For me the most important part of my spearfishing gear was the fin! When I started diving, free diving that is, I tried every fin that came along but all the rinky-dinks just did not dot the job. The "WOW"!!! Along came the super extra large "Duck Foot". I took all the fins available at the time, down to my work out pool. A friend of mine had one of those spring scales weighing in pounds.
I tore a backpack p and made a harness with a twenty-foot rope running to the scales. Well! I jumped in with the harness on and started giving each fin a thirty second test, saving the super extra large Duck Foot.
Finally I tested the SELDF. WAHOO! Over three times the power of existing fins but there was a draw back; my leg was not strong enough to kick that big flipper for the time required for a good dive.
When the guys from the east coast came out to the west coast for championship competition, some of us guys would take in a team, you know, we were a buck twenty five an hour type divers, so a sleeping bag and a little home cooked food helped out. We were talking about our diving gear when one of the eastern divers said, "I read where a diver was wearing twenty-six pounds of lead on his weight belt, he must be nuts". Well, I smiled and they asked to see my gear so I said ok. The diver who talked about the heavy weight belt picked mine up and asked, "How much does your weight belt weigh?" I said, "twenty six pounds".
It took me a year to kick my (SELDF) duck foot for six hours at competition speed. I was weighted (26 lbs.) so that if I relaxed I would slowly sink, so kicking my fin was constant. You must remember that at eight feet everything is dead weight. What you take down you have to have the power to bring back up, all day!!!
Without a wetsuit my belt weighed 12 pounds. My reason is not to expend all the energy trying to get down. Your surface dive is a very important part of increasing your bottom time. I used to go to indoor swimming pools do my laps (with fin) on top of and underwater but in the ten foot deep end I would practice my surface dive. I took about six months to bang my open palms on the bottom at ten feet. With all my gear on I would hit twenty feet before I had to flick my flipper.
I don't recommend weighting yourself to be constantly negative. My weights were a pistol belt, no quick release. If you have to drop your weight belt you should not be deep diving or doing things to cause this problem. I had a clear understanding of my capability, no that my lights didn't go out once in a while. On my fin I glued a quarter inch neoprene around the back ring to keep my foot tight, no slop and I also used silicone grease on my toes and under my arms, no wear-and-tear. I still have and use the same two pairs of Duck Foot fins that I used all these years, that's like four pairs for me. Lets see they are about forty-eight plus years old. Wow! How time flies.
Hyperventilation is the key to going deep. There again you must know your limitations. We lost two divers in the 1959 world championships. The fish started at 70 to 80 feet, so you hyperventilated until you can't see and over you go!!!
I remember in the 1959 or the 1960 tryouts for the team to go to the world championships were held at Ship Rock, off Catalina Island. There were a number of divers from all over the U.S.A. Jim Christianson our coach, threw a line over the side with clothes pins attached, green at 60ft., red at 80ft., and black at 90ft. The bottom was about 120ft. We had a group that could dive 60ft., all day so everybody got the green. The first diver to try to get the red was Terry Lentz, no problem! I asked Jim if I could go next, he said ok!
When I got to the eighty-foot mark I grabbed the line and pushed all the pins on down the line to 95 plus. Well! The next diver I knew was a good 60ft. diver so I asked Jim if I should stay in the water for safety, he said, "good idea". So, over goes this good 60ft. diver and I start counting. When I reasoned he made it to the pins and started back up I dove down to meet him. At 35 to 40 ft., here he came, fins going like hell, both eyes bigger than his mask, arms pawing at the water, then, out he went.
I got him under the arms and swam him to the surface. He was shaking, still holding his breath so I pulled his mask off and gave him a solid right to the mid-section. He started to breath and Jim said to the rest of the tryouts, "You see how tough this is, anyone not wanting to continue go over to the other boat". SPLASH! SPLASH! SPLASH!
I made the team!!! (He He)