How To Choose A Speargun



Choosing A Speargun

If you pinned me down to “the best gun” what would it be? To tell you the truth,I don’t believe there is such a thing as “the best speargun”.  The “best speargun” varies depending on fit and the application it will be used for. I will help guide you in making the right decision in your quest to find “the best speargun” for you. Choosing a Speargun is a difficult and a personal decision to make. If you had spearguns from every different manufacturer to shoot side by side in a pool test, it would still be challenging to pick one. At the end of the test you would only know what gun felt best in that specific environment. You would still need to test them on fish, or the big picture would not be clear. Most Manufacturer’s make guns in different models.  You will commonly find that one model type will shoot different than another model type made by the same manufacturer.  This makes it difficult when switching from one model gun to another. Some guns shoot higher and some lower. Some a little left and some, well, you get the picture. They all shoot straight, it’s just a matter of what you are used to, and what your brain has interpreted as straight. It is my advice to buy several lengths/sizes of the same gun model, built by the same manufacturer, and not switch. To complicate things further we have to decide between pneumatic guns, euro guns and wood guns. I’m not going into blue water spearguns, we will stick to reef guns because thats the gun we use 99% of the time in the Northeast. It impossible for me to tell you what gun is best, So I will discuss some of the advantages, disadvantages, size’s, design and band choices found with speargun’s.  Hopefully, this information will help you narrow it down a bit.

Let’s start with the pneumatic or “the airgun”.  How can I knock the air gun. I took the world record striper at 68.5 lbs with a Mares Cyrano 1100. The gun was the perfect fit for the day, high current and dirty water. That is the perfect formula for the pneumatic. It is extremely powerful at close range and tracks like none other through the water column, hence, its advantage in high current. Aside from the above scenario and hole hunting, I will take a band gun any day of the week. Incidentally, I have taken 3 other fish between 60 lbs. and 64 lbs. with a 110cm single band, band gun. Band guns have been proven to shoot further with more power at distance in pool tests and are more accurate overall.

The rail guns powered by bands are offered in the U.S. now by so many manufacturers it can make your head spin. I am partial to the Mares Phantom Carbon combined with the Mares Spiro 87 reel.  It is a streamline setup, that handles beautifully and shoots like a laser. It is very accurate and tracks great laterally through the water column due to its design. Lateral tracking is a big plus, when that trophy striper suddenly appears on your side giving you “the look”; you can actually turn this gun and get your shot. You can’t say that for most band guns.  It is also a sturdy gun; I have been using them for 3 years and have yet to break one. Other guns that are very good are Rob Allen, Aimrite and Omer, to name a few.  All are good choices. I prefer continues rail, rail guns because they are inherently flatter shooting. The reason is less flex in the shaft when it leaves the rail. Most wood guns have a continuous rail which is good, however, personally, I am not a  fan of wood guns. Most wood guns have poor lateral tracking ability. They have their place in blue water hunting where big and powerful is the standard.

Speargun size is best described in two words, “bigger is better” O.K., make that three words. The longer the stretch on the bands the more power you will get. So always carry the biggest gun the visibility will allow. I am partial to the 110cm guns. The 110cm guns are a nice balance of maneuverability and power. Short band guns bellow 75cm are nearly useless for bigger fish and until you get to 90cm don’t consider yourself well-armed for any fish bigger than 15 lbs. I’m not saying it can’t be done, I have done it myself. With a perfectly placed shot and a little luck you can land just about anything with any speargun, however, it’s just not worth the stress of losing a fish, and the risk of fatally wounding it. So in a nut shell, the 110 cm gun is perfect for the northeast when visibility allows it. It will take the big fish at longer ranges. In the ideal world you should own a 75cm 90-100cm and a 110cm gun all made by the same manufacturer and the same model(remember get used to one gun so it shoots like a laser for you).  You want to know your gun inside and out. You should be able load it with your eyes closed and shoot it from any angle including off your hip.

So hopefully that sums it up, and we can move on to bands. I shoot everything with one single 20mm band that is set tight. There are three reasons I use a single band. First, they load faster and in spearfising tournaments every second counts. Second, I have found that single bands are less likely to “wrap” on the shooting line than double and triple bands. When using a reel a “wrap” on  the band stops the reel from working. This means you will be forced to drag the fish to the surface or give up the gun. Third, I find single bands shoot flatter due to less recoil making them more accurate. When single bands are set right they have plenty of power to take big fish with well placed shots. Bands should be a 3:1 stretch (as a general rule). In other words, bands are basically fit 1/3 the length of the gun before they are stretched. I cut down the stock band almost 3 inches on the phantoms and re-tie them with a dynema wishbone.  Lots of power! It has never failed me. Multiple bands will give you more power but have increased drag in the water during vertical and lateral movement and loading them takes longer. They also tend to be noisier when moving them through the water column, which will scare fish. Everything is a trade off.

That’s it in a nut shell. I hope I didn’t insult anyone’s belief in their gun choice. All guns will work, I just know what works best for me, and that’s what I am relaying to you. So, what is “the best speargun” to me in the northeast?  A 100cm to 110cm euro rail gun with a single 20mm band and a reel. Thats my choice. Now about speargun shafts, actually, I will save that for another write up.


by David Hochman


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