There has to be an almost infinite number of activities that bring us closer to nature. Just think about rafting, kayaking, mountain climbing and the like. Two of these hobbies, however, also let us interact with animals the way our ancestors did: fishing and hunting.
Well now, what if I told you these two activities can be brought together for some extra enjoyment and adrenaline? Let me welcome you to spearfishing, where the awesome landscapes of scuba diving meet the rush and the pursuit of hunting!
You will find out everything there is to know about Hawaiian sling spearfishing and pole spearfishing, two techniques accessible to everyone, and far cheaper than using spearguns. Let’s dive right into it—literally!
What is Spearfishing?
First, let’s go over the very basics. Spearfishing is the art of pursuing fish to catch them using nothing but a spear. You will see, though, that the spears we will be talking about have undergone some minor technological upgrades.
This, mostly to provide a higher throwing strength and better aim capabilities.
Other than that, the technique has not changed much since our ancestors began spearfishing a couple of million years ago. Yes, that’s right: spearfishing has been going on since Paleolithic times! It was probably the first and easiest way humans could get their food out from the seas.
Although spearfishing may be a bit tricky at first, don’t let that get you down! Anyone can become a true spearo with some practice and help from the right people.
There are three types of spearfishing: shallow water, free dive, and scuba dive spearfishing.
Shallow water spearfishing is the simplest —and, we can’t help but state it, the most boring— a variety of spearfishing. You don’t even need to dive underwater. Like Tom Hanks in Cast Away, you can stay with the water at your knees or your waist and try to hit some fish.
Two problems come with it. First, the available fish will be small and all the same. Second, due to something called refraction (aka the deflection of light from water, where fish are, and air, where you are), it may take you a while to adjust your aim.
Free dive spearfishing, on the other hand, is seen as an extreme sport. It requires you to learn how to hold and regulate your breath underwater, as well as to learn how to use a Hawaiian sling or a pole spear —don’t worry, we will get to that in a minute!
Scuba dive spearfishing, in turn, allows the spearos to reach greater depths and, thus, a wider variety of fish. It certainly requires less training that free dive spearfishing, although some places —like Mexico, for example— don’t let you spearfish with tanks.
With spearfishing you have the advantage of avoiding by-catches, that is, fish you didn’t intend to catch but caught all the same. That’s what usually happens when you fish with a net or a rod.
The greatest advantage, though, is the rush of pursuit and hunting your food instead of just waiting for it to fall into your hands!
What Are a Hawaiian Sling and a Pole Spear?
A Hawaiian sling and a pole spear are very similar. They both consist of a 6-8 feet long pole with a sharp end with which to stab fish. So far, so good. What the difference, though?
When underwater, there no way you can operate a spear-like you would at ground level. Of course, waterworks as a much thicker barrier than air, so there’s no point trying to throw your spear at fish. It doesn’t matter how strong you are, water will slow down your arm to the point any efforts will be in vain. What you need is a more effective boost.
You could use a speargun to mechanically and instantly provide power to your shot. What’s the point, though? Weren’t you looking to put your skills to the test?
Spearguns are easier to use than Hawaiian slings and pole spears, sure, but they are also more expensive, more dangerous, and not as much fun and rewarding! An average speargun can cost you around 200 dollars, while a state-of-the-art Hawaiian sling won’t go beyond 50 bucks.
But let’s get back. The main and only difference between a Hawaiian sling and a pole spear is the means with which they are powered.
A pole spear uses an elastic band that you need to learn how to set. There are plenty of YouTube videos that can help you with that, and we will also go through it in a minute or so.
Hawaiian sling spearfishing is built around the same concept. The spear-ended pole is identical, what changes is the setting and releasing technique.
To that effect, Hawaiian slings have incorporated a hole on which the pole rests, along with a rubber tube for a better aim and an easier release. It works as a bow and arrow would above ground.
Let’s find out which one you like the better after our review!
5 Best Hawaiian Slings and Pole Spears for Spearfishing
You are still with us, which means you were serious about spearfishing! Good for you! There are still a few steps for you to consider before becoming a master. Check them out.
1. Scuba Choice 3.5-Feet Fiber Glass Pole Spear with Harpoon Tip
We don’t how much are you into Greek mythology, but… does Poseidon mean anything to you? Have you ever been to Piazza Navona, in Rome, Italy? When you look at this trident-shaped spear tip, you will know what I’m talking about!
Its design by Scuba Choice is one of the prettiest in the market, but it is very useful too. Its trident-shaped end, apart from looking badass, is planned to increase your chances of hitting a target. Besides, each tip has two spikes that mimic those of a harpoon. Once you catch a fish, it won’t be able to escape
This 3.5-feet fiberglass item works like a pole spear. Due to its diameter, though, you can also fit it in a Hawaiian sling —which you would have to buy separately.
It is a bit short compared to other spears, which means you will need to get a bit closer to fish. Nevertheless, because of that it won’t encounter as much resistance from water and will travel faster to its prey.
In sum, it will get the job done. You will feel like the God of the Sea!
- Works for both Hawaiian slings and pole spears
- Super cool trident shape
- Three harpoon-tip prongs make it impossible for fish to escape
- Shorter than most pole spears
Why Should You Buy This Product?
With this product, you can be sure that, once you catch the fish, it won’t run away.
2. Hammerhead Shaft for Hawaiian Sling Shooter
If you have already spearfished for a while and are trying to up your game by catching bigger fish, you should take a look at this beautiful shaft.
It features a 17-4 heat-treated stainless steel core, which is more commonly used in the petroleum, chemical and aeronautical industries. This stuff is what aircraft are made of! You can be sure it won’t break even after prolonged use.
Another important characteristic is its mini flopper, which locks fish in place after you strike them. While it takes them a bit of effort, bigger fish can break free from harpoon-tipped spears, especially when the prong is too short. However, it won’t happen with this Hammerhead shaft. Fish won’t be able to swim away from you.
Even though it is marketed as a shaft for Hawaiian sling shooters, due to its diameter and length it works just as easy as a pole spear. Nevertheless, you do need some kind of spearfishing sling. Think of it as an upgrade to the first weapon you bought when you started with the art of spearfishing.
- Goes a great length with its 6 feet
- High-quality stainless steel
- Its flopper works on small to medium fish
- It doesn’t work on its own; needs Hawaiian sling or pole spear
Why Should You Buy This Product?
If you are looking to up your game a bit by catching bigger fish, this item is perfect for you.
3. Evolve AfterShock Pole Spear with Impact Hammer System
Spoiler alert! As we will see in a minute or so, one of the main differences between a Hawaiian sling and a pole spear is that the former has a better range. That means, of course, that Hawaiian slings provide more power when shooting.
To account for that lack of power in their pole spears, Evolve has developed a mechanism that will certainly get the job done. We are talking about AfterShock.
How does it work? Within the tip of the spear, there is a hidden weight that, when the pole hits the prey, impacts on a spring. In turn, this spring causes the tip of the spear to penetrate further, if not completely pierce, the fish.
You won’t ever again leave your prey just slightly wounded; you will make sure you take that fish home.
Also, this pole allows for its tips to be replaced with prongs, barbs, floppers, slip tips, or whatever you need to catch a wider range of fish.
- Its AfterShock mechanism makes sure the impact is delivered
- High-quality materials: anodized aluminum and carbon steel
- Its tips can be replaced for whatever suits your needs
- Three prongs for an easy piercing of fish
- Substantially more expensive than the rest of spears
- It won’t work with a Hawaiian sling shooter
Why Should You Buy This Product?
If you have spearfished for a while now and love it, you may want to spend some extra bucks and enjoy this state-of-the-art item.
4. Scuba Choice 5’ One-Piece Pole Spear
When you are beginning to immerse yourself in the world of spearfishing, you have a lot of worries on your mind. Apart from the fishing itself, there is a lot of training to do regarding diving, holding your breath underwater, and the like. The least you want is a tricky, hard to use a spear.
Within its wide range of products, Scuba Choice has come up with a spear that is as simple as it gets and, more so, at an affordable price. Perfect if you have only recently begun enjoying the art of spearfishing on your own.
This item features a single rod made up of 5 feet of fiberglass, flexible enough to perform underwater and strong enough to hit your target.
Its tip is just as straightforward, consisting of a 12-inch long prong and a mini flopper to stab the fish and get a secure hold of it. If you are looking for something a little more complex, you can make additions to it. Just unscrew the tip and replace it with another with more barbs on it.
- It features a mini flopper to secure the catch
- As cheap as it gets
- Straightforward and easy to use
- It has one piece that makes it easier to handle
- It only features one prong
Why Should You Buy This Product?
If you are getting started with spearfishing and are looking for a cheap and easy to use item, this product is perfect for you.
5. Scuba Choice 5’ 2-Piece Fiber Glass Pole Spear
Most people don’t live by the coast. Even so, those who do don’t always have a place where they can enjoy spearfishing.
This is my way of pointing out the fact that a lot of spears need to travel —by car or even by plane—to that perfect spot where they can give free rein to their hobby.
That is why one of the main concerns of spearfishers is that their equipment can be easily stored and transported. No one wants to see their utensils picked apart at the airport and treated like they are dangerous weapons.
Scuba Choice’s two-piece pole spear is easy to disassemble and carry with you in its complementary bag. Each piece is made of 24 inches of fiberglass, which besides is super light. Combine that with the 12-inch tip to make a perfectly transportable package.
Speaking about the tip, it is built up for heavy use and to catch those big fish that could feed a whole family. It has got three prongs with paralyzer barbs to secure your meal.
- Paralyzer tip for extra security that fish won’t getaway
- Its two pieces make it easier to store and carry
- Very light to take it on your journeys
- It won’t work on a Hawaiian sling
Why Should You Buy This Product?
This item is perfect for you if you don’t live near a spearfishing spot and have to travel long distances with your equipment.
How to Use a Hawaiian Sling?
Before we get into the whole Hawaiian sling vs. pole spear debate, we should discuss them in-depth.
As the name implies, the Hawaiian sling is widely used in the American archipelago of Hawaii, though it is not the only place. The habit of using this device has spread worldwide, but the name has stuck.
One of the main issues with spearfishing is giving the spear enough strength to travel through water and hit its target. Because water is substantially denser than air, the sole strength of your arm just won’t do the trick.
It doesn’t matter how ripped you are, your movements dissipate underwater. What can you do, then, about propulsion? Here comes the Hawaiian sling!
Hawaiian slings consist of basically three parts, more often than not detachable from one another: the tip, the pole, and the sling.
As we saw with the first item we reviewed, Hawaiian sling tips are usually shaped like a trident. However, they can take any other sharp form, be it a prong, a barb, or something of the like. What’s important is that it helps the spear move swiftly through the water.
Next comes the pole: a 4-6 feet long and about 1 inch in diameter rod made out of fiberglass, metal, or any other strong material.
Some spearfishing artisans even build them out of wood. Carbon fiber, a material that combines lightness, flexibility, and strength, has also proven to be highly efficient.
And, finally the sling. This last part is where the magic resides. As we said, Hawaiian slings help you with propulsion underwater. A sling is any kind of elastic material, most commonly with a plastic tube on which you can rest the spear before releasing. That way, besides strength, you get extra accuracy and precision.
OK, how to use it, then? Once you screw whichever tip you like on one end of the pole, you have got yourself a Hawaiian sling spear. Insert its other end through the plastic tube, tighten the sling like you would tighten a bow, and shoot!
If your spear is short enough, you might be able to use the sling with your arms. If, on the other hand, the pole is too long, you may need to set the plastic tube between your legs, and then shoot.
How to Use a Pole Spear?
Now it is the turn of the pole spear. There are some minor differences concerning Hawaiian sling spearfishing, and mostly regarding the names of the parts rather than their function.
For example, the parts of the pole spears are called a tip, shaft, and band. As you can see, the tip is the only recurring part. But, is it?
What we call here a shaft works as the plastic tube would in the Hawaiian sling. That is, it contains the pole, which travels through the shaft in the direction of the prey.
Pole spears have three main lengths: 5, 6, and 7 feet. Which one you choose will depend on the distance and velocity you need it to get.
Likewise, instead of a sling, pole spears feature a band, which is the same thing, though a bit thinner. A pole spear band looks like a long, elastic string that you can wrap around your finger. More about that in a moment.
So, how does a pole spear work? Let us begin by saying it can be a little bit trickier than a Hawaiian sling because you don’t get the plastic tube shooter to use for aim and strength. It all boils down to the correct position and use of the fingers in your hand.
First, you need to hold the pole spear with your skillful hand. Then, place the band between your thumb and index finger, and grab the spear from a place close to the top, about a foot or so from the tip. There you go: the pole spear is set up for use!
Aiming, of course, is not as straightforward as with a Hawaiian sling. Without the plastic tube shooter, it is not as easy. What you need to do is swim while pointing the spear in the direction you want it to travel.
When you’ve got a lock on the fish you would like, simply let go of the band that is wrapped around your thumb. Think of it as a movement opposite to that of a trigger.
Above all, don’t forget to hold the band after shooting! Many spears have lost their poles due to this blunder.
Hawaiian Sling vs. Pole Spear: Which One Should You Use?
As you have seen throughout this article, Hawaiian sling spearfishing and pole spearfishing have a lot in common. Now it is time to set them apart depending on your skill and the kind of spearfishing you are looking for.
If you are a beginner, we would recommend that you start with a Hawaiian sling. It is usually pricier than a pole spear, but not by much. On the other hand, it provides you with a better aim and a greater reach.
That means you won’t need to get as close to fish as you would otherwise. It also means your hits will have the strength they need to pierce through the fish you want.
Also, Hawaiian slings work better in greater depths, because the pole can travel a much larger distance.
In contrast, pole spears are recommended for shallow waters, and for fish, you can get closer to. They also feature a quicker reload, which allows you to shoot more and, in turn, catch more fish!
Because the system it uses for spear propulsion is a bit trickier than that of the Hawaiian sling, the pole spear can be seen as more challenging. In that respect, we would recommend that you try it after having practiced with Hawaiian slings.
Spearfishing Tips and Techniques for Beginners
To get started into the somewhat intricate art of spearfishing, you will need to take a few lessons, including diving (whether it is free diving or scuba diving).
For that you will need an instructor —unfortunately, there is not much we can teach you here, apart from this advice on ear barotrauma.
But what we can do is share some musts and don’ts from our own experience with spearfishing.
First of all, don’t waste your time with small fish. They are easier to spot, of course, because they are everywhere. However, due to their size, they are harder to catch.
Plus, bigger prizes are waiting for you if you are willing to swim that extra mile. We’re kidding —it doesn’t take a whole mile; diving up to 10-20 feet deep will do.
If you are scuba diving, that won’t be an issue. But beware if you are going free diving because you will need to incorporate some breath-holding abilities.
Once you get to where the meaty fish is, take a while to scan the bottom of the ocean floor from the surface. Don’t swim near the bottom —you don’t want to scare the fish! It boils down to stealth and patience.
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When you see something you would like to catch, get directly on top of it and dive down from there. This is the best way to sneak up on fish because they can’t see you coming before it is too late and they are at the mercy of your spear.
Sometimes, big fish stay hidden as long as they can, whether in caves, under ledges or close to big rocks. Give yourself time to explore these hiding places. You may find what you’re looking for, and even better surprises!
There is a finesse needed when treating fish. Have you ever gone hunting for deer? These animals can hear you stepping on a leaf from a great distance.
Well, it doesn’t work like that underwater. It is much worse! Fish can feel a predator approaching them because of the water they propel when moving. Learn to be extra discrete, so fish don’t swim away from you.
Last but not least, beware of regulations. Virtually every country and location on Earth has its laws regarding spearfishing. Don’t ever try to do it alone, without the help of some locals that point out what you can and cannot do.
Do you aim above or below a fish?
We have been talking about how the Hawaiian sling and the pole spear mechanisms mimic that of a bow and arrow. There is one key difference, though.
On the ground, gravity pulls the arrow towards the floor. And because the arrow is heavier than air, it inevitably falls. That is why archers need to aim a little above their target.
That doesn’t happen underwater. Gravity still exists, of course, but the spears are lighter than water, which means they won’t fall as an arrow would.
Get a lock on the fish you want to catch and shoot straight to it.
How deep do spearfishers go?
To answer this question, we need to take some variables into account.
First off, what type of fish are you looking for? You should know as a general rule that the deeper you dive, the bigger fish you will find. There are exceptions, of course, but it works as a rule of thumb. Another question for you: What is your driving style? The depth that free divers and scuba divers can reach differs.
If you are free diving, and especially if you are a beginner, the perfect range will be between 10 and 20 feet. You will find great prizes and be close enough to the surface to catch your breath.
Does spearfishing attract sharks?
Sharks are excellent hunters, and one of their key abilities is to easily sniff out blood. You should keep that in mind if you are spearfishing in waters that are known to be home for sharks.
On the other hand, they are rather shy animals, and they won’t attack you unless hungry or upset.
For sure, sharks can be drawn to the dead fish hanging from your waist after a while of spearfishing. If that is the case, you can always let the fish go. They will distract the shark and you will be able to swim towards safety.
Is spearfishing difficult?
We wouldn’t call it difficult. After all, there is nothing a person can’t do when his or her mind is put into it.
It can be tricky at first, as you adjust to a new weapon or a new environment entirely if you have never dived before. In sum, practice, practice, practice! With training and guidance —including of course what we have talked about in this article—, you will get there!
Through this article, you have learned what you needed to know about Hawaiian sling spearfishing. We hope to have given a definitive response to all of your doubts!
There are many ways to get into this beautiful practice that connects us with our paleolithic ancestors and, we believe so, is far cooler than sitting on a boat waiting for fish to come by. Instead, since the very start, humans have been pursuing and hunting food for their families and communities.Be a part of this community and become a true spearo!