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Types of Tip-Ups

Read about different types of tip-ups you can try on your next ice fishing expedition. Investing in ice fishing tip-ups increases your odds of catching a fish.

Multiple holes, multiple opportunities to catch some fish below the ice. Tip-ups are flagging systems that make it easier to keep an eye on multiple holes rather than staring down hypnotically into a single hole. There are numerous types of tip-ups, with varying features and made from different materials. Find out what works for you after you peruse the options below…

Rail Tip-ups

These are the most common type of tip-ups you’ll see scattered on the ice. The largest variation in the design comes from the use of wood or plastic for the base material. This style has a horizontal support frame (rail), with a shaft or cylinder that crosses the horizontal support to form a t-shape. At the end of the shaft that is submerged, there is a free-spinning spool, while the other end has a notched spindle bar. The spring-loaded flag is restrained by this notch, until the spool spins and releases it.

Extra-large versions of this model are advantageous for fishing in deep water or on snowy ice. They provide greater stability in these situations, and also have larger flags and oversized spools—sometimes with the capacity to hold 500 feet of line. Plastic rail tip-ups weigh less than the wood versions. Standard models hold about 200 feet of line. 

Thermal Tip-ups

These types of tip-ups were developed to combat the cold conditions under which ice fishing is usually conducted. Using pretty basic innovation, they utilize insulated, round inserts to prevent the hole from freezing in even frigid temps. Some of these fit precisely in the hole (in which case the edges should be packed with snow for further insulation). Others cover the hole completely, which is also great for shielding light from streaming into the dark water on wary fish.

As an added bonus, these tip ups are usually pretty easy to transport. You can even get some that fit nicely stacked inside a 5-gallon bucket.

Pop-Up Tip-Ups

Tip-up flags can raise false alarms when they catch wind or have a false trip. Pop-up tip-ups were developed as a solution to the sometimes-unreliable flag mechanism. These tip-ups have a sensitive, magnetic mechanism. When the magnets on these tip-ups are lined up, the spool below doesn’t spin. However, when a fish bites, the spool spins and breaks the magnetic connection. When the magnet is released, a brightly-colored internal shaft “pops-up” from the tip-up.

This type of tip-up is great in windy areas. Also, they’re great for light-biting fish because of the sensitivity of the magnets.

Windlass Tip-Ups

Windlass tip-ups harness the natural power of wind to jig the line. Utilizing an adjustable metal plate, the plate is positioned in accordance with your desired amount of bait movement. The plate catches the wind (like a sail) to jig the line. The bait movement isn’t necessarily precise, but the occasional movement can definitely increase the success of dead bait.

Cross Style

Perhaps the most basic style of tip-up, this style has also lasted the most generations of ice fishing. Originally, these setups were made of wood, with a more recent shift to plastic versions. Light and inexpensive, you get what you pay for with this model—as they are prone to failing and/or freezing. A good option for mild conditions and those on a budget, I’d otherwise suggest investing in a sturdier type of tip-up.

Tip-ups, like any hunting or fishing tool, are something to learn and finesse. Find what works best for you and the area you fish with trial and error. Investing in tip-ups increases your odds of catching a fish and your productivity. If you’re just getting involved in the sport, maybe start with a simple cross style for a short-term investment. Once you’ve pulled up a few fish, graduate to more complex models. More expensive, thermal tip-ups are a great long-term investment for combating freezing temperatures and windy conditions. 

You can now gear up for ice fishing with DSG’s newest line of specifically designed ice fishing outerwear. Don’t sacrifice comfort, warmth or fit this ice fishing season.

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