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Thursday, August 1, 2013

Of Spears, Spikes and Confusion - part 2

In part one of this series we covered some of the things you need to know before you go spearfishing with or without a trigger.  Today we will cover the hardware WE use when we take a cruise.

Don't get lured into chasing these guys or...
  • Dive flag and float with line for your safety.  But remember it doesn't have flashing blue lights so there are a lot of boaters that just speed on by. 
  • Good quality snorkeling gear should be  high on the list.  US Divers have sold their sole to the big box stores but this is in your benifit.  Items that were $100 several years ago are now in the $45 range. 

  1. Low volume masks are much better.  Of course they are a little more geeky like horned rim glasses but black silicone offers less glare.  Don't forget the anti fog or plan on working up some spit.  Also make sure you have at least two extra mask straps.
  2. Self draining snorkels are much better. Dolphins eat fish do you want to sound like a dolphin?  Don't forget to have a spare snorkel keeper.
  3. Snorkeling fins and SCUBA fins are different but both can be used.  You want something Quiet on the surface (Jet fins are notoriously loud).  I prefer booties as I can walk on rocks on the way in or out if needed.  If you loose a fin on an island that looks like moon rock it is a long walk back with bare feet.  You also want to have a spare strap or two for the fins.
or you will end up in the middle of a water filled desert.

  • We also suggest a wet suit (although the first mate likes it without one) to protect you from rocks, coral, airplanes and ship wrecks.  They even keep you warm and help you float.  Which brings us to buoyancy.  If you float so well in that suit when you dive to 20 feet there will be nothing stealth about you trying to stay in front of the hole the grouper just went into.  Buy a belt and 14 pounds of weights in (2)2# and (2)5# increments.  Experiment the first few dives and find your balance between sinking at the surface and rising at the bottom.  If you can hover at the bottom and deal with the weight at the top your hunting will be much better.  To camo or not to camo is the question I ask of thee... SCUBA YES, free dive who cares.  Most of your free dive shots will be with you above or beside the fish with a bright blue back ground.
  • With the Bahamas being our main destination we are limited to NO TRIGGER spears.  This will include two basic types of spears.  
  1. The Hawaiian sling which is basically a hand grip with a rubber band attached which PROPELS a free shaft.  Think underwater bow and arrow crossed with a sling shot shooting arrows.
  2. The Pole spear which is a long thick shaft that has a rubber band attached to it.  
If you plan on fishing very little with this type of equipment then there is only one logical choice for $35.00.

The 6 foot yellow fiberglass triple paralyzer pole is all the occasional hunter needs.
You can buy a 3 piece travel version for 2-3 times the money but they do not last!

 One Grouper

 Two Grouper

Three Grouper.  Almost every little corral reef has a resident Nassau Grouper.

If you plan on supplementing your stores with fresh fish and lobster on a regular basis this is our suggestion.  We will be returning to cruising with two pole spears and a Hawaiian sling with two shafts each.  

  1. What we have found is the 6 foot yellow fiberglass triple paralyzer is the best lobster spear.  When we first arrived in the Bahamas I dove down with my Manny Puig freight train of a pole spear.   The whole whopping 8 and a half feet of this thing would hit so hard that it would go into the hull of wrecks.  Our first real lobsters were around rubber tubes about a foot in diameter.  When I hit one it took two consecutive dives to pull it free.  Just too much impact and it was too slow for the smaller reef fish.  If I was on SCUBA in a camo wet suit lurking around the depths for a hour or two it would be a great spear but for a quick down and pop the bug it was just too much.  Extended use of the fiberglass poles may cause splintering and a hand full of glass fibers.  The yellows run $35 with a triple paralyzer tip.
  2. This year instead of the Manny Puig monster we are taking aluminum JBL's.  This will prevent any fiberglass splinters from extended use but there are issues with possible bending.  Life is such a trade off!  These are our hoping for grouper poles that will get a lobster if we find it.  Tips will be a single rock point flopper.  These run $35 without a tip making the pole about $50 complete.  If you really want a freight train pole spear check out Ray Odor pole spears here in the Tampa area and save $120 compared to the Manny Puig.
  3. We will also have a pair of classic Hawaiian slings onboard with both a 1/4 inch and 5/16 shafts.  Last cruise I used a Hawaiiansling.net pistol grip and found it torqued the shaft more than I liked and the 5/16 shaft was too slow also for the snapper at Morgans Bluff.  Even if we bend one of the lighter shafts at least we will know .  A Hawaiian sling runs about $35 (Hmmm is there a conspiracy on the $35 mark?)  The shafts run about $35 each also.  
  4. Sometimes our snorkeling float/flag is the dinghy but often we anchor it and take a smaller float or stay in the vicinity.  We would love to have a hard float designed for spearfishing but with prices from $125 to $300 I think the Taylor Fender that floated against s/v Gemini Dreams during a hard blow will suffice. 
  5. A diving stringer tied about 10 feet below the dinghy or the float is also a must.  DO NOT TIE IT TO YOU, SHARK BAIT!  
  6. Am I forgetting anything?  Of but of course!  GLOVES!  You will remember when you grab your first lobster!  Speaking from experience on this one.
Free hand a couple of these guys and you will not forget the gloves again.


A Manny Puig Freight Train meets a guppy

If you just want to spend some big $$ on some serious bling then check out companies like CristHenley, Riffe, Omar, and Gat-Ku or others.   

Bling Bling Ca-ching $$$ Full outfit with spear is pushing a grand.

These guys are taking over the reefs!

Make sure you read up on the handling porceedures so you don't meet the bad end of the spike!

Stay tunned for some upcoming recipes we have added for our next adventure.

keywords: Spearfishing spear fishing fish free dive snorkel pole spear hawaiian sling bahamas florida keys marathon key west bahia honda bimini exumas morgans morgan's bluff allens cay normans norman's staniel blue hole thunderball cave grotto grouper snapper s/v gemini dreams.

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