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Common Ice Fishing Techniques

Learn about common ice fishing techniques with Blain’s Farm & Fleet.

If you live where it’s cold and the lakes freeze over, you’re bound to see people ice fishing come January. The freezing temps and ice-covered lakes are the perfect combination for catching a prize Northern pike or a bucket of bluegills. If you’re planning on ice fishing, you should know which ice fishing techniques will work the best for you and the fish you’re trying to catch. With help from Blain’s Farm & Fleet, you can learn about some of the common ice fishing techniques for walleye, yellow perch and more.

Common Ice Fishing Techniques
When the lakes freeze over, ice fishers are ready with jigs, fishing line and tip-ups in hand. From bluegill to Northern pike, learn how different ice fishing techniques can help you reel in the perfect catch.


Jigging is done using an ice fishing rod with a hook and line. Live bait and ice fishing lures can both be used when jigging. Using a jig hook or live bait, drop your line and let it sink to the bottom of your fishing hole. Very slowly raise your bait about a foot above the bottom. Slowly jig the bait side to side or up and down to catch a fish’s attention. Don’t move it too quickly, as the fish might not think it’s worth the effort to try and catch it.

Jigging works great for smaller panfish like bluegill, crappie or perch. Crappie and perch both like live minnows. Crappie will also go after wax worms. Bluegill will bite at live larvae.


Tip-ups are devices that signal when a fish strikes your line. When a fish strikes the line, a flag “tips up.” There are a few different types of tip-ups, ranging from simple hardwood ones to pro-thermal tip-ups, which cover up the entire hole to keep out slush and snow.

A tip-up works the best with a heavy, braided fishing line. For catching larger fish, like walleye and Northern pike, you’ll want to use a tip-up rigged with minnows. However, always check with the lake’s regulations, as it’s illegal to use minnows on some lakes.


Tightlining is another great option when it comes to ice fishing techniques. Once you drop the lure and line in the water, you simply watch the line for any movement instead of jigging it. When a fish strikes the lure, the line becomes tight. If you plan on using the tightlining technique, make sure your lure is heavy enough so the line will drop straight down. You also don’t want it to be too heavy where it doesn’t pick up any line movement. It’s a good idea to use a brightly colored fishing line, so it’s easier to see down in the hole.

Finding a lure with the right weight can be tricky. Another option is to use a spring bobber. The spring bobber is added on to the rod tip, and it moves when a fish strikes the bait. Tightlining will help you catch panfish, like bluegill and perch.

At Blain’s Farm & Fleet, we know ice fishing. That’s why we carry all the ice fishing equipment you’ll need from top brands like Frabill, StrikeMaster and Eskimo. From hand and power ice augers to ice fishing clothing and shelters, you’ll be ready to hit the ice. Plus, you can pick up your fishing licenses right at your local Blain’s Farm & Fleet. For more tips on ice fishing, visit our fishing & ice fishing blog.


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