It’s strange, the things we latch onto. Hockey. That’s the sport I latched onto. Normally not the sport of a typical born and raised California boy. But in my defence (yes that’s the Canadian spelling for defense) I was born in Seattle. And although I only lived there for five minutes before I moved to Cali and I didn’t start watching hockey until I was in my mid-twenties, that’s what I latched on to. And boy, what a great thing to latch onto.

But we’re not here to talk about hockey. We’re here to talk about slip-tips. I just need a hockey analogy to describe slip-tips and here it is. I once had a friend say, “I don’t get it. All this icing, off-sides, and 30-second line changes. It’s so confusing. Three periods? What the f*ck is that about?” To which my response was, “Listen. I get what you’re saying. Stick to basketball. Five players on each side, unencumbered by traveling or dribbling rules, exchanging scoring chances and only getting motivated by the final year of their own personal contract. Some people aren’t bright enough to follow a game where you move on ice at thirty mph while controlling a small biscuit at the end of a six-foot stick. All while avoiding a 240 pound defenceman (again, Canadian).”

I think you know where I’m going with this. Yes, slip-tips and the fact that you only dislike them because you’re not bright enough to use them. I know that part of the reason I like them is because they are complex and beautiful just like the game of hockey. A comparison I just realized, by the way. But I also like them because they work and work well. I’d argue that aside from the fact that the shot will plane better with a slip-tip, will hold better under the skin of a poorly penetrated tuna, have less of a chance of tearing out of a gut-shot wahoo, and more importantly, not miraculously work its way out of a perfectly head-shot forty-plus-pound pargo. Not to mention the fact that a threaded shaft will have a much lower chance of bending. “Yez, bot ze flopphair eez so mosh ezhair”.

Listen, I’m not a stupid idiot. I know floppers are far superior. For shooting two-pound rock cod, two- pound kumu, two-pound mutton snapper, two-ounce denton, or for whatever the f*ck two-something-weight fish you shoot with a flopper. But not for big fish. Not when it counts. And please, don’t recount the time you were laying on the bottom waiting and praying that you wouldn’t black out amongst the three or seven remaining cleaning blennys in the Mediterranean when that six-hundred-pound blue fin tuna cruised by and you shot and stoned it with a reel and FLOPPER. “Haha! Zee? Stoopeed Ameericon! I deedeet wiz a flopphair!”

And speaking of being a stupid idiot, I once got on the Peace boat for a three-day trip, set my gear down, and moments later heard some guy announce ‘what kind of a stupid idiot would put a slip-tip on a 90 cm rear-handle!’ To which I replied, “the kind of stupid idiot who has lost a forty-plus-pound halibut with a flopper and landed a forty-two-pound halibut with a slip-tip!”

AND… don’t give me that s*it about grinding a $95 slip-tip into the reef. Yeah, that’s what I care about. Not the $950 three-day trip to southern California to put a flopper into a fish of a lifetime and come away bragging ‘I lost a huge whitecalicohalitailbass but at least I didn’t ruin a slip-tip!’ Yes. Yes! YES!!! Here’s to you, ‘at-least-I-can-do-a-mediocre-job-at-best-sharpening-my-rock-shot-flopper-on-a-grinder-guy’! You got me! I AM a stupid idiot!

I must be a stupid idiot because I am willing to have the discipline to take the care, effort, and extra 1.5 seconds to engage the spectra under the bands on the front of the gun. Okay, 2.5 seconds.

And finally, ‘Hey bro!  No time for that when you’re competing!’ To which I say, “If you’re shooting inedible fish weighed in grams for points to win a contest no one has heard about other than you and the other two guys competing, I’ll give you 1.5-2.5 seconds to make your argument”. Which leads to my final point with a story. The one story that seals the deal and conclusively proves my theories.

During a critical moment in a two-day (edible fish only, but I’m still a hypocrite) tournament in Key West a few years back, my very good pal and HIGHLY experienced diver and I jumped in the water to be greeted by a massive school of possible tournament-winning wahoo. I calmly loaded four of four bands, engaged my slip-tip as I had so many times before, took aim at the closest seventy-pound fish, only to watch them spook. I heard his gun go off. As I broke the surface while seeing the last tail of the scattering school, I thought, I AM a stupid idiot. You see, I specifically talked him into a slip-tip when I built his gun. Even though I didn’t see what he had done, somehow I knew that he had loaded two of his four bands and, in pure excitement, forgot that he wasn’t doing something he had done a thousand times before. Shooting a flopper.

Would he have taken that possible tournament winning fish with the flopper shaft he had originally wanted with his new gun?  Probably. We’ll never know. Oh well. Who cares anyway. What can you say? F*cking slip-tips.

Next Issue:

The Costly Snub