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When to Use a Breakaway

This time of the year lots of guys start gearing up to head off to the tropics.  This inevitably means a lot of gnashing around and looking at new gear and the different rigging systems that are available for targeting tropical gamefish.  I've had a lot of questions in the last couple of weeks about breakaway rigs so I thought I'd put together a few thoughts on when and how to use them and how to fit one if you decide it is the right option for you.

The breakaway rig is a system used to disengage your gun from your rig-line ie your spear is attached to your shooting line which is then attached directly to your floatline or bungee.  There are a few key benefits of this system:
  • If a big fish takes off with all your gear you don't lose your gun.
  • There's less chance of the fish tangling your gear on the bottom without the gun in the system.
  • There are less potential failure points in your system.
  • If it's sharky you still have your gun to prod them off with if necessary.

Breakaway 700

The way it works is quite simple, rather than your shooting line attaching to the muzzle of your gun as usual it runs around the muzzle and back to the handle where it is attached to a rubber toggle.  The rubber toggle is pulled through an eye-bolt keeping everything tight and your floatline clips directly into the shooting line.  When you shoot a fish it pulls the toggle out of the eye-bolt disengaging the gun from the system entirely.

There is another common system that runs off the speargun's line release.  Rather than using a rubber toggle and eye-bolt like the one pictured the shooting line is clipped into a small bungee (identical to the 10cm gun bungee that usually holds your shooting line onto the muzzle) that is simply hooked onto the line release.  When you fire the gun the line is released and the gun is disengaged that way.  While it is a much simpler system to set-up it is an absolute pain in the arse to use as the slightest tug on the floatline yanks the bungee off the release deploying the shooting line which then has to be wound up again.  This of course usually happens just as you're lining up on a great fish.

When you are using a breakaway there are a couple of important points to remember.  The first one is to always keep a hold of your rig-line with your other hand.  Wave action etc tugging on your line is likely to deploy the breakaway if you don't.  As soon as you hit a big fish it is going to scream off at a million miles an hour.  If you don't have a hold of the floatline the fish will rip out the breakaway and be off with everything before you know whats happening.  Not such a big deal out in the blue water but if you're around the reef you'll be spending the next half an hour untangling your gear off the bottom and straightening out your spear.

The second important point to remember is to hang onto your gun.  You will not be the first one to forget your gun isn't tethered in the excitement of a big fight but that won't make you feel any better if it floats off.  The best thing to do is thread your arm through the rubbers.

There is no doubt that a breakaway rig adds another complication to your diving and that for 99% of diving situations you are better off without one.  They definitely have their place though and that's shooting hard fighting fish like doggies or big kingfish in very deep water.  Nobody said that type of diving is easy though and learning to deal with breakaways is part of being a good blue water diver.

Learn How To Fit a Breakaway

Berley 1