Most of us who have been spearing awhile have forgotten the little things about learning to use a speargun. I’ve recently had a few refreshers though as I’ve steadily been teaching friends and family to spear fish. Here are a bunch of common mistakes I see often and how you can avoid making them yourself!
1. Shooting rocks.
Most spearguns have maximum ranges of 6-7m. If the fish is 2 meters away from you, that's great BUT; what’s in the 5m behind it? I’ve seen a few keen pluggers shoot my prized shafts into rocks from mere meters away in their pursuit of a fish and I’ll be honest, sometimes it's my fault. I don’t explain the situation well enough. You ideally want to NEVER shoot your shaft into a rock and especially not into (dare I say it) someone else. Shooting rocks is a very common mistake for Noobs because they often try to shoot fish from top down, often near the surface in shallow water. The pointy end will end up looking like this though. ALSO beware of what's behind what you are shooting at in dirty water. The last thing you want to do is shoot someone. To avoid this mistake, try getting down onto the bottom and shooting fish on the same level as you. The fish will come in closer if you can get to the bottom as they think you are less of a threat!
2. Not paying attention to the shooting line path.
All spearguns have slightly different shooting line paths. You also have open muzzles, closed muzzles and even roller muzzles which need to be understood. My recommendation is to unload and reload your speargun (without loading the band/s) several times on dry land to properly understand how to load your gun without getting tangled, frustrated or improperly rigging your speargun whilst in the water. It’s far easier to learn the shooting line path on dry land than it is in the water!
3. Not treating the loaded speargun like a loaded speargun.
Your finger should NEVER be inside the trigger guard unless you are ready to shoot. Likewise your loaded speargun should NEVER be pointed at anyone or anything that could be damaged should the speargun accidentally discharge (it happens). The SAFETY is not SAFE. Let me repeat that. The SAFETY on your speargun is worthless, never trust it, never rely on it. A safe speargun is an unloaded speargun.
4. Not checking and maintaining the speargun.
Shooting line regularly gets rubbed up on the reef and rocks, it regularly needs inspecting and changing. In order to check your shooting line, pull the shaft out, run your eyes over it as well as your fingers from the rear of the shaft all the way to where it ties onto the bottom of your speargun. Changing it out is simple. Check out this video guide. https://youtu.be/RPybDu3YFA0
5. Relying on others to load the gun.
Loading a speargun is hard when you are starting out. It’s particularly hard if you have a smaller frame. Having said that, no one likes loading spearguns for others and you need to take responsibility for it. Loading your own speargun will teach you to take your time on shots, get closer to fish and loading gets easier over time with more practice. Try this technique from Eckart https://youtu.be/_EH5fWCQo1Q
Everyone struggles with loading a speargun. If you REALLY struggle, take advantage of loading tabs, load assists and a two stage loading process. Loading pads are your friend!
6. Not tuning the Flopper.
This is the greatest cause for losing fish shot with a speargun. You breathe up, glide to the bottom, hunt gradually up the reef, approach a curious fish, line the shot up, squeeze the trigger, see the shaft enter the fish right in the centre of it AND….the shaft pulls straight back through. This is a classic S#!T moment. The reason is pure and simple though. Your flopper was not tuned. Check out Daniel Mann’s Guide to tuning your flopper to avoid this one! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7dyIQ6wIgDE
7. Going too complicated, too fast.
It’s tempting to grab a speargun with all the bells and whistles. You want every advantage you can get right? I get it but you have to respect the learning curve. In the water spearfishing, you have to relax, hunt, watch your buddy, look out for boats, keep your mask and snorkel clear, fin and move, and eventually dive. You don’t need to worry about reloading a complex roller speargun OR have to deal with a spool of spider web spectra from a reel. Use a basic railgun. Sure, get a two banded speargun but Keep It Simple (KIS) for the win. Until you have a really good handle on your spearfishing gear, techniques, conditions and team - you don't need any extra hassles!
I hope some of these tips will help you on your spearfishing journey! You're not alone as all of us deal with these mistakes and learn the same lessons. I did and I still make mistakes!
To learn more and share in lessons learned, tune into the Noob Spearo Podcast. Available on every good podcast app here!