Tip-Up Tips: Increase Your Chances for Greater Ice Fishing Catches

November 14, 2017

Tip-Up Tips on Lake Erie

Through my decades of ice fishing, I’ve observed most fishermen drill a couple holes and get busy jigging or dropping bait down. There are times we all enjoy when the bite is fast and furious, but much of the time it takes persistence and patience to fill a bucket. It’s at these times that an arsenal including tip-ups can increase your catch rate and enjoyment on the ice.

Here in Pennsylvania, we are allowed any combination of five fishing devices that can include rods, hand lines or tip-ups. Regulations will vary state to state or province to province.

With tip-ups, you can fish for the same species you are targeting with your ice rods or try for different fish altogether.

When targeting perch or crappie, to tip the odds in my favor, I’ve set out tip-ups baited with small minnows. I’ll work a jig or bait with my hand line while keeping a watchful eye for a flag to pop on my tip-up. More often, I’ll pick up a half dozen large minnows or chubs at the bait store to try for pike or bass while I work my holes for panfish.

Most tip-ups have adjustable triggers to set the tension for the bait you are using and the species you are targeting.

Another tactic is to set out the maximum number of tip-ups and watch for a flag from the comfort of your hut or car. It is very exciting to suddenly have a flag pop up. Then the mad dash is on to the active tip-up to see what manner of beast tripped the trigger.

Consider these advantages to using tip-ups:

Cover more water. Assuming you are jigging at a fixed location, set your tip-ups in your line of sight at reasonable distances. Find weed lines, drop-offs or structure and try different depths. If fishing is slow, move periodically and strategically. Needless to say, if one location gets repeated hits, close in on that spot and get to work.

Set at different depths to locate fish. The default depth for ice fisherman is within a foot of bottom. Cameras and electronics have proven that fish may be found at any depth on a given day. Setting your tip-ups at different depths in the water column is a great way to find where the fish are roaming. Once a pattern is established, set all your tip-ups at the same depth.

Try different baits. What is on the menu today? Live minnows, salted minnows, wax worms or grubs. Chubs, suckers or smelt. Berkley PowerBait is available in a seemingly endless variety of colors, configurations and sizes. Try the basics or experiment with something new. Equipping tip-ups with these will enable you to try multiple bait combinations effectively, all at one time.

Tip-Ups are affordable. You can get started for a mere $4.99 for a basic HT Enterprises Hardwater Wood Tip-Up. Simply add line, split shot and a hook - you are ready. FishUSA stocks over two dozen models from different manufacturers at multiple price points.

Whether tip-up ice fishing becomes a core part of your ice fishing strategy, or you use tip-ups for exploring and bonus catches, suddenly seeing an orange flag against the white ice will add a new and exciting dimension to your ice fishing season.