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    Technology in Spearfishing

    May 11, 2017 6 min read

    Technology in Spearfishing

    A rant about how we often adapt to new innovation.
    Words by Noob Spearo's Isaac 'Shrek' Daly.
    Sometimes I watch as the latest spearfishing innovation is released and I know its only a matter of time before the soap boxes come out. A few experienced and knowledgeable spearo's get up and start their sermons about how this latest innovation is going to ruin the purity of the sport or how this new xxxx is just marketing hype drummed out by some greedy spearfishing corporation. Well I've got news for you, a lot of the time this is just pure horse shit.
    Often an 'out of the box' creative spearo has poured their spare hours into an idea and worked away at it for a few years. Once they've tuned the concept, built a prototype, improved and iterated with each successive version and finally got their product to market you'd imagine that it'd be time for celebrating. Nope, now it's time to address the negative Nancies. The most vocal knee jerk reactions always seem to be negative.  Generally, these concerns fit into one of three categories. The product is either (1) unethical, (2) making false claims, or (3) unsafe.

    Lets look at unethical technology. In recent years the rise of the roller speargun has seen more than its fair share of criticism. At first, the criticism was normal. The technology laggards climbed up the mount to begin their sermon and started with the classic; 'Nope this roller hype is garbage. There is no way that these spearguns deliver more power in a smaller length. Our conventional spearguns are time tested and if they ain't broke, don't fix them.' And just like that many spearo's were convinced and seemed to ignore the roller gun technology. Thankfully innovators like Manny Bova bucked the trend, believed in the technology and kept pushing them.DSC07970

    The roller speargun didn't just go away and so the criticism changed. 'Unethical', was the next shout. "We don't need greater range with no recoil, its cheating. You must be a useless spearo if you need these advantages". It's all about the hunter and roller spearguns provide an unfair advantage. I don't know if these critics noticed but all of us get in the water and find the most creative ways to exploit a fish's curiosity. Once the fish is close enough we put 7mm's of steel straight through them. Using roller technology to ensure that the most accurate, reliable shot is taken and the fish is secured seems pretty ethical to me. Seems to me that the spearguns with the least reliability, accuracy, and range are the most unethical.

    Great spearo's can shoot fish all day, so if the roller confers some advantage to the hunter then ensuring the hunter has a selective and sustainable mindset is where the ethics come in. Our own personal spearfishing code of ethics should determine the quantity and quality of fish we take. Using equipment that makes the job more difficult (such as a pole spear) should be the conscious choice of the hunter and shouldn't be the standard we each try to hunt by.

    Making false claims. That old chestnut, at first when composite fins made it onto the market some vocal spearo's refused the claims and went into forums (they were the place to be back in the day) to issue forth their criticism. Using their own physics formulas these guys justified why composite fins wouldn't confer greater economy and power. It turns out that once someone expresses a seemingly reasonable objection many of us are influenced.fins

    My theory behind this is that when we are faced with objections to a product that appears logical and unbiased, we develop enough doubt to no longer investigate a products claims. Our own cognitive biases act as a defense mechanism when we think we are being sold something. Lets face it, none of us wants to be a fool.

    So how can we get around this defense mechanism? Well it's not easy, because having healthy skepticism is necessary we must temper it with self-awareness and curiosity. A way to overcome this is have friends that serve as crash test dummies. You can learn a lot just by listening to your early adopter mates and asking them questions.

    Dissent is the new sexy. Apparently denying everything until there is a double-blind clinical trial with a sample size of more than 100 is bringing sexy back. Sometimes the language of science seems to have provided technology laggards with the vocabulary to never change their minds. While I may sound heavy handed with my scathing assessment of vocal skeptics, it's not their questions that bother me (or manufacturers). It's the fact that many people are influenced by a vocal minority who are often poorly informed or biased towards the technology for other reasons.

    Unsafe. This is the most legitimate reason to discredit new technology but it's still not a reason for blanket write-offs.

    Reel guns are a perfect example of this. Many old hands foresaw the inherent dangers of reel guns early on and tried to get heavy handed with early adopters by refusing to use them. While this seemed like the easiest option, it did little to influence young divers and has not made reel gun diving practices any safer.

    Adreno Invisi Skin Clark McNulty (14 of 17)

    It's well known that reels can lock up when a big fish takes a run. Often the speargun is not connected to a float on the surface so a diver may try to fight the fish to the surface so that they don't lose their gun. This is how people die. Thankfully reel gun divers are adapting some common sense practices. Adreno's Trevor Ketchion tells people "Use a reel if you don't mind losing your speargun. If you can't bear losing a speargun then stick to your rigline setup. Reels are not practical in some situations either so learning when and where to use them is important".

    Another proactive measure is to advise new spearo's not to start with a reel gun. Its a level of complexity that new spearo's don't need and we've heard this point made several times on the Noob Spearo Podcast.

    When Trevor and his crew are using reel guns they have the resting diver on the surface holding a float with a 1m bungee attached ready to use. By using this system they can quickly attach their reel gun to the float in the case of several scenarios;

    1. They shoot a fish in current and the fish holes up.

    2. They shoot a large fish (like a Wahoo) that runs hard.

    3. You can attach a flasher to the float and attract more fish.

    4. Floats and flags increase diver visibility. This is important for all the boats in the area.

    It's probably needless to say but reels on speargun's are here to stay. The advantages are clear for a hunter that values stealth as one of their greatest asset's underwater. Having a rigline attached will often give wary (and desirable) species enough information for them to stay far out of a hunter's range. Also the constant winding and unwinding of riglines as divers get on and off the boat while drift diving can be frustrating. The tangles that ensue are also annoying. Finally, the lack of drag and restriction when diving in and around caves, overhangs, weed and kelp is another clear advantage to diving with a reel.

    While it's apparent that reels are here to stay, identifying and talking about some of the hazards is definitely needed. Seeing and encouraging guys to develop systems and techniques to overcome these hazards is far more effective than trying to convince them to disregard the reel technology.

    So for the guys that get up on their soap boxes and preach their reasons for not adopting the latest in spearfishing technology - I have some advice;

    I get it. You're experienced, you know more than most of us about every facet of spearfishing. You've seen some of this before and you foresee some negative consequences of this new technology. You don't need to be an arse about it. If you want to have influence then engage people with respect. Ask questions and encourage people to think for themselves. By all means make a case, present your rationale but also listen and adapt. The sky is not falling because some whipper snipper has decided to change to finned stainless steel shafts from notched mild steel. Be cool, young spearo's will be influenced by your words so use that influence wisely. Think about how new technology can be used in safe, ethical and new ways.

    Author Bio: Isaac 'Shrek' Daly Co-hosts the Noob Spearo Podcast alongside Levi 'Turbo' Brown.