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Ice Fishing With Tip Ups – A Beginner Guide!

Did you know? Ice fishing with tip ups was first considered as a not-so-smart way of fishing. Basically, it was believed to be meant for the lazy ice fishing enthusiasts! But it is not anymore! In fact, tip ups have become more popular in recent years.

Ice fishing with tip ups is now an effective fishing skill among beginners as well as professional anglers (fishermen who use hooks for fishing are called anglers). Tip ups work great for catching any kind of fish in cold water.

Ice Fishing With Tip Ups – A Beginner Guide!

I have had my fair share of failures when it comes to ice fishing with rods. However, fishing with tip ups? There’s barely a time when I went home with an empty bucket! And what looks like a lazy way of fishing to some, is far from being a lazy fishing activity in reality.

Yes, it is true that working with tip ups is easy, and anyone can master it quickly. But fishing with tip ups requires great attention and patience. Plus, running from one tip up station to another is something I wouldn’t consider lazy.

Anyway, in this article, I’ve covered everything that you need to know about ice fishing with tip ups. Most of these are from my own experience as a fishing enthusiast for over a decade now.

Types of Tip ups

There are three primary types of tip ups. Let’s discuss the three types in brief and hopefully pick the right one for your next ice fishing trip.

Pro-Thermal Tip Ups

Pro-thermal tip ups are great for fishing during extremely cold weather or one a snowy day. It keeps the ice hole from further freezing. Also, it keeps away excess ice and snow that may cover up the hole.

Pro thermal tip ups block any unwanted sunlight that may distract the fish. Plus, they include distinctive flags, which make it easy for you to detect when a fish bites the bait.

Hardwood Tip Ups

This is a traditional tip up. It is simple and easy to use. It includes a heavy wood that keeps your tip up in place. Also, it comes with a large spool to easily retrieve your catch. Just like any other tip ups, this also comes with a highly visible flag.

Wind Tip Ups

This is my favorite type of tip up, particularly because the place where I ice fish tends to get a little windy. Thus, a wind/windlass tip up works great for me. A wind tip up swings the bait up and down with the help of the wind. This is a great way of luring the fishes even in calm water.

How do ice fishing tip ups work?

Ice fishing with tip ups doesn’t require you to sit still and hold on to your fishing rod. However, you do need to keep your eyes on your tip ups if you don’t want to miss a catch.

Ice fishing with tip ups is easy. First, you need to dig multiple holes on the ice surface, depending on the number of tip ups you’ll be using. Then set your tip up with the baited lines that go down below the ice.

Now, all you got to do is wait patiently for the fishes to take your bait. When a fish bites on to your bait, the tip up mechanism will flip up the attached flag. Once you notice the signal, you need to go to your tip up station and pull out the fish. Sounds simple?

However, tip-ups are not the best option when it comes to catching small fishes like panfish. But if you’re all about the larger fishes like pikes, lake trouts, and the like, tip ups can be your go-to.

Now that you are aware of how ice fishing tip ups work let’s move on to the three basic tips for ice fishing with tip ups. Apply these tips on your next ice fishing expedition and embrace yourself for a big catch!

Finding the right location

Whatever type of fishing you’re up for, without the right location, it makes no sense. So spend a good amount of time finding the correct location. You may use maps to find some great fishing points, reefs, drop-offs, etc.

Or, if it’s somewhere you often fish even during open-water seasons, you can choose the same spot where you got your biggest catch last summer.

Once you are confident about the location, start setting up your tip ups. If you are licensed for multiple tip-ups, try to cover a large area by spreading out your tip ups. Make sure not to set your tip ups too close together.

Use the right line

The right line has a huge impact on the success of your fishing expedition. There are four kinds of lines for ice fishing – monofilament, fluorocarbon, copolymer, and braided.

In the case of tip ups, your best option can be the braided lines. These are more durable and sturdy. Thus, it can withstand any freezing temperature.

Choosing the right bait

You shouldn’t go for any bait. First, decide on what kind of fish you’re after. Then, choose your bait, depending on it. You can go for dead minnows if you want to catch a pike or lake trout. And live minnows work great for catching walleyes. You can also try the quick-strike rig technique if you’re after a big pike.

If you’re setting up multiple tip ups, try different baits on each tip up. This way, you have a better chance of catching different types of fish. You can also find the bait that works best and use it for the rest of the tip-ups.

All set for your next ice fishing trip? Check out these few suggestions before you leave:

The Frabill 1664 Classic Tip-Up Wooden Boxed is an absolute favorite when it comes to sturdiness and durability. This is extremely easy to use. So, even if you’re a beginner in ice fishing, you can try your luck with this tip up.

Another tip up I’ve come across is the Beaver Dam Original Tip Up. Now, this is another classic tip up that is sure to meet the requirements of any ice fisherman. However, it does cost you a little more than other tip ups in the market.

If you want to go for the pro-thermal types of tip ups, you can check out the Frabil Pro Thermal Round Tip-Up Kit.


Ice fishing with tip ups is, no doubt, a great way of fishing. However, just like any other type of fishing, you require patience and attentiveness. So even if you don’t get your big catch right away, don’t lose hope! Because as we all know, there are plenty of fishes in the sea!