By Steve McGrath

Ice fishing and technological advances are two terms that are probably not uttered together very often. Can you really do much to change an age-old, seasonal sport? Ion answered that question with a resounding YES with the introduction of their lithium Ion battery powered ice auger.

IMG_0033The Ion Ice Auger was introduced a few years back and has been received well among the hardy crews that fish the hard deck. New for 2015 is the addition of a reverse feature, a handy feature after you’ve drilled a hole. It’s used to flush the hole of the slush created after cutting a hole. Ion claims the auger will cut 1000 inches of ice per charge on its 40V lithium Ion battery. I didn’t have the time to test that myself with the auger, but based on what I saw, I have no reason to doubt that claim. Equally as impressive is the recharging time, less than 2-hours from a drained battery to cutting holes again on a full battery. The included lithium Ion battery is said to be good for 500 cycles, which should last the average ice warrior quite a few seasons and the rest of us the better part of a decade. The model tested has an 8” auger; 6” and 10” blades are available as accessories.

I was able to test a model in early January and was impressed with how well it worked. It cut as well as any auger out there, while weighing significantly less than most I’ve been around. In the past we would set up our shelter, then cut the holes with a gas auger. The rest of the day was spent with the smell of exhaust, wishing for a slight breeze to help push the smell out of the tent. With the Ion, those days are long gone.  We set and anchored the tent, then got to work on cutting holes to start fishing.  I cut over 40 holes in the time spent out on the ice that day and the on-board battery level indicator never dipped from full. As with any batteries, they are susceptible to colder temperatures and it’s wise to remove the battery from the auger when not in use. I stored mine in an insulated fabric pouch with a disposable hand warmer. It’s held a charge just fine during our cold day out on the ice. Additional batteries can be purchased for the marathon fisherman or those just wanting a backup.

During my test day the ice was only 5” thick, so it may not have been a true test, but it’s what we had to work with. For those that live in the colder parts of the country and will deal with thicker ice, the auger comes with a 12” extension. You can also purchase a 24” auger extension for the hardiest ice fisherman.

IMG_0044The weight or lack thereof, of the auger was noticeable as it was toted around the ice, drilling in different spots. At 22lbs the Ion weighs a full 10lbs less than most comparable gas powered augers. Speaking of gas, I can’t say enough about the battery operated auger and no need for fuel. The times of forgetting to refill the auger or the leaking fuel on your fishing gear are long gone with the Ion. No need to yank on a start cord hoping it will turn over; the lithium Ion battery is battle tested and ready when you need it. The quietness of the Ion is another noticeable advantage. No more combustion engine to break the stillness of a frozen lake top.

The actual auger blade itself is another great innovation with the Ion. They have developed the ‘Spot on Centering Ring’, meaning you can re-drill holes in permanent shacks or out on open water. Another great feature integrated into the auger is the ‘Straight-Through Blade Design’, nearly getting rid of the usual “catching” at the bottom of a hole. Like other augers, the cutting blades are replaceable and can also be sharpened.

IMG_0048The optional Bit-Switch system is a slick way to change auger sizes or even just to make the overall length shorter when it comes time to haul the sled off the lake. If you are a portable shelter guy, like myself, you will find that Bit-Switch system handy when it comes to sinking screw-in anchors into the ice. The tool makes inserting and removing screw-style anchors as simple as pushing the button.

Bottom line, if you are in the market for an auger or looking for an upgrade, don’t overlook the Ion. It simply works better than any other auger I’ve ever dealt with. My friends with gas augers are all looking to now make the switch! I can promise you one thing, I won’t be leaving mine at home on any trips this year!

Check one out at your local Sportsman’s Warehouse or online at SportsmansWarehouse.com.