These questions are guaranteed to spark the most debates in bowfishing.
If you are new to bowfishing, the equipment choices are endless and often overwhelming. Bowfishers spend countless hours on the water and fire their bows hundreds of times a night. They are rough on their equipment and they know what works for them, what doesn't, and will passionately defend their choices.
There are thousands of accessories out there but these are five questions that will spark the most heated debates.
1. Should I get a spincast or retriever?
The number one most debated topic of bowfishing is what reel to use. Retrievers are known for their simplicity and durability, spincasters for their speed and adjustable drag. Both have advantages and disadvantages but be prepared to take some heat either way. One company (Cajun) even developed a hybrid of the two.
Should I use a slide or just tie the line to my arrow?
This debate is very closely related to the reel debate. Most retriever users will use a slide and most spincast users will not. The slides allow the line to stay clear of the arrow rest and other accessories but those that tie off argue slides can influence arrow hydrodynamics. Arrows without slides can be threaded back through fish quicker on a pass through.
What bow should I get?
While technically any bow can get the job done, you will want a dedicated bowfishing bow. Compounds pack a punch with kinetic energy, recurves allow quick shots without having to reach full draw, a combination of the two (such as the Oneida Osprey) results in a bow with heavy hitting quick shots.
What's the best bowfishing boat?
Airboats are the ATV of the waterways; they can run on land, through plant-choked water and cover lots of water fast. Motor boats are quieter, use less gas and are more affordable to own. There are places motor boats can go that airboats can't (noise-restricted waters). Some bowfishing tournaments have had to ban the use of airboats because of noise complaints.
What lights should I put on my boat?
LED lights can run on small generators or batteries alone, but do best in clear water. High pressure sodium lights emit orange light, metal halide lights emit blue and both can run off of a small generator. Halogen lights are bright and inexpensive but use more watts requiring a larger generator.
While the best equipment for you is a personal choice, there is no shortage of opinion from those who have put all bowfishing has to offer to the test. Often these opinions are defended as strongly as political views. Don't be afraid to try out new equipment; bowfishing folk will often be more than willing to let you try out their gear. One thing all bowfishers agree on is they can't get enough of being on the water.
All images courtesy of Backwater Outdoors