Ice Fishing Bobbers

Ice Fishing Bobbers


While tip-ups often are left unattended, floats must be monitored closely so the hook can be set soon after a fish takes the bait. Drill two holes a couple feet apart and jig in one hole while a float holds a livebait a few inches above the bottom in the other hole. Fish attracted by the flash and vibration of a jigging lure often are triggered by the subtle movement and scent of the livebait.

Use the smallest float that's ­buoyant enough to suspend your bait and rig. Modern floats are streamlined to submerge with minimal resistance when they're properly balanced. Small-bait floats should be balanced with lead shot so the tip of the float is barely above the surface. With larger baits, the float should remain buoyant enough to resist the minnow's strongest surges.


Larger baits and deeper water may require a slipfloat, which slides freely on the line until it reaches a float stop. Use a neoprene stop knot and bead from Class Tackle, or tie your own adjustable float stop by tying a five-turn uni-knot around your main line with a few inches of monofilament or Dacron line. Thread a small bead onto your line below the stop knot, followed by a slipfloat, weight, and hook. Slide the knot up or down the line to ­present baits lower or higher in the water column.

The same slipfloats used for open-water fishing can be used for ice fishing. Traditional inverted pear designs like the Thill American Classic or the Wing-It Bobber from Carlson Tackle are available in sizes appropriate for species from crappies to walleyes. Longer and more bulbous designs like the Thill Center Slider handle larger baits for pike and lake trout, while smaller and more sensitive floats like Thill's Ice 'n Fly Specials and Mini-Stealths handle smaller baits.

The problem with slipfloats with a center line tube is that the stop knot sits above the surface of the water where it likely freezes in harsh weather. Fixed floats — long thin floats attached to the line with two silicone sleeves — may be a better choice. Since fixed floats don't slide on the line, however, fish must be landed by retrieving line by hand.


Thill Float Swivel Adapters slip onto the bottom stem of many fixed-float models to transform them into slipfloats. Thread your line through the eye of the swivel and set your stop knot as you would for any slipfloat. Swivel Adapters also are useful when using Dacron line with floats like the Thill Stealth and Mini-Stealth, which have small line guides on the bottom stem. The Swivel Adapter slides easily over thicker line and doesn't freeze as quickly in cold weather.

Lighted floats are convenient at night. Several Thill models are available with a phosphorescent finish that glows for several minutes after being zapped with a camera flash. The Fuji Lighted Slip Bobber and the Blue Fox Firefly Float are powered by a replaceable lithium battery. Class Night Rider floats can be used for day or night fishing by replacing the balsa stem on top of the float with a cyalume light stick. Snap the stick and the chemicals ignite, producing a soft glow that lasts for several hours.

Jigging remains the most effective way to ice most fish species, but stationary sets like tip-ups and floats are at times a better option. Set a tip-up on top of a rock reef to alert you when walleyes move shallow while you work a swimming lure in deeper water at the base of a drop-off. Or suspend a minnow beneath a float rig a few feet from where you're jigging a small ice fly tipped with maggots for crappies. Over the course of the season, you'll catch more fish and have more fun. Ice Fishing Bobbers

Get Your Fish On.

Plan your next fishing and boating adventure here.

Recommended for You

Bass

Using Crankbaits For Smallmouth Bass

Matt Straw - January 31, 2016

Crankin' is almost a necessity for finding bass on the Great Lakes from summer through fall.

Bass

Topwater Lure Secrets for Bass

Jim Edlund - April 26, 2018

These secrets will put more and bigger bass in your boat!

Recipes

Catfish Dinner with Homemade Chips and Tartar Sauce Recipe

Jenny Nguyen-Wheatley

Catfish is meaty, juicy and holds up well in this soul-satisfying fried fish recipe with...

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Costa and Captains for Clean Water

With the company's heavy involvement in initiatives like Kick the Plastic and Captains for Clean Water campaigns, Costa's Amanda Sabin tells OSG's Lynn Burkhead all about the sunglass maker's unwavering commitment to help the freshwater and saltwater environment.

Bug-Repellent Clothing from L.L. Bean

L.L. Bean No Fly Zone and Insect Shield apparel won't let bugs ruin a fishing trip. With Jeff Miller of L.L. Bean and Game & Fish Editorial Director Adam Heggenstaller at ICAST 2019 in Orlando.

Select Lure Options for Giant Pike

And handful of lure options produce big pike early in the season.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

Biology

Walleye Length To Weight Conversion Chart

Dr. Rob Neumann - January 03, 2017

Several methods are available to estimate the weight of a fish. Some use length as well as...

Other Fish

Must-Have Striped Bass Tackle

Rick Bach - May 04, 2017

It was an August evening and I was wading the flats in Brewster, MA with my cousin. Here you...

Bass

Largemouth Bass Length To Weight Conversion Chart

Dr. Rob Neumann - January 22, 2017

Check out this Largemouth Bass Length To Weight Conversion Chart, a simple and accurate...

See More Stories

More Ice Fishing

Ice Fishing

Ice Fishing Channel Catfish

Steve Ryan - December 23, 2016

Channel catfish are big, bold, and beautiful'deserving of your attention this winter.

Ice Fishing

Baiting for More Ice Bites

Gord Pyzer - March 12, 2019

Pre-baiting an ice-fishing spot to attract your targeted species, and chumming your hole while...

Ice Fishing

Important Factors for Trophy Perch

Dan Johnson - April 02, 2018

Several factors affect a fishery's ability to produce generous numbers of giant perch.

See More Ice Fishing

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

×