How to set up a float & floatline
This question gets asked a lot by new comers to the sport so I thought I would put up how I set up my float & floatline for general spearfishing. I like to keep my gear as simple as possible because the more that can go wrong will go wrong. This is my standard setup all here:
We will start at the float. I personally use an 8L ridged Rob Allen float because I got it cheap and they are pretty damn good floats. Unless you get one cheap they will cost around $170. I wouldnít pay full price for one, there are alternatives. The 8L is a nice size to take rock hopping which most new comers will be doing. It doesnít create much drag at all unless itís got a few fish on it like mine normally does. The downsides to these floats are the clip attachments and the flag attachments. Once you wear through the webbing the float is pretty stuffed and you will have to start drilling through to attach clips. The other problem being the flag attachment means the flag is pretty much always in the float which isnít always convenient when traveling, unscrewing it over and over will eventually stuff the thread. Both of these problems I have overcome and I will explain how so further down the track.
Other good floats to consider are the Jon Fay Diver Missile Float. The pest uses one of these floats and has been for years; just take one look at it. The float is made from great high density foam with replaceable clip attachments. The float has a great flag attachment in that a piece of pipe friction fits into a brass nipple and is secured to the float via a piece of cord; on of the best flag attachments around. One of these floats retails for about $100.
Of course there is the humble comp special Ronstan float. One of these floats will set you back around $50 but thatís without clips or flag. I strongly suggest no one ever dives without a flag on their float. You can put a flag & keel on a Ronstan but that will be another article for another day. The clip attachments are great on these floats as they are integrated with the molding.
Back to my original float. I use a normal 2.6 x 100 clip on the back of the float (the back of the float is the closest to the flag attachment) for attaching various items such as a whistle, mirror, pranger, spare rubber or water bottle. On the front of the float I use the bigger 3.5 x 125 clips. The only reason for this is I like to have a swivel up near the float and the swivels on the larger clips are much stronger than the smaller clips. Plus it makes it easy to distinguish which clip to put your floatline on. The reason for no having the swivel clip on the end of my gun is that they can rattle around with the speed spike underwater when your hunting, Iíd rather it rattle around on the surface and not scare the fish Iím trying to shoot.
The flag attachment I have made for this float is constructed from brass hose fittings. Remember what a hose is all those of you from SE QLD? It just so happens the thread is the same size on the hose fittings as it is on the float. Simply screw the male adaptor in the float but make sure you donít put it in too far or you wonít be able to clip the female part on. I have used the original flag mast that comes with the RA floats and made a tapered dowel and hammered it into the female adaptor and smeared a bit of araldite on there. I lost a flag because I just put a bit of hand spear rubber in the adaptor and then the flag mast so make sure you have a secure connection.
From the float I now have what I call a flopper stopper. Iím not sure who invented these but it was probably the pest. Essentially it is a small section of stainless steel with a flopper attached that is very loose and flops around, a D shackle at the front and some stainless cable coming off the back covered in garden hose. This serves two purposes; keeping your fish from sliding down the floatline and if a shark hits your fish he wonít cut your floatline in half (and possibly loose your float) because of the stainless cable. I have added a little dilly float onto the shark clip attached via some mono to put the flopper stopper through to act as a stopper for the fish so they donít get stuck on the clip and make the float dig into the water. This also protects the floats webbing from wear from gill rakers. It also makes getting the fish off a little easier because you can push them down and then unclip the flopper stopper from the float and they all just slide off. Of course you can get away with not using a flopper stopper but they are pretty handy.
From the flopper stopper I have a two toned float rope. The orange at the start makes it easier for the boat boy to know where abouts you are exactly as this part of the rope is generally on the surface. The orange rope will be pointing in the direction of the diver if he/she is under the surface. This is not 100% necessary but I like it, if it stops me getting run over, thatís a plus.
Back to the rope; the green stuff is a 4 strand poly rope that is similar to the Rob Allen stuff but slightly thicker & it has a core down the guts of it. I prefer to use this rope of any other floatline on the market, even those PVC floatlines. The great thing about this rope is:
ē Its cheap
ē Easy to repair
ē Tows through the water great
ē Easy to store
ē Can wrap it around your gun
ē Wonít puncture like PVC floatlines
ē Not highly buoyant which makes diving deeper easy
ē Tough as anything
ē Fish slide down the rope very easily
Another rope that is okay to use which are easy to get a hold of is 6mm ski rope. I would steer away from any PVC floatline that people make because they ALL leak eventually and they are only as strong as the mono down the guts of them. Another floatline that is also fairly good is 3.5mm whipper snipper cord but you need someone to crimp the ends and it doesnít store that entire well.
Spliced on to the end of the rope is a speed spike. These will cost about $15 or you can make them which I will explain in another article later on! When you shoot a fish and you have dispatched it unclip your speed spike from your gun and thread the speed spike in through the gills and out the mouth of the fish.
They will then slide down your rope and stay up at the flopper stopper. In the gills out the mouth is the best way to string a fish because they lay flatter and more streamlined. I splice my spikes onto the rope because fish with small mouths go over it easy, plus the need to remove the speed spike isnít that great. Fish like luderick & mullet slide right over the splice without a hiccup. The speed spike is then attached to the clip on the gun of your choice.
The setup is what I have found to be the best and a lot of other divers have settled on. I donít find the need for bungies or little floats every 10m like some people use. It just adds to the complication. There is really no need for anything else unless itís specifically for blue water hunting of doggies. I landed my two biggest fish on this rig with a 25m rope, I know a bungie wouldnít have made it any easier; probably harder in fact, the same goes for those little floats. Biggest tip for beginners, keep your gear simple and youíll have less trouble.