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What Do You Need for Spear Fishing

Spearfishing is more than a sport. It's economically friendly and it produces very little bycatch. So, as spearing fish to eat continues to grow in popularity, it becomes even more important to use the right gear.

This guide contains a list of equipment needed for spearfishing, including all the essentials that first-timers need to start hunting for fish underwater.

Spearfishing Gear Essentials for Beginners

It may be controversial, but most people consider the skill of spearing fish as being one that has the least impact.

In most cases, a single diver selects a single fish, usually a particular species of fish.

There is almost zero bycatch in this type of underwater hunting. Plus, there will be no 'ghost gear' left behind.

This is why more and more people are learning breath-hold skills (and how to free-dive) to start spear fishing.

So, one of the most important steps for beginners is choosing the right gear. This list of basic spearfishing essentials, with descriptions of the functions and best features, will help you get started.


Without a speargun, you will find it difficult to catch any fishes. There are a range of speargun designs and they all have specific tools for a particular job. The three basic designs are:

Pole spears are by far the most simple. They are best for hitting targets that are quite close. Hence, the length of the pole will determine its range.

Some divers use pole spears for hunting lionfish species - because you can get close to these invasive creatures.

You can break it down for easy storage and transport. They are simple to use, and consist of a pointed end and a bungee loop near to the grip section.

Here's the thing:

Slingshot spearguns can have several bungee loops that you stretch and hook onto the actual shaft. Pulling on the trigger will fire off the spear. It stays attached to the gun via a filament, which is usually attached to a float.

Pneumatic spearguns use several gas chambers. You use a hand pump to pre-charge at least one of the chambers before the dive. The other chamber on the inside can top up the overall pressure when you load the shaft.

Pro Tip: Even though you can see evidence of spearfishing with scuba gear, it is illegal in many areas around the world.

Wetsuits for Spearfishing

Spear fishing wetsuits are different to standard scuba diving or surfing wetsuits. They usually have an open celled lining on the inside that sits against your skin.

The single piece wetsuits are more difficult to don and doff because they are 'sticky' and the material tends to grab onto your skin. Even so, they are very effective at keeping you warm.

Two-part suits make the donning and doffing process easier because you get trousers (long or high waisted) and a shirt top for the torso area.

Equipment Needed for Spearfishing | Gear Tips for BeginnersYou can also buy a spearfishing or apnea wetsuit that has an integrated hood to reduce water ingress and improve insulation.

A wetsuit with a thick chest pad helps to protect the sternum when you're
loading for the next shot. It can also help to prevent it from slipping.

There are many different camouflage pattern wetsuits on the market, but most spearos tend to go with the standard black colour.

Spearfishing Masks

In the main, all spear fishing is done on apnea. So, you 'll be holding your breath and you won't want to waste it.

Thus, equalising a dive mask is easier when wearing a low volume free-diving mask.

The smaller internal volume won't be affected as much by a painful mask squeeze as you descend.

Free Diving Fins

Apnea equipment used for diving in open water will include long free-diving fins, for swimming efficiency. Carbon fibre blades tend to be the best. But, they will get damaged if you think you'll be smashing them around rocks.

If so, the plastic polymer blades may be the best choice, and they are available in three different stiffnesses. Stiff fins don't bend very much (e.g. for training and short dives).

Soft fins are better for long diving sessions, especially if you'll be wearing them for most of the day. But, they tend to lack power in water. Most divers will go for a medium stiffness fin design.

Snorkel Tubes

The j-type snorkels used by snorkelers tend to work fine for spearfishers too. A snorkel tube with some flexibility is good, and it helps to stop them from getting crushed inside your kit bag.

There should be a hook and loop system to hold it on the mask strap. If not, you can tuck it underneath the mask strap. The snorkel won't always be inside your mouth. So, make sure it stays in place so you don't lose it.

Pro Tip: If you buy a new snorkel, drop it into the water before you go diving to check whether it floats or sinks. A floating snorkel will be easier to retrieve from the surface if you lose it underwater.

Diving Weights

If you already completed one of the entry-level scuba diving courses, you'll know that weights help to compensate for the positive buoyancy of your exposure suit protection.

In fact, standard weight belts are still the most common type used by competitive freedivers. These nylon webbing belts have a traditional quick release buckle.

Some divers will choose a rubber weight belt for extra grip. The lead stays in place better - and you shouldn't need to use any lead keepers.

Buoys and Floats

Having a buoy floating at the surface provides an important location marker and a handy storage point. In general, they are bright red (or red and white) and they have an unfurled "diver down" flag sticking up out of the water.

Spearfishers who wear a camouflage wetsuit will not be easy to see by any passing boat traffic. Hence, you should consider a surface marker buoy as being essential spearfishing equipment.

But wait - there's more:

A good surface float will have some attachment points for clipping things onto it (e.g. communication device, spare parts, tools). Some designs also have a dry bag attachment and you want to avoid skin diving with too much gear on your body.

Knives for Spearfishing

An essential tool for anyone diving in water has to be a knife. It only takes a moment to get tangled and caught up in a fishing line and a good dive knife will get you out of trouble.

So, most spear fishing knives tend to be quite long and thin, usually with some sort of stiletto tip and sharp edges on both sides.

Besides cutting through obstacles, you can also use them to dispatch any fish that aren't killed outright. So, the best place to mount it is usually on your belt, so it's accessible and you can reach it with both hands.

Even so, you can also mount some knives on your arm or leg. They have a simple plastic sheath that you can slot a knife into and then a little rubber ring that hoops over the butt of the knife to keep it in place

Spearfishing Bags

You may also want a decent bag to carry your gear to and from the dive site, along with a cooler bag and a catch bag (or stringer).

Spear guns, and long diving fins, are not easy to transport 'loose'. Plus, waterproof dry bags are useful for keeping all your wet stuff contained and stop it from draining all over the inside of your car.

After catching a fish, you need some way to transport it from the water to the shore - and then back home. Often, a stringer will be the simplest solution. You attach it to yourself (or to your surface float) and then thread the fish onto it as you catch them.

In case you were wondering:

A catch bag is a mesh bag with a one-way opening. But, catch bags are used more often for storing shellfish - as and when you collect them. You stow them inside of a catch bag and then a cooler bag or a box that you can load up with ice to keep the catch as fresh as possible for the way home.

Accessories for Spearfishing

You're going to need some clips, hooks, and gadgets to make spearfishing easier and safer. Plus, if you go hunting in an area with size restrictions for the catch, you can use a metal or plastic ruler or size gauges.

After measuring the size of your catch, you will know whether to throw it back and save yourself a fine (e.g. if you get caught bagging something too small).

Related Information and Help Guides

Note: The short video presented by PADI® [1:01 seconds] spotlights the discipline and control needed to stay underwater while your breath allows it.

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