For millennia humans have gone after marine life with all manners of fishing techniques. The thing about fish is they’re slippery. Try to catch one with your bare hands and it wiggles its way back into the water never to be seen again. Then one of our ancestors decided to use a pole spear.
To say that the pole spear was a game-changer is an understatement. From slowing down and minimizing your movement to scouting dives and planning your approach, pole spearing is a fun, highly skilled, and complex sport, all rolled in one. It’s all about the grip, your posture underwater, and your proximity to the target that ensure your high success rate.
As you can imagine, it’s not as easy as it looks. There are too many moving parts to take pole spearing for granted. This guide will walk you through the needed steps to take your game to the next level and ensure you go home with a full bag of fish.
How Does a Pole Spear Work?
Before we talk about how the pole spear works, we need to explain what a pole spear is. On a good day, your pole spear has a pole, a spear tip, and a rubber loop. The idea behind the pole spear is simple: you stick the fish with the pointy end.
The pole is the part that you have control over. It’s made of wood, fiberglass, aluminum, graphite, or carbon fiber. You hold the spear and aim it when you get close enough to the target fish. The spear tip does the trick. It also comes in various shapes. From the pivoting barb of the Tahitian shaft to the three-pronged pole known as the Paralyzer, you have many options.
Then you have the rubber loop. It’s an important part of the pole spear that you use to launch the spear at the fish. We’ll talk more about how to use it in the next section. But for now, you need to know that your grip over the spear is just as important as your approach and how close you get to the fish. The pole spear becomes a part of your body and when you launch it at the target, it flies flawlessly and hits the mark.
How to Actually Use A Pole Spear
So how would you go about using the pole spear, hand spear, or gidgee or whatever you want to call it? As with every sport that requires precision and skill, pole spearing takes time and practice to master. From the moment you get into the water until you resurface with a slithering fish shimmering at the tip of your spear. It’s all about getting it down to an art.
So how do you go about using the pole spear to capture that fish? You start by sliding yourself into the water as noiselessly as you can. You’re trying to get close to the fish without spooking them. Once you’ve picked your target and go near to them it’s showtime.
Grab the rubber loop with the nook of your thumb and pull it along the pole spear. Keep your hands steady as the tension in the rubber loop increases. If the spear bends you might have to twist the rubber around it to keep it straight. With your eyes on the target at all times, you release the hand pulling the rubber and the other hand holding the spear. You still need to use your hand to guide the spear toward the target.
What Size Pole Spear Should I Get?
Pole spears come in various shapes and sizes. It’s not just the material the pole is made of nor the type of the spear tip that makes a difference. The length of the pole and its girth also impact your performance underwater. A thin or flimsy pole will bend when you cock the rubber loop which wreaks havoc with your aiming and success rate.
In general, the pole is between 4 and 10 feet. Each length has its advantages and disadvantages. A long pole spear allows you to aim and shoot from distance and has a higher penetrating range than a short pole spear. At the same time, a long pole is unwieldy and requires more physical strength to launch it underwater.
The shorter the pole the better aim you get. You can easily wrap your hand around it and guide it toward the target even after you’ve released the rubber. Other conditions to take into consideration include the temperature of the water, the current, the visibility levels, and the piercing angle. So you might need to experiment with different pole lengths until you’ve found the one that gives you better satisfaction and comfort. Just keep in mind that both your height and the length of your arm play a major role in your hitting the target.
When a Pole Spear Comes in Handy
When you decide to pick the fish that are of interest to you and leave the others at peace, that’s when pole spearing comes in handy. It’s a selective sport that only targets the right type of fish you want to capture. From an environmental point of view, pole spearing is a recommended way of going fishing since it preserves the fish wealth in the oceans.
Another advantage to pole spearing is it teaches you the necessary skills of moving stealthily in the water and getting within close proximity to the fish. As we have already explained, getting close to the fish not only gives you a better aim but also improves your penetration range. If you shoot your spear from a distance, you might hit the fist, but the spear tip will not penetrate the body and ensnare the fish.
Speaking of penetration, you need to choose the spear angle in relation to the target carefully. As much as possible try to come at the fish from a 60 degrees to 120 degrees angle. This improves your penetration range. Hitting a target at either too wide or too narrow an angle means the spear will scratch the skin or slide off the scales allowing the fish to escape.
What Kind of Fish Fit for Pole Spear?
Not all fish are suitable targets for your spear. As an experienced spearo you’ll learn which fish to go after and which species to leave alone. Some fish are easy to sneak upon while others won’t give you a chance. Here are some of the best fish to target:
- Groupers: These water giants are fast swimmers. They’ll watch you from a safe distance, but if you try to get within 10 feet they’ll turn and hightail it out of there. Try not to face them as you get closer. Rather, swim around them and look for their blindspot.
- Hogfish: Rather than rely on its speed, which it doesn’t have, the hogfish is adept at camouflage. It changes color and blends in the background seamlessly. All you need to do is spot it and then get close enough to capture it with your spear.
- Cobia: One of the easiest fish species to spear. They are curious by nature and the sight of a spearo is too intriguing for them to resist coming nearer for a closer look. Beginner spearos prefer the cobia since it practically ambles over to where they are.
- Amberjack: Just like the cobia, the amberjack is easy to capture since it doesn’t try to run away or hide from humans. It doesn’t perceive a spearo as an enemy and it lets its guard down long enough for you to load, aim, and fire.
- Snapper: A famously fast fish with superior swimming qualities. Only experts go after snappers because the window you have between spotting the snapper and shooting your pole spear is rather small.
Pool Spears Advantage In Different Environment
There’s no denying that with a pool spear in your hand, you’re practically at the top of the food chain as far as fish of moderate size are concerned. You can give chase to any fish that takes your fancy. Not just those swimming around you, but also those hiding in caves and holes.
You can use your pole spear to poke around and force a hiding fish out into the open. Of course, this requires good reflexes on your part. A scared fish will dart out of the hole or shipwreck and you need to be ready to snag it before it runs away.
This is another situation where the length of your pole makes a difference. If you’re near a shipwreck or lurking around a reef, a short pole spear allows you plenty of room to maneuver, poke around, and aim your weapon. This is especially true in tight places where you need to be agile and ready to change direction at the drop of a hat.
Pole Spear Maintenance
Your pole spear needs to be in top shape for you to achieve a high success rate with just about any type of fish you go after. Every part of the pole spear needs to be maintained and check for cracks or flaws before you get into the water.
Wood poles, for example, are prone to chipping and cracks. The pole can even break when you load it if it’s flimsy or thin. The same applies to the rubber loop. Saltwater has a degrading impact on the rubber and the loop might snap after repeated usage. Make sure to have a replacement when you go fishing.
Can You Use A Pole Spear In The Bahamas?
The Bahamas have their own rules when it comes to spearfishing. You’re allowed to use a pole spear or a Hawaiian sling but it’s against the law to use a speargun. But that’s not the only rule you need to comply with.
Spearfishing is only allowed in certain areas. The New Providence Island lets you go spearfishing at least a mile off its coast. The Grand Bahama enforces the same distance while the Family Islands is more permissive and will let you spearfish within 200 yards of the coast.