Tieing Rubbers

Tieing Speargun Rubbers

Tieing your own speargun rubbers isa skill you will eventually need to kow how to do for yourself.  Getting the knotts right and inseting the bridle into the rubber can be quite tricky and frustrating.  In this video James Sakker talks us through the process as Todd from Coffs Coast Spearfishing show us how it is done and all the tricks to make it easy.

Catching Lobsters
James Sakker

Selecting a Speargun

Selecting a Speargun

Selecting the right speargun for you is one of the most important decisions you will make when you are starting out.  By the time you are finished your diving career you will have an untold number of guns.  But it is your first gun that you need to get right.  There are many factors that will influence your choice of guns such as where you live and the style of diving you will be doing.  For instance a 1.4m Carbon gun is not ideal for shooting a feed of fish around your local headland, and in the same way, heading out to bluewater with a 90cm pranger gun is not going to cut it.  So what do you choose?  James Sakker talks to Todd from Coffs Coast Spearfishing and looks at all the choices and gives some very useful advice.

Selecting a Speargun
James Sakker

Selecting a Spearfishing Charter

Selecting a Spearfishing Charter

So you are thinking about heading off on a spearfishing charter to shoot the fish of a lifetime?  They do not come cheap and you don’t want to miss out on that perfect opportunity to shoot yor dream fish.  So which charter do you choose?  How do you know what to look for and what to expect?  James Sakker sits down and gives you a full run down on just what you need to look out for and how to prepare.

Selecting a Spearfishing Charter
James Sakker

Cutting Down Spears

Why would anyone want to cut down a spear? Ever had a tip snap off at the flopper hole? Bent a spear at the flopper on a long gun? Well now you should be able to recycle these old bits of steel for another gun and hopefully another fish. Other things you can do are add floppers to spears like those butterfly spears or change floppers from top to bottom. Whatever the reason you need to cut a spear down here’s how to do it.

First thing is spring steel spears are MUCH harder to drill and machine than spring stainless spears. But I haven’t come across a spear that I’ve never been able to drill…eventually. Particularly tough spears are the freedivers spring steel and the Rabitech spring steel spears. Rob Allen spears are fairly average to drill, Riffe are just as easy and Torres tuffs are like cutting butter.

The first part of chopping down the spear is getting the flopper off. This can be a little tricky depending on the manufacturer. Riffe spears are near impossible and you may as well buy a new flopper! Here is a freedivers spear in the vice ready for the flopper to be removed.
Now all you do is file off the rivet flush down with the flopper and tap it out with a centre punch. This doesn’t always work so you may have to flip it over and file down the other side and punch it out that way. Either way after a bit of stuffing around you’ll end up with a spear with no flopper like so:

Now the next part is drilling the spear. If you’re taking off 10cm from the spear obviously put a nice big pen mark 10cm from the end. Now get the flopper and position it about 1cm behind this mark. Where the end of the flopper sits is where you want your hole. Always have a little bit more tip than the length of the flopper.

So no you know where you want to drill your hole how do you go about drilling through these hardened bits of spring steel? Well the first step is a drilling jig. All this does is keep the spear locked in place by the stainless screw and it has little hardened inserts to keep the drill bit in the centre of the spear. You should be able to buy something similar from a dive shop, if you have a lathe you can knock one up on the lunch break. I used bits of silver steel for the inserts, did all the machining and then hardened them. I have two drill hole sizes, 3/32” and 7/64”. I use the smaller one for 7mm spears and the bigger for 8mm spears.

Enough of the jig, here’s how you mark your spear. Place the mark where the hole needs to be on the little hole on the jig and mark another line so when you shove the spear up the guts you know where to stop!
Now don’t go tightening the spear in the jig just yet. You may want to line the spear up so your flopper goes straight up and down (yes I’ve had them come out at 90° before!) I use a little bit of stainless or nail or whatever to make sure the spear hole in the back of the spear is vertical, THEN tighten the jig so your flopper hole will be up and down. Seems obvious but I’ve done it a few times!

Now to drill these spears I use a Formula Cobalt drill bit in the 3/32” or 7/64”. You will also need some cutting compound. You may get away without for stainless spears but with spring steel ones forget it. This is what I use, ‘Rocol’ it’s a brown turd coloured paste but it works a treat.
Another compound to use is ‘Molycut’ but it’s a liquid stuff. Either will work fine and make drilling a breeze. So set your bit up in a drill press and make sure you put a nice smear of cutting compound on the bit. Use the slowest speed possible on the drill. Don’t be tempted into “going faster means finished faster!” You won’t get anywhere. If you want to use a hand drill you can try but you will probably snap a few drill bits. A drill press is the way to go with lots a downward pressure and remember SLOW!

Once you’re through take the spear out of the jig and viola! If you can’t get through the spear which will happen on the odd freedivers spear try a new drill bit. If that doesn’t work you may have to heat up the area to be drill cherry red and then let it cool and then drill. After drilling put the temper back into the spear as follows below. Only do this as a last resort.

You should run over the drill hole with a larger drill bit to sort of counter sink it to get the burrs off. The next part of the whole process is putting a tip back on the spear. Lucky with spring steel spears they can be re-tempered which means ANGLE GRINDER. You don’t have to worry about getting it red hot because it’s going to happen down the track anyways. So go nuts and put that tri-cut back on the tip. Work one edge at a time to get a basic shape and the angles right. A few minutes later and you will end up with a nice tip like so. You will get better and better doing these tri-cuts so if the first couple turn out a little less appealing than the mother in law don’t fret, just practice on some old spears. A file isn’t really necessary after a while but it will help to clean the tip up a bit.

Note; only go hard out with the grinder on spring steel spears, on stainless try not to get it discoloured or red because you can’t put the temper back into them. It will take a while longer but then again they aren’t as hard as spring steel spears.

Now to put the temper back into the tip of the spear so it’s not soft as butter. Simply rip out that blowtorch from all those prangers you’ve been making and heat the tip up cherry red. Once it’s all hot plough it into a jar of oil. Any oil will work; I used the old stuff out of my car so it’s not critical! Don’t use water or you will cool it down too fast and the spear will be too brittle. A little smoke and smell here is normal.
Now we are back to where we almost started a spear without a flopper. Pinning floppers is an art in itself which needs to be practiced or shown. For a flopper pin I find a snap clip works a treat. Don’t be tempted to use nails or what not the pin needs to be pretty hard stainless. Some brands of spears use 316 pins and the floppers stuff up very quickly as the pin bends out of shape. Snap clips and shark clips are made from high tensile spring stainless steel and do the job perfectly, never had an issue with them. You can also use proper flopper pins from a dive shop. Snap clips fit perfectly in the 3/32” holes, bigger shark clips work well for the 7/64” holes. Use some bolt cutters to snip off a bit about 2.5mm wider than the flopper. Also check to make sure the flopper is on the bottom (yes that’s happened to me before as well!)
Now you will need an anvil of some description, a vice jaw works okay but I have a bit of railway track that’s perfect for it. Using a ball pin hammer gently rivet over one side.

Don’t go bashing it too hard and try to get it as around and wide as possible. Repeat for the other side. You have probably got a flopper that’s pretty stiff or something wrong with it. Not too worry this can be fixed! For a stiff flopper usually forcing a bit of 8mm stainless into it to make it wider will do the trick:
This should make the flopper swing open and close willy nilly. If not try some 10mm stainless or get the pliers out and wiggle it around, you should be able to pick the points of friction making it stiff. So assuming your flopper is nice and loose gently tap this area down with a hammer:
This hopefully will make the flopper swing open to about 30° and then lock open the rest of the way.
The best way to tell if a flopper is tuned properly is to put the spear in a gun and hold it upside down so the flopper is sitting down on the spear. Give the gun a sharp smack with your palm and the flopper should flick all the way open and stay there. That’s how a perfect flopper should be.

So now you have a perfectly working spear that can take down another few fish. This is particularly handy if you have all the same brand gun and you bend a spear on your 1400 and then just cut it down for a spare 900 gun spear. You can also put two floppers on spears if you’re keen. Also now you blokes should be able to put floppers on threaded shafts so you can have cool looking spears with prangers or points for comps!

Conduit knife sheath

Filleting knives need to be kept sharp to allow you to process your fish effectively and easily. Knives are sharp and will cut up your wetsuit, mask and anything else in your dive tub if simply thrown in unsheathed. This is how I make a quick, cheap and very practical knife sheath. Works great and I can throw my knives in with the dive gear razor sharp and no blink an eye. I pinched the idea off my late Grandfather who was a keen fisherman from Townsville for years.

What you will need first is your filleting knife and a short section of 25mm grey electrical conduit. The orange underground heavy duty stuff works but it takes a bit more heat to soften. Cut the section of conduit about 20mm longer than the blade of the knife.

Now get that gas bottle your use for making prangers and some insulation tape. Cover 3 of the 4 holes on the flame burner.
This doesn’t allow as much oxygen to the gas and lowers the temperature of the flame. This way you don’t burn the conduit…as easily! You can also stick the conduit in the oven for a bit until it is soft and floppy. I couldn’t be bothered waiting for the oven to head up! Now keep that flame MOVING over the conduit. Sit in one spot too long and the conduit will burn. Roll the conduit over to get even distribution of heat.

Obviously remove the flame from the conduit while moving it so you don’t burn your hand. After a minute or two the conduit will start to feel soft and mouldable. Once this is achieved put your knife in the soft conduit. Yes the conduit will be hot and you can use gloves if you’re not feeling manly.

Now quickly jump over to a wood vice and squash the conduit and knife in the jaws to make it all flat.
If you don’t have a wood vice simply get some bits of timber in a normal vice to clamp the conduit it. Now leave the conduit to cool in the vice for 5 minutes and then pull it out. You should have something that looks like this.

It should be a tight fit around the blade but it won’t touch the edge on the knife. To make it cover that last bit of the blade simply cut the sheath on a slight angle like so. You can shape them a little bit with a bench grinder or a file. I like to put holes in my sheath to allow for drainage of water if I put the knife in the sheath after washing it hopefully after processing a nice fish. Also if you have all the same brand knives and handles are the same you can see the blade through the holes and identify the knife.
So there you have it. Pretty simple to do and makes a great cheap sheath. No excuses for blunt filleting knives now!

Wetsuit repairs

Every spearfisher wears a wetsuit, they are critical to keeping you warm, free from the harsh sun and performing at your peak whilst diving. Typically spearfishing wetsuits are of two piece construction with a hooded jacket and farmer john style bottoms. Wetsuits restrict water flow around the body where the body warms up the surrounding water and it stays close to your skin thus keeping you toasty warm. This is why spearfishers prefer open cell style wetsuits as you are most comfortable and flexible but they also conform to the body’s shape much better. When water intrudes and breaks this mass of warm water around your skin your body will become cold trying to keep your skin warm and you will feel cold. Any diver who has been cold in the water knows that it makes diving much harder as you struggle to hold your breathe. I notice I dive better in summer when the water is much warmer. The main cause of cold water entering a diver’s suit is holes or tears. Many divers overlook the little rips and tears in their suit however you will notice a great difference in your diving when wearing a hole free warm toasty wetsuit..

Repairing holes and rips in wetsuits is quite simple and easy to do for the average diver. However there have been some pretty dodgy attempts such as drowning the hole in wetsuit glue and hoping for the best! With a little care and time you will be able to fix your wetsuit to a standard that will last and extend the life of your suit. The things you need to gather to make a successful repair are as follows. Damaged wetsuit, neoprene glue, aquaseal urethane sealant, nylon thread with a needle and a bit of plastic wrap. See image 1.

You should be able to get wetsuit glue (neoprene glue/cement) and aquaseal at most good diving shops. The nylon thread I use is the stuff used to bind ‘eyes’ on fishing rods. I bought a spool for $7 at a bait and tackle store, you might have to ask for it but it is pretty common. If you use regular cotton thread it will eventually rot with the seawater – no good. The bit of plastic can be anything, just to stop you wetsuit sticking together which I will explain a bit later. Now this is quite a decent rip in this wetsuit. This will require not only gluing but stitching to make it a strong join. See image 2.

The first step to any repair is to put the plastic wrap on the inside of the suit. This is very important because if and when you get a drip of the glue falling off the join it will bond to the other side of the suit, consequently you may have a very tight fitting suit at the end of the ordeal. See image 3.

Now we are ready to start applying some glue to the neoprene. To ensure the strongest bond you need to apply two layers of glue. The first coast is to slightly melt the neoprene and get it ready for the bond and give the second layer a better grip. Smear a bead of glue on the neoprene part of the wetsuit as shown. You can then use a paddle pop stick or small brush to spread it over the area evenly. See image 4 & 5.

After you have spread the glue evenly over the area to be joined you must keep the two sides of the join apart for approximately half an hour and let the glue dry. After the glue is touch dry and not tacky in any way you can then go and apply another layer of glue to the sides of the join, also keep the two sides apart for 5 minutes so the glue only just starts to dry. See image 6.

After the 5 minutes we can now push the two sides together. Starting at one end ‘pinch’ the suit together whilst keeping it flat as not to get a raised up mountain look alike join. This is where the plastic you placed inside the side comes into its own, as you squeeze the joint together and keep it flat you will be guaranteed to glue your suit together in the wrong place if you didn’t have the plastic there. See image 7.

Keep pushing the join together from one end to the other remembering to keep it flat as possible. You can push any parts of the join that are raised up back down with a little pressure from your thumb. See image 8 & 9.

Once you have introduced the two sides to each other you should have a wetsuit that looks pretty spiffy and rip free.See image 10. 
Because this is such a large rip in the suit and along a seam which is a high stress area of the suit it needs to be stitched to prevent the join splitting open. For smaller cuts or nicks under an inch you can get away with using the steps so far, stitching is probably not required. I would suggest leaving the suit to fully dry for a few hours before stitching it. Using your needle & nylon thread you can blind stitch the join. Blind stitching is where the needle enters the surface of the wetsuit but does not come out through the other side; this keeps the stitching on the outside and much more comfortable to wear. I like to double over the nylon thread just to make it a little bit stronger. Simply thread you needle and cut a length of the thread and tie an overhand knot in the end. See image 11.

As far as the stitching goes there are probably a few methods out there but I just go for the simple in one side out the other and back over method. Ask the missus and she might even stitch it up for you! When stitching it is important you thread the needle through some of the outside nylon of the suit or the nylon thread will just pull through the neoprene and have no effect. I like to go about 1mm from the edge of the glue like so. If you go much further out the join will start to rise up like a mountain range as you stitch it. *WETSUIT12 IMAGE* After a few stitches you should have something that is looking like this, a nice flat join with even space stitching. Yes I pride myself on my masculine sewing ability. *WETSUIT13 IMAGE* All done. Now you can snip the thread off close to the surface of the wetsuit. See image 14.

The final part to the repair job is quite simply, smear some of that aquaseal goop over the stitching and join. See image 15.

Have another swig of your favoured beverage and then put a good lump of spit on the end of your finger and smooth out the aquaseal over the join to make it smooth. Make sure you spit on your finger so it doesn’t stick, you’ll have a hard time getting it off otherwise. See image 16. 
Now let the aquaseal fully dry overnight before you go diving in your new hole free suit. The inside should be even and flush, on this particular repair trying to hold a camera and squeeze glue at the same time led to a few drips as you can see. Glad that plastic was there to stop the suit sticking together! 
See image 17.

There are a few things that can keep your wetsuit being tear and hole free. The first is using appropriate lube for your wetsuit. All open cell wetsuits need to be lubed up to get into. To extend the life of other suits that are metalite, goldslick or titanium lined they should be lubed up too. The easiest lube is simply a few squirts of cheap hair conditioner into a sports bottle and some water. Personal lubricants such as ansell are said to make good wetsuit lubes when mixed with water however I have never tried it. Another great product is Green Goblin, ask around the Sydney clubs and you will be able to track it down. Keeping finger and toe nails trimmed will also reduce the amount of cuts you put on the inside of your suit too. Lastly when possible get someone to help remove your wetsuit jacket (keep the hood on too!) instead of trying to do a ‘get of a straight jacket’ impersonation yourself


Rigging a gun with mono

The mono on a speargun is one of the most overlooked maintenance job by the average diver. I constantly see divers with ratty, cut, frayed and nicked mono on their guns. This may be fine for shooting a few bream and smaller reef fish but when you go to take that shot on a big jewie, kingfish, mackerel or wahoo you’re going to wish you had changed your mono.

For me personally I change my mono if it gets any sort of nick or cut. If a particular fish during the day runs me around some reef I’ll make a mental note to change that mono. It doesn’t take much for a big fish to trash your mono. One particular rock hop I had just put new mono on the spear and speared a kingfish of 14kg on sand. No damage done to the mono at all however I ran into the school again over some rocky reef and after shooting another 14kg fish and landing him my mono was worse for wear. So much so it was the one time I was wishing I didn’t run into a jewie or cobia, I would have been hesitant to try my luck with mono that had shreds coming off it. Another spot mono wears a lot is the hole in the back of spears, it is essential to make sure these holes are smooth and burr free. Now we know why its important to change your mono out regularly and check it for signs of wear how do we go about doing this? With some spear fishing retailers charging $15 to put a new mono on a speargun it makes sense to do it yourself. These are the basic tools & materials I use to put mono on a speargun.

Pictured are mono (duh!), crimps, crimping tool, lighter, scissors and a speargun waiting for new mono. As for the mono I use 1.80mm stuff as I find it fits in mechanisms better than the 2.0mm variety and doesn’t affect the flight of the spear as much either. For this mono I use 2.2mm crimps (also sold as 2mm crimps in dive shops). Brand is debatable but I have been having great success with Shibahira brand. Other popular brands are Shogun and Jinkai. I use double barrel copper crimps as they are very strong and in my opinion hold the mono better than a single sleeve crimp such as the aluminium variety. You can also use your copper crimps on stainless cable for slip tips ect but you can’t use aluminium as it will corrode out.

As for the crimping tool make sure you get a double actuated type not a single actuated like a pair of pliers. A good set will cost around $50-$90 depending on where you shop. I use a pair of Hi-Seas brand and they work great for me. Steer clear of tools where the jaws do not line up correctly as they will deform the crimp. Omer brand crimpers are notorious for this and are green in colour and sometimes sold under the Hi-Seas brand in dive shops so be sure to check the origin before buying up. Getting started. I tend to uncoil a few metres of mono from the roll rather than cutting a piece off because this means no wastage (even though it is cheap). We start by threading a crimp into the mono and inserting it through the spear. I personally rig all my guns over the left of the muzzle, just how I have done but most people will go over the right hand side of the muzzle.

If your going over the left hand like myself you will thread the mono through the left hand side of the spear so the mono sits nicely and runs up that side of the gun and doesn’t cross over. If you run your mono over the right hand side simply thread the mono through the right hand side of the spear first. I use a lighter to burn a little blob of mono on the end. This prevents crimp pull throughs and makes it easier to adjust the position of the crimp prior to crimping. I adjust the loop size so the crimp sits on the flat part of the spear so it goes through the muzzle with ease. Make sure your loop isn’t too long or it will sit over the notch in the spear and make it a pain to load the bridle into the notch. Now using the appropriate hole size on the crimping tool you start the crimping in the middle of the crimp like so. Make sure you squeeze it good and proper. Next we move out to the ends but not all the way.

Leave approximately 1.5mm from the end uncrimped. If you crimp right on the end it pinches the mono and if the crimp does slip it will get shredded very fast, if a crimp slips and its got the ends flared out it won’t shred and you will still land the fish with any luck. So now you have the mono neatly crimped to the spear. Put the spear into the gun to check how it all fits. It should slide into the mechanism with ease. As I mentioned earlier I run the mono to the left of the gun on the left hand side of the muzzle like so. Run this back down to the line release and up to the clip on the front of the gun. Make sure the mono is firm but not over tight as mono shrinks in water. Nylon is porous and absorbs the salt water which dries and the salt is crystallised into the nylon which makes it expand in width which shortens it. With the other end of the mono form a small loop about 1cm from the end of the clip whilst holding the mono on the gun firm. This extra 1cm distance will have the mono at the proper tension and will alleviate the need for bungies or shock absorbers. With an open muzzle gun I would recommend perhaps 2cm for a slightly tighter shooting line. Now cut the mono loop with enough room to fit a crimp into the mono.

After threading and burning the end of the mono on the crimp you will have an uncrimped loop like so. This is where you double check the distance from the clip on the muzzle to the loop on the mono. Adjust it to the right place and crimp it like before starting in the centre of the crimp and then crimping the outsides leaving 1.5mm distance from the ends uncrimped. All that’s left to do now is take the mono off the shooting line and attach it to the clip on the muzzle and you’re done! Here’s one I prepared earlier Out of interest if you have a gun that will only ever be rigged with a pranger you can do away with the clip on the front of the gun and crimp the mono directly to the muzzle. Just one less thing to worry about because you don’t need to unclip the mono to thread a spear through the fish because the pranger won’t (shouldn’t) fire all the way through the fish.

ISo there it is. The initial outlay to buy a proper crimping tool, mono & some crimps might be around $100 give or take depending on where you shop but at $15 a pop to change mono at a dive shop you will be more willing to change it out and no go for a dive with mono that ‘will do for today’ and get a whole lot more value for money.




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