1. Water Time is Important
Every Spearo has said, “To start shooting better fish it's all just time in the water”.
Listening to podcasts, watching videos and reading books will help you improve your knowledge BUT…
Watching videos, reading articles, listening to interview’s and podcasts, and talking to the Pros can help.
The more you’re in the water and apply it the better you get.
If you don't use it, you will lose it.
You listen to an interview and learn all about how to use noise to arouse a fish’s curiosity. You have some ideas and now it's time to experiment. You head out to an area where you last had some easily spooked reef fish and setup. Laying on the surface you breathe-up and think about what you'll do once you hit the bottom 14 meters below.
30 seconds later..
You gently touch down and….
There's no fish here bro.
Two hours later in a different location when you've forgotten your noise experiment, you touch down and see your target. As your eyes paint the fish, the fish starts to head off…as usual. At this point, it's time to try the experiment. You make the noise you suspect will make the fish curious but it sounds more like the mating call of a Dugong. The fish is gone.
Takeaways: the noise could be wrong for this species OR this species doesn't like noise at all OR you needed cover to arouse the fishes curiosity.
It’s time for more experimentation and you only have so many opportunities a day. This is why time in the water is crucial. You have to experiment, observe and learn continuously. Every species is different, their body language offers us clues but only time watching, observing and learning how to hunt them will yield you results.
2. Asking good questions
When you head into your local spearfishing club, you want to talk to the veterans.
Prepare some questions based on the species and scenarios you've been in recently and choose a good person to ask. If you ask specific questions you will often get better answers because the veterans don't like to spoon-feed. They want to know that you are doing the work to learn yourself before they hand out their hard-won advice.
Also, if you don't quite understand their answer, ask a follow-up question.
Finally, when you get out for a spear and experiment with their advice, share your victories with them and be prepared to help the next generation of divers yourself.
3. Regularly enter competitions
In competitions, you will find lots of really good spearos. To do well in competitions you must shoot multiple species. To do this you need a strong strategy. This forces you to develop skills and learn fast. Every competition you enter will be an experiment and it's after the competition finishes that you will get the best answers and tips from veterans. Rob Harrison (successful kiwi comp diver) gets the best advice when a few beers are well underway and the prize-giving is complete.
With competition strategizing, you will need to plan your day around the tides, species and other competitors movements. The compressed time window also adds spice to the mix and culminates in a very good environment for improving. While competitions aren't for everyone, I think occasionally they can be a great idea for improving your skills and networking with spearos.
4. Travel & Learn From The Locals
Diving different places with different people in different conditions will also get you out of your comfort zone and that's a good thing. Every experienced diver does something a little different that you can learn from. Diving with a good guide can also give you access to decades of knowledge and experience that will help you get better results.
Many spearos you meet will have unconscious competence. Basically, they don't know what they know. Their habits and movements that yield results are often unconscious and they can't explain why they do certain things. Others (like Ian Puckeridge;) won't share a lot of the things they know unless you are part of their close family and friends and can understand it. You can still improve though by slowly implementing new ideas and experimenting.
- Spend lots of time in the water
- Ask good questions at the right time to the right people
- Regularly enter competitions
- Dive with different folks in different places in different conditions