A hand spear, sometimes known as a Hawaiian sling or a pole spear, is a long pole with a single or multi point tip at the end. They are a great choice for beginners, offering an easy way to get started with spearfishing. Not only are they cost-effective, but also compact and lightweight. Just aim well, and you can catch dinner.
Experienced spearos can also benefit from going back to basics. In some areas, hand spears aren’t just an option; they are often the only allowed tool for spearfishing. It provides a rewarding experience and teaches discipline and patience.
If you want to get your underwater hunting technique honed there is no better challenge.
When should you opt for a pole spear?
Pole spears are great for agility and flexibility, making your underwater hunts exciting.
They are perfect for when you’re skimming through shallow waters or if you require a rapid reload for your next shot. Handspears are also a great backup plan. In the unfortunate event of your speargun malfunctioning, a lightweight pole spear can be your lifesaver.
The core components of a pole spear:
- Elastic Band – The source of power for your pole spear, the rubber band, stretched and primed, is the force that propels your weapon.
- The Spear Tip – Situated at the very end of the pole spear.
- The Shaft – The body of your spear, the shaft typically measures between 4 to 10 feet in length. It can be crafted from materials like fiberglass, carbon fibre, aluminium, graphite, or wood.
Does the length of my pole spear matter?
Pole spears are available in 1.5m, 1.6m , 1.95m and 2m options. Longer pole spears are less easy to move underwater but can shoot a bit farther. If you’re aiming for smaller fish near rocks and caves, go for a shorter pole spear. If you’re heading to open water and want more range, choose a longer one.
For those new to polespearing a 1.5m pole is ideal in Australian waters.
What’s the best material for a pole spear: Aluminium vs. Fiberglass.
Like everything there are strengths and weaknesses in pole spear materials
- Carbon fiber: extremely fast and accurate. Carbon fiber is a fantastic choice for very advanced divers but it does come at a significant price
- Heavy Duty Alloy Salvimar 18mm Polespear – An extremely durable, hard hitting pole spear. Excellent for shooting heavy fish and game fish. Offers improved penetration. Moderate price point but an excellent option if you want your polespear to be used regularly. The Salvimar Pole 18mm polespear pictured below, includes a traditional straight shaft with barb setup which has excellent holding power and penetration. Ideal for species like: kingfish, trevally, cod, coral trout, emperor, snapper etc.
- Tube Alloy: Ocean Hunter Alloy Handspears
Extremely lightweight, fast and cost effective. This is generally where people start. The tube has a thin wall and as a result has minimal mass making it fast. Ideal for smaller flightier fish. The limitation is they are not particularly durable and will bend on larger fish. Ocean Hunter Alloy Handspears pictured below, include a stainless steel cluster head Ideal for sweep, luderick, small trevally, whiting, flathead etc.
Many beginners prefer fiberglass pole spears because they’re sturdy and work well for spearfishing. They can handle a lot of use and you can catch plenty of fish with them. Ocean Hunter’s Fibreglass Hand Spears pictured below, are made of fiberglass and equipped with a replaceable 5-barb cluster head. It’s a solid pick for beginners in spearfishing, though it comes at a slightly higher cost than the previous option. It is available in both 2000mm and 1500mm versions, featuring stainless steel joining points and you can choose between either a red or yellow colour. This hand spear benefits from a durable and lightweight two-piece construction.
For more advanced pole spear diver’s, Salvimars 14mm pole spear pictured below is designed for fast-moving and flighty species where speed is more important than hitting power. The pole is built around a two-piece 14mm diameter custom made alloy spear. It is light, rigid and very fast. Perfect on Snapper, Bream, Tailor, Trevally and Coral Trout etc.
This hand spear features a well finished end cap for the band placement ensuring the band is protected and in line with the spear when loaded. The three-prong paralyser tip has excellent holding power compared with other pole spear style heads but remains fast due to its streamlined profile. As it hits the target the prongs splay outwards holding the fish. It’s an excellent system and once you try it you probably won’t go back to anything else.
What are the choices for pole spear tip?
There are several options available for pole spear tips.
- Cluster head – the most common type found in Australia consisting of around 5 6” tines with barbs on the end. This type of head is very versatile and is excelllent on slower mowing species such as flathead, flounder as well as Crayfish (where fishing rules allow it). More fish have been taken in Australia with this type of head than all others combined.
- Paralyzer – featuring 3 long Tines/barbs bundled together. On impact these tines expand outwords through the fish creating a huge force and gribbing the fish securely. A personal favorite for pan size fish like bream, luderick and moses perch. Salvimar’s polespear paralizer featured below is a stainless steel paralyzer tip with a 14mm M6 thread for use with 14mm Salvimar pole spears. It is also compatible with other M6 threaded shafts and is designed for optimal penetration and robustness, with a specially constructed stainless steel point that offers superior piercing capabilities.
- Straight shaft/flopper: this tip design uses the same tip style as your speargun with a sharp tip on the speaer end with a flopper to secure your target. This design helps penetrate better than a pronged tip and you can target larger fish that might escape from a pronged spear, even with a perfect shot. Also, if you accidentally hit a rock, the spearhead is more durable and won’t get as damaged.
The Salvimar Pole Spear Harpoon Tip is a serious accessory choice for dedicated hand spear divers. Its Tahitian style shaft is equipped with a barb, ensuring it remains secure even with large catches. You can easily switch it out with a 14mm pole spear standard cluster head, thanks to the M6 female thread. Constructed from corrosion-resistant 17-4 PH Stainless Steel, it offers consistent performance on every dive. With an integrated flopper for secure fish holding, this 35 cm pole spear is built to last.
- Slip tip: a design where the tip of the spear seperates after impact and secures the fish on a length of cable. An extremely secure system where the chances of losing your fish are minimal. The slip tip is an excellent solution when targeting prize game fish such as Kingfish, snapper, large emperor, Mullaway, cobia and cod species. This is the only real option should you choose to hunt Tuna, billfish or wahoo.
Salvimar’s new Pole Spear Slip Tip is the perfect accessory choice for the advanced pole spear diver, looking for a reliable and accurate way to land more challenging species. Specifically build to convert the Salvimar Heavy duty 18mm pole spear from a straight shaft to a slip-tip, the slip-tip M7 with its superior quality design and build quality, will have you landing the fish of a lifetime.
Mastering the art of the pole spear
Using a pole spear is like making a slingshot with the spear in your hand. When you let go, the spear shoots in the direction you’re aiming. To use it, put your thumb in the rubber band loop and grip the spear with your fingers. Then slide your hand toward the middle to stretch the band, creating tension. The more you stretch, the stronger the shot, so hold the spear firmly.
Next, extend your arm and aim the spear at your target. The goal is to “stone” the fish, like knocking it out. The best spot is right behind the gills, on the spine. If you hit it right, the fish is stunned briefly, making it easier to catch. This is also a humane way to spearfish, reducing the chance of injuring the fish and letting it suffer.
Once you’re sure of your aim, get as close to the fish as you can and then let go. More tension means stronger shots. But don’t swim around with the spear ready all the time. Holding it like that will tire your hand, drain your energy, and reduce how long you can stay underwater. Just keep it loosely loaded and stretch it tight when you are ready to shoot a fish.
Smooth movements in the water are also less likely to scare away big fish. After a good shot, you need to act quickly to keep your catch. First, make sure the fish is secure on the spear by pushing the spear forward, so the prongs go in deep, or the flopper goes all the way through. Then, slowly lift the spear to the surface and use your other hand to grab the fish and put it on your stringer.
Location is also key in successful hand spearing endeavours. Caves and reefs are a good place for success, as fish often seek refuge in underwater nooks and crannies. When you spot a fish darting into a cave or behind a reef, seize the opportunity to set up an ambush. Occasionally, your patience will be rewarded with a successful strike. Sneaking up on fish in open water is tough.
Precision in aiming your pole spear is vital. Practice in a controlled environment, like a pool, using a neutrally buoyant target. This exercise will enhance your accuracy and effectiveness during actual hunts.
Safety always comes first.
While pole spears are relatively safe, they can turn hazardous if mishandled. Always exercise caution, especially since the spear’s tip is exceedingly sharp. Remember to cap the tip when the pole spear is not in use to prevent accidental injuries.
Find a stockist:
If you would like to purchase any of the products mentioned in this article or have any more questions about hand spearing and where to go, head into your nearest Spearfishing Australia Retail Store to ask the experts. To find your nearest store click on the following link: https://www.spearfishingaustralia.com/our-partners/