TIP UP TIPS!!! Chillin n Drillin Series #11
By Montana Grant

Posted: January 21, 2023

Tip ups are a way to ice fish. You can bait and set the rig and wait for a bite. When the fish hits, the trigger releases and a flag flip up, letting you know that you had a bite.

The other day on Canyon Ferry, we were surrounded by groups of fishermen with tip ups. They had drilled a hole 10 yards apart from shallow to deeper. Several times, we watched them running to a tipped off flag. From where we sat, I could see that there were no fish on the line. They never iced a trout.

The problem was that the trout were just nudging the bait. Light bites will set off the tip up, but not hook the fish.

Bait is too big    I watched the guys using huge baits. Why add a Burrito when a chip will do? Long bits of worm will get pulled and not hooked.

                Sharpen the hooks    If you sharpen the hooks, you will have 3 times as many hook ups! You can also Kant the hook to the side to get a better hook set. Use forceps to make sure the hook gap allows plenty of space for the fish to get hooked.

                Use a cover over the hole    Use a cover on your hole to limit the light. Sunny days mean shadows. Approach the holes from the down light side. Fish will be more aggressive when approaching a hole that seems like the rest of the area.

                Braid works well    Heavy mono or cord can be too thick and discourage bites. Monofilament also has memory challenges. The braid is way stronger but thinner and has no memory. Tie it on a swivel and add fluorocarbon tippet. This tippet is thinner but stronger than regular mono tippet.

                Swivels help   Presentation is improved when using a swivel. The baited jig can turn and move. When the fish bites lightly, the bait will change position. The fish often gets a second nudge or two.

Add some Scent    Gel scents are like icing on a cake. Now your bait smells good, glows, and if there is glitter, shines. The fish tend to hang on better.

Set the trigger release   If the trigger is too light, the light bite will be missed. If the trigger is harder to release, the fish will keep biting.

The Tip ups work great when the fish are in a feeding frenzy. Live bait also is great when using tip ups, if legal. Not all waters allow live bait. The movement of live bait encourages light biters to take a second nibble. They often drag rods and rigs down the hole. On light bite days, tip ups just miss fish. You can’t really jig the tip ups to stimulate a bite. With a regular rod, if you miss a fish, simply leave the jig in the hole and lightly jig it. The fish often turn and strike. Now you are hooked up.

The tip up guys were running to the tip ups, making noise and vibrations, then just jerking the jigs out of the hole. Oh well, they missed another fish. There was no plan B and no fish on the ice. We had the same light bites but were able to manipulate the rod and jigs to stimulate a return nibble, then set the hook. Bite me!

Montana Grant

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