Ice Fishing Tip Ups

Ice Fishing Tip Ups: How to Spread Out and Catch Trophies Fast

When you think of ice fishing, your first thought is probably ice fishing tip ups – even if you’re not familiar with the term yet. Tip ups are generally used to catch larger prey, such as lake trout, larger walleye and pike, and consist of a base, an arm with a spool of line, a trigger bar and a spring-loaded arm with a flag.

The reason a tip up is so ideal for larger predators, is that it is used to suspend your bait to your desired depth, without actually having to hold a rod in your hand. This not only allows you to fish on multiple different lines at once, but makes those heftier fish easier to catch and lift.

ice fishing tip ups
source: Brocraft

So, what’s the best way to spread out your tip ups and catch your trophies? There are several ways in order to maximize the amount of fish that you’re catching with your ice fishing tip ups. We’re going to take you through our top tips on how to get the most out of your tip ups.

Proven Ice Fishing Tip Ups & Strategies

There are several ways that you can maximize your gains by spreading out and catching trophies. Not only are there strategies that are designed to catch as many fish as possible, but there are tools created to help you do just that. By choosing to implement some or all of these strategies, there’s truly no cap on what you can catch. Let’s look at some proven ice fishing tips and strategies to maximize your success.

Utilizing Electronics

Nowadays, there are several incredible fish finder technologies available, which can quite literally show you what’s going on underneath the ice the moment it’s happening. Sonar GPS combo units are the newest option in ice fishing electronics, and brings additional options that were not previously available on flasher units. They offer a range of features including real-time sonar (RTS), multi-screen viewing options, adjustable zoom windows, GPS with waypoints, digital lake maps, and multi-season use.

Stay on the Grid

An effective way to cover all your points is by drawing out and using a grid or diamond pattern. In order to achieve this, four holes are drilled with your auger in a diamond shape, about 30 to 40 yards across. This will be in the center if you’re using a tip up. Drilling several diamonds is a good method if you want to form a grid, but check your local law to see if it’s allowed. In the center hole, place a tip up and place jigging setups down the grid.

Thermal Tip Ups

Although the traditional wood plank remains the most popular type of tip up, the pro thermal style tip up is gaining popularity. This type of tip up was created to cover and insulate the entire hole, while preventing ice overs. This makes it easy to remove thermal tip ups from the ice, rather than chipping away at the ice to remove a wood or plastic plank tip up. Many thermal ice fishing tip ups have built-in tackle compartments and LED lights built in, making them an incredibly convenient way to ice fish.


It’s important to make sure that you’re not just setting up your tip ups and forgetting about them. Unless you’re fishing in a totally weedless environment, you need to make sure that live bait does not tangle up. It’s important to check your lines periodically to make sure that your line hasn’t tangled up in the weeds and that your bait is lively. If you don’t monitor your tip ups, you may be wasting a lot of valuable time watching a tip up whose flag will never go up due to a tangled line.

Maximize Flag Visibility

Maximizing flag visibility is top on the list of importance when it comes to ice fishing. It’s important that your tip ups are aligned so when they go up, you’ll be able to see it if you’re in the shelter.A great idea to maximize visibility is to attach a few LED lights to the flag pole, which is a super cheap add-on if your tip didn’t already come with lights.

Maximize Happy Hour

Most anglers know that happy hour is the time of day before and after dusk, and the best time to attract as many fish as possible. This is the time of day when fish become most active and search to feed, particularly walleyes. This means that starting to drill your tip up holes right at this time is not the way to go – make sure that your holes are set up well in advance of the happy hour.

Try Quick Strike Rigs

If you have difficulty setting up the hook on a single treble bait rig, it might be a good idea for you to try a Quick Strike rig. One of the biggest benefits of the quick strike rig is that anglers do not have to wait for fish to swallow the bait, as they contain two or three hook rigs. This not only leads to more lip-hooked fish, but a lot more releasable fish as well.

Quick strike rigs can add a new element to your fishing arsenal, and can make your hookup success rate soar, which is especially true with big northern pike. Quick Strike rigs can be fished with live and dead bait together, by placing one hook near the tail and the other above the dorsal fin.

Final Thoughts

Tip up ice fishing may have a bad rap, being considered a “lazy” method of fishing. While yes, there is surely a time to sit back and watch the tips ups from the comfort of your shanty, but it’s also earned through hard work. Your technique for covering water is more than half the battle after you’ve set up your tip ups, and will ultimately bring you success. You need to cover water in order to find untapped fish, and our tips and strategies on how to spread out and catch more trophies can most definitely help you do it.

For more ice fishing gear and related information check out this article.

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Roy Ericson

Roy Ericson started fishing when he was just a boy, like many of us did. He spent far too much time on the piers not being able to catch anything, until his uncle brought him deep sea fishing, out to the lakes of Michigan, where he lived, and to the various ponds in neighboring states. He’s been all over, caught over 400 different species of fish, and doesn’t believe you should embellish your stories. He’s just here to teach you about his absolute favorite thing in the world: fishing.