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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.

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