In this the 4th episode of “Spearfishing in Mallorca – What you need to know” series we are looking into the equipment aspects of spearfishing in our waters and get familiar with the most popular equipment set ups being used here.
This is a big topic, but I will try to keep it simple. The predominant speargun type here as in the Mediterranean in general is the Euro handle sling gun. Most common barrel material is aluminum, but carbon fiber and wood is being used as well. Rollerguns are gaining popularity but is still a nisch market.
Common barrel length for aspetto and aguetto hunting is 90 – 120cm with single or double slings and for hunting in caves and holes 55 – 90cm with a single sling. 90cm is a popular allrounder.
My main gun is a Mares Viper Pro 110 with a single sling. It’s got a very sturdy aluminum barrel. The length of the barrel and the 17,5mm rubber sling gives me plenty of range and power while still being easy to handle. If I want additional power at some point I can easily add another sling.
I also have the same gun with an easy to maneuver 75cm barrel for winter hunting between the rocks. Two 16mm slings and the 7mm shaft gives me a lot of punch when needed and the flexibility to load only one rubber if less power is preferred for a specific dive.
Reel, float line or none of the above?
Here in Mallorca it’s quite common to go without either float line or reel. Visibility is good and most of the fish we catch are quite small so it’s possible to get away with it. But I still wouldn’t recommend it. If you do end up shooting a big fish there is a high risk of the fish pulling the gun out of your hand or that you have to let go of it to get back to the surface, potentially losing your gun in the process. That has happened. In worst case you don’t let go and end up in serious trouble getting back to the surface. That has also happened.
So for safety reasons you are left with two good choices, reel or float line. And there are good arguments for both approaches. Here most spearfishermen seem to prefer reels. Reels allow you to surface after a catch with gun in hand, without having to fight the fish on your way up. Additionally there is no line to the surface to entangle in rocks and overhangs or for that sake spook the fish, fish is extremely easily spooked here. The disadvantage is that a big fish could potentially get you entangled in the reel line if it spools you and swims around your legs for example. The fact that you are disconnected from your buoy also requires more attention from your dive buddy and still leaves the risk of losing your gun if you have to let go for any reason.
Float lines in turn makes sure that your buoy is always nearby, while your buddy can easily tell where you are from the position of the buoy. In the most common set up, with the float line attached to the handle of your gun, your gun is still attached to the buoy in case you need to let go of it, minimizing the risk of a loss. The downside is that the float line can get entangled in yourself, in the rocks or in your buddy. A good quality float line and some experience in handling it greatly reduces this problem. But it may still spook the fish.
You may also choose to attach the float line to a quick release weight on your belt. In this case you have the flexibility to anchor your buoy to the bottom by detaching the quick release weight from your belt mid-dive. You may want to do this to reduce your ballast weight, mark the dive spot or to allow for entry under an over hang for example.
Both my guns are equipped with reels, but I also use them in combination with a simple float line attached to my gun or belt at times. What I use depends on the type of hunting I do and how I prefer to manage my buoy for the day.
Dive buoys are mandatory by law in Spain so bring it along no matter what. But apart from the law the most important case to make for using one is of course visibility. For your own safety it’s of the highest importance to make sure that you are visible to boats and other divers at all times. A dive flag on the buoy greatly improves your visibility, especially in choppy water.
If I don’t attach the buoy to my gun or belt I anchor it to the bottom at the dive spot with a small lead weight that I pull up and tow along as a I move between spots, making sure to always keep it close to me.
As most of the catches here are relatively small in size a pointy small knife is the most convenient tool to finish off the fish.
Personally I use two different knives. None of them are super good, but they are what I have. The little one, Omer Mini Laser would be great if it was in better shape. The big one, Technisub Diablo is just too big. But I’ve had it for almost two decades and it’s of fantastic quality so I keep it with me.
A torch comes in very handy for lightening up holes and under ledges. You need a torch that is small and light but still bright enough to light up those spaces.
I like simplicity. The torch I use is a gift from my dive buddy. It’s a SEAC R2 and I like it a lot for two reasons.
- Its simplicity. On and off with a single button, that’s it. No adjustable beam or anything like that to slow you down.
- It uses standard AAA batteries. A set of 3 batteries lasts for many good dive sessions and are easily replaced. No risk of forgetting to charge the torch.
Any fish keeper will do. I use a pretty standard one with monofilament line that I attach to my buoy. Many divers keep the fish on the belt. In the absence of sharks here that is a reasonable option as well if you so prefer.
In the 2nd episode I discussed the different wet suits that I use for the different seasons here. But there are a few more things worth mentioning about wetsuits.
Spearfishermen tend to spend longer time in the water than freedivers. I’m often out for 3-4 hours, sometimes longer, and for that reason you may want to go with a thicker suit than you otherwise would for a typical freediving session.
If you dive from a boat and change location a lot during your session, especially in the winter, you may want to consider a suit that has a quick drying lining or smooth skin to avoid the unpleasant wind chill effect that cools you down quickly out of the water. Smooth skin dries very fast but is not very durable. Some manufacturers, for example Eliossub, have developed alternative linings that are very quick drying that could be worth looking up for that purpose.
Camouflage or no camouflage? At the end of the day it’s a question of personal preference. Camouflage may make you blend in better with the environment but fish do not rely on their eyes alone to know that you are there. Some top spearfisherman dive in black, some in camouflage. The look of the suit may very well be the least important factor to consider when making your choice.
My 3 and 5mm suits are black while my 7mm is camouflage. I chose the camouflage not for the looks, but because the manufacturer use a stretchier Ultraspan material for their camouflage linings rather than the more common Lycra used for lining their black suits. And with 7mm neoprene you want all the flexibility you can get.
Long johns or high waist pants? Long johns are very more popular here for the extra warmth’s they provide, even though some people question if they actually are that much warmer. Personally I don’t like the idea of the extra neoprene of long johns and prefer high waist pants for the easier breathing and last but not least, the ease of urination that they provide, jacket up, pants down, ready to go. That matters to me.