With the first three decisions made, you have essentially finished choosing your first whip! Congratulations! Depending on what you’ve decided on, your maker may have a few other questions for you. These are arguably less important than the first three, so don’t worry about them too much. We will cover a few of them below, but don’t be afraid to ask your whip maker if you are unsure! Oftentimes, they know best.
A whip’s plait or plait count is the number of strands the whip maker will put in the whip’s overlay. This is typically more relevant with leather whips, but nylon whips may vary in plait count as well. In general, a higher plait count in a whip means that it will have a better taper, a more fluid rollout, and potentially more intricate plaiting patterns. It also means that making the whip will have taken more work and material, and will therefore be significantly more expensive.
A whip’s plait can vary anywhere from 4 (very basic) to 64 (for decoration!), or even higher. As a rule of thumb, anywhere from 12 – 24 is good for general use.
Handle length is a common thing to consider when ordering a whip. Generally, the longer a handle is, the easier it will be to manoeuvre the whip around your body. However, if the whip is very heavy or long, a long handle can make it much harder to operate the whip comfortably.
If you are unsure, you should ask for your maker’s recommendation or choose a length in the middle of what is offered. Bullwhip handles are typically 8” – 12”, stockwhip handles are typically 18” – 24”, and PH whip handles are typically 16” – 20”.
This is the length of the fall on your whip. The fall is the long strip attached to the thong which the cracker is tied on to. Opinions typically vary on this subject: some whip makers think that the fall length should be one standard length, some think that the fall length should vary relative to the length of the whip, and others think it doesn’t matter at all. Falls are often replaced after a lot of use anyway, and differing lengths don’t make too much of a difference in day-to-day cracking.
If you’re not sure, ask your maker, but don’t worry to much about it. The difference between a 16” fall and a 24” fall is almost unnoticeable unless you’re planning on doing a lot of targeting. Anywhere in that range is fine.
Shot-Loaded or Not Shot-Loaded
A whip is shot-loaded/lead-loaded if the maker has put steel BB’s or another type of weight in the whip’s core in order to make the whip heavier. In the past, heavier whips were favoured rather than lighter ones because they felt easier to crack. On the other hand, lighter whips move through the air faster than heavier ones, and are easier to volley. For these reasons, shot-loading your whip depends entirely on personal preference. In general, assume your maker knows best.
While this question is typically more relevant for nylon whips because of paracord’s multiple colours, leather can also be dyed different colours to suit the whip cracker’s needs. Obviously, colour makes no real difference in how the whip operates, but it can make a difference for performers and others who want their whip to be seen.
Bright colours like white are generally considered the easiest to be seen in person and on video in any environment. Unfortunately, these whips are also often susceptible to grass stains and otherwise getting dirty, so be prepared to clean them once in a while if you want them to look nice. Meanwhile, dark colours like black or brown are more common for people who want a conventional “whip” look. It is also possible to get whips in multiple colours and plaiting patterns if your maker has the materials and experience necessary. It’s really up to you!