An ice auger is a device which is designed to drill holes through ice. There are three types of augers available to the ice fisherman — manual, gas and electric. Each has it’s own pro’s and con’s.
Manual augers are a fraction of the price compared to a good quality gas or electric auger and are basic in design with less parts that can break down when out on the ice. They do however you to use your own body strength and if the ice is thick or you like to drill many holes this could become a chore. They are however lightweight, allowing ease of carrying when walking out to your destination especially when you don’t own transport to carry your gear.
For quick and effortless drilling Gas augers are a great choice however they can be heavy, so it is necessary to have a quad or snow machine to tow it out to your starting point. Gas augers will last for many years if the proper maintenance procedures are followed giving you an endless supply of holes, but they are fairly pricey in comparison to a basic hand auger.
Electric augers provide the power of a four-stroke gas auger, in a lighter and more environmentally friendly product. A downside to electric is the reliance on battery power. As the charge goes down, the overall power of the unit will also decrease.
Once you have chosen your auger and ready to drill holes, anglers should inspect and tighten blade screws to reduce the chances of losing parts or causing personal injury. Any other connections such as the drill and the power head joint should also be checked for tightness as they can work loose over time.
It’s also important to ensure you keep the unit’s parts clean, such as the air intake, air filter, and spark plugs. When cold it’s a good habit to let the engine run and warm up for a few minutes before aggressively drilling holes.
When drilling the hole, let the blades do the cutting, and don’t exert too much pressure on the auger. Once you’ve finished drilling the holes, anglers should shake ice away from the blades and dry them with a rag if possible and place the guard on the auger head. Augers should not be stored upright in a hole halfway through the ice. Drills can freeze in place and the force required to remove them can cause significant damage to the unit.
It is a good idea to carry a spare set of auger blades and a spare set of spark plugs with you at all times. and don’t forget the necessary tools needed to change them.
Transport your drill with the gas cap up and the vent screw closed and remember to open the vent again when you’re ready to drill holes.
For short-term storage between outings, auger blades should be dried and lubricated with motor oil or a water-displacing lubricant, such as WD-40, to keep the blades from rusting. After treating the blades, it’s best to hang augers vertically, especially power augers, as laying them horizontally can cause warping of the drill portion of the unit. Be extremely careful, as the blades are razor sharp. Keeping the blade guard on will increase the life of your blades, while also limiting the chance of accidental cuts.
With both hand and power augers, drills should occasionally be removed from the rest of the unit to prevent the two pieces from permanently joining together. If they are left connected too long the two parts can seize together and removing them without causing damage is next to impossible. Upon reassembling the parts, applying a small amount of grease in between them will help them from rusting together. Cover the engine head with a bag during storage to prevent debris from collecting in the unit.
Do not attempt to sharpen blades if you are unsure of the proper way to do them. Allow a professional to do the work, or replace the blades entirely.