When we think of a bow and arrows, we think of the famous West Indians of those American Wester movies or even the ancient hunters who used rudimentary hunting tools to capture their prey. If you are a hunter, without a doubt the use of the bow for hunting is much more common than the discipline I am going to tell you about since bowfishing is an incipient technique that has become fashionable in the last few years.
The purists may say that this has nothing to do with traditional angling, and they may be right, but to ignore this technique would not be a good idea, since learning about new styles, modalities, and ways of practicing our favorite sport is the best way to know how to choose what we like and what we don’t like.
Bowfishing consists of launching an arrow from the fishing spot we have chosen, towards a point where we spot a school of fish, this arrow is attached by a line to a reel located on the bow itself, so after launching it, we can pick it up without problems, with the luck or not of having caught a specimen.
This technique originates from the United States, where it is called Bowfishing, and is very popular especially among the youngest, who are looking for new forms of amusement. But in reality, bow and arrow fishing is nothing new, since, as we have said, the Native Americans, whether from the North or the South, used these tools to bring home the day’s food.
Equipment Required for Bowfishing
This technique requires some marksmanship as casts are made at several tens of meters, from land or boat, and usually in calm water areas such as lakes, marshes, reservoirs, or rivers. Some commonly hunted freshwater species include grass carp, common carp, bighead carp, crocodile, and paddlefish. In saltwater, rays and sharks are regularly pursued.
Bows are generally very simple. Some bows have LED flashlights for nighttime viewing. Most bows do not have a lot of weight, as the lighter they are the easier they are to use, and when we have taken several shots a lightweight will be appreciated. There are two main types of bows.
Compound bows with pulleys, these use a system of pulleys to help the archer.
Archery arrows are considerably heavier and stronger than those used in other types of archery and are most commonly constructed of five to sixteen-inch fiberglass, but materials such as aluminum, carbon fiber, and carbon fiberglass-reinforced fiberglass are also used for consistency.
Arrows used for bowfishing usually lack fletching, the “feathers” that accompany the arrow at the bottom of the shaft, as they can cause the arrow to change direction to one side or the other underwater and are not necessary at the relatively short distances associated with bowfishing. The line is attached to the arrow by tying them to a hole in the shaft of the arrow or by using a sliding system.
The Fishing Line
Bowfishing line is often made of braided nylon, Dacron, or Spectra. Commonly used line weights range from 35 to 180 kg (80 to 400 pounds), or up to 275 kg (600 pounds) in the case of bowhunting for alligators, which is common in the southern United States. The color of the line is usually lime green, white, or neon orange.
Two types of reels are commonly used in bowfishing:
Spin Cast reels are the most common and simplest reels; they consist of a circular spool with an internal spool, the line is wrapped by hand and then fixed in a slot holding the line. When the arrow is shot, the line comes out of the holder and is pulled off the reel at high speed.
The fish are caught by pulling the line by hand; casing reels are the least effective in this style of fishing, an alternative is to use these reels together with a float system so that when the arrow falls the retrieve is easier and this also allows us to catch heavier fish.
Retriever reels have a “bottle” that holds the line in place. When shot, the line comes out until the arrow goes too far and the line runs out or the hunter/fisherman pushes down a stop or braking device that can prevent a fish from swimming longer distances. Some retrieve reels have slots cut into them and are known as slotted retrieve reels. They are commonly used for alligator, crocodile, shark, and other big game fishing.
How to Bowfishing? Techniques
Also from boat and shore, using a fishing wader to practice this modality can be a good and effective option as long as the hunter/fisherman does not mind getting soaked. Wading in rivers allows the shooter to get much closer to the fish, as long as it is done stealthily and skillfully.
Another technique is to stand on large rocks in the shallow parts of rivers. This provides a better view out of the water. Going from rock to rock in a river with two hunters makes the fish move if they are inactive. It is good to go in pairs, while one hunter is wading, the other stands still from a rock.
All of these river techniques work best for carp or catfish and depending on the area we are in.