Underwater Hunting: an Introduction to Spearfishing

Written by Scott M.

When you are enclosed or live near a body of water, the first thing most folks assume is that the only way you can obtain protein is with a fishing rod and some bait.

This isn’t exactly true.  Spearfishing has been around since the dawn of time. Our ancestors probably used a simple spear to stab their dinner as it swam by.

Fast forward to the 21st century, spearfishermen or “Spearo’s” uses modem technology to catch their dinner similar to a hunter in a forest. Underwater Hunters use spearguns, pole spears, low volume masks, wetsuits, and etc to catch their dinner in the deep blue ocean.

In this post we are going to cover what you’ll need to get started with this sport and what types of gear you’ll need.

Where can you go spearfishing?

If you do a quick Youtube search for “spearfishing”, you’ll see lots of pictures of middle aged men in the crystal clear waters of the Florida Keys or the Bahamas.   Not living or vacationing in one of these two places doesn’t mean you can’t go spearfishing on regular basics.

You simply need a large body of water.

For instance, even in Wisconsin there are a number of spearfishermen who regularly dive in the great lakes. They even dive in winter months, although you may want to make sure you have the right wetsuit and training before jumping in freezing cold water.

Even in places like Arkansas, there is an active spearfishing community. If you live anywhere near a large body of water, i.e lake, do a quick search for a local club, you will be surprised.

What skills do you need to learn?

Whenever you start learning a new skill set that requires using sharp pointy projectiles it is always a good idea to seek some kind of formal training. In this case, you should seek out a local Spearfishing club or training center the next time you go on your spearfishing vacation.

They will teach you everything you need to know – how to load a speargun, how to dive safely, and knowing the local fishing laws.

If you find that you truly enjoy the sport, you might want to invest in Freediving Lessons.   Similar to scuba diving, your goal is NOT to waste energy.

The more energy you waste, the more air you use, and the LESS time you can spend underwater. Within 3-4 Freediving classes, you’ll be able to significantly improve your breath holding abilities, waste less energy during a dive, dive deeper than ever.

Spearfishing (underwater survival): What you need to know to get started!

What type of gear would you need?

I’m not going to dive too deep (pun intended) on the type of gear that you’ll need.  In the order of importance you should look into the following:

  • Speargun
  • Low volume Mask
  • Freediving fins
  • Wetsuit (optional)

At a true survival scenario, you’ll need a speargun and mask at bare minimum. You’ll need something to catch you dinner and something to see where your dinner is swimming 🙂

What size of Speargun do you need?

Although there are plenty of American brands, Spearfishing as we know it today, was pioneered in Europe.  You should keep in mind that when you buy a speargun its length will be measured in centimeters.

The length of your speargun depends on three things:

  • YOUR ability as a Spearo
  • WHERE you are hunting
  • WHAT you are hunting

If you are just starting out, which speargun should you get?

If you are just starting out, get a shorter speargun. Something that is around 50-100cm (1.5 – 3.3 feet.) It is less powerful, easier to load, and overall easier to handle.

How does location affect the length of your speargun?

I’m sorry, but we have to do some math.

Let’s say it’s not a very clear day and you only have 4 feet of water visibility. It would not make sense to own a speargun that is 5 feet in length, as it would be a foot LONGER than you can visually see.   Whereas if you have a speargun that is only a foot and half long, you’ll have some space to aim and shoot your prey. It is very challenging to shoot if  you can’t see where you are aiming 🙂

If you live in a place that typically has low water vitality, such as a lake, stick with a speargun that is around 50-100cm (1.5 – 3.3 feet.)  This length will be suitable for water conditions with poor “vis.”

Yea but when can you use the cool big spearguns?

The longer guns are reserved for experienced Spearos that plan on hunting big game in open water (the deep ocean).

It is actually not very practical to own only one long  speargun. Similar to golf clubs, most spearos will own a handful of different guns in different lengths.  This way they can use the right speargun for the right conditions and situation.

Even if you are going to dive in open water with your buddies, you can still use a shorter speargun. The only difference is that you can only catch small to midsize game.

Is there anything else you should invest in?

The next part you’ll have to focus on is the most fun – cooking the fish! You’ll probably want to fillet it before throwing it on the grill or your preferred method of cooking.

If you like to fillet your own fish, a decent investment would be to get a good fillet knife. Don’t get one that is too cheap or has soft stainless steel. They tend to rust very quickly and most likely need to be sharpened.   If you fish often, it will be one of the better investments you’ll make.

Wait, where do the survival skills come in?

The survival part comes with experience. If you take freediving lessons and join a spearfishing club, you will learn tons about the ocean and its water ways.

For instance, learning how to spot rip tides or the types of conditions you should not dive in. From freediving you’ll learn how not to panic or waste energy if you have to stay under the water for a long period of time.

Most people drown because they do not know how to handle themselves in an aquatic environment. Only through experience and training can you learn how to stay safe and help others.

Spearfishing (underwater survival): What you need to know to get started!

That about wraps up our quick introduction to Spearfishing. Similar to surfers, most Spearo’s consider themselves to be “watermen & women.”   Waterman is a term used to describe someone who is very knowledgeable about the ocean and knows how to handle themselves in the worst of aquatic situations.

Spearos are no different. In fact, they might know more about survival in the ocean than the average surfer.    They are devoted to life on or near the water. If that sounds like a sport you would like to get involved in, you now have the information you need to get started.

Would you ever go spearfishing? Do you think teaching your children how to handle themselves in the water is something worth investing in?

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