As you get better in your spearfishing techniques, or you want to stalk more advance quarry, you will find that your basic speargun may not suit your needs. Or by making minor alterations to your gun you will broaden the spectrum in the ways in can be used, but in terms of hunting situations and conditions and in the type and size of fish pursued. You are building a bag of tricks to handle a broader and broader variety of situations — it is a tool box, if you will.
No one spear tip will serve all your needs; you simply must have at least two or three to cover the most common California spearfishing situations. If working in close around reefs, a “rock point” is needed. This sturdy tip can withstand the accidental impact on the reef and be resharpened over and over. An open water tip is sharper, able to travel farther with more penetrating capability. If you were, however, to use the ultra-sharp and hard openwater point near a reef, and it hits the rocks, it would shatter beyond repair, costing you an expensive speartip.
Other basic useful tips include a slip-tip or a trident. Useful attachments to spear tips (although not applicable to all) include wing barbs, both single and double, and detachable heads.
A reel is a basic yet very useful bolt on accessory. With the shock cord and line that came with your gun, you were very limited on the size of quarry you could stalk regardless of the size of the gun. Big fish will struggle with great power and either tear the spear from their flesh or the gun from your hand. With a reel you will have line for the fish to run and become fatigued before trying to subdue your catch. As the fish runs, you can use resistance in the amount desired to tire the fish. Be careful, however. Sometimes fish will entangle the line around kelp or underwater objects, including divers, and can become quite difficult to retrieve.
The bands, or “rubbers” as they are sometimes called, are not just changed out when they become worn or broken. Changing rubbers is also a way of customizing. You can give your spear shaft more impact power or more range. Combined with a heavier shaft, thicker and stiffer bands can dramatically improved the power of your gun, provided, of course, you can cock it!
Not all guns have the ability to switch out shaft size but many do. With a different weight (diameter) shaft, your gun can pack more punch, and gain accuracy (but usually at the expense of range). Although a bit unusual, longer shafts are sometimes put on shorter guns to improve range. Make sure a new shaft you wish to purchase will work with the gun you have in mind.
TRAILING LINE OR FLOAT
Rather than a reel, or in addition to, many serious spearfishers choose to use a trailing line or float. Attached to the but of the gun, the floating trailing line and/or float allows the diver to release the gun. This tool is used exclusively with floating wood guns, by freedivers, and for large fish. The fish is speared, gun released with float and allowed to fatigue. The diver than catches up the line and/or float and recovers the fish. The trailing line and float are tools for the more advanced spearfisher and should only be considered after gaining a considerable amount of experience.
As you become more serious about spearfishing you will improve your techniques, refine your tastes with regards to your favorite quarry, and your tool box will grow with items that make it easy to customize your gun to adapt to a variety of situations.