Ice Fishing Tip-up Guide and How to Use Them [2022 Update]

Updated on August 29, 2022 by

An ice fishing tip-up is an essential and critical tool for ice fishing. The tip-up keeps the live bait suspended under the ice. It sends signals up when there is a fish strike. The angler does not need to keep a constant touch with the tip-up as is required when you use a fishing rod.

The tip-up is a great option when you fish a large area with the help of multiple fishing holes. It allows you to move from one fishing hole to another after you have set up the tip-up. You can watch the different tip-ups set up in an area from a distance.

You can catch pikes, pan-fishes, and walleyes by using different hook sizes and leaders. 

If you intend to go ice-fishing this season, you must be planning to buy a few tip-ups. But before you buy, spend some time researching and thinking about how you can get the best tip-up so that you get true value for every dollar spent. There is little doubt that you want to buy the best quality tip-up.

There is a problem with how to define the quality here. We are going to present you with an Ice Fishing Tip-up Buying Guide in the next section of this article. This should make everything about tip-ups crystal clear to you.

After you have understood the different types of tip-ups available in the market and the parts used in them, you can make an informed decision about which tip-up you want for ice fishing. Surely, you would be looking to buy high-quality products, which are strong and durable.

You would use fishing tip-ups in harsh conditions so they should be made of high-quality materials to stay strong throughout your fishing sessions. 

Ice Fishing Tip-Up Buying Guide

Trip Bar

How would you want your tip-up – heavy trip or light trip? Whichever way you want it, the trip bar in your fishing gear will do that for you. The heavy trip is for catching large fishes or fishing in windy conditions where the flag needs to stay firm until there is a serious catch down there under the ice.

A light trip can help you notice even the minutest fish strikes. This setting is good for catching small fishes.

Wide Stable Base

You need a wide base for the tip-up to be stable over the hole. It is a feature that you may tend to overlook, but only to your disadvantage. If the base is longer, it will hold the tip-up more securely. 

Flag Lock

This is an in-built feature that keeps the indicator flag neatly in its place. It prevents any damage or tangling with the leader or the line of the tip-up. 

Hook Holder

This is a part of the tip-up paraphernalia that stores hooks and tackle in a safe and secure manner, not allowing any snag or tangle on the additional tackle during their storage. 

Large Bait Clip

The job of a bait clip is to keep the line steady during action under the snow. Without this, the movements of oversized bait can cause false trips by setting off the flag.  

Large Quality Spools (Steel/ Plastic)

When shopping for a tip-up, an important consideration should be to find a large and high-quality spool for holding the line. It should be made of rust-free metal or good quality plastic. The large size is a good idea because you can spool more line and backing.

Not having enough lines on spool especially when you have found a new hotspot can be extremely disappointing.

Types of Fishing Tip-ups
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This kind of tip-up covers the entire hole and prevents it from freezing. It comes with an insulated core and in a unique round shape that completely covers the ice hole. The insulation material prevents the hole or the tip-up from freezing.

It covers the hole so effectively that it does not let in any daylight through the hole. So, the fishes are not spooked when they come attracted to the bait. It has a compact design that allows it to be stacked up horizontally in an average 10-gallon pail.

Pro-Thermal Tip-Ups have a stow-away design that makes it convenient to transport the tackle to the fishing area and back. This kind of tip-up is a new innovation in the fishing scene.

Automated Jigging

Tip-ups have always been a lackadaisical way of fishing where you set it up and forget it. The bait remained suspended in an area where you believed the fishes were. But all these changes once you start using automatic jigging tip-ups.

The line in this kind of tip-ups gets jigged for hours without an interruption. This is a major advantage over the standard tip-up that keeps the baits suspended motionless. The continuous jigging keeps the baits in a clever move that can attract even the laziest of the fishes for a strike.

These kinds of tip-ups are powered by D-cell batteries that provide up to 10 hours of jigging the lines continuously even in the coldest conditions. 


This is a new type of ice fishing tip-up that uses a paddle to catch the wind that provides the jigging motion to the line and the bait. The windlass can keep the bait activated even when the winds are calm. It uses a V-shaped frame that makes the removal easy from the ice.

Classic Hardwood

This is a traditional ice-fishing tool that fishing enthusiasts have been using for no less than a century. It has a stable footprint as well as a highly visible flag. It also has a crank handle for efficient retrieval of your line and a large spool.

Final Thoughts

Tip-ups are time-tested and highly-efficient fishing equipment. If you are venturing to the icy locations this season, you should not forget to carry a few tip-ups to make your cold sojourn more eventful, exciting, and also rewarding.

We have presented here an Ice Fishing Tip-up Buying Guide that should give you all the necessary information about the types of tip-ups available on the market and the parts that play important roles in making your tip-up work in harsh conditions. Fishing is something that you become better at with experience. So, keep fishing and have a nice time out there!

With this knowledge, you should be able to ice-fish with greater efficiency and results. 

Photo of author

Captain Russ Egan

Captain Russ is an avid fisherman. He has fished all over the world for more than two decades, primarily for saltwater game fish but also for local trophy fish. Russ writes reviews for all of his fishing gear to help others achieve their own fishing goals. His favorite reel is a Shimano Curado Baitcaster. His dream is to catch a Black Marlin.