Secret Tip-up Tactics For The Heart of Winter Ice Fishing

Walleye and northern pike anglers alike should employ a simple, old school, multi-species technique throughout the hard-water season.

Terry Tuma
Terry Tuma

More and more the past couple of winters, I’ve been using tip-ups as a search tool. In Minnesota, you can have two lines through the ice, so take advantage of this and work a tip-up while jigging with another line.

My typical tip-up rig for walleyes consists of tip-up line, and then at end of line, I use a snap (not a swivel). Then attach your own live bait rig. Think 3-foot snell of mono (it stretches), then at one end of the snell add a black barrel swivel. On the opposite end use 8-pound-test line. Then tie on a 5-millimeter bead and a colored hook. What colors? Vary it between tip-ups – pink, red, purple, whatever … but just mix it up. Maybe use one with a plain hook and one with a colored hook. You’ll find me also using a blade or two, typically 00. It doesn’t spin spontaneously, but your shiner will move that blade, thus adding a little flash to your setup.

Tie two- to four of these pre-rigged snells at home, and then just remove them from a live bait snell holder as you fish. Don’t re-tie during your prime fishing time on the ice.

Finally, place a split-shot on there, 5- to 6 inches above the hook. As for live bait, shiners work extremely well as do larger fatheads. Place your hook near the tail or parallel to the dorsal fin with point toward the head.

Once a tip-up flag pops, catch (and possibly release) that fish, and reset it quickly. Too many guys ding around with tip-ups for too long when they should be jigging their rods. Tip-ups aren’t rocket science. Move them to different holes periodically, but don’t overthink them.


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2 Responses to “Secret Tip-up Tactics For The Heart of Winter Ice Fishing”

  1. Jeanne Godar

    We get 3 lines under the ice and I usually set 2 tip ups and jig. Works well but you do have to move the tip ups occasionally or at least check them so they don’t sit dormant all day.

  2. Justin zingler

    Pike fishing with tip ups ???? Any pointers