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Make your own 'Tip-up' for ice fishing

Make your own 'tip-up' for ice fishing

A tip-up is a very simple device, used as a signal to let you know when you are getting a bite while ice fishing. This is especially useful if you are fishing where more than one pole is allowed, and you are tending more than one hole.

Materials Needed:
  • small, lightweight rod, approx. 18-24 in. long (a 1/4" wooden dowel is perfect)
  • strip of bright colored cloth, trail marking tape, etc.
  • twine, string, or heavy fishing line (braided works best)
  • a second dowel or stick, 18-24 in. (1/2" or 3/4" wooden dowell is perfect)

First, attach the cloth or flag to one end of the lighter rod. Then, bind the two rods together at a right angle, to form a cross. Make sure that the end of the light rod that has the flag has most of the length, and the other end should extend only a few inches from the heavier rod. This allows the flag end to swing up into the air when a fish takes the bait.

To bind the two rods together, it's best to use a square lashing, but any old knot will probably do as well. Alternatively, you could drill a hole through the larger dowel (especially if it is 3/4"), and insert the smaller dowel through it, and glue together in the center with wood glue.

Tie your line to the short end of the lightweight rod. Place the tip-up over an ice hole, with the ends of the larger stick lying a few inches upon the ice on either side of the hole. Drop your line down into the hole. When you get a bite, it will pull down on the line, and the short end of the stick, which will lift the long end that has the flag attached, and alert you to the bite.

You can now make a frame to balance the tip-up on, if you wish. PVC piping is a good lightweight material to do this. You can even not glue it together, so it can be disassembled and carried more easily in a pack or sled out on the ice to your fishing spot.

Using this technique, a single angler can easily watch half a dozen ice holes at once (where legal). Use it at Flaming Gorge to catch those delicious Burbot.

No time to make your own tip-up? Try one of these pre-made tip-ups from Amazon:

For more information on ice fishing in Utah, click here.