Buying a Hawaiian Sling can be a smart move, especially if you live in an area that doesn’t let you use a “triggered” speargun to get in the water and hunt some fish. In this guide today, I’ll teach you what you need to know before you buy this piece of spearfishing gear.
Our reviews wholly supported by our readers. If you do buy something we recommend, we sometimes earn a small commission. BUT – this never affects your price or what we’ve picked. Keep reading for our no-nonsense advice (from actual spearo’s who’ve used the gear).
- December, 2020 – Adding more reviews and info after a new testing day in 2020.
- November, 2019 – First version of the article that only had 2 Hawaiian Slings.
Introducing the Hawaiian Sling
It wasn’t too long ago I used my first Hawaiian Sling spearfishing in Australia. Honestly, they’re not all that popular over here. Which surprises me, because they’re a nifty weapon that packs a decent punch. Generally, we start with a pole spear and then upgrade to a speargun. Hawaiian slings fall somewhere in between. They’re a unique spearfishing device that works more like a bow and arrow than anything else.
Now I know there’s a bit of confusion with this, so let me clear it up before getting into the rest of this guide.
A pole spear is a length of aluminum (or fiberglass). It has a spear tip and a loop of rubber power band attached to the butt of the spear. You tuck your thumb into the rubber, stretching your hand towards the middle of the spear, and grip it tight. To shoot the spear, you release your grip, and the entire spear shoots forward to hit your target fish.
A Hawaiian sling is a block of plastic tubing or wood, with a guide hole that’s large enough for a spear to pass through. Attached to this block is a rubber power band. To use it, slide the spear into the guide hole. The butt of the spear will sit in the holder in the middle of the rubber. As you draw it back (using a similar motion as a bow and arrow or a slingshot), your other hand rests on the handle. Releasing the shaft, the tension in the rubber shoots your shaft forward.
Why buy a Hawaiian Sling?
Hawaiian slings became popular in the 1950s when spearfishing started to take off. But these days, they’re generally used in areas that ban triggered spearguns. In some places, the only spearfishing device you’re allowed to use is a Hawaiian sling. Like the Bahamas, Okinawa (Japan), the Netherlands, and Germany.
What impressed me most with a Hawaiian sling was the range. I was expecting it to compare to a pole spear, but the different setup gives me about twice the range. Slings also shoot a thinner shaft. Making it a more streamlined weapon with a more aerodynamic spear. The grip makes as big difference, you want one you’re able to hold tight as you draw it to shoot. But because the shafts aren’t fixed to anything, I would make sure you’re targeting fish on the bottom. I’ve lost one shaft already by shooting into the gloom. And while I did recover it later, it was a frustrating waste of time searching for it.
Sea Archer Hawaiian Sling
Editor’s Choice: Best Hawaiian Sling
The innovative bow design of the Hawaiian sling from Sea Archer makes it a clear winner. Because every time you pull, the spear stays centered. Meaning there is no drag or friction to slow your release. Plus, it’s lightweight and easy to swim with, even if you’re spearfishing from the shore. You can even upgrade the Sling to add a “line management device.” So you never lose a shaft when you’re spearfishing. Or have a large fish swim into the depths with your favorite spear. And remember, you will need to buy your shafts too.
- New design allows for quick and thorough fresh water flush.
- Works with all traditional shaft diameters (shaft not included)
- Designed to accommodate right or left handed people.
- Fully upgradeable for use with LMS (Line Management System)
- Pat. 9316458
Why Sea Archer make the best Hawaiian Sling
- Comfortable grip for both right and left-handed use
- Patented self-grasping spear cup to hold shafts in place as you draw
- Can upgrade with extra parts to attach a shooting line
- Fits all traditional shaft diameters (1/4″, 17/64″, 9/32″, 19/64″ & 5/16″)
Of course, I did test a few Hawaiian slings before reaching this conclusion. So here’s a few more if you’re still not convinced.
Koah Side Sling
Runner-Up: Best Hawaiian Sling
Coming in a close second was the Koah Side Sling. I have to say, choosing between these two was tough. But the Sea Archer edged ahead because it’s so aerodynamic in the water. The Hawaiian Sling from Koah is a heavy-duty bit of spearfishing equipment. One that feels like it will last a lifetime. The added wrist support is a nice touch that helps you maintain control, power, and accuracy in your shots. It also features a shaft holder to keep it in place as you draw, and it can handle up to a 5/16-inch (8mm) shaft. You will need to buy your shafts too.
- Ambidextrous - it can be used by both left and right handers with its center hole position
- The over / under band design allows for a smooth pull back by allowing the natural force of the bands to fight each other to keep the sling from wanting to move up or down giving you a true, straight pull
- The strong grip handle is double coated in an abrasive based enamel
- Sling body has multiple penetration coats of marine grade teak/tung oil
- Comes with either 3/8 or 7/16 power band and can handle up to 1/2in
Why you should consider the Koah Side Sling
- Comfortable grip for both right and left-handed use
- Side handle setup allows for better band pull and control while shooting
- Over/under band design helps each shot fly straight and true
- Comes with a 3/8-inch or 7/16-inch power band (and fits up to 1/2-inch)
Either of these Hawaiian slings would be an ideal buy. Though this guide wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t share my thoughts on all the others I put to the test, so here goes…
Spearbigfish Hawaiian Shooter
If you’re looking for a cheaper Hawaiian Sling, this one from Spearbigfish is a great buy. You can get the shooter alone or buy a combo that includes shafts. Making it the most sensible way to try this particular spearfishing technique). Of course, the shafts are plain steel. But if you take care of these and wash them after use, they will last you a couple of seasons. I like the pistol-styled grip. It lets me get a better “pull.” And you’ve got a choice of 1/4-inch, 17/64-inch, and 9/32-inch shafts (6.5mm to 7mm), at 60-inches, 66-inches, and 72-inches in length (152cm, 168cm, and 183cm). The integrated shaft holder keeps your spear in place as you draw and shoot.
- Wood Construction Shooter - simple and easy, pistol style
- Rubber Sling tied with Dacron - ready to go
- Intergrated Shaft Holder
- Shaft holder
Hammerhead Spearguns Hawaiian Sling Shooter
The Hawaiian Sling from Hammerhead Spearguns is a basic thing. Though I do like the mahogany shooter’s finish. Now, this one doesn’t come with a shaft, so you’ll need to buy these as well. Just make sure you’re getting a 9/32-inch shaft (7mm) or smaller, so it fits through the barrel. And with this sling, you’ve got the choice of both a pistol and a traditional grip. I’d opt for the pistol grip as it gives you a little more control as you shoot.
- Hawaiian Sling w/Pistol Grip
- Beautiful Mahogany Construction
- Integrated Shaft Holder
- Primal underwater hunting experience
Sea Slinger Plastic Hawaiian Sling
Sea Slinger makes a plastic version of the Hawaiian Sling, which we tested as well. There’s an adaptor to change this from a traditional grip to a pistol grip, but I’ll be honest. It didn’t feel all that secure. I would worry it won’t stand up to the force of a proper pull. Not wanting it to snap off in my hands using it, I unscrewed and removed the 90-degree pistol-grip part. Once I did, I was much more comfortable using this sling. You can choose between floating and sinking versions, which accepts up to a 3/8-inch shaft (9.5mm).
- 7" length with 1.25" diameter for easy gripping
- 1/2" outer diameter tubing with 1/4" inner diameter
- Can accommodate shafts up to 3/8" in diameter
- Choose a floating (gray) or sinking (black) sling
- Choose traditional grip or pistol grip sling
AB Biller Combo Hawaiian Sling Package
Another option is the Hawaiian Sling package that AB Biller has put together. Besides the mahogany sling, you get four extra shafts, which makes this good value for the money. The shafts are spring steel. At 1/4-inch and 5/16-inch diameter (6mm and 8mm) at lengths of 60-inch and 66-inch (152cm and 168cm). The real stand out for me with this option is the 90-degree pistol-grip handle. You can see straight down the line for more accuracy in your shots. And it allows for a firm grip to bring each shot back for its largest draw (and the most power).
- Package of 5 items includes: AB Biller Mahogany Hawaiian Sling Shooter - 90 degree handle
- AB Biller Hawaiian Sling Shaft - 1/4" Diameter in 60" Length
- AB Biller Hawaiian Sling Shaft - 1/4" Diameter in 66" Length
- AB Biller Hawaiian Sling Shaft - 5/16" Diameter in 60" Length
- AB Biller Hawaiian Sling Shaft - 5/16" Diameter in 66" Length
How to use a Hawaiian Sling
There is a knack for learning how to draw and fire a Hawaiian Sling. But it is a simple piece of spearfishing gear. So it’s pretty straightforward to use.
There are two ways you can draw and shoot the device. If you’re using a traditional grip (i.e., no pistol handle), I hold the device in my left hand. That’s my non-dominant hand. It starts with my left arm straight and my left hand down by my knees. I grip the butt of the spear where it rests in the power bands with my right. In one quick movement, I draw my right arm back, stretching the bands tight, as I raise my left arm to aim. You need a decent amount of strength to fire a Hawaiian Sling with any power. The whole motion of drawing, aiming, and firing happens in a few seconds.
The alternative is to use a “push” movement instead of a “draw.” I have a spearing buddy who prefers this technique, and it works like this. With your non-dominant hand, so for me, that’s my left. Pinch your thumb and index finger around the cup in the middle of the power bands. Bring your left hand to your cheek or jaw, and grip the sling handle with your right. There shouldn’t be any tension yet. Take a tight grip and keep your left arm in place as you push your right arm forward. This creates your shooting tension, and you’ve got a superior line of sight down the shaft to aim. Then release your left hand to fire off the shaft.
Perfecting your aim
It will take a little practice to get the hang of a Hawaiian sling. The best thing you can do is to set up a target for a bit of practice. Find a clump of seaweed on a sandy bottom, or use a proper spearfishing target. Start about 5 or 6 feet away, at your diving depth, and take several practice shots. Don’t worry if your first few completely miss. The key is to adjust and make your next shot a little more accurate. Keep at it. Increasing your distance as your aim improves, until you’re confident in your shots. I find I’m more accurate from a top-down angle instead of coming in from the side. So you’re not working against gravity in the range of your shots.
What to look for in a Hawaiian Sling
If you’re trying to decide which Hawaiian Sling is best for you, there are a few things worth considering. I’ve tried and tested quite a few different setups. And while I do most of my spearfishing with a speargun, here’s what I’d look out for before you buy.
Think about the grip
Hawaiian slings have been around for 50 or 60 years. Today, you’ve got a choice between traditional and pistol grips. When I asked around, many spearos said they prefer a primitive (simple) design. Though I find I get a better grip with a proper handle. It’s easier to keep my wrist locked in place with the pistol-grip models like the Sea Archer. The key is to find a grip that won’t slip once it gets wet and is comfortable to draw. A few models now have an added wrist brace to help you draw it back even further and get more power into each shot.
Think about the shafts
When shooting with a Hawaiian sling, you have a trade-off decision to make with the shaft. Short and thinner shafts will shoot faster, but they’re less durable. They’ll bend and will have less “punch” on the fish you hit. Longer and thicker shafts will make a considerable impact, but they’re slower shooting. Most Hawaiian slings will allow shafts from 1/4-inches (6.5mm) to 5/16-inches (8mm). Buy the right shaft for the conditions you’re spearfishing in. I found a 9/32-inch (7mm) shaft to be a good middle-ground between the two.
Think about lost shafts
New designs have increased the Hawaiian Sling’s range, and it’s quite common to lose your shaft. They’re not expensive to replace, but it does add up. If you’re spearfishing in deep water, poor visibility, or targeting larger fish, do this. Add a shooting line. It attaches to the spear’s shaft with a slide ring and works much like a speargun’s shooting line. Tethering the spear to the sling, your floatline, or even your belt, so you can always retrieve your shaft. You can also buy reels for Hawaiian slings, though it does give you one more thing to get tangled. Unless you’re after big pelagics and a speargun isn’t allowed, don’t attach a reel.
What’s the best Hawaiian Sling for me?