Archery Freaks


Bowfishing is a method of fishing that uses specialized equipment to shoot and retrieve fish. Fish are shot with a barbede arrow that is attached with special line to a reel mounted on the bow. Some freshwater species commonly hunted include common carp,
grass carp, bighead carp, alligator gar and paddlefish. In saltwater, rays and sharks are regularly pursued.

Bows are usually very simple. Most do not have any sights and aiming is by line-of-sight judgment down the arrow. There are a couple of types of rests including the hook and roller rest. Most bows have little to no let off and not much draw weight.

Bowfishing arrows are considerably heavier and stronger than arrows used in other types of archery and are most commonly
constructed of five-sixteenth inch fiberglass, but solid aluminum, carbon fiber, and carbon fiber reinforced fiberglass are also used. Bowfishing arrows generally lack fletching, as it can cause the arrow to flare to one side or another underwater and they are not required at the relatively short ranges associated with bowfishing. Line is attached to the arrow by tying to a hole in the arrow shaft or through the use of a slide system.

Bowfishing line is often made from braided nylon, Dacron, or Spectra. Commonly used line weights range from eighty to four-hundred pound test, with six-hundred being used when bowhunting for alligators. Line color is normally either lime green, white, or neon orange.

Three types of reels are commonly used in bowfishing: Hand-wrap, spincast, and retriever. Hand-wrap reels are the simplest reels; they consist of a circular spool that line is wrapped onto by hand and then secured in a line holding slot. When the arrow is shot the line comes free from the line holder and feeds off the spool. Fish are fought by pulling the line in hand over hand; hand-wrap reels are the least effective at fighting arrowed fish, but they can be used in conjunction with a float system to shoot and fight large trophy fish. Retriever reels have a "bottle" which holds the line in place. When shot the line comes out either until the shot goes too far and the line runs out or the hunter pushes down a stopping device which can be used to keep a fish from traveling out too far. Some retriever reels have slots cut in them and are known as slotted retriever reels. They are more commonly used for alligator, alligator gar, shark and other big game that will take more time to chase down than smaller game fish.

Knowing where to aim on a fish can be one of the most difficult skills to master in bowfishing. Due to the refraction of the water and how it optically distorts the location of objects in the water, aiming straight at the target usually results in a miss. Aiming well below the target compensates for the optical illusion. Depth and distance of the target also impact how far below the fish to aim. Aiming four inches  low for every ten feet of water is a good rule to follow.

Targeted species

  • Common carp
  • Bighead carp
  • Silver carp
  • Grass carp
  • River Carpsucker
  • Longnose gar
  • Shortnose gar
  • Spotted Gar
  • Alligator gar
  • Paddlefish
  • Threadfin Shad
  • Frog
  • Bigmouth buffalo
  • Smallmouth buffalo
  • Freshwater drum
  • Catfish
  • American alligator
  • Tilapia
  • Bowfin
  • Asian snakehead
  • Southern stingray
  • Cownose ray
  • Bull shark
  • Barracuda
  • Redfish
  • Flounder
  • Sheepshead