How do I Set Up an Ice Fishing Tip-Up?

How do I Set Up an Ice Fishing Tip-Up?
Ice fishing with devices called tip-ups allows an angler to have as many lines as regulations allow in the water, with the ability to keep close tabs without having to attend them personally. Tip-ups, equipped with a small flag that will pop up in the air when a fish takes the bait, come in assorted styles. Each type requires a different method to set it up.


Difficulty: Moderate

Wooden Tip-Up

Things You’ll Need:
  • Ice fishing tip-ups
  • Bait
  • Ice fishing tackle and equipment
Step 1
Unscrew the wing nut that holds two wooden arms running parallel to the reel arm---the wooden arm to which the reel attaches at the bottom. Position the arms so they are perpendicular to the reel arm.
Step 2
Tighten the wing nut on the side of the arm you originally loosened. Open the arms up to form a letter X. Tighten the wing nut on top of these two arms to lock them into place. You now have two arms forming an X perpendicular to the reel arm, permitting you to position the tip-up on a hole in the ice when you deploy it, with the two arms supporting it.
Step 3
Remove line from the tip-up's reel. Bait your hook. Drop the baited hook down into the water so it will not freeze as you continue to set up your tip-up.
Step 4
Slide the thin metal strip with the small flag attached to it up the reel arm. Bring it so it goes as far as you can pull it without detaching it from the reel arm.
Step 5
Bend the thin metal strip over and place its crooked end in the small metal notch that is about two-thirds up the reel arm. This is the top of the trip mechanism of the tip-up. When the reel turns, a piece of metal extending from the side of the reel pushes the bottom of the trip wire. This in turn moves the top of the trip wire, knocking the crooked end of the flag off the notch. This releases the bent-over metal strip with the attached flag from the notch, signaling a bite.

Plastic Disc Tip-Up

Step 1
Unscrew the wing nut that holds the reel arm in place parallel to the rounded hard plastic disc body of the tip-up. Allow the reel arm to come down until it is now perpendicular to the disc.
Step 2
Lock the reel arm back in place so it remains perpendicular to the disc.
Step 3
Pull up gently on the spring-loaded flag. The flag is on a telescoping piece of metal. Bring the flag up high enough for you to see from a distance when it goes up. Bait your hook and drop your presentation into the water.
Step 4
Bend the flag over and position it under the T-bar at the top of the reel arm. This type of tip-up works on the same principle as the wooden kind. However, the trigger mechanism is different. When a fish takes the bait and makes the reel spin, it causes the T-bar at the top of the arm to spin, releasing the spring-loaded flag so it can pop up straight.

Arctic Fire Tip-Up

Step 1
Unscrew the locking wing nut so that the reel arm drops down and is perpendicular to the hard plastic rectangular base of the tip-up.
Step 2
Tighten the reel arm to lock it into place. Pull some line off the reel and bait your hook, dropping it into the hole when you finish.
Step 3
Bend over the spring-loaded flag arm. Place its end under the T-bar on the top of the reel arm. Arctic Fire tip-ups work under the same principle, with the spinning reel turning the T-bar and releasing the flag arm.

Tips & Warnings

Arctic Fire tip-ups are the easiest to set up. They are a good fit for the novice ice angler.
Keep your face away from the flags when deploying your tip-ups in case they come off the reel arm and pop up unexpectedly.

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