Selecting the right mask and snorkel for spearfishing
The spearfishing mask gives you the ability to see underwater which is vital for spearfishing but not all spearfishing masks are created equal and what is considered desirable by SCUBA divers is not desirable for the Spearo. When choosing a mask look for a small internal volume, soft black silicone skirt and most importantly a water-tight fit.
A spearo’s dive mask has a smaller internal volume than Scuba diving masks. This is because the air in the mask compresses as the spearo descends forcing the mask onto the face. The spearo, therefore must use their precious air resources to equalise it. Therefore it requires less of the spearos air to equalise the mask if the internal volume of the mask is smaller.
A good quality soft black or coloured silicone skirt is important. Clear silicone can let annoying light in around the mask. This is particularly annoying at sunrise making it difficult to see.
Fitting a spearfishing mask
The fit of the mask is the most important thing to consider. A spearfishing mask that doesn’t fit your face properly and leaks water is one of the most frustrating problems that can occur on a day’s diving. To get a good fit, put the mask on your face and breath in through your nose. If it sucks to your face and doesn’t let air in then it’s a good fit.
Also be conscious of the bridge across the nose as this can put pressure on your face and be uncomfortable particularly on some of the modern frames that are super low volume.
The final thing to look for is a good field of vision. That is how far you can see in all directions. Don’t be afraid to try on all the masks in the shop because when you get the perfect mask it’s worth it’s weight in gold. Spearos will often by up a spare mask or two when they find the perfect one.
Defogging a spearfishing mask
During the manufacturing process, the lenses in the mask are coated with a thin layer of silicone presumably to help free it from the mould. Whatever the reason is, it causes the mask lens to fog up rendering them useless. What you need to do is carefully burn off this layer with a lighter (see video). Alternatively you can scrub it with your finger and toothpaste. I’ve been using an old electric toothbrush to good effect. Don’t be surprised if you have to do this a few times.
To help defog the mask when diving it’s important to spit in the lenses of the mask. I like to get a nice one in there and rub it in and leave it a couple of minutes before washing it out.
Remember a high price tag doesn’t always represent the right spearfishing mask for you. Personally I use an Ocean Hunter mask that is considered at the lower end of the price scale. I love it, it’s comfortable, never fogs up and is lasting well. Shrek has had plenty of trouble finding the right mask due to his ridiculously large melon but he too has found this mask to be perfect.
The snorkel allows you to breath whilst your head is in the water. Unlike SCUBA snorkels Spearfishing snorkels are simpler, more streamlined and generally are a simple rubber or plastic tube with a silicone mouthpiece. Avoid snorkels with too many extra pieces. Some snorkels have a water release valve on the bottom. They make clearing the mask easy but can create noise and scare flighty fish. The key here is again comfort and simplicity.
There are soft fold-able models on the market but as yet I haven’t heard anything positive about them.
When going on a trip always carry with you spare straps and snorkel holders. These things tend to break when you least expect them to. It’s also good to carry a back up mask and snorkel as well.
Your spearfishing mask and snorkel should be kept as simple as possible like the rest of your spearfishing kit. Here a few of my favourite masks in three different price brackets but remember it’s all about fit.