If you're an experienced bow hunter or target shooter looking for new challenges, then bowfishing might be the perfect solution. It involves a whole new set of skills, knowledge, and tactics, and it's one heck of a lot of fun. Those new to the sport will of course have a lot of questions, especially about what type of gear they'll need, and one of the most frequently asked is whether you can use your current hunting or target bow to fish with. The short answer is yes, any type of bow can be used, but you'll have to modify it somewhat for this specialized purpose. Using a bow that you're already familiar with makes sense, but you can also pick up a cheap or used bow to fish with if you don't want to change anything on your main bow. Either way, here are some basic things to consider when choosing your weapon.
Bowfishing Bow Considerations
One thing to think about when you're deciding on a bow is that bowfishing can be pretty rough on your equipment. No matter how careful you are it will probably get banged around and scratched up inside the boat or moving through heavy cover on shore, maybe even stepped on in the small confines of a boat. And of course they will get wet and maybe even dropped in the lake where you can't retrieve them. So you might not want to use an expensive bow for fishing.
Bowfishing Draw Weight
Most experienced bow-fishers say that about 30-50 pounds of draw weight is about right, but if it's a little more than that it's no problem. Remember that you'll be shooting at fish in shallow water and that it doesn't take much to spear a fish.
Traditional bows are popular with dedicated bow-fishermen for a few reasons. If you're buying a new bow to fish with, a traditional bow that will be perfectly acceptable for fishing can be picked up used or even new at little cost.
Another reason is that bowfishing involves a lot of fast action and snap shooting. You often won't have much time to take your shot, especially in murky dark water conditions. A traditional bow with a low draw weight can give you an advantage with quick shots. However, your familiarity with your compound bow is also a factor. A recurve is a good choice for a traditional bow because they're shorter and some models can be taken apart for easier carry. Longbows are generally a bit lighter, which can make them a little less tiring when standing in position for a long time, but they're longer of course and harder to maneuver in a boat or brush.
Any compound bow or even a crossbow can be used effectively for bowfishing. It all comes down to your personal preference. Muzzy bowfishing bows are made specifically for bowfishing and are a great choice for beginners to experts.
Bowfishing Accessories For Your Bow
Whatever type of bow you wind up choosing, you'll have to add some things to it for fishing. But first you will want to take some things off, like sights and silencers and so forth, anything not necessary to the job at hand. There are laser sights that are made especially for bowfishing that some people like a lot, and it might be a good investment. If you have an arrow rest designed for hunting you should replace it with a simple, basic rest, as the fishing line can get tangled in a drop off rest and possibly cause an injury.
The next thing you'll need is a bowfishing reel. There are a few types to choose from, the simple hand reel, bottle reels and familiar spinning reels. They all have their advantages and disadvantages, but they'll all do the job. And of course you'll have to choose the appropriate fishing line just like you do when using a rod.
Like most outdoor sports, there are other bowfishing accessories on the market you might be interested in, but these are the basics.
Bowfishing is a great way to learn new skills and expand your field shooting opportunities. Put some thought into your choice of bow and your equipment and you'll soon be hooked on a whole new sport, pun intended.
Leader Bowhunting supplies and bowhunting gear for 35+ years