Spearfishing Terminology – A Clarification of Terms
Over the years we have had the pleasure of interacting with hundreds, if not thousands, of new divers getting into spearfishing. One of the biggest hurtles new divers have when they are getting into the sport is the spearfishing terminology that are used within diving. With the combination of slang and technical terms that may vary from similar objects in other industries, spearfishing equipment can get confusing. Additionally, the diverse groups of people that spearfish can bring with it translation miscommunications. We hope to put, in plane terms, some of the miscommunications we have heard, and create some standardization in what we mean when we use certain terms.
Spearfishing is the act of harvesting fish while in or under the water, using any tool to penetrate a fish and secure it. This can be done with spearguns, pole spears, and Hawaiian slings. There have been several terms that new divers have used over the years. There is no shame in not knowing the right words to a new activity. Some of the more common phrases we have encountered are “spear diving” and “underwater fishing”. They are in their own way accurate descriptions of the activity, but the preferred term is “spearfishing”.
While we have seen some interesting terms for spearfishing over the years, it does not compare to the wide range of terms we have seen for spearguns. Probably the most interesting we have come across is the result of rough translations. The common Latin American term for a speargun translates roughly to “underwater shotgun” in most variations of Spanish. Other common searches come to some type of “underwater harpoon gun”. People also frequently come looking for “fishing guns”, “spearfishing guns”, or “spearfishing guns”. Many divers think of a speargun as an “underwater crossbow”, and new divers have described it that way as well. These are all spearfishing terms that are close enough that you can effectively communicate to someone in the dive industry, but the term “speargun” still is the best.
Pole Spear and Hawaiian Sling
Pole Spears are normally called multiple things within the diving industry anyway. Probably the most common mix up is calling pole spears Hawaiian slings, which is another type of spearfishing tool. Other common terms are “three prong” which refers to a pole spear with a specific type of tip on the end. Most modern high quality pole spears have resorted to using a slip tip rather than a three prong. Other divers refer to both Pole Spears and Hawaiian Slings collectively as “slings” or even “sling spears”. Some of the harder terms people have used to describe pole spears have been “hand spear” and “spear fishing pole”. While some dive shops may understand what you mean it is still best to be specific with the tools you are asking about.
Terms for Spear Shafts
Spear shafts are an integral part of using a speargun. Within the industry there are a couple trees that are easily recognized as a spear shaft. Think of it like the term “soda-pop”. Some spearfishing terminology people use for spears, some people call it a shaft, other say spear shaft all together. All three are acceptable terms. As a company that ships things globally, we find shaft to more accepted by most country’s customs and boarder police from an importing without questions stand point. Some of the terms we have run into with some people are “spearfishing spear”, which usually get them close. Then we run into people that compare the spear shaft to similar objects in other industries. “Bolt” or “arrow” is common from people more familiar with archery and crossbows. “Harpoon” is a common mistake due to translation as well as from a comparison to a different tool.
There are a wide range of wetsuits available in the dive industry. Freediving and spearfishing wetsuits tend to be open cell wetsuits with camouflage patterns on the outside of the neoprene. They come in different thicknesses for different water temperatures. Some of the terms we run into that are a little off from the normal freediving or spearfishing wetsuit term include “spear diving wetsuit”, “dive suit” or “spearo wetsuit”. Spearo has become a slang word that has gained some acceptance in the spearfishing community. We occasionally run into someone that insists they want, or have bought, a “drysuit” from us. Drysuits do exist. They are used by scuba divers in extremely cold water, or cool water for extremely long exposures. Freedivers don’t use drysuits. Wetsuits work by trapping a thin layer of water between the diver and their wetsuit. Their body heat warms that water and insulates the diver.
Dive Watches – Safety Equipment and Training Metrics
Dive watches have gone from a luxury piece of dive gear to being considered almost essential safety equipment over the past decade. There are a wide range of options for free dive watches that vary in capabilities and price.
Dive Watches for Safety
Watches have gained popularity as safety equipment, and rightfully so. Increased research and data from freediving instruction has helped to build a wealth of knowledge about the risks of freediving. The greatest risk being shallow water blackout. The best way to prevent shallow water blackout is to ensure you have a proper breathe up and recovery times from previous dives. The general rule of thumb for most freediving is recovering for three (3) times the time of your dive. This allows you to properly oxygenate your body and prevent a Carbon Dioxide buildup in your body.
The watch is helpful because it automatically keeps track of depth, time at depth, and surface time. Those are the minimum requirements for a watch to be considered a dive watch. The simplest and most affordable dive watch is the Salvimar One Dive Watch. For a reasonable price it gives you the tools necessary to dive safely.
Dive Watches for Training
The other benefit to dive watches is for training metrics. Because they are able to store data from your dives it helps identify areas you can improve as a diver. The bare minimum watches don’t have the best means of transferring data. The Sunnto D4f and the Oceanic F-10 are both great mid level free dive watches that have improved durability. Many of the higher quality watches have apps available on your phone that transfer data via bluetooth. They show your diving data in easily understood graphs and charts and help you improve further. They also have the added benefit of depth and time alarms you can set to help keep you from exceeding your limits while diving.
Other Available Benefits
Some watches, like the Garmin watches, have built in GPS’s which help you to zero your spots while you are diving. They also are useful for active lifestyles that other Garmin products are renowned for. If you want an easy to use watch that is good for freediving, scuba diving, running, hiking, biking, and any other activity you can think of this watch is hard to beat. For more details on the features of Garmin watches check them out here.
Where to Put Your Dive Knife
Every diver needs to carry a dive knife for safety purposes. The challenge is where to put the knife to keep it from becoming a hazard itself. We go over some of the best knives and where they are best placed on a diver for the best access, while keeping streamline on a diver.
Most freedivers like to wear their dive knife on their weight belts. Because freediving tends to be minimalistic in the amount of equipment a diver can carry most gear ends up on the weight belt. Many knives, like the Salvimar Atlantis Knife, have sheaths that allow a diver to keep their knife securely on the weight belt. Keeping your knife on your weight belt has the benefit of being accessible in an emergency. The challenge of having your dive knife on your weight belt is that it is an entanglement hazard itself. Knowing your equipment and being prepared for issues reduces these risks, but it still remains a risk.
Some divers prefer the classic style of keeping their knife on their forearm or on the calves of their leg. The benefits of doing this really just come down to muscle memory. If this is how you have always carried your knife, and it works for you keep doing it. There are some big disadvantages to keeping your knife on your arm or calves. The problem with keeping your knife on your arm is you can only reach it with one hand. This is a big issue if your other hand is the hand that is tangled up and can’t move. The problem with keeping your dive knife on your calves is that it always falls down onto your ankle, unless you have super well defined calves.
Dive Knife Pocket
The best place to keep your knife is in a designated pocket on your wetsuit. The Neptonics Quantum Stealth Wetsuit is a perfect example. The benefits to this is you keep your dive knife in an accessible location, while keeping the knife from becoming an entanglement hazard. The biggest challenge is remembering to clean it after your dive trip.
Dive Jackets – Staying Warm Out of The Water
Dive jackets are a critical way to stay warm between dives, on the way out, and on the way in on chilly days on the boat. After you use one you will never go on a trip to a chilly place without it. If you are cold out of the water it is all that much more difficult to stay warm in the water. Here are some techniques that can help you keep warm.
Types of Dive Jackets
There are only a few different options and styles of jackets designed for diving and wearing over a wetsuit. The primary function of these jackets is to keep a diver warm. Most of these jackets accomplish this by reducing the amount of wind that can get to the diver. Outside of this they just use different technologies to help insulate the diver. They also are made of materials that are easily cleaned and don’t absorb too much water.
Hyperflex Dive Jackets
These are closed cell neoprene hoodies. Wear these jackets over a wetsuit, or against bare skin before, after, or between activities in the water. These jackets are windproof and hold little to no water. They do stop at the waist, but take up less space than some other brands. Check out a review based article by following the link, or look at a more detailed description here.
Surf-Fur Dive Jacket
Surf-Fur jackets use a windproof and waterproof fabric which helps to keep you dry and warm. These jackets are longer. Additionally, they have built in through pockets which allow you to change out of your swim trunks after your trip. One of the biggest benefits to this style jacket is that it is machine washable. The only downsides to this jacket is that it does have a tendency to collect fish scales, so that machine washable benefit comes in handy. The other downside is they are bulky. This isn’t a big deal if you are using it a lot in your waterways at home, but it makes it a challenge traveling with it.
Other Techniques to Stay Warm in Cold Water
A hot thermos of water is super helpful to get you warm in your wetsuit. Wetsuits work by allowing a small amount of water to come in contact with your skin and allowing your body heat to warm that water. At that point the wetsuit is just insulating you from the water around you. If you are able to pour warm water down your suit before hoping in the water you can get that insulated water on your skin without having to waste your body heat and energy to get the water warm.
In the same strategy as the thermos of warm water, a thermos of warm soup to eat or drink is helpful in keeping your core temperature up. Dairy based soups are a bad idea. There isn’t hard evidence that dairy increases mucous build-up. That being said, there are enough diver experiences to make dairy consumption a questionable dietary choice before or during diving.
JBL Spearguns Revival – How The Classic Brand Came Back From The Edge
JBL spearguns have been a part of spearfishing for decades. They have gone through though phases of being great, to having some challenges, and back to being a quality product. JBL spearguns are worth taking serious consideration when you look at new spearguns.
History of Success
JBL is one of the longest last spearfishing brands. They have stood the test of time. They were originally known for having simple, high quality spearguns. JBL spearguns were always easy to use and meant to last. Many of their guns were long railgun designs that were great for taking long shots on big fish. If your dad or grandfather were spearfishing there is a good chance they were using a JBL. One of the best things about them was that they were available everywhere and at a reasonable price. Unfortunately that was part of their decline.
JBL spearguns never really had a dramatic decline in quality, but they stagnated terribly. JBL also had the bad habit of being available just about everywhere. While that can be a good strategy when you are one of only three options on the market, being everywhere started to make JBL spearguns look ‘cheap’ rather than valuable. As more options became available on the market they failed to adapt and eventually started to lose market share to newer companies that were making better products designed around customer needs and wants. This continued until ownership changed hands around 2010.
The Revival of JBL Spearguns
Once JBL changed hands they took a dramatically different approach to how they do business and brought the company into the modern era. Over the past several years JBL gradually focused on creating quality products that create value for the diver. They took their classic designed and refined what was great about them, while improving other aspects of their spearguns. One of the areas that JBL spearguns excel is their scuba spearguns. With most of their wooden spearguns designed to be hip loaded they are designed to be used by scuba divers. Some JBL spearguns, like their euro style speargun, the Reaper, were new additions to their line, but are high quality. The reaper is perfectly paired with the JBL Pacific Reel, which is a simple, but well built spearfishing reel. JBL is certainly back on the rise a speargun companies go. The JBL tips are also an area that they excel.