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Bowfishing Equipment Tips

I (Jon owner of Borreson Outoors) Have been bowfishing for over 15 years, and provide guided bowfishing trips as well as fish many tournaments each year at a state level, and do rather well.  I would like to provide you with a little of my experience on what equipment to buy.  If your on here visiting my site you probebly arn't independently wealthy, and maybe do or don't have bowfishing experience.  So let me try and help you out so you make the right choice the first time.  I wish someone would have done it for me! 

Reels VS. Retreivers!

There are alot of options but only 2 good ones when it comes it comes to reels and retreivers.  Of course they are the spincast reel, or the AMS Retreiver.  Both have there ups and downs. 

First off the Retreiver.  A very good reel that can work for anyone.  It contains a bottle that holds the line, a reel crank, and a lever that you hold when you want it to retreive your arrow while craning the handle.  It works good except there is no drag, and the line flows freely out of the bottle except when the lever is pulled.  When using a retreiver you must use safety slides on your arrows because of the design of the retreiver the line has a tendency to wrap around your bow string and cables as well as other parts of your bow when you shoot.  This however is a great setup for the recreational fishermen.  It is somewhat fast, for follow up shots, it is a little more messy, as you get a lot of line on the bottom of the boat and from my experience you have to set your bow down and hand over hand the line in when you have a fish on.  There is huge debate on this as being the safest way to bowfish.  The slotted retreiver is also the best way to go when you need a float attached to the end of your arrow for gaiters and big gar. 

The second method is the spincast reel.  It incorperates a reel seat that attaches to your stablizer hole, and a large spincast reel is used.  150-200lb line is used most commonly.  It is relitivly easy to use, push the button on the reel, draw shoot, crank the reel to retreive the arrow, or fish.  The reel has drag to fight the fish, and line is always captured making follow up shots fast and tangles to a minimum.  I don't recomend using a safety slide if you use this system -Tie the line to the back of the arrow because if you forget to push the button on the reel the arrow simply falls off your string not letting you shoot.    If you use a safety slide and you forget to push the button you will be able to draw the bow and shoot it and the reel will not allow line to go out making a dangerious situation with the potiental for snap back.  The dangerous part of the spinning reel is the line will be on the back of the arrow, and will loop when it passes over the rest, as well as when it goes by the cable guard, and cables.  You must make sure that you have a rest that will not catch the line.  As well as making sure the line is not tangled around the cable guard and reel handle before each shot.  The most popular is the Dream rests.  Or a rest can simply be made from jb weld and installed on the shelf.  Do not use a Whisker Bisquet, a roller rest, or any other rest that line coud get cought on.  Leave those for the retreiver.  My faverate is the dream rest 3 on the barracuda.  THis is the method I prefer because it is the fastest for follow up shots, but again is deemed more dangerious due to snap back (line getting tangled on something on your bow and the arrow snaps back hitting the shooter)  I have never experienced this except with the retreiver above but imagion it being possible.  When it comes to safety please refer to manufacturers warnings, as I in no way am to be held responsable for your well being. 

Which Bow Is Right for Me!

Today’s bow fishermen and women have a lot of great choices when it comes to choosing a bowfishing setup.  In years past most people just took an old bow they had laying around or found at a garage sale and set it up for bowfishing.  There was no reels or retrievers just hoops in which line was wrapped around.  Today’s fisherman have some great options. 

I (Jon the owner of Borreson Outdoors) offers guided bowfishing in western WI, as well as fishing many tournaments each year and being very successful at competing at a state level, he has a lot of knowledge on what it takes to setup a great bowfishing bow. 

Everyone in bowfishing has there own opinions to which is the best, and they are all right.  There is no perfect setup, but there is a few good ones. 

First lets talk about bows.  For the most part you have 3 options.  A recurve bow, a no let off bow, and a bow with let off.  A recurve bow is the simplest, and usually the cheapest bow to get started bowfishing with.  It does not have any let off, and allows for snap or quick shooting when the moment arises.  However they are usually long and a littler cumbersome.  Things you want to make sure of are they have a stabilizer hole, threading for a rest, and threading where the sight usually goes.  This will cover all bowfishing gear you will need to place on your bow. 

Your second bow option and Jon's favorite is the Compound bow with no let off.  This is very similar to a recurve in that it has no let off, making it quick, powerful and you can shoot from any drawn position.  Making it comfortable for shooting at 1/2 draw on fish that are very close, in front of rocks, or small fish.  it is also much shorter making it a dream to have in the boat with other people around. 

Your third option is the compound with let off.  This is still the preferred choice for most women and youth that are engaged in bowfishing.  The shot comes a little slower because the bow feels best when it comes back to full draw,  It is however nice if you have fish you need to hold the bow back on and wait before you can get a shot. 

Lastly draw length and weight.  I am a tournament bow fishermen, and have been bowfishing for over 15 years.  I started with a 60lb compound that I took the sights off of and replaced it with a retriever reel.  It was great - Until I found out I really didn't need that kind of weight to shoot a fish.  In tournaments at night I shoot 25lbs.  The lowest I can get a Browning Barracuda to go in most cases.  In clear deep water I will turn it up to around 30 lbs.  Sometimes even 35 if it is really deep.  During day time I shoot 30 lbs sometimes 35 if I am shooting a long ways.  This is plenty!  Believe me!  If your going after Big gar or gaiters then maybe you might want 40-50 lbs.  But then again no more!  My compound hunting bow is 70 lbs because I can pull it comfortably, and that’s the only reason, not because I need the weight but a little extra never hurt - But it does with bowfishing here is why!  If you have ever shot into cattails, or into tree roots, or even Lilly pads with to much weight and spent the next 10 min. trying to pull your arrow out - you know why!  Another problem with to much weight is you shoot completely through the fish.  Now you have to take your arrow off the string or feed the arrow back through the fish.  For me its dreadful when I shoot through a fish.  I could have shot 3 more fish in the time it takes if I didn't shoot through one fish. 

My top picks for bows are this: The browning barracuda for guys that are comfortable drawing 50-60+ lbs with there hunting bows 2nd choice is the Alpine Micro and the Browning micro Midas 3-4 doesn't matter.  Maybe even the Discovery in 29lbs if you shoot usually at night. 

Top pick for younger guys and girls that like 0 let off is the 29lb. Browning discovery.

My Top pick for youth and the ladies that like let off is the Micro Midas bows. 

Lastly if your going after big game - Gaiters and Big Gar!  The Browning barracuda, and the Musky! 

Bowfishing Arrows

The bowfishing arrows we sell are the best there are! 

Our recomendations If you are shooting a retreiver reel make sure you have safety slides on your arrows.

If you are shooting a spincast reel and you don't have a rest that line can be hooked on then you can use an arrow that does not have a safety slide. 

If your using a spin cast reel with a full capture rest or a roller rest!  Best of luck to you.  Be careful.  This is not a good setup. 

Line on Spinning Reels

We recomend a spectra or simular type of no stretch line on spinning reels Our BCY 175# line is what we use, and seems to work the best (save the rest for fixing servings).  A synergy, or muzzy reel will hold about 60 feet, don't over fill the reel, When filling the reel, put the spool of line in a pail of water while spooling Keep heavy alot of tention on line while spooling, when reel starts getting hard to crank its full, open cover to varify, and then cut line. 

 For Bowfishing trips in Wisconsin please visit my

bowfishing trips page! 

Bowfishing Equipment Tips
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