Polespear fishing immerses you in the water with your prey. A spear gripped in one hand, you hunt, swimming with the fish until you spot it—the fish that will become your next meal. You clutch your spear, ready it, and let it dart to its target. Congratulations. You’ve just hunted a fish!
A unique method of fishing, spearfishing is done while snorkeling and to depths of approximately 10-20 feet. The snorkeler watches, spear in hand, quietly and patiently tracking fish, and when he or she is ready, he/she takes a deep breath, holds it, darts down, and spears it with the pole spear.
Some people go to greater depths and fish while scuba diving, but the scuba fishing method is illegal in many countries. Snorkeling is the most common type of pole spearfishing.
Why Use a Pole Spear?
A pole spear is precisely what it sounds like: it’s a pole that acts as a spear. While the world is simple, the sport is not. Imagine trying to catch a darting fish with a skinny pole and a point, a contraption that impales moving fish. It can be fun, as long as you have patience and perseverance.
Using a fishing spear is more difficult than a spear gun. A spearfishing spear requires you to develop a sharp eye, stealth, the ability to approach fish, and a steady hand.
According to an article on Fishspearit, “[P]ole spears are the best way to learn spearfishing. It forces you to learn the fundamentals, making you the most versatile and efficient hunter.” The spearfishing spear puts you in the midst of your prey, swimming up close and then spearing what you want.
Pole Spear Basics
These fishing spears are long, thin, and lethal. Characteristics of the weapon include:
- A pole that ranges from less than 5 feet to 10 feet in length (the 6-8-foot range is most common, and most are adjustable so you can customize your length)
- Stretchy rubber tubing attached to one end of the spear
- A spearhead on the other end
- If the pole has a hand grip, the device is known as a Hawaiian sling; without a grip, it’s called a pole spear (some people use the terms interchangeably)
Spears can be made of different materials. Personal preference determines the “right” composition of a pole spear preference. Some characteristics to consider are weight, flexibility, and the general feel of it in your hand. Most poles are crafted from stainless steel, carbon fiber, fiberglass, or aircraft aluminum. Diving stores typically carry poles of different materials; visiting one can help you decide what you like best.
The tips of pole spears are available in a variety of types and sizes. The kind of fish you’re hunting determines the type of tips you’ll need. Some poles come with tips, while others do not. Tips are interchangeable, so you can have multiple ends to choose from depending on where you’re fishing and what kind of fish you hope to catch.
Different types of tips include:
- Paralyzer tips
- Single barb head
- Twin barb head
- Single flopper
- Double flopper
- Slip tip
All but the paralyzer tips have one primary point that pierces the fish. Some have one or two protrusions that prevent the spear end from slipping out of the fish as it thrashes about.
Paralyzer tips have multiple prongs (three and five are common, but those designed for large fish have more). These deadly weapons penetrate the fish and instantly expand, effectively paralyzing the fish so it can’t thrash about.
The subject of spear points begs the question: How does the tip get into the fish in the first place? Do you cast the spear at the fish like a javelin thrower? Thrust it into it like a fencer? Or something else?
How to Use a Pole Spear
Recall that one end of the pole has rubber tubing attached to it. Think of it as a giant rubber band, and those of you who in school were gleeful rubber band shooters will probably enjoy pole fishing. This stretchy tubing is how you work your spear.
To prepare to shoot, pull the rubber tube toward the tip. Some hunters pull it straight and keep it that way, while others wrap the band once around the pole to create a twist.
When you’re ready to make your kill, let go of the rubber tube. It will rapidly contract, causing the spear tip to shoot forward. If you wrapped the tube around the pole, the point of the spear will spin as it propels forward, making a stronger catch.
Once you have your first fish, you’ll remove your spear point, place the fish in the bag you have with you, and place the point back into the pole. Cock the rubber tubing, and you’re ready for the next one.
It’s not easy initially, but the more you practice, the better you’ll get until pole spear fishing becomes second nature.
Buying Your Pole Spear
Pole spearfishing is popular, but it’s not yet mainstream fishing; therefore, you won’t likely find the spears and spearfishing gear you need at general, all-purpose sporting goods stores. Even those that offer plenty of products for hunting and fishing don’t typically sell pole spears or tips.
That said, pole spears are readily available in the right places. Amazon does sell spearfishing equipment; however, when you’re just beginning, It can be challenging to know what you are buying. Diving stores— local brick-and-mortar stores as well as online retailers—often sell spearfishing equipment. One specialized seller of all things spearfishing is MAKO Spearguns. MAKO Spearguns manufactures and sells almost anything you need for this sport.
As a specialist, MAKO offers equipment beyond the standard parameters. For example, their spears are as small as 4.5 feet for shallower fishing and smaller fish and as large as 10 feet for deeper waters and big game.
No matter where you shop, you’ll find pole spears available in a wide range of prices. If you’re just beginning this adventure, you might consider starting with products that are less expensive; that way, if you aren’t a fan of this type of fishing, you aren’t out much. On the other hand, if you’re instantly hooked (or, rather, speared), you can practice your technique and decide what upgrades you’d like.
The cheapest pole spears cost less than twenty dollars, while the most expensive is over two hundred dollars. The majority seem to run from thirty- to fifty dollars. That reasonable range will give you a product you can rely on to function well without investing needless money before you’re ready.
Further, it’s possible to purchase tips separately. A few poles don’t come with tips at all (that’s something to watch for when you buy). Purchasing spear ends to use with your pole lets you practice with something fundamental, determine what additional points you need, and add them later. Adding tips is an excellent way to build your equipment a little at a time.
Choosing Your Gear
First and foremost, spearfishing requires a pole, your spear. As with any sport, you need gear beyond the primary piece of equipment.
Spearfishing gear equips you from head to toe with clothing and tools for a successful fish hunt. One of the great things about pole spearfishing is that it doesn’t require a large budget, nor does it need a truck and trailer to haul around your equipment.
No special clothing is required. Simply wear the swimwear you always wear in the water. However, if you plan to spearfish in cold water, a wetsuit is in order. Not only will you feel more comfortable, but you’ll also avoid hypothermia.
Gloves are a must, as you’ll be grabbing fish instantly after spearing them. Often, the spear doesn’t kill them, so they’ll squirm and thrash. Gloves make the task easier and protect your fingers.
After you spear and grab your fish, you need to put it somewhere. A mesh collection bag does the trick well. It clips to you, so your hands are free to work the pole, and you don’t have to worry about it floating away.
You can even purchase a small piece of equipment that attaches to your pole and functions like a fishing lure. Called squid flasher skirts, they sparkle and move to attract the attention of fish.
The right pole and simple gear make spearfishing fun.
Final Pole Spear Tips
Knowing the correct pole size, spear tips, and other technicalities can be confusing at first. Part of the learning process involves understanding your prey and their habits.
- Know your fish: their behavior, habits, hiding places, speed, how close they let a predator approach, and more. This insight will help you determine pole spear length and tip style.
- Use a pole spear when you’re not diving in the open but are around structures like ledges, caves, holes such as what you’ll find around shipwrecks and reefs—great environments for cornering and spearing fish. It will work much better than the spearfishing device known as a spear gun.
Fishing with pole spears can be challenging as well as incredibly fun. Choose the right pole spear for your needs, gear up, and snorkel and dive for your seafood.