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All About Pole Spears & Slings What is it about that traditional method of the early hunter/gatherers under the water? These devices are indeed interesting and effective.

View Poll Results: When do you load your pole spear?
At the surface 71 46.10%
At the bottom 19 12.34%
When you see a fish 57 37.01%
Other 7 4.55%
Voters: 154. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 06-20-2011, 10:58 PM   #1
maidendeth13
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Loading Polespear-At the surface? At the bottom?When you see a fish?

Potentially stupid question...

When I started out I was loading my polespear at the surface just before making my dives, now that I have a slightly longer breathhold though I find that when I load the spear at the surface I am getting much shorter dives because I am straining to keep ahold of it etc.

I've heard of a few people doing each way but was curious to what you guys did and why... Loading it at the bottom seems alright but I feel like the effort to actually load it is similar to the effort to hold it and keep it loaded? Maybe I'm way off. Loading it when you see a fish sounds ideal but I feel like in practice I would spook a lot of fish by loading a polespear next to them...

Thanks
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Old 06-20-2011, 11:44 PM   #2
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Re: Loading Polespear-At the surface? At the bottom?When you see a fish?

I load on top, I see too many fish on my way down or right when I get down, so I load on top and sacrifice the bottom time. I am probably doing it wrong
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Old 06-20-2011, 11:46 PM   #3
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Re: Loading Polespear-At the surface? At the bottom?When you see a fish?

There are so many variables with conditions that it would be difficult to pinpoint any "right" way. I know if you’re not filling the stringer you’re doing it the "wrong" way and this could be more with how the planets are lined up then if you’re using your spear correctly.
Kidding aside, I try to do what the ocean/lake/river gave me that day and what the fish need to make them fill comfortable with me approaching them. Most of this is diver presentation then if your spear is at the ready or not. Most California reef fish are fairly easy to take; it's just a matter of finding them.

You can load a spear very smoothly and quietly when you just hit the bottom. When your 30 seconds past your comfortable bottom time and that fat nevergoingtoseeoneofthoseagain fish comes be-bopping in to range your more than likely going to "not be smooth" and you’re going to spook it with the quick draw .
If you’re not hunting the bottom then load the spear on top before you dive.
When hunting in dirty water, keeping it loaded is a must, same with hunting the shallow reefs and the beach.
I half and full draw 90% of the time when I dive and keep it drawn until I start back up and only release the band when I have doubled checked if any fish are stiffing my stringer.

If this is your JBL spear, the draw weight is around 25lbs. with the right grip glove combo you should be able to hold this setup up easily throughout the dive. I think you missed out on your teenage years and you need a re-do
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Old 06-21-2011, 05:02 AM   #4
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Re: Loading Polespear-At the surface? At the bottom?When you see a fish?

I do a bit of all of the above depending on the species and terrain.
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Old 06-21-2011, 08:07 AM   #5
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Re: Loading Polespear-At the surface? At the bottom?When you see a fish?

It's quite simple to me the longer the spear is loaded the better a chance of shooting a fish when it swims by
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Old 06-21-2011, 09:22 AM   #6
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Re: Loading Polespear-At the surface? At the bottom?When you see a fish?

After thinking about your question for a bit, I realized why there was no easy answer...The answers are a mix of time and place. That is why Snapper Whisperer said a little bit of all of it.

Place (top or bottom) depends on the circumstances:


If I know there is a fish on the bottom, and the water is ~0-15ft deep and I'll load on the surface.
If I know there is a fish on the bottom, and the water is ~15+, and I know that the fish wont get spooked by the loading of my spear, I'll load just before I get to the fish.

I saw a WSB, loaded on the surface, dove and shot it.
I saw a lingcod, dove, loaded on the bottom and shot it.

Time (when you see a fish):


I only load my spear when I know there is a fish, or on the odd occasion, if I get a gut feeling that there is going to be a fish when I get to the bottom, around the corner, or in a cave.



YouTube - ‪Spearfishing Northern California's Mendocino Coast‬‏
In this movie you can see that Sam and I only load our spears when we are focused in on a fish to spear. You can't really tell because of my editing, but we were doing dives upwards of 1:30 and often were surrounded by fish the whole time. We only loaded when we wanted to spear a fish because we can't and don't want to try to keep these Crist spears loaded for multiple long dives, and the fish don't seem to mind when we load.

So after my long winded response, I'm going to select the best answer for me: When you see a fish

Last edited by Kirby; 06-21-2011 at 09:38 AM.
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Old 08-27-2013, 05:54 PM   #7
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Re: Loading Polespear-At the surface? At the bottom?When you see a fish?

On a related note. I was having difficulty holding the spear shaft when it was loaded. My gloves were kevlar and the shaft is painted giving it very little friction.

I found it easier to grip a pole spear if I wrapped a bit of tape around the tip of the shaft (the part you are holding when it is loaded). I used athletic tape and the same method that hockey players use to wrap their hockey sticks.

How To Tape a Hockey Stick Knob - Grip - YouTube
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Old 08-27-2013, 07:09 PM   #8
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Re: Loading Polespear-At the surface? At the bottom?When you see a fish?

The great part about a polespear is it can be shot with one hand especially for shooting into holes and that you hold onto the band when you shoot it so you can quickly retrieve and reload your spear. My reasoning for loading at the top is if you are going to load it on the bottom you may as well use a Hawaiian sling.
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Old 08-28-2013, 01:30 PM   #9
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Re: Loading Polespear-At the surface? At the bottom?When you see a fish?

I think it depends a lot on the depth and visibility of the water you are hunting, as well as how spooky the fish are and how quickly you and load and accurately fire the spear.

If you are diving a situation where fish will pop out suddenly then it is best to dive with the PS loaded. Otherwise loading when you see fish is a good option.
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Old 08-28-2013, 05:36 PM   #10
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Re: Loading Polespear-At the surface? At the bottom?When you see a fish?

I just got back from a trip where I tried to load at the bottom to minimize fatigue (8'spear) on my hand. I dropped in and saw 2 mackeral. As I dove down and away to intrigue them, I looked up and saw one hovering 6" off the end of my spear. The second I tried to cock the spear, he bolted. I loaded at the surface for the rest of the trip.
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Old 08-28-2013, 11:40 PM   #11
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Re: Loading Polespear-At the surface? At the bottom?When you see a fish?

I think situation dictates the loading aspect. If visibility is good and you can see the fish i would load up before descending, In Socal with crappy visibility i load at the bottom to maximiize down time and cut down on fatigue, (I use a ray odor power band on all my poles) so the power makes longer hold times strain you hand.
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Old 08-29-2013, 03:01 PM   #12
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Re: Loading Polespear-At the surface? At the bottom?When you see a fish?

Quote:
Originally Posted by _Scott View Post
I found it easier to grip a pole spear if I wrapped a bit of tape around the tip of the shaft
Thanks for the idea. I feel that my bottom times are shorter than what I could achieve because of the fatigue of holding the shaft. That is why I load at the bottom.
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Old 08-30-2013, 12:42 PM   #13
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Re: Loading Polespear-At the surface? At the bottom?When you see a fish?

I like to "half" load at the surface by putting the band about half way up the shaft then when/if I see a fish I load the rest of the way. It seems to help saving my hand from getting worn out. If I am looking under ledges then I do it with a fully loaded spear. Now we are very lucking hunting in clear water and a little deeper so the method works well. Different conditions will dictate the proper technique. Good Luck!
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Old 10-01-2013, 06:39 AM   #14
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Re: Loading Polespear-At the surface? At the bottom?When you see a fish?

I'm a newbie to pole spearing but I noticed that my hand fatigued as well
Until my hand and arm muscles got used to the strain. After a couple of times out, I now don't even notice ant discomfort or strain so naturally I want to be loaded all the time!
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Old 10-01-2013, 12:08 PM   #15
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Re: Loading Polespear-At the surface? At the bottom?When you see a fish?

I always load to a certain degree, i have a 350% stretch point and a 400% which is the furthest font of the aluminium, but if i am going to hit a cave that i know has fish in more than 60ft then i load during my glide in the last part.
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