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How to Set Up and Store a Dive Spool

The dive spool is one of the diver’s most useful pieces of equipment, but it’s often set up and stored improperly. What’s the best way to take care of your dive spool?

If I had to choose the most useful peripheral item of scuba gear, it would be the humble dive spool. Here are just a few ways your dive spool can come in handy:

  • To deploy a DSMB from depth
  • For navigation in bad visibility
  • As a makeshift shotline for shallower dives
  • As a visual reference during ascents
  • To help students practice buoyancy
  • For measuring distances underwater (one knot, then two, then three for every few feet or meters).
  • To navigate off the main line in a wreck or cave
  • To help find a lost diver or lost line in a wreck or cave
  • As a boundary marker or reference point during courses

But divers often set up and stow their trusty spools improperly. A poorly stored dive spool is much harder to deploy. It can come loose and entangle the diver or anyone else nearby.

Commonly when you buy a spool, it’s tied to a bolt snap that technical divers call a double-ended clip. Most people will use it as is and clip it off to their BCD, ready to unspool when needed throughout a dive, usually to help deploy a DSMB. The problem here is that the clip can move quite freely and the clip’s gate can open. The spool can fall to the ocean floor, leaving a trail of line for you to get caught up in, especially since you’re still attached to its other end.

How to Stow Your Dive Spool

So what’s the solution? It’s actually quite simple, but difficult to convey with words alone. Here’s a quick tutorial, followed by a YouTube video that demonstrates the best method.

First, make your spool more usable. Get rid of the small knot at the end and make a loop big enough for the spool to comfortably fit through. Then, secure the loop with a couple of granny knots. Cut off any excess line on the knot and burn the end with a lighter to stop it from fraying. Next, attach the clip to the line in a way that it cannot unclip. Simply pull the end of the line through a hole in the side of the spool, then wrap the end of the line around one of the ends of the clip, making sure that the first wrap sits underneath the locking mechanism of the clip. Although it sounds complicated, that’s all you need to do.

As the video demonstrates, there are ways to make life easier if you’re diving with thick gloves or in cold water. Either way, once you master the techniques for setting up and storing your dive spool, you’ll wonder why you haven’t been diving with one all along.