a do or what depth you have it set but when you do get on them, boy... it is well worth the wait.Here in Alberta we aren't fortunate enough to use live bait such as suckers or fatheads we are stuck with dead bait and sometimes this can cause some slower fishing but if ya do a few smaller things added to a normal dead bait set -up I can assure you that you will increase the amount of Pike landed this winter.
For years the family ice fishing team has used home made tip-ups and they work and have always worked but it comes down to paying attention to the banding folding over which also means complete attention must be paid to every hole. Personally, I don't like doing that anymore and there are a few reasons that trigger the change in set-up.
- Home made tip-ups as I said have to be paid attention to, which also means that 'trolling' around with a flasher and jigging spoon in hand is almost impossible to do.
- Store bought rigs like the el' cheapo from Canadian Tire or Wal Mart made by Southbend Tackle work amazing because when the flag is tripped they can free spool and take it before they even know they are hooked which allows more time to slide your way to the hot hole. They also serve a great purpose for days when the ice is freezing every 10 minutes because the spool sits in the water over the hole and will not freeze which also means more fish.
- I would say the last more important feature with a conventional store bought fish catcher is that the top "T" bar holds the flag in place but when tripped you can watch the fish take line and wait for the perfect hook set -or- know if it was smashed and not grabbed. (for more information read Dedicated Outdoorsmen's post on 'Advancing Your Gear')
(Result of a bell driven hook-set at last light)
Another system I use was brought to my attention by a good buddy Shane Weinz who fishes his tip-ups with a two treble system; standard tip up line fed to a swivel and two lengths of 20-30 lb mono to the trebles, on the mono is a variety of beads normally using red as the dominant color. I will not say that I swear by this but am firmly lead to believe that it does help trigger the bite, I have been doing this for two seasons now and am noticing that a plain jane herring rig 10 feet from the 'teaser' system has produced a few more fish. I have been experimenting with different colors and the most popular I would have to say are 4-5 straight red, multi colored red and white or straight orange. Give it a try when the bite seems slow as it has worked for me and hopefully will work for you.
( 'Teaser" rig Northern on a moderately slow day, colors used were 5 straight Red beads above each treble )
Last but not least, line weight and thickness used on the tip-up... I have noticed over the years, and been guilty of doing the same, that ice anglers use the beefiest, thickest braid or 'rope' they can find for these toothy critters and with all respect it is completely understood and makes sense however, on the days that Pike are not very active I will make a highly recommended suggestion to lighten the line. I have used the standard 15 lb stock line that comes on the tip up for the simple fact that it is a thing diameter and less 'junk' throughout the water column but found one flaw... there is to much stretch for a hand set hook-up. Tyler, from the Dedicated Outdoorsmen, started to use HT Polar tip-up line in 50 lb and it looks to be decent for the main cause that it is a smaller diameter and has the umph to hammer down. Personally, I prefer using fly line backing in 20 lb, it is light weight and does not hardly stretch which gives all your man power into those trebles and more importantly it's light weight allows the fish to take the bait and not really realize hes been fooled by me up on the sheet of ice. You can also add more to the spool which is perfect when chasing Trophy class Northerns that can run and spool 30-40 or even 60 feet of line on a good day; with all this in mind I truly hope that this will give you an edge when tip-up fishing is your choice of arsenal this winter as it benefits me each day I step onto the ice.