FISHING WITH A SPEAR: SPEARFISHING TIPS FOR BEGINNERS
The decision to take on spearfishing isn’t something you can jump right into. This is a sport that requires physical fitness, training, knowledge, experience over time, and a considerable amount of gear. I first tried spearfishing as a kid with a hand spear, a snorkel, a mask and raggedy pair of boardshorts with a couple of school mates. Well, I thought I was spearfishing at the time. In actual fact, we spent more time wading around in shallow water trying to stab at fish from above.
As an adult, I looked into what it really takes to get involved in spearfishing as a complete beginner. I was soon bewildered at the amount of effort I would need to put in, even before getting in the water. There isn’t a fast-track way to get involved. Most of those who I met along my learning journey so far have friends with plenty of experience or have loads of expertise applicable to recreational spearfishing.
KITTING YOURSELF OUT
The first thing you have to do is get yourself the basic gear for spearfishing. Spearfishing equipment standards are higher than most expect. From masks, snorkels, freediving fins, gloves, a knife, weights, floats to wetsuits, there is a lot to know about what you really need. The best way is to get your hands on a freediving starter’s kit. The idea is to get what you need and nothing you don’t to get involved at the right price. While you might think your speargun is the most important piece of equipment, it’s best to get one later.
Using a snorkel is not as easy as it looks. A snorkelling course run by professionals is the safest way to learn how to breathe through a snorkel properly and some of the basic safety rules that need to be followed when getting into the water. You’ll be practising in the bath afterwards because getting the technique right takes a little practice.
A certified and internationally recognised beginner freediving course is the next step. A Level 1 freediving course will give you the proper skills and knowledge to freedive between 10 and 20 metres in a safe manner. In most cases, you will need your own gear at this stage. You’ll learn proper breathing techniques, including diaphragm breathing, as well as international safety standards. Level 1 courses typically require two days. The morning of the first day is spent in the classroom learning theory and safe practices before moving into the swimming pool for supervised training. On the second day, it’s time to experience what you learnt in the ocean over several dives to demonstrate you’ve got what it takes to become a certified freediver.
Now that you are ready for some shallow water freediving and a bit of spearfishing, you will need a recreational fishing license just like everyone else. You’re getting that license because you are getting ready to go after fish. And to do that, you will need your weapon of choice.
GUN OR POLE
As a new diver, I was stunned at the options available. It’s easy to get tempted to buy a small gun, but something in 120cm range is a better place to start. If you are not confident with the idea of a speargun, spearfishing poles are a good alternative, and often recommended for beginners.
The best way to learn is to follow another experienced diver around for a couple of days. Spearfishing charters and spearfishing clubs are another way to go if you are tackling this endeavour on your own. Getting comfortable in the water comes through experience. Your freediving course has laid down a foundation for being comfortable in the water. Now that you are looking to catch fish, going on guided trips with experienced spearos is the only way to learn the techniques of spearfishing. And how to catch fish while you do it.
As you can see, I’ve just scratched the surface of what you need to know and what you have to do to immerse yourself in the world of spearfishing. I’m glad I’ve made it this far. I’ve found a whole new world where even the dumbest fish are smarter and faster than me.
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