Lodging food and more
Another Look at Flag Fishing
By Noel Vick with On Ice Tour
The stereotypes are out there. A casual ice angler glances out
the frosted window of a permanent shelter to verify that his tip-up, which
was deployed yesterday, remains un-sprung. Another angler, this one
seated next to a buddy in the cab of a pickup, wipes just enough condensation
off the passenger window to scan the ice for tripped flags. And a
third party, slurping suds and dealing poker inside a toasty cabin, forgot
about their field of tip-ups a case of beer ago…
Take no offense if that’s your style. But we choose to go a different
On Ice Tour strives to blend the undeniable merits of tip-up or setline
fishing with a modernized and mobile ice fishing philosophy. Founders,
Chip Leer and Tommy
Skarlis, embrace an ice fishing system, which uses tip-ups for exploration,
experimentation, and as a remote and fixed presentation. But first,
we should address the handful of circumstances where the “tip-ups only”
Occasionally, Chip and Tommy put their trust in a well-placed field
of tip-ups and suspend their desire to jig. When the boys need to
cover a sizable piece of water or structure, which is ripe with depth changes
and structure variations, they might lean on tip-ups, especially if northern
pike or lake trout are being targeted.
The other time? When it’s so doggoned cold that you can no longer
grip a pole or detect bites. Most would head in, but Chip and Tommy
brave the elements, set flags, and watch them out the window of a heated
portable, understanding that any form of fishing is better than to not
fish at all.
Your New Fishing Partner…Mr. Tip-Up
Hardwater’s greatest anglers possess secret weapons that generate results
when all else fails. Chip and Tommy’s secret weapons are couple of
unconventional fishing partners.
Unquestionably reliable, their fishing partners aren’t afraid to stake
out on an exploration, play second fiddle to jigging lines, experiment
with different sizes and types of bait, keep things simple by merely offering
a plain hook and minnow, or wander away from the group and work solo.
And tip-ups don’t talk back or run out of money on a road trip.
Let me show you how On Ice Tour utilizes tip-ups by creating a hypothetical
but realistic fishing situation.
Chip and Tommy have plans to dissect an offshore rock pile and pry
out a few walleyes. In their home range, Minnesota, state law affords
winter anglers two lines per person. So these guys are going to run
with one jigging line and one setline apiece. Numerous states permit
ice anglers more than two lines per person, but in some circumstances,
Chip and Tommy have found that deploying too many tip-ups hinders mobility.
Finding the crest of the reef is job-one. Tommy breaks out his
Strikemaster Polar Vision – a flashlight sized sonar device – and quickly
locates the shallow top without having to cut a single hole. Chip
follows him up and blasts a few holes across the identified crown and dozens
more leading down the break and onto the adjacent flat.
Chip deposits one flag on top and the other at the base of the break,
where it flattens out.
This particular rock pile is a known walleye producer, especially at
dawn and dusk. So the role of the tip-up positioned on top is to
announce the arrival of fish. Chip and Tommy will jig the extra holes
on top once the flag unfurls.
After setting the tip-ups, the boys get busy jigging their pre-drilled
holes, spending a few minutes at each one.
Suddenly, Tommy, using a flasher, marks a few fish against the bottom.
To his dismay, they won’t touch a jigging spoon and minnow. A light
bulb goes off in his head. Tommy repositions one of the tip-ups over
“the hole with the fish that won’t bite”. Why? A natural and
simple plain hook and minnow, which this tip-up is rigged with, might invoke
a response that his dancing lure could not.
Meanwhile, Chip is busy jigging and exploring up and down the reef.
Paying close attention to his portable flasher, he discovers a depression
in the side of the reef. Chip knows that this funnel might be the
runway that walleyes favor during their twilight assault. He repositions
a tip-up over it.
Sometimes fish gravitate to a specific, but indistinct portion of a
structure. In our illustration, Tommy gets bit a few times while
jigging a particular hole. On his flasher, surrounding holes reveal
seemingly identical terrain, but there’s something special about that hole.
So to mark it, and continue tapping into it, Tommy covers it with a tip-up.
Call it “the spot on the spot”. Tommy is free to continue jigging
until his hot hole flares up again.
Chip’s final tinkering with tip-ups involves bait selection.
He thinks there’s a colossal walleye swimming about, but Chip isn’t willing
to rig a huge spoon on his jigging rod, in fear of discriminating against
volumes of smaller walleyes; quantity versus quality. But by upsizing
the minnow on one of the tip-ups the boys stand a good chance of finding
Variations of the above illustration can be applied to weedlines, shoreline
points, and bars; basically any structure that presents varying depths
The Mother of All Setlines
Guys that take tip-up fishing this serious aren’t going to plunk down
any old make and model either. Enter Finicky’s Fish Factory.
Conventional tip-ups, with their flat board design and exposed machinery
are wrought with problems. The folks who build Finicky’s Fish Factory
have cured the classic shortfalls associated with tip-ups. So much
so that we cannot fairly refer to this animal as a tip-up, so we just call
it The Finicky. You’ll never be able to forget its signature black
box once you’ve seen one operating on the ice.
Problem: Tip-ups freeze in the hole.
Solution: The Finicky is fully enclosed and features an internal heat
exchanger, effectively eliminating the “freeze factor”.
Problem: After awhile, live bait dangled beneath a tip-up turns motionless.
Solution: The Finicky offers an automatic jigger with three settings.
Problem: The tripped flag of a conventional tip-up goes unnoticed at
dawn and dusk; in the dark; at great distances; and anytime the snow flies.
Solution: The Finicky sports a highly visible dual-light bulb, as well
as a flag, which are simultaneously activated by the tug of a fish.
Problem: Your knees get wet and hands freeze while checking a conventional
Solution: The Finicky’s front door folds down, easily supporting the
weight of a kneeling angler, and the heated box keeps your hands wind protected
Problem: Due to the threat of freezing, tip-ups demand that you use
bulky and highly visible (to fish) braided and coated lines.
Solution: The Finicky’s line spool is kept in a warm environment, thus
permitting the use of high tech fishing lines like
Fireline and Micro Ice.
If you’re going to integrate modern setline fishing into a mobile routine
you need a tool for the times. On Ice Tour is confident that by employing
the prescribed techniques with Finicky’s Fish Factory that you’ll dismiss
and soon forget the stereotypical tip-up angler and his ancient ways.
On Ice Tour is an intensive effort directed at expanding the
sport of ice fishing. Cofounders Chip Leer and Tommy
Skarlis offer public seminars and kid’s clinics; appear at in-store
events; exhibit at sport shows and ice fishing competitions; broadcast
a weekly radio show and conduct hands-on product demonstrations.
On Ice Tour produces an annual ice fishing publication (On Ice), and they
can be found on the Internet at www.onicetour.com
Special thanks to On Ice Tours Sponsors
Clix Banner Exchange
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