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Do you want to learn how to bowfish? Bowfishing is a fun and exciting sport that can be enjoyed by people of all ages. In this guide, we will teach you everything you need to know about how to bowfish.
We will cover the basics, such as how to choose the right equipment and how to set up your shot. We will also discuss some of the best techniques for bow fishing, including how to spot fish in shallow water and how to shoot them accurately.
Table of Contents
There are several different types of bows that can be used for bow fishing, including recurve bows, compound bows, and crossbows. However, it doesn’t need to be an expensive one. If you are just starting with bowfishing, a used one from a pawn shop or from family or friends with a good string will be ok. One with a draw weight from 25 to 50 pounds will serve you well. You can read a review of the best recurve bows from this link.
The reel retrieves your catch or the arrow on a missed shot. The success of your bowfishing can hinge on the reel. There are three types of reels: the hand reel, the bottle, and the spin cast reel.
A. Hand Reel
The hand reel is the most basic of the reels. It consists of a drum with a line spool around it. It is simple to use and most affordable. It has no breakable parts. After shooting your arrow, you roll the line around the drum as you pull. The hand reel, however, requires heavier lines and a lot of manual labor.
B. Bottle Reel
The bottle reel features a bottle that has a line and a handle. It is reliable and the most popular reel. Bottle reels usually use heavy lines and you won’t encounter a problem pulling in the line. However, accurate long shots may be a challenge.
C. Spincast Reel
The spincast reel is a reel mounted on a bow. You can retrieve the line faster than any other reel with the spincast reel. Spincast reels feature thin lines and this allows you to take long shots with more accuracy. Spincast reels pose a challenge to clean and maintain. They are also not the cheapest reels.
The arrow for bow fishing is not the regular arrow used for hunting. It is a specific arrow for bowhunting. They are durable as they are made of carbon or fiberglass. Bowfishing arrows are long and thick.
4. Arrow Rest
The arrow rest keeps the arrow in position when lining up your shot. It holds the arrow tight to the bow and allows it to shoot through without any issue.
5. Polarized Sunglasses
This is not a must-have bowfishing item. However, it protects your eyes and helps you with the glare to take your best shot.
If you will fish at night, lights can help you see the fish better. Spotlights and headlamps are usually the lights anglers use for bowfishing at night.
Waders allow you to go deeper into shallow water to have better shots at the fish.
8. Bug spray
Bug spray will keep insects and other pests away from you as they are attracted to light.
Types Of Fish For Bowfishing
1. Carp – Common, Bighead, Silver, Grass
2. Gar – Longnose, Shortnose, Spotted, Alligator
3. Buffalo – Bigmouth, Smallmouth
4. Freshwater Drum
1. Know your state’s law. You might need a fishing license or a hunting one might be what you need. You can read this article on 30 hunting items every hunter needs.
2. Bowfishers have to judge the distance from the fish, the light refraction, and the fish’s depth.
3. Due to refraction, you want to be 10-15 feet away from the fish when you shoot. Aim at about six inches below the fish to compensate for the water’s refraction. If it is a big fish, aim for its belly to hit it.
4. Don’t aim directly at the fish. You will most likely miss it. Always aim low because of refraction.
5. Dams and overflows are good places to bowfish, especially during the spawn.
6. After taking many shots and with experience, you will not have to think about aiming lower as it will come instinctively.
7. A hat, polarized sunglasses, and suntan lotion will help if you bowfish during the day. At night, you will need lights and bug spray.
8. Sharpen your shooting skills by taking practice shots with some object or a leaf under the water. This will help you to adjust your shot.
9. Start bow fishing with a body of water that you are familiar with. When you hone your skills and gain experience, you can choose a lake or river that you are familiar with especially if you will bowfish at night.
10. It is good to know where the shallow parts of the river are, the clumps of vegetation, and where the fastest currents run. You can do some research with Google Earth to identify possible locations of these areas.
11. Many bowfishers believe that the best time to bowfish is the spawn. During this time, the fish are easily seen, they are in the reedy shallows and distracted.
12. In the Spring, carp are usually in weedy and shallow areas. Additionally, areas with stumps, reeds, and brushes are also good places to bowfish.
13. Shallow rocky rivers in the spring can reveal a treasure trove of carp.
Bowfishing Safety Tips
1. Have a safety slide installed on all of your arrows to prevent tangles, especially if you are a beginner.
2. Be attentive and watch out for your line tangling or sliding around the bow.
3. The bow fishing line should never be tied directly to the back end of your arrow.
4. If you are in a boat, wear your life jacket at all times.
5. Be familiar with the areas you will be bowfishing in. Research on Google Earth can help.
6. Don’t fish in areas that are not permitted for bow fishing.
7. Monitor the local weather for the area you want to bowfish in before going out.
8. Have safety gear with you at all times.
9. Have a first aid kit with you.
10. Take along a waterproof flashlight, maps, flares, and a horn, or whistle.
11. Make sure your cell phone is charged and take a solar charger if possible.
12. Wear hip waders and waterproof boots if you will only bowfish the shallow areas.
13. Step with caution and be mindful of the depth of the water you are wading in.
14. Inform someone where you will be going to bowfish. Inform them of your departure and return times.
15. Take enough snacks and bottles of water.
Safety Gear Checklist
1. Life Jackets
2. First Aid Kit
5. Waterproof Flashlight
7. Whistle or Horn
9. Bottles of Water
10. Cell Phone & Solar Charger
13. Polarized Sunglasses
The Bottom Line
Bowfishing is an exciting outdoor activity that continues to gain more popularity. In this article, we discuss how to bowfish, the basic equipment you need, some of the popular fish bow fishermen go after, safety, and other bowfishing-related topics. We hope that you learned something to help you be successful at bowfishing. You can learn how to fish a pond by reading this article from this link.