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Tired of watching your bobber float around? Tired of fishing just one ice hole? Then I would like to invite you to see what you have been missing, a tip up. Every ice angler should have a couple of these simple yet effective pieces of equipment in their arsenal. Using tip ups is a great way to add variety to your ice fishing tactics. This article will cover the basics and highlight 5 of the best ice fishing tip ups for 2020.
New to Ice Fishing? Read Ice Fishing 101: How to Ice Fish
What is an Ice Fishing Tip Up / Trap
Tip-ups are all designed to perform the same basic task, alert you when a fish bites. They suspend the bait through a drilled ice hole into the water depth of your choice. When a fish strikes it triggers a flag to alert the angler. You can use tip ups in both shallow and deeper waters so they are versatile.
Begin by drilling a hole in the ice using an auger. Spool the device with line of your choosing. Next, tie it at the end. Add a barrel swivel as well as a leader so the line can be managed without breaking. At the end of the line add the hook with the bait. It is time for the fish to bite.
Why Use a Tip Up / Trap For Ice Fishing
Tip-ups allow you to fish multiple holes at the same time. Set-up multiple tip ups to help you catch more fish. The spool sits underwater so it prevents the line from freezing up. They are easy to set up and are great tools for all anglers including kids and people with disabilities. When fish bite, you will be able to see the direction of their movement revealing the location where your next holes should be drilled. Tip-ups are effective, easy to use, versatile and reasonably priced.
Materials Used in the Best Ice Fishing Tip Ups / Traps
Tip ups come in a variety of designs. The materials and mechanisms used makes them all quite different. Styles vary, but choosing the right materials for your fishing day is what matters most. Knowing which ice fishing tip up to invest in can be difficult, so it is important to know what you are looking for before you begin shopping. Factors to consider are the type of fish you are targeting, location you are fishing and the weather conditions. Features like the weight capacity and spool length determine the types of fish you are able to reel in. Take a look at the three main materials used in Tip-ups: wood, plastic, and metal.
Wood Tip Ups / Traps
Early versions of tip ups were made of wood and even still today wood is sought after due to its durability. However, after a while wood tip ups will begin to break down. Hardwood tip-ups remain the most common tip up used by ice fishermen. The simple design of the hardwood utilizes a wood base, flag notification, and crank handle to pull up your catch.
Plastic Tip Ups / Traps
Plastic is inexpensive, lightweight and brightly colored. A downside of tip ups constructed from plastic is they don’t hold up to the elements or extreme weather well. However, the affordability of plastic tip ups make them a good choice for casual ice fishing.
Metal Tip Ups / Traps
Metal tip ups are favored because they are incredibly tough and durable. They withstand terrible weather and are capable of handling heavier fish. The sacrifice for these advantages is the added weight, as these tips ups are hefty.
Best Ice Fishing Tip Up / Trap Designs
When choosing the best ice fishing tip ups both the materials used and designs matter. Where you fish, what you are fishing for and weather conditions should be examined before you purchase your tipups. So, here are a few tip up designs and how they differ.
Pro-Thermals get plugged into the hole so it is completely filled in by thick insulated material. As a result, this allows the bait to blend in better keeping the sunlight from peeking through the hole. Fish will be more likely to bite the bait on these units. The ice hole is more likely to stay as it was carved rather than melting in or freezing back over. Pro-Thermal tip-ups are great for those harsh weather days.
This hands-free tip up for ice fishing allows the bait to move naturally without you having to hold or move the pole. Windlass tip ups act like a kite or sail boat by moving the bait freely through the water. Fish are attracted to the moving bait with no additional effort needed on the angler’s part.
When managing multiple hooks, this model will save you the hassle of scrambling to the pole to pull in the fish before it is too late. The Auto-Set takes the hands-off approach a step further. Because the rig is spring-loaded so as soon as the fish begin to swim away a trigger pulls the hook in place latching onto the fish.
Affordable, lightweight, inexpensive, and easy to transport. This is the most basic style of tip up and can be found made of wood or plastic. The negative to this style is they are prone to failing and / or freezing. Cross Styles are a good option for mild conditions, budget minded anglers, and kids.
This is one of the only tip ups that does not use a flag to notify you when the fish are biting. Pop-up tip ups use a magnet system. A magnet connects to a second magnet on the spool so when a fish bites the bait the spool turns and the magnets unlatch setting the system into motion. Because the pop up uses magnets, they are great to use when heavy winds make it difficult to count on a flag.
5 Best Ice Fishing Tip Ups / Traps for 2020
Now, let’s take a look at 5 of the best Tip Ups for the 2020 Ice Fishing Season.
The Polar Thermal Extreme uses a patented trip mechanism that is freeze-proof. This thermal tip up keeps your hole free of ice even in sub zero temperatures. HT Polar Thermal Extreme has adjustable tension. With the variable tension settings you are able to easily hunt for a large variety of different fish including walleye, trout and northerns. Although it is lightweight, the space age plastic used makes this tip up durable and tough. The Polar Thermal Extreme is easy to set-up and operate. And as an added bonus it has a built-in tackle storage. This tip up is a solid choice for all ice fishing anglers.
I would categorize the HT Enterprise Husky Deluxe as the best value tip up. Features a wood base with polyurethane coating and the metal components are corrosion resistant. The line trigger has two settings and both are extremely smooth. The spool has a 200 foot line capacity and has a built in line winder. Sub zero temperatures wont even stop this Husky. Because it is built with quality materials it should last for decades of ice fishing. Great price with great performance it features an easy flow 200′ metal spool with handle. The wind tip free wire has two settings and a very sensitive tip.
Still the original, still the smoothest, and still proudly made by hand in the U.S.A. Handcrafted of solid pine the Beaver Dam Original may be more expensive than others but the quality and longevity makes this tip up easy to trust. Beaver Dam Original is freeze and wind proof and it fulfills all ice fishing needs. A smooth line feed, easy flag set-up, hole insulators, and durability make the Beaver Dam Original an easy pick.
This tip up has a variety of personalized features but comes at a higher cost as one of the most expensive. No problems with snags or tangles in the reel (which is a big problem with the cheaper brands). The flag is sensitive enough to pop on soft hits but it doesn’t give you false positives when the wind blows hard. It is fully enclosed for insulation, has a removable spool shaft and dual trip settings. The Frabill Pro is durable, portable and customizable. A nice feature is a small compartment allowing you to store leaders, weights and other accessories.
Fantastic visibility, it stands high on snow-covered ice and the tall orange flag can be seen from long distances . Heritage tip ups have a heavy duty polymer plastic reel with storage hook holes. The tipper mechanism is encased in an oil-filled tube preventing freezing. The 3″ reel has an adjustable drag and the flag trip mechanism is impressive. So, this is the right tip up when fishing waters that hold larger fish, using larger shiners, or like spreading traps out. I like that they stay straight and don’t flop over so just set it and forget it.
Tip Up Tip
Keep your tip up in tip top shape by spraying all of the moving parts. A few times a year use a silicone-based lubricant. Make sure you also spray all of the metal parts with an anti-corrosive chemical. Following theses simply maintenance steps will help keep your tip up working smoothly.
ICE FISHING FUN FACT:
RECORD BREAKER IN FEBRUARY 2019: Darren Troseth fought for more than two hours ice fishing on the St. Croix river in Minnesota bringing in a record breaking 120-pound monster sturgeon.