How To Rig A Tip Up For Pike

Technological advances have changed how to rig a tip up for pike from the incredibly basic to the slightly more complicated. The result is a better chance at getting your fish – and little extra difficulty. Once you know what to do, rigging a tip up for pike should be no problem at all.

If you’ve never used a tip up before, they’re a pretty simple piece of equipment. They’re placed over a hole in the ice, with a line that can reach a significant depth. When a fish bites, a flag pulls up, indicating that there’s fish around. The rest is up to you.

The very first thing to decide when setting a tip up for a pike is deciding the type of tip up to use. Rounded tip ups are generally recommended, as they’re easy to carry, block out the light, and prevent freezing. Rail-type tip ups are also a solid choice, especially if you buy a longer flag.

How to rig a tip up for pike

Having decided on the type of tip up, you need to choose where to place your tip up. Not too long ago, you decided where to put your tip up depending on gut instinct and prior experience.

Nowadays, technology can be used to trace contours in the ice and find the weed lines. This way, you can intercept the pike as they move along, rather than just hoping a pike travels past while you wait.

The easy way to do it is to look for heavy weeds beneath the ice, which indicate where the pike come to eat. Space several tip ups over a range of 5 to 6 feet, and then spreading outwards, trying to cover as much of the weeds as possible.

The heavy and thick Dacron line was the traditional choice for rigging a tip up, and it might be the best choice still. Because of its heft, it’s easier to handle during the freezing cold weather.

If you find yourself wrestling with a particularly big pike, you won’t risk cutting your hands in the way a thinner line can. Another decent choice is a running fly line.

There are also lines designed specially for use on tip ups, which reduce the chance of cuts or damages.  When your lines aren’t being used, make sure to dry them out to prevent mildew from growing. 

Rig using a single treble or a two-treble system, depending on the size of the bait you’re using. Tandem trebles tend to be best, as you want to be using some sizable bait. Use a fluorocarbon leader, which is cheap, heavy, and easier to tie. 

With it all set up, sink your line, and wait for the pike.

How deep do you set tip ups for pike?

When rigging a tip up for pike, you want to set them at a few different depths. Anywhere between 3 and 15 feet is good, and pikes tend to be in areas with a lot of weeds that are getting light.

The more tip ups you use, the more variety of depths you can reach. Often, you’ll find the pike tend to show you which depth they’re at.

When deciding on how deep to set your tip up, the first thing to consider is the depth of the weeds. You don’t want your bait to get caught in the weeds, or it can get lost, and the pike won’t spot it.

Arrange your tip up roughly a foot above the weeds as the greatest depth. If the weeds are too high, look for a gap, even a small one, before making your hole.

Once you know the depth of the weeds, you can set your tip ups anywhere from 3 feet below the ice, to 15 feet down. Pike can be surprising, and you may find they head toward quite a range. 

If you’re out on the ice for a long time with a lot of tip ups, you can generally monitor the patterns that the pike move in.

If only the deeper tip ups are getting action, then change the depth of the shorter ones. Use a marker near the spool when setting your tip up, so you can find the same depth once you’ve reeled something in. 

What size treble hook for pike tip up?

The size treble hook you use will partially depend on the size of bait, and partially on the size of the pike you want to catch. A #6 treble hook, or a #4 for very large pike and bait, tends to work best.

You can use a single treble hook, but in many cases a tandem set up is the best option. If you’re using two trebles because it’s a particularly large piece of bait, then a #2 might be needed.

Pike are opportunistic feeders, and will scavenge for any food that looks appealing – and easy. That means both live and dead bait can work.

If you have access to live minnows, these are a great choice, as are live suckers. For dead bait, smelt and herring are popular, and likely to attract some pike

With the larger bait, two trebles are the better choice. A set-up with two #2 trebles might be needed. It’s best to decide by considering the size of your bait. Remember, the bigger the bait, the bigger the pike. Pike are greedy, and will want to seek out fatty chunks of food.

As with the depth, use a mixture of food and hooks on a tip up for pike. This gives you the best chance to catch the biggest fish, and you can change what you use as you find out what works. Different hooks with different bait give you the greatest opportunity for getting a big pike.

Two essential pieces of equipment to bring with you are pliers and a mouth spreader – these are for once you’ve hooked your pike. Pikes have sharp teeth and quite a bite, so you need these tools to get your hook back out. 

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