View Full Version : Free Shafting: How Big an Advantage
01-17-2003, 11:41 AM
Haven't had a poll in a while, so thought I'd make one on a discussion we had coming in yesterday. Proponents of free shafting, which is by far the most popular way of hunting here on the Gulfcoast, point to two main advantages:
1. The speed in reloading the shaft into the gun, enabling more fish on a dive, and;
2. Greater range.
Most proponents would also acknowledge the value of having the ability to convert to a line gun, in order to shoot at AJs and other larger fish.
This poll is about the "range" issue only, and specifically what percentage of fish you harvest that would have been OUTSIDE of your range had you been using a line gun. Let's say for the sake of this pole that a line gun confines you to a 10' shot (I understand there are Riffes that shoot to 22' or more, but on average a line gun is probably closer to 10').
01-17-2003, 04:34 PM
Since I rarely try to fill my stringer,I just want one or 2 nice fish I answered with most shots being less than 10'.I shoot a 54Biller with 2 5/8 24s and one 5/8 22 SS bands so I have range .I use 2 wraps of 500lb spectra.I'm looking to get some longer shafts from Ray Odor for this summers trips to the ledge.Maybe I'll try a few longer shots.
01-17-2003, 04:37 PM
I would love to freeshaft. I have a 68" gun with triple bands, manufacturer claims a 35 ft effective range (i know, yeah right), I've been a little hesitant about it over losing a shaft. But now I know where to buy some cheap good quality shafts, I'm going to give it a try...
01-17-2003, 05:05 PM
My Riffe 3XS has two wraps of line on it, which is a little over 16'. That + a 55" shaft, theoretically, gives me a 20' range. But, with me behind this gun the effective range is only about 15', according to Riffe the max. effective range for this gun, set up the way it is, is 17', so anything beyond that is out of range anyway. If I freeshaft I could probably wring a little more range out of the gun by uping the size of the bands, but that would give me more range lineshafting too.
I would have to say that the percentage of fish I could have taken by freeshafting giving me more range would be 0.:)
For my purposes the only advantage to freeshafting would be not having to fiddle fart around with the line when I'm reloading and that doesn't doesn't take as long as trying to get a flopping fish off the shaft and double barbed point and into the bag.:D
01-17-2003, 05:58 PM
If this topic is just about range, then freeshafting is the winner hands down. Not even close in my opinion.
A properly banded 52" gun can hit a fish 25 to 30ft away with a single 23" band and a 60" freeshaft. If you double banded that same gun with two 26" bands it could increase the distance to about 30 to 35 feet.
A line gun with 4 bands and very thin line would be hard pressed just to get the shaft to go that far, never mind having any velocity left to penetrate the fish. Too much drag over too great a distance.
If you are talking production bottom spearfishing, (grouper, snapper, etc.) no lineshafter could ever hang with a professional freeshafter. It would be like a Stock car trying to compete with an Indy car at Daytona! It just ain't gonna happen.
01-17-2003, 06:12 PM
Kevin, I agree. There's no doubt that a free shaft has far greater range than a line shaft. But that's not the question.
Another way of what I'm asking is, "How often do you use that range?" or "What percentage of the fish on your stringer at the end of the dive are there because you had that range?" If you fill your stringer at the end of the dive, but all fish were shot within 10', then the greater range did not contribute to the success of your dive (of course, this is where one might bring up the speed benefit :D).
I'm not advocating anything by the poll. It's just a topic that came up on the boat yesterday, and there were different opinions, and I thought it would make an interesting question for the board.
01-17-2003, 06:58 PM
now that i've become one with my gun it is rare that we will miss a shot. this didn't happen over night it took years of work on the relationship i have between my gun and i. sometimes she gets mad at me and i have to do nice things like buy her new bands or shafts. i've learned to always keep her properly washed down and greased. we never spend any more lonely nights apart. it's just me and my 60inch biller sweet heart. tonight i'm going to hold her gently next to the fire place while we watch videos of summer dives we took together.
01-17-2003, 07:07 PM
Originally posted by fishkilla
now that i've become one with my gun it is rare that we will miss a shot. this didn't happen over night it took years of work on the relationship i have between my gun and i. sometimes she gets mad at me and i have to do nice things like buy her new bands or shafts. i've learned to always keep her properly washed down and greased. we never spend any more lonely nights apart. it's just me and my 60inch biller sweet heart. tonight i'm going to hold her gently next to the fire place while we watch videos of summer dives we took together. Genesis has the same relationship with his Nitrox tanks! :D
01-17-2003, 07:23 PM
I line it if A- I lost or B- bent my free shaft . Line it going with the P.H. 90% of the time. I like being able to take the long free shaft shots and yes it helps to put more fish on the stinger. I would say that most of my 10+ lb gag shots are in the 15- 25 ft range and the 2 30 lb AJs that I shot the other day Scott were both free shaft stone shots. I just keep working on the brain shot and it keeps getting better . As for the red grouper I have gotten so close that the shaft never left the gun . Still the line is the best for me when I go hole diging.
01-17-2003, 07:26 PM
Good point on the freeshaft. Here in Brevard we seldom have visibility over 15-20 ft unless it has been flat for quite a while. I'm scared of losing my shafts on a long range shot. But I have noticed I'm way way overpowered to hold a 20' line. Sometimes when I miss I can feel the tug of the line going taught when the shaft reaches the end of the line.
I'm going to switch soon and try a couple of freeshaft setups.
thanks for the good topic
01-17-2003, 08:56 PM
Stone a 35lb Amberjack with a lineshaft....easy $50.00
Stone a 35lb Amberjack with a freeshaft....Priceless
01-17-2003, 11:26 PM
Stone a 35lb Amberjack with a lineshaft....easy $50.00
Stone a 35lb Amberjack with a freeshaft.... a sense of accomplishment
Stone a 35lb Amberjack with a free shaft while video tapeing in the middle grounds.... priceless!
you know what i'm talking about d4b, and i've got the video to prove it.
01-18-2003, 12:51 AM
Nothing like a free-shaft. I got rid of a Riffe C-3 after the first time I used it. Just not my style!
01-18-2003, 10:23 AM
Don't really take many hail mary shots, so I never need the range advantage. Hassle free re-loads are the main advantage. It also seems that a poorly hit fish will fight less on a freeshft than on a line shaft allowing enough time to reload with another shaft for kill shot.
01-18-2003, 07:52 PM
Well it took me a better part of a year, but when I started freeshaftin with my ss 52' I still am amazed with some of the shots that I would make. It did take me a quite awhile to build up confidence on those shots though. Its just like anything, you have to build confidence....the key for me was repitition....I quit diving wrecks so much and started on ledges and natural bottom so I was able to use a free shaft more often and not worrying about losing them so much.
01-18-2003, 09:29 PM
Free shafting the AJs can be faster but only if you are stoning them. The 3rd one I shot put the hurt to him got my shaft back ( in one peace)got all the gills riped out on his port side then he got out of my hands and was gone . I think I could do more but I was diving my dry suit that day for the 1 st time so I had my hands full .You can give me shit about the dry suit but the proff is in the wt. of your stinger not the size of your balls or should I say how small you can get them. I was warm all day thats all I care about any more.
01-19-2003, 12:16 AM
I'm not gonna give you shit about your drysuit, hell, I am jealous as shit about your drysuit.
01-19-2003, 06:39 AM
I was going to say the same thing. Everyone on the boat was thinking you were the smart one the other day.
I will say this, someone asked in another thread if a 3 mil is enough in the Gulf right now. Fact is, my 5/3 was not enough, not even close. And I'm not typically prone to getting cold. A day later, I bought a 7/5 Henderson Gold Core One Piece (hood and all). So call me a puss, but I'll be the warm and toasty puss at the bottom. :D
from the sea
12-26-2003, 05:28 PM
i agree i hate the cold and i only free shaft...ever since i tryed
lost a cupple shafts but that is how you learn right.
12-27-2003, 04:36 AM
My question is this. I hunt the reefs but also the ledges around Okinawa. Will I lose shafts if I shoot a fish that is in open water as most of my fish are, just along the drop off area? I don't have the funds to lose even one shaft.
12-27-2003, 08:46 AM
I would not recommend freeshafting "close to the edge" especially if you cannot afford to lose shafts.
12-27-2003, 11:55 AM
In my opinion, the poll is a little backwards… it should be “damn you're good” if most of your shots are within 10 feet.
To me, the key to spearfishing is the ability to get close to fish. Outside of a skittish black, seldom do I shoot from more than a few feet away. This is simply accomplished by being relaxed, being aware, and having good dive skills. Also, Spear One’s Gulf Rig article is a good read on how to approach fish.
Most of the time I free shaft, but when specifically targeting cobias or diving deep wrecks, I generally line shaft. Free shafting is most definitely faster, but for those who are after just one trophy fish, line shafting may be the best way to go.
Anyways…just my thoughts and please keep in mind my comments are specific to scuba diving in Florida waters.
12-27-2003, 12:29 PM
Spearfishing is just like putting a golf ball...the shorter the better!
When the vast majority of your shots are at close range it shows you have perfected your stalking technique and practice good shot selection. If you seem to always be taking "Hail Mary" shots to get fish, you still have a lot to learn or you need to upgrade you Loran/GPS book!
12-28-2003, 07:40 PM
The third major advantage to freeshafting is the time it takes to remove the fish from the spear. Just slipping it off the end of the shaft is much faster that messing with the tip.
It's not an option on the rigs in LA, but after growing up freeshafting in the keys, the time it takes me to get a fish off the spear, string it and reload a lineshaft is like riding a moped again after driving a BMW.
12-28-2003, 07:47 PM
When I learned to spearfish, I learned freeshaft only. It was actually hard for me to get used to the line attached to the shaft.
12-29-2003, 09:04 AM
I like to freeshaft with Spear one's hybrid shaft. Freeshafting is the only way to hunt a ledge. Having a line shaft setup available will give you the versatility to shoot a fish that is WAY back in a hole. (Get a BRIGHT light; it's worth it). the hybrid shaft has a slide and stop on it that allow you to hook up a line while the shaft is still banded, using a snap swivel. The slide/stop prevents the freeshaft from going all the way throught the fish. I use a long barb that i keep flat. You can pull the shaft back through most fish easily.
I carry a spare shaft on my gun. It is a free shaft if I have my hybrid loaded, or else a line shaft if I load a regular free shaft.
Speed is the number one reason for free shafting. Reloading is quick. The chance of losing a shaft is reduced as your skills develop. Should you shoot a grouper that takes off with your freeshaft, you will know where to look for the grouper, as it is surely holed up very nearby (again, get a BRIGHT light).
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