For today’s column, I will assume that many readers may have a very basic knowledge, or need a refresher on the many different types of “tip ups” there are. For starters, a basic tip up consists of a frame of some sort, that suspends the spool of line, the drop line and the lure or bait in the water, with a flag or other indicator above the ice that indicates when a fish has taken the bait. It is really that simple. There are tip ups that span the hole, leaving the hole open and exposed, to tip ups that completely cover and seal the hole to keep it from freezing, with the line in the middle of the hole.
The spool of line remains in the water, to keep from freezing, and when the fish takes line, it spins the spool, releasing the flag that indicates the fish is running with the bait. The angler then picks up the tip up, and hand lines the line, laying it as neatly as possible on the ice until the fish is at the hole and then landed. This can literally be “hand to hand” combat and some folks would rather fish this way then with a rod and reel. Traditional tip ups can be very inexpensive, with many starting at the $10 mark.
More elaborate systems allow the angler to utilize a rod and reel, while still having a flag or other indicator to show when a fish is hooked. These items are becoming more and more popular, with two of my favorites being the I Fish Pro and the Arctic Warrior by Clam Outdoors. Both of these systems allow the fish to take line before the fish realizes it is hooked, and is up to the angler to pick up the reel, stop the line and then fight the fish. Prices begin around $30.
Next is what is known as tip DOWNS, these typically suspend a rod and reel high above the ice, and pivot down with the bite, and hold the fish with a closed bail until the angler gets to the rod. Often a flag, bell or other indicator is employed and the framework is built to hold a fighting fish without failing. Some tip downs are wind driven and will jig the lure up and down. Only a few models are commercially made, Sullivan Tip Downs and HT Enterprises are two well-known brands, and there are dozens of plans for the do it yourselfer online.
Lastly, we have the hook setting devices such as the very popular Jaw Jacker and Automatic Fisherman. These devices utilize a mechanism that preloads the rod so when a fish takes the bait, the hook is set by the rod springing up. Recently, the Jigging Jaw Jacker base has been added, utilizing a small electric motor that moves the device, jigging the bait for you.
No matter which style of tip up you choose to use, you must know the regulations for your particular area, as many states require you to be “in control at all times” when using tip ups (usually meaning within eyesight) and Minnesota for example does not allow any type of device that hooks the fish mechanically. In my next column, I will look at the many different types of lure and bait rigging when using tip ups.
Tournament and derby season is in full swing, with several over the next couple of weekends. The regional Perch Pounder opens on Feb. 1 and runs through Feb. 29; the next Perch Assault event will take place Feb. 1, and has been relocated to Lower Thompson from the original Middle Thompson; and the 15th annual Ryan Wagner Memorial ice derby will happen Feb. 8 on Murphy Lake. This is an awesome derby for the kids with a proud history, one that I will highlight further in my Feb. 6 column.
I’ll see you on the water!