Freedive Spearfishing vs Scuba Spearfishing - Pros and Cons

Spearfishing brings the thrill and challenge of the hunt out of the woods and below the waves to the reef. There are two primary methods: freedive spearfishing and scuba spearfishing. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages. Here’s a quick comparison to help you understand the pros and cons of each approach.

Just getting into spearfishing? Check out our curated equipment lists for some inspiration.

Freedive Spearfishing


  1. Less Equipment: Freedive spearfishing requires minimal equipment, making it easier to transport gear and eliminating the need for tank refills. This simplicity allows for spontaneous and flexible diving sessions without the logistical constraints of scuba gear.
  2. Natural Experience: Freedive spearfishing offers a more intimate and natural connection with the underwater environment. The absence of bulky equipment allows for greater mobility and a closer interaction with marine life.
  3. Physical Benefits: Freediving requires a high level of physical fitness and promotes cardiovascular health, lung capacity, and overall stamina. The sport encourages a healthy lifestyle and regular exercise.
  4. More Dives: Freedivers are not limited by nitrogen buildup, allowing for multiple dives throughout the day. This increases the overall time spent spearfishing and exploring different areas without the constraints imposed by decompression limits.


    1. Limited Bottom Time: Freedivers have limited time underwater due to breath-hold constraints. This restricts the depth and duration of dives, potentially reducing the number of opportunities to catch fish.
    2. Skill and Training: Freedive spearfishing demands rigorous training and practice to master breath-holding techniques, equalization, and safety protocols. It can be challenging for beginners to develop these skills.
    3. Safety Risks: The inherent risks of freediving, such as shallow water blackout and hypoxia, require vigilant safety measures and often a buddy system. These risks can be intimidating for new spearfishers.

      Scuba Spearfishing


      1. Extended Dive Time: Scuba divers can stay underwater for extended periods, providing more opportunities to explore different areas and target a wider variety of fish.
      2. Depth Access: Scuba equipment allows spearfishers to reach greater depths that are inaccessible to freedivers. This can be advantageous for targeting certain species that inhabit deeper waters.
      3. Reduced Physical Strain: Scuba diving places less strain on the body compared to breath-hold diving. This makes it more accessible to individuals who may not have the physical conditioning required for freediving.
      4. Ease of Learning: Basic scuba diving skills can be easier and quicker to learn compared to the advanced techniques required for freediving. This makes scuba spearfishing more approachable for beginners.


        1. Equipment Dependency: Scuba spearfishing requires significant investment in gear, including tanks, regulators, and buoyancy control devices. The reliance on equipment can be a barrier for some individuals.
        2. Reduced Stealth: The noise and bubbles generated by scuba gear can scare away fish, making it harder to approach and target them compared to the silent approach of a freediver.
        3. Safety Risks Related to Equipment: Scuba spearfishers face potential dangers related to equipment failure, such as regulator malfunctions or air supply issues. The reliance on equipment introduces additional safety concerns that freedivers do not encounter.
        4. Nitrogen Buildup: Prolonged time at depth increases the risk of nitrogen buildup in the body, which can lead to decompression sickness (the bends) if not managed properly. This is a significant safety risk unique to scuba diving.


          Both freedive and scuba spearfishing have their unique benefits and challenges. Freedive spearfishing offers a more physically demanding and intimate experience with the marine environment, along with the flexibility to make more dives throughout the day. Scuba spearfishing provides extended bottom time and access to deeper waters, making it suitable for a broader range of individuals. Ultimately, the choice between the two methods depends on personal preferences, skill levels, and specific fishing goals. Regardless of the method chosen, responsible and safe spearfishing practices should always be prioritized to ensure a rewarding and secure experience.

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