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    What is the best way to land the fish you shoot? Shoot to “kill” or “stone” the fish you hunt. Shooting fish in a vital spot reduces fish loss and physical effort.
    Want to stir up an interesting, if not heated discussion? Ask a group of spearfishermen to - describe THE kill shot location. Most agree that hitting the area just behind the eye will “stone” a fish and they agree that “windowing” (hitting the fish in the filet meat area) proves embarrassing.
    For this reason head shots:
    • From the side, just behind and level with the eye;
    • From above, behind the eye;
    • Straight down through the top of the head;
    are typically the best kill shots on most fish. A head shot avoids damage to the meaty part of the fish. Even if not a “kill” shot, a spear through the bony, tough head of a fish provides a solid hold for the spearshaft.
    Spearfishermen usually disagree when talking about other kill shots. They disagree because most other kill shots are not instant kill shots but rather disabling shots. Hitting a fish in or very near the backbone provides the next best kill shot target. The backbone begins from the fish’s head and generally lies along the fish’s lateral line to its tail. Even a shot that strikes a fish’s tail, if it severs the backbone forward of the caudal (tail) fin, can disable the fish sufficiently to weaken its swimming effort.
    Though it generally lies along a fish’s lateral line, the location of the backbone varies with fish species. To learn were the backbone lies in the various species, observe its location when cleaning and filleting your fish.
    The gill plate provides another effective target area. This bony area provides a good hold for the spearshaft. A shot in the gill plate usually causes profuse bleeding, which quickly weakens the fish. Keep in mind that profuse bleeding may attract predators.
    Some fish prove more difficult to “stone” than others. East coast cobia is an example. The cobia’s very flat wide head makes a side kill shot almost impossible. A kill shot down through the top of the head often works but the cobia seldom presents itself in a position which allows a top down shot. To disable a cobia, the side shot requires hitting them behind the pectoral fin, high in the lateral line. This does not kill a cobia, but it usually renders its swimming effort ineffective.
    Divers who shoot large fish sometimes use barb-less lineshafts. “Why would you want barb-less spearshaft? Won’t the fish get off?” Getting off is exactly what you want a lively large fish to do. A barb-less shaft allows a fish which is not stoned to pull free of the spearshaft easily. This increases safety to the diver by preventing his being dragged around by the fish. It also improves the chances of the fish’s survival by leaving a relatively small hole.
    To configure a barb-less shaft screw a small spear point, which is slightly wider in diameter than the spearshaft, onto a lineshaft. The spear points used with interchangeable-point spear tips work well for this. This small “flared” point section provides just enough grip once in the fish to keep it from pulling out too easily.
    Barb-less spearshafts make stringing and removing stoned fish from the spearshaft easier, also. Improved safety and reduced effort make barb-less spearshafis an attractive alternative for deep water and large fish.