How Do I Build Tip-Downs for Ice Fishing?

How Do I Build Tip-Downs for Ice Fishing?
An ice fishing tip-down is a type of fulcrum on which you balance your ice fishing line and reel. If a fish strikes when you use a tip-down, you see it early due to the fulcrum balance tipping down with the fishing line. Another benefit to using a tip-down is that you don't have to keep your hands on the fishing reel or rod, a handy thing when temperatures are below freezing.

You can construct a tip-down with scrap lumber and a few screws, glue and power tools.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Things You’ll Need:
  • One dowel, 1/2 inch
  • Power saw
  • Power drill
  • Two 2x4 2-foot pieces
  • One piece 1 by 1 or 2 by 2 timber, 3-feet long
  • Measuring tape or ruler
  • Pencil
  • One piece of plywood, 1 foot x 1 foot
  • Wood glue
  • Small screws
  • Ice fishing reel
Step 1
Set the two pieces of 2x4 onto a flat working surface so they are stacked on each other. On one end of the stacked 2x4s, measure down in the center a 1 inch by 2 inch rectangle. Mark each side of the 2x4s with a pencil, so you know where to saw out the chunks.
Step 2
Cut out the pieces of marked wood with the saw. Your result should look a bit like a notch on the back end of an arrow. This is where the dowel will rest, letting the fulcrum work. Take the piece of plywood and align the two chunks measuring 2x4 so the cut-out tops are facing up. Place the two pieces in the center of the base plate/plywood so they are even in the middle and spread apart by three inches.
Step 3
Glue the bottom of the 2x4s to the plywood. Let dry. Use a power drill to screw the 2x4s to the base plate as well, adding a redundancy to the fittings. Drill a hole in the 1x1 piece of wood one third of the way from one end. Make sure the hole is wide enough to slide the dowel through. Cut the dowel so you have a 6-inch length. Slide the cut dowel through the hole of the 1x1.
Step 4
Place the dowel with the 1x1 between the 2x4 pieces so it rests in the cut-out notches. It will tip down to the long end at first, which is OK. Attach the ice fishing reel to the short end of the 1x1. Screw the eyelet to the long end of the 1x1 on its top. Thread the fishing line from the reel through this eyelet, using it as a fishing guide.
Step 5
Place the base plate/plywood onto the ice surface and pour water over it to freeze it in place, or dump snow on it to secure it. Weight and secure your line when ready to fish.

Article Written By Eric Cedric

A former Alaskan of 20 years, Eric Cedric now resides in California. He's published in "Outside" and "Backpacker" and has written a book on life in small-town Alaska, "North by Southeast." Cedric was a professional mountain guide and backcountry expedition leader for 18 years. He worked in Russia, Iceland, Greece, Turkey and Belize. Cedric attended Syracuse University and is a private pilot.

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