This past weekend was Wisconsin’s First Ice Fishing Show held in Schofield. I was overwhelmed by the large amount of tip downs that was on display. So, something came to mind: I am going to find and review the perfect tip down.
First, I had to come up with a class system for the tip downs, given the fact that there are so many different kinds of tip downs. I came up with two: The kind that uses your existing rod, and the kind that comes with a rod built into it or with it.
Then I came up with a grading system A, B, C, D, and F; much like school, if a tip down passed or didn’t pass they will categorically land a letter that best represents their test. A being the best, and F being the worst.
The first class, the tip down that uses your existing rod has a complication all in it’s own: detaching the rod from the tip down after the bite. Often times, one only has one or two seconds to set the hook and reel when the fish bites. Messing with a sloppy detachment gets in the way; so one is left with a choice of hand over hand reeling, or picking the entire unit up to get a good hook set.
The second class, the tip down that comes with an existing rod built in or attached with is more of a traditional tip down going back to the dawn of tip down fishing.
To compare the two, is like comparing apples to hand grenades. Both have advantages and disadvantages over each other. Main points are cost, practically, simplicity, and portability.
In class 1, I reviewed the Sullivan Tip Down, first strike, Ifshpro Tip UP, Tight Line, and the Dangler systems.
Sullivan Tip Down: C. Built in the Eau Claire area by the founder James Sullivan and his family and comes in two models: the electric model, and the non electric. However, the issue comes into place when the bite occurs and difficulty it is to get the rod out of the holder in a timely manner. However, the unit both the electric and the non electric breaks down very easily for portability.
First Strike: A. The First Strike System is a neat little gadget that attaches to your rod. Line rests on a clip that deploys a strike indicator flag. The First Strike System company also has a stand that collapses easily, and a clip that attaches to the base of your rod so one can fish dead stick style with their bail open. Once the fish hit, the line pop outs of the clip and the fish can freely take the line. I like the First Strike System because it is simple, portable, but comes in 3 pieces: rod holder, flag, and clip- each sold separately; nice thing, each piece operates independent of each other.
IFishPro Tip UP: B. The IFishPro Tip UP system (IFP) is not necessarily a tip down per say, but a strike indicator system non the less. The IFP is a disk that sits over your ice hole, the user attaches a clip to the line and a clip that holds the flag down. When the fish hits, it pulls the clip away from the unit and the flag goes up. Simplicity, is a key component for the IFP and the user can leave their bail open. However, the issue comes into the portability factor as it is designed for 10 inch holes and has difficulty with fitting in buckets for transport.
Dangler: A. Granted the highest rank available, the Dangler system is one of two of the simplest tip downs that use your existing rod on the market. Simply put, the Dangler has a clip that attaches to your rod. The main unit is stand with a pivoting rod that flips up when the user goes to set the hook. When the fish bites, the rod tip drops; the user then grabs their rod and lift up to set the hook; simultaneously, the pivoting rod lifts up, freeing the fishing rod from the dangler unit. The Dangler collapses down and fits in the sled or bucket for easy storage.
Tightline Tip Down A. Again, granted the highest grade available, Tight Line Tipdown (TLT) is being celebrated for simplicity and portability. TLT is a modified 1X2 that has grooves that makes the unit fit on a bucket; the unit also has two attachments on the end that allows the fishing pole to be easily accessed and deployed when a fish bite occurs by attaching key rings to your rod and reel.
In contrast, class 2 has the rod built into or comes with the tip down. Again, this is a traditional set up, dating back to the dawn of time. I reviewed the Swish Down, the traditional tip down, and the Fish Away rod system.
Swish Down: A. Swish Rod, owned by Handishop Industries, a company that provides work for adults with disabilities, launched Swish Down this year. The Swish Down is a modified version of the Swish Rod, and has a built in stand that is fully adjustable and equipped with a flag. The only downside is the rod/reel is not detachable. However, they are working on a modification and will have that up as the year progresses.
Fish Away company. B. The Fish Away Rod system is a rod that is built into it’s stand. It is light weight and the rod is detachable for easy modification for species specific fishing. However, the Fishaway is bulky and difficult to transport in buckets or sled.
With so many tip ups and tip downs on the market today, it is overwhelming to find one that really is perfect. Like any other industry, your purchase is your choice, just make sure you are informed and comfortable with your purchase.