Spearfishing Hunting Techniques – Stalking Strategies
As you develop as a spearo it becomes evident that there are some valuable spearfishing techniques that help improve your experience. There are no guarantees in spearfishing, and situations and conditions change day to day. That is why having as many tools in your tool belt as possible helps. It should be noted that improving your diving is one of the best benefits you can give yourself, because more time underwater is the first step to becoming a better free dive spearo.
Spearfishing Techniques for the Bottom
Most reef species can be found on or near the bottom. This means we need to have a few strategies to allow us to find or bring the fish to us. There are a couple methods of trying to bring in reef fish, or getting a better vantage to close the distance.
Dusting and Scratching
Dusting and Scratching are both good strategies for bringing fish in, if you have the bottom time to make that work. Many fish species are initially wary of divers, but their curiosity can defiantly help you harvest them. Dusting is the act of throwing sand up into the water column. Scratching involves taking a rock from the bottom and scraping it against another rock or piece of structure. The commotion of either of these activities can bring fish in to see if there is a feeding opportunity.
Hovering Above the Bottom
Many spearos swear up and down this is the best method for hunting on reef-like structure. The basic concept is to dive down and level out 10-15 feet (3-5 meters) above the bottom. From there you have a great vantage point to hunt the reef. If you see a fish worth targeting you can then dive deeper to get to that specific fish. Hovering also allows you to not dive as deep all day and lets you conserve some energy. This strategy is particularly helpful in visibility where you cannot see the fish you are targeting from the surface.
“Grouper Calling” is the process of making a grunting noise with your throat. It works on a similar principle to scratching the bottom. The noise mimics the sound that some grouper and other reef fish and brings other reef fish in to check out the noise. This works well with snapper and grouper.
Spearfishing Techniques for the Surface
Spearfishing from the surface certainly has its own challenges. When a fish approaches on the surface you frequently don’t have enough time to dive properly to get to the fish. Other than learning how to make quick dives we have a few strategies for bringing in fish closer to the surface while diving in deeper water.
“Cone of Death” – Spearfishing Technique
The “Cone of Death” strategy was developed by Jerry Guerra to increase his success on deep dives. The basic concept is to determine the range your speargun is effective. From there you can do a partial dive to identify the fish you want. If the fish can’t be within range on that dive abort your dive and move on the surface to be ready to have that fish within range on the next dive. The cone comes down to making a direct line to getting within range of the fish between downward or horizontal range of your speargun. The process may require multiple dives. It also means you need to learn fish behavior and learn when to turn your dive to set yourself up for success on the next dive. It is described in detail by Jerry himself in this Noob Spear Podcast Episode.
Many pelagic species tend to be on the move. Targeting them is a challenge and often comes down to presenting them with food or something that looks like an opportunity to eat. That means deploying flashers or chum. It also means being ready to make a quick drop as a targeted fish moves through. Pelagic species may come back by, but sometimes they are just passing through and you have to take the opportunities as they come. That means you have to get good at “surprise dives” and quick shots on some species. The best way to be ready for a surprise dive is to always be working through your breath up and being ready to do a dive.
Strumming Your Bands
Strumming your bands is another spearfishing techniques that is based on making noise with your equipment. There are a couple ways divers do this. The simplest is to strum on your loaded speargun bands similar to a guitar. This is a simple method that doesn’t take much effort, but also doesn’t make much noise. The other method is to brace the speargun with your leg and arm and with your other hand pull a band away from the speargun, like pulling back a bow string, and releasing. This makes a rod noise hitting the speargun and can get some attention from nearby fish. It should be noted this can also get the attention of nearby sharks as well.