Ice. Tip-ups. ACTION!
Targeting Walleye on Tip-ups
Walleye are one of the most sought after gamefish here in the Midwest, both through the ice and open water. That said, there are TONS of ways to catch them, but by far one of the most popular is targeting them with tip-ups. In this guide, we are going to look at how to get set up for some walleye on tip-ups!
First and foremost, a good quality tip-up is in order. With hundreds of models on the market, it can be somewhat overwhelming trying to figure out which on to get. When looking for a good tip-up for walleye, it is important to find one that is sturdy, that spins smoothly even in super cold conditions, and is sensitive enough to be set off with even the lightest bites. An excellent choice is the standard Beaver Dam rail style tip-up. They are simple to use, sturdy, and operate flawlessly even in the most adverse conditions.
As far as line is concerned, the standard dacron braided line is king.
Working towards the business end of the rig
LEADERS. People, you do NOT need steel leaders for walleye. Yes, they do have teeth, but do you use steel leaders when you are open water fishing? (If you answered yes to this question, we need to have a serious chat). Under the ice walleye tend to be somewhat finicky at times, and in a lot of cases less is more. Generally speaking a good choice for a walleye leader is a section of 8 to 10lb fluorocarbon, about 12 to 18 inches long. It is important to remember that with the main line being a higher breaking strength than the leader, that the leader is in essence the “weakest link” in your arsenal. That said, sticking with at least an 8lb fluorocarbon is a good, safe idea. For the best results, use a small ball-bearing swivel (size 8 to 10) to connect the main braided line to the leader using your favorite super strong knot.
Once you have your line and leader situation figured out, then it’s time to figure out what to do at the business end of things. There is generally two schools of thought on the subject: treble and single hooks. Each has their time and place, and each has pros and cons. Treble hooks are a time-tested favorite as they provide 3 points by which you can hook a fish, even if the fish doesn’t take the bait all the way. The biggest drawback to using them is the fact that they are somewhat bulky, especially when used on smaller baits like fathead minnows. A size 8 to 10 wide-gap treble such as the Lazer Sharp L934 treble makes for an excellent tip-up hook as they are sticky sharp, and having a wide gap help to make hook sets easier.
Single hooks on the other hand provide only 1 point by which to hook fish, but have a smaller profile making them easier to conceal and harder for the fish to detect. Generally when the bite is more finicky, a single hook can be a good choice. It is important to remember that not all hooks are created equal, and when using single hooks on tip-ups, sharpness counts. The Lazer Trokar TK400 octopus hooks are crazy sharp and in size 2 to 4 make perfect tip-up hooks for walleye.
For something completely different try using small jigging spoons like the Northland Buckshot Spoon instead of a single or treble hook. They can provide a larger profile, color, sound, and just enough weight to keep your minnow from tangling up the line from swimming around too freely.