Whether you’re looking for the best speargun for beginners or you’re a veteran in the underwater field, one important fact remains constant: you need to choose the right spearfishing equipment for the job. Specifically, you need to choose the right speargun.
If you’re looking for a comprehensive guide to help you do just that, our spearfishing experts have shared some of their tips. Keep reading to learn what it takes to select the right speargun for your personal spearfishing needs.
Types of Spearguns
Before we get into selection criteria, it’s crucial to get the basics down so you can be sure you choose the right speargun. Basic number one: there are three types of spearguns leading the market today. Those two types of spearguns are pneumatic and band powered. Let’s take a quick look at some of the key identifiers of each type of speargun.
- Pneumatic Spearguns – These spearguns were popular during the 1960s and 1970s, but are only used in a few parts of the world today. Many divers preferred these guns originally because they fired with minimal recoil and allowed divers to make longer-range shots with more accuracy. The power of this model is limited to the strength of the diver using it. These spearguns also require regular maintenance in order to maintain maximum performance.
- Traditional Band Powered Spearguns – One advantage of operating a band powered speargun is its nearly complete silence when firing. Considering how easy it is to both maintain and use this piece of spearfishing equipment, it’s no wonder most underwater hunters prefer it to old school pneumatic spearguns.
- Roller Spearguns – Roller spearguns have been around since the beginning of spearfishing, though new improvements in materials and designs have fueled a return in their popularity. While also powered by large rubber bands, roller spearguns pull the rubber and shaft over rollers mounted at the front of the gun. The advantage here is that the bands apply steady and consistent energy to the shaft allowing for a longer stroke than traditional spearguns. Another advantage is that these guns have relatively no recoil, as the rubber and shaft’s energy cancel each other out.
Components to Consider
Of course, there are still a few considerations to make after you’ve decided which type of speargun you’ll be using. Like all spearfishing gear there is no universal speargun solution for everyone. It comes down to a matter of personal preference and abilities. There are moving parts when it comes to your speargun. Let’s dive in!
- Speargun Length – The length of your speargun will rely on several factors. Most importantly it will rely on the type and size of fish you’re hunting. If you’re hunting in cramped spaces like caves or poor visibility, you’ll want a speargun in the 70cm to 90cm range. If you’re hunting for big game in open water, you’ll probably prefer a 150cm to 165cm speargun, for additional range to hit the fish.
- Shaft Tip – Of course, one of the most important aspects of a speargun is the spear itself. The most important part of the shaft is the tip. There are two commonly found spear tips, the Flopper and the Slip Tip. The flopper shaft uses a hinged barb that deploys after the shaft passes through the fish. A slip-tip detaches from the shat after penetrating the fish yet remains attached to the shaft with either spectra or wire leader. For reef fish floppers are predominately preferred where as for blue water fish and more delicate fish, slip-tips are preferred.
- Speargun Bands – When selecting your speargun bands, the two most important factors to consider are stretch and diameter. Shorter bands require more strength to load, but they also provide more power when shooting.
Ultimately, there’s a near endless amount of customization when it comes to selecting the perfect speargun. We haven’t even discussed our homemade speargun equipment yet. These essential pieces of spearfishing equipment could make or break your experience, so make sure you’re choosing wisely.
If you’re a beginner, you want to go with equipment that is easy to use and maintain. For more information and a wide range of spearfishing gear for beginners and experts alike, contact Neptonics today.
The Secret to Landing Big Fish Spearfishing!
What’s the secret to landing a trophy fish spearfishing? Customers ask us this question all the time. The answer is very simple—pay attention to the details on your gear.
On a simple day trip, always check your rigging. Your bands’ wishbones should be solid and the rubber free of dry-rot. Your shaft should be straight. Make sure your slip-tip is sitting properly on the base. Cable needs to be kink free and spectra cannot be frayed. If you forget to check these details when hunting the common small fish (sheephead, calico bass, hogfish, or mangrove snapper), you may have no problems landing them. However, if you forget any of these when the 50+ pound white sea bass or monster cobia makes an appearance, your prize may swim away with a trophy of its own!
If it’s a big blue-water trip, check everything, then check it all again! If your shooting line is cable, it should be new and double crimped, if it’s dyneema/spectra, it needs to be free of abrasions, tears, and UV exposure. Slip-tips with spectra/cable need to be in new condition, just like the shooting line. Check your tuna clips, as they are a moving part and can wear out. Swivels should be corrosion-free as well.
The monster fish in blue water are so powerful that it is hard to believe until you witness it. Your gear is tested to its limit on these less common, big fish (wahoo, yellowfin tuna, bluefin tuna, dogtooth tuna, or marlin). These fish take off with lighting speed and the battle can last for 2 hours or more. If there is a weak spot in your gear, these big fish will find it. You will regret not paying attention to those details and forever tell the story about the one that got away!
You never know what is going to swim by you on any day of diving. Your trophy fish can be speared on a simple day trip or a big blue-water trip, so be prepared on every adventure by checking the details on your gear!
Spearfishing is one of the most dangerous sports an adventurer can pursue. The following will help you safely navigate the pursuit of underwater hunting.
- Notify a responsible person of your dive plans just in case you don’t return on time so they know when to call for search and recovery and where to tell them to search. Remember to let them know you have safely returned.
- ALWAYS DIVE WITH A BUDDY. There are a host of spearfishing dangers that everyone should be aware of. First and most important is to always dive with a buddy, never alone.
- Activate the quick release in your weight belt if yo have an emergency.
- Speargun Safety – Always treat your speargun like it is a loaded gun! When talking to your partner on the surface, don’t put your gun under your arm or between your legs because you are now pointing a loaded gun at him – not a good thing. Don’t bring a loaded gun onto the boat, even if you are just quickly hoping spots. It just isn’t worth the risk.
- Make positive identification on the fish, and what is behind the fish, before you pull the trigger. It may save your thumb, your gun, your life, or your dive buddy’s life.
- Take a Freediving Class to learn about the principals of freediving and how to save your dive buddy.
- Get yourself and your dive buddy trained in CPR and First Aide.
- Be aware of the topography of the location you are diving. Understand that the more water that is being restricted, the stronger the current. That is why there is more current near pinnacles, underwater walls, islands and points.
- Know the tide tables for the day and expect the current to be stronger when the slope of the tide is highest. Also watch for the current to change directions when the tide changes but sometimes it will just get stronger with a tide change
- Work out for diving. It is a sport and you need to be an athlete. Train like your life depends on it … because it does.
- If you are a beginner, don’t plan a full 5-6 hour competitive dive tournament. Plan to do half the dive. Work up to longer dive days.
- Make sure that you are properly weighted for your spearfishing wetsuit and dive conditions.
- Beware of the other ocean predators in the environment you are diving in, not just sharks. Seals, barracuda, and even large groupers are capable of taking your fish and could potentially get entangled in your gear.
- Stay hydrated. Proper hydration is critical for proper equalization.
- Divers can be in danger from inattentive boaters, especially in heavy boat traffic areas. A float with a flag and a floatline helps keep boaters aware of divers in the water.
Defogging Your Mask – A How To Guide
Mask Defogging has been a challenge for divers since masks first started being made. There are a number of reasons masks fog up. We will be going over some of the causes and solutions for for keeping your mask lenses clear.
Why Masks Fog Up
Dive masks for up for a couple of reasons. New masks fog up because masks have a protective coating of silicone sprayed inside the mask to prevent scratching in transit. This coating is more susceptible to the differences in temperature from a divers face and the environment around them. There are several methods for removing this silicone layer, some of these techniques are more effective than others.
How Mask Defog Works
Even after treating a mask you can still have challenges with your mask fogging up while diving. Even after treating your mask you will still need to use some kind of mask defog while diving. The defog creates a thin layer on the inside of your mask that prevents water from condensation on the lens of the mask.
How to Treat a New Mask
There are a couple of techniques to remove the silicone layer on a new mask. The most effective method only works on mask with tempered glass lenses. DO NOT USE THIS METHOD ON PLASTIC LENSES. Use a lighter to burn off the the silicone layer on the inside. Check out the video for an example.
The next method is to use toothpaste or a de-greasing soap and to rub it into the lenses for 20-30 minutes. It takes longer than the lighter, but it you aren’t risking overheating any seals on your mask.
There are a couple other options, but these are most effective methods. Check out this video for some of the examples.
Wetsuit Maintenance and Preventing Wetsuit Rash
Wetsuits are an expensive investment. To help make your wetsuit last longer and keep you warmer, here are a few tips and tricks that you should know and consider for wetsuit maintenance.
Basics of Neoprene
All wetsuits are made from Neoprene; of which there are several brands. All neoprene is a petroleum based foam. This is import to know because most detergents and soaps have degreasers in them that will break down the neoprene and the glue that bonds them together. We recommend using a preferred wetsuit cleaner such as Revivex to clean your suit without risk of damage.
Cleaning and Drying
Always clean and dry your suit after each use to maximize the longevity. Additionally, by not cleaning your wetsuit properly you put yourself at risk of getting wetsuit rash. Wetsuit rash usually occurs on multi-day dive trips. It is a result of bacteria multiplying in a wet environment as a result of sweat, dead skin cells, and other accumulations in a wetsuit.
Always wash and dry your wetsuit as best you can after each dive day. Open cell suits need to be dried inside-out initially. This prevent the neoprene from sticking to itself on the inside of your suit.
If you already have wetsuit rash the best thing to do is keep the area dry and clean. Use white vinegar to keep the area clean. Additionally, you should use some type of triple antibiotic to prevent infection. Continue to monitor the area and seek medical attention if it continues to get worse.
Neoprene can be fragile. If you nick or tear Neoprene, it is important to repair it right away. This will prevent it from becoming a bigger hole and possibly ruining your suit. When repairing your suit, begin by making sure the Neoprene is dry. If the hole is large or the tear is long, be sure to put a piece of wax paper under the hole to ensure the glue does not drip through. You can potentially glue one side of your suit to the other. We recommend using the Aquaseal+NEO; this glue drys soft, is very strong, and will not take away the flexibility of your wetsuit.
What are bands
Most spearguns are powered by large latex bands. There are many options for band sizes for both thickness ranging from 9/16” (14mm) to 3/4″ (19mm) with both regular internal diameter (ID) and small ID. Most brands are designed to stretch to 350%. This means the optimal band length for a speargun is the distance from the band slot to the loading notch times two (the bands go on either side from the muzzle) then divided by three and a half (the stretch ratio).
(Distance x 2)/3.5 = Optimal Band Length
Each thickness of band has an optimal amount of energy it is capable of storing. 9/16” (14mm) bands are capable of storing approximately 90lbs of force per band, 5/8” (16mm) are capable of storing approximately 110lbs of force per band and so on. Range on a speargun is largely determined by the length of the speargun, where power(penetration) is mostly determined by the number of bands.
Causes of Band Deterioration
Latex degrades over time, but some things impact it and cause it to degrade even more rapidly. Other than some chemicals, like petroleum, the greatest impacts to bands are temperature and sunlight. Bands should not be exposed to high heat. Storing your bands in you hot garage may be what makes your wife happy, but your bands are suffering for it. Sunlight is also a major impact, which mostly happens out on the boat. The best way to prevent sun damage is to keep them covered with a Neptonics Band Cover. These also help prevent abrasion and punctures of bands and keep your spearguns organized in transit.
Myths of Band Deterioration
There are many myths about how to store bands when they are not in use. The biggest myth is that you should keep your bands in the freezer. This is not a good idea once they have been in the water. Once bands have been submerged and exposed to pressure water pushes past the wishbone knots and goes into the inner tubing. Water crystalizes and expands when it is frozen which causes small abrasions inside the bands and actually causes them to degrade quicker. Refrigeration is a better option than freezing. Simply keeping them in a climate controlled location away from sunlight will also ensure an extended life for your bands.
The Truth About Band Deterioration
With all that being said most speargun bands will degrade in about eight months to a year whether they are used frequently or not. Increased use will cause them to degrade more rapidly, although the argument could be made that that is a good problem to have. If you are getting out frequently you may have to replace your bands every six to nine months. It is pretty easy to identify when your bands are nearing the end of their useful life. They will either be gummy to the touch, which is a result of significant exposure to fuel, sun, or heat. Alternatively, they will show signs of aging near the wishbone where they will begin to crack. Once you start to see these signs it may be time to look at replacing your bands.
Building a Re-Rig Kit
Speargun rigging is an important part of being prepared. Even though we frequently try to have as much equipment prepared for a spearfishing trip ahead of time a Re-Rig Kit is still an important bit of gear to assemble. I have yet to be on a spearfishing trip where someone in the group doesn’t need to have some piece of equipment adjusted or assembled either on the on the way to the first spot on boat or in a hotel room the night before. An important consideration when building out your kit is to make it work for you, and possibly your dive group, and the condition you are diving.
The Neptonics Tri-Fold Rigging Bag is an extraordinarily useful tool to help keep your Re-Rig Kit organized. It is a great based on which to build out the rest of your kit. From there you will want to have a couple other things to make sure your trip goes smoothly.
Whatever type of shooting line you have, whether it is spectra, monofilament, or cable, you will want to make sure you have enough to rig another spear shaft. You will also want any piece or equipment you may need to secure the line to the spear shaft and your other rigging. For Monofilament and Cable you will need a Crimping Tool as well as crimps.
You may want to pack a spare set of bands for whatever type of speargun you are using. If you know how to tie your own bands this may involve bringing some Cinch Knot Cord, as well as an Insertion Tool. If tying your own bands is not one of your skill sets you will want to bring a pair of pre-made bands with removable loops, if your speargun requires them. A lighter for burning the ends of any knots or treating the inside of your mask is also helpful.
Other pieces of equipment you may want to bring along are based on your own spearfishing rigs. If you have a reel on your speargun you may want to have a spare swivel if your reel line gets cut. If you are using a floatline and break away set up you may want to bring a spare break away in case yours is damaged in addition to spare tuna clip or two for your floatline in case your hardware starts to show signs of rust or stress.
If you are hunting Blue Water and using a slip-tip you may want to bring a spare slip-tip, or a cable or spectra replacement kit for if your slip-tip gets damaged or lost.
Just remember, when building out your Re-Rig Kit you need to keep in mind that your speargun rigging is consistently working in a challenging environment and it deteriorates with time. Salt rusts or corrodes metal, weakens spectra, and tangles other lines. Be ready with new gear that will, at a minimum, make your trip a success.
- Tri-Fold Rigging Bag
- Insertion Tool
- Cinch Knot Cord
- Band Materials
- Pre-made Bands with Removable Loops
- Crimping Tool and Crimps
- Shooting Line
- Snap or Cork-Screw Swivels
- Extra shaft
- Tuna Clips
- Break-Away Adaptors
- Splicing Kit
Rail VS Wood Spearguns
There are hundreds of different spearguns on the market, and each has its own quality that makes it different than the others. That being said, there are two very broad categories of speargun styles. There is the Rail speargun, also known as the pipe gun, or Euro style speargun. The other is the wood speargun, or more generally, the American style speargun. Both have their benefits and their detractions.
Rail/Euro Style Spearguns
Rail spearguns are simple. Their design is generally an aluminum or carbon fiber tube, with an open track to guide the shaft. The tube is sealed off with plugs and the ends have the handle and trigger mechanism on one end and the muzzle, which holds the bands, on the other. Rail spearguns are streamlined in the water, which allows for quick tracking of fish and makes them easier to dive with. The other major benefit is they tend to be less expensive than their wooden counterparts.
Rail guns do have some challenges. Because they are so light weight they become inaccurate with too many bands on them. Two bands are pretty much the limit for most rail spearguns. Any more power than that and the muzzle will jump and cause inaccuracy. Another drawback to rail guns is that there are only a few modifications that can be done to them. Muzzles can be changed, ballast can be added externally, and reels can be added to some spearguns. Other than that they tend to be factory stock spearguns.
Wooden/American Style Spearguns
Wooden spearguns tend to be bulkier and shoot larger diameter shafts. Wood guns vary dramatically in design and style from size and track style. Some wood spearguns are small and simple with an open track and one or two bands, others can look like a rounded-off 4X4with six bands or more and an enclosed track. The variations in styles is one of the qualities people love about wood spearguns. Another benefit is the ability to modify the speargun. Because it doesn’t rely on a plugged tube for its buoyancy it is able to be adjusted and screwed into if the owner wants to.
The down side to wood spearguns is that they tend to be more expensive. A large number of them tend to be hand crafted by individual speargun builders, so every gun is a little different. Another big risk is that they are made out of wood, and while wood spearguns are treated to prevent water intrusion, it can still happen. When water comes in contact with wood the wood runs the risk of warping or rotting. It’s not a guarantee it will happen, but proper care and maintenance certainly help prevent this from happening.
The best thing to do is to try out a couple different options and determine what works best for you. Over time, as you get further in the sport you will inevitably end up with a few and you will use them in many different applications.
Freediving and Spearfishing Gear Basics
As with any hobby there is a wide range of free diving and spearfishing gear options available on the market. In regard to free diving and spearfishing there are a few basic pieces of equipment you will need to do this sport effectively.
Masks & Snorkels
In order to see underwater you will need a mask. Freediving masks tend to be low volume. As you dive underwater you need to exhale into your mask to keep it from squeezing against your face. The lower the volume the mask the less you need to exhale into it as you dive. Other than the volume consideration you just need to find a mask that seals and is comfortable on your face.
Snorkels are needed to comfortable breath at the surface while keeping our face in the water. Freediving snorkels come in two varieties. The J snorkel is simple as it gets. They are just silicone rubber tubes that allow you to breath, but they don’t have purges. They can just as easily be straws as snorkels in rough seas. Higher quality snorkels like the Riffe Stable Snorkel are more comfortable, help prevent water from entering the snorkel, and have built in purest to drain any water that does go in the snorkel.
Fins & Booties
Freediving fins come in three broad categories and each have their own benefits. Plastic fins are durable and cost effective. Composite fiberglass fins are more efficient in the water, but tend to cost more. Carbon fiber fins are most efficient, but most costly. All free dive fins are longer than snorkeling or scuba fins. Freediving fins usually have a foot pocket that encloses the heal and requires a neoprene sock, often called a bootie. They differ from scuba fins that have an open heel with a strap that takes a neoprene boot.
Wetsuits, Weight Belts, and Knives
Freediving wetsuits tend to come in two parts, usually sold together. Most freediving wetsuits are open-cell wetsuits, which help keep the diver warmer than closed-cell wetsuits, but can be more difficult to put on without proper preparation. Freediving suits just need to be wet or lubricated to get into them easily. Wetsuits help keep divers warm, but they are also helpful in keeping divers buoyant and prevent abrasion from the natural environment.
To counter the buoyancy of the wetsuit you will beed to use a weight belt and weights. You still need to be able to float at the surface. That being said, you want to be able to rest on the bottom, or whatever depth you are hunting, without constantly kicking down. You will need to adjust the amount of weight on your belt to your diving style.
All divers need to carry a dive knife with them. There are countless entanglement hazards underwater and you need a knife to effectively deal with these hazards. Most divers need these knives on their belt or on straps on their arms or legs.
Spectra VS Cable Slip-tip
Slip-tips are essential for successful bluewater spearfishing. The question is when to use cable or spectra tips. Although, both have their better applications. The species being targeted determines which type of slip-tip works best.
Cable slip-tips are best for fish with tough skin. Billfish and tuna have tough skin. If the spear shaft penetrates the fish the cable will hold well in these species. The biggest challenge that you run into with cable tips is ensuring they are in proper working condition. Once a cable tip is kinked, rusted, frayed, or corroded the cable needs to be replaced. Given the strength of the fish tips are typically used for, your gear needs to be in its best working condition. Any points of failure will be tested over the course of hours and anything that has a weak point will likely break under these conditions.
Spectra slip-tips are better for fish with softer flesh. These work better on Wahoos, Mahi Mahi, Rainbow Runners, and other species because spectra is more malleable. These fish are so strong and fast that the tip cable or spectra soft can cut into their skin enough that a hole is produced in the fish. If the hole gets large enough the slip-tip will pull back through the fish. Spectra reduces the likelihood of this happening. The biggest challenge with spectra slip-tips is the increased risks of cuts damaging the spectra. Gills and gill plates on fish are very sharp and can damage the spectra on a slip-tip. As the fish continues to fight the spectra can cut more and result in the loss of the fish.
Both types of tips should be inspected regularly before any trips to ensure your equipment performs optimally when the opportunity presents itself. Remember that luck occurs when preparation meets opportunity.