In recent years I have found myself going away from my tip-ups more and more. It isn’t that they aren’t enjoyable, most of my favorite days on the ice have been spent running back and forth between flags; it is simply that I find myself on the move frequently and when I am not drilling a ton of holes it usually because it is really cold and I am camped out in my fish house. However, with a little work combined with some new technology, tip-up fishing is no longer a sit and wait technique.
Tip-ups can be very effective in a run and gun setup, especially when the fish are on the move over shallow flats with little structure to hold them in one place. With this kind of setup, it is no longer a waiting game with your tip-ups, but you need to be ready to constantly move them to different locations in your area in order to keep them productive. The type of lure you tie on the end of the tip-up makes a huge difference also. While quick-strike rigs are all the rage among pike fisherman, for other species they are not as efficient. While I will at times use a quick strike on my tip-ups, I have found that a spoon or a circle hook increase my hooking percentages for all species. One major benefit to using a spoon as opposed to a quick-strike is that allows you to present many different colors along with your bait. Not only will this help you adjust what you are catching on other tip-ups, but it also shows you certain color preferences on new waters that allows you to change your setup on your jigging rod.
Much like everyone else, I have become a slave to my smartphone. As a fisherman, I will try out almost any fishing related app. My new favorite, however, is the Blue Tipz app from Deep Freeze. Granted, you will need to buy the accessory for your tip-ups (it does work with all existing tip-ups), but being notified directly from your phone the moment your tip-up goes off, and knowing exactly which one (as you can name individual BlueTipz devices) is priceless. Blue Tipz doesn’t just stop at notifying you when your flag goes up though, it also allows you to store data such as:
- What depth you were fishing
- What bait you were using
- Whether or not you landed the fish
- If you kept or released the fish
- Species and length
- Dates and times of day
There are several other things you can do to increase your catch rate while you are fishing tip-ups. One of my best is to hook the minnow upside down. While this isn’t a tactic for a tip-up to remain in one place for a long time, the minnow will constantly struggle to right itself, creating more flash and vibration and attracting fish looking for an easy meal. Another is to cut the tail fins off of the minnow. This makes the minnow swim harder to move, again creating more attraction for fish in the area.
Ice fishing is the fastest growing segment of the fishing industry, and the technology is finally starting to keep up with the growth. Whether it be underwater cameras that fit in your pocket, underwater sonar that shows you what is around you without drilling holes, or a tip-up alert that goes straight to your smart phone the technology is out there. So don’t be afraid to try out all the new technology out there, you will find some very useful tech that will help you catch more fish.