Are you excited to go ice fishing for the first time this year? Little do most people know, there are various techniques anglers can use while out on the ice. This tutorial will break down three of the most used ice fishing methods so that you can be successful this winter. So, please read along as we discuss spearing, vertical and horizontal jigging, and fishing with tip-ups.

How To Ice Fish: 3 Effective Ice Fishing Methods To Try

Two people ice fishing with one person holding up a fish over the ice.

Image Credit: Fenwick on Amazon

Ice Spearing

First, we will talk about a technique that has been around for thousands of years, ice spearing. Spearing a fish through ice involves a dark house, a viewing hole, a decoy, and dropping a trident on your target fish. Due to the tactics used to spearfish, many believe it’s closer to hunting than fishing. Regardless of its classification, like hunting and fishing, it’s a time-honored tradition, passed down through generations of sportsmen and sportswomen.

Depending on what state you’re fishing, rules and regulations may vary on what species you can target. The two most common fish species, anglers are typically after while ice spearing is: northern pike and lake sturgeon.

Tools You’ll Need for Ice Spearing

Here is a list of essential items you’ll need to start ice spearing:

  • Auger
  • Ice saw
  • Ice chisel
  • Scoop or skimmer
  • Dark house or portable shelter
  • Fish decoy
  • Ice spear
  • Ice picks
  • Warm and waterproof clothing


A person ice fishing with a jigging rod.

Image Credit: Fenwick on Amazon

Next on our list, one of the most popular techniques to use while ice fishing is jigging. While jigging, anglers utilize a specialized rod to target fish like the Fenwick Elite Tech spinning rod. There are two types of ways you can present a jig under ice: vertically and horizontally.

Vertical Jigging

Vertical jigging entails keeping your line straight up and down over your fishing hole. The eyelet on a vertical jig is at the top, and the lures tend to be tear-drop or spoon-shaped. One example of this type of lure is the Demon Jig by Custom Jigs. You fish these jigs by slowly raising and lowering your rod tip over the water. This steady movement causes the jig to rise and fall underwater gently. With this method, you can fish for various species, such as panfish, bass, salmon, and trout.

Horizontal Jigging

Unlike vertical jigs, these types of jigs hang horizontally when suspended underwater. Also, these jigs have a larger profile than vertical jigs and are typically used to target bigger fish. The best time to use a horizontal jig is when you need to add a little finesse to your tactics. For example, with these lures, you can twitch or shake your rod while jigging it. This movement gives your lure a nice action as it spirals down underwater.

Lastly, regardless of whichever jig style you prefer, we recommend adding a piece of bait to give it more appeal.

What You’ll Need to Start Jigging

If you’re interested in ice fishing with a jigging rod, here are some items you’ll need to get started:

  • Ice auger
  • Skimmer
  • Ice chisel
  • Ice fishing spinning rod
  • Light-weighted fishing line
  • Ice fishing jigs
  • Bait
  • Ice picks
  • Warm and waterproof clothing

Tip-Up Fishing

Last but not least, another popular way to ice fish is by using a fishing device called a tip-up. Anglers fish with Tip-ups by placing them over a fishing hole. These devices have a built-in spool underneath to hold your line and a tripping mechanism that shoots up a flag to indicate when you have a bite. Tip-ups are very handy because they allow you to fish in multiple spots at the same time.

Items You’ll Need to Use a Tip-Up

Here is a list of required things you’ll need to use a tip-up:

  • Ice auger
  • Skimmer
  • Ice chisel
  • Tip-up
  • Dacron braided backing line
  • Fishing leader line
  • Swivel
  • Hook
  • Live or artificial bait
  • Ice picks
  • Warm and waterproof clothing

Always Use Precaution While Out on the Ice!

Ice fishing is an excellent way to stay active and enjoy the sport during the wintertime.  However, it would be best to always use precaution while walking on the ice to keep yourself safe. Regardless of how you decide to ice fish, all three of these techniques are effective.

Anyways, we hope this article helped you learn a few methods to help you get started in your ice fishing journey. If you have any questions, please let us know in the comments below. Or, if you would like to support us, then please consider hitting that share button.

Stay safe out there, everyone!