When it comes to tip-up rigging, some say treble, some say single.
A few stalwarts will remain neutral and claim neither is really right or wrong. As a whole, they’ll say, it comes down to personal preference–and there is truth to that sentiment. But let’s review some benefits of staying single.
First, from a common sense standpoint, single hooks are less likely to tangle or snag soft case linings. When you’re transporting and fishing a lot of tip-ups, these are much appreciated advantages.
For that matter, single hooks are less prone to tangles under the ice, too. Trebles leave multiple hook points exposed that can entangle within vegetation or catch floating debris, ruining effective presentations by creating an unnatural appearance–or worse yet, result in drops because collected materials cause biting fish to sense unnatural resistance. And even when fish are successfully hooked, those same exposed points increase the chance of inadvertently snagging on vegetation, stumps or the edge of your hole, potentially providing the leverage necessary for them to shake free.
Furthermore, larger bodied trebles may limit effective hook-ups by impeding baits from entering the mouth of fussy, light-biting fish, because their wide, rounded bases actually stick out and block baits from being cleanly ingested—an issue that can be minimized by integrating single hooks into your rigs. Fact is, single hooks are easier to hide when fish are finicky and tend to stay in place better, consequently increasing hooking percentages by being properly positioned, in turn reducing short strikes and stolen baits.
For this very reason, smaller, lighter single Aberdeen style hooks are decidedly better choices when tip-up fishing pan fish, because their thin diameter hook points penetrate almost effortlessly. And for larger game, relatively thin, wide-gapped octopus or circle style single hooks are more efficient yet–the gaps on comparably sized, thicker diameter trebles don’t have anywhere near the same bite as these single hooks. Even the smallest of these specialty designs feature comparatively wide gaps, so you can actually downsize your hook dimensions for finesse presentations without losing any advantageous hooking potential!
Consider, too, that treble hooks are not only wider and thicker, but heavier–meaning lighter, thinner single hooks are less likely to damage small baits AND won’t weigh lighter baits down, impairing the natural swimming motion of finesse style presentations.
Another valid argument: After a successful catch, single hooks are easier than trebles to remove, therefore less likely to cause serious injury to fish, a positive quality for ice anglers practicing catch and release.
In summary, whether or not you try incorporating single hooks into your repertoire of tip-up rigs and presentations will likely come down to a confidence factor. You’ll need to weigh all the arguments and experiment to determine what works best for you, given your target waters, the species you’re seeking and conditions you’re facing.
The most important thing, however, is to remain open-minded and carefully consider these potential advantages, because when it comes to ice fishing, consistent success is often found in details.
And in select situations, you may find it pays to stay single!