Guide: Make Your Own Fishing Spear and Use It like a Pro

Spearfishing can be both fun and provide a faire amount of food.
Two children catching a fish with a fishing spear.

In some situations, fishing can be a life-saving source of food. However, fishing rods are expensive and hard to build from scratch. So I recommend a fishing technique that has been used throughout the world for millennia – spearfishing.

In this article, we will reveal the best way of making a fishing spear from scratch and also everything you need to know to use it like a pro.

Make your own fishing spear in four easy steps

When I say spearfishing, you probably imagine the modern speargun, the diving mask, and swim fins that are used nowadays. Without these pieces of equipment, fishing in deep water is almost impossible. So we will make a fishing spear that is designed for shallow waters.

The design of our fishing spear will take its inspiration from the traditional three-pronged spear used by the Greeks – the trident. This ancient design is one of the most efficient because it features multiple barbed prongs, which trap the speared fish firmly.

To make it easier to craft and more resistant, our wooden spear will have four barbed prongs. This design increases the chances of hitting the fish – however, this also makes it harder to penetrate the scales.

Step 1: find the right piece of wood

As you probably expected, the first step is to find the perfect wood stick for your spear. In order of importance, here are the main criteria you should look for:

  1. Material – the best material for your spear is bamboo, but you can also use any kind of hardwood. Examples of hardwood trees include alder, balsa, beech, hickory, mahogany, maple, oak, teak, and walnut.
  2. Condition – first, make sure your stick comes from a living tree as dead wood cracks more easily. Then, check that the branch you cut has as few knots as possible.
  3. Shape – your stick should be more or less straight.
  4. Diameter – it should be as close to the diameter of a broomstick as possible. Do not choose a stick that is too thick; otherwise, the prongs will be hard to carve and the spear difficult to handle.
  5. Length – ideally as tall as your shoulders.

Step 2: cut your stick in a cross-like fashion

Using your knife or a sharp rock, you will cut the end of your stick in a cross-like fashion (as shown in the illustration below). To do this, secure the other hand of the stick against a rough surface. Then, cut it, rotate 90 degrees and repeat the process.

A stick cut in a cross-like fashion.

How your stick should look like at the end of this step.

Some useful tips:

  • The size of fish should determine the length of the cuts you go after. To give you an idea, six-inch cuts are perfect for medium-sized fish (six inches is approximately 15 centimeters).
  • Before you make the cut, make sure your knife rests exactly down the middle.

Step 3: make the prongs

First, find two straight twigs. Then, drive them down the center of your stick by hammering them lightly (as shown in the illustration below).

A stick cut in a cross-like fashion with two twigs hammered in the cuts.

Two twigs should be hammered in the cuts.

Once you’ve managed to hammer the two twigs in the cuts, secure them with a rope. In case you don’t have a rope, I strongly recommend this tutorial from Wikihow: how to make a rope.

Step 4: sharpen the spear

First, shave the outside of the four sections by carving away from you. The easiest way to do so would be with a knife. In case you don’t have one, you can rub the outside of the prong sections on a pointy rock. Then, finish by sharpening the inside sections of your spear.

And for the final touch: fire-harden the tips of your spear. To do so, slowly and lightly carbonize the four tips over a fire. This process will remove moisture from the wood and make it more durable.

Use your handmade fishing spear like a pro

It’s time to put your handmade fishing spear to the test. First, this spear is not designed to be used underwater, so beware of light refraction: when you’re looking at a fish from outside the water, it is usually not where it appears to be.

Example of light refraction.
How light refraction work in a swimming pool with glass walls.

How to handle your fishing spear

The best way to handle your spear is to grab the top end of the stick in one hand and raise it above your head. Your free hand can be used as a guide, however, all the thrust will come from the hand holding the spear.

Then, lower slowly the head of the spear in the water and wait for a fish. Once you see one, silently move the tip of your spear as close as possible to the fish. Keep your prongs perpendicular to the fish. In this way, there is a good chance one of your four prongs will hit.

The final thrust should be quick and powerful. If you successfully hit a fish, keep it pinned to the bottom, otherwise, it can escape easily.

Find the perfect fishing spot

There are two ways of spearfishing – you can either walk silently on the shore until you see a fish or wait in the water at a fishing spot.

If you want to stay still, you need to find the perfect spot. Here are the most important things you want to look out for when choosing your fishing spot:

  • If you are spearfishing in a river, search for a bottleneck. As the flow is more important, this fishing spot will increase your chances of seeing a fish.
  • Get some information on the fish species of your region and adapt accordingly. For example, basses hang around certain structures and rarely move to open water.
  • Choose a shady place, it will prevent you from getting a sunburn.

More resources

If you want more information about spearfishing, here are a few interesting pages from the internet:


Now, you have the knowledge to make your own spear and catch your first fish. If you want to read articles on similar subjects, I recommend our pages:

Let me know in the comments if you had any problems making your spear and if you caught any fish.

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