If you’re serious about consistently catching big fish through the ice, you need to do two things: stock up on lots of fishing gear and try a lot of spots on the lake until you find where the fish are hiding.
Hauling a full set of ice fishing gear and moving from spot to spot is hard work and time consuming without an ATV or other vehicle to make travel easier.
This guide will show you 4 popular models of ATV for ice fishing and compare their strengths and weaknesses.
It’s most important that you understand your goals before you choose an ATV, including how much towing power you need, whether you need to run snow tracks, and how much you want to use your ATV for warm summer tasks and activities.
When you know what your goals are for your own ATV use, you can use the guide to pick the very best model for you.
Top 4 Ice Fishing ATV Reviews
In order to make a fair comparison of different brands, we compared mid-size ATVs. We selected each brand’s model with an engine size as close to 500cc as possible.
All ATV companies offer a range of engine capacities, so if you know that you need to pull an extremely heavy fishing house or other large load, you may want to buy an ATV with a larger engine.
But, if you just need a machine to take you around in light snow with minimal gear, you may be able to get away with a smaller engine.
Please see the ATV buyer’s guide at the bottom of the article for more information on engine size.
1/ Polaris Sportsman 570
The Sportsman 570 is an excellent all-around ATV – not too big, but with plenty of power to get through the toughest icy terrain. It’s not the cheapest ATV, especially if you choose an upgraded model, but you will get a dependable machine that gives you the flexibility to run large tires or tracks.
The Sportsman series offers engine sizes ranging from 450cc all the way up to 1000cc. We are featuring the Sportsman 570 because it’s a happy medium which should provide you with power to spare for any ice fishing-related task.
The 450cc model would handle most ice and snow, but the 570cc engine will easily power larger tires or even tracks. That extra pull allows you to tow an ice fishing trailer or use your ATV for heavier warm-weather work.
All of the Sportsman models offer On-Demand AWD/2WD. An ATV without AWD is impractical for most rugged terrain and bad weather. You do not want to get stuck, and the Sportsman 570’s AWD and 11” standard ground clearance should make sure you don’t.
What We Like
- One-Touch On-Demand AWD/2WD system
- 567cc engine offers plenty of power without becoming too heavy or aggressive
- Excellent upgrade options, starting with a larger 26” Duro tire option
What We Don’t Like
- The standard model does not include electronic power steering, but it is available in the Utility model.
2/ Suzuki KingQuad 500AXi
Suzuki was the original inventor of the “4-wheeler” ATV, so their history and know-how goes back a long way. Their machines are reliable and optimized for power and efficiency.
The KingQuad ATV offers a lot of special features for durability and rider comfort. Everything from the engine position to the suspension is designed for a good riding experience. Suzuki advertises a lower seat for security and comfort and plastic body elements to prevent splashing slush and mud.
This makes it a great choice for younger or less-experienced riders or someone with reduced mobility.
The engine is on the smaller side for a 500 class ATV (493cc), so there is not quite as much towing power. Nevertheless, Suzuki includes push-button 2WD/4WD switching with a mode specifically for getting unstuck from deep mud or snow.
What We Like
- Proven reliability from the original 4-wheeler brand with newly-optimized engine and transmission
- Designed for rider comfort resulting in a highly accessible machine
- Great cargo-carrier ability with a 4-liter storage compartment, racks, and an easy tow-hitch system
What We Don’t Like
- Relatively low engine capacity for its size class. You may need to buy a larger size for heavy towing or snow tracks
3/ Yamaha Kodiak 450
Yamaha’s 2022 ATV lineup doesn’t feature a true 500-class Utility ATV, so we are going to feature the smaller of their two models, the Kodiak 450, which packs a 421cc engine.
If you like the Yamaha products but know you need more power, the next step up is the powerful Grizzly model, which has a 686cc big-bore engine. It’s almost double the price of the smaller Kodiak, but it will be up for any job.
As for the Kodiak 450, this ATV is a great all-around machine at a good price point. Like other machines, it still offers a one-touch 2WD/4WD switching system.
Yamaha prides itself on the design of the Kodiak ATV: they took advantage of the smaller engine size to design a smaller machine that is highly maneuverable. If you want to use the ATV for trail riding in the warm weather or you need to cover some uneven ground between your parked vehicle and the lake, this could be a great option.
The body design is also flexible, accommodating different body sizes. The Kodiak 450 could be a good ATV for a teenager who is likely to grow or for a vehicle that is shared by different riders.
What We Like
- Good ground clearance (10 inches) and maneuverability for an ATV with a smaller engine size
- Excellent ergonomics and flexibility for a variety of rider shapes and sizes
- Yamaha is renowned for its reliable and high-performing transmission systems, including the 4WD feature.
What We Don’t Like
- 421cc engine is too small for heavy towing (the Kodiak’s max towing rating is 1,300 pounds) but the next step up is way more expensive
4/ Honda Fourtrax Foreman 4×4
Honda is a brand known for its overall dependability and engineering. The Foreman ATV lives up to that reputation, with several premium engineering features that should keep it running well for a long time.
The Honda Foreman offers a liquid-cooled engine and fuel injection that reads and reacts to the conditions, so you get efficiency and extra power when riding conditions require it. There are also extra-wide driveshaft guards to protect the longitudinal crankshaft from getting damaged by obstacles on the road.
What We Like
- 518cc engine is powerful but not too cumbersome
- Engineering and design features like electric reverse and driveshaft guards
- 2WD/4WD switching is standard
What We Don’t Like
- Electronic power steering is not standard, but the EPS models offer it for a premium price
The Ice Fishing ATV Buyer’s Guide
How many cc’s do I need for an ice fishing ATV?
A lot of ATV buyers wonder what size of engine they need. Salesmen at dealerships love to talk about the benefits of larger (and more expensive) engines. They might tell you you need to buy a 700cc or even 1000cc ATV to get through the snow and slush.
That’s simply not true; for most fishermen looking to take an ATV out in average ice conditions, an engine around 400cc should get the job done. This is plenty of power as long as you have 4-wheel drive and good snow tires for traction.
A larger engine offers more speed and power (and may be necessary if you plan on buying snow tracks for your ATV), but a smaller engine is lighter and easier to control. Machines with smaller engines are more beginner-friendly and much easier to recover if you accidentally tip the ATV over on steep terrain.
If you’re experienced, have other heavy uses for your ATV besides fishing, or insist on fitting snow tracks to your machine, engines of 600cc or more are fine. We don’t recommend going much smaller than 400cc because you need a reasonable amount of power to avoid getting stuck in the snow.
Should I get tracks for my ATV?
ATV tracks are sold in two types: a set of four tracks (one where each wheel would go) or a set of two rear tracks and two front skis.
They vary widely in ability and price, but ATV track systems usually start at more than $3,000 and go up from there.
As mentioned above, you generally need a larger engine displacement (600+cc) to operate a track system. Do your homework to see what type of tracks are available for the ATV you plan on buying.
Manual backup ignition
Many new ATVs offer convenient push-button starter systems. These are helpful for weaker riders and for ease-of-use, but they can malfunction under extreme conditions.
You don’t want to press the ignition button on your ATV at the end of a long day on the lake and find that the motor won’t start. Engines are always at risk of malfunction under cold conditions. Since the coldest days are the days you need your vehicle the most, you can protect yourself by buying an ATV with a manual backup ignition.
This is usually a pull-cord or pedal ignition system that can allow you to use your muscles to manually start up the engine and save yourself from getting stranded. While this is a nice feature to have, push-button starting systems are generally reliable. If you have the option, protect yourself with a manual backup ignition.
The Final Verdict
Our #1 pick for an ice fishing ATV is the Polaris Sportsman 570. It packs the most powerful engine of the ATVs we reviewed and it offers 4WD mode for slippery conditions and slush.
Our #2 pick is the Yamaha Kodiak 450. This ATV is good for light duty and riders on a budget. It’s a slimmed-down version of the more powerful Yamaha Grizzly, but if you only need a machine to get you and a light load around the lake, the Kodiak will take care of you just fine. It’s also ergonomically designed making it a good fit for different bodies and experience levels.
Fishermen looking for a great value could consider finding any of these models used and in good condition. If you look around long enough, you could find a well-maintained machine for a serious bargain.