If you’ve been diving for a while, you may have already had an introduction to the world of spearfishing. It’s a natural progression for many divers who already enjoy regular topside fishing. There are a variety of ways that you can spear a fish including spearguns and pole spears. We’re going to be discussing the latter of those two. We’ll first give you an introduction to what pole spears are. Then, you’ll find out what to look out for when buying a pole spear. Finally, we’ll tell you the best pole spears on the market today.
What Are Pole Spears?
A pole spear is a long pole with a sharp tip on it. It is used for spearing fish. Many people use pole spears for hunting food. But, it can be used to spearfish for a variety of reasons.
If you’ve ever watched videos of people diving in the Caribbean, you’ve probably seen a pole spear and haven’t realized it. In the waters off the southern and eastern United States and the Caribbean, pole spears are quite common. They are used primarily for hunting lionfish. Here is a great National Geographic video that shows divers using pole spears. It also does a great job of explaining the issue with lionfish.
If you ever go on a dive in the Caribbean or other areas where lionfish have invaded, you will see your divemaster or instructor killing them. After watching the video, you will know why.
Pole spears aren’t just for killing lionfish though. Many spearfishers prefer to use a pole spear over a speargun. It is similar to the difference between using a rifle in deer hunting vs. a bow. You have to be more skilled and get up close to your target. That is part of what people enjoy. It takes practice and precision to really get a feel for it.
There are a few main components to a pole spear. Thankfully, it is quite simple and, unlike a speargun, doesn’t have a lot of parts to maintain. The main parts of the pole spear are:
- The Pole / can range from 1.2m to 3m (4ft to10ft) but is usually 1.8m to 2.1m (6ft to 8ft)
- Rubber tubing attached to one end of the spear
- Spear tip opposite the rubber tubing (spear tip differs based on prey type)
- Resting hook (not all pole spears have this but it can be a helpful addition)
Overall, the simplicity of the pole spear makes it easier to learn to use. The technique though is quite a bit more challenging. You need to be able to swim up close to your prey so that you are within the range of the spear. Then, you need to aim and strike. As with any other type of hunting whether on land or underwater, this takes lots of practice.
We recommend using a pole spear to learn spearfishing before a speargun. Sure, spearguns are easier to learn with. You don’t have to get as close and the action for actually spearing the fish is much easier with the aim and shoot method of a speargun.
But, with a pole spear, you are learning the fundamentals of hunting more thoroughly by having to get up close and then perfectly spear your prey. This is a valuable skill regardless of the type of weapon you use for spearfishing. So, we feel that it is better to learn the pole spear first and then move on to the slightly easier speargun.
How Do You Use A Pole Spear?
As we’ve mentioned already, the technique for using a pole spear is a bit more complex than a speargun. You need to learn how to set the spear and then get up and close with your prey. How close you actually need to be will depend on the range of your spear. But, it is much closer than you would get with a speargun. So, let’s look at how you use a pole spear.
We’ve talked a bit above about the different parts of the spear. You have the pole, the spear end, and the rubber band. You can also optionally install or purchase a pole spear with a resting hook for keeping your band set. If your pole spear doesn’t already have the resting hook, we recommend you install one.
To use a pole spear, you need to first set it. We are going to assume that you took our advice with the resting hook which makes setting the pole spear much easier. To set the spear, you pull the rubber band forward between your thumb and your index finger. The idea is to stretch it as far forward as you comfortably can. Some pole spears come with a grip in the middle to make it easier to hold. If your spear doesn’t have one, it is possible to add the grip later.
Assuming you have the grip, you will pull the band forward till your hand reaches a comfortable postion, then wrap your hand around the grip. If you have the resting hook, again we highly recommend this, you can set it. The resting hook allows you to keep the pole spear set so that you simply have to swim up to the fish and disengage the hook before aiming and letting go. This can be an invaluable tool as you don’t have to reset the hook every time you are within range of your prey. You also don’t have to swim around holding onto the grip with the spear set which can quickly tire you out and cause sore muscles in your hand.
Once you get close to your prey, you take aim and then fire. It is that simple. Don’t let the fact that it is simple lead you to believe that it will be easy, though. As we said above, using a pole spear can be much more challenging than using a spear gun. You have to first master the art of getting close to your prey and then you have to master the aiming and firing of the pole spear. This takes a lot of practice and you will most likely fail the first few times that you attempt this. It is always best to practice in shallow waters where you can recover your spear if you miss or drop it.
Here is an amazing video that shows you the step by step process of using the pole spear. We’ll next look at exactly what you should look for when purchasing a pole spear and how to find the right spear for you.
What To Look For When Buying A Pole Spear?
There are a few different factors that you want to take into consideration when buying your first pole spear. Some of these have to do with the spear itself, and others will depend on your location and what type of fish you are hunting. Let’s examine these different factors before we go into our vote for the best pole spears:
This is going to be one of the most important decisions that you make. The length of the pole is going to affect a number of different aspects of how you hunt. There are three primary factors that must be taken into account when it comes to pole length:
- Skill Level
- Fish Size
A larger pole is going to give you more range when you are hunting. But, if you are in shallower waters, this isn’t really that important. You want a shorter pole that is going to be easier to handle.
You also need to think about the size of the fish that you are hunting. If you are going after big game such as tuna or king mackerel, you are going to need a longer spear. Especially, since these fish are more likely going to be in deeper waters. But, if you are trying to spear small barracuda or snapper with a large pole, you may find it to be a bit of overkill.
Finally, you need to think about your skill level. The logic is that the longer the pole is the better the range so you should get the longest pole available. But, the longer the pole the more difficult it is going to be to handle. As we previously mentioned, you should spend your first few attempts at spearfishing in shallow waters. The last thing you want is to buy a nice new pole spear and lose it in the depths because you missed the shot. It is always best to practice in shallow waters first with a smaller and easier to manage spear. Then, once you’ve got the fundamentals down, begin to move into deeper waters.
There are a few different types of tips that you can use with your pole spear. You may find yourself using all of them at different points in your hunting. Which one you use will depend on the type of fish you are trying to spear. The main tip types are:
- Slip Tips
- Paralyzer Tips
- Flopper Tips
Each of these tip types has a different purpose and is good for hunting different types of fish. One of the first things you want to identify is which tip is for which hunt and practice with each of them.
A slip tip does exactly as the name implies, it slips from the spear. For this reason, you need to have a thread connecting to the tip. Many hunters like to use these for hunting larger fish as they penetrate deep and are quite precise. But, they are easier to damage if you miss a shot and hit something hard.
Slip tip spear ends are also significantly more costly than double and single barbs also used for hunting larger fish. We recommend you save these till you are more experienced with using a pole spear.
As a beginner, it can be a good idea to start out with paralyzer tips. These tips usually come with three or more prongs. They do not necessarily kill the fish, but instead, stun them so that you can quickly grab and kill it.
This type of tip is better for beginners because there is less need for accuracy. You can punch the fish and then quickly grab it and spear it through the brain to kill it. It is better for hunting smaller fish such as reef fish.
One final note is that you need to make the kill quickly. Once the fish regains its awareness it will be thrashing and fighting to get away. You can easily lose a thrashing fish as they can more easily slip off the spear. Also, too much thrashing can attract other predator fish such as sharks trying to steal your catch.
Flopper Tips (Single and Double Barb):
Flopper tips and are better for more advanced spearfishers. You will need to be much more precise when using one of these tips but they are better for hunting larger fish.
These tips will allow you to penetrate deeper than a paralyzer tip will. Also, they are quite sturdy. If you hit a rock or something else hard it is less likely to become damaged than the slip tip. Single and double barb tips are usually cheaper which makes them a better overall option.
Pole Spear Material
Another factor which will depend on the type of fish you are hunting. Primarily, the size of the fish you are hunting. Pole Spears come in three different material types:
- Carbon Fiber
Each of these three materials have different pros and cons which make it appropriate for different types of fish. Fiberglass, for example, is quite light but still durable. It is a good option when hunting small to medium-sized fish when you want stopping power. The fact that it is lighter will make it easier for you to manage. You also won’t need as strong of a band to fire it. Larger bands are going to tire your hands out much quicker and shorten your fishing time.
Aluminum, on the other hand, is heavier and is going to travel slower than carbon fiber or fiberglass. The upside is that it has much more stopping power and is better for hunting larger species of fish. As we stated above, you are going to need a larger band to launch the extra weight. This means your hands will tire out faster which, over time, is going to drop your accuracy.
As a beginner, we recommend you stick to using fiberglass until you learn proper technique and improve your accuracy. You should be practicing in the shallows anyway so you will most likely be hunting reef fish or other smaller varieties of fish. For fish this size, fiberglass will do the job just fine and is much cheaper to replace in the event you lose your spear or break it.
What Are The Best Pole Spears For Divers?
Now that you have a good idea of both what spearfishing is and how to use a pole spear, it’s time to look at the best pole spears currently on the market. We will break this down into different experience levels starting with beginner pole spears and moving up to advanced.
For beginners, it is best to stick to something that is easy to use and cheap. Chances are, you may lose one or two-pole spears when you are first starting out. So, sticking to cheap and light pole spears for hunting smaller to medium-sized fish is optimal.
Scuba Choice Fiberglass Travel Pole Spear 5’
- Total length: 5' (60")
- Pole spear material: Fiber glass
- 3 Prong Paralyzer tip with barb: Stainless Steel, 12" long. 8mm diameter thread
- With Black rubber sling & bag
- Break down length: 24" pole + 24" pole + 12" Paralyzer tip
The scuba choice 5’ pole spear is quite similar to the Bandito listed above. The main difference is that it can break down into two different pieces. This makes it a better option if you plan on doing a lot of traveling with your spear. The spear is a basic fiberglass setup and is both lightweight and easy for beginners. It doesn’t have a bunch of extra features but will certainly do the trick. We recommend this for lionfish and for smaller to medium-sized fish. It comes with a three-pronged paralyzer spear tip.
- The spear tip is made so that the prongs aren’t spaced too far apart from one another. One issue that many people have when hunting smaller fish is that the prongs are too far apart and they can go around the fish rather than through it. You shouldn’t have that issue with the included spear tip which should be good for small to medium-sized fish.
- It’s made from fiberglass. The spear is light enough to travel quickly and precisely through the water but heavy enough to punch through the intended target. The total length of the pole is 1.5m (5ft). As we mentioned with the Bandito, this is small enough to easily maneuver with and use when first learning in shallow waters.
- The biggest pro for this pole sear is that it breaks into two pieces. You can remove the tip and unscrew the pole and easily pack it into your checked baggage at the airport. It should also fit quite easily into your dive bag. If you like to travel and need something that can travel with you, this can be a good option.
- The one major complaint that we have is that the metal piece which connects the two pieces of the pole together is prone to rust. You will need to make sure to wash and scrub this thoroughly after saltwater use so that it does not corrode. It can also be a good idea to coat it with an anti-rusting oil periodically.
JCS 6’ Fiberglass Pole Spear with Paralyzer Tip
- 1/2inch Solid Fiberglass
- 6mm Steel Threaded Tip
- Each Pole Spear Comes Complete with 3 Prong, 12inch Paralyzer Tip
- 28inch Latex Sling & Tuna Line
- Made in USA
This is a good intermediate level pole. It doesn’t differ too much from the Bandito 5’ Pole Spear or the Scuba Choice Travel Pole Spear we talk about above. The main difference is that it has an extra 0.3m (1ft) of pole length to work with. If you’ve started out with one of the 1.5m (5ft) poles and are ready to move up, this can be a great option. Like the other poles on this list so far, it is made from fiberglass. This is one piece so it may not be the best option for travel.
- The extra length can come in handy. As we stated, you don’t want to start out with the longest pole you can find. It makes it harder to maneuver and aim. When first starting out, it is better to use a shorter pole to get the feel down and perfect your technique. After you have the technique down, we recommend you move up to a 1.8m (6ft) pole such as this one or even longer. The extra length can come in handy when a fish is about to get away from you.
- The fiberglass pole is lightweight but packs enough of a punch to penetrate its intended target. This is a good material for beginners to use as it is light enough to maneuver with but heavy enough that it travels easily through the water.
- The pole spear comes with a 30cm (12in) three-pronged paralyzer tip. As with the Scuba Choice spear above, we like that the prongs are not too far apart on the tip. You won’t have to worry about the prongs going around smaller fish instead of into it. If you plan on using this for larger fish, you may want to purchase a different tip such as the Cressi Slip Tip.
- The biggest issue we have with this pole spear is that it does not break down. So, if you are planning on traveling with this, you will need to work with the airline to check it in which will probably cost extra. This may not be an issue for everyone but we do find it to be an annoyance. If you are planning on traveling and want something you can easily pack, you may want to opt for the Scuba Choice Travel Pole Spear listed above.
Evolve Carbon Fiber Pole Spear
This is not a pole for beginners. The Evolve carbon fiber pole can travel quickly and precisely with a solid impact. But, the price is going to match it. If you are just getting started and know you are going to stick with spearfishing, you might think about this one. Otherwise, it is best to start out with one of the above pole spears. You want to start moving on to a more advanced pole like this one when you are confident you aren’t going to lose it.
Evolve is a Hawaiin manufacturer that focuses on high end and high-quality spearfishing gear. They have been in the business long enough to establish a solid reputation. When you purchase and Evolve pole spear, you can be assured it’s going to last for many years of fishing.
- Carbon Fiber is a strong and light material. But, it doesn’t sacrifice impact strength the same way other lighter materials do. You can get a high level of precision with your throws and an impact strong enough for larger fish such as tuna.
- The Evolve Carbon Fiber Pole Spear comes in four different lengths ranging from 1.82m to 2.74m (6ft to 9ft). You can further break down their poles into smaller sizes. This also makes it easier to travel with as you can break the pole spear down to store in your checked luggage or dive bag.
- This is a great option for advanced spear fishers looking to hunt deepwater big game fish.
- This pole does not come with a tip. For the price, this is a bit of a letdown. You will need to purchase a tip separately depending on what type of fish you are hunting. For the higher level of quality and the more expensive price, we would prefer that a high-quality tip or range of tips would be included in the package.
HeadHunter Predator Pole Spear
This is another pole spear meant for more advanced spearfishers. You can certainly start off with this as a beginner, but you want to make sure you do not use it in an area where you would be unable to retrieve it if lost. The price reflects the high-quality materials and craftsmanship you can expect from HeadHunter. The company has been manufacturing pole spears for over a decade with a focus on high-quality spears. They are the brainchild of experienced spearfishers who have used their own experience to craft a top of the line pole spear.
- This is one of the fastest and most precise pole spears on the market. The back half of the spear is a composite material which makes it both light and durable. For the front half, carbon fiber is used which gives it solid impact strength. All of the connectors are stainless steel which helps to prevent corrosion.
- This HeadHunter Predator comes with a durable stainless steel slip tip. As we’ve mentioned previously, this is a better option for more advanced spear fishers looking to spear larger fish. If you are new to spearfishing and are planning to hunt in shallower waters with smaller fish, a better option would be a paralyzer tip.
- As a high end pole spear, it has all of the bells and whistles you would expect. The Predator comes pre fitted with a resting hook which can save you time and energy when hunting. The pole spear comes ready to fire right out of the box so there are no extra parts you need to purchase. Another plus is that HeadHunter makes a wide array of parts for the Predator. So, if you do need something extra, such as adaptors or replacement parts, you can easily find them unlike many other pole spears.
- This only drawback for the Headhunter Predator is the price. As we mentioned in the description, this is a high-level and high-quality pole spear. The price will provide a greater barrier to entry. It is the most expensive pole spear on our list. But, if you are an advanced spearfisher looking for a high quality pole spear, this is one of the best currently on the market.
Bandito 5’ x ½” Pole Spear
- 5’ x ½”. One piece. Standard 6mm threaded stainless steel end accepts all standard 6mm tapped...
- Solid, ½” diameter, yellow, fiberglass shaft with fixed Aluminum butt and tip fittings.
- Includes a 26” x 3/8” polespear band for a powerful punch. Perfect for killing Lionfish.
- The best fiberglass polespears on the market, made from the highest quality fiberglass and surgical...
- Made in The Florida Keys, USA
This is about as basic as it gets and perfect for new spearfishers looking for something sturdy and economical. The spear measures in at 1.5m (5ft) which is a good starting length when first learning in the shallows. It has a fiberglass frame good for small to medium-sized fish.
- It is lightweight. The Bandito pole spear is made from fiberglass which is a lightweight material when compared to aluminum. This will give you an advantage when going for smaller prey such as lionfish as fiberglass moves quickly and precisely.
- The length gives you plenty of range when starting out to play around with while also being small enough to manage. You won’t have to worry about the pole being too long or too heavy to accurately aim with. This is great for practicing with till you get aiming down.
- The band is 66cm (26in) and made from high-grade surgical tubing. You can get plenty of momentum going without worrying about the band breaking.
- This pole spear does not come with a spear tip. Instead, you will have to find the right tip and purchase it separately. It can support any 6mm speartip. As a beginner, we recommend using either the Scuba Choice 3 Prong Stainless Steel Tip or the JBL Paralyzer Steel Spring Tip.
What are some final tips for buying a pole spear?
The nice thing about pole spears is that they are a simple piece of equipment. As we stated above, when compared to spearguns, they are much easier to maintain and service. There are less parts and if you need to replace a section of the spear it is easy to do on your own. This is one of the reasons so many spearfishers prefer using them when they first get started in the sport.
The main thing to worry about as a new spearfisher is that you are getting everything you need. As you have probably seen from our recommendations, not all pole spears come ready to fire out of the box. Mainly, many pole spears do not come with a tip when you first purchase them. Instead, you will need to purchase your own tip dependent on your needs. Always make sure when you are buying a spear that you know whether or not it comes with a tip and if it is the tip you need.
The last thing you want is to have your pole spear show up a few days before you plan on leaving for a trip only to find it doesn’t have a tip. You will most likely be out of luck unless you can quickly order one. Always know what you are getting and if it does not come ready to fire make sure you are ordering everything you need. Even if it does come with a tip, remember that it may not be the one you need. So, check everything thoroughly and make sure you are getting the setup you want for your specific hunting.
One final tip is to make sure you can use your pole spear in the area you plan on fishing. There are different laws regarding spear fishing in every county. Even within each country, there may be different laws in different areas regarding what types of tips you can use and which fish you can catch. Make sure you are following these laws and that your equipment is correct before you go.
Have we piqued your interest in spearfishing?
It is a growing sport among both fishermen and divers looking to move into new territories. For good reason too. It is relatively cheap to get started and, unlike other types of water sports such as cave diving and wreck diving, you don’t need a lot of expensive equipment.
Do you have experience with spearfishing? Maybe you have a pole spear you prefer that’s not on this list?
Let us know in the comments. We enjoy hearing from fellow experienced water sports enthusiasts just like you. Also, you never know when your comments and tips might help out other readers.
This page was last updated on 2022-08-29. Affiliate links and Product Images are from Amazon PAAPI