By John Paul Castro – SM Staff
By far the most unknown and also most important piece of spearfishing gear is the flopper on a shaft and how it works. All too often I run into people who buy stock shafts and just have no idea that the flopper, or barb, should not just open and close completely by the force of gravity. A proper working flopper should only open to about 30 degrees when pulled by gravity. The idea is, when shot the shaft goes through the fish then the flopper drops open. When the fish tries to escape, it jams the flopper open to 90 degrees where it should get stuck. If the flopper is free then if the fish slides back down the shaft and flips upside down, the flopper could possibly close and the fish could slide off and escape. Tuning the flopper makes it jam open after the fish pushes against it so that it cannot escape.
This will cover floppers on most shafts, such as Riffe, Rob Allen, Spearmaster, Addiction, and so on. The idea is to get the metal to pinch on the shaft when it is pushed past its resting point. You do this by squeezing the ends together on the backside of the flopper. It can also be achieved by bending one side on the back.
First you take the shaft and flopper and lay them on a hard surface. It is as simple as getting a punch, nail set, or hammer and hitting the edge of the flopper above the pin to bend it closed. Until you get the hang of it you should bend it slowly to figure out just how much the flopper will open when it’s bent.
To clarify, the area that needs to be bent should be the area of the flopper nearest the tip of the shaft, passed the flopper pin on the opposite side. All you do is hit the back side, open side, of the flopper closed lightly so that it jams the flopper open, against the shaft, after having pressure applied.
Start with one edge and do the other as necessary. This is simply the most important thing you can do to land fish.