Spearfishing 101 – How To Use A Pole Spear
The pole spear is a great alternative to the more commonly used speargun if you want to venture into the exciting sport of spearfishing.
In fact, some purists will tell you it is the natural way to start. In essence, you are going back to the roots of the craft.
But how do you use a pole spear? Fishing this way demands a stealthier approach (you have to get closer to the fish and they scare easy), which in some ways makes it more difficult to use than the speargun.
However, such skills are important to learn and will make you a better spear fisherman in the long run.
Let’s dive in and take a closer look…
The Benefits of Using a Pole Spear
There are many reasons pole spearfishing is a good place for a beginner to start.
First off the barrier to entry from a financial perspective is lower than taking up spear gun fishing. There are many affordable pole spears on the market, (you can check out our recent review round-up here).
Pole spears are also good in shallow waters. This makes them ideal for use around jetties or intricate, rocky shorelines where snorkeling and diving can be problematic.
As we mentioned above, the pole spear also calls for close quarter work; a skill that all beginners should practice and become good at no matter what sort of tool they intend to use for spearfishing in the future.
A pole spear is also a lot faster to reload than a spear gun. This means if you miss on your first attempt, you will quickly be in a position to have another go.
Finally, a short pole spear allows for easy maneuverability, something all beginners will appreciate.
How To Use a Pole Spear
The Basic Mechanics of the Pole Spear
The pole spear is made up of 3 main parts: the shaft which is the main part of the pole that you hold, the tip which slides inside the shaft and is the part that is released to impale the fish, and the band.
The band holds the tip in place and provides the energy upon release for the tip to fly glide through the water towards your prey.
To operate the pole spear you have to hunt with the band placed between your thumb and forefinger, with the holding hand placed high up on the spear shaft, (approximately 12 inches from the end).
Aiming sounds rather simple but is a little more difficult in practice. It involves pointing the spear at the object (fish) that you wish for the tip to be forced into.
However, it does take a bit of practice to get that line of trajectory right. Start out by having a go in the shallows (or a pool if you have access to one) by using a neutrally buoyant object.
The fact is, light displacement whether you’re in the water or aiming from above will impact how you need to position your spear to hit the target. The practice is the only way of fine-tuning this skill.
Scanning for fish
When starting out it is a good idea to float at the surface of the water scanning the bottom for your prey. You should swim slowly and steadily so as to minimize your presence as much as possible.
Use your head and eyes to look around rather than moving your body to shift your view.
Sometimes it is a good idea to do some scouting dives without even cocking your spear. This will give you an idea of what areas are worth concentrating on.
If hunting the shallows similar methods apply. Only now you will choose an area and scan the bottom from a standing position. When you move on to a different position, move slowly and carefully so as not to disturb the fish.
Ledges, caves, and crevices are your friends.
Fish will often take shelter in caves and underneath underwater ledges.
This gives you a great opportunity because you can sneak up on the mouth of the give, or come over the ledge and surprise the fish.
When you see a large rock, ledge, cave, or crevice underwater, try diving down and exploring it. Always be ready to catch any fish you see and don’t be surprised if there are quite a few hiding out.
Diving down for a fish
When hunting in deeper water that will involve diving down, you should approach the fish from directly above.
Once you spot your quarry, slowly fin along the surface of the water until you are above it. Then, take your breath and dive down towards it, releasing your spear within penetration range.
This last step has to be done as quickly and silently as possible as this is when the fish is the most likely to be startled away.
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What Pole Spear to Use?
We recently reviewed 5 of the best pole spears currently on the market here. The spear that got our number once the spot was from Mako. This is a great sectional pole spear that offers versatility in that it can be used in different length configurations.
It is also easy to travel with and features a sharp, strong paralyzer tip. Overall a top-quality product at the right price point.
Other gear you should think about getting
A helpful truth of spearfishing is that you do not need a lot of equipment to get going. Once you’ve got the pole you could actually begin with nothing else but a set of bathers.
However, you should still think about buying these additional items if you want to get serious about it.
- Snorkel Gear– At the very least you should buy some good snorkeling gear. A mask and Snorkel. Fins are also recommended
- Mesh bag– You’re gonna need something to keep hold of all those fish you’re snaring
- Dive knife and gloves – a dive knife can help if you get yourself in a sticky situation (with a large fish or some discarded line). The gloves are also important if you’re after fish with some nasty fins.
- Flashlight – for fishing at night
- A wetsuit – for fishing in colder climes
Out of all of these the items we recommend everyone buys as they start out is the snorkel gear. Do not scrimp on buying a cheap package from your local seaside 7/11.
A bad fitting mask and plastic fins that chafe your skin will not help you spearfish. Buy better quality items that will be comfortable to wear and will stand the test of time.
As for everything else, you can slowly buy these as and when you need them.
And there you have it, our short guide to help you get started with pole fishing. We hope this has given you an insight into what it is all about, so you can get the gear and get out there to start spearing your first fish.