When choosing a pipe, the option of a P-Lip mouthpiece versus a fishtail mouthpiece mainly a question of personal preference. They each have their benefits and their setbacks. The primary difference between the two mouthpieces is where the smoke is directed when you draw on the pipe. With a Fishtail mouthpiece, the smoke is drawn straight back along the stem, with the opening of the mouthpiece facing directly back toward your tongue and the back of your throat. With the P-Lip mouthpiece, the opening is located on the top of the end of the mouthpiece and the smoke is directed toward the roof of the mouth.
The P-Lip mouthpiece was originally designed by Charles Peterson in 1865. Peterson designed the mouthpiece as part of his Dry System pipe design. The theory behind the design is that, by directing the smoke toward the roof of the mouth, it gives you a more even distribution of smoke in your mouth and reduces the chances of burning your tongue, which is just one of the issues in the situation commonly referred to as “tongue bite.” Along with Peterson’s Dry System pipe design, the P-Lip mouthpiece is intended to assist in the Dry System process.
The Fishtail mouthpiece design is the standard design for most pipes. It is often either a small hole or a flat slit at the end of the mouthpiece that is designed to deliver the smoke directly onto the tongue, with the hope that it gives you a little bit stronger of a taste of the flavors in the tobacco. The external shape of a fishtail mouthpiece is primarily cosmetic, but it does assist in retention of the pipe if it is being held solely by the lips or teeth. The opening in fishtail mouthpieces is available in several sizes in order for the smoker to have options as to how much smoke they can get with each draw.
As previously stated, the choice of one over the other are mainly based on personal preference, but there are flaws that are often pointed out by those that have used them and developed a preference for one over the other. One of the primary downsides mentioned when it comes to fishtail mouthpieces is the potential for “tongue bite.” Some also claim that it makes it too easy to overheat the pipe. The primary down side often mentioned with P-Lip mouthpieces is that they can be too hard to draw. No one can tell you which one is better than the other. In order find which one works best for you, the best method is to try them both yourself.