At the core of every ice anglers, gear arsenal is the electric auger. In this post, I go through why I chose what I did, why I think electric is the way to go, and the pros and cons of each. You can get all of this information below to help you with your decision.
Let me start by saying that in 2017 I bought my first electric auger, and at that time I was associated with NO ice fishing companies. In fact, I bought two electric augers: the first was in March which was the 50V. The second was in November which was the 40V (I returned the 50 for the 40). I paid $550 out of pocket at that time and the only special was 2 batteries instead of one.
Since then I’ve also used the K-Drill (with multiple variations of drills), the Ion, Jiffy propane and gas, StrikeMaster gas, Eskimo’s propane auger and more. This is my opinion based on those experiences and my pre-purchase research.
WHY CHOOSE ELECTRIC AUGERS?
I understand that many people struggle with the idea of an electric auger, so let’s start with that.
In the past, technology wasn’t where it is now and often times it provided more hassle than benefit. Electric augers didn’t have enough battery life, weren’t reliable, etc.. However, like with all technology it takes time for the right innovation to develop. In the world of electric augers, that technology has finally developed.
THE PROS OF ELECTRIC AUGERS
Electric augers, in general, are now very powerful and very reliable, plus they still have a long list of additional benefits including:
- No oil – No Priming, Choking, Etc.
- Less Maintenance
- Quick Start to Drill
- Reverse (clearing out holes and getting out of jams)
- Cleaner in Wheel Houses
- In many models, the auger is engineered in a way that it cuts FAST
Of course, as a female, upper body strength for me is limited. Therefore going with electric (now that it’s reliable) was a no brainer.
The StrikeMaster 40V (vs. other brands)
Now there are many different types of electric augers, and in the video, at the top of the post, I go over WHY I chose what I did.
THE ION WASN’T FOR ME
If you like a different unit – then great, but this is my experience. I personally tried the ION, and at that time I felt it was really slow and wasn’t able to drill as many holes per battery. I hear last year that changed.
ANY DRILL ATTACHMENT HAS LIMITATIONS
The K-Drill units work just fine, but the drill it’s attached to is often the problem. I have ran across soo many people who buy the K-Drill only to find out their drill doesn’t work with the auger. This is usually because:
- The drill isn’t the right voltage
- The drill batteries don’t have enough amperage
- The batteries have been used all year and don’t hold a strong enough charge
- The unit overheats and stops spinning
- The batteries struggle in cold weather
Essentially, drills we use for everyday life aren’t meant for ice.
Getting something like the K-drill is only as good as the drill and batteries you have with it. If you have been using your drill all year long, the batteries aren’t going to be as efficient as they could be during the ice.
Not to mention, the standard batteries on drills are often only 2 Ah, not giving you nearly the battery life you need. The same goes for the amount of voltage. Using the K-Drill isn’t as simple as just buying the bit… you need to have the right drill and drill batteries to go with it. Many, many people don’t.
This suddenly makes these drill setups much more expensive.
When you start factoring these things in, you can find a designated electric auger – meant entirely for ice – for the same price. Whether you are talking about the ION or the StrikeMaster – these units tend to hold up better and be more reliable – because that’s what they are built for.
I picked the 40V then because it was the newest technology at the time. I would pick it now because after many years of use it’s proven its quality and value, over and over again.
The StrikeMaster 40V is jam-packed with some pretty impressive specs. I ramble off a few of the key features to know about below:
- Auger Weight (8 in.): 24 lbs.
- Auger Weight (10 in.): 27 lbs.
- Single Charge (8 in.) in 16” of ice: 100 holes.
- Single Charge (10 in.) in 16” of ice: 70 holes.
- Internal battery management to preserve the longevity
- Comes with a 5 amp hour battery (sometimes you get a deal for 2)
- Comes with a fast charger that charges each battery in roughly 2 hours
- Electric Brushless Motor
- Limited 2-year manufacturer’s warranty on motor, battery, and charger.
In fact, the 40V was such a hit that StrikeMaster has stopped making gas augers entirely.
BUT WHAT ABOUT THE BATTERY?
The number one hangup I hear about deals with the batteries. Below I break through some of the biggest battery myths. In this instance, I’m talking only about the 40V (although I’m sure this holds true for some other designated units as well).
COLD WEATHER ISN’T AN ISSUE
I’ve used my StrikeMaster 40V auger in -40 F/C weather with no problems. The battery was fine. In these situations, just remove the battery (which is literally a click of the button) and keep it in your jacket. Temperature is not a factor in this situation.
BATTERIES ARE CHEAP WHEN YOU DO THE MATH
People complain about replacing the batteries, but when you do the math this is a complete non-factor. If you have a battery that lasts you 4 years, and you pay $130 a battery (which is what you can find the batteries online form) that’s $32.50 a year.
Not only is that stupid cheap, but don’t forget that gas and propane cost money too.
YES, YOU CAN DRILL THROUGH FEET OF ICE
If you are going to be drilling through 2 feet of ice, then you will need extra batteries. However, I’ve drilled through almost 4 feet of ice – with 0 issues.
THE CONS OF GOING ELECTRIC
No real review is complete without discussing some of the drawbacks. With electric augers, there aren’t many – but there are some.
- When the ice is thick you will need more than one battery (if you plan on hole hopping). This can be a little bit of a bigger expense upfront and a little bit bigger replacement fee (but if you do the math, per year it’s nothing).
- You can charge batteries in your truck ONLY if you have enough watts. Our 110 won’t do it, my parents 400 watts will.
- If it catches, it can jolt the powerhead hard – and it can hurt. This happens with both the regular drills and the designated electric units such as the 40V.
MY EXPERIENCE WITH THE 40V
The 40V has hands down been the best ice fishing investments I’ve made. It’s lightweight, reliable, and soo easy to use. I can throw it on top of my flip over and I can haul it around no problem. I’ve used it up at Winnipeg, many, many, many times. I appreciate the ability to clean out the hole with reverse, and I love the one-click start. If the batteries are really, really cold it will take a couple of button clicks to get it to spin – and if it catches, I have gone for a bit of a ride with the powerhead.
In fact, I even used it in -40 F/C (yes, 40 BELOW) weather in Wekusko Falls when we shot the video below.
IS IT RIGHT FOR YOU?
No matter how much I think it makes sense to go electric, many people still don’t feel that way. Gas augers still work (despite being loud, smelly, and a hassle to start) and propane has come a long way in terms of weight. Both still work – they all drill holes. However, if you are in need of an upgrade, or something different, then I’d consider investing in the latest technology which is electric.
Learn more about the 40V right here.