Ice Fishing Poles vs Tip-ups: Pros and Cons To Help You Decide


There are 2 main ways of catching fish during the ice fishing season, using poles and tip-ups. This guide will provide pros and cons of both and help guide you to making a decision of which technique to use when fishing this winter.

Tip-ups give the fish more opportunity to escape

Most of the time when fishing with a pole/rod, you’ll be sitting next to it or have it in your hand. Therefore, the strike rate will almost be instant and prevent the fish from taking off and escaping. On the other hand, the tip-up gives the fish more time to try and escape the hook, as you’ll most likely be some distance away from it.
Of course, the idea of a tip-up is not to let the fish escape whilst you’re walking over to it, however by doing so, you’re giving the fish more time to attempt to spit the hook out and take off.
Most lightweight & sensitive ice fishing rods allow you to feel the bite almost instantly, thus giving you more opportunity to strike and land the fish.

Tip-ups allows you to cover and test more water of the lake

Using tip ups allows you to cover more of the lake. You can drill various holes around the lake and place a tip-up on each one.
The advantage of this is pretty obvious as you’re covering more of the lake the chances of finding the fish are made easier, ultimately increasing your chances of catching something greater.
Personally, I prefer to use poles/rods as this gives me the real feel of an ice fishing experience.

Using poles/rods allows you to experiment with different fishing techniques

If you decide to go head and use tip-ups, unfortunately you’re very limited to how you can fish. Primarily the tip-ups just lower the bait down the hole and leave it to float around, hoping that a fish swims pass and takes the bait.
A very well know successful technique (jigging) cannot be used whilst using tip-ups as this requires the angler to move the bait up and down manually. On the flip side, using tip-ups can make your fishing trip and more relaxing one as you can sit down and wait for that flag to pop up… less stress, less jigging, more relaxing.

Tip-ups are no good outside of the winter months

Unfortunately, tip-ups are designed for ice fishing only. Therefore, purchasing them for the winter will not allow you to use them during the other seasons of fishing thus not making it cost efficient.
On the other hand, a normal fishing rod (not ice fishing rod) is perfectly useable during the ice fishing season as well as the others. If you’re on a tight budget and need one piece of equipment for all year round, a rod/pole is the way to go.

Good Exercise and More Exciting (if the fish are biting)

As I previously mentioned, if you choose to fish with tip-ups it can be more relaxing (sitting down) and less stressful. However, if it’s a successful day and the fish are biting it can also be very energetic and you’ll find yourself running around the lake from tip-up to tip-up.
This can be great exercise and some people prefer this when they’re in groups as each person is designated a specific tip-up. When I fish alone I prefer to use a pole/role but when fishing with family I much prefer to use tip-ups as it makes it a more pleasant experience for everyone.

On the move….

Most fisherman like to drill multiple holes and move between them to try and find where the fish are biting. If you’re using tip-ups this is very time consuming and difficult to move them around the lake.
Using a pole/rod makes it much easier, to fish at different spots. Reel the line in, rod in hand and move to the net hole before dropping the line down. This is not a huge con of tip-ups but some fisherman like to be on the move and find that first bite as quick as possible. If that’s you than you should consider using a pole/rod for your trip.
Hopefully these 6 tips help you to decide whether to fish with tip-ups or poles… enjoy your ice fishing experience this winter and remember..”catch those record breaking fish!”.

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