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Speargun configuration & dive float/buoy tweaks

Mr. X

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We were blessed with much better than usual conditions on a recent trip to Cornwall. Consequently, after just 1 dive with my trusty default speargun, a 75mm Omer XXV (super-light, slim speargun), I switched to my little used 90cm Omer XXV and used that for all of the rest of the week.

The fancy, clever muzzles on the Omer XXV (and some Omer Cayman) spearguns offer numerous configuration options. My two Omer XXVs are configured differently and those differences quickly became frustratingly apparent last week.
 
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Mr. X

Mr. X

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My default little 75cm speargun was long ago converted to suit my preferences as follows:

a. The metal muzzle-wishbone, Omer 18/19mm screw-in rubbers, metal holding post, metal Omer French articulated wishbone, muzzle's wire line-guide (for reel use) - all removed.

b. Spear notches smoothed (mainly with diamond mini-files).

c. Powerful 19/20mm (3/4")-ish bulk rubber band fitted (sized according to NorthCal/Rob Allen chart). Rob Allen Dyneema wishbone fitted.

d. Black taped over all visible white areas of handle and all logos.

e. Fitted slim kernmantle cord and swivel big game Orcas clip to butt of gun (for float-line attachment).

f. Simple Omer "rubber bone" and Omer black braid muzzle bungee fitted. Not metal hardware - double sheet-bend used to attach bungee to spear-line.

Works great for me. I retained the clear, enclosed muzzle as I was used to enclosed muzzles and it is visibly unobtrusive. Loading is not a problem on a short gun like this. Nor are line twists.
 
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Mr. X

Mr. X

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In recent years, my longer 90cm speargun saw little use by comparison, so it retained much of the original factory configuration:

A. Retained the original Omer screw-in rubbers and close muzzle.

B. The original French articulated wishbone was replaced with a homemade screw-on Dyneema wishone after a painful, glove-cutting unloading experience. [Note: I suspect the original wishbone helped provide accuracy]. Smoothed the spear notches for the soft Dyneema wishbone.

C. Over time, I switched from a lightweight Beuchat muzzle bungee (which didn't last long :( ) with a homemade white bungee, which worked fine but was quite visible to fish.

D. Fitted slim kernmantle cord and non-swivel big game Orcas clip to butt of gun (for float-line attachment).

It worked well enough for the occasional use it saw. But with much more intensive use last week, several problems became frustratingly clear...
 
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Mr. X

Mr. X

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With the 90cm speargun last week, I experienced a lot problems that I have not had to deal with for quite some time. Including numerous line tangles last week - in spear-line, bungee and/or float-line. I missed many shots (although I hit quite a few too ;) ) - much more than usual, almost all about 2" above the fish at near full range (I am not vain enough to attribute that to anything other than my own skills). Problems loading (e.g. spear releasing, line tangles/twists), including significant bruising & pain around my sternum area (just like I used to get when using my old RA90 for a week of intensive spearing).

The line tangle I attribute to several things:

1. The "flop over" metal muzzle-wishbone which holds the screw-in Omer rubbers. That caused me a lot of problems on the little speargun before I modified it - which made a huge difference.

2. No swivel at the bungee-spear-line junction.

3. No swivel on the speargun's butt float-line Orcas clip.

Also, the fish seemed more aware of my speargun than usual - no doubt partially due to the excellent visibility provided by the mainly gin clear water.

Fortunately I know how to fix most of these problems....
 
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Mr. X

Mr. X

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So tweaks made to the 90cm Omer XXV today:

1. Removed old Omer screw-in rubbers (still plenty powerful but starting to perish) and metal muzzle wishbone and post.

2. Removed the clear enclosed-muzzle bridge -- converting to open muzzle to: simplify and speed-up loading and aid aiming.

3. Replaced with: a16mm bulk rubber band (16mm bulk rubber was plenty powerful enough on my old RA90 and makes loading less painful) from storage in the deep freeze. Rubber sized according to NorthCal/Rob Allen chart.

4. I made up a Dyneema wishbone using parts from SpearItCo.com in Florida, USA - they sell great fresh rubber and accessories - and fitted it using their Kevlar cord for the constrictor knots (no stretch to release the shiny metal end beads :) ). NOTE: SpearItCo wishbone cord is a little thicker than Rob Allen's so unfortunately does not fit old RA nylon beads.

5. Black-taped visible areas of the handle and logos. Don't want the fish to read it :D

6. Changed butt non-swivel Orcas clip(for float-line) to swivel version.

7. Changed white homemade muzzle bungee for a black Salivar "rubber bone" bungee. Sleeker and much less visible.

8. Added a small swivel clip (thanks Foxfish ;)) linking the bungee to the spear-line (attached to bungee using "a round turn and 2 half hitches" knot). Made a clear tape tube around all the metal parts to dampen any sound (a problem I noticed on my old aluminium RA90 - Rob Allen now fits a clear plastic tube around the clips, presumably to solve this problem).

9. Made a thick loading pad from an old sandal cole and glued it - using UHU contact adhesive (wetsuit glue is not up to the job!) into the hollow loading butt. Like my old RA 90, the XXV 90 left my loading area badly bruised after a week of intense and extended spearing activity, even though my wetsuit have loading pads, they just are enough -- and left my "supplementary" chest pad at home, thinking I no longer needed it! :(

10. Sharpened the tip of the spear(it got a little blunted last week) on my slow, wet bench grinder and then stropped the round primary and secondary bevels to a mirror finish.

The 90cm Omer XXv speargun now looks simpler and sleeker now. Black, so much less visible. And significantly lighter (it was very light to start with). Love it - can't wait to try it out :)
 
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Mr. X

Mr. X

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Knock-on tweaks to the 75cm Omer XXV:

i. Impressed by the simplicity and ease of use of the above open-muzzle conversion, I decided to do the same of the 75cm speargun. Less critical for the shorter speargun, I still think it will be a significant improvement, easing & speeding up loading.

ii. I hadn't found a loading pad necessary with this gun, even using 19mm Omer & bulk rubbers but decided to add a thinner loading pad than I added to the 90cm speargun. Once your chest is bruised (e.g by the 90cm speargun), even touching it (or loading the 75cm speargun) can be painful.

iii Added a swivel clip (thanks Foxfish :) ) between the muzzle bungee & spear-line and a clear tape tube to keep it quiet. Hadn't noticed a problem with tangles using this speargun but it seemed prudent to make the change - if only because grey mullet are prone to twisting spear-lines.

iv. Sharpened and polished the spear, as above.

I sprayed all the rubber parts on both spearguns with silicone to try to help preserve them (best price at: ToolStation).
 
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Mr. X

Mr. X

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By the way, my Picasso dive float is now working very well after a few modifications - although I do not recommend it, I would instead recommend the Dessault dive float which is very similar but more appropriate for EU and international use (i.e. non-North American use).

I folded the Picasso's badly curved, plastic, red/white USA diver-down flag around the flag pole and fitted a larger, wire-supported Imersion international blue/white Alpha-flag using white plastic electrical ties - which worked very well. Also, I'm told the flag/buoy could now be clearly be seen from shore even when I was well out to sea - which was pleasant surprise. It allowed my family, as well as boats & kayaks, to keep track of my location, which provided very handy on several occasions, as I got help when I left the water :)

I had previously added a flat, lead sheet with a homemade fleece cover inside the buoy as ballast. Unfortunately the fleece cover retains water and became a source of blight -- need to come up with a better solution.

On the downside, the flat elasticated platform allowed me to carry a lot of crap that I didn't really need or use! :D Including torch, compass, whistle, water bottle, crocs (sandals), crab bag. It is more cumbersome (heavier and bulkier) than my simple, robust, single-skin Seatec torpedo float -- which makes it still the preferred choice for long/awkward walk-ins (thinking Chapman's Cove as I type that :) ). A bright lime-green (ex-Mountain Dew) plastic water bottle helps retain the buoy's visibility when loaded up.

The handle is on the wrong end (front) of the float/buoy, which meant the flag kept coming out when on land. I added some thin but strong cord to tie it to the float - otherwise it would be oh-so-easy to loose the flag pole and flag without.
 
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Mr. X

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Lots of interesting fishy activity going on, lots of fish hunting fish. I didn't have scales and gutted the fish while at sea but I had packed a tape measure as I was planning to change my rubbers. Of note: a 64 cm bass ("that's over 2 foot" my son helpfully translated for me using the tape measure :D) - big enough to feed 6 or 7 hungry adults. I only saw one other bass of comparable size perhaps even bigger - he was hunting in a remote area of coast and saw me first! Another smaller bass, 2 big grey mullet (unmeasured), 2 medium grey mullet, several pollock of various sizes, one large wrasse for the annual bouillabaisse (there were huge numbers of wrasse of all sizes and many different colors and patterns - far more than the last time I visited). It would have been nice to spear more but we had enough fish to keep us fed with a few to take home, so took a couple of days off spearing mid-week although we did some recreational snorkelling. And I took one of the rods out for a few casts each day before breakfast (nill caught by rod :( ).

Almost got a shot at a plaice - the first I have seen while spearing - but my 90cm speargun was much too long for the shallow water I saw it in (very close to the beach), it saw me as I struggled to bring my barrel down. I later met a spearo at the same location who got 2 plaice, his first in 40 years! He'd fished mainly to the left of the bay, over sand and a shore reef, while I had hunted rockier and weedier structure out to the right of the bay and beyond the bay. I had encountered various fishes, inc. bass & mullet. while he had encountered only plaice (with their distinctive orange spots). I think we'd have both been happiest with the plaice! :D

Also saw a small flat fish, probably a tiny turbot or similar; saw one in almost the same spot several years ago. Gar fish - mainly small, a couple medium size but no big ones. Tiny, tiny mackerel - none of the bigger ones usually found at the same spot at this time of year :( My small (Dr. Mike Ladle recommended) 12cm Japanese Maria Angel Mackerel lure had a shoaling effect on the tiny mackerel, they followed it in and swam alongside it as it approached me - so it seemed realistic enough to them at least! :D

We also caught 2 edible/brown crabs in our lobster pots but they were a tad too small to eat (about 4" and 3.5", about 10cm "in new money" across the carapace), so I released them. I dived to look at a professional's lobster pot further out and saw a decent size (probably 1.75lb-2lb) bright blue lobster, very feisty/agitated looking. Read in a newspaper article recently that blue lobsters are rare, they reckon only about one in a million is bright blue - yet most of the lobsters I have seen at sea (in Devon & Cornwall) are blue, seems more like 50% to me! Perhaps they change colour when agitated? Unfortunately none showed interest in my pots (I forgot to try the special "secret" lobster baits: limpets/wrasse).
 
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Mr. X

Mr. X

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Yes. I couldn't believe how good the conditions were - unprecedented in my experience. The only downside was that, (I think) because the August Bank Holiday occurred early this year, it cost more to stay there and it was much more crowded than usual. Especially with the great weather and flat sea (like the proverbial mill pond most of the time). Usually folk are getting ready to return to school the last week of August, so it is usually significantly cheaper and quieter then - both things that suit me :) . The crowds concern me. Despite having a great time, we'll likely look for somewhere quieter & closer next year.

My son was working this Summer, so a late holiday seemed to make sense. Perhaps we should have gone a couple of weeks later still, in September (prices & crowds really drop then), but then we might not have experience the fab conditions.
 
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Mr. X

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The text above is a bit dry, I really should have taken some images but here is the end result:
SpeargunsWall.jpg

Hard to photograph spearguns in detail - so long & thin. Not much to see really - but that's the idea ;)
 
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Mr. X

Mr. X

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BTW Something I hadn't really thought much about before: the length of the 20mm diameter rubber on my small 75cm speargun is much longer than the 16mm diameter rubber on my longer 90cm speargun: 51cm vs. 60cm.

BTW Hard to tell in the above image but the short speargun with the longer, thicker band is on top.



In the past, I think we haven't taken that extra stretching into account when comparing the power of bands of different diameters, with our "back of a fag packet" estimations. Hmm. Also, because the 16mm bands are cut shorter, the band is pulling the spear for longer than a 20mm band would: I would cut a 20mm band for the 90cm speargun to 64cm, as shown above - 13cm more rubber => 6.5cm more pull along the barrel. As mentioned above, my RA Sparid 90 was a powerful speargun with its original 16mm bulk rubber band (with a 20mm band it was painful to load and therefore less enjoyable to use).
 
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foxfish

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14mm small internal diameter ... are great bands if you can find them for sale, they seem to be similar to load as 16mm bands but have slightly more stretch & speed.
I fit them to most of my guns & use 3.25 x stretch although some folk get them to 3.5 Xs
To be honest I don't really know how much difference 18mm bands at 2.75 x stretch would be compared to 14mm at 3.5 stretch?
Probably not much striking power difference, however it seems like the 14mm bands are easier to load & there seems to be less resistance when tracking the gun in the water & they are in vogue so cool to use :)
 
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Mr. X

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:) That's reassuring to read, esp. that they are in vogue and cool! :D I still have 14mm bulk rubber and 20mm bulk rubber in my freezer from a SpearItCo order some years ago - so I could have chosen 14mm, 16mm or 20mm rubber. I knew 16mm rubber would be more than powerful enough as my old RA Sparid 90 came with 16mm bulk rubber and it had a slightly longer, thicker spear (6.6mm vs. 6.3mm diameter spear on the XXVs) and I would rather not have chest bruises.

Do you just use a single 14mm band or several bands on your spearguns?
 
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foxfish

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You need the special 14mm with the tiny centre bore = small internal diameter.
I got mine from an Italian friend as I couldn't find any on line (or I couldn't read the Italian sites)
Apnea may have some n stock now?
I only ever use single bands on tube guns, twin bands on high mass guns with a 7mm spear.
 
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Mr. X

Mr. X

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BTW SpearItCo (the supplier of my rubbers) are Florida, USA based and sell on ebay and from their own website: http://www.spearitco.com/

However, be warned, former Chancellor George Osbourne reduced the tax-free limit (effectively raising taxes) for imports from the USA (from £18 to £15 I think). So if you purchase more than £15 worth of stuff you may get clobbered with and additional 20% VAT and handling charges (about £8-£12 I think) :(

If Theresa and the Donald can get a trade agreement together, perhaps costs will be reduced in the future.
 
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