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fresh, cold water hunting

Thread Status: Hello , There was no answer in this thread for more than 60 days.
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New Member
Mar 11, 2004
I am looking at new freediving equipment to be used in cold freshwater lakes in Canada. Most of the lakes I dive provide 20ft. +- visibility, and coarse fish as the mark. Because of the visibility, and temperament of the fish. I don’t take monster fish, but penetration can be an issue on carp and such. Something light in the hand, and good for tracking is a big plus though. I had a JBL aluminum gun up until last year when it came apart and disappeared on the murky bottom. I don’t want that to happen again. As far as guns, Riffe and Rob Allen have caught my attention, and I have read enough to know that there is a lot of disagreement about the merits of both. I don’t want to start another pissing contest. These are my concerns at this point:

Rob Allen 90mm: Looks to be fast, light and accurate. I am a little concerned about the buoyancy in fresh water. Does anyone have some insights into this? My JBL was ok in the salt, but the balance was different in fresh water. I see there are lighter carbon versions as well, would this help much?

Riffe #1 Bottom: Looks to be powerful, buoyant after being fired and possess good build quality. How easy is it going to be to swing around?

Riffe Metal tech #2 with ‘high density foam wing kit’: The mid handle looks more agile and compact, but will it be positively buoyant without the shaft? I see the stock length is listed at 44”, is that the total length, or just what is in front of the handle? How much drag will it add in tracking? I have heard mid handle guns can be difficult to shoot accurately. Is this true?

To summarize, I am basically worried about the buoyancy of the Rob Allen’s in fresh water, and the tracking on the Riffe’s.

I am also looking for some freediving fins. Up until now my fins have been generic, and they need upgrading. Most of my diving shallow (10-15 meters), and I do quite a bit of surface swimming. I understand that a softer fin is more suitable to this type of work. Correct? I was considering the Picasso Start’s (green blade) because they are said to have a wide foot pocket, and I can change to black blades if I get into deeper water. Is that reasonable? Is there something else I should be looking at?

There are no freediving shops, and very few diving shops where I am, so trying, or even holding equiptment before I buy is not an option.

Any input is apreciated,
the metal tech. might not float in fresh water. the wing would help it to do so, i would contact riffe to see if it floats in fresh water. and the length of the stock is from the but to the muzzle. they track easily and aim very well, as do the rest of their guns. the riffes will definitely provide the penetration that you need.
hope any of this helps,
What is your price range?

The RA is buoyant in freshwater (with shaft out). I play with it in my pool & it floats fine. The carbon is nice, but for your style of diving, it's really overkill.

The Riffe #1 Bottom is a mid-range price, but is a nice overall gun. It floats like a cork with the shaft out. Ted & Jon use homemade models that are patterned after the mid-handle Riffe Bottom, which is a bit more expensive. Another alternative would be the C-series which is thinner & more manuverable than the Standard series. Also a bit cheaper.

The Metaltechs are nice, but track slowly with the floater wings. The partial midhandle of this makes them more manuverable than a comparable length rear-handle Riffe. It's a great solid gun for the price, but the standard model without wings doesn't float, even without the shaft. Some people don't mind or even prefer this characteristic of it. Others hate it. Personal preference.

The Riffes are measured on overall length, whereas the RA's are measured only using the barrel length.

Not including shaft:
90cm RA is 45 inches overall. (just measured mine)
Riffe Bottom is 43 inches overall.
Riffe #2 Metaltech is 44 inches overall.

Interesting note - Jon said the following in another thread:
The Rob Allen had much better range in the clear, for us, water, but it literally bounced right off the side of some of the carp if we shot from too far out. The wood guns ran out of range on a couple of shots, because we didn't have enouh wraps of mono on them, but they gave a pretty nice punch to any fish that did come within range.

As far as fins, you're on the right track. I like Picassos the best out of my plastic-blade fins(between sporasub, picasso, esclapez, & omer) The softer blades realy do help for surface swimming. Not sure what blade is the softest since I'm always trying to find stiffer fins to dive deeper & fight current, so someone else may be able to help out a bit more there. I think the greens are a good starting point.
where you at in BC ?

shoot me a PM and we'll talk shop. I'm heading out for Burbot as soon as Ice is out.
Thanks :)

My budget is... uh... no more expensive than that Riffe bottom. :) I don’t really want to spend that much, but I have seen two guns fail thus far (my JBL came apart, and a friends gun misfired) and don’t want this to happen again. Id like to spend less, but quality is important too.

I guess a sinking gun isn’t the end of the world. I just find that a negatively buoyant gun is tempting to hold by the barrel, rather than the grip, and that means that you have to move your hands if something swims past. To hold and swing a heavier gun by the handle for long periods of time gets fatiguing I find.

That quote by Jon talking about bouncing off carp is exactly what I used to experience with my old JBL.

P.S. Thanks Amphibious, message sent...

Originally posted by fuzz
Another alternative would be the C-series which is thinner & more manuverable than the Standard series. Also a bit cheaper.

Is there any difference between the competitor series, and the standard series other than the thickness of the teak?

I just took a look at the Competitor #1, and it looks about ideal. A little shorter, should be easier to swing around and cheaper. Is there a down side?

Originally posted by Hephaestus
Is there any difference between the competitor series, and the standard series other than the thickness of the teak?

I just took a look at the Competitor #1, and it looks about ideal. A little shorter, should be easier to swing around and cheaper. Is there a down side?


Only other difference would be the amount of recoil as a result of stock difference. As long as you don't overpower it, it will serve you well :)
I don't remember everything about the Riffe lines, but we were looking for mid-handle guns so that we could turn them quicker in the limited vis, but still not loose any punch. We can load 3-4 bands on our wood guns and punch through a carp without too much of a problem.

I originaly bought the R.A. for going after panfish. They are no where near as big as a carp and I wanted something lighter and faster to shoot with, than the JBL's I had tried.

It works fine, but at 75cm that's even too long for the vis we get in some of the lakes we end up spearing in come the middle of summer. It sounds like you have better vis where your at and might fare better with that length of gun.

Since Riffe doesn't even make a mid-handled gun in the size we wanted, the m-tech 0 is the closest thing, Ted sniffed out a guy who could make him one, and then I ended up with one as well. It works out really well for our specific circumstances that we have here.

The bouyancy issues I have with the RA are just that it seems tip heavy and wears on me a little bit after a long time in the water, where as the mid handel guns are better balanced in freshwater and don't have this problem. The guy who made them actually balanced them in freshwater for us.

Good luck,

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