This year at The Blue Wild I was fortunate enough to meet Mike Hickey. I know of Mike from his appearances on Speargun Hunter on the Outdoor Channel with Sheri Daye. Mike was orginally a guest on the show and in later seasons participated as an underwater videographer. Mike is the USA distributor for FreeDivers (FreeDivers USA) spearfishing equipment. I came across his booth and after a great conversation about spearfishing, we started discussing the rising cost of spearshafts specifically. Mike pointed out his Euro style shafts made of a coated (a secret recipe of the manufacturer) spring steel and mentioned that they sell for a fraction of the cost of their spring stainless counterparts from other manufacturers.
These shafts come standard in 6.75mm with tricut point and Hawaiian floppers in one (1) and two (2) notch varieties. Using a Riffe Euro myself, I expressed my concern over the usual occurance of sliced dyneema wishbones with notched spearshafts as opposed to mini or full shark fin tabs. Mike pointed out that the notches are blasted so as to dull the edge of the notch to minimize wear and tear on the wishbones. Hesitant at first but unable to resist the price, I purchased one of his shafts with two (2) notches for use on my Riffe Euro 100. After using it for 3 weeks, I decided I would review the shaft to document my results.
My first concern was the thickness of the shaft. However, although I typically use 6.5mm shafts, I was able to thread my 300lb mono shooting line through the shaft and successfully get it to lock in the trigger housing without too much force being applied. This exercise also got easier with more use.
My second concern was the obvious issue with the possible cutting of the dyneema wishbones by the usually sharp edges of the shaft notches. I am happy to report that after what is most likely hundreds of reloads, the wishbones have held up. They are not without signs of wear, but I have had almost as much wear from the mini shark fins of some other manufacturers spearshafts. I fully expect to have to replace the wishbones within the next few weeks, but this is something we spearos should be able to do for ourselves with relative ease (if not, tune in later for my review of the wishbone kits that FreeDivers USA also offers).
My last concern was of course the durability of the shaft itself due to its spring steel construction. I had to issues that I thought had to be addressed successfully, corrosion and strength:
Corrosion: Although the shaft has developed some corrosion I am glad to report that it is mostly simple surface rust and is usually rubbed off after the first few shots of every trip. Sure it comes back after the gun has been put away for a week, but as I mentioned, it doesn't seem to be extensive.
Strength: This is one area that I was especially pleased. I actually decided to write this SpearView after a specific incident this past weekend wherein I thought for sure I would have to replace the shaft. After shooting a red grouper inside a brain coral, the fish made a bee line for a nook inside the rock where I had no leverage to extract it. After trying some finesse a few times, my friend and I figured I would have to apply so much force that it would definitely bend the shaft. I took solace in the fact that it was my cheaper shaft from FreeDivers USA and went to work. Long story short, I applied more than enough force to permanently bend the shaft and after successfully extracting the fish, I am glad to report that the shaft is none the worse for wear.
This is not to say that the right fish in the wrong situation cannot bend this shaft. Let's face it, I've had thicker and harder shafts bent by big grouper in a hole, but this one survived a situation that I thought would definitely end its accurate life.
All in all, I can say that my experience with this shaft has been a positive one. And with other shafts in the market costing more than double the price, I would easily recommend these shafts. Especially in those potentially disposable situations. At least you won't be wondering if that's a $70 grouper in the hole...