NorCal Underwater Hunters

NorCal Underwater Hunters Discussion => Hunting Gear => Topic started by: MauiBen on November 27, 2018, 01:22:23 PM

Title: First wood gun for inshore/hole hunting?
Post by: MauiBen on November 27, 2018, 01:22:23 PM
I'm just getting into the sport. A friend took me spearfishing at Stillwater and we got a bunch of monkey faced eels, rockfish, etc. I loved it! I've bought all my own gear now (Mako Black Friday sale ;D), with the exception of a gun. I'm leaning toward a wood gun with a tabbed/finned spear. I've been looking at the Riffe Mahogany Competitor and the JBL Woody Elite.

https://speargun.com/products/mahogany-competition-series-riffe-spearfishing-speargun?variant=25987752449 (https://speargun.com/products/mahogany-competition-series-riffe-spearfishing-speargun?variant=25987752449)
https://www.jblspearguns.com/product/woody-elite-series/ (https://www.jblspearguns.com/product/woody-elite-series/)

They're around the same price. Anyone have any experience with these? Also, what size would be good for Norcal inshore/hole hunting? From what I've read, people use pretty short guns around here. Is the JBL "38 special" size too long? Otherwise, the next step down is the "Custom", which looks a little dinky. For Riffe, I was thinking the size #0 would be good.

Thanks for any help.
Title: Re: First wood gun for inshore/hole hunting?
Post by: Adam415 on November 27, 2018, 02:45:20 PM
Riffe Euro 75 would also be a good option. If set on the competitor the "0" or the "1" would be a good size. The "00" is pretty short. If you get the paduck competitors they are cheaper.
Title: Re: First wood gun for inshore/hole hunting?
Post by: Rob102 on November 27, 2018, 02:51:03 PM
Wood is durable but even the Lower end models are over priced.

Th JBL 38 special has a rock point with a retainer ring to hold the flippers back to remove the fish.  I have found these to be a pain in the ass.  The single floppier is a better design in my experience.  Riffe has that style and so does Mike N., who sells handmade guns on this site.

If you are just starting and you have all mako gear, why not get an inexpensive 70-80cm pipe gun until you’ve been at it long enough to make an informed decision, rather than tie up $400-$500 on something and then changing your mind.
Title: Re: First wood gun for inshore/hole hunting?
Post by: MauiBen on November 27, 2018, 03:10:02 PM
I like the look of the wood guns, and I don't mind investing in quality gear. Then again, I also don't like overpaying for something. I looked at some metal guns like Pathos and Rob Allen. I read a lot of people complaining about the RA spears rusting. I know you can oil them, but that's just an extra pain I'm not interested in dealing with. I didn't like the Pathos because the ergonomic grip isn't good for swapping hands. Even in my short spearfishing career, I've made at least one left-handed kill. I've been using my friend's Mako gun, and it's ok but was curious about trying the next step up in quality. Any other suggestions?
Title: Re: First wood gun for inshore/hole hunting?
Post by: alldayreese on November 27, 2018, 03:17:56 PM
You don't need much length on the gun once you start having long down time to hole hunt.  But starting off with a 60-75 would be best and cheap, but with a metal trigger not plastic if possible. The shaft should have shark fin tabs.  Also buy a cheap stringer and cheap float  to hang your fish so they are not strapped to your body.

You can get a cheap gun and beat it to hell.  Go cheap for now until you go for the southern California fishing in that case it's worth paying for a more expensive gun to catch larger and taster fish, also you would get a  >120cm gun.

Try the link below, guns start at $29

https://www.scubastore.com/scuba-diving/spearguns-spearguns/22/s#fq=id_familia%3A6&fq=id_tienda%3A1&sort=v30+desc,product(tm1,%20dispo)+asc&start=0&&fq=atributos%3A-751_2893-&fq={ (https://www.scubastore.com/scuba-diving/spearguns-spearguns/22/s#fq=id_familia%3A6&fq=id_tienda%3A1&sort=v30+desc,product(tm1,%20dispo)+asc&start=0&&fq=atributos%3A-751_2893-&fq={)!tag=dt}talla%3A(%2275%20cm%22+OR+%2270%20cm%22+OR+%2276%20cm%22+OR+%2279%20cm%22+OR+%2280%20cm%22+OR+%2282%20cm%22)
Title: Re: First wood gun for inshore/hole hunting?
Post by: MauiBen on November 27, 2018, 03:35:52 PM
Thanks for the link, but man there are so many brands and guns and I've never heard of most of them. I need like two or three specific suggestions for guns to get.
Title: Re: First wood gun for inshore/hole hunting?
Post by: TheKeeneroo on November 27, 2018, 03:51:01 PM
Thanks for the link, but man there are so many brands and guns and I've never heard of most of them. I need like two or three specific suggestions for guns to get.

You can get a non-ergo grip for pathos. those are VERY common and quality guns in our area. Also make sure its an open muzzle which is just about a must for short range shots (if you've shot MFE, they are almost always less than 1 ft from spear tip). 60-75 length is perfect for this area. I'd argue 75 for those midwater shots that you'll take on larger blues/blacks but Rob102 swears by shorter - you'll just have to learn your preference but I'd recommend 75 as the perfect length. I agree that you don't need quality yet and you should definitely get something you can beat up... there will be lots of rocks to bumb it against while hunting.

Once this swell dies down, you can come dive with me and try any of my guns. I have short, long, wood, pipe etc. I always rep my "local" shops like Bamboo Reef and Red Triangle but understand sometimes things on mako are cheaper. I have found with their guns they just aren't as quality but that comes from limited experience with only trying a few of theirs.
Title: Re: First wood gun for inshore/hole hunting?
Post by: charlierobinton on November 27, 2018, 05:40:51 PM
I went through a similar dilemma several months ago when I decided to buy a gun after a long time of only hunting with a pole spear. I ended up waffling back and forth between a Pathos Laser Open Pro 75 and a Rob Allen Snapper 70. I finally chose the Pathos for several reasons, although I think the Snapper 70 would have been great along with a number of other reputable brands. Interestingly enough I love the ergonomic handle, and I have never been in a situation where I felt like I couldn't take a shot with my dominant hand. I am super happy with the Pathos gun and the 75 size. It is powerful when hole hunting bigger fish and has a little extra range for skittish rockfish that don't want to come close. Pathos adds a bunch of really cool details that you can look into if you do your research and with time in the water I would say they all add to my appreciation of the gun. Sometimes when I'm just hole hunting I feel like I'd rather have a shorter gun. Maybe I'll get another one soon  ;)

I also was attracted to wooden guns at first, but after going with a pipe gun I am totally stoked on my decision. I would say if you're worried about cleaning rust off of a Rob Allen spear shaft then definitely don't get a wooden gun because its going to get beat up in the rocks and you will have to maintain the finish if you want to keep it looking nice and keep saltwater out of the wood. That said, don't worry too much about cleaning rust off your spear shafts. They're all going to oxidize eventually and it is no big deal. If it bugs you some baking soda and a scotchbrite pad does wonders. You can coat over it after with silicone grease if you're really OCD. I do that with my knives and it works great.

Get a quality gun that won't fail on you, but I'd avoid spending unnecessary cash for the sake of aesthetics because it is going to get beat up if you are diving a lot. 

Title: Re: First wood gun for inshore/hole hunting?
Post by: Mike n on November 27, 2018, 05:46:07 PM
I didn't get into diving until I was in my late 30s.  The first gun I ever had was a JBL 38 special.  My buddy lost it before I ever had a chance to shoot a fish with it.
I never bought another gun, but I have been tempted to.  I don't have a recommendation other than to build one if you can or buy what you like.

MN
Title: Re: First wood gun for inshore/hole hunting?
Post by: Alfonso on November 27, 2018, 07:40:47 PM
When you're first starting out, all the options can seem a bit overwhelming. Whatever you buy, you'll outgrow it pretty quick, especially if you maintain the enthusiasm you're expressing here. Buy something basic that will still serve you beyond your noobie phase. 60-80 centimeters is great for norcal, most your shots will be fairly close range, low visibility is the norm. What good is a gun with a 20 foot range when the vis is 0-10 feet a lot of the time? You don't need a lot of power when hole hunting, most of the time a single band gun will suffice. A metal rail gun can take a beating better than a wood gun. Open muzzle is better for short range guns, especially when shooting point blank into a rocky hole, you want the shaft to be independent of the gun. A metal gun should have a full length rail for better accuracy. Open track is best for close range hunting. My first gun was a Riffe Competitor 0S, I still have it, and still use it in norcal. A Comp 1S would also work great here, but a Comp 2 is a little too big for most of what you'll encounter around these parts. Maneuverability is important in tight places.

You mentioned the maintenance issues surrounding Rob Allen shafts, but even a wood gun will need constant maintenance to stay alive, re-oiling, etc. The upside of the RA guns is that carbon steel spears are inexpensive and easy to replace. Remember, you're going to be shooting a lot of rocks if you're hole hunting, and carbon steel shafts are harder than regular SS, they can take a beating. Rust is only a problem if you don't clean your gear after each dive. Like Charlie said, a bit of scotchbrite or steel wool will check the rust if and when it appears.

Try to not overthink it. Buy something that suits your needs at present, learn from it, and grow into something new.

Focus on your hunting technique. A good hunter can get fat using a pointy stick.
Title: Re: First wood gun for inshore/hole hunting?
Post by: bythog on November 27, 2018, 07:47:48 PM
I have the JBL .38 Special and have used that exclusively in these waters. I've used other guns on vacation.

It's honestly not a bad gun. It's a good size for both holes and shorter open shots, but the range/accuracy isn't great beyond 10 feet. I get what Rob102 says about the retainer ring...but I've had zero issues with it once it's broken in. The nice thing about it is that the tip can be switched off easily. Shoot into the reef too much and dull the point up? Keep a spare on your kayak/float and just swap it out with a sharp one. Don't like the retainer ring or want a single flopper? Swap it out. I'm also fairly new to the sport and have beat the hell out of the gun already but you wouldn't really know it.

There are certainly nicer guns out there. There are cheaper ones, as well. If you are set on a woody (I am, always will be) then it really isn't a bad one to start with. Making a gun is always an option but you need at least *some* woodworking tools and knowledge of lamination, etc. I wouldn't say it's difficult but it is tedious to measure everything so much and so precisely; I'm nearly finished with my wife's gun.
Title: Re: First wood gun for inshore/hole hunting?
Post by: MauiBen on November 27, 2018, 09:17:10 PM
Thanks for the great advice, everyone. I see the point about the wood getting beat up hole hunting. I'll look into getting the universal grip for the Pathos.
Title: Re: First wood gun for inshore/hole hunting?
Post by: Rob102 on November 28, 2018, 07:00:10 AM
You should be able to find it on sale this week.
Title: Re: First wood gun for inshore/hole hunting?
Post by: MauiBen on November 28, 2018, 08:16:02 PM
I got the Pathos 75cm with universal grip. Looking forward to trying it. Thanks again for the help, everyone.
Title: Re: First wood gun for inshore/hole hunting?
Post by: Abalonejoe on November 28, 2018, 08:26:12 PM
You have a passion for wood guns.... make one one day
(https://i.postimg.cc/NyqSW2wJ/image.jpg) (https://postimg.cc/NyqSW2wJ)
Title: Re: First wood gun for inshore/hole hunting?
Post by: Rob102 on November 28, 2018, 09:33:59 PM
I got the Pathos 75cm with universal grip. Looking forward to trying it. Thanks again for the help, everyone.

Great choice!
Title: Re: First wood gun for inshore/hole hunting?
Post by: Diver Dan on November 28, 2018, 09:39:28 PM
My favorite gun for NorCal hole hunting is the Riffe MetalTech OS I found on the bottom of the ocean covered in sea weed and barnacles. Must have been there for at least a year. I scraped off the junk (there was a lot of it) and it was ready to go! No rust! The bands even lasted a year after I found it. Great power for a small gun (3 bands) and mid-handle is great for hole hunting. The only thing wrong with it is it doesn't float once the spear is shot. But what do you expect after being on the ocean floor for at least a year. My next favorite gun is the Riffe mahogany #0. Slightly bigger. Good for holes and longer shots on clear days. But a little too long sometimes for hole hunting close range. Either way, a Riffe is much better than a JBL. So are Mike N.'s guns, Sea Sniper, Pathos.
Title: Re: First wood gun for inshore/hole hunting?
Post by: Rob102 on November 29, 2018, 06:40:33 AM
My favorite gun for NorCal hole hunting is the Riffe MetalTech OS I found on the bottom of the ocean covered in sea weed and barnacles. Must have been there for at least a year. I scraped off the junk (there was a lot of it) and it was ready to go! No rust! The bands even lasted a year after I found it. Great power for a small gun (3 bands) and mid-handle is great for hole hunting. The only thing wrong with it is it doesn't float once the spear is shot. But what do you expect after being on the ocean floor for at least a year. My next favorite gun is the Riffe mahogany #0. Slightly bigger. Good for holes and longer shots on clear days. But a little too long sometimes for hole hunting close range. Either way, a Riffe is much better than a JBL. So are Mike N.'s guns, Sea Sniper, Pathos.

Metal tech are made to sink.  Good for scuba or marking the bottom.
Title: Re: First wood gun for inshore/hole hunting?
Post by: TheKeeneroo on November 29, 2018, 08:47:39 AM
I got the Pathos 75cm with universal grip. Looking forward to trying it. Thanks again for the help, everyone.

Great choice!
+1
Title: Re: First wood gun for inshore/hole hunting?
Post by: Diver Dan on November 30, 2018, 03:23:17 PM
My favorite gun for NorCal hole hunting is the Riffe MetalTech OS I found on the bottom of the ocean covered in sea weed and barnacles. Must have been there for at least a year. I scraped off the junk (there was a lot of it) and it was ready to go! No rust! The bands even lasted a year after I found it. Great power for a small gun (3 bands) and mid-handle is great for hole hunting. The only thing wrong with it is it doesn't float once the spear is shot. But what do you expect after being on the ocean floor for at least a year. My next favorite gun is the Riffe mahogany #0. Slightly bigger. Good for holes and longer shots on clear days. But a little too long sometimes for hole hunting close range. Either way, a Riffe is much better than a JBL. So are Mike N.'s guns, Sea Sniper, Pathos.

Metal tech are made to sink.  Good for scuba or marking the bottom.

Ah, well that makes sense. Glad I never decided to try to fix it.
Title: Re: First wood gun for inshore/hole hunting?
Post by: cam3087 on December 11, 2018, 02:58:54 PM
My favorite gun for NorCal hole hunting is the Riffe MetalTech OS I found on the bottom of the ocean covered in sea weed and barnacles. Must have been there for at least a year. I scraped off the junk (there was a lot of it) and it was ready to go! No rust! The bands even lasted a year after I found it. Great power for a small gun (3 bands) and mid-handle is great for hole hunting. The only thing wrong with it is it doesn't float once the spear is shot. But what do you expect after being on the ocean floor for at least a year. My next favorite gun is the Riffe mahogany #0. Slightly bigger. Good for holes and longer shots on clear days. But a little too long sometimes for hole hunting close range. Either way, a Riffe is much better than a JBL. So are Mike N.'s guns, Sea Sniper, Pathos.


I use the riffe metal tech 0s and love it for humboldt < 6ft vis hole hunting. It was perfect for those kind of conditions. Before that I had a riffe padauk that would float up and move around after marking a spot.. very frustrating.


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