed at #2 of this list. This unit is a slightly improved, nicer version of the Mora that will likely perform a bit more effectively. This unit is also built slightly heavier (depending on what size you buy) and a bit more durable than the Mora, so on paper it should hold up better in the long run. Like the Mora, there’s a powder coated paint finish to reduce ice build up when drilling. There’s a wider array of blade sizes available from four to eight inches, so if you’re looking to drill particularly small or large holes this is the unit to check out. If you’re a weekend ice fisherman drilling through average thickness ice then there’s no need to spend the extra cash on this auger — the Mora hand auger or the unit from Eskimo will perform just fine for you. On the other hand, if you put a lot of days in each season and often drill through some particularly thick ice, definitely consider the superiority of the Lazer. The chrome alloy blades are fortunately replaceable so you can keep this unit in prime cutting condition. Here’s a link to the replacement blades. This unit has an adjustable length like the other hand augers listed here — this one extends from 48 to 57 inches. If you can spring for the Lazer, you’ll no doubt be thrilled with its performance. Check out the impressive speed and stability of the Lazer in the attached video below.
Price: $69.60 – $185.32
- Slightly superior to the Mora hand auger also by Strikemaster
- Powder coat paint finish reduces ice build up
- Soft rubber hand grips provide a comfortable grasp on this auger when actively drilling
- Blade size ranges from four to eight inches
- A good bit more expensive than the Mora for a very comparable auger
5. Nim’s Steel Ice Fishing Spud
Here’s one more ice spud that’s both highly effective and affordable. There’s not much to say about this one — what you see is what you get. It’s a USA made, steel ice spud that comes well reviewed. This unit has teeth incorporated into the chisel and is praised by ice fishermen for it’s heavier weight. This one is nice and heavy and feels good in your hand — just make sure you add a piece of cordage to the designated loop on the handle so you don’t end up losing it through the ice. This is an easy to use piece of equipment that might even see some use around the house in addition to on the ice. For less than $40, this is no doubt a solid deal on a tool you should own for years.
Price: $35.99 & FREE Shipping
- Highly affordable
- Effective tool for all sorts of other uses apart from ice fishing
- Heavy weight does a lot of the cutting for you
- Involves more manual labor to create a hole than a drill auger
- No length of cordage included in the handle — you’ll need to buy something to ensure this chisel doesn’t leave your end and slide into the hole you’re cutting
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