How To Rig A Speargun To A Float

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How To Rig A Speargun To A Float

This is a commonly asked question and there's a number of different ways of successfully rigging up spearing systems. These varying methods have been designed, established and proven over time suit to successfully suit different hunting locations. Below we'll take a look at a number of different ways to achieve this goal and we'll look at the main styles you may wish to consider using to suit your individual location and style of hunting. Always remember to take into account the size and type of fish you intend to target and the waters and areas you'll be spearing.


The four main methods of rigging a speargun are as follows:


  1. Floatlines: The most common setup is to have the spear shaft attached directly to the muzzle of the gun and to run a thin rope/cord from the handle of the gun directly to the surface float.
  2. Bungee: A slight modification of the above, it involves the use of a rubber bungee inserted between the gun and the hard line. A bungee can also replace the hard line altogether.
  3. Reel: A reel connected directly to the gun means there is no need for a hard line or float. It provides maximum freedom in the water and reduces spooking fish.
  4. Slip Tip: A drop away slip tip connects the spear flopper to the float usually via a hard line/bungee combination. Ideal for targeting big pelagics giving better penetration and holding power and reducing risk of damaging gear.


When selecting a rigging method always remember to follow these golden rules for safety:


  1. Never, ever attach anything directly to yourself. It significantly increases the potential risk of entanglement and drowning.
  2. Always have a line attached to the speargun that's at least as long as the depth you're diving. If shooting hard fighting fish or if a fish holes up, you'll always be able to safely get back to the surface without having to drop everything and risk losing gear or worse.
  3. Always ensure that the shooting line is the weakest link. This way if something does break only the spear is lost.
  4. Carefully consider the best way to safely carry the catch. Never store the catch directly attached to the diver. It may attract unwanted attention from other predators.

Floatlines / Hard Lines

The simplest, and probably the best, rigging setup is the floatline or sometimes called a hard line. This is simply a length of rope with one end attached directly to the handle of the gun and the other end connected directly to the float. It's critical to always ensure that the floatline selected is up to the task. It should be highly buoyant and easily float on the surface. Otherwise it can sink and drag along the bottom, quickly becoming entangled on reef and kelp. Another great idea is to include a swivel on both ends of the float line to minimise potential for tangling, and to have a stainless steel fish stringer/threader on the end that attaches to the gun.


A floatline is by far the most common setup because they're strong, simple, create little drag in the water and provide a safer method for storing caught fish. Floatlines prevent accidental loss of the speargun too. If the gun is dropped, simply go to the float, collect the floatline and pull up the gun. This can be particularly handy if the gun has been accidentally dropped in depths that may be beyond your ability to retrieve. Another great benefit when hunting powerful fighting fish is that floatlines also allow the spearo to keep control of just how much line the fish has to play with.



A bungee is designed to provide a shock absorber on the spearing rig. Bungees are particularly useful in reducing the chances of having fish fight their way of the spear once shot. A good bungee will provide gentle breaking resistance making it much harder for the fish to pull of the spear. Bungees come in all types of shapes and sizes and commonly inserted between the gun and the floatline and for big game fishing they're often used to replace the floatline altogether.


Bungees can be made from various materials but the most common are natural latex rubber and synthetic polymers. A good bungee should be hollow and air filled to provide positive floating buoyancy and it also allows the bungee to be cored with strong and durable Dyneema so if the bungee is accidentally cut on something, such as a sharp rock, it won't result in a loss of gear. A good bungee shouldn't tangle and because they stretch, they absorb the strain of a strong fighting fish putting less strain on the rest of the system and the fish's flesh. There are three types of bungees covered below.


Gun Bungees

A Gun Bungee or sometimes called a short bungee is designed to be mounted directly onto the end of the speargun muzzle. It is then connected from the gun bungee to the monofilament shooting line which is connected directly to the spear shaft. A good gun bungee provides gently breaking resistance on the mono line and minimises the chance for accidentally losing shot fish. By using a gun bungee it'll also keep tension on the monofilament line when its wrapped along the length of the speargun. This prevents loose mono line from slipping off the gun, eliminating the potential for entanglement to the spearo. 


Medium Bungees

Are categorised from between 1-5 metres long and are inserted directly between the gun and the floatline. Medium Bungees are exclusively made of latex rubber and they typically have a high stretch ratio of between 1:3 and 1:5. When choosing to use medium length bungees remember that they must not be too long or they can risk losing control of keeping tension on the fish. A medium length bungee is considered a critical component in the spear rigging system when choosing to hunt larger pelagic fish, such as doggies, kingies, jewies, mackeral and tuna.


Long Line Bungees

Long line bungees are designed to replace the floatline altogether. Long line bungees are usually constructed from Nylon materials, like plasma rope, as they provide elongated stretch capability and durability in the one package. They should never be constructed from latex rubber or other non-UV resistant materials they won't last any length of time - imagine what would happen to a piece of rubber floating in salt water and bright sunlight for several hours.


Long line bungees are excellent for bluewater style hunting where two or more divers are diving in close proximity, in deep water targeting big game fish. Long line bungees are however generally considered unsuitable for normal day to day spearing use. This is because they have considerably more drag through the water and are easily cut on rocks (they are cored so you won't lose your gun but they are unrepairable). Because of their stretch they can make it hard to keep big fish off the bottom. Long line bungees are ideal for bluewater diving for big gamefish.



The use of a reel connected directly onto to the speargun means there's no need for a floatline or a float. This provides the ultimate in freedom for the spearo and can be particularly useful when hunting in rocky, reefy environments that are close to shore and also when hunting species that may be easily spooked by the use of floatlines and floats. The freedom gained from using a speargun reel cannot be beaten.


A spearfishing reel doesn't work the same as a fishing rod reel, in that you don't wind the fish in. You still play the line through your hands like a normal floatline. You shoot the fish, swim to the surface, letting line off the reel, then grab the line and pull it in. Then once you've dispatched and stored the fish you can wind the line back onto the reel afterwards. What to do with your fish is probably the number one drawback of using a reel. It's worth noting that reels are most popular with European divers as they encounter very few sharks and it's no problem to swim around with their catch attached to their weightbelt. This method IS DEFINITELY NOT RECOMMENDED IN AUSTRALIAN WATERS.


There are several types of reels on the market and they come manufactured in different types of materials sporting different features and benefits. The two main types of reel materials used are synthetic plastic reels manufactured in materials like Nylon and Delrin and then there are metal reels manufactured in Stainless Steel and in Aluminium. Obviously the metal reels are much stronger but they are also usually several times the price. Although the metal ones are marketed as "bluewater" reels they're never really all that good for gamefish. However good synthetic plastic reels are not only more affordable, they're usually more than strong enough for the types of fish targeted by the majority of spearos and they're also much lighter and generally last longer too.


The hardest thing when using speargun reels is preventing reel spooling or "bird nests". These usually occur when the fish makes a strong run and the reel starts free spooling. To prevent this from happening the reel must have a drag system. This is usually just a nut and washer but experienced spearos will also use the palm of the hand particularly when using bigger pelagic fish. Remember that obviously this palming technique cannot be used on enclosed reels and like with floatlines, it is best to have the absolute minimum amount of line on your reel necessary. This will prevent tangles and stop the line from "jumping" out of the spool and jamming. A small word of caution when using a speargun reel - remember not to drop your gun!!! Particularly if you're hunting in water depths beyond your diving capability. For this reason, we recommend that reels are best suited to shallow water and smaller species of fish.


Slip Tips / Drop Barbs

Slip tips or Drop Barbs are extremely popular for divers targeting bigger, bluewater, pelagic fish. Although there are many different styles produced and available on the market today, it's very important to always note that they're NOT created equally. There are some styles and brands of slip tips that work MUCH better than some others. So make sure that you always do your research first.


On the topic of Drop Barbs, Rob Allen was quoted as saying:

"We've found that the vast majority of spearfishermen have at one time or another used or tried a drop head. They virtually all change back to a single barb for a variety of reasons, the main reason being accuracy. Here we've found that it's very difficult to get the drop head to sit on the tip of the spear without any play (basically sideways movement). If you can get it to fit without play, then invariably it's too tight to come off resulting in the head pulling back through the fish and the fish being lost. The very tip has to be perfectly stable and central to maintain the straight flight of the spear. Even a very small amount of play will cause the spear to be inaccurate. This is because the extreme tip is what keeps the spear traveling true. A slight movement to one side or the other will cause a varying degree of inaccuracy depending on the amount of play. To show this you just need to sharpen a spear, which has a fixed barb, slightly off center, and you'll see just how much the accuracy is affected. Another problem with some slip tip heads is the hassle. Slightly too loose and it falls off when you dive down, to tight and it stays on and pulls back out of the fish. This can be most frustrating."


Having tried many of the brands available on the market today and experienced their limitations, we now only use and recommend the Rob Allen Drop Barb. It is by far the most accurate and effective tip. It's so effective on large pelagics and so different from conventional slip tips that they had to patent the unique design. It allows for accurate shooting with Euro style guns and avoids the compromise that previously had to be made between a loose fitting tip for deployment and a tight fit for accuracy. The drop barb sits in the same diameter as the spear shaft so the solid spear tip and accuracy is guaranteed.


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