Pole Spear vs. Hawaiian Sling: Which Is Right For Beginner Scuba Diving?

If you’re planning a scuba diving trip and want to catch some exotic fish, you should know your spears. Pole spears and Hawaiian slings are the top picks among amateur and professional scuba divers.

But you probably knew that and wondered which one you should get between a pole spear vs Hawaiian sling as a beginner.

Hawaiian slings are literal slingshots that have the hunting spear attached to them. Pole spears, however, are slightly more complicated, precise, and a modified version of the slingshot. Instead of pulling the slingshot with your hands, you glide your hands across the body with the rubber. You then aim at the tip with the other hand and let go to catch your prey.

There are subtle nuances that you should know. Stick along as we’ll help you pick which one’s best for your specific use case.

What Is Pole Spear?

Pole spears or spear guns are popular among regular scuba divers who recreationally catch fish daily. They’re often more precise than Hawaiian slings but need more experience to master.

To put it simply, it shares the same mechanics as a slingshot but operates differently. Pole spears have an adjustable and sliding grip. You hold the elastic rubber with one hand and glide it towards the body to create tension. When you let go, the entire spear body launches onto the prey and latches into it securely. This makes pole spear fishing more accurate but a bit tricky.

However, only the spear gets thrown on Hawaiian slings, and you have the rest of the body in your hands.

Features Of Pole Spear

Pole spears have unique mechanical features and designs that make them stand out. Three things stick out the most.

Latching Slip Tip

Pole spears have a special slip tip at the front of the spear to ensure fish can’t get away after getting speared. The pole spear tips are attached to the main body with a wire. When the caught fish tries to fight back and free itself, it trips the wire, and the slip tip gets paralleled attached to the fish's body.

This gadget makes it nearly impossible for the fish to get free.

Sliding Grip:

A pole spear has two parts. The lower part is adjustable, with a grip which slides. It plays a crucial role in the mechanics of the spear. It holds as much mechanical tension as possible and uses it to launch the spear onto the fish.

Detachable Mid Section

You pull out caught fish by detaching the sharp tip on most fishing spears. Although this works in most cases, sometimes you can lose the spear’s end in the water. For combating this issue, pole spears have a removable midsection.

Rather than detaching the short spear tip, you separate the whole mid-body and get the fish out. As you have more control over it in water, there’s less chance of losing parts in the water current.

What Is Hawaiian Sling?

Hawaiian slings represent generic slingshots accurately. It’s common to see a Hawaiian sling with reels too. They don’t require much experience to handle. For this reason, most beginner scuba divers start with Hawaiian slings.

There is a cylindrical opening on top of the handle of Hawaiian slings for resting a spear. You pull the rubber sling along with the spear, aim it at the prey, and release it to shoot. The spear gets launched into the fish while the handle is still on your hands — just like a regular slingshot.

Features of Hawaiian Sling

Hawaiian slings have nifty modifications from the design of slingshots design, making them robust fish hunting tools.

Wooden Shaft & Body

Wood is the most common material used on Hawaiian slings. This is because wood is lightweight and withstands water pressure well.

There is a cylindrical wooden shaft with grips to hold the entire tool. On top of it rests the body, which is a narrow, hollow tube on some models. The spear is then securely placed in it.

The hollow design of the body ensures you have maximum control over the spear underwater.

Special Spear Types

Hawaiian slings use spears with unique designs to ensure you don’t miss prey. Generally, the spear will have multiple cuts on the tip with a simple gadget.

When the spear touches the fish's body, the spear tip is triggered and expands several metal cuts. The spear is then securely latched onto the fish's body, and it can’t escape.

Pole Spear Vs Hawaiian Sling: What Are the Differences?

You should now have a clear idea of pole spear and Hawaiian slings. Although they both work by mimicking the slingshot, they have some key differences.

Pole Spear

Hawaiian Sling

They need more experience to use.

They’re slightly easier to use.

You have to glide the rubber sling across the body.

You pull on the rubber sling to release only the spear.

They have a nifty slip tip to latch securely onto prey.

Spear tips on Hawaiian slings are rugged and have multiple cuts to latch onto fish.

Pole spears are typically 4 to 10 feet long.

Their shaft is only around 60 inches, but it goes up to 4 to 6 feet with a spear.

Shooting Mechanics & Aiming

Using pole spears isn’t that complicated. You shoot by ejecting the whole body forward. You store mechanical tension by sliding the rubber towards the body and releasing it for a swift kill.

For aiming, you rotate your entire body to lock onto the prey. Polespears act more like an extension to your own body.

On the other hand, Hawaiian slings require you to pull the rubber backward and release it to propel the spear. As for aiming, you pull the sling with one hand and aim the shaft and spear with the other.

Locking Mechanics

For latching onto prey securely, pole spears have a clever slip tip mechanic. But as Hawaiian sling parts are more straightforward with fewer components, they use particular spear types to secure the prey's hold.


Hawaiian slings are much shorter than pole spears. A typical Hawaiian spear, along with the shaft, is only about 60 inches. Most of its length comes from the spear, at around 4 to 6 feet.

Pole spears are long from the get-go. A typical pole spear body is around 4 feet. When you add the spear, they reach lengths upwards of 10 feet.

Which One to Choose Based On Your Purpose

After going through their use cases, differences, and features, one question remains: which one is right for you?

We’d recommend Hawaiian slings for beginners. They’re relatively smaller and easier to use. Most people have also had similar experiences with them in the past. After all, we’ve all enjoyed slingshots as kids.

Hawaiian slings are perfect for short diving sessions and for catching small fish. But if you’re looking to catch bigger and more exotic fishes, only then would we recommend pole spears. Pole spears are more powerful and farewell in this use case. This is spearo's hunting preference too.

But as they require more experience, we’d recommend you to have practice runs with them on land before heading out to sea.


You should now easily be able to differentiate between pole spear vs Hawaiian sling. Both are effective at what they do. The first just requires more practice and experience to operate correctly than the latter.

As a final tip, we recommend always detaching a polespear through its midsection when hooking a fish out. We’ve seen several people disconnecting the spear tip and losing it in the water. Don’t make this mistake, and you’ll have a fun and memorable scuba session to remember.

Have fun on your trip!

Norma A Robertson

Hey, my name is Norma A Robertson. My hobbies include paddle boarding, kite surfing, snorkeling, scuba diving, etc. I started this website to share my experience and ideas as well as review products that interest me to help everyone who reads it. I hope you find what you are looking for in my articles.

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