Rick Hammer of Aqua-Vu hoists a pretty one from the waters of a nearby lake. And, of course, he's not using a tip-up. Because he's contrary.
Rick prefers using the HT Original Ice Rigger, a kind of rod-holder, flag-tripper, in combination with a sensor connected to a remote on his belt. With his underwater camera array, buzzers, bangles, and beads, he's Mr. Gadget. And the Ice Rigger is cool, because it allows him to fight the pike on rod and reel. (I often use them for trout and steelhead in shallow water.)
Somehow (don't ask why), I prefer the primal hand-over-hand combat of tip-up fishing. Been doing it a long time and I look forward to it every winter.
I broached the topics of Bigtooth rigs fluorocarbon last time. Bigtooth Tackle actually makes pike-muskie leaders with 100-pound fluorocarbon line instead of wire. These work perfectly well. But I actually prefer the wire Natural Quick Strike rig they make. I use 20-pound Stren fluorocarbon leader material above the wire harness in really clear water. The lakes we fished this week are extremely clear.
It breaks up the continuity of thick, braided line extending to the the tip-up. It never breaks, so why not? Do pike see the line? Yes If so, do they care? Nobody will ever know so I'm just hedging my bets. One of those million details.
The Bigtooth Natural Quick Strike Rig is shown here. It's a wishbone-shaped affair and the design almost ensures that a pike will be hooked in the corners of the mouth if you set while it's still running away with the bait crosswise in its mouth. Those little spinner blades floating on the wire make the rig legal in Minnesota, but they're positive attractors. When the sucker moves, those blades move, and it makes a difference. I've been using a fly-reel pouch to keep hooks from engaging the sides of my HT Enterprises DeNeveu Creek tackle bag. That bag really comes in handy when pulling light sleds into remote lakes on foot like we've been doing.
Rick is going batty because ice is his season and he can't drive on it yet. Which is bizarre but true. In Minnesota, we tend to be driving our trucks on the water by now. Rick said he saw two trucks on the ice yesterday and they were right on top one of his favorite walleye spots. "I'm driving out there tonight," he said. Haven't heard from Rick today.