Here's another problem I've seen firsthand. The general category is being new to Reels. Many of us oldtimers, (with the exception of the Potts Reels, which are still way ahead of their time, and Riffe who made some good ones, but they cost too mch at the time for most divers, and their lines were useless on the reef) we grew up using terrible reels. they would literally explode into little pieces. It was common to have them break right in half. they couldn't hold hardly 100' of line and that didn't matter much because they came with kitestring with 50lbs breaking strength. I remember using Fly Reels, Ice fishing Reels, Wreck diving reels, anything we could find. So. we learned how to use small terrible reels shooting small fish and gradually moved into better ones to where we are today. We had a long road of experience.
Today we have a phenomenon where we have a new generation of Spearfishermen who can dive real deep and are very knowledgeable freedivers, but lack depth of experience in Spearfishing. I see it a lot. The equipment is not the weak point it used to be. the reels have good capacity, the lines are 800-1000lbs breaking strength, the guns hit their targets. What is lacking is a solid foundation in experience and technique using reels, before tapping into a Wahoo or other big fish.
The most important thing new to Reels divers need to have in their mind is Line Maintenance. The other day, I was diving with one of my dive partners here. He's a PFI Level II instructor and has been teaching Scuba 5 days a week for the past 6 years. He's in the water every day. He can freedive to 200'. He's been spearfishing seriously for two years. So he's a Much better diver than me, and I been spearfishing for 35 years. That's the disconnect.. So he nails a Beauty of an Uku on the bottom at 100'. I meet him halfway and watch him as we surface. He's spooled by the time we surface. 270' of line out. I'm keeping a hopeful eye out for another fish to show up and he is pulling the speared fish in. I swim down to check on the shot placement and it looks good. As I surface I look up to him to give him the thumbs up and he literally looks like a Bird in a Nest.. Lines EVERYWHERE all around him. around his neck, snorkel, weight belt, fins, literally he is within a giant birds nest of 1000lb dyneema. I grab the main line and swim away and tell him "Deal with your lines and get your shit together. Do you know what can happen?" and at that point two Big Grey Reef Sharks show up alllll lit up and start making passes at the fish. Bad situation. He was so entangled, it would have been very difficult for him to find all of the cut points as he was being dragged straight down by a 300lb shark. So I'm still swimming forward pulling the fish up and he gets free of the tangles and swims over. It's still not a good situation. The sharks are being very aggressive. I need to swim down and poke them away, he needs to pull in the lines, but there is still a huge mess of tangles at the other end of the rope. Much to the sharks disappointment we land the fish. And it takes my buddy a few minutes to sort out the lines and get them back into his reel.
The lesson in the story is the lesson of Line Maintenance. When you Shoot a fish in open water with a Reel. Swim in a straight line or use the current to let your reel line you pull up play behind you. Your gun can be around your shoulder. If done correctly, a 100' length of line becomes a 50' loop. Much more manageable. You can also then cut left or right if there isn't much current and leave a folded, but manageable path of line which might only extend out 20 or so ft. But you know where it is and what it's doing.. One glance at the fish. One glance at the lines. And if you are fishing from a boat.. they need to understand where that line is when they come to get you.
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