|Choosing A Pole Spear
I get many requests for details of what I use and what I recommend in a pole spear. Choosing the right spear depends on what your fish you hunt, and other products may also be very good or better. I have no hesitation in recommending the following products, based upon my personal success using them:
|3 Prong Hybrid
I have had this trusty Hawaiian 3 prong for more than two years. I just love using it for reef fish.
I am not sure what brand it is (a mate bought it for me at Maui Sporting Goods in Hawaii). It looks like the same as those that Lance O'hara makes and sells through the Hawaii Skindiver website - (click for link). They are part aluminium (1/2 inch diameter: 12.5mm) , part graphite (3/8 inch or 9.4 mm), and have 3 barbless prongs (they stick out 10.5 inches from the enclosing stainless tube).
These are fantastic for small reef fish up to 5 kg and lots of fun to use. There are a few variants: my buddy has a Kawabunga which is very highly rated and slightly heavier, but quite similar. These spears are available in various lengths.
My 3 prong is 8 ft long (2.44 m), which I feel is quite ideal. The spear weighs 0.66 kg and is powered by a 10mm rubber with a pull weight of about 10 kg. I am experimenting at present with a 'Manny Knot' on the rubber, as shown in this picture.
|The barbs on a 3 prong perform best when fairly tightly packed, with just a little splay so they open out on impact. This is about right.|
|Manny Puig Spear (Made by Omer)
Link: Available in NZ from Upcurrent
I have had this spear for a couple of years now. It's yet another quality product from Omer. These are a fantastic piece of equipment, very versatile with a standard single flopper tip. They are in 3 pieces - two pieces of 22 mm diameter aluminium stock and a tip section of 8mm spring steel, total length about 2.54 m (8'4"). The rubber is 12.5 mm (1/2 inch outside diameter) and is tied in a special knot which elegantly eliminates the need for the traditional tied attachment to the spear. This spear is great for average reef fish through to large fish including yellowtail. They also sell threaded tip sections. It is simply a top quality and versatile product.
The spear weighs 1.5 kg and requires a draw strength of about 18 kg.
The spear comes with a knurled grip which eats gloves too quickly, so I apply a grip of self-bonding rigging tape as I do on my other spears (available at marine chandleries).
|Aaron Crist spear Link to Crist Spears
I have had this spear only a few months, but already I love it! I bought it for hunting BIG fish (i.e. over 10 kg).
Aaron makes his spears in a variety of sizes. They all come with his custom grip which is self bonding grip-tape wrapped around something to give it a nice sprial effect, and which provides a long lasting and superior grip.
I have a 2.55 metre (8'4") aluminium spear stock of 19mm diameter alimunium plus the 0.5 m (18 inch) threaded tip section (8mm spring steel) that I rig with a standard Riffe Icepick. All up it's 3.13 metres (10'3") long. This is what I've used on my biggest snapper of 10 kg and a reasonable yellowtail over 20 kg. I have no doubts that this will hold a marlin or dogtooth tuna.
This spear is excellent in all respects for bigger game, but the size that I have is a it too heavy duty and too long for hunting smaller reef fish. I also have a smaller 30 cm (12 inch) tip section which has a single flopper attached. Even with this rig, fish tend to end up half way down the spear!
I find it useful to tow a float line for safety reasons (visibility from approaching boats) and to attach my catch to. I use a standard polyprop float line which has a metal loop at the diver end. I use a standard shark clip on a small line with a braided loop at one end. The shark clip is passed through the loop of rubber on the pole spear and through the braided loop. This will slide down 10mm rubber loop unless there is a 'manny knot' tied to hold it, but seems to hold in place on 1/2 inch rubber
|Different Ways of Attaching the Rubber
The traditional way is to connect a small piece of cord to the rubber - like on my Crist spear (above). Another way is to make a 'Manny Knot', as illustrated by my Manny Puig spear and my 3 prong, above. This is a more elegant and simple approach which eliminates parts, which I think is always an improvement.
This link here goes to an excellent U -tube video on how to attach a regular pole spear band, and also how to tie the band in a 'Manny knot', which is how I have been doing it.
Manny Puig likes to put his hand through the main loop of rubber. I find it really nice with my hand through the smaller loop (where I also attach my float line). My experience is that it is quite nice to have the rubber just snugly resting around your hand when it is unloaded, so you are always ready to load. I find the power is sufficient at this level of stretch, although it would be slightly more powerful with my hand through the main loop. I like the idea that, if I did black out, that the rubber spear would stay attached to my hand, and my body could be found by following the float line. I also like the way that I am always ready to stretch the rubber in just the right place, and I do not have to check if the rubber has slid around in the hole in the spear. This is a matter of personal preference.
|A quick and easy way to attach a float line to an existing spear (i.e. when the existing rubber loop may be too short to tie another loop into) is to use a cable tie to make the loop for your hand and float line clip, like this:
My buddy Pete tried this on his Kawabunga spear during the 2009 Nationals and it worked well.
|Why give up the speed, accuracy, range, and ease of using modern spearguns to use a pole spear?
Put simply, less is more.
Any monkey can be trained to shoot big snapper regularly with a gun. And then what do you do, just keep on shooting big snapper? That's not very good for the breeding stocks and your learning just stops. I struggled to get through the snapper meat in the freezer in 2004, and the taste of the big ones is not as good as the little ones.
Where does the thrill of the hunt go? It becomes predictable with a gun. Just like Chet Baker sang it; 'The Thrill is gone'...
When I swim with my 3-prong I am waiting in anticipation for the fish that I might get, but probably won't get close enough to. It makes getting a fish all the more special. It forces me to take home less from the sea, and value what I do get more.
Hunters of old used to shoot snapper and kingies with polespears. They learned to read the fish, to get closer to them, and to wait for the shot that would land the fish. "I want to get me some of that!"
Most of our competition fish species in NZ spearfishing are quite able to be landed with a spear. I have used only my pole spear in competitions since the start of 2005. With my dive buddy Pete Hutchings, we placed 5th at the NZ National spearfishing championships at Tairua in 2006!
Buy yourself a 3-prong and join me! Rediscover spearfishing and become a Snapper Whisperer.
Technically, my spears are all 'pole spears'.
The 3-prong paralyser tip used by the Hawaiians is referred to as a 3-prong, but the term 3-prong has come to be a generic term for a 3-prong pole spear.
This is different to a 'Hawaiin Sling', which has a holding mechanism around the shaft, and it is different to a 'hand spear' which has no rubber to power it.