Are you interested in becoming a spearfisher? Or as the pros call it, a spearo?

Let’s ask a few questions.

Do you like the idea of hunting for your own dinner? Are you an adventurous, active person that thinks fishing with a pole is a little too boring? Do you like the thrill of learning new and exciting skills?

If you answered yes to any of these, then you’re going to love spearfishing. After all, it’s our primal instinct. Humans have been spearfishing since the Stone Age.

A great way to start a new hobby – especially one like this – is to take it slow and learn everything you can about it. Shallow water spearfishing is the best way to learn, hone your skills, and fall in love with the sport.

Here are 10 of the best shallow water spearfishing tips beginners should know!

1. Gather the Essential Equipment

Before you get in the water, you’ll need to make sure you have the proper gear.

Some of these items can get rented, while others you’ll have to buy for yourself. Do you think spearfishing is something you’ll be doing long-term? Then you may as well invest in the equipment now.

Here’s a thorough list of the necessary equipment you’ll need:

  • Diving gear for you, such as a snorkel, mask, wetsuit, fins
  • A weight belt and weights
  • A pole spear or spear gun
  • Replacement spear tips
  • Fish Stringer
  • Gloves
  • Dive knife

As you can see, the list isn’t too long or complex. Spearfishing is a straightforward sport.

2. Understand the Equipment

What do these items do for you?

Diving Gear

Quality fins will help propel you and save your breath. A clear mask helps you spot your prey.

A snorkel allows you to catch your breath without removing your head from underwater. This is important for not losing sight of your fish.

The only optional one here, perhaps, is a wetsuit.

But even in warmer waters, it’s easy to get chilly while waiting for a fish. A wetsuit will keep you comfortable, and warm, and lessen the risk of skin getting scratched on coral, rocks, etc.

A dive knife is essential for cutting string, personal protection, and looking savage.

Weight Belt

This is important for keeping proper buoyancy underwater.

While some fish will be residing near the surface, your goal will be the ones that are a little deeper. A properly weighted belt keeps you low to the ground while still being able to move well.

Pole Spear/Spear Gun

A pole spear is a little harder to learn with – but once you get the hang of this, you’ll have an advantage. It’s worth the patience and practice. A pole spear gets launched by hand, meaning you need to be up close and personal with your prey.

You can use a spear gun from farther away and catch bigger fish, so there are definite advantages here, too.

We recommend starting with the pole spear for beginning shallow water spearos. There’s a learning curve, but you got this.

Replacement Tips

For when your pole spear’s tips get dulled, have some extras on hand.

Fish Stringer

This is a large ring that holds the fish you catch until you reach the surface.


A pair of gloves will protect your hands while giving you the texture to hold fish, spears, and other items.

3. Get a Fishing License

You need a fishing license for most states. Make sure to check out your state’s specific rules when it comes to fishing licenses.

There are different types of licenses, too. There are residential and commercial fishing licenses. Some cover saltwater only, others freshwater – so get informed before you get on the water.

These are easy to get and not usually very expensive or time-consuming. You can even buy a license online.

A license allows you to fish on the land in your state and keep the fish you catch. It also helps the state upkeep and maintains the area you’ll be spearfishing in.

Some states have more laws about weight and type of fish. Make sure you are aware of the different rules regarding marine life in your state.

4. Explore the Local Dive Spots

Now that you’ve compiled your gear and your license, it’s time to find a location.

Research shipwrecks, areas that report amazing visibility, and spots with reefs and abundant marine life.

Spearfishing is doable anywhere you’d feel comfortable snorkeling. So even if you don’t have a list on-hand of the best dive spots in your area, you can find your own!

Of course, if you like the sport, there are beautiful diving locations all over the world. The Philippines boasts brilliant flora and fauna and tons of coral reefs. And there are over 7,000 islands to choose from.

5. Ask a Friend

Once you’re ready to spearfish, you can’t forget this rule, which is one of the most important.

You must always dive with a dive buddy.

This makes sense when you think about the risk involved when going underwater. There are unpredictable currents and marine life. You could get lost.

Never attempt a trip alone. If for nothing else, then for the fact that a dive buddy may be your only chance at survival if you end up suffering from a shallow water blackout.

More on that subject later.

6. Be Subtle in the Water

Fish don’t like commotion, noise, and large silhouettes. These skittish creatures aren’t easy to catch, which is part of why spearfishing is so fun.

One of the best ideas is to be subtle and slow. A fish feels more comfortable around something that is still. There are many other perks to this, such as saving your energy and breath.

Experienced spearos will use a large breath to settle near a hole or spot where there are much fish. They’ll wait for the fish to come to them. Never chase a fish – that’ll leave you exhausted and hungry.

7. Stay Aware of Your Surroundings

You’re going underwater to Find Nemo – not his shark friend, Bruce.

This isn’t the only reason you need to stay aware underwater – although avoiding menacing creatures is a good one. Although you need to remain focused to catch a fish, you can’t forget where you are.

Stay attuned to the current. Are you drifting? Can you still spot your dive boat, kayak, or dive buddy?

This also means being conscious of rocks, coral, and the bottom of the ocean. Fins + sand = a lot of muddy water. Keep your fins off the bottom.

Keep your arms and legs away from holes, fire coral, and the like. One brush of a leg on a sharp piece of coral could ruin your experience. Try to stay as confined as possible.

8. Shoot Behind the Gill

One of the best spearfishing methods for keeping your catch is to shoot behind the gill. While this may sound hard to do, it’s possible. And working on your aim is essential to catch more!

Aim for right behind the fish’s gills and the odds will be higher than your prey won’t swim away or fight the spear.

9. Humane Killing

So you’ve shot the fish behind the gill, but it’s still alive – now what?

There are two ways to humanely kill your fish: stunning and spiking.

Stunning involves a forceful and accurate blow to the fish’s head with a blunt instrument. This could be a nearby rock; or the handle of your knife. Attempt to hit the fish right above the eyes.

The more common method in spearfishing is spiking, or “braining.” This involves taking a very sharp object – like your dive knife – and penetrating the fish right where the brain is. This quick process should show immediate signs of unconsciousness.

10. Avoid Shallow Water Blackout

Here is one of the riskiest parts o spearfishing.

Shallow water blackouts are a scary occurrence. And without immediate medical attention, or a dive buddy there to help you, death is all but certain.

Shallow water blackouts occur when someone hyperventilates or ignores the urge to breathe.

Overbreathing – whether from exertion or on purpose – lowers carbon dioxide levels in the body. As the swimmer goes underwater, carbon dioxide levels increase again. Normally this encourages the body to take a breath.

But, since the body is low on CO2 because of hyperventilating, it isn’t strong enough to take a breath. This causes the swimmer to lose consciousness. This forces the body to take one last breath, which fills the lungs with water.

This is why it is necessary to always have a dive buddy. You also need to remain conscious of your body and its need to breathe. And stay serious.

Spearfishing is fun, but it doesn’t come without risk. Shallow water blackouts are avoidable if you take the necessary precautions.

And One of Our Favorite Spearfishing Tips?

Make yourself a fantastic fish dinner after a long, hard day. Not much will make you feel as proud as eating something that you caught yourself.

We love spearfishing and we hope you do, too. If these spearfishing tips got you amped, then you need to check out the top 10 destinations!