Like many of my friends, the first investment I made into my spearfishing hobby was a pole spear. It wasn’t the best pole spear in the market, in fact I bought it for $5 from a neighbor’s yard sale. The prongs were bent, and the rubber snapped on me after a few dives, but it was enough to get me my first fish (and quite a few more), and ultimately get me hooked on the sport of spearfishing.
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The best pole spear for spearfishing [Tested & Reviewed]
No matter where I go spearfishing these days, I’ve always got a pole spear or two in the boat, or tucked in the back of my car. They’re so easy to use, quick to reload, and can help you land fish after fish. I highly recommend buying a decent pole spear if you’re interested in spearfishing.
But you do have a few options when you start looking at the best pole spear to buy. And that’s where it can get confusing. So, we’ve put together a shortlist and a recommendation for the best pole spear in the market (along with why we like each particular model), to help you choose the right spear.
Ready for it?
Mako Spearfishing Traveler Pole Spear
Editor’s Choice: Best Pole Spear
Hands down, this is one of the best pole spears I’ve ever had the pleasure of using. And at this price range, it’s what we recommend as you’re truly getting value for money. It’s high-quality fiberglass, but don’t let that fool you. We weren’t able to recreate the splintering problems most fiberglass spears fall victim to as they age, and I’d also be happy taking this out on the reef. It’s a touch shorter at just under 7 feet, but that means it’s also a little more compact when you break it down for travel. In the bag it’s a total of 27.5 inches (70 cm). The only downside with this spear is their thread doesn’t conform to other brands, so if you’re wanting to change out the tip you’ll need an adapter if you’re wanting something other than a Mako product. Out of the box it comes with a 5-prong paralyser tip.
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Scuba Choice 7ft Carbon Fiber Pole Spear
Runner up: Best Pole Spear
Coming in close second of the best pole spears was this little beauty from Scuba Choice. It’s crafted from carbon fiber, not aluminium or fibreglass like many others at this price range. And it’s deadly in the water. Like a bullet the carbon fiber spear goes further and the single flopper tip keeps the resistance down to ensure you hit your target fish. It’s perfect for hunting mid-sized reef fish, and I actually prefer the flopper tip as the shaft will usually penetrate fully, so there’s little chance they’ll be able to tear themselves free. Oh and if you travel, or are looking for something compact, the shaft can be split into three pieces, fitting into a bag that’s just 37.5 inches (95 cm) when packed. Perfect to throw in the back of the car on your next beach trip.
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JBL Shaka 7ft Carbon Fiber Pole Spear
Top of the Line: Best Pole Spear
Now what fun would a review be without putting some of the best products to the test? With the JBL Shaka you’re looking at a hybrid pole spear, that combines the best assets of a carbon fiber weave (light), with the strength of aircraft-grade aluminium and a slip tip for big fish. But, it’s truly a beast for one reason alone. The spear will not bend. This is unheard of when it comes to pole spears, as there is always a little bit of “flex” in the shaft, especially when it’s under tension. By designing a spear with zero flex, JBL have given it a significant power boost because all of the force you’re able to generate in your shots is transferred straight to the tip. It’s one of my favourite pole spears to use, but it also comes at a price.
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HeadHunter Predator Carbon Fiber Pole Spear
Deep Water: Best Pole Spear
I have a friend who swears by pole spears, and will only ever reluctantly pick up a speargun if he has to. He loves the intimacy it gives you, and I’ve seen him pull in massive fish with only a pole spear. Well, not just any spear. The HeadHunter has crafted a pole spear that’s an absolute beast. At 9 foot long it’s one of the largest in the market, but it gives you a massive boost to your range that you’d never reach on a shorter model. To cater for the size the base is a hefty composite material, with a carbon fiber top that makes it both light yet durable in the water. But what’s cool is the slip tip prong that HeadHunter designed especially for pole spears, that allows for both easy penetration while protecting the shaft as you target bigger and bigger fish. This is the ultimate pole spear.
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Scuba Choice 5′ travel spear
Traveler’s Choice: Best Pole Spear
As a more compact version of our editors choice winner for best pole spear, this model is our recommendation if you’re looking for a smaller and more budget-friendly model. It’s a fiberglass pole that comes with a 3-prong paralyser tip, and can be broken down to fit in its travel bag to only 24 inches (61 cm) long. This means it’ll easily fit in most suitcases (yes, even the compact ones), so you’re always able to get a dive in, even on holidays. I really like this spear, as I actually prefer a shorter pole spear when I’m diving on a reef. It’s a little easier to handle, and you don’t always need that much range when the fish you’re hunting are hiding under the ledges and cracks.
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All of these pole spears are a great buy, and it’s our hope this guide will help you purchase your first one. You’ve so many great pole spears to meet different needs (as well as price points), and if you’ve got any questions in finding the best pole spear for you just give us a shout. We’d be happy to help.
How we actually determined the best pole spear
My name is Max Kelley. I grew up on a small beach in Australia, and every chance I could get I was spearfishing. I started with an old pair of goggles and a second-hand pole spear, and over the last 30 years I’ve used and tested pretty much every piece of spearfishing gear you could imagine.
I like to think I know what makes a good pole spear, and whether you’re just starting the sport or looking for an upgrade to improve your spearfishing game, there’s a few things I’d like to share with you.
When it comes to choosing the best pole spear, there’s three things that actually matter.
- The length of the spear, as this will determine your range.
- What the spear is made from, this will influence how well the spear works.
- The tip, as there are a couple of different variations in spear points.
Personally, I think everyone who is interested in spearfishing should buy a pole spear first. It’s far more cost effective than even buying a cheap speargun, and it also helps you to learn good spearfishing techniques. The shorter range you get with a pole spear forces you to learn how to sneak up on the fish, and build your skills, before investing in a spear gun.
Why does the length of my pole spear matter?
Generally pole spears come in options for 5, 6 and 7 feet. The longer a pole spear gets the less maneuverable it’ll be underwater. But it also affects the range. You’ll be able to effectively shoot a 7 foot pole spear a couple of feet further than you would a 5 foot version of the same model. So think about where you’re going to be spearfishing. If you’re targeting smaller fish, in and amongst the rocks and caves of the reef, I’d probably go for a shorter pole spear. If you’re pushing out into open water and want a little more distance to your shots, a longer pole spear will be better.
What’s a good pole spear even made from?
These days there’s three different materials used to make a pole spear. And the key difference here is weight. How much your pole spear weighs will change both the stopping power of your shots, along with how far it travels underwater.
Aluminum pole spears are usually the heaviest, but they’re much better for targeting large fish. The downside is that they will require more power to propel them, and it will tire your hand out fast. You’ve also got to watch out for the seals. Often (especially once they’ve been used a bit) they will start to flood with water, weighing them down so they are even heavier. It’ll also throw your shots out.
At the cheapest end of the spectrum is fiberglass. It’s what most people start out with, as they’re pretty durable, while providing a great spearfishing tool. I’ve killed lots of fish with fiberglass pole spears, and I’ve got to say they can take a beating. Just watch out for them splintering. If you do happen to bend it past breaking point, or notice the shaft is deteriorating, be careful. These splinters are brutal and will hurt like hell in your hand.
Carbon fiber is what the best pole spears are made from. It’s the most lightweight option for a spear, providing massive strength in the shaft. But they’re not that durable. If you happen to sit on it, or smash it into the rocks one too many times, it can break the spear. And if money’s no object you’ll find the top of the line pole spears will be a hybrid of aluminum and carbon fiber. To make them much more durable.
The different options for the pole spear tip
The most common you’ll see is known as the paralyzer. It’s essentially just a set of three (or five) prongs, set in a circular design with a slight outward taper. Each of the prongs on the spear has its own barb, and the idea is that these will help to grab hold of the flesh of the fish. For a beginner this is what I’d recommend, as they’re a bit more forgiving when it comes to aim. Plkus, they’re great for catching small fish. Though you will need to secure the fish quickly because they can wriggle off a pronged spear fairly easily. Rely on the impact of the shot to “stun” the fish, so you can swim down to it and retrieve.
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A flopper tip is what I prefer on a pole spear. Using a single barb you can get a better penetration than a pronged tip, which means you can target bigger fish that would simply break away from even a perfect shot on a pronged spear. Plus, if you happen to hit a rock (like if you’re shooting into the back of a cave), the spearhead is a bit more durable and won’t get as damaged. Then of course there’s slip tips for even bigger fish, but I’d not recommend these unless you’re really pushing out into deeper water. And then it may pay to invest in a decent speargun, so you’ve got a better range.
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How to actually use a pole spear
Using a pole spear is relatively straightforward. You’re essentially creating a slingshot with the spear gripped in your hand, and once you release the spear will shoot forward in the direction the tip is pointed.
Start the process by slipping your thumb into the loop of the rubber band. Wrap your fingers around the shaft of the spear, and move your hand up towards the middle of the spear. This will stretch the band, putting the tension on the spear. The further you stretch the more power your shot will have, so take a strong grip and hold the spear tight.
Stretch your arm out straight and point the spear at your target. When using a pole spear what you actually want to do is “stone” the fish. It’s like knocking someone out. The best way to do it is to hit the fish in the spine, right behind the gills. Get it right and you’ll stun the fish momentarily, reducing the chances it’ll get away before you can swim down and secure your catch. It’s also the most humane way to spearfish, as it greatly reduces the chance you injure the fish and have it swim off injured and suffer until it dies.
Once you’re sure of the aim, get as close to the fish as possible and release. As a rough guideline, you’re good up to about 5 or 6 feet when using a 7 foot pole spear, but this may vary based on how tight you’re able to pull the rubber. The more tension you can get on the band, the more stopping power your shots will have. But don’t spend your entire dive swimming around with your pole spear ready to go. Holding it ready to fire the entire time will set your hand cramping, draining your energy and also putting more stress on your body, which will reduce your bottom time. I tend to keep it only loosely loaded, and stretch it tight when I see a fish I intend to take a shot at.
Just remember to keep it slow. The smoother you’re able to move through the water the less likely you’ll spook any large fish in the area. Fast, jerky movements will get you the wrong kind of attention, and send any decent fish quickly out of reach.
After a successful shot, you need to be fast to ensure you don’t lose your catch. The first step is to secure the fish on the shaft, so push forward with the spear to ensure the prongs are deeply embedded, (or you’ve got the flopper the entire way through). A sandy bottom works great for this, then slowly swing the spear to the surface and bring your spare hand round to grab the fish. Once you’ve got it close, a quick dispatch before threading it onto your stringer, and you’re ready to find another fish.
The best pole spear is the one you can afford, that gives you an opportunity to learn and experience just what spearfishing is all about. Don’t stress too much about buying your first pole spear, use a guide like ours to get a quality recommendation that won’t break the bank, and focus on actually getting in the water and spearfishing some fish. Oh, and be sure to send me a pic of your first catch. I’d love to see it.