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    Gear and Equipment

    A list of equipment commonly used in spearfishing. Not all of it is necessary and spearfishing is often practised with minimal gear.


    Spearguns come in a wide variety, from short pneumatic guns for kill shorts or dirty water, to massive 5 band wooden tuna guns used in blue water hunting. Common to all spear guns is a trigger mechanism that holds a spear in place along the length of the barrel. In most spearguns rubber bands are stretched so as to slot into a notch on the spear shaft and launch the spear when the trigger is pulled. Pneumatic guns use compressed gas for spear propulsion. Traditionally, rear-handle spearguns are popular in Europe and mid-handle guns were used in North America, however as spearfishing has developed as an international sport these distinctions have blurred. South African speargun manufacturers have improved speargun designs with the use of a rail along the barrel that prevents the spear from flexing under pressure from the rubber bands.

    Pole spears
    Pole spears, or hand spears, consist of a long shaft with point at one end and an elastic loop at the other for propulsion. They also come in a wide variety, from aluminum or titanium metal, to fiberglass or carbon fiber. Often they are screwed together from smaller pieces or able to be folded down for ease of transport.

    Hawaiian slings
    Hawaiian slings consist of an elastic band attached to a tube, through which a spear is launched.

    Wet Suit
    Wetsuits designed specifically for spearfishing are often two-piece (jacket and 'long-john' style pants) and have camouflage patterns, blue for open ocean, green or brown for reef hunting. Commonly they have a pad on the chest to aid in loading spearguns.

    Weight belt or weight vest
    These are used to compensate for wetsuit buoyancy and help the diver descend to depth.

    Fins for freedive spearfishing are much longer than those used in SCUBA to aid in fast ascent.

    A knife should always be carried as a safety precaution in case of the diver becoming tangled in his spear or float line. It can also be used as an iki jime or kill spike.

    Iki jime or kill spike
    In lieu of a knife, a sharpened metal spike can be used to kill the fish quickly and humanely upon capture. This action reduces interest from sharks by stopping the fish from thrashing. Iki jime is a Japanese term and is a method traditionally used by Japanese fishermen. Killing the fish quickly is believed to improve the flavor of the flesh by limiting the build up of adrenaline in the fish's muscles.

    Snorkel and mask
    These are similar to those used for SCUBA. Masks designed specifically for spearfishing sometimes have mirrored lenses that prevent fish from seeing the spearfisher's eyes tracking them. Mirrored lenses appear to fish as one big eyeball, so head movements can still spook the fish.

    Buoy or float
    A buoy is usually tethered to the spearfisher's speargun to directly to the spear. A buoy helps to subdue large fish. It can also assist in storing fish, but is more importantly used as a safety device to warn boat drivers there is diver in the area.

    A floatline connects the buoy to the speargun. Often made from woven plastic, they also be mono-filament encased in an airtight plastic tube, or made from stretchable bungee cord.

    Speargun setups
    Speed rig

    The use of a spear gun connected a buoy via a float rope. After spearing a fish, the spearfisher, detaches the float rope and uses a speed stick (a metal spike) attached to the float rope to thread the fish onto the float rope through its gills. The fish will then gradually slide up the float rope as the diver swims until it rests underneath the buoy. When shooting larger fish, the diver can let go of his gun and play the fish from the float line, giving the fish more room to tire and preventing it from tearing off the spear or dragging the spearfisher under the water.

    Break-away rig
    Similar to a speed rig except the spear shaft is connected directly to the buoy. Its is loosely fitted to the gun as well while hunting, but after the spear is fired its force of movement detaches the line from the gun. The spearfisher is then able to subdue the fish from the buoy or float line while retaining possession of his gun. This is for two reasons. Firstly, the gun can be use to push off sharks or signal the boat driver, and secondly to prevent loss of the gun should the fish break the line, or should the spearfisher lose grip on the buoy. This setup can be used in conjunction with elastic bungee-style rope and a body board style float with locking cleats. This respectively maintains constant pressure on the fish and allows the spearfisher to rest while being towed around. They can then gather the bungee line as the fish tires and lock it off in order to gradually pull the fish closer.

    Reel gun setups
    The use of a reel similar to that use on a fishing rod. After spearing a fish, the reel unwinds, allowing the spearfisher room to play the fish. Reel setups are useful when ocean structures such as built up reef or kelp gardens prevent the spearfisher from towing a buoy.

    The use of a spear shaft unconnected to gun or buoy, more commonly associated with spearfishing on SCUBA where excess cable or line can be problematic.