Features to consider while choosing hand ice auger
Selecting the correct hand ice auger for your fishing trip is essential as some applications are smaller than others. In order to find a hand ice auger to suit your needs, you should look at the size of the holes you want to cut and the depth of the ice it needs to go through.
The species of fish you’ll be chasing will often help you determine which auger will benefit you. This is because some fish are big and so you’ll need to cut a larger hole which means you’ll need wider auger cutting heads.
Let’s go more in-depth with auger sizes and maintenance. Here is a short overview of specs you should look at before buying a hand ice auger to ensure it’s exactly the device you need for the type of ice fishing you’ll be doing.
The first aspect of your manual hand ice auger to consider is the size of the holes it can cut out. Bigger holes might be a lot of work for you because it will require more body strength to cut larger pieces of ice when done manually. But if you select a premium hand auger it will cut through the ice easily.
Your ideal auger blade diameter will also depend on the species of fish you’re catching. Of course, some fish are larger than others and so you’ll require a larger drilled hole to get them out. For example, if you’re fishing for panfish a 4 1/2 ” to 6″ auger drill will be suitable, like Nils Master UR600C. The most popular auger drill diameter is 8″ as it’s the ideal application to drill through first and last ice, as it is in the case with Strike Master Fishing Mora and HT ENTERPRISES MNAK-7.
Blades and their replacement
Manual ice auger blades must be exceptionally sharp in order to work effectively. Since you’re cutting through the ice with no help from a power drill it can take longer if the blades are blunt.
Most auger blades are made with durable stainless steel. These blades are robust because they don’t oxidize when exposed to water for long periods of time. The steel is also strong and won’t chip or lose their edge when cutting through ice.
But if your auger blades lose their edge over time you can either sharpen them or simply replace them.
Sharpening your auger blades works the same way you sharpen a knife, so you’ll need stones of various grits to grind the edges. You have to sharpen your auger blades at the correct angles to prevent damage.
If you prefer to replace your auger blades with a new, sharper edge application, you’ll need to know how to disassemble the old piece correctly. Every auger is different so refer to your user manual which will provide you with the necessary disassembly steps.
When installing your new blade ensure the beveled edge is facing towards the auger and the flat side of the application is pointing to the ice.
When selecting auger height you’ll need to factor in how tall you are and the depth of the ice you’re cutting through. You don’t want an auger that’s too long as you won’t be able to use the handle to manually drill the hole. The height of the auger should reach the middle of your stomach so you can lean in on the top of the auger easily to drill your holes.
The industry-standard height for hand ice augers is 42″. But if you want a longer application consider purchasing a Nils device as they offer various auger heights to select from.
The longer the warranty period is the better. Some hand augers come with a short 2-year warranty which may not be suitable for people who go ice fishing on a regular basis and want a long-term investment.
When you purchase your hand ice auger, check what the manufacturer covers and what will be replaced should the product break during the warranty period.
Some users had excellent customer service with Eskimo when they received a faulty product as their applications were replaced immediately. A brand that offers full refunds or to replace your product should it break within the warranty period shows that they have product quality assurance.
- Adjustable heights: Perhaps you want a hand ice auger that provides you with extra beneficial features. Some auger applications such as the Eskimo auger have adjustable heights to make it comfortable for you to use. The adjustable heights also allow you to drill through thicker ice.
- Drill motors: Other applications can be attached to a drill motor so you can alter your application into a motorized device. This might be ideal when you need to cut bigger holes because you won’t have to overexert yourself by doing it manually. When you select an electric drill for your ice auger ensure that it’s a lightweight design with a powerful 18V motor. It should also be a cordless device so you can travel with it on the ice. You can attach electric cordless drills to the Eskimo and the Nils Master UR600C hand ice augers.
- Compact design: You may want to purchase a hand ice auger that folds or disassembles into two parts. A compact hand ice auger is easier to travel with especially if you’re hiking through snow and ice. Compact augers can be stored anywhere as they don’t take up too much space.
- Blade covers: Consider purchasing a hand ice auger with a blade cover so you can protect the application from getting damaged.
- Easy disassembly: To easily replace auger cutting heads you should opt for a device where it’s easy to disassemble the blades. The Eskimo hand ice auger has a cross-bolt design that allows you to remove the blades easily without the need for unnecessary tools. The cross-bolt design also helps you install the blades correctly because replacing the bolts won’t work if the blades are upside down.
- Drill coating: Typically, the drill of the hand ice auger is powder coated instead of covered in a standard painted finish. This is because powder-coating leaves a tougher finish and prevents the metals underneath from rusting or chipping. Powder-coated augers prevent ice sand build up because the ice simply slips off the drill easily and prevents resistance when you’re drilling.
- Rubber grips: Augers also have soft rubber grips at the bottom which prevent the device from moving when you’re drilling. The soft rubber feature is ideal because it helps keep the auger upright and sturdy while you’re cutting through the ice.
What is the Appropriate Size of the Best Auger for Ice Fishing?
A 10” auger is the most common size in the ice fishing industry as it can be used for any situation or species of fish you’re chasing. You can use a 10” auger for first ice and last ice fishing as it will cut larger holes for smaller and larger fish species.
Best Auger Sizes for Different Types of Fish
To pick the correct auger size for the type of fish you’d like to catch, take a look at the information below. These are the most common fish to catch:
- Walleyes – 6” and 8” hand ice auger
- Northern Pike – 8” and 10” hand ice auger
- Perch – 4” hand ice auger
- Crappies – 6” to 8” hand ice auger
- Panfish – 5” hand ice auger
How to Maintain Hand Ice Auger
If you take excellent care of your hand auger the blades will keep their edge and you’ll have an application that lasts. It’s important to follow the correct steps to maintain your hand ice auger so it can serve you well when you go ice fishing:
- Protect the cutting head: The first aspect you need to remember is to never damage the cutting head because this is the part of the blade that starts the drilling process. If the cutting head is damaged you won’t be able to get through the ice. Ensure that the cutting edge is covered with a protective bag to prevent it from chipping or bending.
- Auger storage: When you store the auger make sure you don’t place the auger upright where it’s resting on the cutting head because it can damage the blades. Simply lay it down flat when you’re storing the auger to prevent the blades from bending or chipping.
- Correct drilling: Another way to maintain the cutting head is to always drill straight through the ice before pulling the auger back up again. Sometimes people don’t drill straight through and a chunk of ice may bend the cutting head when they pull the blade out. Don’t force the auger if it has some resistance. Simply drill deeper into the ice until you can remove the auger easily. Always remember to drill at a consistent angle. Moving the auger around while you’re drilling will make it more difficult for you to get through the ice and it will damage the blades.
- Cleaning and oiling the blades: When you come back from your ice fishing trip, thoroughly dry the auger blades but be careful because the edges are extremely sharp. Apply a layer of oil to the blades to prevent them from rusting. For safety and blade maintenance, always keep the blade guard on. It will extend the life of the blades & protect you and others from cuts.
If you’re still unsure on how to maintain your hand ice auger, refer to your user manual. It will inform you how to clean the head cutters and how to oil them correctly.