Tips for Catching Trout with an Ice Fishing Tip-Up

An ice fishing tip-up allows for a larger catch due to much more productive time. You can be watching the flags on the tip-ups while inside the shack fishing with jibs for smaller catches. By utilizing the tip-up effectively, it is as though another set of hands is fishing with you and providing an excellent catch. However, to maximize the tip-up, a few differences should be observed.

Fish Shallowly

Instead of fishing significantly below the ice, bring the line and lure up to just below the surface. For most trout runs, the fish tend to swim between 6 inches and 18 inches below the surface. If the lure and bait are 2 to 3 feet below the surface, many of the desired fish will completely pass it by. In many cases, you don't even need to extend all the leader. Fish shallowly and adjust the depth only 4 to 6 inches at a time in order to find the best height for the individual spot. 

Use A Worm Instead

Most tip-ups are set with a minnow, and though this will catch a trout, it can often deflect as many as it catches. The deflection occurs because with a shallow line, the minnow will flop around, giving the hole away. When trouts see the hole, they will avoid the minnow and swim deeper, departing from the tip-up. Instead, use a night crawler or worm wrapped around the hook several times. By leaving a small portion of the worm's tail dangling, attention can still be attracted, but the motion won't be as extreme. This will lure many more fish but not draw attention to the hole in the ice.

Set the Hook Quickly

Once a trout has actively taken the bait, the need to set the hook is imminent. With large fish like trout, they are strong enough to either struggle and rip the hook out or break the line. To set the hook, initially reel the fish in quickly and firmly. Do not use jerky motions or grab large quantities of line in a yanking fashion, as this will just pull the hook from the fish's mouth and let the catch get away. Though there may be need to let the fish run later (see below), setting the hook within the fish's mouth is imperative to a successful catch.

Let the Fish Run

Catching a particularly spirited fish is a process of perseverance, not of an instant catch. There will be friction on the line as you are pulling it in, and in some cases, the burn might become quite significant. Allow the fish to run at this point, but do not go slack. As the fish begins to tire, gradually reel him back in. Slowly, draw the fish nearer and nearer to the hole. Allow him to run out a bit more, and then reel the fish in a bit closer than when it started. This process will take between 5 and 10 minutes normally, but in extreme instances with large fish, it could take quite a bit longer.