To hunt fish in fresh water with specially designed archery equipment, be it a compound bow or crossbow is known as bowfishing, and in this article we will take a look at the best bowfishing bow as well as cover in depth how you can get started bowfishing.
It is a fast growing sport that is attracting both genders and sport lovers of fishing and bowhunting. The methodology entails a specialized equipment of archery to shoot at the fish and also retrieve it. The shooting of the fish is done with a strong and heavy arrow and retrieving of the shot fish is managed with the help of the special line on a reel that is mounted on the archery equipment.
The barbed arrows are specifically designed for bowfishing only. They are made heavier to force their way through the water without deviating or changing direction. The arrows are made strong to resist the force of the impact of the water without breaking or twisting.
- Cajun Bowfishing Sucker
- Product Dimensions: Not specified
- Brand: Cajun Bowfishing
- Item Weight/Shipping Weight: 8.5 pounds Shipping Weight
- PSE Kingfisher
- Product Dimensions: 37 x 6 x 3 inches
- Brand: PSE
- Item Weight/Shipping Weight: 5 pounds Shipping Weight
- Precision Shooting Equipment
- Product Dimensions: Not specified
- Brand: Precision Shooting Equipment
- Item Weight/Shipping Weight: NOt specified
- PSE Tidal Wave
- Product Dimensions: 39 x 14.2 x 4.2 inches ; 7.4 pounds
- Brand: PSE
- Item Weight/Shipping Weight: 8.2 pounds Shipping Weight
- 1 1. Cajun Bowfishing Sucker Punch Bowfishing
- 2 2. PSE Kingfisher Right Hand Bowfishing
- 3 3. Precision Shooting Equipment Discovery Bowfishing Bow
- 4 4. PSE Tidal Wave Bowfishing Bow Package Reaper H2O XL
- 5 5. Arrow Precision Frenzy Bowfishing Set
- 6 6. Alpine Mako Bowfishing Right Hand Bow, Blue, 50-Pound
- 7 7. Parker Stingray Open Sight
- 8 8. Scuba Choice Palantic Archery Bow fishing Blue Adult Compound Bow
- 9 Getting Started with Bowfishing
- 10 Gearing Up for Bowfishing
- 11 Saltwater and Freshwater fish
- 12 Basic Steps for Beginners
- 13 Why am I “High?”
- 14 Bowfishing Equipment
1. Cajun Bowfishing Sucker Punch Bowfishing
Cajun Bowfishing Sucker Punch is a glaring offer priced below $450 with a plethora of features to excite both the seasoned fish hunter and the debutante angler. This particular model of Cajun comes with a Hybrid reel which combines the convenience of a spin-cast reel and safety mechanism of a bottle styled reel. The safety system protects the fish hunter from being exposed to snap-back because the arrow will be released, even without opening the bail. The arrow will not snap back to hit the shooter, instead it will fly towards the target.
The engineering and designing of the newest Cajun Sucker Punch focused on realizing the extreme pleasure of bowfishing and created this marvel with deep grooves in the cams to overcome the problem of derailment on water facing other bows. The mounting brackets are made of aluminum material and engraved with number of mounting configurations, so that the shooter can adjust in accordance to the bow or shooting requirements. The Hybrid reel is a blessing on any bow with the smooth performance and efficient retrieval.
The salient features of the Cajun begin with the light weight of the bow weighing only 3.2lbs and fitted with an ambidextrous safety bottle. The Cajun has a draw weight of 50lbs, brace height of 7.25”and axle to axle length of nearly 34” making it a compact bow and easy to negotiate in tight spots. The draw length ranges between 17 and 31” and the Cajun can be fitted with a 60% let-off module to keep the shooter comfortable and improving accuracy.
The package of the Cajun Sucker Punch includes the superior Hybrid reel, Fishing Biscuit arrow rest, finger pads, finger pads on the string and 2 fiberglass arrows with Piranha points. The camo pattern of the Cajun Sucker Punch is reefer H2O.
2. PSE Kingfisher Right Hand Bowfishing
PSE (precision shooting equipment) Kingfisher is built to be used by the right-handers, as is evident by the name of the bow. The PSE Kingfisher is available at a meager price of $150.99 but it is a sturdy, reliable and durable bow. This particular model introduced by the manufacturer has a top graded new PSE Snap Shot arrow rest made with the alloy materials of aluminum and stainless steel to give extra strength and solidity.
The PSE Kingfisher is available in three draw weights of 40, 45 and 50lbs to pick to your liking. The features also include 50ft of 80lbs test line on the reel mounted on the front of the bow and 31” long, strong and heavy fiberglass arrows with point. The bow comes with an all-season camo finish.
The PSE Kingfisher is designed and priced to appeal to the beginners, intermediates and professionals. The package includes the flamboyant PSE Kingfisher, stylish Cajun front mounting reel and 1 fiberglass material arrow.
3. Precision Shooting Equipment Discovery Bowfishing Bow
Precision Shooting Equipment Discovery compound is made of composite material it is compact and lightweight bow having a mass weight of 2.7lbs. The Discovery is highly portable, economically priced and dynamically designed for seasoned enthusiasts of bowfishing. The bow is engineered to precision to provide persistently positive results as a reliable and durable fish hunting weapon.
The features of PSE Discovery are self-inviting like the AMS bow fishing reel with line and a snap shot rest to ensure a safe release of the barbed arrow without any tangles and a quick retrieval. The specifications of the PSE Discovery are impressive with axle to axle length of 31.5,” brace height is 6.5,” the draw length is between 28 to 30” and the draw weight range is 36 to 40lbs.
The package of multi color PSE Discovery includes the bow, AMS retriever, snap shot rest, 2 bow fishing arrows with safety slides and points. The Discovery comes in fabulous Reaper camo and is available for both left-handed and right-handed hunters.
4. PSE Tidal Wave Bowfishing Bow Package Reaper H2O XL
Precision Shooting Equipment Tidal Wave Reaper H2O XL is made to order Bowfishing bow. Precision engineering and customized designing speak volumes of the PSE Tidal Wave and the economical price of below $400 is icing on the cake. This specific model is sturdy, compact and lightweight and has an adjustable draw length and negligible let-off. This particular model has an efficient dual cam and split limbs that help to produce a constant 40lbs draw weight and generate extra speed without raising the poundage bar.
The specifications of the PSE Tidal Wave include the 32” axle to axle length and an adjustable draw length of 30” and the brace height is 6.” The Tidal Wave is designed to be ambidextrous and weighs only 3.3lbs and the compact size make it easy to use the bow in tight or limited spaces. It is a powerful bow with speed and force to target carp, gar, and buffalo. The finish of the bow is Reaper H2O XL camo.
The package of the Tidal Wave includes AMS bowfishing reel with line to shoot the arrow tangle-free, snap shot rest, 2 bowfishing arrows with safety slide and points.
- Arrow Precision Frenzy
- Product Dimensions: 42 x 14 x 3 inches ; 9 pounds
- Brand: Arrow Precision
- Item Weight/Shipping Weight: 7.6 pounds Shipping Weight
- Alpine Mako Bowfishing
- Product Dimensions: 40 x 3.5 x 15 inches ; 2 pounds
- Brand: Alpine
- Item Weight/Shipping Weight: 4.8 pounds Shipping Weight
- Parker STINGRAY
- Product Dimensions: 34 x 14 x 7 inches ; 11 pounds
- Brand: Parker
- Item Weight/Shipping Weight: 10.7 pounds Shipping Weight
- Scuba Choice Palantic
- Product Dimensions: 38 x 14 x 4 inches
- Brand: Scuba Choice
- Item Weight/Shipping Weight: 5.7 pounds Shipping Weight
5. Arrow Precision Frenzy Bowfishing Set
Arrow Precision Frenzy Bowfishing is priced below $200 to appeal to the novice interested in bow fishing and sharpen skills. Another bait to lure the new comers into buying this particular model is the draw length which has no multiple set ups and requires no adjustments. This feature is also inviting for the professional and experienced hunters of fish. The extra smooth and constant draw weight of the Frenzy Bowfishing Set is the product of F4 wheel mechanism to propel the arrows with force and greater distance.
The F4 cams (bow eccentrics) aid in storing the energy in the limbs and manipulate the draw weight of the bow at a certain point along the draw length. The CNC machined wheels system and roller rest allow for instant release snap shots. CNC (Computer Numerical Control) translates or converts the computer aided design of the cams into numbers and controls the cutting and shaping in perfect precision.
The Frenzy bow is a hallmark of newest technology; it is compact, sturdy and lightweight. The grip of bow is made of special non-slippery material to provide a firm grip with wet hands. The riser of the bow is made of magnesium material and is designed to accommodate different accessories of different models circulating in the market.
The Frenzy displays dashing carbon fiber dipped limbs, string material is Fast Flight, CNC machined F4 dual cams, roller rest, 30 yards 80lbs line on reel and the color of the Frenzy is romantic blue. The key specification and salient features of the Frenzy include the draw weight of 40lbs, draw length up to 31” and brace height of 6.5.” Axle to axle length of the bow is 36” and the weight is a meager 3.6lbs and a10% let-off. The arrow is strong and heavy and made with fiberglass material with a barbed tip.
The kit contents include the Frenzy bow, standard bowfishing reel made of polymer material, fiberglass arrow and 30yds of 80lbs reel.
6. Alpine Mako Bowfishing Right Hand Bow, Blue, 50-Pound
Technically speaking the Alpine Mako Bowfishing bow has all the scientific features to be declared as a utopian pick for fish hunting. The Alpine Mako is designed to be lightweight, compact and easy to operate and maneuver from a boat or standing on top of a rock in the water. The 7” draw length adjustment make adaptability an easy step for different style and type of fish hunters.
The Alpine boasts the latest technology of Radial Force in the making of the CNC machined cam. In physics the force that perpendicularly (at a right angle) acts on a straight line is called radial force and in machining of the cam the force acts on the cutting tool in the opposite direction of the cut depth. The Alpine is also equipped with a CNC machined aluminum riser and graphically designed machined aluminum limb pocket.
The important technical specifications of the Alpine Mako are the 3lbs lightweight to make it a highly portable bow without causing any physical stress. The bow has parallel limbs and the length is 13,” axle to axle the bow is 30.75” in length and the brace height is 6.5.” The draw length is between 23” and 29” rotating, all yokes are 15.25” long and bear in mind because of soft harness systems the numbers are approximate for brace height, axle to axle length and draw length.
The draw weight is 50lbs; string length is approximately 51.5” and the string material I BCY 652. The dual cam bearing is of bronze and the cam is made with radial force technology. The grip of Alpine is known as graphic domed and the riser is made of aluminum with a blue water drops finish.
7. Parker Stingray Open Sight
Parker Stingray is a perfect choice for bowfishing in salty waters and fresh waters because it is effective in both waters. As the name suggests the bow comes with an open sight to better zero-in on the fish and improve the odds of hitting the target. The Stingray has a convincing reputation of top-class performance every time it feels the breeze off waters. The AMS retriever system enhances the capabilities of the Parker Stingray and makes it as one of the ideal bows for fish hunting.
Parker Stingray is custom built to perform in tough conditions and negotiate the squeezed spots with the compact design and lighter weight of 7.5lbs. The Stingray has an adjustable draw weight from 100 to 125lbs that requires no special tools, bow press or extra components to adjust; in fact, no converting is needed for different draw weights. The Stingray is reasonably priced at $508. 35 but has all the features of expensive bows. The elegantly designed Stingray comes with a Fishouflage camo and is fitted with a ballistic polymer barrel.
The Stingray has numerous important features that make a strong statement on the efficiency, capability and utility of this particular bowfishing model. For example, the EZ pull system allows cutting down the cocking effort in to half with the aid of Red Hot EZ Roller cocker. The G2 Bull-Pup trigger is part of the design and technology to keep the bow compact because this trigger mechanism attaches to the trigger.
The G2 system has a big trigger guard that is grip length and gives access to the trigger even when wearing gloves. This sharp G2 trigger mechanism also ensures the protection with the ambidextrous safety and anti dry fire system and vented forearm with finger flange also provides safety in the process of shooting the Parker Stingray.
The technical specifications of Stingray are impeccable with mass weight only 7.5lbs, axle to axle 23,” draw length 34.25” and a power stroke of 10.5” it propels the arrows at speeds of 150 fps. The pre-mounted AMS retriever has 25 yards of 200 lbs braided Dacron line that has superb visibility, great line control, tangle free and zero drag.
The package of Stingray has an open sight, AMS retriever reel, integrated arrow quiver, Red Hot string, machined aluminum riser, mounting hardware, bow fishing arrow with Muzzy Gator Getter point. The arrow is 22/64” in diameter and the detachable point is also 22/64” and the heavy and strong arrow is made of aluminum and fiberglass material.
8. Scuba Choice Palantic Archery Bow fishing Blue Adult Compound Bow
Scuba Choice Palantic Archery Bow is a low budget fishing bow costing only $174.99, it is an adult compound bow and is among the group of bestseller compound bowfishing bows. The aqua blue color fantasizes the expert and new entrant archer and the features make it a perfect bow for fishing. The Scuba Choice is manufactured for right handed archers.
The Scuba Choice Palantic has the advanced cam system with CNC machined wheel and has a 0% let-off. The draw weight of 40lbs fires the Torpedo Tip arrow at speeds of 250 fps to penetrate the animals found in the water world.
The critical specifications of the Scuba Choice Palantic are the bow length is 38,” brace height is 6.5,” axle to axle the bow is measured at 36” and the draw length ranges from 26 to 31.” The heavy arrow is 34” in length and is made from fiberglass material.
Getting Started with Bowfishing
Bowfishing can be done both at day or night time and it can be done while standing from the shore or from a boat. Night shooting is romancing with nature, multiplies the joy and thrill of bowfishing and is more productive.
Counting on your lucky stars is not good enough to go bowfishing, for that you need to practice and practice almost makes perfect. It may take several practicing sessions to muster the art of bowfishing because there are a few factors that have to be taken in to account to hit the swimming fish in the water. A professional or seasoned hunter will tell you to aim 6” low with every one foot of depth the fish is below water. A huge deception is created by the deflection or refraction of light in the water and it is not easy to accurately aim at the fish. Hence, hitting below the moving fish covers the optical illusion.
Another fishing sport which is familiar to bowfishing is spearfishing. Both styles of fishing involve pointed objects used to hunt or catch the fish rather than baiting them. Both of them can be practiced in shallow waters as well. However, as the name suggests, the difference lies in the technique. In spearfishing, bare hands are used when throwing the spear, unlike bowfishing, where a bow is used when firing the arrow. Such techniques to hunt fish have been used by human for centuries.
Gearing Up for Bowfishing
Similar to spearfishing the bowfishing sport can be initiated with a few inexpensive items like a cheap bow, an arrow and a bowfishing reel to retrieve the fish. Other minor items required or usable for day bowfishing are suntan lotion for skin protection, hat and polarized sunglasses. For night bowfishing a bug spray will protect from the nuisances of bugs and let you focus and enjoy your night fishing.
The draw weight of the compound or recurve crossbow should range between 40 and 60lbs which would translate in to reasonable force to penetrate the fish without blasting it. It is good to remind you that a fishing license is needed for bowfishing.
Bowfishing is a fast-paced sport and you have to be mentally and physically prepared to do repetitive shooting from distances less than 10 feet, so recurve crossbow of 40 to 60 lbs draw weight will not tire you. A specially designed and engineered reel is screwed in to the stabilizer hole in front of the bow to identify it as a bowfishing bow.
There is a list of different types of reels that can be fixed on the stabilizer hole but as a beginner in this sport it is advised to use an inexpensive hand-winding spool model. This spool is as effective as its expensive counterparts and the slower retrieving of the fish is the only difference. A prong-shaped rest is attached to the bow to place the arrow on this rest.
The bowfishing gear is ready and most hunters will tell you that instinctive shooting is best and no sights are required because the movement of the fish hardly gives you much time to aim and shoot. A few shots and your natural ability to adjust to the refraction in water will make you comfortable and improve your odds in hitting the fish.
Saltwater and Freshwater fish
Fish are a lot easy to target when they are swimming in knee-deep waters and spawning fish are a convenient target. You need to be familiar with the weather of the fishing area and the time of year when the fish are spawning, for instance, in cold states the carp spawn during the late spring and early summer so June is a great fish hunting month.
Sharks and rays are hunted in saltwater. Paddlefish, alligator gar, bighead carp, grass carp and common carp are freshwater species.
Basic Steps for Beginners
Primarily, there are four basic steps that you should follow to fish with a bow. The first step is being ready to draw the bow on sighting the fish. The second step is to be patient and wait till the fish is within your shooting perimeters. The third step is to adjust your aim in light of the water refraction factor. Finally, the fourth step is a steady and smooth release of the arrow. Preceding these four steps is the practicing phase when you do “trash fishing” practice, that is, you practice hitting and retrieving trash cans and plastics bottles found under water.
The rule of the thumb to hit the fish is when it is swimming away from you or it is almost at a 90 degree angle below you. In water fishing aiming the fish is the key to the sport and the refraction, reflection and deflection create a strong optical illusion and the eye need to adjust to the optical illusions and shoot approximately 10” below the fish to get a hit, in the backdrop of distance, depth and angle.
The closer you are to the fish the better chance you have of hitting it so you can wade in the water or you can perch yourself on a big rock in shallow waters and get an aerial aim at the fish.
Why am I “High?”
Statistically speaking, almost 99% of the new entrants shoot high in the sport of hunting fish with a bow. The optical illusion caused by refraction make you shoot the arrow where you think the fish is, whereas, the fish is not where your brain is sending you signals. Releasing the arrow directly at the fish will always take the arrow high, so it is best to target the arrow at the bottom of the fish and add a 10” drop to it, this will tremendously increase the odds in your favor in hitting the fish and not shooting high. The cardinal rule in bowfishing is to shoot low to compensate for refracted light.
Bowfishing equipment includes bows, arrows, reels, lines, visuals and boats.
Bows and Arrows
Most fish hunters are attracted to recurve crossbows because of rapid releasing of arrows but traditional bows and inexpensive bows are equally good as state-of-the-art specialized bows. In general all fishing bows are lightweight and come with reels. Arrows for fishing are stronger and heavier and there are several types of arrows that are used in this sport. Each arrow is made with material that is carbon fiber, solid aluminum and reinforced fiberglass. The arrows are not clipped and are full length to enter the water with full force.
Reels and Lines
Spin-cast, hand-wrap and retriever are the three basic types of reels that are commonly used on the bow. The hand-wrap or hand winding spool model is the simplest and least expensive of the three reels. The hand winding reel is wound around a circular spool by hand and firmly put in to a line holding opening. The moment the arrow is released from the bow the line pulls free from the line holder and the fish when hit by the arrow is retrieved by rewinding the spool manually.
The spin-cast will let the line flow from the reel free of tangles and will retrieve smoothly with the “hit” fish. The monofilament of the spin-cast develops some loops but a few throws of the line in the water will undo the loops and “relax” the line. The spin-cast mechanism provides a little resistance when retrieving the fish so the drag should be set with slight play to avoid breaking of the line.
The AMS retriever ensures a smooth and free of tangles shooting of the barbed arrow and retrieving of the fish. On a retriever reel a bottle keeps the colorful Dacron fishing line in place and the line keeps flying till the stopping device is pushed or the line ends. The line is 200 lb braided string and comes in different colors and is usually used for bigger games like sharks and alligators.
The threat of getting hurt with the wrong type of reel always exists so it is recommended to use reels that automatically release the line upon shooting the arrow and the line stays tangle-free. Otherwise, “snap-back” can badly hurt the hunter; also, keep the line in front of the rest.
Sights are not suggested but polarized sunglasses are vital to see the fish on bright sunny days and also to reduce the glare of the sun. Sun lotion protects the skin and bug spray keeps the flying insects at a distance.
In case you enjoy bowfishing offshore in narrow waters then canoe like boats with flat bottoms are advised. And for open water specially built boats are used that are equipped with generators and other facilities.
Night time fish hunting require special equipment and the boat is rigged with floodlights linked to powerful generators to have a clear look in the water and have a better chance of hitting the fish. Most boats have the fronts fitted with big platforms raised above the water to offer a vivid look in the water. The floodlights are also focused in the water across the front of the platform. The boats are specifically built to maneuver in few inches of water.