With grouper now out of season in South Florida, this is a good time to pick up a Hawaiian sling, which can reach wily snappers like mutton, cubera and yellowtail. They are some of the fastest bottom fish in the Atlantic and they know it! Early slings were nothing more than a short piece of wood, drilled to allow a spear shaft to pass through it, with a rubber band whipped tightly to it to propel the shaft towards a fish, much like a bow and arrow, but looking more like a slingshot. The beauty of slings is the range and accuracy that freeshafts provide. Snappers like the deep wrecks, of which Broward and Miami Dade have in spades and they make for challenging hunting. Another benefit of a freeshaft is that its safer, with no entanglement possible without shooting line. Slings are best for spearing bottom fish within a diver’s depth range and shot placement is the key to successful sling spearfishing.
Around 2014 some slings were introduced that made a big difference in range and accuracy. Increasing band stretch by up to 11 inches is about a 33% improvement in power. More power can allow use of a shooting line, but lines create much drag, so the range is not also increased, but with the shaft tethered it reduces the chance of shaft loss. Some of these slings can mount reels, to allow a diver to surface to breathe, without losing the connection to the shaft and can shoot in water deeper than his/her depth range. Slings with reels can also be used to shoot pelagic fish that are not easily landed with freeshafts and shooting lines can be attached to float lines. Sounds amazing, but a shooting line creates some big disadvantages, like entanglement. Slings are too short to retain and release shooting lines and must be pulled off a reel first, then float nearby or held away by the diver. Time is greatly increased to get a fish off the shaft and shooting line and get ready for the next shot. It is highly recommended to seek out competent spearfishing instruction. Although less than perfect, new slings are helping divers land some amazing fish, and new world records! By the way… Hawaiian slings are allowed while freediving in the Bahamas!
Capt. Chad Carney