Master the Art of Spearfishing

By Mark Edwards
March/April 2014

As you sit comfortably in the sunshine and wait for your next catch, you’re missing out on all the real action. Fly fishing is out and spearfishing is in. This extreme sport gets you right up in the face of your prey and dangerously close to your limits.

There’s no sitting down, hanging about or relaxing involved. When you spear fish, you hunt the deep and dark depths. Its only you down there – you, your gun and your determination.

The experience will have you gasping for air but warm with satisfaction. No breathing equipment is used; hunters rely only on their strength and willpower to hold their breath and stay deep long enough to close the deal.

So, how do you master the art of this exhilarating sport?

Get Your Equipment

You’ll need to kit yourself out with a mask, fins, a snorkel, a wetsuit and a weight belt. Purchase only from established brands and ensure your equipment is comfortable and well fitting.

Very importantly, you’ll also need a spear gun. Spear guns work either with compressed air or rubber slings and are available in different sizes for various levels. As a beginner, choose a gun with a long range.

You can purchase spear fishing and free diving equipment online from:

Get Trained Up

Spearfishing demands a high level of fitness and willpower. At times, you could be in the water for many hours and you might be subjected to harsh currents and rough waves. You’ll need to adapt to your snorkelling equipment, get up to speed with breathing techniques and get all-round fighting fit.

You’ll also need to learn how to swim and dive quietly in the water. Fish are easily frightened off so training yourself to control your movements is key.

You won’t be ready to spear fish overnight and you might want to join a club or get some professional advice to help you on your way.

Go Hunting

When you’re all trained up and kitted out, you’ll be itching to get in the water. Choose your location and ensure that the law allows you to spear fish in that area.

There are various techniques for spearfishing and every hunter finds a way that works best for them. Follow these 3 steps to begin with:

1.       Find Your Target

First things first, you need to find a fish to catch. One way of doing this is to swim quietly across the surface of the water and look down. Another, usually more effective way is to dive under and wait on the seabed for a while to discover a good catch. Whichever method you choose, always remember to control your movements in a slow and quiet manner.

Different fish prefer different habitats but the largest volumes of fish are likely to be found in areas of cover, such as rocks, wrecks, reefs or amongst sea foliage.

If you frighten a fish and it swims away, forget it and focus on a new target.

2.       Take Your Shot

When you’re set on a fish, get your spear gun at the ready. Even the most advanced spear guns have a limited range so get as close as possible to your fish before firing.

Hold the gun in one hand and look across the line of the barrel to take your aim.

Try to hit the fish on its flank for the best chance of a holding shot.

3.       Catch Your Fish

When your fish is securely speared, use the line from the spear-gun to move it safely out of the way of any foliage or rocks that might cause an obstruction. It can be difficult to grip a slippery fish in the hand so the best way to get it above surface is to tow it gently as you swim upwards.

Before you remove the spear, slip a fish keep through the gills and out of the mouth to secure your catch. Then, if the fish isn’t already dead, use the fish keep or a spear-fishing knife to kill the fish as quickly and as humanely as possible.

Spear fishing is a potentially dangerous sport that takes a real gritting of the teeth to master. But is there anything quite like choosing your own catch, hitting your target first time and bringing that fish home for dinner?


About the Author

  • Mark_Edwards's picture

    Mark is an expert in spearfishing and has been training people in the sport for more than five years. He has travelled all around the world to hunt in both freshwater and wide ocean spaces. His favourite locations include the Bahamas and Papua New Guinea where he finds a particular enjoyment in the clarity and colors of the deep. You can find out more about spear fishing, free diving, and snorkeling at

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