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Thread: New to Spearfishing from CA.; need advice on guns

  1. #1
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    Default New to Spearfishing from CA.; need advice on guns

    Thanks in advance for reading this and for considering helping out w/some advice:

    I'm brand new to spearfishing and have all my gear (almost) except a gun. So, I'm another guy looking for gun advice and right now I only want to buy one gun. But, I have some good background material to help you focus your recommendation:

    I have completed both the beginner and intermediate freediver course and will taking the intermediate again in Hawaii with a guy that will end up being my spearfishing buddy. I actually did not pass the intermediate course the first time (loser!!) only because I couldn't make the depth requirement of 82 feet (I did 66'). But, I had a 4:04 static apnea time and passed every other portion of the class including rescues down to 30+ feet. (Actually, I'm not that bugged by not passing because I know the depth will come and because I did very well on my rescues which I think are more important anyways). I went spearfishing for the 1st time in Baja (La Paz; Palapas Ventana) last November and loved it! I shot two fish (parrotfish and a grouper). My dives were from 25-40 feet and lasted 1:30 after a few warm-up dives. (I loved the sensation of being down at 30' for a minute and not feeling the need to come up for air!). With my 2nd 4-day intermediate course coming up in June (in Kona!), I think I'll be pretty decent at the freedive part of the sport of spearfishing.

    Here is a description of the type of spearfishing I will do and the locations: (1) I will be spearfishing in California's Southern Channel Islands and Cortez Banks. Because I"m new, I don't see me trying for tuna anytime soon but I will be trying for White Sea Bass (often shot from the top in a kelp bed), calicos (in the kelp bed), and yellowtail (kinda sorta blue water but run closer to reefs sometimes). (2) I will be spearfishing in Mexico and that is also reef fish and blue water (dorado; wahoo).

    Here is what my own research tells me: I don't need big blue water gun for my first gun even though I may get some blue water time. But, the gun should be at least reasonably effective in the blue water. One gun can't do everything well so I'll have to get one that can do the best job in the types of fishing I'll be doing for now. One recommendation I already had was to get an Aimrite 100 carbon fiber rail gun. What do you think about that? I'm not worried about the cost of a gun and can spend the money. So, I'd like to hear your thoughts too. Also, can you tell me what is the difference between getting a carbon fiber or wood gun? Which do you prefer and why? Do you recommend a reel gun or a float set up and why?

    Thanks again! I'd great appreciate hearing from you!!

    Greg

  2. #2
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    I'll start by saying that if you stick with it and start spending a lot of time spearing, you won't have just one gun (Spearguns are no different than shoes or fishing poles). For what you describe, I think the best all around single gun would be a 55" midhandle. You'll have the range of about a 120 cm rail gun for when you have good visibility, but you'll only have the length from the trigger to tip of about an 80 cm rail gun for when the visibility is bad. A 100 cm gun would be a little short for bluewater and a little long for bad vis. If you know anyone with a variety of guns, I'd borrow some and see what you like.

    For a long time, I used Euro/rail guns, but you really need the right length for the visibility. They don't perform well if overpowered, so your range is proportional to gun length. The good thing about them is they all shoot the same (I didn't own two of the same model), so it's easy to switch among them based on the visibility. I had guns from 50 cm to 140 cm, and usually brought 4 or 5 guns with me on trips. I switched to midhandles, because rail guns have their faults at the end of the size ranges. I shoot a lot of grouper in murky water over here. With a short rail gun, there's two issues. There isn't a lot of power, and the shaft is short. A bad shot on a 15# grouper in a wreck with a 40" shaft, and he can weave his way through all kinds of obstructions if you don't stop it in time. I've got a 40" midhandle I now use for my Bay diving. It has the trigger to tip length of a 50 cm, but the shaft length and band pull of a 90 cm gun. It also shoot the same whether I have one or two bands loaded. With the 40" midhandle, I've replaced the 50, 70 and 90 cm railguns that I had.

    At the other end, if you overpower a long rail gun, it loses accuracy fast. A long rail gun does have an advantage over a long midhandle for smaller fish, as your tip is about a foot closer to the fish. It's easier to hit a fish 14' away than 15' away. But if you need to hit a big fish that's 15' away, the power you need for a rail gun is going to affect it's accuracy more than an enclosed track midhandle. I've replaced my longer rails with a 59" midhandle. It has the trigger to tip length of a 100 cm gun, but the shaft length and band pull of a 140 cm gun. I can use four bands on it, and it shoots with the same accuracy as two bands. So with that gun, I've replaced the 110, 130 and 140 railguns.

    Bottom line, is that with two guns, I've replaced six, without losing the ability to accurately shoot in any conditions. That's a lot less band, shooting line and shaft maintenance. (I do also have a 52" midhandle that I added as a tournament gun - faster to reload than the long gun and better range than the short gun.) Another positive about bringing two midhandles with me, is that people don't bitch about me bringing five spearguns on trips anymore.

    If you do go with rail guns, a dirty little secret is that unless it's a long gun, it doesn't matter if the barrel is aluminum, carbon fiber, or toilet paper rolls. I wouldn't spend the money to upgrade over aluminum on anything 110 or under.

  3. #3
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    That's all great advice and understandable even for a newbee like me. I'll tuck it away, see if anyone else chimes in, and go from there.

    I'm a very avid skier and, trust me, I don't just have one pair of skis. So, I think I know where this is going....

    Thank you again for your time and great advice!!

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    After EXTENSIVE research, including your advice, I bought a gun. Some people might say, "dummy! you should try a few first since you're just getting started." Who knows; they're probably right. But, I thought if I can find the right gun and learn to carry THAT gun from go, learn to aim THAT gun from go, and learn to shoot THAT gun from go, then I can quicken the pace at which I get comfortable and used to a particular, respectable speargun and can then focus more on tactics. And, since I think Matthew is right in that I'll probably buy more guns soon anyways, the worst case scenario is my first gun will just be ONE gun in my quiver. So, what gun did I get? A Riffe 55" mishandle. From everything I read, including Matthews advice, that is NOT the best open water gun and is NOT the best reef and/or kelp gun. But, many believe it is an excellent one gun quiver for someone that wants one gun that can do both relatively well. I'll keep you all posted on how it goes!!

  5. #5
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    Hi Matt,

    An update on the gun advice:

    Bought the Riffe 55 mishandle, took it to La Paz, and on my 6th day spearfishing....in my life...I shot a 60b. Amberjack in 35ft of water near El Bajo (a place called El Bajito). The shot placement was really good. I didn't stone it but it was rocked. I don't know the distance of the shot because I'm new and can't really judge. But, when I pulled the trigger on the fish, the fish did not look very big to me at all so it was probably at some distance. The spear hit VERY HARD, went completely through behind the gill plate, and the gear held together very well when I fought it to the surface. No question that this gun is capable of punching through a big, tough fish from a decent distance. I used it to shoot some smaller reef fish as well. I think this is a good all-around gun and good pick for me. I have a pic of the fish on my profile page but, for some reason, I can't see if when I'm on the Board. I have some other pics of it but when I upload to my email thread here I only see text, no photo. So, check out the profile page and see what this newbee shot with the riffe 55 midhandle! Thanks for the great advice!
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails -img_0615-jpg  

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    I think that any gun you buy will get you more fish than sitting at the keyboard and dithering about which one to buy. It's still the archer that hits the target, not the arrow.

  7. #7
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    Nice fish, great way to break in the new gun!

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