Tommy Botha Reverse Roller Gun Review

Tommy Botha Reverse Roller Gun Review

Postby landshark » Fri Apr 07, 2017 2:39 pm

After many months of refining and tweaking I finally got my new Tommy Botha reverse roller gun.

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The purpose of the gun: Inshore hunting with 70% targeting Yellowtail and 30% bottom and other reef fish. Typical visibility range 5-15m.

The setup:
Length: 1.15m
Shooting Line: Double laced 2mm monofilament.
Spear: 150cm x 7mm double sharkfin single Hawaiian flopper.
Bands: 4 x 16mm. When loaded stretched to 300%
Reel: MVD Full Steel Medium
Other: All the rest of the components, trigger mech, pulleys, handle etc are either custom built or specifically customised by Tommy.

First-off, the finish of the gun is just incredible - it truly is a multi-purpose gun as it works just as well hanging on my wall looking like a piece of art as it does hunting fish. Also, I don't think people really appreciate how amazing a perfectly balanced and neutrally buoyant gun feels underwater. When letting go of the handle the gun just hangs there where I left it. When laying in aspetto waiting for a fish to come in, there's no fighting any part of the gun to keep it pointed at the target.

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Compared to my old standard roller gun, the lack of recoil is noticeable, so much so, it feels as if the gun is a bit underpowered... but the shots I have taken so far doesn't show it and some of the other spearo's that have these guns have reported accurate shots of up to 9m. I do however think that there is still some performance to be gained by tweaking the bands. The beauty of the way Tommy engineered the reverse roller pulley setup makes it's very easy to play around with the band configuration and I can easily change and test bands during a spearing session.

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The streamlined shape of the gun and very small muzzle makes tracking fast moving fish much easier than my old gun. With the old gun when tracking a fish which was swimming broadside to me I had to aim the muzzle in front of the fish in order to give me a few milliseconds to stabilize and aim before taking the shot. None of that is necessary with the new one, it's simply track, aim for the spot on the fish I want to hit and fire.
Length wise the 115cm is good match for the intended purpose of the gun - long enough to provide adequate range for those clean water days when the fish are skittish but short enough to be manoeuvrable for reef hunting. Although it's possible to load all the bands at once using the pulley system it is pretty difficult so I load the one band set with the pulley and then flip the gun over and load the other one.

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The 7mm spear seems to fit the gun perfectly, light enough to travel at speed and heavy enough to provide good punch. I took a Rob Allen steel spear and Tommy also managed to get his hands on a couple Riffe stainless steel spears. I don't think that there will be any major difference between the two but finding quality stainless steel spears in SA seems to be difficult at the moment, so after a big Yellowtail pretzeled my last spare SS spear I'll use the Riffe one only during the winter season on the Western Cape when we usually only encounter smaller class Yellowtail.

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The rest of the gun is pretty much what I have come to expect from Tommy's guns. Simplified perfection... it just works. The trigger mech is the same one he uses in all his blue water Tuna guns which means it's strong enough handle A LOT of pressure. On the Tuna subject, the bigger version of this gun has already accounted for quite a few monster Yellowfin Tuna's this season. The question on the durability of the rollers, pulleys and how the dyneema lacing will wear is still out there but time will tell and I'll report back after a few seasons of use.

Some tweaks that are still to made and things to test:

The current bands are 16mm Rob Allen blue rubber. I'm keen to replace the one 16mm set with 18mm. I think this will give me a wider range of up-tuning or detuning the gun for different hunting scenarios. Then, I'll also try switching different modulus types giving the something like Salvimar acid green rubber, which has a lower modulus (more stretch and progressive contraction ) than Rob Allen and see which provides the best feel and power.

Currently the pulleys and rollers are standard Delrin on stainless bushing. Tommy gave a me set of pulleys with bearings which I still have to fit and test and he is also manufacturing rollers with bearings which I will hopefully get my hands on in the very near future to test. My worry with the bearings are that it will add extra maintenance to the gun but if it produces significant performance gains then it may well be worth the extra maintenance and expense.

The last thing I'll change is replacing all the knotted dyneema sections with a spliced harness. This won't add any real performance but will satisfy the neat freak in me.

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By all accounts this gun is designed and works exceptionally well and I don't think it will be long before it relegates my previous favourite gun, the standard Tommy roller, to a permanent resting place on the gun rack at home. I also think Tommy imparted a very healthy dose of good Mojo to my gun as the very first drift and very first shot with the gun produced a fantastic result.

In a once in a lifetime dive we ran into a massive shoal of Kabeljou on Skipskop bank off Arniston. This a VERY rare sight for this area and truly special to be able to take this fish there.



It made a delicious meal and the vid reminds me how fortunate we are to partake in the amazing sport and also have a legend like Tommy around that eagerly shares his craft, knowledge and wisdom. This sentiment is echoed by all the other spearos I know using the gun.

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Re: Tommy Botha Reverse Roller Gun Review

Postby Snefro » Sun Apr 09, 2017 6:56 pm

Great review! How ,one does it take for him to manufacture the gun and what starting price for one?
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Re: Tommy Botha Reverse Roller Gun Review

Postby landshark » Tue Apr 11, 2017 1:32 pm

Snefro, it will be best to chat to Tommy with regard to timing and prices.

Sometimes Tommy have some barrels already made up then the build process takes less time and pricing also varies as, for example, the import pricing on rubber bands are dependant on exchange rates etc.

What I can say is this his guns are in the same league as very exclusive and the top end international guns. Guns such as Alemanni retail for R20 000 to R30 000 where Tommy sells his guns for a fraction of that.
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Re: Tommy Botha Reverse Roller Gun Review

Postby will101 » Thu Apr 13, 2017 2:07 pm

Mooi man. hoekom is al jou visse so vol gate? :D
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Re: Tommy Botha Reverse Roller Gun Review

Postby Manatee » Mon Jan 29, 2018 10:30 am

Landshark, can you provide me with a contact number or (even better) e-mail address for Tommy Botha?
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Re: Tommy Botha Reverse Roller Gun Review

Postby landshark » Mon Feb 05, 2018 9:03 am

Hi Manatee,

Sure, I've sent you a PM with his details.
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Re: Tommy Botha Reverse Roller Gun Review

Postby wian van rensburg » Wed May 02, 2018 12:20 pm

hi, can you provide me with a contact number or e-mail address for Tommy Botha? please
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Re: Tommy Botha Reverse Roller Gun Review

Postby landshark » Wed May 02, 2018 10:12 pm

Hi Wian,

I've sent you a PM with his details.
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Re: Tommy Botha Reverse Roller Gun Review

Postby SpearfishingTZ » Thu Dec 13, 2018 3:33 pm

Hi Landshark, could you provide me with Tommy’s email? Thanks
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Re: Tommy Botha Reverse Roller Gun Review

Postby landshark » Thu Dec 13, 2018 3:38 pm

SpearfishingTZ wrote:Hi Landshark, could you provide me with Tommy’s email? Thanks



Howzit,

I've sent you a pm with his details.
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