If you actually think tip-ups are only for ice fishing walleyes and pike—you’re dead bait wrong. I’ve been using this non finesse technique for panfish for years, and now it’s your turn! Today’s tip-ups are more than sensitive enough to produce crappies (and bluegills) when used as a stealthy search weapon. 

In the dialogue of ice fishing panfish, the term “tip-up” doesn’t come to fruition much. The fact is that it’s almost impossible to verify fishing spots trying to watch a bobber while searching/probing other areas with a jig/spike/worm combo. And frankly, with the unattended line laws involved—there is more slack and distance in using a tip-up being used than a “dead stick” or a bobber line. It all started years ago when I began catching huge crappies on tip-ups when fishing for suspended walleyes using shiner minnows. Long story short, I’ve adapted my techniques and tackle toeffectively catch huge bluegills and crappies using tip-ups!   

There’s no real secret other than thinking outside the box. It’s very similar to the not so new trend of using jigging Rapalas all summer long. Once I locate my fishing spot(s) of choice, and actually marked fish through the ice using my Vexilar, I will drill few holes in the area and begin to catch and verify the numbers and size of fish. I actively search for fish, moving from hole to hole. I typically only drill 5-8 holes to avoid spooking any fish—especially if the water is less than 20 ft deep. 

The first thing I do is set a tip-up at the level the Vexilar located fish are hanging at. The tip-up is loaded with the usual braided black tip-up type line with a small snap swivel on it so I can quickly switch from pike/walleye over to panfish by simple attaching a different 6’ leader. For the panfish I prefer 3-4 lb. Berkley Trilene XL monofiliment.  I like the monofilament to stretch when the fish “inhales” the bait. This lessens the odds of the bait being stripped or the fish feeling the tension due to the tip-up. Non-stretch line is not recommended for this application. On the fish end of the business is a number 8 octopus hook anchored with a small split shot about 7-8 inches from the hook (typically red during the day or glow when the light conditions are closer to the dark side) with a lively killer crappie minnow on it—hooked behind the dorsal fin by the way. I adjust the tip-up sensitivity a little on the light side to be safe. Pick a hole and let’r rip. Continue searching the other pre-drilled holes and keep a close eye on the tip-up. 

Once the flags start flying, jump on the line and set the hook. If there is a hole where flags are flying, get that tip-up out of there and start jigging with the rod in hand and transplant the tip-up in another hole and continue the sequence. The tip-up is used as a search weapon only—remember that. Tip-up search, jig destroy! 

And there you go, simple and sweet. Imagine this system with five of your friends!  Lotsa Fish! Lotsa Fun!

Captain Josh Hagemeister, Minnesota Fishing Guide Service:

320-291-0708, 218-732-9919, www.minnesotaguideservice.com or visit www.minnesotaicefishhouserental.com

P.S. Camp Fish & Minnesota Fishing Guide Service will be hosting “Camp Ice Fishing Weekend” on January 12-14, 2018. 2 nights/2 days. Seminars, ice fishing, meals, lodging, socializing—the works at Bugbee Hive Resort on Lake Koronis in Central Minnesota. If interested in being a better ice angler and having a great time, give me a call right away, we are limiting the camp to 35 anglers!

(RSVP by Jan 7, 2018) Capt. Josh 320-291-0708 or email: fishandchips@cloudnet.com.


About The Author

Josh Hagemeister

I have been a professional Minnesota fishing guide for 20 years! My extensive guiding time on the water takes me to some of the best fishing areas throughout the state. Some of my favorite areas include Park Rapids / Walker, Ottertail, Fergus Falls, Brainerd /Nisswa, Paynesville, Mille Lacs, Richmond / Cold Spring, Annandale, Detroit Lakes area, and the Alexandria area. See Service Area Map. I can also arrange trips to Lake of the Woods or Rainy Lake!