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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 when fishing on a frozen lake.


  • 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


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. Pre-drilling the nail holes will keep the wood from splitting. The fishing line will uncoil smoothly if you polish the nail heads with fine sandpaper.

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. The coat hanger should fit snugly.

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

6. Screw the small dowel into the end of the spring doorstop. You might need to whittle down the end of the dowel so it will screw into the spring.

7. Glue on the flag. You can customize your flag or just leave it square.

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

When a fish pulls, the flag will release to signal you have a bite.


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 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.


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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15 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.

  4. Good flag release solution! Now, where can I find these nice little L-screws? They do not have them at Home Depot

    • Fishing G33k // February 5, 2015 at 12:14 pm // Reply

      They typically have them at any local hardware store, and I have seen them at Home Depot and Lowes both, in packages of 6 or 8 I think. Maybe take a picture of it in with you in case the staff knows them by a different name.

  5. fishing kid // October 8, 2014 at 6:41 pm // Reply

    this is a great idea would be cool to mod it and use a strip of sheet metal/flashing instead of door spring and dowel

  6. COOL

  7. I bet this works in almost all situations if you can mount it, so don’t worry if you cant ice fish.

  8. Might try it.

  9. I hope that this works! a friend and I are going to try it tomorrow, and if all goes well we will have ice to try it on soon enough!

  10. fishing master // April 8, 2012 at 11:34 pm // Reply

    You do not have to use this for just ice fishing, you can set it up on shore with cat fish bait tied to the hook and throw your line out with your hand and Catch catfish

  11. Tom and Jerry // February 11, 2012 at 2:41 pm // Reply

    It looks hard

  12. I can’t go ice fishing here.

    • anonymous 2.0 // December 21, 2012 at 3:02 pm // Reply

      If you cant go ice fishing then you can use it to fish for catfish. there was a comment that was above yours on my comp. screen that said that you could do that.

  13. this is awsome!

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