Two bowfishermen pull a fish out of the water

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Two bowfishermen aim bows and arrows

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Understanding Bowfishing Day 3: You Don’t Have to Spend Much Money to Bowfish

A couple of bowfishermen out on the water
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Editor’s Note: Chris James has been bowfishing for about 15 years. “Bowfishing is a sport that
has intrigued me for many years. I guess the reason I got into it was because I was looking for something to hunt after hunting season ended. In the fall and winter, I could hunt deer. During springtime, I could turkey hunt until about the end of April or the middle of May. In the summertime, I could shoot 3D archery, but there was a gap in my ability to hunt from the middle of May until about July. I do like to fish, and I discovered that bowfishing was the perfect combination of both hunting and fishing for me. You get to hunt the fish, and you don’t have to wait on them to bite. When I shoot a big fish, I’m very excited when it’s on the end of my arrow, and I have to play the fish down to get it in the boat. I also enjoy the constant action of bowfishing. You never know when or what kind of fish you’ll see. Once you spot a fish, you quickly have to estimate distance, aim instinctively and shoot. My biggest fish ever taken with a bow was a grass carp that weighed about 40 pounds. Often, you have to get two or three arrows in a fish that big to subdue it, but I made a good shot – hitting that fish right in the head and bringing it to the boat. Sometimes people have the wrong ideas about bowfishing. Here’s what I’ve learned.

A bowfisherman shows off his catch

  • “You Don’t Have to Spend Much Money for Bowfishing Equipment: Bowfishermen often think they must spend a lot of money to buy equipment to go bowfishing. However, if you have an old bow in your closet that you haven’t shot for several years, and if you can turn the weight down on that bow to about 40 pounds, you can start bowfishing with it immediately. You can get started with a quality bowfishing kit like the Muzzy ones from Feradyne that contain a Muzzy reel, a reel seat, generally 200-pound-test line on the reel, a fish hook, an arrow rest and finger guards to cover your fingertips, so your fingertips don’t get worn-out from drawing the string and the arrow. You also can buy Muzzy bowfishing bows at the same place.A bowfisherman shows off a fish
  • “You’ll Get More Bowfishing Shots Using Finger Slicks: Of course, often bowfishermen want to shoot their mechanical releases. And, you can, but you won’t get nearly as many shots as you will if you’re using finger slicks to shoot. When you’re bowfishing, you’re snap-shooting (shooting quickly) and often not at full draw. For this reason, finger shooting is a much-faster way to draw and shoot the bow. By using the finger slicks, your fingers don’t take nearly the amount of wear as they will without the slicks, and you’ll have clean releases. Finger slicks are made of a silicone-type material and fit on the string of your bow just under your nocking point.”

A bowfisherman shows off a frogTo learn more about bowfishing, check out John E. Phillips’ book, “The Bowfishing Bible,” available in Kindle, print and Audible versions at To learn more about catching bass, check out John E. Phillips’ book, “Bass Pros: Season by Season Tactics,” available in Kindle, Audible and print versions at You may have to copy and paste these clicks into your browser. When you click on either book, notice on the left where Amazon says you can read and hear 10% of the books for free. On the right side of the Audible page for this book and below the offer for free Audible trial, you can click on Buy the Audible with one click.Cover: The Bowfishing Bible

Cover for Bass Pros' Season by Season TacticsI’ve attended the Muzzy Classic Bowfishing Tournament before and enjoyed it. This year’s 2022 Classic will take place in Vicksburg, MS, on June 11-12, with first-place prize being $20,000, after paying a $300 registration fee to participate. Visit or You also can visit and observe the Classic without entering.

Tomorrow: You Can Bowfish for Many Fish Species

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