The following is intended as a guide only to help people make informed decisions about equipment used, methods or practices. These are not rules set in concrete! Your choice will ultimately depend on your own individual circumstances and your choices will vary according to your own unique requirements.
These fins are currently available with blades of thermoplastic or composite materials such as fibreglass, carbon or carbon/kevlar. Price varies with the types of material in the blades and the labour content of manufacture, with thermoplastics being the least expensive and carbon composite the most expensive.
The least expensive type of fin is a molded one-piece foot pocket and thermoplastic blade. These are normally very robust. If you are on a budget or new to the sport these would be a fine choice. However if you damage a blade or foot pocket badly, that is the end of your fins.
Two-piece fins have thermoplastic or composite blades. These have the advantage that blades can be replaced or interchanged, using the same footpockets. So if a blade or footpocket is damaged it can be replaced separately.
They also allow freedom of choice. By choosing a quality two-piece thermoplastic fin and an extra set of composite blades only, it is possible to change the blade according to your needs.
Generally, it follows that the more expensive the fins, the lighter the blade, the better the dynamics and efficiency of the blade and footpocket. If you require a fin for shorter dives, shore entries or rock hopping, thermoplastic blades are highly suited. If you are into extended long swims, diving really deep or swim in lots of current, you may wish to consider the more expensive end of the spectrum.
Ultimate performance is really about the marriage of the right blade with the right footpocket. Subtle differences in these combinations can dramatically alter the end performance of any combination.
There are many types of footpockets, with varying combinations of stiffness of rubber throughout the pockets and also the tendons that extend from the footpocket, along the sides of the blade. To get the most performance from any blade, the relative hardness of the rubbers in a footpocket must be in the right places: the sole, for transfer of the power from the foot to the blade; and in the tendons, as this affects the way in which the blade flexes and how it performs.
There are many shapes of foot pockets suiting different shaped feet. Some have very soft and flexible rubber, some stiff. We will attempt to guide you in your choice of fins, footpockets and blades, though our descriptions and sizing charts. If you require further assistance, contact us.
Preparing a new mask: (Back to top)
In most masks the normal manufacturing process leaves a residue of silicone on the glass and the rubber or silicone surfaces. It is essential to remove this to minimise initial and continued fogging.
To do this, the first and simplest method to try is warm soapy water over every inside surface, including the lenses and under seal flaps. Follow this with a toothpaste cleaning of the inside lens surfaces, using toothpaste and your finger, a soft cloth or toothbrush. Follow this with a thorough rinsing with the spray of the garden hose to make sure you get all the toothpaste out of any fine gaps. To test, simply hold up against the face creating a seal, then breathe out your nose, to see if fogging of the glass occurs.
If fogging persists, the next step to try is using a lighter flame, carefully heat (without damaging the edges of the mask) the entire lens/es of the mask inside and out. Some carbon may form, but is easily washed off. The flame need only be applied a few seconds over each lens of a twin lens mask. Be very careful so as not to heat the glass too much and damage the surrounding material. This method is not suitable for a non-glass lens. This can be tested and repeated if necessary until fogging is eliminated.
Another method, if you have acetone and a soft cloth, use them to clean all inside surfaces of mask body and glass, then thoroughly rinse off.
For a simpler method, there are manufactured bottles of cleaners and anti-fog sprays, available through our online store. These are very simple to use and can be carried with you for use at any time. Shop for anti-fog
What to do if your mask leaks: (Back to Top)
Firstly adjust the mask strap so the mask is firm but not tight on your face. The strap should be placed on the biggest circumference point of your head. This way the tension on the mask is directly behind the position of the lenses on your eyes, to give the best possible even seal. If the strap falls below this point it loosens and pulls unevenly.
Check that there is no hair under the edge of the sealing surface or neoprene from a hood if worn. Shaving facial hair ensures a smoother surface for sealing. If you have a moustache, petroleum jelly often helps in sealing the silicone to the hairy surface of your face. But avoid spreading the petroleum jelly to other areas as it can damage rubber-based products.
To test, simply hold up onto your face and suck through your nose to draw mask onto your face. If you can hear a leak, it could be any of the above, or if not, check for loose or ill-fitted lenses or perforations in the mask body.
If a lens is loose it may be fixable, but damage to the soft body of the mask could mean you need to buy a new mask.
Equipment usage hints: (Back to top)
If walking backwards in long fins, shuffle backwards, not forwards. Or leave fins off and put them on after you have entered the water, if conditions are safe to do so.
Wear fin keepers if in surge, surf or walking on the bottom so you don't lose your fins. They can be particularly difficult to find in aerated surf-zone or break-zone.
Fin keepers can eliminate the squelching sound present in loose or poorly fitting foot pockets, minimise spooking fish.
If entering or leaving the water sitting in a boat or talking to someone in the water, the best place for your mask is around your neck, not on your forehead. It can't be lost when it is around your neck!
Wet your face prior to putting on your mask. This may help stop fogging issues.
Filleting Tips: (Back to top)
Make your cut with the scales not against the scales, that is, run from head to tail on both sides of the fish. This saves your knife from rapid blunting. Scaling prior to filleting is even better for the life of your knife.
Use a sturdier/shorter boning type knife for bones(ribs) sharpened with less angle, to avoid rapid dulling of the blade. A longer more flexible knife is used for filleting the flesh of the fish, sharpened with a longer thinner shoulder of the blade.
A breaker/scimitar knife is perfect for steaking fish like mackerel, wahoo, black king, etc.
A skinning knife can be sharpened on one side only, using the dull side down, sharp side up.
Remove the oxygen from packaging bags that you put your fish in. Wrap in layers of newspaper to minimise freezer burn. Zip lock bags are very convenient for packaging fish fillets and easy to remove excess juice and air from the bags.
Extending the longevity of your gear: (Back to top)
To get more life out of black carbon steel shafts(or other steel products), simply wash thoroughly after use, dry and oil with fish oil or other edible oil based lubricant.
Avoid petroleum based lubricants. Instead use silicone, vegetable or fish based oils to avoid damaging your rubber based equipment (wetsuits, weight belts, foot pockets, some masks, snorkels and straps).
Toothy fish can penetrate float lines that gain their buoyancy from watertight tube. Tip: Kill fish first to minimise the chance of this happening or toggle the fish straight onto a fish keeper spike attached to your float.
Float line bungees are normally attached at the float end, not the gun end, to minimise damage to the soft bungee if pulled into the rocks or reef.
Safety tips: (Back to top)
Carry a whistle and mirror on your float. Even consider carrying water, energy bars, flares, GPS/EPIRB, knife, if practical. Always ensure you have a dive flag and your float is high visibility.
A rigid code flag alpha is preferred. In conditions with no wind, soft unsupported flags may not be visible. The longer the flag pole the better for superior visibility.
How to be prepared: (Back to top)
Roughly know the target species you will encounter for a given dive and location. This enables you to select the most appropriate equipment for the task and be best prepared.
Carry and be familiar with the current regulations for bag limits and sizes in the area you are diving.
Carry a soft plastic ruler for measuring.
Have the equipment to clip fins or punch crayfish tails if necessary.
Only shoot what you can eat. Un-necessary killing or wasting of fish can be seen to give the sport of spear fishing a bad name.
Sharpening spear shafts and heads: (Back to top)
Warning - high temperature softens hardened metals. To avoid weakening the metal, try to use the coolest sharpening method. In other words, a grinding wheel is quick and efficient but could be the most damaging, a hand file is slow but doesn't produce damaging consequences. Repeated sharpening will result in a diminished length from the pivot point of your flopper, increasing the ease of levering the shaft out of a fish. At this point it is time to invest in a new shaft or head.
Tuning a spear shaft flopper: (Back to top)
Using a punch and hammer or a pair of pliers, carefully pinch in both sides of the flopper near the location of the pin. Pinch only very gradually until the flopper binds on the shaft when opening at around 45 degrees. This means the flopper will remain open regardless of which way the shaft is facing.
To improve the chances of your flopper catching on the fish, use a pair of pliers to gently and very lightly turn the tip of the flopper away from the shaft. Be careful as too much bend will alter the trajectory of your shaft and the accuracy of the gun dramatically.
When shooting a bottom sand-dwelling fish, like a flathead, or shooting a fish from above, and your spear shaft will penetrate into the sand, chances are your flopper will fail to open if sand is caught under the edges. Tip: in this instance, leave the shaft in the sand, swim down and secure the fish, rather than pulling your shaft back, expecting your flopper to open, as it may not.
Securing and handling a fish after shooting: (Back to top)
Kill fish first, if necessary, usually by using a double-sided pointed “dagger” type blade. Others will also do the job and a simple round metal spike will also work. From above, penetrating directly down into the backbone at around the base of the skull will normally rapidly kill the fish.
Don’t string fish through the hole that you’ve shot them, instead string through the gill and out the mouth as they will tow head to tail when pulled. However in the case of a very sharp-toothed fish, whilst using a tube-type float line or bungee, it would be recommended to tether to a fish-stringer attached to the float or through one gill plate and out the other to avoid puncturing your line.
If sharks are a significant problem, it is recommended to boat the fish immediately or remove it to any floating platform, such as a surf-ski or float board, preferably a design to minimise or eliminate fish blood or parts from the water.
If the situation is suitable always bleed a fish as soon as possible. This will ensure the best quality flesh for eating. This can be done in a number of ways:
If the gills aren’t too sharp or strong, simply tearing them out along with the heart that lies at the top rear of the gill cavity.Using your shaft, you can repeatedly penetrate the heart area causing fairly rapid blood loss.Using a knife, cut through the gills and heart area.
Saltwater ice slurries more rapidly and evenly chill fish and keep them in the best condition. A simple source of ice for making your slurry is to keep fill and freeze plastic milk or juice cartons. A tomahawk makes a perfect duel tool for smashing the ice up with the blunt side to a fine consistency, then cutting the bottles open for placing in the saltwater. Never use fresh water to store fish or wash fish or fillets in, or any other sea food for that matter. Always use real salt water or an equivalent made up stock.
Crimping monofilament: (Back to top)
When using a hand-crimping tool, pass the monofilament line through the crimp and back out the same crimp, to form a loop. Using a flame, melt a small ball on the end of the mono to stop the line slipping back through the crimp. This makes for easy adjustment of loop size and prevents the line ever slipping through the hole in the crimp if incorrectly crimped. The correct way when using hand crimpers is to not crimp the very ends as this can pinch or cut the monofilament. Apply pressure on the crimp at two to three even points, away from the ends. Always ensure the jaws of the crimper touch and the handles can't depress any further.
Always cut monofilament line on an angle for ease of getting it through crimps/swages.
If using carbon steel crimping pliers, to keep them in good condition, after use spray with fish oil, keep head wrapped in a cloth and store in a dry place.
Winding a float line: (Back to top)
If you are winding your float line onto your gun and want it to come off with minimum fuss and no tangles, simply wind in a figure 8 pattern from the muzzle to the handle of the gun for each wrap. Hand winding the float line in the same figure 8 fashion makes for easy storing and use as well. Line winders are a great investment for tidy easy winding and deployment of lines as well as providing the ability to shorten or lengthen the line when needed.
Choosing a wetsuit: (Back to top)
There are hundreds of different wetsuits to choose from in the marketplace so how do you know which one is right for you? How do you know what colour, thickness, cut, fabric or size to select? And what do price and brands have to do with quality?
What seems like a very complicated decision - what wetsuit to choose? - becomes a bit more understandable when you look at how neoprene fabric is manufactured. Neoprene is made from foaming synthetic rubber with nitrogen gas while it is still in liquid form, before it is set. These trapped bubbles are what helps keep the warmth within the suit. Of course the thicker the suit, the warmer it will be, but also the more buoyant it becomes, as there is more gas trapped in there, so extra weights are needed. For tropical regions you may only want a suit of 1mm to 1.5mm thickness, but divers in the cold southern waters of Australia may require 5 to 7mm suits to keep warm. Everyone else will want something in between, depending on the person, the time of year, exact location, depth and the amount of time spent in the water, etc.
Better quality neoprenes have smaller bubbles of nitrogen and more synthetic rubber material, so generally the heavier a suit feels for its thickness, the better the quality of neoprene. Poorer quality wetsuits have large bubbles in them, so will seem light for their thickness. These large bubbles easily explode when diving, so very quickly these suits compact and lose their thickness and effectiveness as wetsuits. Don't be fooled - it may seem like you are getting a bargain, but a wetsuit made of cheap quality neoprene simply will not last very long. You will save in the long run in not having to replace your wet suit as often, by investing a little bit more into a quality neoprene suit.
Neoprene fabric used in wetsuits can have various finishes:
(1) Smoothskin or closed cell - the skin that sets on the outside of the synthetic foam rubber. This is very smooth and quite soft yet still fairly tough, it will seal pretty well against the skin. It is often used for the inside seals around the wrists, ankles and face as it seals yet will not get damaged too easily. A whole wetsuit, with a complete closed or smooth cell finish on the outside, is great for extra warmth, especially if you want to keep out the wind when travelling between dive sites. Smoothskin also gives smoother, slicker movement through the water. Sometimes the neoprene is painted to add colour or pattern.
(2) Opencell - imagine cutting the skin of the foam rubber to reveal all the bubbly bits. The finish is generally used on the inside of suits, is very soft and flexible and it grips and seals extremely well against the skin. It sticks to the skin, so not allowing any pockets of water to get in or move around and disturb the warmth. Opencell finish makes for an extremely comfortable and warm wetsuit, particularly as the joins are glued so there is no stitching against the skin. This finish is very soft and can be damaged by your nails, so make sure you are careful when putting on and removing your suit and keep toe and fingernails short. You will also need to use lubrication to put on your suit.
(3)Nylon/Lycra/ Fabric - a knitted fabric is glued to the outside of the neoprene. Most commonly this is nylon, sometimes other fabrics are used. Neoprene with coatings of fabric will be very durable, but not as flexible, stretchable or comfortable. The seams will be stitched to protect the edges of the fabric from unravelling. Wetsuits with fabric coating inside won't be as warm as uncoated, as the knitted fabric doesn't stick to the skin as well on the inside so can allow some water to get inside the suit. They are also not windproof, but can take a lot more wear and tear than uncoated neoprene and don't need lubrication. Knitted fabric on the outside of the suit will protect the neoprene and give pattern and colour to the wetsuit.
(4) Slick Coatings - are mostly silver or gold finishes applied to opencell insides of suits. These are a great feature and worth paying extra for. The advantages are you will combine most of the comfort, softness and flexibility of an opencell finish, with gaining the added warmth of closed cell, while achieving a finish that is much tougher and doesn't always require lubrication. They will have glued seams as well for comfort.
Along with quality, thickness and finishes of the neoprene, the style and cut of a wetsuit need to be considered. A one piece suit is simple, quick and easy to put on, usually with a back zipper. But it won't be as warm as a two piece suit.
Look at the features of a suit, not just the fancy patterns or colours. Some of the features and their benefits to look out for in a suit:
Choosing the size of your fins (Back to top)
Trying to work out your size of fins can be confusing. When you are buying a brand that you have not tried it can create sizing dilemmas, because all brands are not created the same.
Knowing your size of shoe and other brand of fin will give you some idea of approximately what size you will be. On our website you will find a helpful section in each of the footpocket and fin brands. Included with the description is a table giving internal measurements for each size for that particular brand. You will find for each footpocket size - length, width, and the size of the entry hole for your foot.
Now it is just a matter of measuring your feet to check their dimensions against the table. A simple way to do this is to stand on a piece of paper and trace around your foot. If you wear socks or booties under your fins, put these on prior to tracing. Trace both feet as sometimes they can be different.
Using a ruler, measure the widest and longest part of both feet. Now compare these measurements to the sizing chart for the particular brand you are wanting to buy. If you are still unsure, send the above measurements to us and we can help you to make a choice.
Remember that softer rubbers have a bit more give and stretch and some brands will be more suitable to wider or narrower foot shapes.
How to Fit Fin Blades into Footpockets: (Back To Top)
If you buy a set of fin blades and footpockets separately and need to put them together, there are a few things you need to check and a some tips to making fitting easier.
First of all, check that the blades will fit into the footpockets. Some are designed for a screw-fitting that makes the job much easier. Check that the footpockets have or come with a fixing set. All of our screw-fit pockets have fixing kits included. The kit will consist of the correct size stainless steel screws, and small plates for securing the screws through or into. If the blades are the " matching" ones for the footpockets, they will have screw holes that line up with those in the fixing kit, so the job is a simple one requiring just a lining up of parts and a screwdriver. There will also be 2 C-clips for securing the side tendons of the footpockets onto the rails of the blades.
If the blades are of another brand, first check that the blades will indeed fit the footpockets in shape or design. If the footpocket is screw-fit and the blades have no holes or holes in the wrong place, then you will need to drill holes through the blade to attach them using the fixing kit. But first make sure that the manufacturer advises drilling is compatible with the blade shape, material and construction.
An alternative is to use a footpocket designed for glue-fitting. This is a very secure method for fitting blades to footpockets and does not require any complication of drilling the blades. It is then a matter of using the correct type of glue. Some options for gluing the footpockets are to use 3M 5200 or Loctite 406. These are both “super glue” Cyanoacrylates and you should be able to find them in both clear or black if you choose. You will need to apply pressure and/or a weighted flat board over the glue area until the glue sets.
Pre-fit the blade to the footpocket, before gluing, then mask up to the edge where the tendons push onto the blades. This will minimise messing up your nice shiny blades with glue dribbles or fingerprints. If you ever need to remove the blades from the footpockets, you can use sikaflex 291 to glue the tongue of the blade into the base of the footpocket and use the “super glue” for the tendons. This will make removal of footpockets a whole lot easier if need be. Note: the sikaflex won’t hold the tendons in well enough so you can’t use it for them. You will also need to apply weight or pressure to the join until the sikaflex hardens.
You'll need to pre-clean all rubber surfaces to be glued with suitable solvent, detergent or sandpaper. Then it is a matter of applying the glue and sikaflex to the appropriate sections of the footpocket and easing the masked up blade into place. When the glue is dry, remove the masking tape from the blade.
Another variation is to use a screw-fit footpocket but to glue fit it to an undrilled blade. You will need some of the parts in the fixing kit to do this. Again, pre-fitting, masking and pre-cleaning of the blades and footpockets is required. However, you can use sikaflex to fit the tongue of the blade into the base of the footpocket. Glue in any cover plates necessary to fill recesses in the footpockets. The tendons can either be simply slotted onto the side rails of the blades and secured with the C-clips provided. Or if the blades do not have side T-rails, glued on using the super glue method above and glue on the C-clips as well.
Of course it is even simpler to buy your fins already assembled, or match the blades to the brand and style of footpocket for easy assembly.