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Which ice fishing tip-ups are best?

Ice fishing can be exciting and stressful in equal measure. You might have the best equipment, but if you miss the pickup or fish on the line, you could lose your catch of the day. That is why you need a great tip-up.

To never miss the flag popping up ever again, the Frabill Pro Thermal Tip-Up is an excellent choice – no matter the conditions or your ice fishing skills. It also prevents the ice hole from freezing up, so you know that it will always remain open.

What to know before you buy ice fishing tip-ups

Know the basics of fishing with a tip-up

Ice fishing is tricky, and you need to ensure you have the correct technique. But there are a few things that can help you make a success of every cast, and that is where the tip-up comes in. Make sure that you fully know how the tip-up works and research tips and tricks.

You can ice fish with a rod-and-reel

Tip-ups are generally used when fishing by hand in ice holes. After the line has been set, it is attached to the tip-up. When a fish takes the bait, the orange flag will pop up to indicate a hook. The line then needs to be reeled in by hand. But that doesn’t always need to be the case. If you aren’t that good at hand fishing, you can also use the tip-up with a traditional rod and ice fishing reel combination. 

Good line will increase your success

You might have the best spot on the ice, and your gear is ready to go, but if you don’t have a good quality line, fish could snap away in seconds. Make sure that you know which fish are present under the ice and the potential weight. Once you know that, you need to make sure that your line will be strong enough to handle it, even if there is a bit of a struggle to reel them in.

What to look for in quality ice fishing tip-ups

Adjustable trigger mechanism

When there is a fish in the hook, you want to make sure that it stays there – or that it will be worth the effort of reeling it in. Depending on preferences, a good quality ice fishing tip-up will have an adjustable trigger mechanism. The flag should be able to trigger between light tugs on the line or heavier pulls.

Freeze-proof components

Ice fishing naturally takes place on a frozen lake or river. Your equipment will be no good to you if they start to freeze as well. That is why you must always look for accessories made from freeze-proof components and use sub-zero low-temperature lubricants. When tip-up parts start to freeze, the flag could get stuck and fail to rise.

Stable base

Another critical factor when it comes to ice fishing tip-ups is the base. A good quality tip-up will have a base that remains in place over the hole and won’t shift when a fish takes the bait. There is nothing worse than when a fish starts to tug on the line, that you have to decide whether to reel in or save your tip-up from going into the water.

How much you can expect to spend on ice fishing tip-ups

The average price range of an ice fishing tip-up will depend on the device’s features. An affordable tip-up can retail for $20-$30. More complex systems can retail for $30-$50.

Ice fishing tip-ups FAQ

Which tip-up bait should you use?

A. There are no rules as to which bait is better suited for tip-up. That is rather determined by the preference of the fish in the water. But with that said, you need to make sure that your line and hook can handle the bait.

When is the best time for ice fishing?

A. Fish head out to their feeding areas at two specific times during the day. The best time to set up your gear and tip-up is the first few hours before and just after sunrise. In the afternoon, the best time is around sunset.

What are the best ice fishing tip-ups to buy?

Top ice fishing tip-up

Frabill Pro Thermal Tip-Up

Frabill Pro Thermal Tip-Up

What you need to know: A robust tip-up that will make sure the hole stays open.

What you’ll love: Bright orange for excellent visibility, this tip-up is big enough to cover a 10-inch hole. It is made from freeze-proof materials and is insulated – meaning that it will prevent the hole from freezing shut. All the components are treated with sub-zero lubricants, it has a removable spool shaft, and you can set the trigger mechanism to two sensitivities.

What you should consider: Some users have indicated that the trigger is poorly tuned, leading to false indications. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top ice fishing tip-up for the money

Brocraft Ice Fishing Tip-Up

Brocraft Ice Fishing Tip-Up

What you need to know: This is a great tip-up if you prefer to fish with a rod-and-reel combination.

What you’ll love: The sturdy base of this tip-up is best suited when you want to fish with a rod and reel combo. As with all tip-ups, the flag is attached to the line and as soon as a fish tugs, it will jump up. It is best suited for sensitive strikes.

What you should consider: This tip-up doesn’t prevent the hole from freezing over. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Frabill 1674 Blackhawk Assault Tip-Up

Frabill 1674 Blackhawk Assault Tip-Up

What you need to know: This is a simple yet effective way to know when there is a bite.

What you’ll love: Like most tip-ups from Frabill, this model also uses sub-zero lubrication to make sure everything runs smoothly in freezing conditions. The removable spool shaft is big enough to hold about 100 yards of 40-pound line easily. 

What you should consider: There is no rod mechanism, so you can only use it for hand-line fishing.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


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Charlie Fripp writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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