5 Steps For Replacing Broken Tip-Tops

Broken tip-tops are the most common fishing rod failure. Likewise, how to measure and replace a tip-top are the most frequently asked questions.  If you fall in this category, you came to right blog, but if you have yet to break a tip-top, it will happen soon so you might as well prepare yourself.

Tip-Tops, Man’s Worst Friend

The sound of snapping off a tip-top is as unique as it is heart-breaking. Perhaps the most upsetting, the leading cause of death for tip-tops is actually human error. Often followed with a string of words that would offend anyone’s mother, broken tip-tops can devastate a fisherman and an entire fishing trip.

Whether severing the tip-top closing the car door, stepping on the rod, or just reeling in the lure too far, the point is that it happens and you can fix it.

How To Replace A Tip-Top

Now here you are, looking down at the point of the rod blank where the tip-top used to be, and you are thinking, “What should I do next?” Your inner animal will want to answer by smashing what remains, but maintaining composure is the first step to saving the rest of your rod. The second is going to be removing the old, broken tip-top from your rod blank.

Easy when done correctly, remove your tip-top by whisking a small flame, such as a lighter or candle, back and forth under the tube of the tip-top. Through a gentle heat, the tip-top adhesive will melt then release from the rod blank, but remember to never twist it off. Pulling the tip-top straight off of the blank will help avoid any additional complications.

The remaining steps will take you from a broken tip-top to being back on the water in no time:

1. Identify Tip-Top Style

Generally, tip-tops range from spinning and casting tops to fly and boat tops.

Different tip-tops are made for each fishing application, double check to make sure you chose the right design when ordering the replacement.

Based on your intended fishing application, choose the design that will match in order to enhance your performance.

2. Measure the Ring Size

Measured in millimeters, the ring size can either be determined by the outside diameter (OD) of the ring, also known as the eyelet, or the inside diameter (ID) of the tip-tops metal frame that holds the ring. Standard ring sizes for conventional rods are 6, 8, and 10 millimeters. For heavier fishing applications like saltwater rods, ring sizes can get as big as 16mm.

Considering both methods will give you the same measurement, it is primarily a matter of what you have available to measure. For instance, if you lost the entire tip-top then you can usually measure the ring size of the smallest guide and that will be an equal measurement.

Reference chart to measure a tip top guide on a fishing rod.

Reference chart to measure a tip top guide on a fishing rod.

3. Find the Tube Size

Finding the tube size is dependent on either the inside diameter (ID) of the tip-top tube or the outside diameter (OD) of the blank’s tip. Tube sizes can get a bit more obscure because they are measured through a fraction and unlike ring sizes, the fraction is in inches instead of millimeters. To make things interesting, the tube size is represented by 64ths of an inch.

The tube measurement you see when purchasing a tip-top is actually the numerator over 64ths of an inch. For example, common tube sizes range from 3.5 to 12, but remember this actually means they range from 3.5/64ths to 12/64ths of an inch.

4. Order A Replacement

At this point in the tip-top replacement process, it is time to purchase the tip-top that matches your intended fishing application, ring size, and tube size.

Ordering a replacement tip-top is simple as long as you know the design and measurements you need.

Ordering a replacement tip-top is simple as long as you know the design and measurements you need.

Tip-tops are organized in our catalog as well as on our website by a code that begins with the model’s abbreviation, then the ring size (in millimeters), and finally, the tube size (in 64ths of an inch).

5. Tip-Top Installation

After receiving the tip-top replacement, all that is keeping you from fishing again is the installation of the new tip-top. Much easier than guide installation, tip-tops can be installed in just a few simple steps.

First, cut off a small sliver of tip-top adhesive with razor blade. Make sure to cut the sliver is small enough so that it will fit inside the tube of the tip-top.

Next hold the tip-top with some pliers, careful not to add too much pressure to the thin metal frame, and briefly wave a gentle heat, from either an alcohol burner or a lighter, under the tube to heat up the adhesive inside.

A lighter will function fine when applying heat, but aesthetically, a clean burning source like an alcohol burner will look much more professional once finished. Using an alcohol burner instead of a lighter is especially better for any chrome tip-tops because it won’t leave any carbon marks on the tip-top’s tube.

Once the glue sliver has melted, slide the tip-top over the tip of the blank, spinning it 360 degrees as you slide it on in order to ensure a secure adhesive bond.

Note: Depending on your location, it may be easier to heat the end of the tip-top adhesive stick then run the tube of the tip-top over it before sliding and spinning it onto the tip of your rod blank.

In cases where the tip of your rod blank, including the tip-top, has snapped off entirely, you may run into trouble with your subsequent running guide’s spacing once that tip-top is replaced. After the tip is broken, if the new tip’s location is within half an inch of the first running guide, remove that guide and replace it with a tip-top. If there is more room between the tip and the first running guide, install the new tip-top on the tip and readjust the first running guide as you see fit.

In other cases, when the tip-top remains intact however, the insert ring is cracked or chipped, you can’t solely remove and replace that inner ring so replace the entire tip-top. Never continue to fish with a damaged insert ring because the fishing line will erode against the ring’s blemish and eventually, sever the line completely.

Whether you just broke a tip-top or you are preparing for future fishing, replacing a broken tip-top is pretty straightforward as long as you have the right information to get the job done.

Take a look at our selection of Tip Top Repair Kits today…