Bowfishing is an outdoor activity that is quite unique because it combines focus and precision of archery with the relaxation of fishing. A Bowfishing bow is not a very distant cousin of a longbow or crossbow.
What do you hunt by bowfishing?
If you can hunt a deer with a bow and arrow then why can’t you do the same to the fish? After all they too live and breathe the same as all other living beings… Ok, maybe not breathe the same but you get the idea. So you will have to adapt your technique a bit for shooting arrows underwater.
Not only that but it will help to modify your aim a little bit as well, because if you’re looking down in the water from an angle, it will mess up your depth perception and make the objects appears closer than they actually are. It will take some trial and error but you would always shoot slightly below the line of sight because of refraction.
So as long as you have the right technique conquered, you can hunt for any type of fish and then some.
Bowfishers or bowfishing hunters as we like to call ourselves like to hunt catfish, paddlefish, common carp, bowfin, grass carp, bighead carp, tilapia and alligator gar. Now as you can tell those are all fish from fresh water. Here in Minnesota, fresh water is all we have because we are just so far away from the sea on either side. Lake Superior is the closest thing to the ocean we have but for one… it’s so far up north that it’s practically in Canada, and secondly… who are we kidding… It says in the name… it’s a lake.
What type of equipment will I need for bowfishing?
As exciting as it was for me when I first found out about it, Bowfishing is not a new fishing technique although it is relatively new as a sport. It has been a traditional way of fishing in Philippines since time immemorial and based on its simplicity it has existed in many different forms in different parts of the world.
The tools for bowfishing can be very simple. A simple bow, a barbed arrow that clings on to the fish once it’s hit, with a fishing line connected to the arrow on one end and to a reel on the other that’s connected to the Bow to reel in the fish once the shot it made and the fish is barbed to the arrow.
The modern bowfishing equipment can be as simple or as precise as you want to make it. There are tons of bows out there that make bowfishing fun, easy and a type of precision fishing. Technology has also changed the Arrows with time from simple bamboo, feather or wooden arrows to aluminum, carbon fiber, Aluminum Carbon fiber Hybrid and tons of new materials for the adventurers.
The Fishing Bow
The modern fishingbow is made up of multiple components. The main ones that make up this awesome weapon are the bow, the reel and the fishing line. Fishing bow is not a whole lot different from the ones that you find for any other hunting sport. The materials used are more or less the same but the size of the bow is not as bulky as you would find for some other type of bows. It makes more sense to use a bow that is lightweight and easy to carry around.
The recurve bows are ideal to use as a fishingbow. Since they’re more compact and generally smaller in size, they’re easy to lug around. But they are also powerful and pack a punch when the arrow is released catching even the fastest moving fish in their tracks.
Since bowfishing is generally a shallow water or surface water sport, where you do not need to shoot the arrows too far. Most of the fish that you would be aiming for are not very large. Of course you should only shoot at fish that is about 2 pounds to 15 pounds (even that is pushing it) in the lakes or brooks because heavier fish will be much tougher to reel back in. If you’re looking for a reliable bowfishing bow… Get one of these from Amazon. They sell out pretty quickly.
Selecting the right bowfishing arrow depends upon what kind of fish you want to use them on. Best bowfishing arrows are actually made up of materials with multiple parts on its own the major part of it is the shaft, then you have the point and barbs. One thing missing from the bowfishing arrows is the flinch since that would only slow it down once it enters the water.
a. Arrow shaft
Arrow shafts are not very techy to look at. They’re just a straight round stick made with different materials. But I’ll tell you bowfishing arrows are made from what material because materials is exactly where the technology resides. Bowfishing arrows are generally made from Fiberglass, Aluminum, Carbon fiber, or the combination of the latter two.
There are other materials out there as well but these are the best ones out there and based on what you’re going to fish you should choose one of these. Aluminum is strong and cheap but it can be heavy. So it should be used if price is a concern but you need something that is durable and strong.
Carbon fiber – which by the way is the material that the pros will recommend as the best bowfishing arrows material – on the other had is light and strong and by far the best material out there, but it’s pricey, so if price is not so much of a concern then you should go with that.
Thankfully the technology has caught up to the Arrow manufacturing process and you can get Aluminum and Carbon fiber hybrids that does not compromise the strength of either of these materials but helps in making the price more affordable. So if you’re looking for the best bowfishing arrow for the price, go for the hybrid.
b. Arrow Safety Slide
Bowfishing arrow safety slide is an accessory that is specific to bowfishing. Arrow slide is not used in any other type of bow hunting. You can do without an arrow slide – or arrow slider as it is sometimes called – but you should plan on using it at least in the beginning. It is also sometimes called an arrow safety slide. As the name suggests, the biggest purpose it serves is the safety for the user. It keeps the fishing line away from the bow string where it can get stuck and snap back. Therefore it works really well as a safety precaution.
If you wanted to go cheap, you can leave the slider out but you’re not going to save so much money to offset the safety and practicality it brings to bowfishing. The best way to shoot the fishingbow is that when the bow is cocked with the arrow, the reel should be completely retrieved in to make sure there is no slack that can get stuck.
While the bow is cocked and before it is released, the slider is near the point of the arrow in the front, as soon as the arrow is released, the arrow goes forward and slider moves to the end carrying the fishing line with it. This motion keeps the fishing line away from the bow string.
c. The Point
Point is the very tip of the arrow. It contains the sharp point that helps it to penetrate the fish through tough scales. When you buy an arrow you need to make sure that the points are changeable with screws. The point gets banged up very quickly because there are rocks and sometimes concrete around water and the point gets a pretty good beating. If you need to change a point, it’s real easy, just unscrew the old one and screw in the new one.
d. The barbs
A critical part of the arrow for bowfishing. This is different from the arrows for larger game. It’s a part of the point of the arrow and can be flipped or retracted so that the arrow can be taken out of the fish. Without this, the fish will not stay on the arrow instead it will be bleeding and injured and will be impossible to retrieve, most probably falling prey to other predators or just die from injuries. So you want to make sure that you have a good set of barbs that can hold the fish once hit.