When it comes to ice fishing gear, there is one item that is a must have for a day on the frozen lake, the classic tip up! Knowing which ice fishing tip up to invest in can be difficult, so it is important to know what you are looking for before you begin shopping. There are a number of considerations to take into account when it comes to finding a model that works for your purposes.
You must look at the location you will be fishing, how long you will be using the tip-up, and the weather conditions it will experience. It is also important to look at the types of fish like trout or walleye that you’re hoping to catch.
There are features like the weight capacity and spool length that will determine the types of fish you are able to reel in. Taking into account all these factors can help you to select the right model of tip-up.
We break down the pros and cons for the top 10 ice fishing tip ups for this season. Choosing the right tip-up depends on your style of ice fishing and where you plan to fish. The list below is based on feedback from our fishing community in the cold weather states like Minnesota, Michigan, Alaska, and more.
Top 10 Ice Fishing Tip Ups
- Beaver Dam Original Tip Up
- Frabill Arctic Fire
- Frabill 1664 Classic Tip-Up Wooden
- HT Enterprise Husky Deluxe Tip-up
- Hayabusa Heritage Deluxe Wood Tip-Up Drag Reel
- HT Polar Therm Extreme Tip-Up, Orange
- Frabill Blackhawk Assault Tip-Up
- Eagle Claw Ice Fishing Arctic Tip-up
- Frabill Pro Thermal Round Tip-Up Kit
- Celsius Heavy Duty SBTU-50 Tip Up
Beaver Dam Original Tip Up
This is a classic model that is sure to meet all your needs as an ice fisherman. It has the durable finish that will keep this product functioning for years without having to waste money on repair or replacement. Being exposed to the winter elements can get expensive, which is why the freeze proof and windproof finish is so important on this model.
• Fool proof, freeze proof, and wind proof
• More expensive than competing brands
Why we like it: The longevity of Beaver Dam makes it easy to trust any of their products. Try this exciting tip-up to help you fulfill your ice fishing needs.
Frabill Arctic Fire
This product features several qualities—like a tapered rail—that allow for easy implementation as well as easy removal. For a fast and simple job, this tip up is a great option. Without the freeze proof qualities though, it may not be as long-lasting as other more durable models. If you are serious about winter fishing you should also get a pair of ice fishing gloves.
• Tapered rail design
• Dual trip mechanism
• Removable spool shaft
• Not freeze proof
Why we like it: This design is wonderful for easy usage. This means no muss and no fuss while out on the lake. It is also beautifully designed with a 17.5-inch flag shaft.
Frabill 1664 Classic Tip-Up Wooden
One of the best ways to ensure proper function of a tip up is to check that its spooling is designed properly. This model is a favorite due to its frictionless spooling methods. It is able to work exceedingly well without breaking or accumulating wear and tear due to friction.
• Removable spool shaft
• Sub-zero low-temperature lubricant
• Dual trip settings
• No freeze proof qualities
Why we like it: This model utilizes design elements so that it can be re-greased to save users time and effort. It’s remarkably easy to utilize this device in a way that fits your personal fishing style.
HT Enterprise Husky Deluxe Tip-up
This product includes a wood frame and a metal spool with 200 inches of slack. Its shipping weight is a pound and a half, and it has a wind tip free wire with two settings. When you’re out on the ice, durability is key, which is why the HT Enterprise Husky Deluxe’s freeze-proof settings are so essential to its ability to save clients time and money.
• Freeze proof settings
• No frictionless spool
Why we like it: This tip-up is a favorite for its freeze proof settings. Many utilize this item for its 200-inch spool with plenty of slack to play with.
Hayabusa Heritage Deluxe Wood Tip-Up Drag Reel
This model is designed with hardwood construction and stainless steel attachments to provide quality functionality. It has an impressive line capacity of 500in. of 36-lbs test. With its size, it is a great model for monitoring from afar.
The construction of this model is incredibly durable and long-lasting. Standing up to tough weather conditions is no problem for this device that is made of combined stainless steel and other materials.
• Higher line capacity than other models
• Stainless steel trip level
• A bit more expensive than other models
Why we like it: This model is the perfect option for observing from afar. With a 500-inch line capacity, you can kick back and still ensure that you won’t miss your catch while you fish.
HT Polar Therm Extreme Tip-Up, Orange
This unit is much larger than other tip-ups on the market, which comes with its positives and negatives. It includes freeze-proof technology to allow for long-term durability on the frozen lake. It has adjustable tension so that you can really customize the model for what type of fish you are trying to catch. The hole cover keeps light out.
• Thermal control
• Adjustable tension
• This unit is larger and can be more difficult to transport
Why we like it: The customizability of this model makes it easier to catch different kinds of fish and to adjust to various environments.
Frabill Blackhawk Assault Tip-Up
The design of this tip-up ensures durability. It has a molded base and bait clip feature with lures. It is approximately 11 ounces and functions well regardless of temperature and environmental factors.
• Sub-zero, low-temperature lubricant
• Removable spool shaft
• Dual trip settings
• Lacks customizability
Why we like it: The Blackhawk assault tip-up has committed to functionality and convenience. It offers a compromise of ease of transport and usage with relatively impressive durability.
Eagle Claw Ice Fishing Arctic Tip-up
Weighing approximately 11 ounces, this exceptional model has an impressive line capacity and vibrant flag to help ensure that you notice when a fish begins to bite. Experts love it for its versatility in fishing at varying depths.
• 65-yard line capacity
• Lack of customizability
Why we like it: The line capacity is the major draw of this product, which is why it’s a better option for fish that reside deeper down in the water, rather than those that typically spend a lot of time near the surface.
Frabill Pro Thermal Round Tip-Up Kit
The 20-inch flag on this model is great for ensuring you notice when your lure is being bitten. This model is popular because of its myriad impressive qualities. It encompasses some of the best innovations in this type of fishing technology. It is engineered to help with insulation, re-lubrication, and customizability.
• Fully enclosed for insulation
• Removable spool shaft
• Dual trip settings
• One of the more expensive tip-ups on the market
Why we like it: Often, customizability and a variety of features comes at the cost of size or durability, but this model offers it all. It is portable and easy to install at varying locations while still being highly customizable.
Celsius Heavy Duty SBTU-50 Tip Up
High-quality components make up this exciting new model by Celsius. It is approximately 12 ounces and comes pre-spooled, so set up is simple. However, it does not come with several factors that may assist in providing the most long-term durability. What it lacks in durability it makes up for in convenience and efficiency.
• Convenient, easy set-up
• Less durable
Why we like it: It can be difficult to know how to figure out how to set up these devices, which is why this model is so great. It is easy to set up due to it being pre-spooled.
Advice for Buying Tip Ups
Obvious factors like durability and weather resistance are key in choosing the right tip up for you, but there is more to tip ups than just those basics. There are many types of ice fishing tip ups available for you to purchase, which is why it is important to read up on the specifics before you make your purchase!
What Is an Ice Fishing Tip Up?
An ice fishing tip up is an essential piece of ice fishing gear that allows you to fish without needing to hold poles or plant them on unsteady ground. Also called an ice fishing trap, it essentially holds the bait suspended under the ice at optimal depths. It utilizes a system (often a flag) to notify those above the water that the bait has been touched.
The basic features of a tip-up are a flag, a spool, and a base, in addition to a few other components. The bait is on a hook and a pulley system below the ice. You can use the spool to set a depth that you’d like the bait to linger, making it the perfect trap for fish. You won’t be bothered by shaky hands jostling the bait even if the bait is shifting from side to side.
One of the major advantages of a tip up is that it allows you to have multiple lines in the water at one time. This means that you can have a more active day of fishing out on the lake.
Who Needs a Tip Up?
Ice fishermen can utilize tip ups to assist them in fishing more conveniently and cover more area at once. If you are an individual or small team that wants to fish more efficiently, using ice fishing tip ups can be incredibly helpful. These devices allow you to have multiple lines in the water at the same time. The bottom line is that anyone who partakes in ice fishing can use a tip-up to enhance their experience and hopefully catch a lot more fish.
How Do They Work?
Using the tip up begins drilling a hole in the ice using an ice auger. After drilling a hole, spool the device with the line you’ve purchased and tie it at the end. After this, add the barrel swivel to the device as well as the leader so that the line can be managed without breaking.
At the end of the tip up line, add the hook, with the bait or an ice fishing lure on the end, and wait for the fish to bite.
Which Tip Ups Are Best for Each Type of Fish?
With all of the varying features being taken into account, there are some tip ups that are better designed to help catch different species of fish. It is important to know the distinctions before purchasing your device.
For trout, you’ll want to fish shallow, which means you may want to go with a tip up with a shorter spool length, which may end up saving you money. Investing in a tip up with an exceedingly long spool length will do you no good with trout and will simply lose you money that could be spent enhancing more useful qualities.
To catch both perch and walleye, you can set your tip up at relatively similar settings. The removable spool shaft on the Frabill pro is great because it allows for you to have an easier time re-spooling and re-baiting your hook, as these fish are in abundance in the area, but also tend to be able to snatch bait without being noticed.
When ice fishing for crappie, it is also important to ensure that your device is easily set off. Flags that don’t move with slight movement of the bait may miss the nibbles of this fish, and cost you your bait. For pike on the other hand it is important to prioritize movement. Any device that can operate and jig the bait for you will be great for snagging a pike fish.
Types of Ice Fishing Tip Ups
While a tip up might seem like a straightforward purchase, there are vastly different characteristics that alter the way each device functions. Within these groups of features, there are a few key types of ice fishing tip ups that fishers can purchase to use on their next fishing trip.
Below are listed some of the most popular tip-up types and a bit about each of them. Use this buyer’s guide to make an educated decision in choosing the best fit for you.
These devices prioritize insulation. Once the hole has been cut in the ice, the device gets plugged into the hole so that it is completely filled in by thick, insulated material. This allows for the bait to blend in better as sunlight can’t peek in through the hole. Fish are therefore more likely to bite the bait on these units.
This type of cover also means the hole is more likely to stay as it was carved, rather than melting in or freezing back over. Overall, pro-thermal tip-ups are great for days when the weather conditions and temperature changes may be more harsh than usual.
If you are looking to ensure that fish see and take an interest in your bait, the windlass tip up is a good way to go. This hands-free method of ice fishing allows the bait to move naturally without you having to hold or move the pole.
It essentially functions like a kite or a sail boat, letting the wind move the bait in the water through the use of the device. Regardless of the state of the tide or whether or not the pole is being held, the bait can move around naturally. This natural movement allows the fish to see and move towards the bait. It increases overall frequency of catching fish without demanding any additional work or effort on the part of the ice angler.
Hardwood tip-ups are the originals. They are the most commonly used by ice fishermen. The simple design of the hardwood tip up utilizes a wood base, a flag to notify you when your bait is being touched or moved, and a crank handle to pull up and reel in the fish when it’s time.
These are one of the only models that do not use the flag to notify when the fish is biting the bait. While in general, flags work wonderfully, but on a windy day, it can be difficult to know which flags indicate bait being stolen and which are simply the result of a stray gust of wind.
Pop-up tip ups eliminate that confusion by using a magnet system. The magnet connects to a second magnet on the spool, and when a fish bites the bait, the spool turns and the magnets unlatch, which sets the system into motion.
This device takes the hands-off approach a step further than even the regular models. The rig is spring-loaded so that as soon as the fish begins to swim away with bait, a trigger pulls the hook into place, latching onto the fish and ready for you to reel it in for the catch.
Especially when managing so many hooks in the water at once, this model can save you the hassle of scrambling to get to the pole to pull the fish before it is too late.
The cross style is perfect for anyone who doesn’t want to break the bank on their first investment in ice fishing. They are useful and lightweight, perfect for traveling and carrying around, but aren’t the best models available for serious ice fishers.
This model uses, like many others, a flag and is often made of either wood (the original models) or plastic (newer editions of the original tool).
Other Ice Fishing Considerations
You will need a few more items on your gear list to have a fun and successful day on the ice. We suggest an ice scoop for clearing holes when they start to slush and freeze over a little or getting some hole covers. Speaking of holes, you’ll need to cut through the ice and drill a few spots. having the right ice auger will make a big difference. Carrying all your tackle to the fishing spot might be a tough task, so try using an ice sled to slide your gear over the frozen lake and easily to your hole. Staying warm is one of the most important factors to having fun on the ice or freezing your butt off, so we suggest an ice fishing suit to keep you nice and toasty. Lastly, do you sit on a bucket in the elements or should you get a shelter to protect you from the wind and snow. Also consider a nice portable heater to warm your buns out there on the ice.
Lastly, invest in a quality pair of ice fishing gloves. You will need them to hand line in the fish because unlike regular rod and reels set ups, you need to pull in the fish by hand with a tip-up. The right gloves will protect your hand from the cold and line.
Ultimately, you’ll find that the best ice fishing tip ups are the ones that work for you. It’s something that only you can know, but hopefully, these details will help you to figure out what each model can do for you. Ice fishing tip ups are a great option to help you get more lures in the water, so that your day of ice fishing can be more productive, exciting, and efficient.
This investment can add excitement and fun to your fishing days, or increase productivity on a job that requires you to fill a quota. Looking at the varying features is important, and once you see these features, you can make the most educated decision.
A cross style beginner model is perfect for those who want to make a short-term investment to get started in ice fishing, and a pro-thermal device with freeze-resistant and wind-resistant properties is better for experienced professionals who want to improve the quality of their ice fishing gear.
Knowing these clear distinctions can help you to ensure that you are investing in the equipment that will help you catch more fish.