5 Best Ice Fishing Tip Ups (Buying Guide)

If you’ve gone ice fishing once, you probably know that holding the rod isn’t a wise choice. It’s boring, and you’ll be stuck near the hole. To solve this problem, you can use the best ice fishing tip ups. You just set up the spool, sink your line, and wait until the flag pops up as an indicator of a catch. It’s a pretty neat yet simple fishing gear that makes fishing more fun.

If you’re looking for reliable tip ups, the following are my top five picks:

SF Ice Fishing Black
Assault Tip Up
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Beaver Dam Ice
Fishing Tip Up
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Frabill Round
Tip Up
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HT Polar Therm
Extreme Tip Up
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HT Enterprise Husky
Tip Up
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What is an ice fishing tip up?

Anglers use ice fishing tip ups so they won’t have to use a rod. As you know, ice fishing involves cutting a hole on the ice surface to access the water underneath. Instead of holding the rod, you can use a tip-up instead.

A tip-up is composed of a wooden or plastic base with a spool underneath. On top, there’s a spring-loaded flag mechanism that will pop-up once a fish takes your bait. It’s very simple, and it saves you from the chore of holding the rod all the time.

Since tip ups have a flag, it can be seen from a distance. You can also set up multiple tip ups at the same time for more catches. You can sit back and enjoy a cuppa while you wait for a flag to pop. It’s a great gear so you can chat with your fellow anglers over hot cups of coffee.

Do I need a tip up?

If you’re ice fishing, I highly recommend getting a tip up. This will save you from the boredom of waiting for a catch. Aside from that, you can set up more lines at once, which is a big advantage if you want to go home with a large catch.

If you want, you can also use a rod with a tip-up on another hole. There’s nothing to lose if you’re going to get one of these gears.

Types of ice fishing tip ups

Take note that tip ups come in different types. Each one differs on construction and how it notifies a catch. Below are the most common types and its functions:

🐟Rail tip up

A rail tip up is one of the most common types. It has a base frame and a shaft that runs through it. It has a free-spinning spool underneath with a notched spindle bar. One of the most prominent parts of this tip up is its spring-loaded flag that will be released when a catch tugs on the line.

You can find rail tip ups in different sizes to suit the type of fish you want to catch.

🐟Pop up tip up

On the other hand, pop up tip ups are the solution if you’re fishing on a windy day. Instead of using a spring, it has magnets that prevent the spool from spinning. But when a catch tugs on the line, the magnetic tension is broken, and a shaft will pop up, a sign that there’s a catch.

Take note that the magnets used on this tip up are quite sensitive, so it suits light-biting fishes.

🐟Pro thermal tip up

Pro thermal tip ups cover the hole entirely. It prevents the sunlight from peaking, which will discourage fishes from biting. Also, it keeps the hole carved since the sides are less likely to melt. It also allows the bait to blend in underwater, which will help for faster catches.

🐟Hardwood tip up

Hardwood tip ups are one of the first designs to be used by ice fishing enthusiasts. It uses hardwood as a base and a flag to indicate a catch. Aside from that, it’s equipped with a crank handle so you can reel in your catch.

🐟Windlass tip up

The windlass tip up allows the bait to move naturally underwater. This encourages fishes to bite as opposed to holding the rod.

Basically, windlass tip up are like sailboats that glide through the water naturally. This tip up helps increase your catch, regardless of the tide and weather.

🐟Cross style tip up

Lastly, a cross style tip up is suitable for those who are looking for the cheapest option. It uses three pieces of wood, with two joined in an ‘X’ position and the other one serving as the pole. There’s also a flag to notify a catch.

However, this tip up is very lightweight and prone to tipping during windy conditions. And since it’s cheap, you’ll get what you pay for.

5 Best Ice Fishing Tip Ups


OUR TOP PICK: SF Ice Fishing Black Assault Tip Up
best ice fishing tip ups

Product Name: SF Ice Fishing Black Assault Tip Up

Product Description: The SF Ice Fishing Black Assault Tip Up is a rail tip up made of high-quality plastic. Its ruler goes up to 16 inches so you can catch fishes easily with less work needed. Aside from that, it has strong metal parts and a plastic spool at the bottom. Moreover, it has a spring-loaded red flag so that you wouldn’t miss a catch. The flag is 15.6 inches tall when popped up. Aside from that, the spool has a guide ring hole, so your line won’t get messed up. Overall, it has a height-adjustable design to suit your ice fishing needs.

Offer price: $$$

Availability: InStock

  • Reliability
  • Construction
  • Material
  • Value for Money


I also like that this is freeze-proof and wind-proof, even on the harshest days. The metal parts are made of an alloy that will not rust easily.

Aside from that, this has a large capacity spool so you can set up a long line. It also comes with dual, counterbalanced crank knobs for reliable performance.

This tip up has a simple design, but it does the job immensely. For its price, this is already a steal for ice fishing enthusiasts.

The only thing I noticed is that you have to tighten the nuts first so the line won’t get jammed.


Freeze-proof and wind-proof

Counterbalanced cranked knobs

Adjustable height


You have to tighten the nuts first


Beaver Dam Ice Fishing Tip Up

best ice fishing tip ups

Another tip up that I swear by is this one from Beaver Dam. It has a rail design with handmade construction. It has a finished board so you can easily set up the line without any hassle. Aside from that, this tip-up can withstand brutally cold situations without scaring the fishes away.

This is equipped with the Smooth-Spool Technology to ensure that your line won’t tangle even as you reel in a big catch. It’s also treated with freeze-proof grease, so your line stays in place and doesn’t snag.

I also like the consistency of the spring-loaded flag. It’s made of heavy-duty spring with a fabric flag that stands 17.5 inches tall. It’s wind-proof and very visible at a distance.

I’ve been using Beaver Dam fishing gears for years, and I can say that this tip up is made to last a lifetime. So far, I’ve used this for three winters, and it’s still good as new.

Aside from that, I like that it has minimal plastic parts that may chip or break over time. Its wood base has a clear coat finish so that moisture won’t seep in. In addition, the tube is filled with an anti-freeze lubricant, so it remains operational even on the harshest winter conditions.

  • Smooth-Spool technology
  • Anti-freeze lubricant on tube
  • Wind-proof
  • The packaging can be improved, so the spool doesn’t bend

Frabill Round Tip Up

best ice fishing tip ups

If you’re in the market for a round tip up, you should check this one from Frabill. It has a round base made to cover the entire hole. This prevents sunlight from driving the fishes away. Aside from that, it has a shaft design that can re-greased for the utmost performance.

Aside from that, this suits 10-inch ice holes. It has dual trip settings and a removable spool shaft that makes it easy to set up the line.

There’s also a spring-loaded red flag to notify a catch. Basically, it’s like a rail tip up, but with a round disc to cover the hole.

One thing I like the most is that this is pre-lubed using a subzero lubricant. It can withstand the harshest winter conditions as well as repetitive ice fishing trips.

Overall, this tip up is light, but it’s prone to tipping, thanks to its round disc. You can also throw it in the bucket with the fishes.

If you’re a beginner who’s still learning the ropes of ice fishing, the Frabill Tip Up is a good choice. It’s cheaper, and it works well for years. You can use it to lure finicky biters on the lake!

  • Round disc that covers the hole
  • Pre-lubed with a subzero lubricant
  • Wind-proof
  • Holds a shorter line

HT Polar Therm Extreme Tip Up

For those looking for a pro thermal tip up, this one from HT Polar Therm is a good choice. It has a freeze-proof trip mechanism that remains functional even on the harshest weather conditions. This can fit into 5 to 6-gallon pails.

Aside from that, this has a 200-feet spool capacity, a perfect choice for deep lakes. Meanwhile, its base is solid and will prevent sunlight from entering the hole.

There’s also a spring-loaded red flag to notify you of a catch from a distance. The bottom of the spool has a foam holder to prevent tangles on the line. I also like the telescoping flag, which makes the tip up easy to store.

Overall, this really works well, and it doesn’t freeze in the open. It also lures fish faster than other tip ups I’ve tried before. There’s also a built-in tackle box on top where you can store extra bobbers, hooks, and small items.

This is a fantastic tip up that you can get for a low price. It will keep the hole open even at 0F, which is hard to beat for this price range.

  • 200-feet spool capacity
  • Very visible flag
  • Built-in tackle box
  • I wish the hole cover can be bigger

HT Enterprise Husky Tip Up

My last recommendation for this roundup is the HT Enterprise Husky Tip Up. It has a wooden rail where the spring-loaded flag is attached. Aside from that, this has a 200-feet metal spool capacity, so it’s suitable for deep lakes.

Moreover, this tip up has a wind-free wire with two settings. It can also withstand freezing temperatures. I also like how easy it is to lock the line in place. It’s way better than other options in this price range.

Aside from that, this tip up packs up flat, which is a big deal if you’re traveling. The flag is also very sensitive when catching crappies and perches. It will also keep working even if ice has started building up on the base.

Overall, this tip up doesn’t have any plastic parts, and I think this can last for years. This is functional and a nifty tip up for recreational ice fishing. It works smoothly, and you will enjoy your time.

  • 200-feet metal spool capacity
  • Wind-free
  • No plastic parts
  • So far so good

How to choose the best ice fishing tip ups

If you’re looking for the best ice fishing tip ups, you should consider the following points:

✔️Choose the right type

The first thing you should consider is the type of tip up you’re going to buy. You should choose one that suits your baiting technique and the winter conditions in your area. I discussed the types above, wherein each one has its advantages and disadvantages.

✔️Check the material

Next, check the materials used on the tip up. You can choose from a wood or plastic base. Both are useful, but plastic tends to be prone to chipping.

Aside from that, look for a tip up with a durable spring system. This will ensure that the flag will be raised during a catch. Also, all the metal parts should be coated with rust-proof material, so it last for years.

✔️Reliability is king

The winter season can be pretty harsh, so make sure that the tip up you choose has been treated with an anti-freeze lubricant. This will ensure that the tip up will work seamlessly even on subzero temperatures. It will also guarantee that the tip up will function efficiently even if snow is starting to accumulate on it.

✔️Invest in durable construction

Next, make sure that the tip up is made to last for years. While you can always find cheap options in the market, I suggest that you put your money on a durable unit. This will save you more money in the long run instead of purchasing multiple replacements.

✔️Check the spool capacity

Another important consideration when purchasing a tip-top is the capacity of the spool. This will dictate how deep you can fish. If you’re on a deep lake, try to look for a tip up with a 200-feet capacity. The HT Polar Therm and HT Enterprise Husky tip ups I reviewed above are two options with high spool capacity.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Do you need a specific rod for ice fishing?

A: You can use a regular pole to catch fish on ice. However, it’s not always a wise choice. You’d spend the entire time holding the rod while staring on a small hole. If possible, use a tip-up so you can leave the bait, not to mention that you can set up multiple tip ups at a time.

Q: What hook size should I use for ice fishing?

A: Hook sizes ranging from #8 to #14 are ideal if you’re using delicate baits. But if you’re using minnows, you should use a hook size of around #2 or #4. You’re free to adjust the hook size based on the size of the minnow you’re using as a bait.

Q: What is the best time of the day for ice fishing?

A: Ice fishing is best done a few hours after sunrise and three before and after sunset. However, each lake is different, so it’s best to experiment at different times to see, which yields the best catch. Take note that your bait also plays a big role in the amount of your catch.

Q: What is the best depth for ice fishing?

A: When it comes to ice fishing, the best depth is close at the bottom or at least six inches from the surface. These spots are more attractive to fishes, especially if you have a freely moving bait that blends in with the surroundings.

Q: Does weather affect ice fishing?

A: Yes, the weather affects ice fishing, just like any type of fishing methods. You should go ice fishing before bad weather and once barometric pressure drops drastically. Avoid ice fishing on a sunny day because the pressure is too high, and it’s hard to get a decent catch.

Final words

The best ice fishing tip ups will make your angling experience much easier. Just make sure that you choose one with the right style, material, and capacity. The five tip ups I reviewed above are some of the best options that you can get. What do you think of my list? Share your thoughts below!