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As the inventor of this product, I know it intimately. There are things I do and don’t do as a result of years of use and testing that are important for you to know as a new Hook-Set Tip-Up user. Remember that this tip-up is fundamentally different in design and operation than any other tip-up you have ever used. The principals behind the Hook-Set Tip-Up are centered around being there to react when the fish first hits your bait. Much like when you have a pole in your hands, when a fish bites, you set the hook. That's why it works so well...The Hook-Set Tip-Up is there at the perfect moment...The fish has the bait in its mouth, the line is tight and the tip-up sets the hook for you. Flag up...FISH ON!!!

Like any other product on the market, you will achieve the best results when using the Hook-Set Tip-Up properly. Here are some common mistakes to avoid and some pointers to make sure your Hook-Set experience is a good one.
Please read through this section entirely and contact me if you have any questions that I have not answered here.
WHICH NOTCH SHOULD I USE? – The three notches are meant for different sizes and species of fish.
THE TOP NOTCH – This notch is meant for smaller fish such as jumbo perch and large panfish. Please note that this tip-up wasn’t designed for small fish such as these. However, I did want to include this top notch in case you wanted to try it on smaller fish. I have heard from a number of people who had success catching perch and crappie. They reported results of somewhere between 50 and 60% of flags resulted in fish. Please note that you will sometimes hook small fish without triggering the mechanism. When you check your bait it will be hooked. These fish were simply too small to set off the mechanism. But...you still catch a fish...not a bad thing!
THE MIDDLE NOTCH – This notch is meant for any mid-sized species. You will most often use this level and will have success even if a very large fish bites. At this level you are allowing for a relatively hard hook set with a softer pull by the fish. Walleye, brown trout, coho salmon, bass, small northern, splake, herring and rainbow trout have all been caught at this level.
THE BOTTOM NOTCH – This notch is meant for any large hard striking fish such as large northern pike, musky, bass, salmon, lake trout, etc. Do not fear that it is hard for fish to set it off. If you watch the video you will see a number of small northern and bass. These fish were caught using the bottom notch. If fish that small can do it…any fish you want to keep can do it too!
FREEZE UP – Freeze up is only an issue if you mix two ingredients...very cold weather and slight operator error. When you set the mechanism, don't release it when you check your baits. That way you don't needlessly bring water up into the bottom bushing. After you catch a fish, simply make sure that no ice has formed in the lower bushing and the tip-up will continue to function properly. If there is ice, simply breath on it as if you were warming your hands or bring it in your shanty or vehicle for a few minutes and melt the ice with your heater. You can also get the Hook-Set Tip-Up Hole Cover/Tip-Up Lift. This hole cover will virtually eliminate any ice that would typically form in your hole. See the video version of this recommendation on the tips and tactics page.
During the manufacturing process there was a lubricant that was used in cutting the rods. That lubricant fooled me into believing that none was needed year after year. I now recommend that you do put a small amount of cold weather lubricant on the rod once or twice a year to allow any ice that forms on it to slide off easily.
NEW SOLUTION!!! - We have totally redesigned the lower bushing for winter of 2008!! The new bushing will dramatically reduce any incidence of freeze up from here forward. Any tip-ups sold in 2008 will have this new bushing. Those of you who purchased a tip-up in 2007 will be sent a new bushing and instructions on how to swap it out, free of charge by simply emailing Ben via this site.
LINE GUIDE FREEZE UP – This is one of those problems that ISN’T A PROBLEM!! As will all types of tip-ups, if you take the tip-up out of the water and change baits or take off a fish, the line guide may seem like it is locked solid to the main rod. When this happens you won’t be able to pull out line. BUT…When you put the line guide back under water, it releases and works perfectly…so again, this may seem like a problem, but it isn’t.
MISSED FISH - The Hook-Set Tip-Up will give you a chance to catch every fish that bites.  However, we do not guarantee that you will catch every fish. Sometimes the fish will simply win the battle. If you find you are missing a high percentage of fish that bite, there is probably simple mistake being made and an easy solution.
One cause may be the size of the bait you are using in comparison to the size of the fish that bite.  A small fish will attack a big minnow.  If the fish simply bites the head of the minnow and doesn't have the hook it its mouth as it swims away, it can set off the mechanism and tear the hook out of the minnow.  I highly recommend using small treble hooks. I prefer a number 12. If legal in your area, you can also add a trailer hook or use a quick strike rig.  
One other cause could be the small hole in the hole cover. A chunk of ice will form on the main rod where it enters the water due to the rod itself being cold. I recommend you break that chunk of ice off ever hour or so. If it gets big enough, it will bounce off the bottom of the hole cover when the mechanism triggers and doesn't always break away...it will break off 10 seconds or so later, but the fish is already gone by that time. I have cut a cone out of the bottom of my hole covers, basically making the bottom of the hole 3 inches in diameter and leaving the top at the 3/4 of an inch. That way the ice chunk doesn't bounce off the hole cover and you get the full hook set.
Thin Ice can be another problem – See item THIN ICE below for an explanation.
THIN ICE – When the ice is thin enough that the reel is below the bottom of the ice, there is a chance that the hook-setting action will not hook the fish. Imagine that you have a piece of string stretched horizontally between your outstretched hands. If you raise your left hand about a foot, all that you do is change the angle of the string and you don’t feel much if any pull on your right hand. That is what will happen if the bait decides to swim horizontally from the reel and the fish bites at that point.
SOLUTION – You can do one of two things to make sure this doesn’t happen.

Option 1. We have developed a hole cover that will also help raise the base of the tip-up off the ice and keep the spool within the cylinder of ice formed by your auger. This new item aptly named the Hook-Set Tip-Up Hole Cover/Tip-Up lift is available on this site under the buy now tab and in select retailers.

Option 2. When cutting your holes, let the snow pile up around the hole, and use it to lift the tip-up so that the bottom of the reel is even with, or above the bottom of the ice when in the set position.

Both of these options help to keep the spool within the cylinder of ice. By doing that, the line travels along the lower lip of the ice resulting in a full pull when the mechanism triggers.

 
CLEARING ICE FROM YOUR HOLES – I typically clear ice out of the holes about every 15 minutes to half hour when I’m on the ice. Call me anal or maybe I have A.D.D. but I always want to make sure that the set-up is perfect. The Hook-Set Tip-Up will typically break through any ice that forms upon triggering, but if you let a lot of ice form, it may lessen the hook-setting action when the reel hits the bottom of the ice that has formed. Try our new Hole Cover/Tip-Up lift to help deal with thin ice hook setting and to help reduce the amount of ice that forms in the hole during the day.
REMOVE THE ICE THAT HAS FORMED ON THE MAIN ROD – The main rod will have ice form on it at the point that it enters the water. When the Hook-Set Tip-Up is triggered, that ice will break off easily due to the upward force of the spring. However, it is a good idea to break it off anyway when you check your holes. The easiest way to do this is to take the tip-up base in your left hand and lift it out of the water. Grab that small piece of ice and pull towards the reel while turning it toward the notches. That way you are basically trying to move the pin farther into the notch and won’t accidentally spring the mechanism.
AVOID THE TEMPTATION OF TRIGGERING THE TIP-UP – When you go to clear the ice out of the holes, you will be tempted to release the mechanism to make sure it is working properly. DON’T DO IT!! Every time you totally release the mechanism and allow it to decompress the spring, you are drawing water up into the bushing and will eventually see the problem described in the FREEZE UP section. If you feel the need to make sure it is functioning properly, simply put downward pressure on the t-bar and turn slightly clockwise, you will feel the smooth release of the pin and the upward pressure of the spring wanting to decompress. That is your signal that the tip-up will work properly when a fish strikes. Simply put the pin back into the notch and set your tip-up flag back under the t-bar.
LUBRICANTS – You can use lubricants if you wish. They may help or may not, but at the least they shouldn’t hurt the smooth operation of the mechanism. The only point you would really need any lubrication may be the point where the main rod enters the lower bushing. See the FREEZE UP section for more information.
WHAT KIND OF LINE SHOULD I USE? - I recommend you fill the spool entirely with a non-stretch line. My recommendation is 100 yards of Mason Ice Line 30lb test and a 3 foot florocarbon leader to decrease visibility. By filling the spool entirely, you allow the mechanism to trigger more easily than it will if you don't entirely fill the spool.
LARGE BAITS - Large minnows have the tendency to swim in circles and pull hard enough to spin the line guide and take out line.  In shallow water situations such as musky fishing or using large minnows for northern pike, the minnow can sometimes get down into the weeds and lessen your chances of getting a bite.  You have two options when this is happening:
1. Simply tilt the main rod slightly before you tighten the thumb screws or after setting the mechanism. By doing this, the line guide will spin until it gets to its lowest point and the minnow can't pull out any more line. Large fish will be able to pull hard enough to trigger the mechanism and still take out line.
2.  Snip the tail of the minnow so that it can't swim so powerfully.  Personally, I like to do this anyway.  A large minnow in my experience can set off a normal tip-up so this has been a normal thing that I always do.  It also attracts the predator fish to the bait.  An injured minnow is easier to catch and more attractive to them.
Ben Scherg Owner/Inventor
Hook-Set Tip-Up
BBJ Outdoor Innovations, LLC
Waupaca, WI
ben.scherg@hooksettipup.com
920-470-2495

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