A brain spike is an instrument used to instantaneously render a fish brain dead by plunging a sharp point through the fish’s skull and into its brain.
At a minimum, a brain spike needs to be 1) sharp; 2) easy to grip; 3) strong; and 4) sized appropriately. So, a brain spike should be able to punch through the fish’s skull, but because there are many types and sizes of fish, a spike sized for a trout will likely be too small or too weak to use on a tuna. The grip and hand-holding preferences will vary by context.
Some other factors deserve mention. Saltwater will rust and corrode certain metals quickly. DIY implements typically fail in this regard, and that is particularly true with tooling steels or other non-stainless steel metals. If rust and corrosion resistance are non-issues, efficacy is the priority.
Whether the spike itself lasts or confers any satisfaction or meaning to its owner is personal. Many anglers and commercial producers have their favorite brain spikes. We encourage at least this kind of intention, especially because the tool in hand will end a life – consideration is a measure of respect. So, we embrace the notion that personal equipment should be considered too, no matter the purpose. We prefer the sentimental over the disposable, the deliberate over the accidental. And, we believe that form has function as well. Finally, we believe that the spirit of American craftsmanship and art need not overlook the humble tools necessary for seafood handling. And consideration.
We are proud to be the first American company to offer application-specific brain spikes for commercial producers and serious anglers alike. The Blackout CODE RED is designed to be low-profile, portable, and unobtrusive. This brain spike is ideal for a wide range of fish species from small panfish to large jacks or small tunas. The Blackout TORQUE is a larger, T-shaped handle for added leverage and speed on larger species. Finally, a few years ago, we designed a brain spike that scratched every itch and made us so, so proud. The Blackout Infinity Pro was born. It’s a tangible, symbolic response to the lack of consideration that the American seafood experience has endured over the centuries. It is an elegant implement of swift death. It is hand-forged and designed for professional use, maintenance, and care. It may be shaped to a fine or a wide taper, and it may be sharpened and resharpened. It is not mass produced.
Will other sharp tools serve as effective brain spikes? Absolutely. A sturdy (stainless steel) ice pick is fantastic. Sharp scissor points or pliers may also be sufficient. Gaff points, spear points, and even screwdrivers should manage the task. However, while these stand-in objects may suffice, they are not intentional, and we think the occasion merits an application-specific tool.
Regardless of your selection, the best tool is only as effective as the skill behind it, and central to that skill is the ability to identify the location of the fish’s brain.