Fancy a bit of bowfishing?
This thrilling sport calls for patience, both physical and mental stamina and yes, you guessed it, the right equipment.
You may already have some that you can use if you hunt but you would be better off getting some new, bowfishing-specific stuff.
What can I hunt?
Well, there are plenty of species of fish available in both freshwater and saltwater ecosystems for you to go for. The type of fish you will be hunting are referred to as ‘rough’ fish, as they are usually ignored by rod and reel fishermen. Common fish hunted by bow fishermen are eels, carp, perch, catfish, sharks and stingrays.
Where can I hunt?
The sport is becoming increasingly popular, especially in North America and Canada. You can fish in freshwater (lakes, ponds and rivers) and saltwater (beaches and bays) areas and either in shallow waters or from a small boat. Be sure to check the state regulations for your specific location first. You will find that there will be different restrictions on timings and what species of fish you can hunt in different areas. For instance, some states will allow you to hunt for alligators but others won’t.
When can I hunt?
Once you have checked the permitted hunting season in your state, you are then free to hunt both day and night. Hunting at night might seem like a strange concept to the more traditional hunter but it can be very exhilarating and you may find some species are more active at this time.
For those of you that hunt for land animals, you may want to extend your season by then taking up bowfishing once the season for say, deer hunting has ended.
What equipment do I need?
You will obviously need a bow and arrow and you may even be able to use the bow you already have. However, a bow specifically made for bowfishing is recommended. This is because it will have specific features, designed to help you catch fish.
A compound or recurved bow is small enough to take on a boat with you and offer adequate force to shoot a fish. You won’t need a site, as bowfishing calls for hunting on instinct. Water depth and light refraction will also render the site useless.
The arrows you need differ from those you use to hunt land animals with. They don’t need to travel as far, so they tend to be made from a heavier weight fiberglass and don’t have any fletching. The arrowheads will be barbed, in order for the fish to remain on them until you retrieve them out of the water. There is usually a slide mechanism on them to enable you to tie the line to them and this mechanism will prevent snapback. This is very dangerous and can result in facial injuries.
You also need fishing line and we have provided you with 5 of the best bowfishing lines on the market right now.
The best bowfishing lines
Braided Spectra® Bowfishing Line (400lbs, 100 feet)
This fabulous bowfishing line is made from 100% Honeywell Spectra® which is made in the USA. The braided line ensures a real toughness and strength, so that you can feel confident that the line won’t snap when you have a thrashing fish on the end. 100 feet is more than adequate for filling a bowfishing bottle and reel to full capacity.
This flexible fishing line can be used for any size fish, including large game fish, and can even be used for large kites! Just be sure not to use it for climbing.
Muzzy Bowfishing Line (200lbs, 75 feet)
We can’t discuss hunting of any kind, without mentioning Muzzy somewhere along the line. This industry leader comes up trumps in every aspect. This bowfishing line is no different. Made from braided Dacron, which is an extremely strong and durable material, you can be sure this line won’t let you down.
The bright yellow colour is no coincidence, for this will allow you to easily see your line when it is in the water. It is thinner than many other bowfishing lines and moves faster in the air.
AMS L20-35 Bowfishing Line (200lbs, 75 feet)
Another industry big-hitter, AMS offers this replacement line in a bright yellow colour. Again, this allows you to follow your line in the water and won’t repel the fish in any way. 75 feet is long enough to fill a regular sized bottle and reel but you may be happier with a longer line.
This is also made from tough braided Dacron and will stand the test of time. It really comes down to which manufacturer you prefer, for there really is no difference between this and the Muzzybowfishing line.
Red Line Bowfishing Line
If you prefer a longer line, this could be for you. The Red Line 125 feet line is more than long enough to fill a bottle and reel and allow you to stay at a distance you may prefer. This bright red version is highly visible, handy when fishing in muddy waters.
One thing to note is that some bowfishing lines can cut you when you grab them but this one won’t. It is strong and smooth and extremely durable. This bowfishing line is designed for spincast reels, so be sure to use it with those only.
Monkey Wire Bowfishing Line
This particular bowfishing line measures 125 feet, which is a good length to fill your bottle and reel. It is bright yellow, giving you great visibility also. Made from braided synthetic materials, it has an extra small diameter to allow for an extra 50% line on your spinning reel.
It is strong enough to hold 200lbs and has a superior abrasion resistance. Many bowfishing lines absorb water but this one won’t, due to the nature of the material. This top quality product won’t disappoint and you won’t need to keep reaching into your pocket due to your line breaking.
Whichever bowfishing line you decide to buy, be sure to get the right length and poundage for you. Finally, here’s a video of how to tie a knot on a bowfishing arrow that we found quite useful.