How to Use Ice Fishing Equipment

How to Use Ice Fishing Equipment
There are two pieces of ice fishing equipment that the fisherman familiar with only a rod and reel will need to gain some experience with before attempting to go out in the winter to try his luck. The ice auger that drills the holes in the ice and the tip-ups that are put in those holes to catch fish can be tricky to use for the first time. All the rest of the fishing tackle and equipment necessary to be successful on the ice is virtually the same as is used in the warmer months.


Difficulty: Challenging

Step 1
Take the blade guards off your ice auger and select a spot to drill a hole once you are certain the ice is safe, with at least 4 inches under you. Choose where you want to deploy your tip-ups. Position the ice auger with the blades on the ice and your feet about 18 inches apart.
Step 2
Press down on the auger as you start to turn it. Make sure you are turning it the right way and that the blades are digging into the ice--this will quickly be obvious if you are doing it incorrectly. If you are right-handed the handle should be under your right shoulder; vice versa if you are left-handed.
Step 3
Use your own weight to bear down on the auger as you turn it. Hold the top of the handle steady and turn the auger with the other hand. Try to center the shoulder of whatever hand that is holding the top of the handle directly over the handle as you turn the auger. If the blades are sharp you will cut through 4 to 6 inches of ice in as little as 12 to 20 seconds. Push the auger down when you finally break through the ice and then carefully remove it.
Step 4
Open up your tip-up. A wooden tip-up unfolds in such a way that two of the wooden arms form an "X" that supports another wooden arm holding the reel and flag perpendicular to them. Tighten the nuts that hold these arms in place.
Step 5
Bait your hook with whatever bait you are using. Hook shiners behind their dorsal fin and secure grubs and worms by hooking them through their thickest part. Run some line off the spool and drop it down the hole you drilled to the depth at which you want your bait suspended above the bottom.
Step 6
Hold the reel so no more line can unspool from it and prepare to affix your flag onto its notch. Pull the flag up and bend it over. Hook the bent end of the flag under the notch provided on the perpendicular reel arm of the tip-up. It will be about two-thirds up on the arm from where the reel is attached. Be certain that you position the flag on the correct side of the mechanism attached to the tip-up that moves the flag off its notch when the reel spins.
Step 7
Place the tip-up in the hole. Be careful that you do not trip the flag as you do this by accident, precipitating a painful slap in your face by the thin metal arm of the flag. Repeat these steps to deploy the remainder of your tip-ups.
Step 8
Watch your tip-ups for a flag to go up. If the flag pops up it means that a fish has grabbed the bait, making the reel spin. This in turn causes the reel to trip the mechanism that knocks the flag off its notch. Walk to the tip-up. look to see if the line is out under the ice or if the reel is spinning and gently remove the tip-up from the hole. Place it on the ice, grab the line, set the hook and pull the fish in.

Tips & Warnings

Do not be discouraged if you have problems learning how to drill holes with your auger. With practice your technique will improve.
Always be sure to replace the blade guards when you are finished using your auger. Leaving the sharp blades exposed is dangerous, especially on a surface like ice where falls can occur near the auger.

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