Shooting Line:

Shooting line is the line that attaches your spear shaft to your gun, float line or reel (depending on your setup). The ideal shooting line is very light (to reduce the drag on the spear while it is in-flight) and fairly stiff (to avoid tangles and knotting). There are two popular choices for shooting line: big-game monofilament fishing line and 49 strand stainless steel cable. The cable may be coated with a thin layer of vinyl to make it easier to handle. Uncoated cable has a little less drag than coated cable but the plastic coating tends to protect the strands from breaking for longer.

The stainless cable is the strongest system for attachment, but has it’s own list of drawbacks. Because the cable is heavier it has increased drag on the shaft which can limit the flight of the shaft on long shots. Also, when the cable strands start breaking they make it impossible to slide the cable through your hand without tearing gloves and skin. Another important consideration with cable is a weaklink or clip in-line, to allow the hunter to release a poorly shot, large fish without losing the entire gun. I won’t rig any diver’s gun with stainless cable without putting a small brass clip at the muzzle attachment point. I may never be able to figure out how my wife’s mind works, but I do understand how a spearo thinks…he may hold on to that gun a little too long, and risk getting hurt, with a $600 speargun on the line. But be more likely to release that monster fish sooner, if only losing a shaft and tip.

I rigged all my guns with stainless cable for 15 years, until I discovered 450lb. monofilament. I prefer the lightness of mono, plus it is very resistant to tangles. Heavy monofilament wants to be straight, so springs off the guns line drop quickly and doesn’t kink as deeply as cable. The added bonus is I don’t have to rig a clip in-line because I can cut the shaft free at any point in the shooting line. Mono isn’t as durable as cable so it needs to be inspected often for nicks. I keep several measured and pre-crimped lines in my save-a-dive kit to quickly change out a frayed line.

Mono is durable and will last for many spearfishing trips, even shooting around barnacle encrusted oil/ gas rigs on the gulf coast. I feel my guns shoot more accurately with the lighter mono and there is no question it is safer than cable.

Another economical option is a pre-rigged shooting line with built in shock cord. There are many good options available from nylon, tuna cord, kevlar or spectra. I carry a pre-rigged spectra shooting line for a quick fix on the boat. They are economical and are cut to length to fit any gun. While this all sounds great, the major drawback to them for permanent rigging is that they tangle bad. You don’t want to be staring at a 30lb. red snapper at 5′ away while sorting through a hopelessly tangled rig. 

Shock Cord:

Shock absorbers are usually located on the muzzle end of the shooting line when attached to the gun. This piece of thick rubber absorbs the energy from the shaft when it reaches the full extent of it’s length. This keeps the shaft from jerking violently on the muzzle when you miss a fish. When properly rigged, the stretch of the shock cord will also, keep the shooting line snugged on the gun’s line drop.  Only invest in a top quality shock cord with line running thru the rubber absorber.  The “el cheapo” shock cords are just tubing with a loop of string in each end that just ties on.  As soon as the rubber dry rots or breaks you say goodbye to shooting line, shaft and tip.  How bad would it feel to think your $8.00 savings just cost you $90.00!

I use a heavy duty shock cord with stainless snap swivel that allows me to release and reattach the shooting line with a quick snap.  This is a much quicker way to get the fish off the shaft than closing the tip barbs and pulling it back thru the fish. The swivel on the shock cord will keep your shooting line from getting twisted when that amberjack starts his powerful, twisting fight.

For more information on spearfishing call Gulf Coast Divers @ (251) 342-2970 and make sure and read our monthly spearfishing articles in mobile’s Coastal Angler magazine.



Spear Tips

There are two types of shafts in common use today.  The first is a “flopper” shaft.  These shafts are a shaft- tip combo with a rock-point end and floppers, or wings riveted on the shaft.  These flopper shafts come in two styles, Hawaiian or Tahitian.  If the wing lays down on top of the shaft when it is loaded in the gun it is a tahitian.  This style is considered the most streamlined, but if the wing gets bent or stuck, it can obstruct the hunter’s view.  If the wing hangs down when loaded in the gun, it is called a ‘Hawaiian flopper”.  The flopper is pushed up against the shaft with the forward motion thru the water.  The simplicity of this system makes it popular with some hunters, especially free shafters and is more economical up front.  However a bent shaft or tip requires replacment of the entire shaft.  Also, the tear-out rate is higher with some big fish because you are relying on one wing to hold the fish.  Shot placement is more critical with this type system.

Threaded shafts are far more common on the gulf coast, because they allow the hunter to choose the appropriate shaft size and tip for the targeted species.  It is easier to change tips as they get dulled or change the style for the targeted species.  The 3 common tips are fixed, break-away and slip-tips.  Fixed tips can be solid or spinners.  The solid spearpoints are more economical but can be spun off by a fighting fish.  The rotating design allows for 360 degree spin, providing greater holding power and minimizing the chance of your tip unthreading from the shaft as a result of a fish “rolling” in battle.  The 3 common type of fixed tips are rock point, arrowhead and tri-cut.  Rock points are designed to perform even after impact on rocks and reefs and are the most common tip for free-shafters.  They are more foregiving after rock impacts but don’t penetrate as well as the sharpened points, having to “punch” their way into the flesh.  The arrowhead has a broadhead design expanding the cutting surface and actually cutting it’s way into the flesh resulting in better penetration than rock points.  The  rotating tri-cut boasts 3 cutting edges combined with a precision point. 

All three styles (rock, arrowhead and tri-cut) are also, available in breakaway styles.  The breakaway design allows the tip to release from the shaft but stay connected with a multi-braid stainless cable.  These tips hang on no matter how hard the fight while minimizing damage to your spearshaft.  The connecting cable will allow you to grab the shaft but the fish can still twist and turn without having a firm purchase to pull against.  The result is fewer tear-outs and bent shafts. 

The slip tip is the ultimate in breakaway designs. Also called a tournament tip,  this design penetrates the fish and  turns sideways for maximum holding power.  Although the best in holding power, the drawback to a slip tip, is it can be difficult to remove the fish while underwater.  If the tip penetrates fully, you can feed it back through the wound channel.  If the tip turns inside the fish, however, it requires alot of cutting to reseat and push through or remove.  The slip tip isn’t the best choice for shooting multiple fish on a dive.

For advice on tip selection bring your speargun by the store and talk to Lawren or Todd about your target species and diving style.  Happy Hunting.