If you're an experienced bow hunter or target shooter looking for new challenges, or just looking to get into archery, then bowfishing might be the perfect solution. It involves a whole new set of skills, knowledge, and tactics, and it's 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 bows and arrows 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. Read more to learn how to start bowfishing!
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, scratched up and full of fish slime. For this reason many people set up a specialized devoted bow just for bowfishing.
Bowfishing Draw Weight
Most Bowfishing is done at lower draw weights of 30-50lbs because most people are bowfishing in the spring and early summer when fish are shallow. With the lower bow weights, you avoid burying the arrow in the lake or creek bottom as deep and it makes for easier arrow removal and generally fewer broken arrows. As summer progresses the fish will work their way deeper and then a higher draw weight to penetrate the fish at deeper depths may be better suited.
With a few modifications, any compound bow or recurve bow can be used for bowfishing. But there are certain attributes that will fare better to certain conditions for bowfishing. One of the biggest things to keep in mind is that having a lower let-off or quick shots or shallow shots will only benefit you. Having a lower let-off bow makes it easier to shoot fast when you draw back or shoot at partial draw for speed or less penetration in shallow environments. But this isn’t always the case, some individuals actually prefer higher let-off so they can pull back as soon as they see a fish and hold on it until it swims out of the weeds or around the boat. You will develop a preference for what kind of bow you like as you dial in your preferred methods.
The next thing you'll need is a bowfishing reel. There are a few types to choose from, simple hand reels, bottle reels, and familiar spinning reels. Generally speaking, the bottle reels are the most dependable, safest, and easiest to use.
More than likely you will need a bowfishing-specific rest. Since bow fishing arrows are so much heavier than regular arrows and have a string attached to them you will more than likely need a different rest than your regular archery rest. There are several kinds with the most popular being a roller rest or a heavy-duty whisker biscuit that is designed for the heavier arrows.
There are many different kinds of bowfishing arrows with many different tips. The most important thing with a bowfishing arrow is that you are securing your line in a safe way so that when you shoot it doesn't tangle in your bow. The safest way and generally most accepted is a safety slide, you tie your string to the slide and when you draw back it keeps the line in front of the bow so you do not have to worry about it getting caught in the rest when you shoot.
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.