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If you're targeting big northern pike, steelhead trout or other larger gamefish through the ice, use a regular warm-water rod and open-faced spinning reel instead of a tip-up or small ice-rod. Big fish can make mincemeat of lesser gear.
When you hook a large fish, plunge the rod tip down into the hole and fight the fish from there. You'll avoid fraying the line on the ice and have more room to play the fish as it lunges and runs. Ice on the reel and line can be overcome by warming it up and temporarily switching to another rod and reel.