Looking to level up your spearfishing with some more advanced techniques?

Open water hunting is unique and challenging, and it completely changes the game and takes the sport to an entirely new level. It requires very different and more advanced techniques, patience, and a few additional pieces of gear.

While each of these techniques have an important role to play and are important to know, the time at which we implement them differs greatly depending on the ocean conditions and the fish we are targeting.

The most obvious difference in gear is that with these open water dives, we are likely targeting larger fish, particularly pelagic fish. With these larger fish we really require a speargun that carries a lot of power, and this is where we really need to consider using a longer barrelled inverted roller, with a thicker shaft. Also if we’re targeting these bigger fish we’re probably going to need larger floats and thicker float lines such that the fish won’t be able to sink the float, or cut the float line on the reef. Finally, we are likely going to need a flasher to attract the fish – but more on all of this later.

The first technique we’re going to discuss is drifting or drift diving. These dives are usually around bommies, or FADs and are a great way to target pelagic fish while boat diving. To do this you’re going to need an open site with a slight current. What you want to do is line yourself up on the far side of the bommie or FAD before entering the water. The goal once you enter the water is to ride the current, and drift over the specific area youre targeting. Once you reach the end of the section, the captain will pick you up and take you back to the starting point and you’ll repeat.

The advantage of using this technique is that the larger pelagic species are often found swimming and hunting in these currents, and you can also cover a large area without having to exert too much energy.

You’ll often also find these larger fish chasing bait balls and schools of fish. Now these bait balls move insanely quickly, and are very hard to spot. The easiest way to spot a bait ball is actually to look for swarming sea birds, or seals which are also often found hunting the same bait ball these larger pelagics are. It’s difficult but you need to figure out what direction the bait ball is moving, and predict where it will go. Your mission then, is to position the boat ahead of the bait balls predicted path, enter the water and wait for the bait ball to approach your position. If you do it right, the bait ball will bring the pelagic fish right to you. Trust me, it’s not as easy as it sounds.

Another technique is to use a flasher. This is simply, a float with a deep line and a weight on the bottom full of shiny ‘flashing’ objects. These are fantastic devices used to attract fish, particularly smaller fish to your area, but where the smaller fish go so too do the bigger ones. This requires patience, but properly deployed, the flasher should attract some larger fish for you to hunt.

Finally, what happens when you land a shot on one of these larger pelagic fish? Well, its nothing like shooting a small to medium fish. They are very unlikely to die in 1 shot, conversely they are likely to run and fight it for periods of time up to an hour long. Landing the shot is often the easy part, getting the fish onto the boat is usually where the battle begins. Before attempting this, you’re really going to need to ensure you’ve got a powerful speargun, a large float and a thick floatline.

After you land the shot, you’re going to let go of your speargun. If you hold on, you’re going to be taken for a long ride, possibly underwater. Grab onto the floatline or float and wait for the boat to get close to you. Jump onboard and chase the float. You may need to try and intercept the fish, and land a second shot with another speargun, or you’ll have to wait for the fish to tire out. When I said it’s a battle, I meant it.

As the fish tires, you will want to slowly start trying to pull the fish in. There are a number of techniques here including using additional shark clips to lock off the float line so that you can rest your hands while pulling the fish in. This will take some time, so having a float line with these extra clips is essential. Once the fish is reeled in to a diveable depth, you’ll want to dive down and use your dive knife to kill the fish.

From here swim it back to the boat, and you’ve got your family dinner for weeks!