The 5 Best Ice Fishing Tip-Ups

Ice fishing presents its own challenges and, without the right gear, you’ll struggle to know when the fish are biting. Tip-ups help you identify when a fish is on the line and signal to start reeling in. Yet, you can’t use just any old tip-up. Looking for quality ice fishing tip-ups will guarantee your success out on the ice.  

In this buyers’ guide we’ll explain:

  • Why you need quality ice fishing tip-ups
  • Introduce you to 5 top products
  • Walk you through everything you should look for when shopping

Stop missing out on big catches when you could be reeling in a trophy.

Why Use Quality Ice Fishing Tip-Ups?

Ice fishing tip-ups can greatly improve your game by giving you the freedom to fish while simultaneously drilling new holes or unpacking your gear.

Keep your line in the strike zone while you take care of other tasks and the tip-up will indicate when you have a fish on the line. Simply pay attention and once it pops up, drop what you’re doing and reel in the catch.

What to Look for When Buying Ice Fishing Tip-Ups

As you start shopping for ice fishing tip-ups, keep a few factors in mind. By following these search criteria, you can guarantee that you’re buying a top product that’ll work as you want:

  • Quality of the materials – What is the tip-up made from? If it’s made from plastic, make sure it is thick and sturdy. If it is made of metal, make sure that it won’t rust.
  • Unique features – Some tip-ups have automatic resetting mechanisms, while others have flags that let you know when you’ve caught a fish. Consider what will best help your game and buy from there.
  • Price – When it comes to fishing gear, you get what you pay for. Find a happy medium between overpriced and too cheap to prevent wasting money on a product that breaks within just a few days.

As we go through our review, we’ll point out each factor as it relates to the product. Consider what you need and buy based on that.

One Final Thing to Mention

Before we jump into the product reviews, we wanted to mention one last thing. Ice fishing tip-ups come in a couple of different styles. The two main types include:

  • Below-Water Tip-ups – Below-water tip-ups typically have a longer shaft and bigger blades than above-water tip-ups, allowing them to move more water and stay submerged at deeper depths.
  • Above-Water Tip-ups – Above water tip-ups typically have a shorter shaft and smaller blade, which allows them to move less water and stay on the surface in shallower depths.

Both types are effective in their perspective depths but don’t expect to catch the same fish with both tip-ups.

Fish that can be caught with below-water tip-ups include trout, salmon, and bass, while fish that can be caught with above-water tip-ups include walleye, pike, and muskie.

Consider what you want to catch before buying and go from there.

The 5 Best Ice Fishing Tip-ups

We’ve gone through a long list of products and carefully tested each to create our list of the top 5 ice fishing tip-ups. Our list includes products for all budgets as well as both types of tip-ups. Check them out here.

1. Bullnose Big Red Ice Fishing Tip Down Tip-Up – Best Above-Water Tip-up

Big RED Ice Fishing Tip Down-Tip Up- Sensitive to The Slightest Fish Bites- Used for Both Larger Reels and Heavier Line as Well as Smaller Reels and Lighter Line.
  • PERFECT SOLUTION –It is essential...
  • QUALITY - This item is a newly...
  • FIT – BIG RED Tip Down-Tip Up is...
  • ESSENTIAL - A “must” for the...
  • INSTALL –Listing includes (1) BIG...

Pros:

  • Fits both large and small spinning or straight-line reels
  • Folds up for easy transport
  • Made from durable metal
  • Taller than average

Cons:

  • More expensive than other options

As far as above-water ice fishing tip-ups go, the Bullnose Big Red is about as good as it gets. The clip can support a standard ¾” rod and is highly sensitive to subtle movements, tipping you off to even the slightest bite. Its taller size makes it perfect for heavier reels, although it’s just as well suited to smaller rods.

It is a pricier model than other options but thanks to the quality of its materials, sharp ice-gripping teeth, larger size, and foldable design, we highly recommend it and believe it’s well worth the price. Check it out by clicking the link here and give it a try for yourself.

2. Brocraft Ice Fishing Tip-up – A Lower Priced Above-Water Tip-Up

Brocraft Ice Fishing Tip-Ups / Ice Fishing Rod Holder / Ice Fishing Tip Down / Ice Fishing Rigger
  • Turns your favorite ice combo into tip-up or trap
  • Flag signals strike
  • Patent Pending
  • Allows you to fish with multiple rod and reel combos at one time
  • The bobber kit not include

Pros:

  • Has a built-in flag alert system
  • Lower priced than other products
  • Easy to set up

Cons:

  • May freeze up in the cold
  • Not as sensitive as other products

If you want to save a little, check out the Brocraft Ice Fishing Tip-up. It’s not as tall or sturdy as the Bullnose Big Red but it’s still an awesome product that’ll help you catch more fish with less effort. It features a spring-loaded flag system that attaches to your line. When a fish bites, it triggers the flag and alerts you to start reeling in.

It’s built from a combination of plastic and metal, making it slightly less durable but also less expensive. Our only complaint is that some users have reported it freezing up in the cold of winter. Purchase a Brocraft Ice Fishing Tip-up from Amazon by clicking this link and try it out today.

3. Frabill Pro Thermal Tip-Up – Best Below-Water Tip-Up

Sale
Frabill Pro Thermal Original Tip-Up, Multi, One Size (1660)
  • Frabill | Trusted By Anglers Since 1938
  • The original insulated tip-up | Prevents hole from freezing up | Covers 10" hole
  • Easy to carry design | Fits in 5- to 6-gallon bucket for simple storage
  • Pre-lubed with Sub-Zero low-temp lubricant | Shaft-in-shaft design allows re-greasing for many seasons of successful ice fishing
  • Dual trip settings (light or heavy) | Removable spool shaft

Pros:

  • Anti-freeze design
  • Can be stored in a 5-gallon bucket for easy transport
  • Offers dual trip settings
  • Large enough to cover a 10” hole

Cons:

  • More expensive than other products
  • Sensitive to wind

If you want a below-water tip-up that’ll last through even the coldest of days, we highly recommend the Frabill Pro Thermal tip-up. This product is designed by the industry-leading brand Frabill to cover larger 10” holes and is pre-lubricated to prevent your line and hole from freezing over.

It features dual trip settings for both light and heavy spool shafts and can be re-greased whenever needed to help you catch fish after fish, season after season. It is slightly more expensive than other products and it’s also sensitive to false positives in windy conditions but we’ve struggled to find any other product that rivals its quality.

Click the link to buy your very own Frabill Pro Thermal tip-up today.

4. Starpike Original Ice Fishing Tip-Up – A Lower Priced Below-Water Tip-Up

STARPIKE Original Ice Fishing Tip-Up Tablet
  • 🐟 The first Tip Up on the market that is made without any metal parts which allows a longer service life.
  • 🐟 Foam and Air insulation Prevents the Tip Up from freezing in extreme cold weather.
  • 🐟 High visibility reflective tape allows the angler to see the Tip Up flag during those nighttime bite.
  • 🐟 The reel can hold up to 450ft of line, making it easier to fish in deeper water. Fishing line test 36lb./150yd.
  • 🐟 Our special design is made for an easy stow and ready to go.

Pros:

  • Can hold up to 450 feet of line
  • Reflective tape makes it suitable for nighttime use
  • Lightweight design makes it easier to carry

Cons:

  • It isn’t pre-lubricated to prevent freezing
  • Made from cheap plastic

For something a little less expensive, we recommend the Starpike Original ice fishing tip-up. Unlike other below-water tip-ups, this product isn’t lubricated to prevent freezing. Instead, it’s made from a lightweight plastic and foam material, similar to what you’d find in a thermos. Although slightly less effective, it’s still able to withstand freezing temperatures.

The Starpike also holds a whopping 450 feet of reel. You can simply crank the handle to reel in your catch after its reflective flag goes off. Check it out on Amazon by clicking the link here and take your ice fishing to the next level.

5. Frabill 1664 Classic Tip-Up – A Quality ; Classic Tip-Up

Frabill 1664 Classic Tip-Up Wooden Boxed
  • Frabill | Trusted By Anglers Since 1938
  • Traditional hardwood design | 17.5" flag | Ultra-glide shaft for friction-free performance | Large capacity metal spools and dual counterbalance crank nobs to prevent wobbling and false movement
  • Pre-lubed with Sub-Zero low-temp lubricant | Shaft-in-shaft design allows re-greasing for many seasons of successful ice fishing
  • Dual trip settings (light or heavy) for versatile options depending on your preference
  • Removable spool shaft

Pros:

  • Made in a class wooden box design
  • Pre-lubricated to handle cold-weather conditions
  • Removable spool shaft
  • Dual trip settings

Cons:

  • Lacks an adjustment for holding the spool
  • Sensitive to high winds

The last product on our list is for old-school anglers who love the look of a wooden box tip-up. The Frabill 1664 Classic tip-up is made from finished hardwood that’s pre-lubricated to prevent your hole and line from freezing up in the cold. It can support a total of 120-feet of line and is perfect for catching deep-water fish.

Compared to the other Frabill product listed above, the 1664 Classic tip-up is also quite a bit cheaper. However, its older design lacks an adjustment to tighten the spool and it’s equally as sensitive to high winds, sending off false positives. However, if you want a classic look, we highly recommend checking it on Amazon and giving it a go this winter.

Final Thoughts

Investing in a quality ice fishing tip-up can help you manage your holes while taking care of other business. The trick is to figure out what you want to catch and then find a product made from quality materials with unique features and a fair price tag. Check out our top picks and start landing bigger catches today.

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