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How to make ice-fishing tip-ups

SAFETY FIRST: Ask an adult to help with tools you haven't used before.

With these ice-fishing tip-ups, you’ll always know when you have a bite.

What You’ll Need

  • Tape measure
  • Saw
  • Drill
  • Screwdriver
  • Sandpaper
  • Glue
  • Pocketknife
  • 2 L screws
  • 2 Finish nails
  • Spring doorstop
  • Metal coat hanger
  • Bright-colored felt or cloth
  • Braided fishing line and snelled hooks
  • 1 3/4-inch x 22-inch dowel or straight branch
  • 10-inch dowel or straight branch that fits into the end of the doorstop spring

What You’ll Do

1. Cut the dowels to length and sand smooth.


2. Drill pilot holes, then hammer in the finish nails about two inches from the base of the spring doorstop and four to five inches apart.

3. Screw both the L screws in place as shown.


4. Drill a snug hole for the coat hanger, push it through and bend to shape.

5. Screw the spring doorstop to the end of the large dowel.

6. Screw the small dowel into the end of the spring doorstop.

7. Glue on the flag.

8. Tie the braided fishing line off around one nail, and wrap about 25 yards of line around both nails. Add a snelled hook.

Fishing is simple. It’s catching that can be hard.

Ask at the fishing store how many tip-ups you’re allowed and what kind of bait to use. Usually worms or minnows work best. Start fishing with your bait just off the bottom. You might need some weight to get it down.

Ice should be as thick as a brick.

Ice should be three inches thick before you venture out. Dress warm and always go with a friend to be safe. Some towns place signs out on the ice to let you know if it’s safe.

Have some extra fun.

A tennis ball and an old golf club are all you need. Golf from hole to hole. Whoever makes it in the hole gets to watch the other guy check the bait and clear any accumulated ice from the hole. This simple game can keep you warm and having fun.

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3 Comments on How to make ice-fishing tip-ups

  1. Femmefisher // January 6, 2020 at 7:23 pm // Reply

    Thanks for the instructions! I am making one, however I would like to modify it to catch some wind, it will self jig. Let’s see what I can come up with. 😉

  2. Californiaflyfisher/spinfisher // November 20, 2019 at 10:11 am // Reply

    Lakes and ponds don’t freeze around here so I will modify it for creeks to catch catfish and sunfish/bluegill. Hoping line doesn’t break like last time.

  3. if you cant’t find “L” nails then just take a small nail and bend it close to the head.

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