Ice Fishing Guide
Ice Fishing Guide

Best Ice Fishing Tip-Ups Reviewed: The Low-Down on Tip-Ups

The Best Ice Fishing Tips – 2021

The Best Ice Fishing Tips-Ups – Tip-ups are an essential tool for winter anglers. Tip-ups can be used to cover large areas, use multiple baits and depths, increase your chances of landing fish, or simply to jig in a comfortable ice shanty. They are reliable, efficient fishing tools.

A properly-rigged tip-up can catch everything from huge pike to large panfish. You need to have the knowledge and experience to get them to do the hard work that you expect. What tip-ups are best for heavy snow? If you have had freezing problems, should you consider switching to a thermal tip up? Which spool is the most smooth?

These are all questions that we can answer. To help you get started, we provide the following review criteria and selection criteria.

Here are some quick tips for ice fishing.

  • HT Enterprises Polar Tip Up –Our Choice!
  • Beaver Dam Original Tip Up
  • Frabill Dawg Tip-Up
  • Frabill Pro Thermal Insulated Tip Up
  • Frabill Hardwood Tip Up
  • Heritage Laker Ice Traps
  • HT Husky DLX
  • HT Enterprises Polar Thermal Extreme Ice Fishing Tip Up

Review of the Best Ice Fishing Tips Ups

HT Enterprises Polar Tip Up -Our Choice!

HT Enterprise Polar Tip-Up with 200 Yard Spool

The HT polar tip-up may be the best plastic-based model. It was built around a sturdy, 17.5-inch platform and is one of the first lightweight, new-breed tip-ups that can win anglers away form wood.

The smooth spool and high capacity of the spool are what have made it a success. There are two sizes of spool available, one for 200 feet and one for 500 feet. It’s not clear what line capacity is, but it is safe to assume–given the popularity of the HT–that there’s plenty of line for serious fisherman. On the larger spool, 75 yards of Dacron tip-up line should not be an issue. You’ll rarely require more!

The two-position trip bar makes adjustments easy and the bait clip has a well-designed design. You won’t be disappointed, no matter if you’re fishing for a delicate perch or a hard-hitting pike.

The flag, which is only 18 inches high, is like other polar designs. If you find that enough, you will be hard-pressed to find a better tip up at a lower price.

Pros

  • High quality
  • Smooth spool
  • A well-designed bait clip
  • Dual trigger settings
  • Durable
  • Lightweight
  • It’s affordable

Cons

  • Flag is too short

Beaver Dam Original Tip Up

Beaver Dam Ice Fishing Rail Tip-Up in Original Clear Wood Finish - Legendary Ice Fishing Tip-Up Built to Last a Lifetime (BDTP-CL)

Beaver Dam’s tip ups are legendary on the ice. They are often used as a comparison for quality assessments. It’s not uncommon to see anglers still fishing the same Beaver Dams from the 70s and 80s.

They are built around a pine base of 23 inches and feature aluminum tube bearings as well as a stainless cylinder. They are sealed well and can last for a lifetime.

Beaver Dam claims a 150-foot line capacity. But, without knowing what test they refer to and what type of line it is, that number is meaningless. If generations of ice anglers have shown us, there is plenty of room for the line we need.

This model’s spool is hands down the best. They are soldered in place so you don’t have to remove them for extra lubrication. Flag quality is exceptional and rises to 17.5 inches when activated.

We have two issues with Beaver Dam. The trip bar only has one setting. However, experienced users know that the indented position can be rotated to allow for light triggers for panfish. The bait clip has a simple and strong design. It can be difficult to use if tackle is attached.

Although plastic is not lightweight, it offers durability. If the base freezes, you won’t have to worry about it cracking. These legendary tip-ups are some of the most expensive models that we have reviewed.

Pros

  • High quality
  • Spool very smooth
  • Flag of great quality
  • Durable
  • Forever

Cons

  • Plastic is heavier than plastic
  • Expensive
  • Position for a single trip
  • DIYers often modify closed bait clips

Frabill Dawg Tip-Up

Frabill 1678 Tip-Up Dawg Bone Black

Frabill’s Dawg Bone Tip-Up gets its name because of the distinctive shape of its plastic base. This unusual design is loved by many. It’s wide at the ends but narrow at its center. It’s frequently referred to as the best base available. They are lightweight and durable and can be carried easily and stored.

See also  Best Ice Fishing Line: Landing your Limit on the Ice

This model’s trip bar has two settings. They can be adjusted easily and will not blow wind flags in the rainy days. Although the Dawg Bone’s Spool is very smooth and high-quality, it’s not the best we have seen. It can be removed for cleaning or relubrication. It holds 50 yards (20 pound) of test, which is plenty.

Flag quality has been a problem for some users. They can become loose if their adhesive fails.

These tip-ups, despite the fact that they are expensive, are a great buy.

Pros

  • High-quality
  • Smooth spool, which can be removed for cleaning or re-lubrication
  • Good bait clip
  • Dual trigger settings
  • Durable
  • Lightweight
  • It’s affordable

Cons

  • Flag quality can be uncertain

Frabill Pro Thermal Insulated Tip Up

Frabill Pro Thermal Original Tip-Up, Multi, One Size (1660)

Frabill’s Pro Thermal eliminates the risk of freezing that can make a day on the frozen ice. This tip-up features a 10-inch round base, which is insulated with thick styrofoam. It protects your water and keeps it fishing, no matter how cold.

You can stack up to half a dozen of these containers in a five-gallon bucket. The top of the bucket has a storage area for hooks and bobbers.

Although they aren’t as smooth spooling than the best, these models work well in freezing conditions. This model has a dual trigger bar that makes it easy to adjust for large or small bruisers. We love the ease of use of the bait clip.

You can expect a removable spool, as is the case for all Frabills.

Not everything is perfect. Users complain rightly about the flag height. Without the extension, it is roughly 13 inches above the ice. It can be extended to 20 inches by using the Telescoping feature. This gives it greater visibility than many of its counterparts. However, the solid flag is more susceptible to being tripped in the wind than other models. This can be irritating for many anglers.

Worse, you may find that a 10-inch auger is not the best choice. This 10-inch product will end up floating in the water, contrary to what you might think. Although it sounds fine, the product will freeze in cold weather and it will be difficult to chip it out.

Pros

  • Smooth spool, which can be removed for cleaning or re-lubing
  • Dual trigger settings
  • This will prevent water from freezing in extreme cold
  • Good bait clip

Cons

  • Short flag
  • Wind flags?
  • You will freeze to the sides and fall into a hole 10 inches in diameter

Frabill Hardwood Tip Up

Frabill 1664 Classic Tip-Up Wooden Boxed

Frabill’s Hardwood Tip-Up is made of pine, just like the Beaver Dam. It is lighter than other plastic options like the Dawg Bone, so you don’t have to worry about it breaking. It’s a great alternative to more expensive alternatives, as it is made from high-quality materials and is built to last.

The Frabill’s swimming pool is smooth and large. The trip bar can be adjusted with ease using the dual settings. The bait clip is also easy to use. It’s simple to clean and lubricate the removable spool, as with all Frabill tip ups. These features are generally impressive, and the Frabill is not far behind.

This tip-up is similar to the Beaver Dam and features a 17.5-inch flag.

Although it isn’t as long-lasting as the legend, it’s still very affordable and easy to use.

Pros

  • High-quality
  • Spool very smooth
  • Two trip settings
  • Flag of great quality
  • Durable
  • Simple to use bait clip

Cons

  • Plastic is heavier than plastic

Heritage Laker Ice Traps

Heritage Tip-Up Spool Unfinished 36

Heritage Laker Ice Traps, which are more popular on the east coast of the United States than the midwest is, are a well-known design that’s great for big fish and heavy snow.

These tip-ups are made from copper, brass, wood and other metals. These tip-ups have been loved for generations and are durable.

Visibility is one area where Heritage Laker shines. With its flag extended to 45 inches, you will see the Heritage Laker’s towering top-up above the snow. The spool holds 500 feet of 36-pound test and is smooth and large. This is enough line to feed the largest pike or lakers.

The Heritage Laker has a drag system to help you keep your monsters on the line. It is also resistant to wind flags.

When using large live bait, you need to be careful about the wingnuts.

This is a large tip-up, which is not as easy to transport as other options. It is also slightly more expensive than some of its rivals.

Pros

  • High quality
  • Super smooth and large spool
  • Flag of great quality
  • Durable
  • Drag system
  • Very tall

Cons

  • Plastic is heavier than plastic
  • It is difficult to transport or store large items.
  • Not cheap

HT Husky DLX

HT Husky Wooden Tip-up w/ 200' Metal Spool - Includes Free Item

Like Frabill Hardwood and the Beaver Dam, HT’s Husky DLX design has remained virtually unchanged over the decades. The Husky, like its competitors, is a classic design that will never go out of fashion.

See also  Best Inflatable Fishing Boats: Buying Guide and Reviews

The spool’s metal surface is smooth and offers enough capacity to ice anglers. The Husky’s bait clip works well and has two settings. We are impressed by the quality of this tip-up’s flag and bait clip.

We think this is very similar to the Frabill Hardwood in quality and price, but it’s about half the price!

The Husky, like all wooden tip-ups is strong but heavy. It shares a flag height with its direct competitors of 17-18 inches.

Pros

  • High-quality
  • Spool very smooth
  • Two trip settings
  • Flag of great quality
  • Durable
  • Simple to use bait clip

Cons

  • Plastic is heavier than plastic

HT Enterprises Polar Thermal Extreme Ice Fishing Tip Up

HT Enterprise PTE-200 Polar Therm Extreme Tip-Up W/ 200 ' Spool, Orange - Built in Tackle Box, Multi, one Size

HT’s Thermal Extreme directly competes with Frabills Pro Thermal. It uses the same insulation layer of styrofoam as its competitor to protect the water below.

These can be stacked six deep in a 6-gallon bucket thanks to their round base. This makes transporting and storage easy. The HT Thermal Extreme, like the Frabill has a small compartment at the top that allows you to store hooks and other accessories.

There are two sizes of spool available, one for 200 feet and one for 50 feet. Although the test line used in calculating these lengths is unknown, we know that the larger one can carry a lot more heavy line than the smaller, which is sufficient for pike and lake trout.

This tip-up is incredibly smooth, and the bait clip works well.

If wind is an issue, we see the Frabill as a better option. We have found that the telescoping flag of the HT is less likely to be triggered by wind. However, this tip-up should not be fished over a hole larger than its base, just like the Frabill. Frost can cause problems.

Pros

  • Two sizes of smooth spool available
  • Dual trigger settings
  • This will prevent water from freezing in extreme cold
  • A well-designed bait clip
  • Flag of high quality that is windproof and extendable

Cons

  • You will freeze to the sides and fall into a hole 10 inches in diameter

Our Pick- The HT Enterprises Polar Tip Up!

Our list includes many excellent tip-ups. Any of these products may be the right choice for you, depending on what your fishing conditions are and how you feel about plastic versus wooden.

If you are constantly in deep snow or wind, the Heritage Laker Ice Traps might be a good choice. The Beaver Dam Originals are a great alternative if money is tight.

The HT Polar is the best all-around option. It is lightweight, strong, and well-designed. What it lacks in old-fashioned aesthetics, it makes up in performance for its price. There are two great spools to choose from, so no fish is too large. You can bring as many fish as you like onto the ice as allowed by law. It is also very easy to use.

No matter what your preference, you will be prepared with any of these options.

How to Choose the Best Tip-Ups for Ice Fishing

The basic functions of all tip-ups are the same. They carry a lure or bait through the ice, and then down into the water to hold their terminal tackle. A flag is raised to notify the angler when a fish grabs the hook.

Most designs have terminal tackle held in place using a spool that is connected to a sealed, waterproof cylindrical with a thin rod. This rod is coated with a freeze-proof oil to prevent icing. The spool is horizontally positioned at the bottom of the cylinder. The fish will take the line and transfer the motion to the rod. This triggers the trip bar, and releases the flag.

The spool and the line should provide almost no resistance for the fish as it swims off with the lure and hook. This will prevent the fish from spitting on the tackle. Instead, the fisherman approaches a hole and carefully retrieves the tip up’s line. Then, he sets the hook gently before fighting for the fish and landing it by hand.

The style and quality of the components are what really distinguishes tip-ups that we tested.

Style

There are many types of tip-ups. Some tip-ups are perennial favorites while others receive very little attention. We’ll be covering the most common types and assessing their strengths.

Polar and Rail-Style Tip Ups

The base of polar tip-ups is a rectangular rectangle that holds them in place across the hole. The cylinder and flag can be folded flat against the base when they are rigged for transport and storage. This makes it easy to transport them in a five gallon bucket. Anglers simply lower the cylinder and place the spool in a T shape when they are ready to fish.

The popularity of polar tip-ups is due to their reliability, light weight, ease of use and durability when they are made from quality materials.

See also  Atlantic Princess GPS Coordinates

However, they have two disadvantages. They can freeze if the water is left open to the elements. This will prevent the cylinder spinning and trap the tip-up in water. Both mean lost fish.

It can be difficult to see them in deep snow as they usually raise a flag of 18 inches.

Experienced ice anglers recommend the best models. They also use DIY tricks like carpeting and styrofoam insulation to combat the icing problem.

Thermal Tip-Ups

The thermal tip-up is also popular in extreme mercury lows. These tip-ups are made around an insulated circular base that protects the water within the hole from freezing.

They are small enough to fit into a 10-inch hole and stack easily in a standard pale. This allows for about half a dozen tip ups to be easily carried. Many have a small tackle compartment at the top that allows you to store small gear and hooks inside.

They can also be difficult to see in deep snow, just like their polar counterparts.

Pop-Ups

While pop-ups are great, modern designs don’t maximize their potential. Pop-ups don’t get enough love.

This design features a magnet mounted vertically on the spool. The magnet’s movement causes the flag to be tripped by the spool when it turns. This system is ideal in theory because it can resist wind flags and rises high enough to be visible in deep snow. This otherwise great design is plagued by a serious problem in practice.

Poor quality cylinder seals can allow water to enter the spring and freeze it. The flag will not trip if this happens. This can cause disaster and is a problem many people dislike.

The magnet strength of pop-ups is another issue that’s not often discussed. It can be hard to fish for pike and lake trout with large live baits without tripping the flag. The magnet system is too sensitive.

We are aware that this design is loved by some, so if it works well for you, we will be happy to tell you! These issues make us avoid pop-ups and none made it onto our shortlist.

Cross-Style Tip Ups

The base is a plus-shaped shape that suspends the cylinder under the ice. It functions in the same way as a polar tip up, but folds down for storage and transportation. They are slightly larger and heavier than the other options, but have one advantage. These models have a unique flag height because the cylinder is attached vertically to a long stick.

Cross-style tip ups are the best to watch if you fish in deep snow or foul weather.

Quality Construction

  • Trip Bar– It is important to have a well-designed trip bar. It must be able to stop constant wind flags and is easy to trip. Otherwise, you will miss the fish and become frustrated. Trip bars that have multiple settings are preferred by us because it is easy to change.
  • Bait Clip and Line Guide– The bait clips prevent line from unravelling, acting as a bail on a reel. You can use your terminal tackle while you work with your line using good bait clips that open and close easily.
  • Flag qualityFlags should be bright and long-lasting. Flags that are easily ripped by wind or freeze quickly will not perform well.
  • Quality spoolsGreat spools can be large, strong, and extremely smooth.
  • SizeYou need plenty of line, especially for larger fish such as pike. You’ll also be fishing some very heavy stuff so you will need plenty of space to carry thicker, heavier line.
  • DurabilityTip-ups that last for decades are the best.
  • Smooth operationThis is crucial. The spool should allow the fish to have line with very little resistance, unless they are fishing for a model with drag. You can test it by pulling a little line on the spool. The feel should be as smooth as silk.

Conditions

Some designs are better suited for extreme conditions than others.

  • Snow depth –A traditional cross-style tip up is better for areas where heavy snow and tall drifts are common.
  • Temperature –You can add an insulating layer or run a thermal model if you fish in areas where there are frequent frozen holes.

Last Thoughts

Many ice anglers face freezing problems. It’s not uncommon to see thermal tip ups on the ice during tough times. These can be an excellent option, especially for smaller augers.

They will fall into a 10-inch hole and freeze to their sides. It is necessary to work hard to get them out.

We prefer to fish a polar tip-up or cross-style tip up with some type of hole insulation. This can be an aftermarket product such as the ThermaSeat, or something that you make yourself from carpet, rubber or styrofoam. These add-ons are great for the job and can help you avoid the dangers of thermal tip-ups.

Lewis Mark is a vastly experienced fly fisher. His encyclopedic knowledge of fly tying has led to start blog on fishing. He also review Fishing equipment based on his knowledge and experience.