Guide to Freedive Spearfishing Gear
some helpful information about freedive spearfishing gear
Getting Started Guide to Freedive Spearfishing Gear - below is a basic list of freedive spearfishing gear describing what it is and how it used.
Freediving Mask - the most important feature of a dive mask for freediving should be is to select one with a low internal volume. The low internal volume is going to serve two purposes, the first being to limit the amount of space inside the mask that has to be equalized upon descent. As a diver descends the increasing water pressure inside the mask can create an uncomfortable squeeze that can be relieved by exhaling a small amount of air through the nose. Sometimes this has to be performed multiple times on decent to deeper depths. Obviously the lower the internal volume in the mask the easier the equalization process will be. The typical SCUBA diving masks are not designed with a low internal volume and are not recommended for freediving, although a low volume freediving mask can be used for SCUBA. The second advantage of spearfishing with a low volume diving mask is the increased visual capabilities. Low volume mask design brings the mask lenses close to the eyes which increases your peripheral vision as well the ability to judge distance. The increased side to side vision is important in under water hunting as sometimes quick movements such as a head turn and look at a fish can sometimes cause it to spook. Mask Skirt Material - another key feature to consider when selecting a mask for spearfishing is the skirt material. Black or darker color (green, brown) silicone skirt material will eliminate sunlight penetrating through the sides or top (above lens) of the mask affecting vision and creating glare inside the mask lens. A mask with a clear skirt is not recommended for this reason. Mask Fit – the right mask to use is the one that fits your face the best. A common method out of the water to see if a mask will seal properly to your face is to hold the mask to your face without using the head strap to hold it place, slowly inhale the air from inside the mask through your nose until it seals and then remove your hands. See if you can hold that breath for a few seconds and make sure you have a proper seal of the skirt to your face. If there is any issue with the mask sealing to your face, the seal should begin to release air somewhere and the suction will break and the mask fall away from your face. Try this numerous times. While most masks are designed to “generally” fit everyone, we often see how some mask designs seem to fit a particular face shape or profile better than others.
Snorkel - in most spear fisherman’s opinion, the simplest and most reliable tool is often the best choice . You need a snorkel for one purpose, to breathe. An air tube that extends from the mouth above the waterline with little to no restrictions of air flow. Snorkels are designed with both a stiff or flexible tube materials. The advantage of a flexible tube snorkel is supposed to bend if it comes in contact with anything and hopefully eliminate the possibility of it becoming hung up. Anything inside or added to the air tube can restrict airflow. For most spear fisherman a simple snorkel with no splash guard on the top and no purge valve at the mouth piece is the best choice.
Weight Belt - the better freediving weight belts are made from durable elastic rubber that contracts and expands as the diver descends and then surfaces. This is important to keep the belt from sliding out of place as the body contracts under pressure during the dive. While a nylon weight belt may offer an affordable choice for the beginner spear fisherman diving shallow depths, a durable rubber freediving weight belt with a quick release buckle is an essential tool for freedivers. The quick release buckle allows the diver to instantly remove and drop the weight belt in the case of any emergency.
Spearfishing Wetsuit - today’s freediving wetsuits are available in so many options that it is easily the most specialized piece of spearfishing gear other than the speargun. Selecting a wetsuit of the proper thickness to provide sufficient warmth for the conditions you will be diving in is the first factor. Wetsuits are available in variable thicknesses varying from thin lycra rash guards offering no thermal insulating properties, a 3 mm or 5 mm which is popular for most diving conditions, to a much heavier 7 mm or even 9 mm thicknesses for colder conditions. Along with picking the right thickness to provide sufficient warmth for your diving location, you next decision is going to be on the type of wetsuit construction, either open cell or closed cell. Most spear fisherman would recommend an open cell wetsuit for freediving. The neoprene used in this type of wetsuit construction does not have any layer of fabric lining on the inside, like with a closed cell neoprene wetsuit. The elimination of this inside layer allows the neoprene to fit more tightly to the body. When fitted properly, this helps eliminate water transfer between the wetsuit and the body. The result is the retention of body heat. Because a closed cell wetsuit will not fit as tightly to the body due to the inside layer, there will usually be more water transfer in a closed cell than an open cell. Due to technical advancements in closed cell wetsuit design and construction, the line between these two types of wetsuits is slowly getting blurred.
Spearfishing Gloves - protecting your hands during spearfishing is essential. Along with keeping your hands warm, the use of diving gloves helps protect your hands from hazards such as rocks, barnacles, fish spines, fins and shells. A hand injury while in the water could prevent you from being able to grab onto a rock or boat to exit the water or climb back onto a kayak. In warm climates or summer months here in the New England we even utilize cheaper garden type gloves with a rubberized grip on the palm and fingers. In colder water temps some type of neoprene diving glove is better suited for the job.
Freedive Socks - neoprene dive socks serve two purposes. The first being that the sock helps to retain body heat and keep the foot warm, the second being they provide a comfortable barrier between the foot and the foot pockets on fins. Selecting a sock thickness can affect the fit of fins, so most divers try to find a sock and fin fit pairing that can be utilized for most If not all of the dive season. Some 3 – 5mm socks can use up a full foot size, requiring a foot pocket one size larger than the regular foot size.
Freediving Fins - the specialized design of freediving fins are engineered to maximize the distance a diver can cover while minimizing the energy it takes to do so. These fins are longer than a typical scuba or snorkeling fin and are made from various materials. Plastic freediving fins will withstand more abuse then other fin materials and are the most affordable level of fin blades. rice range and durability make them a great choice for beginners and shore diving. When a diver reaches a skill level where he is looking for a higher level in performance one should consider fin blades made from composite materials such as fiberglass freediving fins or carbon fiber. Carbon freediving fins offer a lighter weight and additional reflex in blade action to help a freediver match his improved skill set with the appropriate gear.
Spearfishing Dive Knife - one of the most important pieces of equipment every diver should have is a good knife. Lost fishing gear, old nets and abandoned lobster pot lines are just a few of the dangers that we can run into beneath the surface. Entanglements while breath-hold diving are often times fatal and a sharp knife can be a lifesaver! The second purpose of a knife for spearfisherman is for dispatching large fish. Once a larger size fish has been speared and the diver is trying to get it under control in the water the safest way is to pith the fish and end the struggle. Diving knives designed for spearfishing incorporate features such as smooth and serrated edges to accommodate both of these purposes. Some important thought should be given to knife access when setting up your gear. The knife should be placed on your body in a location that is easy to access in a emergency. some spear fisherman like to position the knife on their lower leg while others prefer to place in on the dive belt or on the arm to make it more easily accessible.
Dive Flag - a dive flag is required by law for diving almost everywhere. The dive flag lets boats and watercraft know that there is a diver in the immediate area and they have to stay out of the area. A diver must also stay within a certain distance of the flag while in the water. This flag is often your only defense against boaters and also signals other divers to your location. Example – Rhode Island law states a diver must stay within 50 yards of a legal size (12” x 12”) dive flag while in the water. Failure to do so could result in fines and confiscated gear.
Spearfishing Dive Float - your dive float flies your dive flag above you and is attached to your speargun using a float line. Dive floats come in many designs from a simple foam float with flag to inflatable models that you can attach your fish stringer and even spare spearguns.
Float Line - float lines can serve two purposes. The most common is to be the link between your speargun and dive float. By clipping the float line to your speargun the dive float will trail above you as you dive and hunt for fish. In the case that you have to let go of your speargun, it can easily be retrieved by pulling up your float line. The second is to become a tool for landing larger fish. By rigging your speargun with a break away setup the float line can be a direct link between your dive float and the fish. After shooting a large fish the float line releases from the speargun and the fish is now trailing a dive float preventing it from diving deeper.