Ladies Blogs

Spearfishing, like a girl.

Spearfishing, like a girl.

This is the first of what will hopefully become an ongoing series about gear and tips for women who spearfish. By no means is this a complete guide for women who spear but what has worked for me over the years. Hopefully it will get you thinking, asking questions and finding the right gear you need to get the job done.

Spearfishing is certainly a sport in which woman can excel if given the confidence and the right gear to do so, unfortunately many are turned off the sport as it is dominated by men & men’s gear. The first cab off the rank is without a doubt the most important and frequent question I get asked…

Julie Riffe with a solid Halibut from California. This chick is seriously badass.

Julie Riffe with a solid Halibut from California. This chick is seriously badass

How do you load a speargun?

When I started spearfishing I found this single-handedly the most difficult and frustrating part to learn and judging by the amount of people who ask me I assume it’s the same for most. I hear about ladies going to the gym, doing hundreds of push ups, lengthening rubbers to the point where they are almost ineffective and still can’t load the speargun. Why? Some say its genetics (shorter arms & less upper body strength) others say it’s poor technique, it really doesn’t matter, if you can’t load it then you are going to be frustrated as hell so you need to find something that works for you.

For the first few years of spearfishing I couldn’t load anything over 90cm, then when we stopped by the Riffe factory on our way to Central America I met Julie Riffe who is one hell of an authority on all things female spearing. It was that meeting that would change my diving career forever. She introduced me to 14mm rubbers, loading tabs and a new technique (hip loading)

Rubbers: As a rule of thumb I look at the recommended rubbers and use a smaller diameter with an extra rubber (if required.)  So for example on a 130Euro that would usually use 2 x 16mm rubbers I use 3 x 14mm rubbers, this allows me to load the smaller rubbers but keep a similar amount (sometimes even more) power than what thicker bands provide. Obviously the biggest disadvantage is having to load an extra rubber but you get quick at loading. Sometimes this can be a bit of trial and error so get out your targets and find a pool, test it out and see how much your custom bands have changed your effective shooting range. Practice makes perfect.  To get you started here are some band set-ups that Julie has recommended over the years and are a great starting point for customising your gear. 14mm Rubbers are your best friend and are well worth the time and money to get your gear perfected to make life easier.


Stock LengthQty of RubbersDiameterLength
9039/16 (14mm)21.5" (55cm)
10039/16 (14mm)24" (61cm)
11039/16 (14mm)26.5" (67cm)
12039/16 (14mm)29.5" (75cm)
13039/16 (14mm)32" (81cm)
Island w/full wing kit2
9/16 (14mm)
9/16 (14mm)
29.5" (75cm)
31.5" (80cm)
Bluewater Elite (Option 1)2
9/16 (14mm)
9/16 (14mm)
32" (81cm)
34" (86cm)
Bluewater Elite (Option 2)2
9/16 (14mm)
15/8 (16mm)
32" (81cm)
34" (86cm)

Loading Tab: A game changer and an absolute necessity for me on all of my guns over 1.2m, rest tabs allow you to load the rubber half way to the tab while the gun is on your hip and then bring the gun up to your chest to complete the last few inches.  My go to gun is the Riffe Euro 130 Enclosed Track + 7mm Straight Shaft w/rest tab +   3 x 14mm Rubbers as seen in this video. The enclosed track has allowed me to really beef up this gun with shorter 14mm rubbers and still hit dead centre every time with more power than ever.

When you combine the 14mm rubbers and a loading tab to your setup (both being an absolute necessity for me) you will be unstoppable. I know a few ladies also use a loading notch that is added on to the barrel of the gun and I would love to hear more about these set-ups. Please share any techniques, tips, tricks and gear in the comments below.  Please feel free to ask any questions below or email me on the ‘contact us‘ page and I will try to address what I can in the next blog. As for now Dive Safe and stay tuned for the next instalment.


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Michelle - 13. Apr, 2016 - Reply

Great blog! Will have to try it out, hopefully I’ll be able to load my own gun! Thanks again!

Nina - 24. May, 2016 - Reply

Awesome material, thanks!! Till now i’ve just been pole-spearing b/c I can’t load a gun without help, which becomes a drag for everyone. Cheers for getting me thinking about the next step.

admin - 17. Jun, 2016 - Reply

Your welcome Nina, I know the feeling all too well from when I was starting out. 14mm rubbers and a rest tab can be added to almost any gun, once you sort out a setup you will be unstoppable!

Nainoa Visora - 19. Feb, 2018 - Reply

Hi! My girlfriend just started spearfishing and she’s shooting a 90cm pathos open pro as her first gun. We switched it up to 14mm bands but she’s still having a hard time loading the gun. What rubber length would you recommend her to get? Thanks for the awesome tips!

jessie cripps - 24. Feb, 2018 - Reply

Hi Nainoa,

Do you know how long the rubbers are? 55cm is the recommended length for 90cm stock but I would recommend starting a bit longer as you can trim the rubber down as your girlfriend gets comfortable and stronger loading the gun. Once she gets the technique and a bit of muscle memory it will only get easier. She can also try a load assist if she is still having issues. Another thing you can do, sometimes you need to load the rubbers and let them stretch a bit as new rubbers can be a little bit harder to load. Let me know how you go.

Cheers, Jess.

JJ - 10. May, 2018 - Reply

Is there an arm length to speargun length calculator? I am trying to figure out what length to get.

jessie cripps - 08. Jul, 2018 - Reply

Hi JJ,

Sorry for the very delayed response, I didn’t see this comment until just now. There’s no arm length to gun calculator that I am aware of. I can load all sized guns and it really shouldn’t matter the length once you use the techniques mentioned above. Of course the smaller the gun, the easier it’s to load. For example I don’t have rest tabs on my guns under 110cms but I do still use 14mm rubbers. It’s all about trying it out and finding what works for you. Hope this helps xx