Pole Spear Guide

Like any other sport within the realm of a category, pole spears have a wide variety of options, from materials, types of bands, and tips each worth of its own post but to make things simple i will do my best to condense as to save from jumping around. The pole spear is usually a divers first introduction to spearfishing, cost effective and simple, they are easy to use with little instruction and more difficult to injure yourself or others with (but not impossible, be responsible and aware when using one). This is going to be a simple break down of different options for Pole Spears.

Solid or break down? All pole spears will fall into one of these two categories it is either a single solid piece of material or multiple pieces that screw together. Why does this matter? The use of a solid or breakdown pole spear will not be any different, it is the it is the storage and adjustability that makes a difference. Solid pole spears are generally 4ft to 6ft in length (unless specifically for lion fish they are smaller) and are an inexpensive starter option for those that might be on a budget. Once you have made your decision on length you are stuck with it. The breakdown models will often come in 3 pieces giving the user 2 different options for length. This also allows the user to conveniently store the pole spear or pack it away for a trip.


There are 3 common materials for pole spears: fiberglass, aluminum, and carbon fiber. The material is one of the largest driving factors for the cost of the pole spear, higher end pole spears will often be mostly made of carbon fiber or completely made of it while lower end more entry level pole spears are often made of fiberglass.

  • Fiberglass: This is a inexpensive option for pole spears that generally can be more flexible than the other two. When loaded it is not uncommon to see the shaft flex. Because of the material it is the most likely to snap or break if wedged under a rock or in a crevice. Fiberglass pole spears are offered in solid and breakdown options.
  • Aluminum: This material is in terms of cost relatively close to the fiberglass, still a good entry level option. It is a little more stiff and has more weight behind the shaft that provides a better punching power for penetrating fish. Some of these aluminum pole spears can be hollow which make them more light weight for travel but need to be filled with water to prevent floating up during a shot. Aluminum can be prone to bending if stuck in a hole or crevice but can often be straightened if not to sever. Aluminum pole spears are also offered in solid and breakdown options.
  • Carbon Fiber: This is the most costly of the three materials, but also the strongest. These are almost exclusively offered in the break down option and provide a reliable, stiff shaft with enough weight to withstand the loading and impact of spearfishing. For many pole spear purist these are the best option.

Tips may be the most important part of the pole spear because they are what punctures the fish and ideally hold it onto the spear. There are dozens of different types of tips to choose from with manufactures often putting their own twist on a particular style but to keep it simple i am going to break it down into 4 different tip styles: Paralyzer, trident, rock tip, and the slip tip.

  • Paralyzer: this is one of the most common and iconic tips for pole spears. It generally consist of 3 tines set up in a circular fashion equal distance from the center point usually with barbs on the end of these tines. Paralyzers can also have more than 3 tines in some cases up to 6 or more. The purpose of this design is to increase the number of points that penetrate the fish the more points of contact the more likely to keep the fish from getting off. With this design the barbs are generally pretty small and to best ensure that the fish does not get off after shooting it you will want to pin the fish to the bottom or rock to keep it from sliding off or keeping forward pressure bring it to the surface and grab the end of the tip using your hand to keep the fish from coming off. Many pole spears will come standard with some sort of paralyzer tip.
  • Trident: this is a more old school design that is exactly what it sounds like a trident tip multiple tines, usually 3 or 5 in parallel with barbs on some or all of the tines. This design works under the same principles as the paralyzer tip but does provide a uniform line to aim the pole spear with ( I like to have it vertical and aim right behind the gill plate).
  • Rock Tip: This is the same kind of tip that most spearguns use, it has a cylindrical point with one or two floppers/wings to hold the fish in place once it has been shot. This is a much more secure way to keep the fish from getting off but because it is a single point and much larger of a diameter than the tines of the other two tips it takes more power to penetrate the fish and better aim. This is a better option for a more seasoned spearfisherman.
  • Slip Tip: The slip tip is also something that is more common on spearguns, like the rock tip it has a single point that is meant to penetrate the fish but is attached to the shaft with a dyneema line or braided wire. this is intended usually for larger game fish that may fight and bend/damage the shaft under normal circumstances. These are the pricier of all the tips some costing over $100, they do generally have a smaller diameter than the typical rock tip and a long shaft that extends the tip usually at least 12 in. These are often for a very specific type of spearfishing and are something that if you need it you know you need it.

Bands are what give the pole spear energy and momentum under water. Most of the time the bands are significantly smaller than your typical speargun bans because the energy is not being held for extended periods of time because the user is physically holding the bands at tension. Most bands will be attached to the butt of the pole spear commonly through a hole that the band is looped through with a chord. Depending on the brand they may use a slightly different method of attaching the band but the principle is the same. The band is stretched with the hand up the shaft of the pole spear and held in place by the user until ready to fire. Most of the time the thickness of this band will be around 3/8ths of an inch compared to your standard 5/8th or 9/16th bands for spearguns.

There is one more style of band that is growing in popularity which is the Roller. This once again follows the same premises of the roller spearguns where the band is attached on the body of the the shaft and uses a pulley at the base to maximize the energy usage of the spear instead of pulling to slack like the traditional set up the band is pulled back all the way to the base of the shaft. This is definitely an interesting innovation in pole spear design that I view as more ideal for more blue water big game hunters that need the increased penetrating power.

Thank you and I hope this was helpful. Happy Hunting.


Speargun VS. Pole spear

This has been the great debate for many new underwater hunters, which is the best option? The truth is each has its own pros, cons and situations where they are the optimal choice. Spearguns and pole spears both offer a variety of options that can help broaden the effectiveness or specificity in hunting situations. This is to help any new or old spearo determine which is going to be the best option for their hunting, covering more broadly the overall benefits of each and not getting into the nitty gritty of the different styles of each.

Pole spears:undefined

Pole spears are often the first experience that many spearo’s have with hunting. It is a very simple tool with a long pole or shaft with a tip of some sort and band at the other end to generate momentum. Some people may refer to a pole spear as a Hawaiian sling which is different from a pole spear. The Pole spear is used by the user holding the band stretched along the shaft by the user with their hand (one handed operation) while a Hawaiian sling has a handle or grip that the shaft is held by and the user uses two hands to operate. Polespears are generally more common to encounter unless you are in an area that does not allow spearguns then the likely hood of seeing a Hawaiian sling might be slightly higher.

The Pros:

  • Less expensive: the cost of most Pole spears will be less than that of a speargun
  • More compact: while the length of most polespears is greater than spearguns, many pole spears break down/ collapse into smaller pieces making for easy transport.
  • Simple to use: little practice needed to start shooting fish pull the band tight point it at a fish and let go, just make sure your close enough to hit it.
  • Multiple shots in quick succession: because of the simplicity of the pole spear if you miss your fish and it is still hanging around you generally have enough time (depending on your breath hold) to attempt another shot.
  • Easy to unload: something you don’t really appreciate until you have been diving with a speargun with cold hands.
  • Less parts: because of the simplicity there are basically 3 parts to a pole spear 1. shaft 2. band 3. tip. Its very easy to determine if there is an issue with one and replace it.

The Cons:

  • Limited range: for the most part your killing range is about what you can touch with the end of the spear.
  • Hand fatigue: this is something most people don’t realize until it happens to them, holding a loaded pole spear takes some hand strength and at the end of a diving session there may be some fish that get away because either it wasn’t fully cocked or just unable to properly release.
  • Lost Fish: this will largely depend on the tip but most pole spear divers start with what is known as a paralyzer tip, this is a great tip but the barbs are usually smaller and once the fish has been hit forward pressure needs to be kept on the fish to prevent it from coming off.
  • More difficult to maneuver: because of the long length of the pole spear (especially in areas with kelp) it can be more difficult to make tight turns or swing around to take a shot on a fish.

Spearguns in my mind are very romanticized in spearfishing and rightly so because they are the optimum tool for the job. The thought of being underwater and stalking your fish then pointing the speargun and pulling the trigger as the bands release and send the shaft flying at the fish to stop it dead in its tracks are what many spearo’s fantasize about. Like polespears there are to many different styles and configurations of guns to completely cover them all so this will be a very broad focus (obviously some of these issues can be mitigated with different set ups) but this is the short answer to the question.

The Pros:undefined

  • Longer range: because the shaft can be held under tension more bands can be used to propel the smaller shaft that is attached to the body of the gun.
  • More power: once again more or larger bands can be used to give the gun more power in propelling the shaft.
  • More maneuverable: because of the power in a smaller size (overall length) it is much easier to maneuver a speargun underwater and make quicker turns to take a shot.
  • Floppers: most spearguns come standard with a shaft that has some kind of tip that uses a flopper or floppers depending on the style of shaft, these are wings that once they have passed through the fish prevent the shaft from coming back out unintentionally. Much more reliable than a barbed paralyzer tip.
  • You are going to keep more fish that you hit: because of the increased range and power along with the floppers it is more likely that when you hit a fish you will keep it (you can lose fish with a speargun but less likely)
  • No hand fatigue: because you are not physically holding the bands under tension spearguns are much easier on the hands and fatigue is rarely a problem.

The Cons:

  • The Cost: while there is a wide range of prices for spearguns generally they are going to be more expensive than a Polespear.
  • Hard to get multiple shots on a single dive: because the speargun has to be loaded ( shaft locked into the trigger mechanism, shooting line wrapped and bands pulled back) you generally only get one shot on a fish on a single dive unless you are a quick load or have a very good breath hold.
  • Moving Parts: the trigger mechanism and line release are something you have to take care of and make sure are free of salt and grit to avoid miss fires or locked triggers.
  • Lots of parts: taking care of the speargun is always the first step to prolonging the life, things will need to get replaced, bands shooting line, tips, snubber. All common things to ware out over time and with repeated use.
  • Tangles: sometimes when fish are shot they still have some life in them and can swim and twist around tangling the shooting line in itself or other things rocks, coral, kelp. This takes time to untangle which could cause you to miss a fish.
  • Harder to Travel with: although shorter than most polespears, most spearguns don’t break down so packing them for a trip can be more difficult without specialty bags, many places also have regulations on spearfishing and guns may not be allowed. (check local regulations before bringing your speargun or polespear on a trip).

While I am sure that there are other pros and cons to both polespears and spearguns these are the ones that I find to be the most helpful in determining which to purchase. The first step will always be to evaluate your situation, what kind of diving your doing, what kind of fish you are hunting, and your budget, is it better to get a very nice polespear or a cheap speargun. No matter what its the hunter that catches the fish these are just tools we use to collect them.