Under The Sea – Slings and Polearms

Charles Duffie with a polespeared hogfish. Photo by James Ferrara.

There’s a fun retro-movement taking place in spearfishing—a trend toward primitive hunting gear. Slings and polespears are used in places that do not allow trigger mechanisms, such as Bermuda or the Bahamas, but they are growing in popularity outside these regions, too.

This could be attributed to the new Sling/Polespear category for world records, run by the International Underwater Spearfishing Association (IUSA). However, I suspect the real reason is that many hunters appreciate the challenge and simplicity, not unlike land-hunters opting for bow-and-arrow over rifles. It’s a beautiful art form that evokes images of Indians using extreme stealth and having great respect for their prey.

Slings and polespears are great tools for someone who is either learning how to spearfish or interested in improving their hunting skills. Compared to modern spearguns, they force a diver to become calmer and stealthier because of their shorter range. One must slow down and study the behavior of fish in order to get closer to them. While both slings and polespears are powered using rubber bands without trigger mechanisms, these two styles differ.

Slings, sometimes called “Hawaiian slings,” are similar to a slingshot where the band is pulled back to launch the spear. Traditionally, the shooter was a tubular-shaped piece of wood with a hole drilled down the center so the shaft could slide through when being launched forward by the band. Recent innovations from companies have challenged this traditional design by changing the hand position. The Headhunter Guerilla Sling has a comfortable grip, which transfers the weight load from the wrist and distributes the force throughout the forearm. Sea Archer slings look like an underwater bow and arrow. The user holds the body of the sling just as they would with a bow and arrow. There’s nothing more beautiful than watching a skilled underwater hunter using a sling and hitting the mark with a free-flying shaft!

Polespears are another fun option. They can be made of fiberglass, aluminum or carbon fiber. The tip can have a flopper, three-prong paralyzer tip or a slip-tip. Neritic Diving company makes polespears with interchangeable sections that can be assembled in different length configurations. Users may choose to use a shorter polespear when hunting in dirtier water or in tight spaces. When diving in deep clear water, fish may not be cooperative and a longer polespear may be desired. The ability to quickly construct your weapon of choice is one of the best recent innovations, along with magnetic slip-tips that don’t fall off while diving.

I must admit that I can’t help feeling a smug sense of satisfaction when I land an elusive fish with a simple stick and rubber band. Regardless if you are a novice or professional, primitive hunting offers a fun and entertaining challenge. Why not add another skill to your spearfishing resume and another choice in your toolkit? It will double your fun and make you a better hunter!

Sheri is a world-record holder, host of Speargun Hunter and producer of “The Blue Wild Ocean Adventure Expo” in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. Follow “Sheri Daye” and “The Blue Wild” on Facebook and Instagram.