Isotopes (also known as betalites, betalights and Starlites/starlights) are an essential item of tackle for night fishing when watching the rod tip for bite indication is required.
To attach these to the tips of your rods you’ll need some kind of adapter, or something to attach them to. There are a few products on the market which offer a temporary, removable solution – such as the Korum Starlight & Isotope Holder Kit, Enterprise Tackle’s Avon/Barbel Rod Tip Nightlight Adapter & Quivertip Nightlight Adapter and the Drennan Isotope Kit – but if, like me, you do a lot of fishing in the dark, a permanent holder is a far superior option.
If you have the money for a custom-built rod, several rod builders allow you to specify a night light adapter. But if, like most of us, you’re using off-the-shelf rods or if you’d like to retrofit an adapter to your older rods, you can achieve the same thing with a little bit of DIY.
I’ve come up with a solution, which I’ve added to several of my barbel rods, zander rods and quivertip rods over the past couple of seasons (they will work for any rods where you may need to watch the rod tips at night – including carp rods & avon rods). They can also be used as sight tips to make your rod tips extra-visible in the daytime.
I add two adapters to each of my rods. Of course, you don’t have to use 2 adapters per rod but it helps your eyes to focus in the dark and prevent your mind playing tricks. Stare at a solitary bright object in the dark for long enough and your brain will make it move! It’s frustrating when you can’t decide if you missed a bite or witnessed an optical illusion, so in my opinion it’s better for your sanity to use two!
My design incorporates sight tips made for floats, cut and glued to the rod tip. I then use an interesting product I’ve been playing around with called Sugru mouldable glue. Straight from the packet it’s pliable and easy to mould, but it sets into a firm rubber after a few hours. Here’s how to do it yourself:
What you’ll need:
- Hollow float tips (I like the “Hollow Margin Stumpies” tips sold by “The Float Company” on eBay) – see below for sizing tip
- Two-part epoxy adhesive, such as Araldite or J-B Weld (fast-setting, ideally)
- A strong, sharp knife or junior hacksaw.
- Sugru rubber glue in your preferred colour.
- Clear silicone tubing (purchase a high quality, thick-walled tubing so that it lasts) – see below for sizing tip
- Isotopes / Betalights or Starlites – see below for sizing tip
It’s up to you whether you use disposable Starlight-type snap glow sticks, or the more permanent betalites – they both work with these holders. If you go with betalites make sure you buy the larger diameter 2.5mm or 3mm ones to ensure they’re easily visible on your rod tips.
First buy your isotopes or betalights, then use these to determine the size of hollow float tips and silicone tubing to order. I order the same diameter float tips & betalites, then go for silicone tubing with an internal diameter 0.5mm smaller (e.g. 2.5mm ∅ external betalite/starlite = 2mm ∅ internal silicone tubing) – this ensures a good, snug fit.
Time needed: 1 hour.
Method to add rod tip night light adapters:
- Chop Hollow float tips to size
The length will be down to personal preference, but somewhere around 12 to 18mm long is ideal. Cut at an angle, so that the adapter will point slightly towards the rod tip once glued on. These float tips, although hollow, are surprisingly tough so you may need a good craft knife or even a junior hacksaw to slice it.
- Tidy up the cut with some sandpaper
You should end up with a pair of float tips which look something like this:
- Superglue the float tips to the rod tip or quivertips section
Figure out where you’d like your isotope adapters locating (I find it’s safest for tangles to glue them onto the back of the tip ring ferrule and onto the whipping of the second rod ring) and, using a tiny blob of superglue, attach the float tips in place. Be careful to ensure they’re central to the spine of the rod, so the betalites sit vertically when in use, not pointing off to one side).
- Check you’re happy with the positioning of the sight tips before going any further
If you made a mistake or are unhappy with the positioning, simply snap the float tips off, clean away any glue residue and try again. This is why it’s best to use only a tiny amount of superglue – its sole purpose is to hold the adapter in position whilst you glue it properly with epoxy (see next step). You should end up with a rod tip looking something like this:
- Apply epoxy resin around the joint between float tip and rod tip
This will add strength to the joint and will be the main thing holding your tip adapters to your rod, so be generous but keep it neat. I try and leave a rounded blob around the joint. If you wish, you can apply a little more epoxy and skip to Step 10, but for lengevity I prefer to support the joint with Sugru rubber glue, see next step…
- Open your Sugru mouldable glue
Although Sugru has multiple uses and is a very handy product, it is quite expensive and once exposed to air the whole pack will cure. For this reason you’re best off preparing as many rod tips as you’ll be adding night light adapters to, and having them ready to go with cured epoxy, before opening a pack. In theory, I think there’s enough in a single foil pouch to do at least 5 rod tips with 2 adapters on each.
- Mould Sugru around the sight tips
Break off a small amount of Sugru and begin moulding it around the base of each float tip. You can always pinch off any excess with your fingernails, or add more, if you misjudge the quantity.
- Manipulate Sugru all way around
Push and smooth the Sugru around all the way around the joint between float tip and rod tip. Ensure you join up the Sugru underneath, so you don’t have unnecessary edges which might catch and start to peel during use. You’re aiming to create an even layer of the Sugru all around the joint, and a little way up the float tip stem. This will help support the glued joint, especially during transport and in the event of any tangles around the tip.
- Leave moulded Sugru to dry & cure
Clean up any excess Sugru before leaving overnight for it to set. It will cure into a tough but flexible rubber moulding. You may find this part quite fiddly, but you can use the back of your nail, or the tip of a blunt knife or nail file, to ensure you have neat & smooth edges before leaving it to set.
- Cut & add silicone tubing
Cut a length of silicone tubing to suit. I like to make it long enough to fit all the way to the bottom of the float tip, and long enough to fit at least half the betalite inside (so it has plenty to grip the little glass tube). I use permanent ones, which are expensive and I don’t want to risk losing them. If you use disposable Starlites you should make the silicone shorter so they’re easier to swap.
Wet the inside of the silicone a little to help it slip all the way onto the float tip and isotope.
- Finished article!
Once you’ve added your isotopes your rods are ready to fish with at night!
More DIY fishing tackle making tips & hacks
I’m quite a hands-on guy and I’m regularly tinkering with things to improve them, adapt them or make them to suit my needs. If you liked the tutorial above you may be interested in my other fishing tackle tips, tricks, adaptations, improvements & hacks. View them all here.