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You don't need to use one. I find they can dress up your stick a bit, though. Makes a nice transition from shank to handle. The best thing to use is whatever you think looks good. I've used antler, buffalo horn, and various types of wood. Each has its good points.
 

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Dana summed it up nicely. They're not always needed. Spacers really come into their own when you're trying to join the shank to a handle that's a little bigger, smaller or just differently shaped than the shank. They help smooth the transition out.
 
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