I use them perch fishing all the time and love them... I do not miss many fish at all unless i am late to the tip down. Size 14 treble hooks, As soon as i see one start to go i am in position and grab the rod just as it goes past parallel (2/3 the way down). I never let the rod go all the way down, if the rod is all the way down the fish is usually off because it will feel the tension in the rod. As for crappie fishing, id assume you would have less time to get to them. Best thing when tip down fishing is to stay active and jig them occasionally.
Kvann is correct in the offset hook leading to better hookset success rate.
I don't fish a lot of tip downs anymore, but when I did it was either with a VMC sure set or a Gamakatsu EWG hook usually in 12-14. They both have one treble that is wider gapped then the others. I still use them on my tip ups.
I lose a fair share of fish as well. I suppose a treble hook setup may help the odds.
I mostly hand over hand bringing a fish up since im usually over deeper water. I fumble the line at times and that usually yields a lost fish. Fishing schools of perch or even crappie, there usually is another taker soon after.
What size hook? I had the same issue and downsized to a size 16 treble hook. I was using size 10-12 in case of a passing walleye but was having a lot of drops.
I've also heard of guys bending 1 of the 3 prongs out slightly to give the hook more surface area to get caught as the fish swims away or when you set the hook. I accidentally bent a prong while unhooking earlier this season and have left it that way, I don't think I've missed a fish on a tip down yet this season. Who knows if it has anything to do with that though.
I use tip downs often and really like them BUT I keep missing the fish after the pole goes down. I use really light line that is very hard to see. Am I hitting them to fast or to do I need to give them more time before I set the hook? I would say I miss more than half my crappie bites on tip downs.
A few pics of my DIY Tipdowns. I made this one a few seasons ago. They get used heavily as i do not run tipups anymore.
Very easy to make. 1x2 wood stock and fasteners. Mayb 30 min to put one together once you have your material gathered up. The only thing i would add is a rope tether from the pole to the stand. One of these days i will probably lose one down the hole. I live on the edge : )