How to Get Ice Out of Your Guides

Winter Fishing and Fish Handling Tips

Winter Fishing Week #6

United Women on the Fly asked Ohio Women on the Fly to do the ice out experiment to see what works best.  Jessica Suvak-Tran co-founder of Ohio Women on the Fly braved the elements to try different products and here are some ways to keep the ice away and have that fly line cast freely.

Follow Jessica at @jessicasuvaktran and Ohio Women on the Fly at @ohiowomenonthefly

Ice out of Guides - Ohio Women on the Fly

If your guides do freeze over, picking the ice off with your fingers immensely heightens your probability of breaking the guides. 

It might be the most wonderful time of the year, but maybe not for your iced up guides. Fly fishing in the winter can be tough – from all the extra layers required to finding the right fly for colder conditions, fly fishing the winter months presents many challenges. One of the most frustrating hindrances is when your line keeps locking up in your guide because it’s clogged with ice. If you’re willing to brave the elements, we hope that these tips to keep the ice from freezing up your guides will make your winter fly fishing experience easier.

Stanley Ice Off Paste

A Loon Outdoor product, Stanley Ice Off is sold at most fly shops, and it is the only product listed here that’s actually manufactured for preventing frozen guides. This non-toxic antifreeze paste was designed to be applied to lines and guides to help keep them from freezing. According to Loon, it will keep the ice off your guides even when the temperature dips below 0. It’s also safe for the environment as well as fly lines and rods.

Melissa Paruleski, one of the Ohio Women on the Fly brave enough to fish in freezing conditions, tested Stanley Ice Off Paste. It was a blistering cold morning on the Rocky River in northeast Ohio. Melissa let her guides freeze over to establish a baseline for how long untreated guides could withstand an icy accumulation before catching her line –  it didn’t take very long. She then removed the ice and, once the guides were iceless and dry, added Stanley into the mix. Stanley Ice Off Paste worked wonders, she had a tiny ice buildup after some time, but the little ice that still managed to collect in her guide didn’t cause any restrictions to Melissa’s cast.

Having tried out similar products in the past, Melissa’s approval is one you can trust. “I like Loon Outdoors Stanley Ice Off Paste best. I can clip it to my fishing bag and never have to worry where it is. I also appreciate the flip top opening, especially when my fingertips are just as frozen as my guides – I never worry about losing the lid. I flip it open, apply as needed, close, and done – ready to fish.”

Stanley Ice Off Paste $7.70

Lip Balm - Ice Out of Guides

Lip Balm

ChapStick was the first remedy for keeping ice off the guide that was brought to my personal attention. Similar in consistency to Stanley’s Ice Off Paste, there are many brands of lip balm that  will delay the buildup of ice while fishing in the frigid cold. When picking out a lip balm to use on your line and guide, it’s best to use something that is not petroleum based,  as petroleum could have harmful effects on your fly line.  Burt’s Bees Beeswax Lip Balm is a great choice – it’s also nontoxic and environmentally safe.

While Melissa was using the Stanley Ice Off Paste, I used Burt’s Bees Beeswax Lip Balm. It worked really well at delaying ice buildup, but we felt that the Stanley Ice Off Paste worked a tad better, and we liked the added convenience of the paste’s packaging – as Melissa stated in her review of the product, Stanley’s Ice Off Paste hooks onto your bag and features a cap that remains attached and can be easily popped on and off. If you’re like me, it’s nice to have something attached to you. I tend to never know where my stick of lip balm is.

 “I lost my designated car lip balm, and now my car lip balm is in my fishing bag and my room lip balm is in my car and my wader lip balm is nowhere to be found, and now my whole fishing day is a messed up!” – yours truly.

If you’re good about knowing where your lip balm is at all times, then you’ll be happy to know that it definitely works at delaying the ice buildup and only costs about $3 a tube.

Burt’s Bees Beeswax Lip Balm $2.87

Lip Balm worked really well at delaying ice buildup, but we felt that the Stanley Ice Off Paste worked a tad better, and we liked the added convenience of the paste’s packaging

Pam Cooking Spray - Ice Out of Guides

Pam Cooking Spray

Yes, the same thing that will easily slide your morning eggs off a frying pan will also let your fly line slide easily through the non-iced guides of your rod. Just spray it on your guides when they are ice free and dry and you’re ready to hit the water. This remedy has been used by many anglers to slow the buildup of ice.

Jess Gantos is a new member of Ohio Women on the Fly. Jess recently moved from New Mexico to northeast Ohio and is still getting used to our frigid winter weather. We had Jess test out the Pam Cooking Spray remedy, and it did indeed really help slow down the accumulation of ice in her guide.

“Little did I know I’d be living in a place where I’d even need to prevent ice from building up on my guides,” Jess told us; “thankfully I was fishing with someone who did know, and they had the Pam. Pam definitely helped stop the ice from building up so fast in my guides.”

Pam Cooking Spray $3



While at The Backpacker Shop working in the Fly Department, I spoke with a gentleman and asked what he uses to keep the ice of his rod guides. He told me enthusiastically that I had to try Rain-X.  He guranteed me I would have no ice buildup the entire time I’m out fishing if I apply it properly. His instructions: make sure the rod and guide are dry, dip a Q-tip into the Rain-X and carefully rub it onto the guides of your rod. Next, take a towel and gently dry off Rain-X. While we didn’t get a chance to test this remedy out with the Ohio Women on the Fly, his excitement convinced me to try it out in the future.

Rain-X $5

Dip It and Whip It - Ice Out of Guides

Dip it and Whip it

Simply dip the rod into the water, which is warmer than the air and allows the ice to melt. This will not help delay the guides from freezing back over, but if you want to continuously do the dip it and whip it boogie, be our guest.

If your guides do freeze over, picking the ice off with your fingers immensely heightens your probability of breaking the guides.  If you get tired of constantly  dipping the rod in the water and letting the ice melt off,  it might be time to go back to your heated car, defrost yourself and your rod, dry the rod off, and then add one of the remedies above to delay that icy buildup. Maybe a nice beverage of choice could help ease the cold as well.

Dip it and Whip it- Free

Connect with Jessica Suvak-Tran

Jessica Suvak-Tran began fly fishing three years ago in Cleveland, OH. She was an avid ultra-runner who would constantly see anglers fishing in the Rocky River while on her local runs. She took a few courses at her local Orvis store and after her first class it was game over, she was ‘hooked’. It’s safe to say she’s now an avid fly angler that occasionally runs.

Jessica works full time for Heidelberg Distributing in the wine sales department and part time at The Backpackers Shop, where she (wo)mans the fly shop. She also is a co-founder of Ohio Women on the Fly – a platform to bring women in Ohio’s fly fishing community together and inspire more women to get on the water. Ohio Women on the Fly holds clinics, meet-ups, trips, talks, and many other events monthly.

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