Rugged Bowfishing Requires Tough Gear

Rugged Bowfishing Requires Tough Gear

There aren't very many counties in Minnesota that are devoid of natural lakes, but I happened to grow up in one of them. We were close enough to the Mississippi, so on weekends we could day-trip it to the big river. But as far as spending a morning or an evening on a nearby lake, it wasn't an option.


The water we had access to was all moving, and much of it was off-limits to bowfishermen due to trout-water designations. That left the smallmouth rivers for us, which isn't as bad as it sounds. A meandering mid-sized river can offer up plenty of adventure for the wader, or the canoe-bound fisherman.



Some bowfishing situations are harder on bowfishing arrows and points than others. If you routinely target carp and suckers in smaller rivers, you know this all too well. The market now offers arrows and tips that are designed with tougher materials so days on smaller water will not result in frustration at equipment durability.

Carp and suckers were our main targets with the annual redhorse spawn something we took advantage of every single spring. The problem with all of those suckers rolling in the shallows was that half of an arrow length from the surface was a rock bottom. If we waded in and shot at them from a decent angle, our arrows would have more time to slow down before banging into stone.


From a six-foot cut bank? Forget about it.


I don't know how many points I broke or how many arrows I lost to pure destruction, but it was a lot. We simply took it as a given that our arrows wouldn't survive a day on the water and we also spent a fair amount of time replacing points and sharpening them with a file. It was fun to target those spawning suckers, but equipment-wise it was a pain in the neck.

Bowfishing equipment has gotten so much better in the last 10 years that it's not even fair to compare it to older gear. This is much appreciated by bowfisherman who target big fish in big water, but also for those of us that spend time on small water targeting shallow fish in rocky rivers.

Today the market offers bowfishing gear that can handle everything from stingrays to alligator gar, but for me the true test is always the sucker spawn. A point, or an arrow that can hold up to that gets my vote.

And they are out there now, constructed of better materials and designed to hold up under rough circumstances. The cost more than the average arrows and tips, but it's a fool's bet to go cheap because the replacement dollars will add up quickly.

Not all bowfishing occurs out of a boat with a soft, muddy bottom below. Some fish, like suckers of various species, can be target in water that is both shallow and rocky. For these excursions, the average cheap arrow won't cut it.

If you're a bowfisherman who targets fish in a variety of places, where your arrows might hit a hard bottom more often than not, or you simply target big fish, then do some research.

Arrows made by arrow manufacturers are a good start, and tips designed with serious steel help as well. The answer to your bowfishing-equipment woes is out there - and while it may cost a bit more than the competition - it'll be worth it once you're on the water or standing streamside.

Recommended for You

Check out our list of the best new-for-2019 optics from the ATA Show! ATA Show

Best New Binoculars for Bowhunters in 2019

Brian Strickland - January 11, 2019

Check out our list of the best new-for-2019 optics from the ATA Show!

Check out our roundup of the best new release aids from the 2019 ATA Show! ATA Show

6 New Archery Release Aids to Consider for 2019

Colton Bailey - January 11, 2019

Check out our roundup of the best new release aids from the 2019 ATA Show!

New year, new look at your whitetail ground How-To

Summer Scouting from Scratch

Tony J. Peterson

New year, new look at your whitetail ground

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Kansas Turkey Bowhunt

Kansas Turkey Bowhunt

Bowhunter contributor Matt Palmquist sets up shop for a turkey hunt in Kansas.

Early Season Kentucky Whitetail Bowhunt

Early Season Kentucky Whitetail Bowhunt

Christian Berg begins the scouting process in Kentucky on his first whitetail hunt of the season.

Dead On: Picking a Spot

Dead On: Picking a Spot

On this edition of "Dead On," Hall-of-Fame bowhunter Randy Ulmer shares advice on picking a spot.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

Black bear meat is dark and rich, and delicious ground up in this Pâté chaud recipe. Recipes

Vietnamese Black Bear Pâté Chaud (Meat Pie) Recipe

Jenny Nguyen-Wheatley

Black bear meat is dark and rich, and delicious ground up in this Pâté chaud recipe.

Follow this advice before embarking on your first hunt! Big Game

Beginner's Guide to Bowhunting Mule Deer

Ron Niziolek

Follow this advice before embarking on your first hunt!

New year, new look at your whitetail ground How-To

Summer Scouting from Scratch

Tony J. Peterson

New year, new look at your whitetail ground

See More Stories

More Bow Accessories

A killer setup can give you unbridled shooting confidence. Here's how to put one together. Bow Accessories

Create the Ultimate Bowhunting Rig

Darron McDougal

A killer setup can give you unbridled shooting confidence. Here's how to put one together.

Follow these tips to get the most shooting consistency from your bowhunting setup. Bow Accessories

3 Tips to Improve Accuracy of Your Bow-Quiver System

Joe Bell

Follow these tips to get the most shooting consistency from your bowhunting setup.

I'm a stickler for archery detail, and one area I've spent a great deal of time in is analyzing the Bow Accessories

Is a Quiver Hurting Your Bow Balance?

Joe Bell - January 17, 2017

I'm a stickler for archery detail, and one area I've spent a great deal of time in is...

See More Bow Accessories

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.