When it comes to fishing for pike, there isn’t much that will be more effective than a simple tip up. When you look at tip ups, they’re pretty simple. The spindle sticks down below the hole and the basic thing is that the fish hits the tip up, spools out line, and the flag pops up. For bait, a lot of times people are using suckers, even big chubs, but on a lot of lakes, it’s tough to beat dead bait. Frozen smelt, frozen herring, cisco, anchovy.
With my setup, I like to use 40-60lb dacron for my main line. This heavier line works better for a lot of different reasons. It pulls off the spool easier and obviously when you’re targeting big fish you’re going to want that heavier line. I also use a heavy-duty ball-bearing snap swivel with a fluorocarbon leader that I often tie myself. The reason I like to tie a 40lb fluoro leader with a big treble hook on it is that I can hang the bait perfectly horizontal. I don’t add any weights, no split shots, no rubber core sinkers, nothing extra to sink the bait. A lot of times when you’re hanging these frozen dead baits in the water, they have a tendency to float. So the biggest thing with dead baits is to take your tip up flag and poke the dead bait right in the belly. You can actually squeeze the air out of it until it sinks. Make sure to adjust it so it hangs horizontal and sinks without any added weight. If you can use just a plain fluoro leader and hook with no weights, you’re just going to catch way more fish because there’s not as much resistance. Sometimes when you get a lot of weight on, it’s just more resistance that’s gonna pull that bait out of the fish’s mouth when it runs. So, you want that resistance to be really light.
You can tie a two-hook setup if you want, but a lot of times I just go with a single hook. I find I usually catch just as many fish and I don’t have to worry about those extra hooks catching the bottom of the ice when I’m trying to navigate a big fish up the hole.
So, take your tip up and poke the belly, squeeze the air out, place the hook so it hangs horizontal, don’t add any weights, and you should find that your batting average for landing fish with each flag will improve.