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Hook-Set Tip-Up 2007 Review

2007 was the first winter in a long time that seemed like the winters of old. Cold temperatures and lots of snow made for ideal ice-fishing conditions and another year’s worth of memories made on the ice. When this year started, I was up to my eyeballs in production of the Hook-Set Tip-Up. I was excited to get this product in the hands of the ice-fishing public and see what you all thought. With all of that completed and the season officially over, I can now look back and see exactly how things worked out.

Overall, I have to say that the introduction of the Hook-Set Tip-Up was a huge success. There have been countless people who have told me that they were skeptical at first but after using the product they are now true believers in the concept and the results that the Hook-Set Tip-Up brings. They loved knowing that there was a fish hooked when they got to the flag rather than dealing with the typical high percentage of drops and misses they experienced with their old tip-ups. They also liked having the ability to release the fish they caught because they didn’t have the time to swallow the hook before being hooked. Whether fishing for Northern Pike, Walleye, Bass, Salmon, Steelhead, Brown Trout, Splake or any other predator fish species, the Hook-Set Tip-Up has proven itself over and over again to be 2 to 3 times more successful at catching these fish than conventional tip-ups. Even Perch and Crappie fishermen reported better results than their old tip-ups were able to provide. With some smaller walleye and northern or other small fish like the perch and crappie, you sometimes went over to the tip-up to find a fish hooked and the flag never went up…but that is no surprise to me as it was developed for large fish species not small ones. As a rule of thumb…if the fish isn’t over 15 inches I’d recommend you use another tip-up to catch it.

Along with this success we did hear some common questions and concerns that are being addressed during the off season. By listening to these questions and concerns, we were able to isolate the few issues affecting the performance of the Hook-Set Tip-up. Come next ice, we will provide those of you who already purchased this tip-up with the small pieces you need to make the subtle improvements you requested. We will naturally make these changes standard on all future Hook-Set Tip-Ups we sell and basically perfect this design, leading to even better results in years to come. Thanks go out to all who contacted us with questions and helped us with these improvements.

2007 Results In Detail

I personally fished for a variety of different species of fish this year with the hopes of showing people that the Hook-Set Tip-Up will work on all different types of fish. I also kept in touch with quite a few different people around the state that were using this tip-up as often as possible. When you look at the fact that other tip-ups typically yield 33% to 40% results over the course of a year, our results were simply amazing. Remember, nothing is going to work 100% of the time. The fish is going to win some of the battles, but by using the Hook-Set Tip-Up you can realistically expect to double or triple your success rates. Simply said, you will Catch…More…Fish! Our combined results and percentages are listed below.

Northern Pike and Bass – 86%

These fish are listed together as Bass were caught while fishing for Northern Pike. It is impossible to tell which fish species was missed. My best day came on Indian Lake outside Rhinelander when we were 9 for 9!

Walleye – 75%

Personally, I still haven’t caught a walleye on this tip-up. Frankly, I only tried once because I just don’t know where to go. The 75% results are a compilation of 3 different people who have contacted me…One said he is 4 of every 5 flags for 80%, another said he is 3 of every 4 for 75% and the third said he was 2 of every 3 for 66%. That average works out to approximately 75% success!! All three of these people said that they used the middle notch and caught walleye from 15 inches to 29 inches. Unfortunately I don’t have any video of catching these fish but there will be pictures on our testimonials page and featured in our new video.

Brown Trout – 91%

Brown Trout are an extremely hard fish to catch on Tip-Ups. They bite and destroy a bait and then drop it after pulling out 6 inches to 10 feet of line. Typical catch rates are anywhere from 15 to 30 percent on conventional tip-ups. We are 20 out of 22! You can see a number of these fish being caught here or by going to www.youtube.com and entering Hook-Set Tip-Up.

Salmon, Splake, Steelhead and Herring – 80%

For those of you who don’t know what a Splake is…in Lake Superior they cross Brook Trout (otherwise known as Speckled Trout) with Lakers…when they are done, you have a Splake. I took one trip up to Lake Superior after being told by Craig Putchat of Outdoor Allure Bait Shop and Guide Service that he didn’t think the Hook-Set Tip-Up would work on the fish in Lake Superior. They simply bite too lightly and spit the baits. After one day of fishing, we hooked up on 8 out of 10 fish that hit the tip-ups. All of this was caught on camera as we were filming with Midwest Outdoors for an episode you will see in the winter of 2008!! We caught 3 Coho Salmon, 2 Splake, 1 Steelhead and 1 Herring. We lost one fish on the way in and had 2 misses. Craig told me that he was very impressed as the Cohos were the first salmon he has seen successfully caught on a tip-up in literally years. He assured me that he will be selling the Hook-Set Tip-Up in his store for years to come.

Perch and Crappie – 50 to 60%

First things first…I don’t recommend you use these for small fish like this…but…a lot of people seem to want to use them. Realistically, you can expect to catch 50% to 60% of these types of smaller fish by using the top hook setting notch. Sometimes the fish are too small to set off the mechanism and you will find a fish hooked when you go to check your baits and clear ice from your holes…but hey…you still catch the fish. If you want to use these for perch with a realistic expectation of the flags flying…make sure you are going for the 10” to 14” jumbos rather than the typical 7” to 9” nibblers that are prevalent in most of our lakes.

 

New Products and Upgrades For 2008

The best way to really test a product is to get it into the hands of the public and see what they can do with it. For the Hook-Set Tip-Up, the ice-fishing season of 2007 was just that test. Based on common questions we received from those who purchased this tip-up, we have come up with a couple small changes and a couple new items for the 2008 ice-fishing season. Those of you who already own a Hook-Set Tip-Up will receive these upgrades for free and those who are going to be purchasing them will see the upgrades as standard on the tip-ups you purchase. We highly recommend you take a look at our new products as well as they were specifically designed in response to requests made by people who bought and used the Hook-Set Tip-Up in this past year. We also highly recommend that you watch the new 2008 video. It is much more in depth than the 2007 video and answers some of the questions that we were asked last year. Remember...this tip-up is very different in use an operation than any other tip-up you have ever owned. That's why it works!!!

New Product #1 – Line Winder/Mouth Spreader

On a few of the other tip-ups currently on the market, there is a small handle on the bottom of the spool that allows you to wind the line at the end of the day or after catching a fish. The Hook-Set Tip-Up can’t have that feature built right in to the spool because of the design of the line guide…so we have created a small tool that you simply attach to the rod below the spool and wind up your line. In an effort to provide you with a useful tool other than just winding the line, we also designed this tool to act as a mouth spreader. It will be available on our web site and in stores in 2008. See the parts/products/buy now tab above for more information.

New Product #2 – Hole Cover/Tip-Up Lift

The main purpose of this item is to lift the tip-up off the ice. This accomplishes a couple of different things…

1. Keeping the spool within the cylinder of ice formed by your auger is very highly recommended. It will allow for better hook setting than allowing the spool to be below the bottom edge of the ice.

2. Keeping the lower bushing out of the water will aid in preventing ice from forming in that bushing.

The second purpose of this item is to prevent ice from forming on and light from getting in your hole. I have used this tip-up for years without a hole cover. You don’t “need” them for successful operation of this tip-up…but it was proven to me over and over again by one of my pro-staff this year that they are a huge advantage. Not only do they block out the light and make the bait look more natural, but they prevent almost all the ice that typically forms in the hole from even forming in the first place. We were out on the ice in 5 below temps with a 25 below wind chill…at the end of a 6 hour fishing day he barely had skim ice on his holes. I must have cleared the ice from mine 15 times.

This item will also be available on-line or in stores.

Upgrades – Getting the Hook-Set Tip-Up in the hands of the public was a great way to see what people liked or didn’t like about it. 2 upgrades are being made based on the feedback we received this year. These will be available for free to all people who purchased a tip-up in 2007.

 

Upgrade #1 – New Line Guide

We have made the opening in the line guide bigger for purposes of re-winding the line. The current design made it cumbersome to wind the line anywhere but the bottom of the spool. The new design has a larger opening for feeding the line on the entire spool rather than just the bottom. It was also made slightly larger to be perfectly free wheeling around the main rod. That way there is no drag added to the line as the fish pulls to set off the mechanism.

Upgrade #2 – New Lower Bushing

On extremely cold days the small amount of clearance between the lower bushing and the rod that the spool is attached to…allowed for some ice to form and cause freeze up issues. These issues are very easy to overcome if you use the tip-up properly, but I decided to redesign the lower bushing to hopefully eliminate this issue all together or at the very least, lessen it dramatically. The lower bushing has been redesigned to reduce the surface area in contact with the rod by about 90%. There is now greater clearance around the rod so that it will maintain smooth operation even if some ice forms. We have also added open chamber venting that will allow you to simply breathe on the lower bushing much like warming your hands with your breath if any ice does form so that you can easily melt this ice on the fly and keep your tip-up in peak operating condition. If you are out on a cold enough day that a lot of ice is forming on that rod and getting up into the bushing...you are a true warrior. In that case, I highly recommend you get the Hook-Set Tip-Up Hole Cover/Tip-Up Lift to prevent any ice from forming in the first place!

Other Issues and Fixes

Flags Falling Off - The glue we used to attach the flags to the flag rod seemed to release in cold temperatures. That coupled with the position of the flag when set under the t-bar led to flags falling off. When we found out about this, we immediately researched and found a new glue that works well...unfortunately, some tip-ups were already in the hands of consumers and we couldn't get to them to fix them...We apologize for this issue and offer these recommendations…

Re-position the Flag – If the flag is not pointing straight down toward the ice when set under the t-bar, simply grab the flag spring where it attaches to the base of the tip-up with your hand or a pliers and turn it clockwise until the flag does point straight toward the opposite end of the tip-up. That will lessen any pressure on the seam and allow the glue to hold better.

Use Zip Ties or Twist Ties to Hold the Flag – A customer told me that he simply made two small holes about an inch from the top and bottom of the flag just outside the seam and added zip ties to hold the flag on. The glue holds very well to the rod itself but not the flag so adding the zip ties and tightening them around the glue holds the flag on very well.

Line Guide Spinning – When people hold this tip-up in their hands and pull straight down on the line, the line guide will spin freely and allow line to come out without the mechanism triggering. This seems like as concern but in reality this situation does not exist on the ice…The fish will not grab the bait directly below the reel and then slowly drop straight to the bottom of the lake. These fish will always go one direction or another which will pull line at an outward angle from the spool and trigger the mechanism. Any outward angle on the line prevents the line guide from spinning freely and forces the spool to turn activating the hook-setting mechanism. (One thing can cause this to happen on the ice...If you drill your hole at an angle, and the spool sits directly above the lower lip of the ice, the line can act as if the fish is swimming straight down and simply spin the line guide...Make sure that your holes are relatively straight and the spool is in the center of the hole and you shouldn't have any problems at all!)

Minnows Taking Out Line – When using large baits that are very active…the free spinning nature of the line guide allows the minnow to take out line if it continually swims in a circle around the hole. People have asked me if they should bend the line guide to add a little tension. Don’t do that! Any tension you add to the line guide will make the tip-up that much harder to trip. With very large fish, that may not be a problem but with small fish you want this as free as possible. My recommendation is to simply put a slight tilt to the main rod. By tilting the rod and tightening the thumb screws the line guide won't spin freely and the mechanism will still hook the fish. You can also clip off the tail of the minnow. That makes it much weaker in terms of pulling out line, but it still swims vigorously when a predator approaches.

Catch and Release - When using other tip-ups, conventional wisdom tells you to let them swallow the bait. This may lead to catching more fish, but it also leads to killing the majority of the fish you catch. If you want to release these fish, the trauma of getting a hook ripped out of the throat and the simple amount of time you handle the fish while taking out the hook results in a mortality rate of about 60%!! When a warden told me that statistic on the ice last year, I was mortified. With the Hook-Set Tip-Up, the fish doesn't have the time to swallow the bait so the hook sets are typically in the front or corner of the mouth. It is much quicker and easier to remove the hooks. Bottom line, you spend less time handling the fish, you don't injure the fish by hooking it deeply, and you can return it to the water with a high chance of survival.

Conclusions

All in all, I am extremely happy with the results we heard and experienced this year. When I was growing up I knew full well that a day on the ice would be a combination of excitement when flags went up and disgust when a lot of fish were missed. With our basic design and the recommendations we received, ice-fishing enthusiasts can now expect to catch a much higher percentage of the fish that bite and also be able to release those fish back into the water to bite and fight another day.

 

Ben Scherg Owner/Inventor
Hook-Set Tip-Up
BBJ Outdoor Innovations, LLC
Waupaca, WI
ben.scherg@hooksettipup.com
920-470-2495
Copyright 2007 BBJ Outdoor Innovations, LLC All Rights Reserved
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