You may be familiar with the concept of bowfishing but if not, it is the practice of hunting fish using a bow and arrow. For many, this is a much more thrilling method to the more traditional fishing rod. For others it is simply a way to extend the hunting season, once their usual prey’s season has ended.
If you decide that bowfishing is for you, for whatever reason, then you will need to get the right equipment. How do you go about choosing the right stuff? In fact, what equipment do you actually need?
There is more to it than just simply buying a bow and arrow and this guide explains what to look for.
What equipment do I need?
A bow – this can be a traditional, compound or crossbow.
Bowfishing arrows – heavier and more durable than typical archery arrows and feature barbs to secure the fish once caught.
Bowfishing lines – tend to be constructed from braided nylon, Spectra or Dacron.
A reel – there are 3 types of reels available:
Spincast reel – a common reel, using a standard fishing line secured around it. They allow for quicker arrow flight than a retriever reel.
Hand-wrap reel – a line is secured onto a spherical spool by hand.
Retriever reel – a bottleneck handle is used to store the line. There is no drag and the retrieve is much slower than that of a spincast reel. They will hold a much heavier fishing line.
The type of reel you decide to use depends largely on what species of fish you intend to hunt and to some extent, what your level of skill is. The majority of bowfishing reels are based on the traditional spincast reel in design, allowing the hunter to reel the line at a much quicker speed.
A retriever reel is perfect for hunting larger fish but won’t allow the speed needed for hunting some of the smaller species. It may be the best bowfishing reel for beginners, with a quicker spincast reel being perfect for entering tournaments.
In order to choose the best bowfishing reel, you can speak to an expert at a bowfishing supplier. However, we have done some of the work for you and below are some of the reels we think are worthwhile buying.
AMS Tournament retriever Pro Bowfishing Reel
This reel comes with a brightly coloured yellow Dacron line, for greater visibility in the water. It features a longer than average handle for increased leverage and speed, allowing you to shoot quicker and more efficiently at fast-moving fish. It also has an incredibly fast ‘4.3 to 1’ gear ratio to aid you with this.
Available in both a left or right-hand design, this reel also features a quiver mount, a safety slide kit, trigger guard and telescoping clamp. The quality of this reel is fantastic and if it’s speed you’re after, this won’t disappoint. This really is the best bowfishing reel on the market at the moment.
Cajun Hybrid Bowfishing Reel AFR1300
This reel is ambidextrous, meaning you can switch hands as you see fit during your fishing experience. You can operate it fully using only one hand, leaving your other hand free to quickly load arrows. It takes 25 yards of 250lb braided nylon line and weighs only 1.2lbs.
This is suitable for hunting any size fish and its hybrid nature ensures the efficiency and speed of a spincast reel, with the ease and safety of a retriever reel.
If you are unsure which reel type is best for you, then this may be the way to go.
AMS Bowfishing Retriever Pro Reel
No matter what your skill level and experience, this is a great bowfishing reel. It features a brightly coloured braided Dacron line, making it highly visible in the water, and 2 AMS safety slide kits.
Being from AMS, this is a very durable and high quality product and it is even corrosion resistant. You get fast action retrieval with this reel and it is very lightweight. This makes it easy and convenient to store and handle.
You can’t go wrong with products from AMS Bowfishing and this reel is no exception.
Muzzy XD Bowfishing Reel
One of the giants in the hunting industry, Muzzy products won’t let you down. Extremely popular with hunters of all types, they really know their stuff.
This reel is ambidextrous, making it easy and convenient to use, and it features an automatic style disc drag. It has 150 feet of 150lb line pre-installed, meaning less time and effort needed by you before heading out for the water.
Muzzy also sell a brightly coloured lime green line to go with this reel, making it easy to track once you have hooked your fish.
Allen Company Wrap Style Bow Fishing Reel
This lovely little hand wrap reel is perfect for beginners, for it is simple to use and inexpensive. It is very easy to install and measures 5” in diameter. It comes complete with mounting stud and you can use any manufacturer’s bowfishing line with it.
This is a product of decent quality and will allow you to experience bowfishing without the need for fancy, expensive equipment. It does not have a clip for your string when not in use, so be prepared to roll up your string once done. This simple reel won’t let you down if it is simplicity and no fuss that you’re after.
Whichever bowfishing reel you choose, it should be lightweight and enhance your experience, rather than hinder it. Be sure to choose one that allows you to shoot quickly and repetitively, for such is the nature of bowfishing whatever the species you are going for.
As with any type of hunting, safety is the most important thing you should think about. Be sure to learn how to use your equipment properly and buy some sunscreen and polarized sunglasses (and take plenty of water) if you are fishing in the summer. The last thing you want when standing outside for hours, is to come home sunburnt and dehydrated!