Ice fishing opens a new world of unique angling gadgets and gizmos. One such distinctive piece of equipment is the tip-up.
Ice fishing tip-ups are a lifesaver for anglers that prefer to take their fishing expeditions to the next level. With tip-ups, you can successfully make big catches without having to constantly be right next to the hole with your ice fishing suit.
Here we explain what an ice fishing tip-up is and how you can use them effectively.
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What is an Ice Fishing Tip-Up?
The tip-up refers to an ice fishing device that is used to hang frozen or live bait at a certain depth. The bait is suspended from a hole that is drilled within the ice slab with the help of an auger.
Tip-ups help detect the fish when it strikes the bait without the angler requiring consistent contact with the equipment. The device alerts the angler by tipping up or down which indicates that the fish has fallen for the bait.
Through this device, anglers can cover larger areas as they wouldn’t have to be in consistent contact with the fishing line or stay within the same spot. The angler can see the flag’s movement from various distances.
Tip-ups come in an assortment of styles and each style caters to different needs. The four major types include the cross-stick, the flat-board, thermals, and wind tip-ups and we explain each of them in detail.
1. Cross-Stick Tip-Ups
With regards to the name itself, the cross-stick design is made up of two sticks crossing over in an X formation where the other stick carries the line spool underwater.
A spring metal is welded to the end of the submerged stick whereas a flag is conjoined to its free end.
When a fish happens to take the bait, there is a tug on the line, it follows a rotation that’s triggered within the spool and the attached wire releases the flag that alerts the fisher.
2. Flat-Board Tip-Ups
In the case of flat-board tip-ups, a flat board lies flat on the ice with a shaft running perpendicular to it.
This shaft has a spool of line on one end and a trip bar suspended on the other. On one end of the board, a spring is mounted and a metal pole is attached to it.
When the fish takes the bait, it triggers the line to spin the spool which ultimately strikes the trip bar. The flag tips up, as a result, that alerts the angler immediately of the fresh catch.
3. Thermal Tip-Ups
The mechanisms are similar to that of the flat-board; however, the base of the thermal tip-up covers the complete hole.
This prevents the hole from refreezing and scaring off any skeptical fish.
4. Wind Tip-Ups
While the mechanism for this particular tip-up can match any of the aforementioned mechanisms, its distinctive nature lies in the fact that the spool lies above the water instead of being submerged in it.
The sail on its top uses the movement of the wind for jerking the bait.
How to Use a Tip-Up
It’s crucial to employ the right techniques to make great catches.
Here are our tips on how to use a tip-up effectively
1. Locating Spots
Whether you are tip-up fishing or not, you need to be wary of the prime locations within the lake you’re fishing. Take time to understand the contours of the location and the active angling spots.
Once you’ve established the prime spots for tip-up fishing, spread out your tip-ups and make sure that they are fairly distant from each other to maximize the chances of making a catch.
2. Drilling Holes
With the help of manual ice augers, you can drill holes within your selected location and place and set the tip-ups in place.
Invest in electric or gas-fueled augers if you’re looking to set up a lot of tip-ups.
3. Spool with a Strong Line
With any type of fishing, a good fishing line is vital in making a catch. For ice tip-up fishing, we recommend the braided nylon Dacron. It is durable and works splendidly with tip-ups.
Additionally, three feet of fluorocarbon act as good leaders for the Dacron, and the barely visible line attracts more fish.
4. Select Your Bait of Choice
With tip-ups, the most popular choices are live baits or scented baits. While the selection depends on your fish of choice, live minnows usually lure walleyes and crappies without a problem.
We recommend using different bait for each tip-up to increase the chance of making more catches.
5. Adjusting the Trigger Sensitivity
Adjusting the trigger sensitivity allows you to make the bait seem as natural as possible to the fish. Adjust the sensitivity to the minimum requirement according to the species.
Too tight and the fish might catch on with the trap and if it’s too sensitive then you might have to run at false alarms.
6. Vigilant Eye on the Flags
While the process of waiting for the tip-ups to work is anxiety-inducing in some cases, keeping an alert eye is crucial.
With a little distraction, you could lose track of the tip-ups and not be able to detect the flag’s movement.
7. Quick Action
Goes without saying that the tip-up fishing process is extremely fast-paced once the fish takes the bait.
You need to be ready to run and catch the fish before it’s too late. It’s always best to warm up beforehand to avoid ending up with a health problem.
The adrenaline-inducing experience of what is an ice fishing tip-up is worth it in the end. By choosing the right tip-up setup and employing the right techniques, you’ll certainly have the time of your life while angling.
Happy tip-up fishing!