What’s the difference between the Hawaiian sling vs pole spear?

hawaiian sling vs pole spear

Not all pole spears are made the same, and there’s a key difference when comparing a Hawaiian sling setup to the traditional pole spear.

In short,

  • A pole spear is a spear and tip, with a rubber sling attached to the end.
  • A Hawaiian sling is more like a slingshot, the shaft feeds into a tube to shoot.

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What’s the difference between the Hawaiian sling vs pole spear?

This is a pole spear

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This is a Hawaiian sling

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Why choose a Hawaiian sling vs pole spear

After using both, I have to say, I’m rather impressed with the Hawaiian Sling. It allows you to get a much better grip, and pull the shaft back further for more power in your shots. More power means more range, which of course allows you to catch more fish. Of course, it’s not as powerful if compared to a speargun, but for the price, it’s a great bit of spearfishing equipment for a beginner not wanting to invest hundreds of dollars to get started spearfishing.

catching fish while spearfishing


Benefits of the Hawaiian sling

What I particularly like about the Hawaiian sling setup when compared to a traditional pole spear is that you can easily change out your shafts depending on the fish you’re targeting. Many sets will come with two or three different shafts, like this great setup from Riffe.

If you want more distance and speed, you can opt for a thinner shaft. This is perfect if you’re targeting reef fish or smaller species. Larger shafts have more stopping power, but they will have less range and experience a little more “drop” over a greater range. There have been some monster fish caught with these setups, so don’t think you can’t either!

Compared to a pole spear it’s a little more cumbersome to reload a Hawaiian sling, as you’ve got to thread the shaft back through the handle. But once it’s ready, it’s actually much quicker (in my opinion) to pull the shaft back and take a shot than it is when you’re using a pole spear. You’ve already got one hand on the handle so you just grab the end and pull.

Hawaiian slings also allow for a much shorter setup with your spears, so it’s more aerodynamic in the water, and much less cumbersome to carry around than a longer pole spear.

spearfishing with a pole spear


How to load a Hawaiian sling

Loading a Hawaiian sling is pretty straightforward. I’m right handed, but I grip the handle in my left, so I’ve got my right to pull the rubber band back. In one motion simply push your left hand forward, while drawing your right back. This stretches the rubber to its maximum length, and you’re good to go. I look straight down my left arm to aim, and once I’m happy, fire. Let go of the rubber with your right hand, and the shaft will shoot out like a rocket. Just be sure to keep your left steady, and only “arm” your spear when you’re ready to take a shot. It’s too much pressure to swim around with it constantly loaded.

Attaching a Hawaiian sling to your floatline

This is where things get a little tricky. As most shafts won’t come with a hole in them, so you’re going to need a drill press to DIY. And drilling a hole in high tensile spring steel isn’t the easiest job, it’s a bugger if you’ve only got a vice and a hand drill. Just make sure you set a good start hole, and carefully drill through. Initially I put a hole in the end of the shaft, but this was constantly getting tangled in my sling ‘s handle when I took a shot.

So, I moved the hole for my float line to be closer to the front of the spear, (but so that it doesn’t get pulled into the sling when I’m at full stretch). Then I just tied a light mono line to attach it to my float. It’s been perfect ever since.

attach hawaiian sling to float line


When a pole spear is a good idea

After using both there’s still definitely a place in my spearfishing setup for the trusty pole spear. It’s so fast to reload there’s nothing better when you’re after smaller reef fish, or those pesky little buggers hiding in all the holes. I’ve got a short little pole spear that’s just a few feet long that I bring on every dive, it clips on to my float line. So, if I’ve ever got a tricky little shot to make and don’t want to bend my spearguns shaft, I just grab this and have at it.

Personally, I was a little skeptical that these would be any good, even though my spearfishing buddies raved about the Hawaiian sling setup. After using it firsthand I’ve got to say, I’m impressed. And if you’re looking for a more powerful way to get started spearfishing, a Hawaiian sling is for you.


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