A few years ago I went into Lake of the Woods Sports Headquarters in Kenora to get a new power auger. The owner, Bryan Gustafson, is a good friend and I told him I wanted a four-stroke gas auger. He told me I should consider one of the new electric augers, that they were what everybody was buying. I didn’t listen to his advice, bought the gas auger and regretted it a short time later.
That short time later was a guide trip the following week. The group I was fishing with had an electric auger with them and they told me I needed to try it. I did and immediately knew that I had made a mistake.
The perception I had was that the electric augers lacked the power that gas offered and that the batteries didn’t last long, especially in our cold weather. When I tried that electric auger for the first time, it was impressive that I could just push a button and drill a hole, quickly and efficiently. It was as fast as any auger I had used in the past and there was no pulling on a cord, messing with gas or having to let it warm up. I drilled several holes with it the rest of that day and it was evident that the batteries allowed plenty of drilling.
Last season I finally made the switch over to electric on the ice. I ended up getting a fully electric Razr auger, equipped with a lithium battery that attaches to the powerhead. I also got another eight inch bit that attaches to a regular cordless power drill. Cordless drills today have plenty of power and they work great for drilling holes in the ice, especially early in the season before it gets to thick. For the thicker ice later in the winter, the bigger batteries on an electric auger do give you a longer life. If you only drill a few holes when you go out however or fish in a shelter often, you should consider going the cordless drill route.
I still own a gas auger for some of back country trips that I do, where a lot of hole drilling might take place but for the most part, they are almost becoming obsolete. The electric models are lighter, especially the newer ones with synthetic bits and are just more reliable to use.
There is a limit to the number of holes that you can drill with an electric auger, especially once the ice gets to be three feet thick, but for the most part, you can go out and drill plenty of holes for a day of fishing on one battery. You just have to keep in mind that you can drain the battery.
Years ago, propane was predicted to be the new power source for ice augers but that never really panned out and electric models showed up. Today, all of the major auger manufacturers offer electric models, further evidence of their place in the market. From an environmental perspective, obviously an electric motor is better than a combustion motor as well. You also won’t burn a hole in your jacket with an electric auger, something I’ve done several times over the years on the exhaust of a gas auger.
If you haven’t tried an electric auger yet, the next time you’re on the ice and you see one, give it a try and I think you’ll be impressed, just like I was.