If you’re in the market for a new hobby, bowfishing might be exactly what you are looking for. It is a fishing technique that takes advantage of your archery skills. It is also a pretty flexible sport, because you can fish with or without a boat, in shallow waters, and at any time. All you will need is a bow, arrows, and a reel.
Can any bow be used for bowfishing? Well, yes, but it depends on a number of things. For instance, you can keep using your hunting bow if you have it. However, you will have to make some modifications to it to make it work optimally. This is why a lot of people prefer getting a separate bow for this sport. As a plus, the mud, blood, fish slime, and any other dirt won’t go to your main bow.
This article will take a detailed look at all the different types of bows that you can use to bowfish and how they compare to each other.
Recurve Bows Used for Bowfishing
A recurve bow uses the traditional bow design. When unstrung, its limbs curve away from the archer. The recurve bow is pretty easy to use, making it the best option for anyone new to both archery and bowfishing.
Besides, the recurve bow has continuous draw weight and length. This means you cannot lower its weight. If you find drawing the bow difficult, you might have to find a lighter recurve. Most recurve bows have a draw weight of 40 to 45 pounds.you should also have the draw length in mind since if it is too short, you won’t utilize your bow’s full draw weight.
Recurves’ simple design makes it less prone to breakage and damage. You can change the string on one easily, provided you know how to. Taking one apart is also a walk in the park since most of them can be separated into 3 pieces using just an Allen key.
Recurve bows can be used with almost any type of reel. However, you should keep in mind that using a heavy line will slow the arrow down. Many people prefer using hand reels with recurve bows since they are simple to use and have a more ‘traditional’ look.
Compound Bows Used for Bowfishing
A compound bow uses a system of cables and pulleys to bend the limbs. This makes the limbs of the bow stiff and less energy is lost by their movement.
Unlike the recurve bow, this one has an adjustable draw weight. You can set it to a comfortable weight and draw with ease. Another perk of compound bows is that they offer let-off. This means that the cables on the compound bow store some of your energy, giving you a reduction in holding weight when you draw. The let-off in bowfishing bows is significantly less than in hunting bows to make snap shooting easier.
The compound bow is more powerful and it can shoot heavier arrows more accurately. This allows the arrows to get to fish in deeper parts of the water and bigger fish too.
Just like the recurve bow, this one is designed to be used with any form of reel and it all depends on your preference.
A significant downside to using a compound bow for bowfishing is that it gets dirty. Mud and dirt can easily get into the cams and cause jamming. You will have to clean your bow after each use to keep it working for longer. This bow is also relatively heavy, so if you’re going to be carrying your equipment yourself, it might be a challenge.
Longbows Used for Bowfishing
As the name suggests, a longbow is a bow that is longer than most, and it is about as tall as the archer. This length allows the archer to make long draws. However, this length can make it difficult to work with in a boat.
The longbow is also light and this might be useful if you plan on spending a lot of time fishing. Its size may make it difficult to transport, especially if you want to hike to your fishing ground.
Aside from the length, a longbow and the traditional recurve bow can fall in the same category. A longbow has a continuous draw weight of around 60 pounds, so you should find one that you can draw easily.
Crossbows Used for Bowfishing
Using crossbows for fishing is a more advanced method. You will need to set up the crossbow before you start fishing. The crossbow uses barbed bolts to join the fishing line on a reel. You can do this using a slide ring or a safety slide. This reel is then set up on the crossbow in the bolt’s trajectory path.
The bolts used for crossbow fishing are heavier than the ones used when hunting. This ensures that they can get to fish that are up to 20 yards in the water.
Although crossbows pack a lot of power, there are a few reasons why you wouldn’t want to have one with you on your fishing trip.
Crossbows are heavier than most bows in the market. This makes it difficult to carry around. Also, crossbows are too powerful with a draw weight of up to 125 pounds. When the arrow gets to the fish, it might rip right through it. If this happens while fishing in shallow waters, the line may be frayed and the bolt could get spoilt.
Safety always comes first, and a crossbow might pose a risk especially if there is more than one person on the boat. They are easily triggered and one wrong move could cause damage.
The time taken to draw the bow is longer. Reloading and redrawing the bow would also take much time. This is ineffective since the fish will already be gone. In addition to being slow, resetting the crossbow is noisy, and this will scare the fish away.
Yumi Bows Used for Bowfishing
Yumi bows are of Japanese heritage. You can tell a yumi bow apart from the others by its asymmetrical design and the lower part is shorter than the top part. It is one of the longest types of bows with its length ranging between 6 and 8 feet. The yumi bow’s length might pose a challenge when it comes to using it in a boat.
This bow usually has a draw weight of about 30 pounds. This might not be enough power to penetrate fish in deeper waters. If you feel like the bow does not get the job done, you can always get a heavier bow.
A pro to using this bow is that apart from the equipment needed for bowfishing, you won’t need any accessories to use it.
Before you choose this bow, you should know that yumi bows require high maintenance. If it is not taken care of correctly, the bow will lose its shape and become unusable after a while.
Reflex Bows Used for Bowfishing
A reflex bow is one that has curved arms. When strung, the whole arm’s length turns away from the archer’s body. When unstrung, the bow’s arms curve forward from the center and form a C shape. This is one of the features that tell the reflex bow from the recurve bow.
The reflex bow’s design allows you to shoot faster arrows, although this is at the expense of accuracy. Both speed and precision are vital when it comes to bowfishing, and we can’t substitute one for the other.
Also, a reflex design has a lower brace height. This means the bow shoots faster arrows but it is less stable. If you want to get more stability and accuracy, you can increase the brace height by swapping the string out for a longer one.
A reflex blow can shoot with equal or more power than a recurve or a longbow. This is made possible by the curves on the bow which exert force on the bow, giving it a higher draw weight and a longer draw length. This makes it possible to use a reflex bow when fishing in shallow waters.
Bowfishing Bow Draw Weight
Draw weight refers to the amount of force that is required to pull a bow. While bowfishing, you will need a bow with higher draw weight. This is because as the arrow passes from the air into the water, it slows down.
Most bow fishermen use a draw weight of 40 to 50 pounds. The draw weight of the bow you use will depend on a few factors, such as state regulations. Before you decide to go bowfishing, check what the state laws say about the sport in your area. For example, some states will require you to maintain a draw weight above a certain limit.
The location you’re shooting in should also be accounted for when choosing the draw weight. If you are going to be in a shallow river or a lake with a rocky bed, you will appreciate a lighter draw weight of about 30 to 40 pounds. This way, if you shoot an arrow into a rock, it won’t suffer much damage.
A bowfishing expedition can have you shooting up to 100 arrows in a few hours, and most of those are going to be in quick succession. Using a bow with a heavier draw weight will only tire you out faster since most of the shots are going to be aimed a few feet below and a light draw weight will give the arrows insufficient power.
If you feel your arms shaking when you draw, this is a sign that the draw weight is too heavy. Sometimes you will have to hold to get the perfect shots and if you feel yourself getting tired, you might want to lower the weight.