Tip Ups for Trout

Trout are an absolute blast to catch through the ice, but they are notoriously picky fish. Using tip-ups for these fish is a great way to have extra lines in the water and increase the chances of hooking up, however, since they are so picky, a subtle presentation is often essential.

The leader is one of the most important parts of the setup. Using light mono or flouro will work; try to avoid anything over 12lb test. For the hook, I use a size 6 or 8 octopus hook with a crappie minnow hooked either through the back or through the lips. You can get away with medium shiners or suckers, but I’ve found that even the bigger fish will still bite on the small bait. Connect the leader to your main line with a small swivel to help avoid tangles underwater.

When it comes to location, it can be hard to decide where to put it. Some trout will stay in deep water while some cruise in the shallows. Many trout will be on the bottom of the water column, but trout will often sit suspended or even roam inches beneath the ice. My go-to for starting out is around 30 feet deep with the bait about a foot or so off the bottom. Often the key to locating them is trial and error, so set your tip-ups at different depths of the lake and in the water column. When one goes off, take note of its position and consider adjusting accordingly.

Depending on how far away you are from your tip-ups, it may be a good idea to try the “rubber band trick” if you don’t think you’ll have time to set the hook yourself. Tying a small rubber band anywhere from a few feet up to ten or 15 past your line marker and then looping it around the spool will allow the fish to take line until the rubber band stops the spool. This causes the fish to set the hook himself before the rubber band breaks and the fish continues on. It doesn’t guarantee a fish, but it may set the hook before the fish drops your bait. Just make sure the rubber band is small enough that the fish can break it as you don’t want to rip the hook out of a trout's soft mouth.

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