BLIMEY! Its less than a week until we go to fly to Thailand for our ‘Shipwrecked’ freediving and spearfishing survival adventure, and I need to pack!
The point of this post is to cover what to pack for a freediving or spearfishing trip to a warm water destination. Its something that we have to cover in our final mail out to guests so I thought it may be useful to others as well.
Of course what you bring is very much dictated to by what your planned activities are and where you will be staying when you are away. On this trip we are to be sleeping under the stars on the beach for 4 nights so there’s also a fair bit of camping kit thrown in for good measure.
On this trip I am bringing an Epsealon Exium G2 110cm triple band gun. This is perfect for the size range of fish that we will be targeting. We are not going on a full on blue water fishing trip, most of what we will be fishing will be on drop-offs and will be not much bigger than Giant Trevally, Snapper, Spanish Mackerel etc. People have taken Tuna in the area, which i know the gun could take if needed, but i wont be gong for any world records. For really really big fish you would be looking to take a 140 or so. Its loaded with a 7mm spear but ill be taking a spare spear just in case something tries to bend/break it. I have 100m of line loaded on a reel which will be used to play any big fish and allow me to return to the surface after taking the shot. Again, for much bigger fish, you would be looking to have a separate shooting line attached to high pressure floats, but for this trip I think this should suffice and more importantly offer the maneuverability around reef heads etc.
2: Float and line and safety flasher
25m of pretty thick float line plus 2 meters of bungee will give me the depth that i need plus the ability to take shock from either swell or if the gun gets pulled from me. Bungee cord can be used for all manner of purposes in a spearfishing rig. In big game fishing you will often have a sizable length roped in to your shooting line in order to play large fish. In this set up im using it more to play the float and keep it from dragging down, rather than along. The float is a double bladder float which will give enough buoyancy and toughness to support either me, the gun or some fish. I have a 2nd float which I can snap to this if we are going to an area where we have scouted bigger fish. Of course one of the main purposes of the float is to signal your presence to other water users but it cn also be used to ensure that you dont drop you gear in deep water. I may be able to dive deep, but if i drop this gun in 80m of water… its staying there! Im also bringing a led flasher to attach to the float if we do any night dives.
3: Blue water flashers
Im bringing a set of shiny mackerel lures which can be rigged to a drop line. This is not for the purpose of catching fish but rather attracting them in open water, hence the hooks will be snipped off. This is a technique used by lots of blue water spearos to get fish to the area that you are hanging, as otherwise, why would they hang around at all? This will be used in combination with a bag of burley. Ill set them at whatever depth the fish seem to be running.
Two knives, always two knives. One on the forearm and one on the inside calf. As im right handed I put the leg knife on my left leg and the smaller knife on my right forearm. Let me explain why. I always use a length of cord to attach the knives to the holsters, as ive lost too many knifes over the years (pro-tip, search for curly shoelaces on ebay, they are ace), because of this the one on the forearm needs to be on my working arm so as it doesnt tangle as it crosses my body as i use it. Ill ensure that it sits on the inside of my arm so the float line doesnt get caught. The leg knife sits on the inside of my left leg, so i can reach with my dominant hand to grab it whilst using my left leg and left hand to support the fish.
5: Stringers and catch bags
In water where you are not the natural apex predator you must never keep your fish with you whilst you continue to hunt, if you do you may find yourself at the wrong end of an inquisitive shark or other predatory fish like barracuda. So its important to either move your fish quickly to the beach or the boat, or in a bag or stringer attached to you float. This means that 90% of the time your catch will be at least 10m from you at all times, keeping you away from the nose bumps and teeth of sharks. I use a clip top catch bag (mainly for crays etc) and a home made stringer made from a snap hook and 1m of stainless steel cable. Its easy to slip through the gill plates and never comes undone. Both of these will be clipped to the float.
On this trip I will take my 3mm suit, although I should really be taking a 1-1.5mm suit but unfortunately my sponsor couldnt get me one in time for this adventure, my fault for asking too late! But its still not too thick, and for casual dives I will probably only use the top half. For deeper dives or when spearfishing ill use both, for both thermal and physical protection.
Masks and snorkels:
Dont go away without having a spare mask! They are possibly the most important bit of kit, and although a well made mask will last a lifetime, they have a tendency of getting lost. Be it off a boat or on beach, they love to hide! Mask straps are also pretty delicate in the scale of things and if you dont have a spare you will be kicking yourself for the sake of £20. On this trip i will be taking 3! One with a mirror lens for hunting and two without, for freediving or when the light is getting dim. Ill only bring one snorkel though, as they are easy to get hold of and are pretty cheap to replace, even standard toy snorkel can do the job.
Ill take my Epsealon Impulse carbons (blue version). Always bring a set of fin retainers when diving in deep water, as again, the idea of loosing one into the deep doesnt bare thinking of.
If you are spending any time in the water, around reef and rock there is a chance you are going to get hurt. Cuts and abrasions can quickly fester in tropical air and its important to have adequate cleaning and dressing materials. Rubbing alcohol can sterilse wounds and wash out coral from cuts. Iodine solution will add to that and inhibit bacterial growth. Tampons are a must have if you are going spearfishing in a distant location, far from help. Confused? Often used by the military as a field dressing, tampons can be pushed in to puncture wounds to act as a very effective protection against blood loss. Vinegar is a good one to bring to deal with bad jellyfish stings. Anti-histamines should be packed to fight and inflammations, allergic reactions and can also be used to ward off the effects of reef poisoning from infected fish.
IM NOT GOING TO GO OVER ALL THE CAMPING STUFF as you will be insanely bored by the end, if you are not already, so suffice to say im going to be camping light. Just a bivvy bag and a roll mat.
There are some other little bits that ill be bringing too, like spare line, crimps, bungees, bands etc and of course a couple of pairs of boardies and Ts but thats about it!
What do you bring on your freediving and spearfishing trips?