If you’re looking for a hands-on review of the JBL Shaka pole spear – look no further – you’ve found it. This slick-looking spear is the company’s top of the line offering and effectively combines carbon fiber and aluminum to create a durable, nicely weighted spear.
I’ve had the opportunity to put it through its paces on several occasions, and it’s quickly becoming one of my favorites.
The six-foot version is without a doubt one of the best travel options on the market, with three 24” sections that easily collapse enough to fit in a medium-sized backpack. The seven-footer also makes a great travel option, but the largest of the sections measures 36”.
Let’s take a closer look at the JBL Shaka – so you’ll have the inside scoop on this well-designed pole spear.
Right off the bat, you can tell this thing is quality. The sections fit together like clockwork, while the unidirectional carbon fiber feels absolutely butter smooth in your hand.
The design utilizes two carbon fiber lower sections and a tapered aluminum upper section. This gives you the flex and light weight of carbon fiber while remaining durable enough to shoot around rocks and reefs.
I’ve actually tested this myself when I lent the spear to a buddy and he promptly shot it smack dab into a huge rock! The spear itself was no worse for the wear; the only damage was a flattened tip and a slight bend in the metal rod holding the slip tip that was easy to bend back into place.
Looks-wise, it’s an absolute stunner. The carbon fiber weave really pops and looks better than any other carbon fiber I’ve seen on a pole spear. The aluminum front section also looks great – and feels great in hand.
JBL has recently updated the color scheme from blue to lime green. It’s still the same great spear, but the newer version has a lime green aluminum front section and logo.
Screwing the sections together feels great, and the threads are without a doubt heavy-duty. Once fully assembled, the spear feels rock-solid – so connector failure is not an issue.
The oversized aluminum threads come with a light coating of some type of grease, which you’ll want to replace when it inevitably wears off.
The end of the aluminum front section comes with a standard 6mm male connector – so you’ll be able to attach standard-sized spear tips from other manufacturers.
Be careful not to overtighten the spear when you’re screwing it together. Torquing on it like a gorilla isn’t necessary, and can damage the threads.
This is an area where the Shaka really shines. It comes with a 6” section of heat-shrink rubberized grip towards the bottom of the front section. The grip feels great in hand, with crisscrossed rope beneath the rubber that enhances your hold on the spear.
If you don’t like the grip position or feel, you can always add additional grip to the spear wherever you prefer.
When you’ve got in in the loaded position, you can feel it’s got some power behind it. The nitro band packs a serious wallop, so it may take some getting used to if you’re used to fishing with a lightweight pole spear.
Either way, I’d recommend a good pair of protective gloves to reduce the strain on your hand. Check out the Mad Grip F50 Thunderdome Impact Gloves for a cheap and easy way to protect your hands.
The band attaches to the butt of the spear with a simple loop through the hole. This makes replacing a broken band nearly effortless.
A rear notch in the butt-end lets you rig a breakaway set up for larger pelagic spearfishing.
This was one area that surprised me. It has very little flex throughout all three sections and stays stiff even when fully loaded. This eliminates the need to ‘wrap’ the rubber band around the shaft as you load it.
If you’re coming from a lightweight fiberglass pole spear, you’ll be highly impressed with the power transfer and accuracy you get with this stiff design.
Weight & Balance
The JBL Shaka strikes a nice midpoint in terms of weight and balance. It’s not a howitzer like Criss spears, nor is it ultra-light.
The two carbon fiber sections definitely cut down on weight, although it’s not an ultra-light spear. The aluminum front section provides added mass to punch through most fish and ensures you can use it in rocky environments without worry.
The spear is very well balanced, with the midpoint being almost smack dab in the middle of the spear. This was also a little surprising, as I expected it to be more front-heavy due to the aluminum front section.
JBL’s thrown in their excellent JBL #890 slip tip spear tip with purchase. This spear tip features razor-sharp barbs, 700 lb. Spectra line, a 14” long stainless steel shaft, and a heat-treated rock point tip that will stay sharp during prolonged use.
Having used it, I can say I like it but may be a little overkill for most applications. The slip tip works by penetrating the fish, causing the slip tip to detach and lodge itself in place in the fish’s body. The tip holds the fish in place with the spectra line – so it can swim freely without causing damage to your spear.
This type of spear tip is more suited toward large pelagic fish. If you’re planning on using it for small and medium-sized fish, be sure to pick up a good flopper tip as well as a barbed paralyzer spear tip.
JBL also includes a nicely-designed carry case for taking your spear on the go. For some reason, mine didn’t come with the case, so I can’t comment on its quality.
They also make a number of other useful accessories for the Shaka, including extensions, replacement sections, grip kits, and spare bands.
JBL Shaka Review Wrap Up
Hopefully, this review has given you a better picture of the JBL Shaka. It’s a well-crafted and versatile pole spear, making it suitable for beginners as well as seasoned spearos.
The aluminum and carbon fiber hybrid construction make it a great choice for hunting around rocks and reefs, but it can work just as well in open water. The construction quality is superb, the price is reasonable, and it’s made in the good old US of A!
Unlike many other hybrid pole spears, the aluminum section is in the front and the carbon fiber sections are in the rear. This design makes more sense in my opinion, as you won’t damage the carbon fiber if you take a poor shot and end up in some rocks.
Keep in mind there are two different lengths available – 6 foot and 7 foot. The JBL Shaka in this review is the 6-footer, but with the slip tip attached it measures a little over 7 feet. If you want a pole spear for travel, the six-foot is perfect, otherwise, the 7-footer will give you a little more range.
JBL also makes the Shaka in an all carbon fiber model, which is available in 6, 7, 8, and 9-foot configurations.
I’ve loved being in the outdoors for as long as I can remember. I grew up fishing, canoeing, and camping throughout the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia. It’s what lead me to start this site and share my passions for fishing, diving, kayaking and more. Nowadays you can find me writing about my passions or (preferably!) preparing for my next outdoor adventure.