Nowadays, archery is still enjoyed extensively for recreational target shooting, competitive and tournament shooting, and hunting, as well as bowfishing. Archery bow fishing is a fun and interesting alternative to standard rod & reel fishing for bringing in the big ones, and not so big ones.
Among the species you can bowfish for would include Buffalo, Drum, Catfish, Carp, and Gar for freshwater, and Redfish, Flounder, Shark, Barracuda, and Sheepshead for saltwater. Also, Frog is a good candidate for bowfishing. If you haven’t tasted frog legs yet, you don’t know what you’re missing. You should always check with local authorities to be sure what the bowfishing regulations are.
Bowfishing is best done at close range between 5 and 15 feet for best success. However, depending on your expertise, you can try a longer shot. One thing to remember is that water bends light and a fish underwater is not quite where it looks. If you’re shooting from a point above the waterline, you should aim slightly below your intended target.
Traditional archery bows as well as compound bows and crossbows can be used for fishing by mounting a reel of sorts to your bow with an adaptor.
Among the different types of reels would be a “hand wrap reel” where you manually wrap the fishing line around a spool that includes a slot or catch for holding the line in place until you’re ready to shoot. With this type of reel, you’ll have to pull your fish in by the line, hand over hand. This would be the least expensive of the bowfishing reels and can be handmade.
Spincast reels are also popular for bowfishing in that you can reel your fish in and be ready to shoot again. You’ll want a spincast reel with a larger string mouth opening that will better facilitate the line peeling out when the arrow is shot.
Another reel would be a retriever reel which has a container to hold the line in place. This reel also has a crank to retrieve the line. This would be among the most expensive bowfishing reels and can be used for larger fish.
A fishing arrow usually has no fletchings and is of a strong material such as fiberglass, solid aluminum, or solid carbon composites that will withstand strenuous conditions. Hardwood arrows, such as oak or hickory, and bamboo can also be used. Longer arrows up to 34″, or even longer, are best. The fishing tip of the arrow should have a wide barb or hardened -V- wire for holding the fish on while retrieving and should be removable for ease in removing the arrow afterwards. Multiple prong tips are also used on fishing arrows.
A braided Dacron fishing line of at least 80 pound test would be best, although other lines can be used such as heavier monofilament, spectra, or braided nylon. It’s best to attach the line to a slide mechanism which is attached to the arrow rather than attaching the line directly and near the tip of the arrow. When the arrow is shot, the slide mechanism will slide up toward the rear of the arrow. This method is safer, and easier to retrieve your catch.