Love the thought of fresh fish, vigorous exercise, and returning to your primal roots? Well, spearfishing’s going to be the perfect activity for you.
Indeed, it’s been practiced in some shape or form for millennia. It first took off as a sport, though, back in the 1930s. The popularity of spearfishing grew from there and now countless people partake in this particular pastime all around the world.
If you’re going on your first spearfishing adventure, then you’ve got some exciting times ahead. However, you’re going to need the right spearfishing gear for the job.
You could just sharpen a stick, slap on some goggles, and get started, of course! Yet that’s a recipe for disappointment (not to mention danger) when you’re still learning the ropes. Nope, the right equipment is all-important for having a safe, successful, and enjoyable first spearfishing experience.
Want to find out what you need? Keep reading to discover all the essential equipment to take on your first underwater outing.
The first port of call should always be to acquire an underwater hunting/sport fishing license. Or, failing that, to put some serious research into finding out if you need one! Rules and regulations vary depending on your location, but having a license is compulsory in many states.
It might feel frustrating. However, it’s designed to prevent people from going around hunting marine animals at will. As far as you’re concerned, acquiring the necessary license also means you’ll never be stung with the hefty fines that apply for hunting without one (or killing a protecting species of fish).
Never go spearfishing without one! Be diligent in your research to see what rules apply to the practice in your area. Then make sure you’ve ticked the right boxes and received all the permissions you need to partake in the sport.
Top tip: dive shops, lifeguards, and local agencies can all be valuable sources of information in this regard. And, while you’re asking around, try to enquire about the water conditions wherever you intend to fish. Understanding the conditions is the first step to knowing if you’re a strong enough swimmer to stay safe there.
Spearfishing gear doesn’t get much more essential than a weapon. Going fishing without one would be like trying to play football without a pigskin! It’s fundamental to the task.
There are a few different types of weapons available. For many newbies to the sport, though, spearguns are the go-to. As you’d imagine, an endless array of these guns line the spearfishing shelves.
Some are long, some are short; some are air-powered (AKA a pneumatic speargun), some use bands/slings; some have thick shafts, some are thin. Oh, and some cost an arm and a leg while others are far more affordable! Choosing the right gun depends on your specific needs.
Here’s one example: low levels of visibility would require you to get far closer to your prey before firing a shot. And to do that, you’d need a shorter gun. The size of the fish, your experience handling these weapons, and the depth of water all come into play as well.
Want our advice? Go for an entry-level option from companies like JBL. They’ll be affordable, user-friendly, and a great learning tool on which to master the craft.
- Pole Spear/Hawaiian Sling
Not everybody wants to go spearfishing with a gun though. You might prefer the ancient method instead: diving down to shoot by hand. That’s what you’d get if you invested in a pole spear and/or a Hawaiian sling.
A pole spear’s simply a thin pole with a sharpened tip and an elasticated band on the back. You slip your arm through the band, hold the spear up the shaft in a way that stretches it, and let go of the pole to ‘shoot’. The tension’s released from the band, which thrusts the spearfishing spear forward at your prey.
By contrast, a Hawaiian sling’s similar to your childhood slingshot! Imagine a hollow tube with an elasticated band on the back. You feed the spear through the tube, notch it to the band, and then withdraw the band like a slingshot.
Pole spearfishing and Hawaiian slings are better for shallower, close-quarter spearfishing. You have to get up close and personal with the fish before you can take the shot! They’re far cheaper than spearguns, yet there’s more skill required too (which can prove frustrating when you’re trying to catch dinner).
- Spearfishing Wetsuit
Some people go spearfishing for hours at a time, in all seasons, and in deep water! The result? It’s easy to get cold.
That’s why a wetsuit’s so important. Sure, you could just wear your surfing wetsuit, but there’s no replacement for a purpose-made spearfishing one. These thick, insulated suits are incredibly warm and come with a special padded section that makes it easier/more comfortable to load your speargun.
Another benefit is their coloration. Ordinary wetsuits tend to be black and have colorful graphics on them, which stand out like a sore thumb when you’re underwater. By contrast, spearfishing suits usually have a camouflaged design that’s ideal for hunting.
It goes without saying that you need the best spearfishing wetsuit that’ll fit (and cover) your body! Remember to think about the temperature of the water in your area and the depth you’ll be descending to as well though. Finding the right thickness of neoprene is crucial for staying warm enough.
- Gloves and Booties
Your body isn’t the only thing that needs protection against the cold. Your hands and feet do too! They’ll keep you warmer, comfier, and able to perform better at the sport as well.
Let’s start with the gloves. Trust us, after hours underwater, the last thing you want is for your hands to be numb when the perfect fish swims straight past your face. Warm, lightweight, and ergonomically-designed, purpose-built Kevlar spearfishing gloves will stop that from happening.
The same goes for booties. They’re soft, warm, and provide a useful barrier between your feet and fins (more on these next). Slip them on before you enter the water and you’ll bid farewell to any rubbing or discomfort that may otherwise have occurred.
- Weight Belt
There’s one major downside to all wetsuits: buoyancy. And the thicker the suit, the more buoyant you become. That’s less than ideal when you’re trying to submerge yourself without expending too much effort!
Buy yourself a weight belt to solve the problem.
These handy devices slip around your waist and have actual weights on them to help you sink. They counteract the buoyancy of the suit and make it much easier to get (and stay) in position underwater as a result.
Swimming is hard work at the best of times. But it’s ten times worse when you don’t have fins on your feet! These vital pieces of spearfishing gear make a tremendous difference in terms of descending in the water, getting into position, and pursuing your prey.
Once again, wearing any fins will be better than nothing. Try to get hold of specific spearfishing makes if you can, though. These are thinner, longer, stiffer, more durable, and are designed to help you more powerful and efficient through the water.
A key deciding factor is always the way they fit though. You need to strike a balance: not so tight that they’re uncomfortable; not so loose that they come off in the water! Oh, and keep in mind that you might be wearing dive socks too.
- Snorkel and Mask
If you want to see what you’re shooting at (something that’s always advisable), then a high-quality mask and snorkel will be essential. The trick is to find the right ones for the job…
Contrary to what many people think, the clearest mask isn’t always the best. Sure, that visibility’s great in clear underwater conditions. But in murky, low-vis waters it’s better to have colored lenses that maximize contrast levels and help you distinguish the fish.
Then there are mirrored options available! Like poker players wearing sunglasses to the table, mirrored lenses hide your eyes from suspicious fish. Better still, they reflect the light and scene, which can sometimes attract fish to you.
It goes without saying that the mask should fit well and feel comfortable on your face. Opting for one with a low-profile should also make it easier to equalize underwater. Oh, and it’s an added bonus if you look cool too…
The snorkel itself is less complicated. Pick a simple j-shaped model from the local store and you’re good to go. Fancier options are available, but the basic ones are more than good enough.
Don’t Forget Your Spearfishing Gear
People have gone spearfishing for as long as they’ve eaten fish! Sinking beneath the surface and entering the fish’s habitat was (and still is) one of the most effective ways to catch a seafood dinner. These days, though, it’s more about sports than survival.
Have you been planning your first foray into this wonderful world? Well, we hope this guide to essential spearfishing gear will help you get ready for it. Get your hands on this gear and you’ll be one step closer to having a memorable underwater adventure.
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