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Fishing a new lake can difficult task, especially when the lake is frozen over! During the summer, you could just use your sonar to locate the areas where the fish will be, but this can be a difficult task when there’s currently 6” of ice on the lake. Now’s the time to start thinking about using a few tip-ups!
But if you’re new to whole ice fishing thing, and you’re not quite sure what an ice fishing tip-up is or even how to use it, then don’t fret. Below we’re going to go over everything that you need to know in order to get set up and catch some fish.
What is an Ice Fishing Tip Up
An ice fishing tip-up is a contraption that’s used to fish multiple areas by a single fishermen without having to man each hole. It allows you to drop your bait to a desired depth and wait for the fish to bite. Once a fish is hooked, a flag “tips up” to signal that a fish is on. This allows the angler to watch multiple holes from a distance, rather than be restricted to jigging with just one ice fishing rod.
Why Use An Ice Fishing Tip-Up?
It can be tough fishing a new area. You’re not sure where any of the underwater structure is, how deep it is, or even what type of bait the fish are going to key in on. But with your tip up you can place your bait in several different spots around the lake. And when you keep getting flag after flag shooting sky high you can drill a few more holes in that same area.
How do You Use an Ice Fishing Tip Up
Drill Your Hole In The Ice
Before you do anything, you have to drill a hole in the ice using either a gas or hand powered auger. An eight-inch hole is typically what is needed for most tip ups to work properly.
Spool Reel With The Right Line
You’ll want to spool your line onto your reel next. Make sure you use braided or ice fishing line. More on that below.
Attach Swivel, Leader and Hook
After attaching your mono or braid, attach a barrel swivel to that line and then add a fluorocarbon leader.
Fluorocarbon becomes almost invisible in the water and wont spook fish. Typically, you’ll tie around 2-3 feet of line.
Attach a hook to your leader. Make sure the size of the hook fits the size of the fish you are targeting. Smaller hooks for panfish and crappie, and a larger one for bass, pike and walleye.
After all that attach a small split shot a few inches up from the hook on the leader. This helps your bait sink down low enough into the strike zone. After that your ice fishing tip up is ready to go.
What Kind of Line do You Use on a Tip Up
The line you need to attach to your tip up will need be specifically made for ice fishing. This is typically a braid or a monofilament style. You’ll need this specialty line because it decreases water absorption which means the line will not freeze up on you.
If you use regular mono or braided then the line will absorb too much water and freeze so when you have a fish on there is a high chance that line will break.
After you’ve connected your ice fishing line, you’ll need to select a leader. Either fluorocarbon, if targeting species that don’t have teeth such as bass, panfish, or crappie. But if going after fish of the toothy variety, such pike and walleye you’re better off using wire.
Are There Different Types of Tip Ups
Yes, there are a few different types and all of them work best in different conditions.
Windlass Tip Up
This one has a small paddle attached to it that catches the wind as it blows by. The paddle causes the bait to bounce under the water so you are able to effectively jig your bait without doing it physically.
Pro-Thermal Tip Ups
These are perfect for extreme temperature days. It has a thick insulated round cover that goes over top of the hole. This prevents the hole from freezing over so you don’t have to keep scooping out slush or re drill. It also blocks off any unnatural sunlight from shining through which can spook fish.
Hardwood Tip Ups
This is the classic option. The heavy wood stays anchored on the ice and comes equipped with a high visibility flag. It also has a hand crank that has a large spool so you can easily reel in your fish.
These are just a few that are available on the market today so feel free to use these as a base and shop around to see which one works the best for you. But if you’re looking for a really good all-around ice fishing tip-up at a reasonable price, then check out the Frabill Arctic Fire Tip Up here on Amazon.
Are There Rules to Setting Up Tip Ups
Just like fishing in the summer there are rules and regulations that apply to fishing in winter. It doesn’t matter if using a tip up or not. You need to know the rules and regulations for the state or county you live in.
An example would be how many tip ups can I use? Or what bait can I use with my tip up? Also, can tip ups be left unattended?
All of these laws are different depending on the state or even the county.
So, before you head out make sure to read up on your states department of game and fisheries website to make sure you’re not breaking any state or local laws. Pleading ignorance to a game warden can only get you so far.
Difference Between Tip Ups and Tip Downs
Tip downs are primarily used for smaller fish such as perch, panfish, and crappie, because they telegraph less resistance to the fish. The rod is placed at a 45-degree angle and will tip downward towards the hole when a fish is interested in the bait. This needs to be gotten too quickly before the tip runs out of line and the fish spits the bait.
Tip ups work in a similar fashion except when a fish take you bait a flag will shoot into the air. From here it’s up the angler to get over to their set up in time and get a good hook set.
An ice fishing tip up is a great way to get outside during the colder months of the year. It can also be a very effective way to locate where the fish like to hang out in the lake and if used properly can lead to some very successful days on the ice.