Just Buy a Flippin’ Reel Would’ya

Gator Flip Flipping Bar 1980.

J&L Tool Inc. hit the mark when they realized a double handle was by far better than the single, counterbalanced handles of the day. Their solution was the ever-popular Gator Grip, a handle you found on nearly every serious bassers’ reels of the day. Its soft texture provided grip and if your fingers did happen to slip off a handle there was another close by the grab a hold of quickly.

Shortly after they came out with the Gator Grip, J&L came out with the palming cup that would fit snuggly on the spool-tension sideplate and give the angler a more comfortable reel to palm. I don’t think they did too well with that product because in 10 years of working at the tackle shop, I don’t recall any customer buying one let alone having one on any reel I spooled with line – and we spooled at least 200 reels a week.

The kicker product that J&L came out with, though, was the Gator Flip. By this time, Flippin’ was all the rage and everyone had a Flippin’ Stik in the boat with them at all times.

Basil Bacon had just invented the Flippin Switch and gave the rights to ABU Garcia, which in turn came out with the first ever reel designed for flipping. They were a few bucks more than the standard reel but they offered a lot to the angler who flipped a lot.

But anglers also knew that they could render their standard reels into flippin’ reels by removing a couple of springs and strategically placing a couple of toothpicks. Problem was this was fine for the new “thumb bar” reels like the 5600 and 4600, which gave you better control than the standard push-button-style reels of the day.

The Gator Flip promised to solve the dilemma posed to anglers who didn’t want to fork out the extra dough for a new flipping reel, though. Unfortunately, anglers didn’t see it the same way. If they needed a flipping reel, they went out and got one – thus leading to the demise of the Gator Flip.

So, any of you out there ever own a Gator Flip? What did you like or dislike about the contraption? How long did it take for you to buy a real flipping reel?

  • Andy Williamson

    I was tempted to get a Gator Flip, for my 5500C purchased in 1976, but never did. However, I did buy a Comfort Cap and still use it on that same reel which is the smoothest reel ever. (Well broken-in!)