The spear. If anyone has experienced the vast array of fish obtaining equipment...it's me. My interest in spearfishing came fairly soon after I began scuba diving. I initially learned how to dive because my good friend in college wanted someone he knew to take the class with him. "Well...I suppose so...but I would rather surf" was my lackluster reply. Little did I know how much that single scuba class would forever impact my life. So...we took the class. Somewhere in the course of that class, someone started a conversation about eating lobster...how easy it would be to just dive down with a tank on your back and pick them up. Hmmm...never really thought about that one...but I sure liked what I heard. I think it took all of 12 seconds to fully embrace the idea. Lobster on the BBQ, cold beer on ice, college girls listening to my dive stories. Oh Yeah, I was liking that idea A LOT. My mission was clear, I just had to be set free from the confines of the training pool and watchful eyes of the instructors. Well...I graduated scuba class and started diving with my buddy. I decided to really get a handle on my diving confidence before going after those tasty crustaceans, so for the first few dozen dives I just worked on skills. I wanted to know my equipment, and know the ocean. We dove through surf, dove in kelp beds, dove deep, dove at night. Naturally, every time we went out I found myself surrounded by fish. Lots of fish...swimming lazily around me, just out of arm's reach. I thought "Wow, who needs to crawl under rocks for lobster, when these fish are everywhere?". I know, I know, lobster are really, really good...but I was excited to be underwater, and just wanted to get some seafood. I figured the college girls would also like a good fish fry. So, it was time to learn spearfishing...and I had to get a spear. I went shopping. Spearfishing at the time was rather simple in technology...pole spear or band gun. The pneumatics came along a few years later. The pole spears were cheaper, so I bought one. It was an aluminum breakdown spear...came in 3 sections that quickly screwed together. The 3 sections were stored in a really nice, and heavy duty, nylon carry sleeve. The cool name "Poseidon" printed on the front. Yeah...this spear was way cool. That first spear was the beginning of a long trek of buying and using various fish grabbers over the years. My aluminum Poseidon worked well, but it always seemed heavy and stiff. I relocated to Oregon and discovered seabass and perch lurking in the beautiful bay waters of Newport and Barview. I needed something lighter. My next purchase was a fiberglass pole...light, flexible, quick...the perfect tool for the smaller fish of bay dives. I ended up working in a local dive shop and became a regular visitor at another dive shop on the coast. I spent just about every summer weekend diving and hanging out at the beachfront scuba store. I soon ended up meeting fellow scuba divers that owned boats, and became an offshore dive hound. Diving the offshore reefs was a totally different experience for spearfishing. The seabass were much, much larger...and lingcod common in the rocks. Big, big lingcod. My lightweight fiberglass spear would often bend right over with the larger fish, and I feared the day it would break in half...watching a 25 pound lingcod swim away with half my spear...the other half still in my hand. Not only did I fear a broken spear, but I have a profound aversion to losing any fish. I spearfish because I love seafood, and I am very careful not to miss, and to take only what I will eat. I replaced my fiberglass with a hollow aluminum spear from JBL. I really don't remember what happened to the fiberglass pole, must of sold it along the way. I bought the JBL because of the sales pitch "aluminum and lightweight". I'm paraphrasing, but that was the selling point. I dove the JBL for awhile and it worked great...never a problem taking seabass and ling. Most of the lingcod we brought back were good size fish...10, 15, 20 pounds and made wonderful meals. Bigger ling are a little more difficult to find for a variety of reasons, primarily because they become more paranoid the older, and larger, they become. Well, I came across a bigger fish one day when cruising the reef with my JBL. It was 30 pounds and sitting just inside a pitch black hole in the reef. My UK400 lit up the critter pretty good. I pulled back on the pole spear and let it fly... whoosh...perfect shot. My pole spear locked in and the fight was on. Instead of thrashing inside the hole, that fish decided to come barreling straight out. All of a sudden the leeward side of the spear caved, and the end of the spear, the end with the fish, suddenly shifted 30° from center. It bent right over in the blink of eye. "Nooooo..." was the instinctive and immediate thought that raced through my mind. I quickly pinned the fish to the rocks, disabled it, and returned to the boat. Time to get something new. I am not critical of the JBL spear. I loved mine, I would still be using one...but I could not chance a bend, or break, the next time I stumbled across a big ling. I bought a wooden band gun from AB Biller. Honestly, this was my all time favorite spear...I loved that gun. I would still be diving that gun. I loaned it to a friend one day on a boat dive. She started coming up, began an uncontrolled ascent, and let go in a quick response to vent air. The ocean took my gun away. That was a sad day.

I thought about buying a pneumatic next. One of my dive buddies had a pneumatic and let me test it on a few dives. I love the design...very powerful, and easy to hunt with in both open water and reef holes. However, the pneumatics are a bit of a chore to load. I finally settled on a 6 foot, solid aluminum pole spear. It was heavy and stiff...trustworthy. Ironic, eh? Basically the same spear I bought when I learned to dive many, many years ago...just not a breakdown. I have been diving my trusty spear for years now and love it. I am tempted from time to time to pick up a band gun just for a little variety, but I always end up with my aluminum spear in hand when I slip below the waves. Always reliable, from seabass on top of the reef, to 37 pound lingcod at 80 feet. Maybe someday I will pick up another AB Biller...or maybe I will find my old one...it's still out there somewhere. I keep looking.


By the way...that really cool Poseidon breakdown spear...I still have it.



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