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blodngoods

Power Augers......I'm As Confused As Ever

66 posts in this topic

I have read tons of threads in various ice fishing forums in an effort to find the best power auger. I'm no closer to a decision now than when I started. Each brand and model of auger has a large following, with each side bashing the others for various problems and shortcomings. In one thread, an auger is praised, and in the next thread, it's bashed. For instance, Nils Master. Great power head, great blades. But, it's apparently not without it's problems, such as touchy blades that can go bad easily and are expensive to replace, and if you ever have problems with your auger, I've seen many reports where customer service is lacking, and even difficult to find. Strikemaster sounded pretty good, but now I hear with them being built in china, there is problems with welds and blades, etc..., and the plastic handles are breakable. Jiffy is supposedly made in the USA, but for every good thread about a Jiffy, there is at least another bad one, about the poor way they run, their weight, and their noise. Again, all of them get glowing reports one second, and in the next, parts are breaking, blades aren't turning, motors won't start or quit running, gas is leaking, etc... Makes me consider the Icegator, but then you have a question about how many holes you can get through before the batteries die. I understand, in mild temps above zero, and less than two feet of ice, you'll probably get all the holes you want during a day, but then there are reports about subzero temps and over three feet of ice where you may only get 20 to 30 holes in a day, or less, which probably isn't going to cut it for a diehard runner and gunner. And does anyone know how many years an Icegator can be expected to last. I know you may have to replace batteries every couple, three years, but will the powerhead itself give you that ten to twenty years that a gas auger will give you. I'm really not sure what to get. Help.

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I have been using those noisy,heavy Jiffys for around thirty years or longer and have had no problems. If the blade gets dull I just take it off and sharpen it.

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Welcome to the confusion of shopping for personal opinions:-) I read all the same posts you did before i bought my strikemaster. Actually i did not buy the strikemaster, my buddy brought a new one to a fishing trip to my place and said he was never going to fish by himself so he left it here. Before that i was leaning towards a jiffy.....but after receiving a new strikemaster for free, i am a believer. Now which is better? my strikemaster cuts very nice holes for me. Will i ever own a jiffy? Not for more then what i paid for my strikemaster. If i ever get a new one, i will buy another strikemaster since it works very well (had to make a few adjustments to it, but a little tweaking in this ND weather is not unheard of).

Good luck and pick something that you like. All the companies out there have great products, and they also have a few lemons.

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I hear ya on the back and forth on name brands.

All I can tell you is why I love my Nils.

It is very light and very fast cutting.

The auger is longer than the rest of the competition, so no need for an extension.

The Tanaka powerhead is built to last.

As far as your worries about it. I wouldn't say the blade is touchy, but of course if you abuse it (drop it, run into it, cut holes in sandy areas, the blades are going to dull.

One of the staff members here "Surface Tension" provides a great service in sharpening them. Send it out and get it back in a few days. Nils Sharpening Service

The other issue is the service. I almost sure that any warranty or out of warranty work can be done at any Tanaka authorized small engine shops. The Tanaka head is actually designed for an earth digger, so there are quite a few shops that will be able to work on them.

I'm sure you will get a bunch of feedback here from other users.

Good Luck on your search and welcome to HSO/FM!

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I assume you are looking to buy new. Jiffy/Strikemaster - they all cut ice or they would not be in business as long as they have if they didn't do a decent job. If your a run & gunner, I would stay away with the heavier Jiffy models. Nice thing I like about SM is that they use the same motor on all but the 4stroke - so it is a workhorse & bits can be interchangable, has been around for a while and easy to get serviced. Parts you are concerned about are easy to replace and usually are not an issue if you take care of your stuff. Bonus is they are pretty light weight. Go to a store that has all the different models on display and see what feels better.

Nils sounds like a great unit and has the option of converting to a hand model. My only concern would be the availablity of finding someone to service it or parts.

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I think SP hit the nail on the head with the "lemons" comment. You mentioned the opinions reaching extremes; people raving about them or thrashing them. I'm of the opinion that many of the negative opinions out there drawn are from a few horror stories told by buddies and passed through circles of friends.

I think what's nice about FishingMinnesota is that there IS such a diverse amount of opinions. You get to decide for yourself the credibility of each poster and his/her own expereriences with a product. You can ask questions and amongst them I always feel should be "do you have actual experience with said product?" This could range from the experience of a friend you were with ice fishing, or a die-hard owner of a brand for 20 years. In other words, hopefully it's the poster's direct experience that an opinion is drawn from, not the experience of distant relative smile.

However, I think the most important thing you can do is determine how you fish and which auger is best for that style. If you're a hard-house guy that drives to his permanent, weight may not be such a factor?

My own opinion, after owning a blue mora, lazer hand auger, two strikemaster power augers, an older jiffy power auger, and a Nils hand auger is that the Strikemaster lazer mag fits all of my varied fishing situations best. It's lightweight, durable (I've accidentally dropped it on the handle from standing position), and the last time I drilled into sand, I was able to find replacement blades same day. Now, I carry the small replacement blades in my ice tackle tote. The power head has been nothing short of spectacular, but I try to take care of it.

So, yet another opinion to weigh smile As a last piece of advice, from my personal experience, customer service is everything in the rare event you should have something go wrong with ANY of your ice fishing products. Ice season is short, and our days-off are numbered. A company's availability and willingness to help in a tough situation is what sells me everytime!

Joel

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I have owned every brand of auger except the chainsaw maker. (Name escapes me)

Each brand has good and bad things about them. You have read it already so I wont waste time typing it again.

With that said I now own a Nils and its the best auger I have ever owned. Faster, lighter, longer, quieter etc. The blades are no more touchy than my strikemasters if you take care of them they will last you at least a winter and for most people more. I use my auger a TON.

If you drill in dirty ice a lot than I recomend a chipper blade. I had a Jiffy and it was a work horse. The Chipper blades last forever and when they got a bit dull a fileing would put it back in action. Downfall was weight.

My Strikemaster was light but my blades froze and something in the geras went so I had it fixed and sold it.

No matter what you get I recomend a 9" in Brands that have them. Nils makes up to 8" and I just overlap holes as needed.

Eskimo makes a better auger than they ever have and I didnt have any problems even with my old one. Not fast or light but get the job done. I have friends still running them and they havent had any complaints on new ones.

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My two cents.I've got an electric auger that has got to be 30 to 40 years old it came with a rebuild kit but the old girl will not die.I have a friend with a jiffy electric and one with a gator,and I'm torn, they both work great and both have their pros and cons all I know for sure is after drilling 50 to 75 holes with my gas auger last winter to follow crappies with a group of friends and sitting down to fish,every one of them out fished me in a big way.Me with my gassy hands.The only one that out fishes me that bad is my daughter(almost every time)love it.The next day the holes where still open and everything was back to normal.My Point is that I'll keep my gas augers but only use them if the electric let me down and I bet you can get kits to rebuild them.I'm leaning towards the jiffy they are very light but you have to drag a battery with,but I have them with anyway.

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I'm also a Nils owner and they cut like crazy after the 2nd tank of gas. I wouldn't recommend the shaver style blades if you fish on lakes that get a lot of blowing sand on them (like Devils lake ND). Also, don't reopen holes or drill where trucks have driven on the ice or your shaver style blades will dull quickly. Nils is very light and cuts like butter, so it is the ideal auger for the guy who likes to move and turn the ice into swiss cheese.

If I had to do it over again I would get a 8" 2hp jiffy pro. This new model uses chipper blades that have a 3 yr warranty. It's weight is very reasonable and the new muffler system makes it quieter than my nilsmaster. The handle and trottle design is great on the Jiffy also. My dad owns one and it ran great for him all last year.

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Mamo you can buy the Nils Augers at the Icefishing show and you could the past 2 years. I worked the Nils booth and we sold them through Marine General. Last year we sold all of them the 1st day. Hopefully we have more to sell this year. wink

I havent had any problems with my Nils at all in 4 years. I just change the plug once a year just because I can, not that I nead to.

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I have a Strikemaster and my friend has a Jiffy. Both work great. I like the weight of my strikemaster, but would own either of them, both have ran great years.

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Customer service for me is very important. If the unforseen happens and my auger breaks down I need to know that I can get it fixed and be back on the ice ASAP. Sometimes a fullday is too much. StrikeMaster's customer service is very good and that plays a huge role for me.

I can walk into StrikeMaster and walk out all in the same day with an auger as good as new. And, if you are not in the area to do so, just about every small gas engine shop in the area can service your StrikeMaster. Every tackle shop seems to carry blades and other StrikeMaster parts as well. Makes it very easy on the customer.

Outside of the customer service and ensuring a properly running auger, I also like the durability of StrikeMaster, the overall weight comparision, the fuel efficiency, the speed and the comparable (if not better) price-point of StrikeMaster.

Bottom line, I want an auger that can keep up with my busy winter season smile

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I guess I just wasted time reading everyone eleses post I have a strikemaster 224 and have not had ne problems its pretty light rteally fast and I can usually outdrill most other brands ie: I have a buddy with a three horse (jiffy) or as I call them skimpy and could drill three holes to his one in 14"-16" of ice I hope you find a drill as they are a great tool for "trolling on ice"

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This is just like a Ford/Chevy/DOdge or John Deere/CASEIH debate.

Each of them will do the job well. The positives are different for each one so you have to find the one that suits you.

There will always be negative stories out there because they are machines and the best auger can be broken by careless owners. If you don't care for your stuff it won't last, no matter who makes it.

I like the Nils. I've used them many times fishing with friends and the staffers here. Its a little expensive for me, but the upsides are great. I like the top handles, the long auger and its wicked fast!!

I have a Strikemaster Lazermag 2hp. Its light enough, fast enough and easy to locate blades and parts for. I've never needed service in the 2 years I've had it. My dad has a very old SM Mag2000. When his recoil broke and ate itself he found a whole new cover with rebuilt recoil in a local baitshop. Oh yeah and their customer service is in Big Lake, MN. Nice and close.

I realize you're in Wisconsin, but thats okay, we'll let you hang out here. wink

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I've got a Jiffy Model 30 - 3hp, super solid and reliable, and many years old. The thing starts great no matter how cold it is, runs great, cuts great, and has a lot of hours on it. I've done a litle normal maintenance to it here, pretty minimal for all the use that thing has had.

When I got my auger the smaller 2 hp augers were frowned upon - sure, they were lighter, but would they hold up and last. The saying at the time was that all the resorts and guides used Jiffys.

The only thing I don't liek about my Jiffy is the weight. When I bought it I was swayed by how solid they were and how all the resorts and guides used them. But now I wish for a lighter weight auger, something that's easier to drag through the snow and hole hop with. Right now I'm of the mindset that I don't like anything that limits my mobility or makes me not want to explore and cut holes.

I really don't think you can buy a bad power auger. Aside from the occasional horror story, the vast majority of augers are good pieces of equipment.

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This is just like a Ford/Chevy/DOdge or John Deere/CASEIH debate.

Each of them will do the job well. The positives are different for each one so you have to find the one that suits you.

100% agreed. I have a friend with a strike master and my Jiffy is way heavier than his auger.I know because him and I went out fishing last year and took my auger. He grabbed it out of the back of my truck and started to laugh. I asked him what was so funny? He said my auger was so heavy that he wasn"t sure he felt safe going out on only 2 feet of ice with all the extra weight. So I guess my Jiffy is alot heavier than his auger. Its kind of cold blooded as well. Its what I have and it gets me through the ice every time so I will stick with it for now I guess. I sure wouldn't be afraid to try a different brand on the off chance that my auger ever crapps out on me during my life time. Ok I guess I might be a little bias after all LOL.

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I have owned two Nils and have had nothing but GREAT experiances with it. As far as the service, many places to service the Tanaka motor all over each State. Frank DeLuca will sharpen you blades and has very fast turn around time. I will not slam another auger but I also would never leave my Nils. One of the best pieces of ice fishing equipment I own.

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Just get what you like and can afford. Yes there are differences in weight etc., but for the most part as long as it cuts through the ice reliably you'll be fishing grin

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I have owned eskimo strike master and Jiffy the eskimo seamed to cut slow I hated the stike master seamed to plastic bought a brand new jiffy couldnt keep running out of box took it to a small engine shop he said they run to lean for the tree huggers he took out a drill bit drilled out the jet the thing cuts like you wouldnt beleive now. I have owned 8,9,10 inch holes. Now have a 8 simply because I dont want my daughter to go down one. My little brother went down a 10 inch once his elbows caught the ice both legs were in. then we had to go home. good luck just keep upgrading till you find one you like.

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I've got a buddy that has a Jiffy Stealth with a 10" blade, another buddy that has a Nils and I've got a SM 2000. All three cut holes in the ice. My SM is the slowest. The Nils is the lightest.

This is the way we rank em'. If you only fish out of a perm then the Jiffy is the way to go if you don't go electric, and if you fish out of a portable and you have to pay retail then the Strikemaster wins.

Nobody in my group is knocking the Nils since it is fast and light.

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I have a Jiffy and a Strikemaster Lazer Mag. Both 2 HP, both 8" blades. The engine is the same in both...a 2 HP Tecumseh. No difference there.

What you have read here is pretty much true...the Jiffy is a bit heavier, but not so much that you would notice it unless you are drilling dozens of holes in a day.

When the SM blades are sharp, that auger cuts holes noticably faster. When those blades get dull, it slows down to where it is slower than the Jiffy...

Where I am, in South Dakota, we fish a lot of small bodies of water where the dust/sand can be an issue...the Jiffy is a bit better, as that blade won't get dull as fast. When we go up to Winnie, the Strikemaster is the auger of choice, because...well...we are likely to be drilling several dozen holes in a day.

Both augers work, but there are slight differences. But if one isn't working, I wouldn't hesitate to use either one in any circumstance.

I don't own/have never used a Nils or an Eskimo, so I can't comment on or compare them.

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I must say I have fallen head over heels with my icegator! even though I can only drill up to 8" holes (like a 10" hole for sure) it has never let me down drilled thru 42" of ice no problem ran at 30 below (didnt like the sound at first but my truck also had a hard time starting) As far a customer assistance/ service Ice gator cant be beat Ive even had the president of the company to ask how it is going! I now would not ever use a gas auger again! no smell no mess instant on and off!

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I would agree that the IceGaoter is one heck of an auger.

Mnfishingguy, your Nils must have a dull auger bit. I have had many races with my Nils and have never lost a ten hole race. I once raced a Jiffy that was modified and still beat it but I will say that the modified Jiffy was close.

There are dealers out there all over to fix the Tanaka motor too. Mine has never broke and the motors are rated independantly 3 times as durable as the tecumseh motors SM and Jiffy use because the Tanaka is an industrial motor rather than a consumer model.

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Thanks for all of the replies fellas. To Mainehzmt, when you drilled through 42 inches of ice in 30 below zero, can you tell me how many of those holes you drilled in those conditions that day, what size and brand auger blades you were using, what size batteries you had in the icegator, and how much charge you had left by how long it took to recharge them that day. And like was said before, I probably won't be any less confused at the end of this thread. I'm the kind of guy that when he buys something expensive, he wants to know it will last years and years. I think if I knew for sure the Icegator would last fifteen years, I'd probably get one of those and match it with a Strikemaster hand auger, due to the availability of replacement blades. I think I'd probaby get a Nils gas auger if there was as many of those things as there are Strikemasters and Jiffys, but as stated before, I'd probably have to order one, and then there is a good possibility I'd be dealing with broken or bent augers due to shipping, as seems to be the case a little to often. I understand I could probably find some Tanaka service shop somewhere, but there certainly aren't many places that will deal with sharpening those blades, and I'm not sure I'd want to depend on one or two sources for that, several states away. What if those sources quit doing it, or they take some time off, or their machine for sharpening goes down for a while. I have every intention of being a runner and gunner, and so I don't want the weight of a Jiffy to discourage me from venturing into different areas and punching more holes. I guess at this point, for a gas auger I'd lean toward a Strikemaster Lazer Mag or a Nils, but I'm going to take a long look at the Icegator, and maybe shoot them an email to see I can get some questions answered about the durability and predicted longevity of that unit. I'm just not a mechanically inclined guy, so I don't know how much there is to those things, as far as how much can go wrong with them. Thanks again everyone.

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