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How to Use a Tip-up

How To Ice Fish With A Tip-Up – A Helpful Guide

So you’re ready to get out on the ice and try your hand at hard water fishing, huh? Great! But, first, you need to decide which method you’re going to use. In this article, we will discuss how to ice fish with a tip-up.

Ice fisherman

If you plan on having multiple holes and catching a lot of fish, this article is for you. 

Everything you Need to Know Before Using a Tip-Up

ice fishing with a tip-up

What is a Tip-up?

If you’re not familiar with the term, a Tip-up is a base that sits over your ice hole with a spool of fishing line and a trigger that pops the flag and sets the hook when there is a fish on the line.

Why should I use a Tip-up?

You should use a Tip-up if you plan on drilling more than one ice hole. Depending on the state you’re fishing in, you may be limited on how many holes you are allowed to fish at one time. Check with your local fishing and wildlife department first to avoid any unexpected fines. 

Using a Tip-up can greatly increase your success while ice fishing. Instead of just jigging one hole at a time, you can set up multiple holes. It’s important to give some space between holes but don’t set them up too far apart. You’ll have quite a run when the flag pops up. 

Running between holes can generate a lot of sweat, to learn about how to avoid getting sweaty and cold while on the ice read this helpful article.

Where should I place my ice holes when using Tip-ups?

This depends on the layout of the lake’s bottom. As mentioned in previous articles, it’s important to know the lay of the land and where the fish are likely to hang out. Once you have figured that out, you can begin drilling your holes. 

Consider drilling your holes in a circle or semicircle around where you are going to be sitting. When you place them this way you won’t have to run as long of a distance. 

Pro-tip: Attach a small bell to each flag. It may be difficult to see a flag that has popped up on foggy days, but if you have a bell on it, you can hear it! There is nothing better than hearing that bell jingle and the rush of running to catch that fish!

What kind of fishing line should I use with a Tip-up?

You may or may not have thought of this, but it is important to use the right line for the job when ice fishing with a Tip-up. 

Braided Ice Fishing lineAlthough you can technically use any kind of fishing line, it is best to use braided nylon. Be sure to choose a brand such as Dacron™ because the line will stay stretchy and have fewer kinks.

Some of the other brands of braided nylon that are specific to ice fishing are not as forgiving and tend to kink or not stretch.

What kind of bait should I use with a Tip-up?

When it comes to bait, that depends upon the type of fish you are going after. For example, if you are trying to catch Walleye, you will probably have the best luck with live bait, like Shiners. 

If you’re going after a larger fish, like the Northern Pike, consider dead bait, like Ciscoes or Tullibee. Remember to puncture the air bladder so it will sink and attract your mark. 

Pro-tip: Some states do not allow live bait to be used when fishing, so check with your local fishing and wildlife department first.

How to Use an Ice Fishing Tip-Up

3 Tip-Ups to Help You Catch Your Trophy Fish

These Tip-ups will help you catch more fish and enjoy your time on the ice more than ever.

Frabill Pro Thermal tip-upThis tip-up is the cat’s meow! If you are looking for a Tip-up that will help you catch fish and keep your ice hole from freezing, this is the one for you! It is brightly colored with neon orange for high visibility at a distance. 

This Tip-up is designed to cover the ice hole so it won’t freeze over and you won’t have to skim it as often. They are relatively inexpensive and can be purchased for around $20.00 each.

Frabill Simple Tip-up for ice fishingThis Tip-up is easy to use and comes with special lubrication that prevents your line and mechanisms from freezing in cold temperatures. 

This Tip-up can be set to a light or heavy trigger depending upon which fish you are trying to catch. A Tip-up like this typically costs around $15.00

Celsius tip-up multipackThis is the style of Tip-up our grandparents used and they are still effective today. While they may be simple and even antiquated in appearance, they still get the job done. 

While not as fancy as the previously mentioned Tip-ups, they’re a good way for you to get your proverbial feet wet. Consider trying them out before spending more money on the fancier versions. A 3 pack of Celsius Tip-ups costs around $25.00

Qualities to Look for When Purchasing a Tip-up

Regardless of which brand or version you choose you should opt for a Tip-up that has:

  • Adjustable sensitivity trigger for light or heavy strikes
  • A sturdy base (bonus if it has a thermal cover to prevent the hole from freezing)
  • Freeze-proof components and mechanisms

Keep your eyes out for these features and you will be on your way to catching that big fish to brag about to all of your buddies.

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