The 9 Best Ice Fishing Tip Ups for 2021

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A tip-up is a very handy tool to have when ice fishing. Instead of holding your fishing rod above a drilled hole, this tool suspends bait through the hole while supporting itself on the ice.

Once a fish strikes, it has a flag at the top that moves to this vibration, alerting you to go set the hook then pull out your catch.

This fishing method allows you to set up multiple tip-ups at once, thereby increasing your catching chances. That said, here are the best ice fishing tip-ups to consider buying.

Review of the 9 Best Ice Fishing Tip Ups

1. Frabill 1662 – Best Overall Ice Fishing Tip-Up

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Frabill’s 1662 takes the top spot because it comes as a ready-to-fish combo pack that consists of a depth finder to help you determine the depth of the fish and lake bed, a tip-up light and a line marker.

Apart from that, the tip-up is a thermal type and is fully enclosed for better insulation. This keeps the drilled hole from covering up in ice after a while. That said, it covers a 10” hole, which is wide enough to fit large fish.

The spool shaft is removable to allow for easy cleaning and it has a shaft-in-shaft design, which makes it easy to re-grease.

Other features include dual trip settings for catching small or large fish, a plastic yellow flag that is raised 20” into the air for easy visibility, a bait clip for holding the hook and it comes pre-lubed with a sub-zero lubricant for consistent performance in low-temperature conditions.

The only problem is that this piece is quite costly.  


  • Complete ice fishing set
  • Fully insulated thermal design
  • Removable shaft with a shaft-in-shaft design
  • Dual trip settings
  • Pre-lubed with a sub-zero lubricant


  • Quite expensive

2. Frabill Arctic Fire 1680 – Best Budget Ice Fishing Tip-Up

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If you are on a tight budget, Frabill’s 1680 is the best tip up to consider because it is very affordable. Despite this, it has a tough and durable molded polyester base that supports the entire structure.

This base has a neon green color that makes it highly visible while its flag is red and suspended 17.5” in the air for enhanced visibility in foggy or dark conditions.

A ruler is molded into this base and this allows you to measure the length of your catch for grading purposes.

Other features include dual trip settings for catching small or large fish, a removable spool shaft for easy cleaning, tapered rails for easy removal when covered in snow/ice and it comes pre-lubed with a low-temperature lubricant for use in sub-zero temperature conditions.

However, the unit’s plastic construction does not feel as premium as the wooden type.


  • Affordable
  • Durable molded polyester base
  • Neon green base and a red flag for high visibility
  • Tapered rails for easy removal from snow/ice
  • Removable spool shaft


  • Non-premium plastic build

3. Beaver Dam BDTP-CL – Best Standard Rail Ice Fishing Tip-Up

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Beaver Dam’s BDTP-CL takes the top spot when it comes to standard rail tip-ups because it has a wooden build with a natural finish that is windproof and freeze-proof. This makes it easier to use in windy sub-zero temperatures.

The piece is handmade, which gives it a high quality built, while its natural wooden finish gives it an aesthetic appearance due to the grain lines that cut through its entire length.

Other than that, you get a highly visible, red flag indicator and a removable spool shaft for easy cleaning. On the downside, the unit is very expensive.


  • Handmade wooden construction
  • Windproof and freeze-proof
  • Aesthetic natural wood finish
  • Highly visible red flag
  • Removable spool shaft


  • Expensive

4. Frabill Blackhawk Assault 1674 – Best Pre-Lubed Ice Fishing Tip-Up

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Apart from being pre-lubed with a sub-zero lubricant for low-temperature use, Frabill’s 1674 features a shaft-in-shaft design, which allows for easy re-greasing. This makes it easy to maintain the unit for smooth use in harsh weather conditions.

A bait clip is built into the shaft and this gives the convenience of holding your baited hook until you dip it in water.

The entire structure of the tip-up is held together by a molded plastic base that is very durable. Other features include dual trip settings for catching small or large fish, a removable spool shaft for easy cleaning and a highly visible red flag.

However, no ruler measurements are molded into the base for fish grading purposes.


  • Pre-lubed with sub-zero lubricant
  • Shaft-in-shaft design for easy greasing
  • Built-in bait clip
  • Durable molded plastic base
  • Dual trip settings


  • Lacks a ruler

5. HT PTE-200 – Best Adjustable Ice Fishing Tip-Up

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Instead of having dual trip settings, HT’s PTE-200 can be adjusted to trip when light fish such as panfish, medium fish such as walleye or heavy fish such as lake trout bite the bait. This makes it very versatile to use.

This trip mechanism is freeze proof and is perfect for fishing in sub-zero temperatures. Other than that, the tip-up is a thermal type that keeps the drilled hole free from ice formation while setup. It also has a built-in tackle box that makes it easy to set up at the hole.

With a capacity to hold up to a 200’ spool, this unit is equipped with a hook holder (bait clip), which holds the baited hook until you dip the shaft in water.

You also get an easily visible red flag and a rugged plastic housing but no ruler is molded in for fish measuring.


  • 3 trip settings
  • Freezeproof trip mechanism
  • Built-in tackle box for easy setup
  • Built-in bait clip
  • Rugged plastic housing


  • No ruler

6. HT ICM-200 – Ice Fishing Tip-Up with a Ruler

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Unlike the PTE-200, this ICM-200 is equipped with a ruler that is molded into its plastic base. This enables you to measure your catch for grading purposes.

That said, this base is bright yellow for high visibility even in foggy conditions. The included flag is also highly visible because it is bright orange.

Other than that, the unit is equipped with a bait clip that conveniently holds the baited hook to prevent tangling before being dipped in water.

This comes in very handy especially considering that its spool has a capacity 200’, which is very long. You also get an easy-lock line guide for easy setup but no shaft-in-shaft design. This makes it a bit difficult to re-grease.


  • Molded ruler
  • Bright yellow base and orange flag for high visibility
  • Built-in bait clip
  • Long 200’ spool capacity
  • Easy-lock line guide for quick setup


  • Lacks a shaft-in-shaft design

7. Frabill 1664 – Ice Fishing Tip-Up with a Shaft-in-Shaft Design

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Frabill’s 1664 is characterized by a shaft-in-shaft design around its spool, which makes it easy to re-grease when doing maintenance. That said, the piece comes pre-lubed with subzero lubricant for enhanced low-temperature performance.

This spool shaft is also removable for easy cleaning while the spool has 2 counterbalancing crank knobs on either side of the lower disk. These ensure that the tip-up doesn’t wobble as the fish bites the bait. Only the bright orange flag will be left to move.

Aside from that, the unit has a traditional hardwood base that is very tough and durable. This section is also highly resistant to cold temperatures, making it ideal for ice fishing.

More features include dual trip settings for catching small or large fish, a 17.5” tall flag pole suspended on a spring for maximum sensitivity and a bait clip for holding the baited hook.

On the downside, no ruler is molded in for measuring the fish’s size.


  • Easy-to-grease shaft-in-shaft design
  • Pre-lubed with sub-zero lubricant
  • 2 counterbalancing crank knobs
  • Durable hardwood base
  • Dual trip settings


  • Lacks a molded ruler

8. Frabill 1660 – Ice Fishing Tip-Up with a Removable Spool Shaft

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Just like Frabill’s 1664, this 1660 model has a removable spool shaft for easy cleaning. It also has a shaft-in-shaft design that simplifies re-greasing for quick maintenance.

Aside from that, the tip-up is a thermal type and has insulation covers to prevent the drilled hole from freezing. This covering also ensures that shallow water fish are not spooked by light. That said, the unit covers a 10” hole and can fit in a 5-6-gallon bucket.

You also get a pre-lubed shaft with sub-zero temperature lubricant for smooth running, light and heavy trip settings and a bright orange plastic base and flag for high visibility. However, you don’t get a ruler for measuring your catch.


  • Removable spool shaft for easy cleaning
  • Easy-to-maintain shaft-in-shaft design
  • Insulation covers
  • Pre-lubed with sub-zero temperature lubricant
  • Highly visible bright orange color


  • No ruler

9. HT HYT-200 – Ice Fishing Tip-Up with a 200’ Line Capacity

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HT’s HYT-200 rounds up the list and it is characterized by a 200’ capacity metal spool that can hold a very long line. This spool has an easy flow design that allows the line to flow smoothly while a built-in bait clip holds the baited hook in place to prevent tangling.

The tip-up is mounted on a deluxe wood base that is strong and durable and is resistant to sub-zero temperatures.

Other features are an easy-lock line guide that makes it easy to set-up, sensitive light and heavy trip settings and a highly visible red flag. The only problem is that the unit is quite expensive.


  • Large capacity metal spool
  • Easy-flow spool design
  • Built-in bait clip
  • Deluxe wood base
  • Dual trip settings


  • Relatively expensive

How to Buy the Best Ice Fishing Tip Ups

Photo: icefishincap

1. Type

There are 3 main types of ice fishing tip-ups. These are:

Standard Rail

This is the most common type and it consists of a horizontal support base or rail and a pivoting arm. The arm folds up parallel to the base during storage and swings out perpendicularly downwards when in use. It usually has a shaft running through the arm’s entire length.

At one end of the shaft is a metal spool that is submerged and suspended in water to hold the line. The other end contains a spindle bar that remains above the water in the middle of the base frame when in use. 

Another important component of this tip-up is its spring-mounted flag pole, which is placed on one end of the base and vibrates when fish bite the bait.

That said, some standard rail tip-ups have plastic bases while in others it is wooden. Wooden units like Beaver Dam’s BDTP-CL are more durable because the material is better at withstanding sub-zero temperatures. However, they are usually more expensive.


When temperatures are below zero, a drilled hole on ice can quickly freeze again. This can make it difficult to set the hook or pull out the fish, especially if it is large.

Thermal tip-ups, such as Frabill’s 1662, are usually round in shape and take care of this by placing an insulation cover over the entire hole to protect it from the low temperatures.

By doing so, these units also block sunlight from penetrating through, which ensures shallow water fish are not spooked. Though costly, this is the best type of tip up to buy.


Windlass tip-ups contain sails on their arms, which tap wind energy to create a jigging action on the bait. They are great when using dead bait but the problem is if there’s no wind. They lose their advantage.

2. Material

A tip-up either has a plastic or wooden base. Plastic is cheaper than wood and this helps to lower the cost of units with plastic bases. However, this material is not as durable as wood, especially when subjected to sub-zero temperatures.

3. Trigger Bar

A trigger bar (sometimes trip bar) is the one that sets tension to the flag and spool, giving you the trip settings. Most units have two settings that include light for catching small fish such as panfish and heavy for catching big fish such as lake trout.

However, HT’s PTE-200 adds on a third medium setting, which is ideal for catching medium-sized fish such as walleye. This makes it very versatile.

It is worth noting though that most people leave this setting at heavy to prevent false alerts due to water currents or wind. This is because the heavy setting is the least sensitive.

4. Flag

Tip-up flags are available in a wide variety of colors. Bottom line, ensure that you look for a large, brightly colored one for easy visibility so that you can quickly spot the movement at a distance or during foggy conditions.

Some of the best colors to consider are neon green, bright yellow, red and orange. The flags should also be raised high up the pole for better visibility.

If setting up multiple tip-ups, it would be a good idea to buy units with different flag colors so that you can color-code them for better organization.

5. Bait Keeper Clip

A bait keeper clip helps to keep baited hooks in place to prevent tangling. This is very handy when using live bait such as sucker minnows, which like to move a lot. In water, the clip also helps to limit the bait’s movement to prevent false flags.

6. Weather Resistance

Since the tip-up is meant for ice fishing, it is important to check for weather-resistant properties on its frame and base, as well as on the lubrication used.

Ideally, it is recommended to buy a tip-up that is pre-lubricated with a sub-zero temperature lubricant so that it can perform optimally under harsh weather conditions. All the products above have this feature and you should check them out.

7. Accessories

To enhance your ice fishing experience, some accessories such as tip-up lights are recommended. This light comes in very handy during low light conditions because it helps you spot when the tip-up is tripped. It consists of an LED light, which lights up when fish bite the bait and trip the flag. 

Frabill’s 1662 comes with this accessory and adds on a depth finder and line marker to make it easier for you to fish.


By Kira0Kirina/shutterstock

In conclusion, we highly recommend Frabill’s 1662 as the overall best ice-fishing tip-up because it comes as a complete set containing a depth finder, line marker, and a tip-up light. Though quite expensive, the piece also has insulation covers that keep the drilled hole free from freezing.

However, if you want a standard rail tip-up, Beaver Dam’s BDTP-CL is the best option because it has a strong weather-resistant wooden base. Otherwise, if you are short on cash, Frabill’s 1680 is your best bet because it is very affordable.


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Martin Garagher
Martin was born in a fishing village near Baja peninsula. He knows the art of fishing since he was 6 years old. He is now an accomplished fisherman with many decorations in his belt. He currently works as a professional fishing trainer and an author in many international fishing magazines.

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