What you need to master the technique

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Here are some tips and strategies for those new to bow fishing.

Everyone and everyone who’s seen someone else draw their bow and put a target on a big fish has decidedly thought, “I can do this.”

And the honest answer is: yes, you can, with a bit of experience and some easily obtainable gear.

It’s not as simple as simply picking up a bow, aiming, and piercing a pretty fish with an arrow, but it takes practice to complete the task with a bit of perseverance. For those who have been bow hunting before or just like target shooting, you have a head start. But for those who have never aimed at a fish in the water, seasoned veterinarians will attest: it’s not as simple as it seems!

This fishing technique has quickly become a great hobby for thousands of outdoor enthusiasts and it doesn’t take long to get started. Bow fishing is not just for archery enthusiasts or big game hunters, but rather for anyone who wants to archery and go fishing at the same time. There may be local legalities for boating, but for the most part bow fishing is permitted nationwide.

Since archery certainly started when an enterprising archery enthusiast shot a fish, it stands to reason that as soon as they hit one, they immediately lost a good arrow. , never to be seen again. It was then that they realized that some type of reel and line assembly was needed to complete the kit, and modern bow fishing was born.

It has become common to aim for invasive fish like grass carp, and the shooting opportunities that present themselves can teach you a lot. Other species that can be fun to bowfish for are alligator gar and tilapia.

Here are the three questions most frequently asked by beginners.

Can any bow be used for bow fishing?

Many compound bows made specifically for archery fishing do not require a D-loop or release because the draw weight is light enough that you can shoot with just your fingers. These bows are also constructed with a consistent draw weight, much like a recurve bow, to make shooting easier. The fancy user adjustments common to hunting bows these days just aren’t really necessary.

Any bow, whether compound or traditional recurve, can be used as a bowfishing bow. While it’s possible to convert your hunting bow into a bowfishing rig, it’s probably best to use a dedicated bowfishing bow.

An essential piece of equipment for any bow fishing rig is a reel. Most avid anglers are familiar with bow fishing reels that look and act like a spincast reel (the kind you or your kids probably learned to fish conventionally), but some reels have reached a higher level of sophistication. high and are designed to be mounted. on a bow and can be really effective. We’ll go deeper into the subject of scrolls in a later section.

Where do you aim when bow fishing?

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A bow fisherman should try to hit the fish at its thickest part along the body, so that the arrow does the most damage and stops the fish. But, as you’ve probably guessed, you can’t aim directly at the part of the fish you intend to hit.

The refraction of light in water, even in clear water, distorts the angler’s view, which means that an arrow aimed below the target is more likely to hit where it is intended. The deeper the fish, the lower you should aim.

A good rule of thumb is to aim 3-4 inches lower than your target for every foot of depth you feel the fish is in.

What is the best bow for bow fishing?

Short of providing direct recommendations, let’s just say if you ask 10 different people what the best bow for bowfishing is, you’ll get 10 different answers. Prices can vary, and like most outdoor gear, you get what you pay for. Beginners would benefit from cost savings and opting for low-priced entry-level bows, while more experienced bow anglers can be sure that high-end gear can give them an edge.

One thing to remember for many beginners is that the ideal draw weight for bow fishing is usually around 30 to 40 pounds. This is significantly less than the stronger draw weights typically associated with hunting bows, as it doesn’t take as much to kill a fish as a deer.

We’ll zoom in a bit more on the gear below.

Bow fishing spots

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As with all legal fishing, no matter where you go bowfishing, you will need a recreational or sport fishing license. Each state has its own fish and game laws and it is your responsibility to familiarize yourself with and ensure that you are legally permitted.

Not only that, but many common angling fish species are off-limits to bow anglers. It should also be noted that many areas considered urban may not allow bow fishing.

From there, your options are likely still vast. In most places you can bowfish from a boat or from shore in a lake, reservoir, river or stream. Ideally, this is a location with enough clear water to spot fish targets, and enough space and access to cover a good amount of space. A bowfishing shot often spooks surrounding fish in the area, which means it’s best to be on the move. Even the shallow saltwater plains, estuaries and bays of the United States have areas that can be exploited productively.

bow fishing equipment

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Next to bowhunting for big game, a bowfishing kit is not so complex. There are a few specialty items for bow fishing, but you won’t need to spend all your paycheck to get a decent system for yourself. The most important equipment will be the bow, arrows and reel. There are bow fishing specific lines that you may see, but many basic fishing lines will work just as well.

A recurve or compound bow will serve you well for bow fishing, and while there are pros and cons to each type, it really comes down to personal preference. Recurve bows are lighter and mechanically simpler, while compound bows are more powerful and precise.

There are basically three types of bow fishing reels: the hand reel, the bottle reel and the spinning reel. If you look long enough, you’ll see all kinds of homemade reel systems that people have come up with for bow fishing, but these three seem to be the best and most common.

The hand reel is probably the simplest line retriever and is suitable for either type of bow. The downside is that you will have to use heavier lines and your hands to reel in fish or miss shots. It takes a bit more time, but the hand reel is simple to use, virtually unbreakable, and the most affordable type of reel.

The bottle winder is the most popular style due to its reliability and ease of use. The main factor is that it has a handle to wind the line. Bottle reels are best when used with heavier line, but this can sometimes reduce accuracy.

The spincast fishing reel is somewhat of a premium system for bow fishing, although it will cost you a bit more. It works quite well with multiple line sizes, and especially the smaller diameter lines which provide the most accuracy.

Bowfishing arrows are available in fiberglass, carbon, and hybrid styles. If you end up targeting bigger fish, the more expensive carbon arrows are probably the best bet. Most fish arrowheads include barbs.

Beginner bow anglers should be aware that bow fishing involves risk. A tangled line that accumulates around an arrow could cause a shot to roll back and injure the angler.

A safety slide is a simple device that runs down the shaft of your arrow, bringing your line forward, preventing any entanglements. It is recommended that all bow anglers use one.

Bowfishing 101

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The three cardinal rules of bow fishing are: move slowly, avoid casting a shadow, and create no movement in the water. The fish you are targeting are going to be in clear, shallow water, which means they can see you before you see them.

When wading or fishing from the shore, try not to hit low branches when getting into shooting position or making sudden movements over the target.

As with ay fishing, the best times are first thing in the morning and at last light. However, night bow fishing is growing in popularity mainly due to its efficiency. Boats equipped with specialized, moving lights that can sweep through nighttime waters with anglers ready up front can have great success shooting fish long after dark and having fun.

Basics of bow fishing

As with all of our beloved outdoor activities, there can be a lot of fun, but also a bit of risk. If you’ve been fishing long enough, you probably have a hook stuck somewhere on your body. We all know enough to be wary of the commercial end of a fishing lure.

The same goes for bow fishing; any bow is potentially dangerous and should only be used after long practice, especially with someone who is an archery veteran. It should go without saying, but never fire or aim a bow at something you don’t intend to destroy.

Once the safety issues are covered, there’s virtually no end to the fun you can have from the shore of a pond or the bow of a boat. Plus, there might not be a better way to make a great fish dinner than when you can shish kebab the fish before you cook it!

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Earnest A. Martinez