Blister Prevention on Multi-Day Dive Trips
Blisters while freediving are often not a consideration for most divers, until they become a big problem. It makes sense that putting large amounts of force from kicking on our feet can cause blisters. The long fins that Freedivers use can compound this problem. There are a couple important ways to ensure blister prevention while freediving, and we will be going over some of those strategies in this post.
Booties – Blister Prevention while Freediving
Dive booties help prevent blisters and fill in your freedive fin foot pocket. They can also help on long walks to and from your dive site. Booties prevent blisters by adding an extra padded, protective layer, between your foot and the sometimes abrasive rubber of a foot pocket. A good neoprene bootie will help keep your feet safe from the environment around you. That can be anything from an underwater rock, to shells walking along the beach. Booties are the single biggest piece of equipment that can prevent blisters from diving. Make sure to always have a spare pair of dive booties in your dive bag to prevent skipping a day of diving, or ruining your week or month. If you have particularly sensitive feet you should consider wearing a thicker neoprene bootie.
Properly Fitting Foot Pockets
After dive booties, properly fitting foot pockets are critical to blister prevention. Foot pockets for freedive fins should be like an extension of your foot. They should be snug, but not tight. If you foot can easily move back and forward in the foot pocket they are too loose and can likely cause blisters. Make sure to get a comfortable pair of foot pockets that fit your foot well. If you are having a hard time finding a good pair of foot pockets that fit you, another good option is to use a pair of Fin Keepers to hold the foot pocket to your foot better.
Know When to Get Out of The Water
It is amazing how quickly your feet can go from completely normal to looking like ground beef. If you are on a multi day trip it ic critical to make sure you are taking care of yourself. That means staying hydrated, cleaning your wetsuit, and taking care of your feet! One of the toughest calls you can make on a trip is to know when to get out of the water. If you forgot your booties up in your room, just stay out of the water for a day. It is brutal to miss a day, but it beats missing the rest of the trip and having to heal up for over a month with major foot injuries. We speak from experience when we say it is not fun to spend more time than necessary in 3rd world clinics trying to pick up antibiotics for blood poisoning.
Storing Floatlines – The Struggle of Storage for Easy Deployment
Storing floatlines is always a struggle, and one of the big problems with using floatlines at all. Over the years we have come up with several means to help make storing floatlines easier. The biggest factors come down to space, storage space, and travel conditions.
Bait Sorting Basket or Bucket
One of the best ways to store a floatline is in a bait sorting basket. This works well on boats with plenty of deck space. The best way to store it is to rig up your floatline to your speargun first. Then from the speargun side of the floatline flake out the line into the basket. From there you can attach your float to the other side of the floatline. To deploy you floatline you just need to put your float into the water and let the current do its work. The floatline should deploy tangle-free almost every time.
The other benefit to the sorting basket is that it doubles for all of your equipment storage. It also has the benefit of draining well. If you have a wash basin after your trip you can basically just dunk the entire basket and be packed for the next trip. A 5 gallon bucket has similar functionality, bud does not drain well (usually). It does have the benefit of being useful in other, traditional ways.
Figure-Eight With A Floatline Hook
If storage and deck space are limited you can use a stick after you wrap up the floatline in a figure-eight. The figure-eight prevents loops from getting tangled within the next loop of the floatline. It is not as effective as just flaking out the floatline in a limited space, but it does work.
The floatline hook can be placed in a fishing rod holder or hooked onto a railing or Bimini . It keeps the floatline out of the way while moving spots. You should make sure the figure eight is long enough that part of the floatline is resting on the deck of the boat. This keeps the figure-eight loops form unwinding into regular loops that can easily tangle. This is also a great way to transport your floatline in a bag. It prevent major tangles while traveling domestically, or internationally. It helps keep your floatline organized in your duffle or travel bag.
Figure-Eight On A Speargun
This is a good way to manage a floatline while shore diving. You can prepare this method form the comfort of your home. You essentially use your speargun as a rigid stick you make a figure-eight using the spear shaft and unloaded bands, the body of the speargun, and the handle to keep the floatline organized. No method is prefect, and is has its drawbacks. The biggest is that your floatline and speargun are not ready to be used as soon as you get in the water. You need to undo the figure eight manually, and gradually while you are in the water, This does not present and issue, until there are fish all around you as soon as you get in the water. This method of storage is highly discouraged for diving off of a boat for this specific reason.
A Giant Tangled Mess
Anther option is to accept the giant tangled mess that is a floatline. This method is not recommended for several reasons. The biggest reason is that it can prevent you from landing big fish. This can be from the amount of time you waste trying to fix it in the water, or from actually shooting a nice fish and the resistance of a knot causing too much back pressure. Either way it is frustrating when it happens.
The other reason to try and keep it organized is to prolong the life of your equipment. Knots in a line are a natural weak point in any line. If you have a bunch of knots in your floatline it can compromise the integrity of the product.
The last concern is a tangled mess of a floatline should be your biggest concern. The risk of entangling yourself and drowning. You should be wary of any large loops in the water. If a large fish suddenly takes off and you are entangled in your floatline you have a real risk of drowning. Always keep safe in the water.
How Frequently You Should Replace a Wetsuit
There are several factors that can dictate how frequently you should replace a wetsuit. We will go over several of those considerations, as well as ways to extend the life of your suit. The biggest factor is the amount of use the it sees. After that the age is a big consideration. One of the biggest impacts on how long a wetsuit lasts is how it is cared for.
Frequency of Wetsuit Use
Easily the biggest impact of how well a wetsuit works is how frequently the suit is used. Neoprene is a rubber that has small air pockets within it to help insulate a diver. The more frequently a wetsuit is used the more these bubbles get compressed and destroyed. These bubbles are what helps insulate the diver, more so than the rubber. If you are diving multiple times a week all year long your suit will compress, and be less effective sooner than if you only were diving once or twice a month. You can see how the amount you dive can dramatically impact how long your suit will last and how frequently you will need a new one. If you are diving multiple times a week you will likely need to replace your suit every year or two.
The Age of the Suit
Even if you don’t use your wetsuit very frequently it still breaks down over time. The neoprene is a rubber, and it stiffens with age. Every once in a while you may have to buy a suit for a trip to somewhere cold. That suit may only get used every year or two, but it will still start to become less effective after a few years. Other than the neoprene getting stiffer, another factor in this is that these suits are held together by glue and stitching. That glue has a shelf life and will break down before the rest of the wetsuit. Even with effective stitching you will get water intrusion that makes the suit feel colder. Even if you take perfect care of your suit, they tend to loose effectiveness within about five years from when they were manufactured.
Extending the Life Of your Wetsuit Through Proper Care
Taking proper care of a wetsuit can dramatically increase the life of it. One of the reasons wetsuits can loose their ability to keep a diver warm is from not being washed. We mentioned before that neoprene keeps a diver warm by having air pockets encased in rubber. Those air bubbles can become clogged with your skin cells, sweat, urine, and debris. As these air pockets get saturated with all of this they loose effectiveness to insulate you. Using wetsuit shampoo and cleaner and properly washing and drying your wetsuit cleans out these air pockets and extends the life of the wetsuit. DO NOT USE DISH DETERGENT. Any type of de-greasing soap will harm your wetsuit. Wetsuits are made of rubber, which is a petroleum product. If you use de-greasing detergent on your wetsuit it will start to fall apart.
How To Rig Bluewater Traditional Speargun To Breakaway
What Makes A Bluewater Speargun
The defining feature of bluewater spearguns is how they are powered, specifically how the bands are set up. Traditional Bluewater spearguns are larger and have between four to six bands to power the speargun. These spearguns are larger to compensate for the amount of force those bands provide. Generally speaking the number of bands adds power to the speargun, while the length of band pull adds to the range of the speargun.
Bands need to be the correct length to function properly. Most speargun rubber is powered best at a 350% stretch. That is not easy to load, but it is the best tension for a speargun to be powered properly. The way you determine the length your bands need to be is to measure the distance the band stretches. Use a tape measurer and measure from the back of the band slot to the loading tab on the shaft. Multiply that distance by two, because your bands go down both sides of the speargun. Divide that number by 3.5 to determine the length of your bands.
Spear Shafts for a Bluewater Speargun
Once you have the bands on you need to determine the right spear shaft for your bluewater speargun. You should keep the shaft overhang consistent across all of your spearguns. That means the distance from the tip of the speargun to the tip of the spear shaft should be the same from one speargun to another. That goes for flopper shafts of threaded shafts including the slip tip. Most bluewater spearing requires thicker spear shafts. That means 5/16”, 11/32”, or 3/8” thickness shafts.
The type of slip tip you use can make the difference between landing your fish and losing it. Generally you want to use a spectra slip tip for soft fleshed fish, like wahoo or mackerel. For other species it is best to use a cable slip tip. Super sharky waters may make a cable slip tip better option even with soft fleshed species.
There are a couple different options for shooting line when rigging your bluewater speargun setup. Each type of line has its place. Most big bluewater species require a strong stainless steel coated cable. The coating doesn’t make the cable stronger, but it does make it easier for you to handle in the water, and is less abrasive on your gear. For Big Tuna or bill fish you need to double crimp your stainless steel cable.
Spectra shooting line is also a great option, but is more easily cut on reefs or from shark teeth. Make sure to use a double-figure-eight knot when rigging spectra, because it is the strongest knot. A knot or splice are always the weakest part of any line.
Because bluewater spearguns have such long ranges you need to have two to three wraps of line on your speargun. The shaft will only travel as far as your shooting line.
Floatline Breakaway Adaptors
We prefer breakaways because they are a sturdy option that streamlines your bluewater spearing setup. They present the opportunity to keep your speargun separated from your floatlines and shooting line, while keeping your shooting line tensioned on the speargun in the water. Personally, I prefer pigtail swivels because they have less chance of failure.
How To Rig De-Multiplied Roller to Breakaway
De-Multiplied Roller Spearguns are some of the newest spearguns on the market. They are more complicated than your standard speargun, or even a roller speargun. They work on a principle of extremely long band pulls. When they are rigged properly they are magical. The range on these speargun are insane. The lack of recoil also makes these spearguns accurate on a disturbing level. With all that being said, these spearguns are daunting to rig properly and need a deeper level of understanding than an every day speargun.
How De-Multiplied Roller Spearguns Work
A De-Multiplied Roller Speargun works by multiplying the distance and number of bands on the speargun. To be a De-Multiplied Roller the bands need to connect around the mid point of the speargun and run back and wrap under the speargun to another connection point. This connection point works as a harness point for other bands and a wishbone similar to an inverted roller. The harness acts as the tension point allowing the speargun to be effectively overpowered while maintaining accuracy.
Rigging a De-Multiplied Roller Speargun
Rigging a De-multiplied roller is no simple task. There are a lot of moving parts to keep track of and maintain. It is not a beginner speargun by any stretch.
The bands on a De-Multiplied roller are complicated. They are thick (19mm), in order to store more energy. The bands are long and they are numerous. The way the bands are routed is very particular. They also have to be loaded in a certain order to function at their best. When you first get your De-Multiplied Roller Speargun make sure to take a bunch of pictures and measurements of how it is rigged to replicate it in the future.
Shafts and Slip Tips
The shafts for these have to be very thick. The amount of force exerted on them makes any skinny shaft flex and causes inaccuracy. Most De-Multiplied Roller Spearguns take customized 10mm spear shafts. They need additional loading tabs to assist in properly loading the long roller bands. The question then comes down to if you use a flopper shaft or slip tip. Some of that comes to user preference, some of it is what species you are targeting.
The shooting line needs to match the type of fish you are targeting. Spectra is generally the best shooting line for De-Multiplied Roller Spearguns. The reduced line memory allows for accurate, long shots. Cable can be a good option in the right conditions. The accuracy of the shot is reduced, but in some situations it may be the only way to land your fish. Cable shooting line is particularly important in waters with lots of sharks. The cable won’t help you land your fish, but it will help you keep the spear shaft while you get sharked.
Floatline Breakaway Adaptor
There is no reason to use such a powerful speargun on the reef. That means that there is no reason to connect a reel to this speargun. The best way to connect your shooting line and spear to a floatline is with a floatline breakaway adaptor. It makes a streamline point of contact to keep your shooting line tensions on the speargun. It also allows for a quick and sturdy connection to your floatline and float.
Load Assist For the De-Multiplied Roller Speargun
Load assists are pretty much required for a De-Multiplied Roller Speargun. The size and power stored in the bands makes them almost impossible to get a grip on the wishbone on the riser without one. What is surprising with these guns is how easy they are t load once you start to get the band back. There is no way to avoid a multi-step laying process, but once you understand how it works they are pretty intuitive.
Changing Rigging and Tackle in Spearfishing
One of the key elements to landing big fish is to make sure your equipment is in pristine condition and that means changing rigging and hardware. That does not mean you need to change every piece of gear you own for every single dive trip. It does mean you should keep track of the condition of your dive gear and replace it well before it breaks. It is not the two pound snapper that is going to test your dive gear, but the big fish that are what we all hope we will see out there that will put your dive gear to the test.
Changing Rigging and Hardware
There are pieces of equipment that need to be replaced periodically. Any metal that is exposed to salt water should be given careful consideration, especially before big trips. The idea of spending thousands of dollars to travel to a foreign country, in addition to thousands of dollars on spearguns, shafts, slip tips, floats, floatlines, and bungees, and then having a trip ruined because you didn’t want to spend the money to replace a rusty tuna clip, shackle, or swivel. It is worth the 10 minutes and a few dollars to change rigging and hardware out on your float, floatline, or to replace your floatline adaptor.
Shooting line can be a very sore subject for many divers. If you dive a lot in your home town, your shooting line probably looks terrible. All divers have a tendency to become complacent with their shooting line, but it is one of the most important elements to landing your catch. Old shooting line is often freed, which reduces its strength. If you use monofilament, the crimps corrode over time once exposed to water. This also reduces the strength of the line’s ability to hold tension. Stainless steel cable rusts. If you are diving several times a week this is a gradual reduction that you don’t notice. The problem comes in when a big, strong fish, tests your equipment. That is when the shooting line breaks.Save yourself the trouble and change rigging and hardware, like your shooting line and crimps.
Most experienced divers share the opinion that it is important to tune your flopper shafts. It is true that a properly tuned flopper shaft helps land fish. If you are unfamiliar with what the term ‘tuning a flopper shaft’ means, we mean tightening the flopped on the spear. This is done to the point that once the flopper if forced open it remains open until forced down manually. Tuning a flopper is somewhat delicate and precise. If you over tighten the flopper it will not deploy on the other side of the fish. If the flopper is too loose the fish can struggle and the flopper can close and pull out of the fish. The best way to do this is to use a small ball peen hammer. Put the shaft and flopper on a hard surface and to make small adjustments until it is just right.
Rigging Cable Shooting Line For Spearfishing
When it comes to shooting line in spearfishing stainless steel cable has some very specific applications. In most situations it is too stiff and can present safety hazards. With that said, it is the standard for very large fish in deep water. Stainless steel cable needs to be rigged very specifically and correctly to function properly. Many newer divers make some critical errors that result in massive gear failures. This is a step by step guide to properly rigging your speargun with cable shooting line.
Step One: Gather the Materials and Tools
There are some important tools and materials you will need to rig cable as your shooting line.
- Crimping Tool
- Wire Stripping Tool or Razor Blade
- Stainless Steel Cable (Long enough for the number of wraps you want on your speargun)
- Crimps (The correct size for your cable)
Step Two: Strip Coating and Crimp to Shaft
Once you have all your materials together you need to strip away any coating that maybe on the cable a few inches from the end of the cable. If you crimp over the coating the shooting will not hold when a fish puts pressure on it. Once you have stripped the coating place one or two crimps on the cable and run the working end of the cable through the spear shaft. Double crimping is very important for larger fish species.
Push the working end back through the crimps on the line. When you crimp the cable you want to crimp as many times as possible. Unlike Monofilament, you will not cut into the shooting line by crimping the edge of the crimp.
Step Three: Wrap Cable on the Speargun and Cut to Length
Once the cable is attached to the spear shaft route the line up through the bands and wrap it as many times as is necessary. You want to have enough shooting line on your speargun as your speargun has range. Do not limit your range with your shooting line. If your speargun can shoot 20 feet your cable needs to be at least that long.
Step Four: Strip Coating and Crimp
The final step in rigging your shooting line is a similar process to attaching it to the spear. The difference is in connecting it to either your reel or breakaway setup. Your shooting line needs to be tight, as well as whatever connection for your line. Make sure to cut your line to length and make the correct size loop. Too large of a loop creates drag in the water. If your loop is too small it becomes difficult to connect and disconnect your connection point. Just like before, you should use two crimps and crimp it for the full length of the crimp.
How To Rig Bluewater Roller Speargun to Breakaway
We designed the Neptonics Double Roller be the perfect bluewater speargun for travel. The 54 Double Roller has the equivalent band stretch of an 80” conventional speargun. It is perfectly ballasted in the water, and with a spear shaft it is 17g negatively buoyant.
Roller Speargun Basics
The biggest difference between rollers and conventional spearguns is the bands. Roller spearguns have the bands start underneath the speargun and move up to the muzzle. The bands have to have tension while at the muzzle to work properly. This is called pre-tension. It allows the spear to accelerate the entire length of the speargun. It also allows for more total band stretch. We tension the bands on out double roller to be pre-tensioned at 10%-20%. All of these things put together result in increased range and penetration in the water.
Spectra is the best shooting line for roller spearguns because of the roller head. Shooting line flexibility is important to prevent entanglement on the roller muzzle. We always tie our spectra on with a double figure eight knot. It is the strongest knot for keeping line strength. The weakest part of any line is going to be the knot or splice, so you need to be aware of the strength of your knots.
Be cause the distance these bands are pulled are longer the range of these spearguns increase. That means we need longer shooting line than a comparable speargun. Three wraps of shooting line to a double roller speargun does the trick. Two and a half wraps works fine if you have it rigged to a bluewater reel.
Floatline Breakaway Adaptor
The Floatline breakaway adaptor is our preferred method of connecting our shooting line to a floatline. We use a double figure eight on the end of spectra to make a good connecting loop. These are durable and reliable connection points that are easy to use. They make for the quickest way to change out shafts on your bluewater system when you bend your shaft on a large fish.
Getting Into Spearfishing for Cheap
Once you have the basic freediving equipment you may be wondering about the best way to get into spearfishing. There are countless options on the market with a wide range of price points. Every diver has different goals, and those goals should help determine your priorities. Spearfishing adds a new element to freediving, and the minimum required equipment does not have to break your bank account.
Spearguns For Getting Into Spearfishing
The most popular method of harvesting fish is by using a speargun. There are countless options of different spearguns on the market. The trick is to find the right speargun for you. Once you have figured out the type of speargun that suits your needs it comes down to finding the right speargun for the value. If you are new to the sport and want to figure out if you will enjoy the sport you may want to look a Euro style rail spearguns. They tend to be less expensive, but some brands are less durable. If you know that spearfishing is your sport you may want to spring for a more durable speargun. Going a little more expensive can save you from buying more spearguns than you need. It comes down to the ‘Buy Once, Cry Once’ idea when making important purchases.
Pole spears used to be the cheap way of getting into the sport and getting better at hunting. Now there are several high quality pole spears on the market that are more expensive than some spearguns. These pole spears have similar range and more power than some smaller spearguns. You can still find a few inexpensive pole spears on the market for starting out, but you will quickly outgrow them. The cheap pole spears are still great options for people still getting comfortable in the water, or kids just getting into spearfishing.
There are some accessories in spearfishing you can save some money on. For example, you don’t need a super expensive dive light. The nice thing about not using a dive light is that you won’t even see the fish you are missing in holes and under ledges. If you are not great at picking up at satirical wording, I am saying you probably want a dive light if you hunt reef fish. Other than safety equipment like knives and gloves, most accessories are designed to just make your life easier. So if you life your life to be a little more comfortable there are tons of accessories on the market for you. If you want to spearfish with the minimum equipment you better be tough. Just remember to maintain all of your safety equipment at a minimum. Being frugal is one thing, but your safety should always your top priority.
Choosing The Right Speargun Grip For You
A speargun grip is an often overlooked piece of gear that can dramatically impact your spearfishing. Having a grip that fits well in your hand is an underestimated value when diving. A textured grip can enhance your dive experience. Additionally, different color options can help differentiate your speargun from your dive buddy’s spearguns that may be similar. There are a bunch of reasons why a quality grip can be useful. Any speargun that uses a Neptonics Handle Base, Neptonics Rear Handle Kit, or Neptonics Mid-Handle Kit can accept a wide variety of interchangeable handles, to provide you with the perfect handle for your diving needs.
Textured Speargun Grip
Textured grips, like Hogue grips, have been increasingly popular in spearfishing. The textured grip allows the diver to have that much more control over their speargun. It may seem like a small difference in the feel of a speargun, but those small differences can add up. A grip that feels good in your hands can make the difference between a confident shot and a complete miss. With that being said, the standard A2 Grip is still a tried and true classic that has been used by the military for decades. There is something to be said about a simple grip that is tried and true under challenging conditions.
Keeping Consistent Across All of Your Spearguns
An important consideration for any speargun grip is that you will want to keep consistent. You should have the same or a similar grip on all of your spearguns. You do not want to have to mentally adjust from one speargun to another. That means if you are using the Hogue Rubberized Grip on one of your spearguns you should consider upgrading all of your spearguns to match it.
Identifying Your Speargun with a Grip
One of the biggest benefits to upgrading your grip is to make your speargun more identifiable. That may sound like a strange reason to upgrade your grip, but it can be important if you and your dive buddies all use similar spearguns. If you are about to hop off the boat and your speargun is under the gunnel with three other Super Amero Spearguns it is nice to be able to say “The one with the Hot Pink handle” to get in the water that much quicker.