Spearfishing equipment list guide for beginners and expert spearfishers

Spearfishing Equipment List

Wherever in the world you are, your spearfishing equipment list may vary. But in general, for someone spearfishing in the ocean there’s a list that should cover everything you need.

Of course when you are building your spearfishing equipment list you are going to focus a lot on your speargun. It’s important to understand there are a lot of vital pieces of equipment that will ruin a dive if you forget or don’t have it. This article is made to help beginners build their equipment list, as well as remind spearfishing veterans as they get ready for the spearfishing season.

Basic Spearfishing Equipment List

As I mentioned there are many vital pieces of equipment for every dive.

Spearfishing License

Whenever you are going to be fishing, regardless of if you’re spearfishing or using a rod and reel, you need a fishing license. Depending on where in the world you are you may need a license that’s different from a traditional fishing license. In Rhode Island you only need a regular saltwater fishing license. In other states and countries you may need a separate license. You can use this link to get a license for any US state.

I remember reading that in Spain you have to go to the doctor’s office to get a health check before you can get a spearfishing license. Keep this in mind if you plan on taking a spearfishing trip to Spain anytime soon.

Whether you need a doctor check up or not to get a spearfishing license, it’s important you understand what to expect when you spearfishing. You are going to be holding your breath and diving underwater, oftentimes for a long time. You need to be fit in order to do this. Many people underestimate how much effort it takes to spearfish.

Next on the list is what everyone is always thinking about, what type of speargun to bring?

Spearguns, Hawaiian Slings, and Pole Spears

There are multiple different types of “weapons” you can use for spearfishing. Each person will have their own preferred method of spearfishing. The beauty is there is often no “right” answer. It comes down to what you personally like to use. It’s important to note, some places don’t allow spearguns, while they do allow pole spears. So knowing the local laws of where you’re going is very important.



In Rhode Island and the Florida keys I prefer using a traditional speargun. I really like my Rob Allen Railgun, but again that’s a personal preference. I like my Rob Allen gun because of the size of fish I am going after. In Rhode Island the smaller fish I ever shoot is about 16” and the largest is about 36”, so medium sized fish. My snapper railgun is perfect for these size fish. I put together a guide about the best beginner spearguns you can check out if you'd like.

Pole Spears

Many people enjoy using pole spears for spearfishing. Pole spears are long spears with a rubber band attached to the back of them. You pull the rubber band forward while holding the pole to create tension, then you aim and release to shoot the spear forward. Pole spears have less moving parts, and require you to get closer to the fish, so they definitely take a bit more skill to make your shots. The big advantage of using a pole spear, and why many people recommend beginners use pole spears, is there’s less moving parts on a pole spear. There is only the spear and a large rubber band that you use to generate power. With a speargun, you have many moving parts, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed as a beginner.

Similar to pole spears, Hawaiian slings are a more primitive form of spearfishing

Hawaiian Slings

Hawaiian slings are similar to pole spears, but the main difference is Hawaiian slings have a spear holder and the rubber band is attached to the spear holder, instead of the spear itself. You will “load” the spear, and then pull the spear and the band backwards. This gives you a bit more control than using a pole spear. Some Hawaiian slings have pistol grips which lets you aim more similarly to a speargun.

Whatever your spearfishing weapon of choice is, make sure you spend a lot of time figuring out exactly how to load, and unload it. You don’t want to be in waves the first time you’re using a speargun.

Spearfishing Mask and Snorkel

You can’t expect to see underwater without a mask and you won’t be able to keep your head looking down without a snorkel. A mask and snorkel is a piece of equipment I highly recommend spending decent money on. After using low quality masks and snorkels for years, when I finally paid $50 on a mask, I realized what I was missing. A quality mask won’t leak, fog up, and it should be comfortable for hours on end. If it doesn’t do all three, you’re going to get frustrated quite quickly.

Similar to a mask, a good snorkel is awesome. Many spearfishers prefer a soft rubber snorkel. While some spearfishers like using a snorkel with a splash protector. Splash protectors can be a bit more noisy, but they are nice when you’re in wavy conditions. Whatever you prefer, make sure you get a snorkel that’s comfortable on your head and in your mouth.

Spearfishing Fins

You can’t expect to swim efficiently in the ocean without fins. Similar to a spearfishing mask and snorkel, you will notice a huge difference in comfort and efficiency when you get nicer freediving fins. I spent about $130 on my Seac Motus fins, and they changed the way it feels to dive. I used to use shorter scuba diving fins and it took more effort to move and I was slower. Nice fins will help you go a lot deeper also.

Next on the totem pole, I would say are spearfishing gloves.

Spearfishing Gloves

Spearfishing Gloves

You might think, my speargun is smooth, and I’m diving in a sandy area, I don’t need gloves. You couldn't be more wrong. I have forgotten gloves a few times, and I always paid for it. Fish are spiky, rocks are sharp, and there are a lot of things that can go wrong while you’re spearfishing that can cut your hands up. What type of spearfishing gloves is a better question. I prefer some lighter garden gloves if I’m diving in warm water. If I’m diving in cold water, I opt for some thick neoprene spearfishing gloves. Regardless, you just need to make sure you always have gloves. The inside of the gills’ of  fish are quite pointy, and will cut up your hand right away.

Spearfishing Wetsuit

Spearfishing wetsuits

Depending on where you live you may need a wetsuit. Most likely you’ll need a wetsuit anywhere since you’re usually in the water for a long time when you’re spearfishing. A wetsuit is also nice for loading a speargun. When you’re loading a traditional speargun you put the end of the gun against your chest, if you don’t have a wetsuit it can dig into your chest and cause a bruise. I know this from personal experience, a wetsuit or a chest cover is definitely worth it. Depending on where I'm spearfishing the wetsuit I use changes. If I'm spearfishing in Rhode Island I use an O'neall wetsuit with a Rob Allen chest protecter. When I took a spearfishing trip in the Florida Keys I used a 2/1mm shortie wetsuit. I think I also used my chest protecting with it for the added comfort when loading my gun.

Spearfishing Weight Belt

If you’re wearing a wetsuit then you definitely need a weight belt. The goal of a weight belt is to reach neutral buoyancy, so you can easily swim down to the bottom. While some people like more weight than others, we made a weight belt calculator that can help you determine how much weight you need. 

Spearfishing Booties

While not every person going spearfishing wears booties, they are a must for me. Booties are especially important if you are going spearfishing from shore. When I go spearfishing in Rhode Island I am often walking on rocks to get into the water. If I didn’t have cover on my feet they would get ripped up right away. If you’re diving from a boat you may prefer not using booties. That will mainly be determined by the size of your fins. I wear dive socks most of the time I go spearfishing. Dive socks are nice because they provide protection to yoru feet, but they aren’t clunky. They let me fit into higher end fins that don’t have room for full size booties. The downside of dive socks is they don’t last very long since they are thin. They also don’t provide much warmth, so if you’re spearfishing in cold water you’re going to want real booties.

Dive Knife

A dive knife is likely one of the most important pieces of spearfishing equipment to have with you. Some spearfishers even dive with 2 knives. A dive knife has multiple uses when your spearfishing. The most important being for your own safety. When you’re spearfishing it’s common you’re laying on the bottom of the ocean and you’re near rocks, and oftentimes lobster traps, fishing nets and other debris. If you got stuck on any of this you need to be able to cut yourself out and quickly. A sharp dive knife is vital for this. 

Dive knives are also important for dispatching fish. After you shoot a fish one of the first things you should always do is kill the fish, and then bleed it. Bleeding the fish preserves the meat. Killing the fish right away is what keeps this sport the most humane way to catch fish. Don’t be the person that shoots a fish and leaves it swimming around wounded while you finish your dive.

Spearfishing Dive Flag

spearfishing dive flag

Dive flags are extremely vital when spearfishing. It’s oftentimes illegal to be spearfishing without one. While any legal dive flag  will do, I find it important to get a dive flag that you can use as a float. Having a nice float while you’re spearfishing helps the safety a lot. If you get tired, or have any issues while you’re spearfishing a float allows you to hold onto it and float. Being able to take a couple minute rest, or if you were dragged out with the tide you can save your energy by using the float for buoyancy. A dive flag / float is also great because you can attach your speargun to it. This lets you let go of your speargun without worrying about losing it. In Rhode Island when I am usually diving in about 20 feet of water I let go of my gun often. It comes in very handy when you shoot a fish and they swim into a hole in the rocks. Having a float line lets you let go of your gun and not worry about the fish taking your gun somewhere. With any dive flag you of course need a float line.

Spearfishing Float Line

Float line is a simple thing, it’s the line that goes from your speargun to your float. I find it important to buy float lines that won’t get tangled easily. Also having a line that won’t cut you if it gets tight for some reason. One important thing to take into account when you’re buying a float line is to get a line long enough for where you’ll be diving. If you are diving down to 60+ feet, you certainly need a float line that’s over 60’ long.

Spearfishing Fish Stringer

A fish stringer may be the last item that’s vital to bring with you. While every spearfisher has a different preference of what to do with fish after they shoot them, you need to at least have a plan. If you have a boat and are always near it, tossing your fish onto the boat works great. If you aren’t spearfishing from a bat or if you swim far away during your dive you’ll need somewhere to put your fish. I put my fish on a stringer that’s attached to my dive float, you can read about my setup here. Other divers like my father used to keep the fish on a stringer around his waist. It’s all personal preference, just make sure you have a plan!

A Diving Buddy

Spearfishing Dive Buddy

Diving alone is never a good idea, especially if you’re new to the sport. While some people have dove alone their entire lives, it’s best to get a buddy. My wife loves to come along and snorkel while I dive. She’s not into the whole hunting part, but she’s there in case I run into issues. If you have trouble finding someone to go with, head to a spearfishing forum or search for facebook groups. There’s more people spearfishing than you would think.

Other Common Spearfishing Equipment

A list of other spearfishing equipment could go on and on. From dive watches to reels, to flashers and so on. There is never going to be a list that has everyones spearfishing equipment. The list above was made to help a beginner get a feel of what to expect before they get into the water. As you get more experienced you’ll find more and more equipment that can help you. The biggest thing is to make sure you have your safety equipment. It can literally save your life while you’re spearfishing.

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