The ice auger market has seen a major shakeup in recent years, with the advent of efficient electrics and even more recently, a host of ultra-light auger bits for drilling. Now there are more options than ever for both how to power your drilling unit, and what materials the auger bit itself are made of.
Rather than just looking at the myriad of options, from cordless drill-driven augers to new electric powerheads that can drive either metal or polymer bits, it’s more useful to look at what our goals as an angler are for whatever drilling system we’d choose.
Few would argue that Dave Genz is the father of modern ice-angling, with his vast contributions to products, techniques, and the sport in general. One of his lasting legacies is the value of mobility. Simply drilling in a new location and hitting a variety of spots. Whether you call it hole-hopping, ice-trolling, or run-and-gun, the basics are all about drilling to find active fish. While Genz may have not invented moving, he did invent modern shelters that helped anglers stay both warm and on the move. Modern augers are all about similar principles, primarily from the mobility front.
It’s common sense that a lighter drill unit like the Strikemaster Lite-Flite is simply easier to tote around compared to options made of steel. No matter your choice of power, whether by hand, power-drill, or powerhead, weight savings are effort savings in efficiency, and the end result is more holes in the ice. It means less sweat, more comfort, and perhaps most importantly, ease of use. Drilling holes used to be dreaded, and with lighter options like there are today, the willingness to drill puts more holes in ice than with something more heavy and cumbersome.
My first auger was a Jiffy 30, then a Strikemaster Mag III, followed by various versions of Strikemaster Lazer drills. All of the old ones were gas-powered, but the jump from a Mag III to Lazer Mag was the most consequential of all. I went from a chipper style blade configuration, which still has its place for durability and re-drilling old holes, to a far superior cutting system in my mind with the Lazer shaver-style blades. They’re simply faster and easier to drill with. Sense a pattern here?
Fast forward to today, and that evolution from messy gas and oil mixing to electric has really picked up the pace. Lithium-ion battery technology has nearly replaced gas on the market floor, with all major manufacturers offering at least some electric models, and Strikemaster, a former gas stalwart from back in the Tecumseh and Solo engine days abandoning gas for good. For your average angler, electric offers simply too many superior features to outweigh the maintenance and potential starting issues of a carbureted engine.
Just as the switch to electric has raced forward, the move from heavier and slower units too quick and nimble offerings has shot ahead as well. The former fly-weight champ in the powerhead plus auger bit category was the Strikemaster 40v at 24lbs. Add the Lite-Flite polymer bit to a 40V powerhead, and you’ve now got a sub-20lb auger that performs every bit as well as the steel versions. The secret is again the Lazer cutting system, which is married to the hex-shaft via a reinforce “T” carriage connection for strength. That allows the bit to be lightweight and powerful both. Regarding the lightness of the unit, the Lite-Flite’s construction is designed with proprietary synthetic resins, cold-tested and approved for the rigors of ice.
Of course, you can run the Lite-Flite as a hand drill, or as it’s more popularly used, with a professional quality 18V cordless drill. The latter pairing is gaining huge support due to its weight savings (sub 10 lbs. depending on drill), but also due to the cost savings over a traditional power-head and drill unit auger combo. Many folks already have a cordless drill, which makes adding the Lite-Flite a no-brainer if you’re not shredding the ice at all times. Still, as an avid ice angler and frequent-fisher, I’d recommend pairing the 40V auger with a Lite-Flite for the ultimate in flexibility and two bits. Buy an 8” 40V, and a 6” Lite-Flite, for ultimate flexibility on walleye and panfish waters. Or, use them together by adding a power-drill to the mix and have two buddies drill holes together.
There’s lots of ways to slice and dice ice, we’re just lucky these days with how many lightweight, reliable, and fast options we have.