I’ve tried every different option there is, and the best fish stringer is one that not only keeps your fish secure, but is quick and efficient to use.
Unless you want to swim to shore with every fish, you need a tool to hold your catch.
In this guide, I’ll explain the options you have for a spearfishing stringer, and then dive into the details. Why it’s important to have a fish stringer, how to set it up and use it effectively, and what to look for when you’re buying a stringer of your own.
Because there’s just so many things that can go wrong when you’re spearfishing.
And the best fish stringer will make your life easier in the water. It’s a critical piece of spearfishing gear that everyone should be using.
But before we go too far, I’d like to share my favorite choice.
It’s my recommendation for anyone looking for a spearfishing stringer, so if you’re looking to skip the details and go ahead and order, this is what you want.
Otherwise keep reading and I’ll explain why.
Riffe Fish Stringer
Editor’s Choice: The Best Fish Stringer
This fish stringer has been specifically designed for spearfishing, unlike many of the products you’ll find in the market or your local fishing shop.
But not only that, it’s from Riffe, which is one of the best spearfishing brands out there.
It’s what’s known as a cable and spike fish stringer, which looks a little like a “T” shaped design. You get a clip to attach the stringer to your float, which connects to a heavy-duty cable (and is where your catch is stored), with a spike at the end.
To use this stringer you take the spike, push it through the gills and out the mouth, or straight through the eyes of your fish, and out the other side.
This threads the fish onto the cable, and they’re stuck from coming loose as the spike affixed like a “T” serves as an anchor.
Though it isn’t foolproof. In rough seas or against a persistent predator, there’s a chance a fish can come loose from this stringer. A small chance.
It’s only happened to me once, in all my years spearfishing. And was because I hadn’t dispatched my fish first, he was still kicking and managed to “unthread” himself before swimming off.
These days I dispatch every fish that goes on my stringer.
Why Riffe Make the Best Fish Stringer
- Cable and spike “T” setup makes it the fastest loading stringer you’ll find
- Constructed from heavy-duty materials it will last you season after season
- Quick-clip to easily attach the fish stringer to your spearfishing float
It’s well worth the investment to ensure the fish you spear make it back to shore.
But you do have some other options for the best fish stringer. Keep reading to discover the other stringers we’ve tested, and decide which stringer is best for you.
Spearfishing World Coated Wire Fish Stringer
Low-Budget Option: Best Fish Stringer
With a similar setup to the Riffe stringer, this is probably your best choice if you’re looking for a cheap fish stringer. It’s essentially the same, just with lower quality materials. A clip to attach the stringer to your float, a plastic-coated wire line to thread your fish onto, and a stainless-steel spike. All in all, a good choice if you’re looking for a low-cost fish stringer.
- Stainless rod measures 7.5" x 1/4"
- Stainless coated cable is 30" long.
- Excellent way of stowing speared fish on the float or on the weight belt.
- All Stainless steel construction for long lasting against salt water.
- The option of a plastic coated cable prevents fraying of the cable and also helps to avoid tearing fish in transit.
Storm Heavy Duty Fish Stringer
Runner Up: Best Fish Stringer
This fish stringer has a different design. It’s essentially just a loop of metal that locks in place with a simple latch. It’s a little more secure because when your fish are on this stringer they’re caught in a closed loop, with no chance to get loose.
The downside is it’s a little more cumbersome to use, you’ve got to unclip it each time, and you’ve only got a little space to play with as you thread more fish on. I found that once I have 5 or 6 fish on this stringer it’s about all you can fit comfortably.
You’ll also want to ensure the “spike” end of the clip is sharp, if not just take a file to it before you tie it onto your spearfishing float. It’ll make it much easier to use.
- 17"L x 7.25"W fish stringer
- Stainless steel construction
- String up multiple fish of varying size quickly and easily
Scuba Choice Fish Stringer
Runner Up: Best Fish Stringer
Another brand selling a looped fish stringer, this model from Scuba Choice has one extra benefit. It comes with its own webbing strap, so it’s easy to attach to your spearfishing float.
Plus, there’s a clip which makes it easy to remove without needing to untie anything at the end of a spearfishing session. This style of stringer is my second choice, only because it’s a little more cumbersome to use. But many of my friends will only use these stringers.
- Stringer length: 16" long
- Stringer widest length: 7.5"
- Webbing with Quick Release buckle, 1" x 9.5".
- 5mm Stainless Steel
RUNCL Fishing Stringer
Runner Up: Best Fish Stringer
This fish stringer is one designed for kayak fishing that you need to modify a little to get it to work for spearfishing. Just take the paracord end and tie it to your float.
There’s a series of five individual clips to thread each fish on to. Far more secure than if they are all on the same loop and it fails, you’ll lose your entire catch.
The downside is you’ve only got space for five fish, and the clips are a little tougher to open which can prove troublesome at the end of a long spearfishing session. Oh, and the paracord is a tad long, you’ll probably need to cut this down so it’s not in the way.
- The fishing stringer clip is made of high quality stainless steel, corrosion resistant and durable
- The barrel swivels are designed to reduce twisting, just enjoy the fun of fishing
- The nylon rope is long enough to be tied off and keeps the hooked fish alive in water
- Come with 5 metal snaps, the fish lock can hold 5 fish at one time
- Ideal for kayak fishing, boat fishing, game fishing and more
South Bend Deluxe Chain Stringer
Runner Up: Best Fish Stringer
A heavy-duty option if you like the running series of individual clips, this fish stringer is capable of holding up to eight fish.
Being chain, you can use this stringer to hold some pretty big fish without working they’ll get loose, which is great once you start spearfishing in deeper water.
The downsides are the weight, as it’s the heaviest out of all the different fish stringers, and it’ll hang down quite far from your float. I actually used one of the center clips to attach this to my float line so it didn’t hang so low in the water.
And while it’s one of the cheapest options, you will need to take care of the chain as it’ll start to rust quickly in salt water.
- 8 holding clips with end clip
- All hooks swivel independently
- Additional center swivel link
- Corrosion resistant
How we chose the best fish stringer?
A fish stringer is a relatively simple piece of spearfishing equipment, and I’ve used a variety of different types over the years.
I chose the cable and spike “T” style from Riffe as the best fish stringer because it’s just so damn fast to use. You can thread a fish on in seconds, quickly dispatch it, and focus on reloading your speargun to go catch another.
All of the other options involve opening a latch to thread on a fish, and while a little more secure, it’s just another step I don’t need to worry about.
For me, I like simple equipment that makes your life easy as you go spearfishing.
And I’m sure you will too.
Why you need the best fish stringer?
When I first started spearfishing I had no idea what a fish stringer was.
I had always kept my catch live in a net bag (when I would fish), so my first spearfishing float setup was quite similar. A small orange buoy, with a large net bag hanging underneath.
The net bag proved great for holding a couple of crayfish, but once you add three or four fish into the mix it starts to become serious dead weight.
I made two mistakes here.
First, I wasn’t using a dive flag. Where I grew up was quite remote so it wasn’t an issue, but as I moved to more popular spots and went spearfishing in Sydney, and other areas of the coast a flag was a must have piece of spearfishing gear.
A flag makes you visible in the water.
The second was that I was a victim of my own success.
Fish are designed to be aerodynamic in the water, but when they’re stuffed inside a big net bag, they’re most definitely not. If I had been using a fish stringer instead, they would have been much easier to drag behind me on my float line.
The first dive I used a fish stringer I was a little apprehensive, (I was worried I’d lose my fish), but once I started pulling my float through the water the difference in weight was noticeable.
It was like I’d been spearfishing with an anchor behind me, and suddenly the weight was gone. I became a rocket in the water again.
The benefits of using the best fish stringer
The biggest benefit of using a fish stringer is convenience.
If you’re shore diving it’s not always possible to swim your catch back to the beach.
For me, there’s no way I could do the 500 to 800-meter swim continuously just to drop off my fish. Having the best fish stringer means you can catch more than one fish, and get right back to spearfishing.
Using a fish stringer is also a lot safer.
I’ll never forget my first experience with a bull shark. You always hear about the attacks, but you never think it’ll happen to you.
I was out on a solo dive at a rock wall in southern Queensland.
A little bull shark must have been hanging around watching me dive, because the first fish I shot he came in like a bat out of hell and tore it straight off my spear. It took just seconds and he was gone, with the shark happily swimming off with his free feed.
I however, was a little more shaken.
Especially if I had come across the shark a little later, when the fish was in my hands, or threaded onto the shooting line (a trick I used to use when I was reef diving).
If he had tried to take the fish up close, I could have easily lost a chunk out of me.
It was after this dive that I made my first proper float line, with a decent float, a dive flag, and a fish stringer that keeps my catch well away from me.
Just in case.
How to use a fish stringer?
Using a fish stringer when you’re spearfishing isn’t rocket science.
It’s essentially just a piece of cable or metal you thread your fish onto. You connect it to the float on your float line, so it’s right there and ready to use.
But not only that, the dead fish on my stringer hang at least 30 meters from me at all times.
Makes me just a little safer if there’s a bigger predator out there looking for an easy meal.
When I catch a fish, this is how it works.
Once the fish is on my spear, I pull my float line in close so I’ve got my fish stringer handy.
Carefully bring up the shaft and grab the fish tight, just behind the gills.
Using the spike on my stringer, thread it through the gills and out of the mouth of my catch.
This next step is very important.
When you’re fishing, you’re taught to keep your catch alive so it stays fresher for longer.
When you’re spearfishing, you don’t have this luxury.
A live fish, struggling on the end of your stringer is like a beacon for sharks. We’ve all learnt that blood in the water will bring the sharks in, but what many people don’t know is there’s something else the sharks love more than blood.
The sounds of a dying fish. As your catch thrashes about, it is sending out signals the sharks in the area can pick up on, and they’ll come in to investigate.
You want to kill your catch as fast as possible.
If a fish on my stringer is still alive, once it’s secure I’ll dispatch it quickly with a knife through the backbone, or straight down into the top of their head into the brain.
This makes for a quick death, I’m not a fan of letting anything suffer unnecessarily.
Getting a fish onto my stringer takes about ten seconds, a little longer if I need to dispatch it as well, and then I just need to reload my speargun and get back to spearfishing.
Once you’ve finished spearfishing and are back on your boat (or on shore), you just need to reverse what you did in the water. Unthread the fish, or unclip your fish stringer and then it’s time to start cleaning and scaling your catch.
How to set up a fish stringer?
When it comes to spearfishing, I like to keep things as simple as possible.
This is how my float line is setup these days.
- A heavy-duty float with a “diver below” flag attached.
- A float line of 30 to 35 meters (approx. 100 feet) attaching my speargun to the float
- A spearfishing fish stringer attached to the float.
I’m a big fan of the “T” style cable and spike fish stringer as it’s just so easy to use and it’s what I always recommend when my friends are learning how to spear fish.
I do have some dive buddies who prefer the hoop style stringer because it’s a bit more secure, but ultimately, it’s up to you.
When you shouldn’t use a fish stringer
Of course, if you’re spearfishing in an area with high levels of shark activity a fish stringer isn’t a good idea. A pile of dead fish is like a buffet invitation for the sharks.
I’ve had a few close encounters in my time, and these days I have a couple of options when I’m diving in areas that are particularly sketchy.
The first is to use a spearfishing catch bag instead of a stringer.
It’s similar to what I used when I created my first float line, and doesn’t eliminate the fact you’ve got a bunch of fish in there. But it will make it harder for a shark to get them out.
I usually have one of these net bags on my floatline at all times anyway (it’s where I store my crayfish), and if I’m worried about sharks I’ll put my fish in there.
The second option is to get a float boat. You can buy one, like the below model from Palantic which is essentially just a tiny inflatable boat.
You use this instead of your float, but it has an area you can actually keep your catch right out of the water. No dead fish in the water, means no hungry predators looking for a meal.
The only downside is they’ll be sitting in the sun (which can speed up how fast they spoil), so I wouldn’t recommend this on a long dive, unless you’re also towing around a cooler full of ice.
- Inflated Measurement: 35" x 24" x 11". - Dive flag measurement: 10" x 8". Pole length: 19-3/4", 1/2" diameter.
- Outside Material: PVC with reinforced mesh. Inside bladder: 0.35mm PVC
- Include 6 plastic d-rings on the bottom and 5 plastic d-ring on the top side.
- YKK zippers
- Air pump included
The final choice is to keep either a live tank or a cooler on your boat.
When I’m spearfishing in deep water (and also where most of the big scary sharks like to hang about), I never use a fish stringer. I bring two coolers on board.
My catch goes straight into the boat and on ice, as soon as I’ve wrestled the fish out of the water that is. I’d hate to lose a prize fish because I was too greedy, or didn’t take the time to secure it properly in my boat.
- Fully foamed lid for maximum cold retention
- Holds ice up to 7 days at 90 DegreeF
- Dual stainless steel lid straps for even greater lid security
- 4 Cup holders molded into lid
- Convenient fish measuring ruler on lid
Choose the best fish stringer when you’re spearfishing
A fish stringer is a must-have piece of spearfishing equipment, as it allows you to secure every fish you catch so you can keep spearfishing. Which is critical.
If you happen to find a hole full of jewfish, or to happen across a big school of trevally, you don’t want to be fussing about with your catch. You want to be able to effectively thread it onto your spearfishing stringer, and take another shot. And another.
Because catching fish is what spearfishing is all about.
If you’ve any questions on my setup, or what’s the best fish stringer to use in your situation, drop me a comment below or send me a message.
Would love to help you out with finding the right gear, and I also love hearing from my readers.