Ice fishing tip-ups are vital equipment for those who venture to winter lakes, ponds and coves. Success on the ice is directly related to how tip-ups are maintained, rigged and utilized. These tip-ups come in a variety of types, but each has a basic premise. Ice fishing tip-ups are designed so a reel containing a line can be in the water below the device; they have a trigger that allows a flag to go above the tip-up when a fish bites, alerting the fisherman, who then will go and check the tip-up.
Ice fishermen first need to figure out what type of tip-up they will purchase. Those who do not want to bother having to clean out the holes drilled in the ice when the wind blows snow into them should buy polar thermal tip-ups. These tip-ups are designed so a flat disc fits over the hole and keeps out and snow, while the reel arm sits perpendicular to the disc and allows the reel to sit underneath the ice while the flag fits into a trip device on top of the arm. Polar thermal tip-ups also will keep the hole from freezing, which is a big selling point for this variety. Standard wooden tip-ups and those made of hard plastic should be considered when there is no snow on the ice. They can be seen from a farther distance. Choose colors that stand out such as fluorescent orange or yellow.
Maintenance and rigging tips
Every tip-up needs to be carefully checked before ice-fishing season. The attached line should be meticulously checked for nicks and abrasions that might precipitate the line to break under the stress from a large fish. Tip-ups should have moving parts oiled and should be put through a dry run to make sure they are in working order. There needs to be at least 30 yards of line on the tip-up, and anglers should use at least 20-pound test ice-fishing line.
Weather related tips
When the conditions are windy, an angler needs to pay attention to how he sets his tip-up in the hole. He should set the tip-up so the wind cannot blow the flag off the trigger device, a scenario ice fishermen refer to as a "wind flag." By setting the tip-up in the hole with the trigger device facing the wind, the flag should not go up when the breeze picks up. When the temperature is very cold, tip-ups will freeze. Anglers should go around to the holes the tip-ups are in and chip away the ice from the device so when a flag does go up, the fisherman doesn't have to deal with a frozen hole. When picking up a tip-up at the end of a very cold day, do not try to force frozen parts closed. Close the tip-up as much as you can without putting a great deal of stress on it and bring it home, where you can thaw it out before properly folding it.
Anglers should deploy tip-ups over a wide area if they are fishing unfamiliar lakes or ponds. In this way, he possibly can find out where the fish are, then move his tip-ups to where the action is. Conversely, it is prudent to move tip-ups to new locations if he is not getting any action in a certain area. Another good idea is to set tip-ups so the bait is presented to the fish at various depths. Some can be set with the shiner just below the ice, while others can be set with the shiner just off the bottom. If a pattern develops that alerts the fisherman to what depth is producing the most bites, then they can adjust tip-ups accordingly.