Let’s say that you have entered the market in search of a bowfishing boat, but you don’t know exactly where to begin. You can be helped in your search if you know a few tips before going into the marketplace. For a good bowfishing boat, you can spend anywhere from $2,000 up to $30,000 if money is not an obstacle.
How Can You Find a Cheap Bowfishing Boat? If money is the most important consideration, you might begin your search on sites like Craigslist or eBay. You might also check in the local newspaper to see what is available on a local level. Many times, you can get a better deal doing it this way.
Tip #1: Choose a Boat Specially Designed for Bowfishing
This may sound obvious, but it may not be obvious to a fresh-starting beginner. You want to choose a boat specially designed for bowfishing. If you were to look at the characteristics of a bowfishing boat, they would be mobility on the water, and they give you access to some of the shallower parts of a river or lake.
Because much of bowfishing involves water between 2 to 5-feet deep, you want a boat that won’t have any difficulty getting into the shallower parts of the water.
To get access to some of the shallower parts of the water, you will want a boat that is either a narrow v-shape, or it has a flat bottom. Some of the boats that you might choose include:
Tip #2: Choose a Fiberglass Motorboat with a Short Hull and Quiet Motor
You may begin your search by looking for a fiberglass motorboat. This will give you a smoother ride, and the boat will be less likely to slap the water as you move through it. That means you won’t scare the fish as much. In addition, you will want a quiet motor because the fish will be less likely to get spooked by it, giving you more chances at shooting the fish.
Some people like aluminum over fiberglass because it weighs less, but if you want the maximum level of stealth, you have to remember how aluminum will have a higher chance of spooking the fish.
Having a battery powered trolling motor can also help you to sneak up for bowfishing. You don’t have to worry about a powerful motor because you want a quieter motor that won’t spook the fish.
Tip #3: Look for a Guard Rail
When you go to buy a cheap bowfishing boat, try to find one with a guard rail. If you can’t find one, you may want to add one. One of the problems that can occur while bowfishing comes from the lack of sturdiness while shooting. The waves can throw off your shot.
Having a guard rail to provide you with support can steady your shot and prevent you from slipping in the event that the boat would rock.
Tip #4: Buy a Stable Boat
This also highlights another important aspect of looking for a bowfishing boat, and that is that you want stability when you go to take the shots. You want a boat that won’t rock too much from the waves.
The more stable your boat, the safer and easier it will be to shoot the fish. Think about it: as the boat rocks, you will have a hard time aiming. That can make shooting the fish much harder.
That’s one of the reasons that it has been recommended that you go bowfishing with a flat bottom boat like a jon boat, which is the most popular for the sport. This will have greater stability, and you will have an improved aim as a result.
To add to the stability of the boat, you might have a platform on the boat that makes the shooting that much easier. Boats that have a wider width will also normally be more stable to shoot from. Normally 32 inches to 36 inches in width or higher will provide you with a good start. This is a good bowfishing boat setup.
Tip #5: Don’t Carpet the Boat
The biggest problem from carpeting a bowfishing boat comes from the fact that you’re not fishing with hooks. When you pierce a fish with an arrow, you will get a lot of blood and slime that you don’t want to have to clean from the carpets. Add to that, the fact that you shoot a lot more fish with bowfishing than what you do traditional fishing, and you have a recipe for a huge mess that you don’t want to deal with.
Instead, for such a scenario, you might use Rustoleum with an anti-slip additive. This hands you plenty of grip, and you can clean it easily. With a smaller cheap bowfishing boat, you will normally want a lower deck to the water because this adds to your stability. The higher the platform on a smaller boat, the less stability that you will get while bowfishing.
Tip #6: Ask around and Buy Local
One of the biggest advantages from buying local that you won’t get from buying online is that you can see and feel the boat in person. You can check it out to make sure that everything on it works properly, and you haven’t been sold a lemon. For example, buying a pontoon that has holes in the log float tubes. You do, however, have some protections on eBay like the Motor Vehicle Protection Program that covers you for boats as well.
It’s important to note, however, that this program will not protect you from hidden damage to boats over 10 years old, but it will protect you from outright fraud like a failure to deliver the boat or undisclosed defects.
To protect yourself from fraud, if a seller declines to allow you to inspect it for any reason whatsoever, you should assume that they plan to scam you. There are too many good bowfishing boats out there to let yourself be cheated by one that sounds iffy.
Tip #7: Consider the Size
In general, you want to buy the best cheap bowfishing boat with a good size and plenty of room. This will mean that you can walk around the deck without a problem, and you don’t have to worry about running out of space.
As we said in a previous article, bowfishing often takes place at night, and because of this, it requires a generator to power the bowfishing lights. The generator can take up a lot of room on the boat, which is why you want to have a larger boat because it won’t feel like it is taking up as much room. The size of your boat can make being on the water more pleasant.
The more space that you have with these boats, the better. Wider and bigger also have the advantage of rocking less on the water, which makes for easier shooting.
Tip #8: Consider the Brand Carefully
One thing that you want to know as a customer is how long the boat brand has been in business. You can buy a cheap bowfishing boat, but if you bought junk, it will cost you more in the lack of enjoyment than if you had paid a fair price for it. You might also check to see if the dealer meets the boat building standards called a Marine Industry Dealership Certification. This certification means that the dealer attended an all-day workshop that covers the seven major areas of the business.
The Best Bowfishing Boat Brands
In general, the best bowfishing boat brands include:
- Sun Tracker
Tip #9: Does the Boat Have Lights?
While not necessarily a deal breaker, whether or not this matters to you will depend on if you plan to fish at night. Even if the boat doesn’t have lights, you can often install lights on a bowfishing boat as an aftermarket part.
In many cases, this is better because of how you can choose the bowfishing lights that work the best for you, rather than having to go with what is already on your boat.
If you’d like to learn about what kind of bowfishing lights you need, click here on this article I previously wrote for choosing bowfishing lights. If you don’t plan to shoot at night, you won’t need lights, but the experience of bowfishing at night is where this sport comes alive.
Tip #10: What to Beware of with a Cheaper Bowfishing Boat
One of the most essential aspects of a bowfishing boat comes from having a stable deck or platform that provides you with plenty of space to shoot from. You want it to be stable enough that you can stand on it without comment.
If you’re looking for a cheap bowfishing boat, many times, they won’t sell the boat with a platform, and you get a seat instead of a deck. That’s something to watch out for because of how important having a deck is to the sport. You may be better off paying a little extra in these cases so that you can get a platform that is included with the boat.
Tip #11: Consider the Accessories of a Bowfishing Boat
Along with some of the essentials, you may want some accessories included with the bowfishing boat to make it more enjoyable. Some of the accessories to add to a list and check out include:
- Cooler or storage box
- Boat cover
Let’s have a look what these accessories can do for you. First, a cooler or storage box has a lot of advantages because of how it can be used for drinks, fresh catch or anything else that you want. Especially if you’re an older person, you will want seating on the boat for extra comfort and when you want to rest. Standing all the time will wear you down and make the sport less enjoyable.
Next, you have boat covers, and this comes in handy particularly when you want to protect your boat from the elements and you have to leave it outside instead in a garage or storage facility. A little note: You can accomplish the same exact purpose using a tarp. Although, even a boat cover doesn’t cost that much, and it makes the boat look nice. Check out the iCOVER Trailerable Boat Cover (Amazon link here) for a cover that will protect your investment.
Next, on the list, you have shade. The shade is an optional choice, but it lends you some protection from the hot sun. On the lake, it’s much easier to get a sunburn, so you will want to at least bring sunscreen to keep from burning your skin. Some of the worst sunburns that I have ever gotten came from the lake because the reflection of the sun off the water can be more powerful than being in the sun regularly.
Finally, if you want to bowfish at night, you will need lighting to do it. That requires a generator, but you also have to look at the size of your boat. You don’t want it to take up so much space that you feel crowded. Another thing that you have to consider with generators comes from the noise. If you buy the wrong generator, they can be loud, and they will scare off some of the fish. Follow this golden rule: The quieter the generator, the better.
Tip #12: Look at the Interior Closely
The interior of the boat will have a big impact on how quietly your boat rides over the water. For example, a bowfishing boat that has foam-filled and welded inside walls can help to reduce the noise on the water, even if you have an aluminum boat. In fact, this hands you all the benefits of an aluminum boat without some of the negatives like it is noisy on the water. Some of the advantages of aluminum is that you have a structurally sound boat that can manage well on the water, and it weighs less.
Tip #13: Design a Budget and Stick with It
Having a budget can help you to set toward some bowfishing boats and avoid others. What’s a cheap bowfishing boat for one person won’t necessarily be cheap for another person.
You can easily overspend on a boat if you don’t have a budget set up around it. In addition, you have to be prepared and disciplined with your budget or you can easily go right over the top of it. Before you buy a bowfishing boat, the key to getting the best price is to write down a figure and stick with it for your bowfishing boat setup.
Tip #14: Beware of This Monthly Payment Trick
One of the biggest tricks that a salesman will do is to get you to focus on the monthly payments so that you don’t pay attention to the total price tag. You have to look at both the price tag and the total payments if you want to get a truly cheap bowfishing boat. For example, let’s say that a boat has a total value of $2,000. However, the salesman clever gets you to focus on the monthly payments.
You will pay as little as $100 per month for three years. In doing this, he has gotten you to overpay on a boat that had a total retail value of $2,000, but because you focused on the monthly payments, you paid $3600 total. This is a very real trick, and you have to calculate everything out even after you have worked monthly payments with the person so that you don’t wind up overpaying for a boat by almost $2,000.
The formula calculating this is:
Monthly payment * total months = total price
It sounds so good up front that you fail to check the facts, and as a result, you wind up overpaying on it.
Tip #15: Cheaper Doesn’t Always Equal Better
Hands down one of the most quintessential rules that you can learn, cheaper doesn’t always mean better. You could go out and buy the cheapest boat on the market, but this could have negative consequences over the long run because it affects how much you enjoy the sport. The boat may scare off the fish before you can get to them or you’ll be stuck standing in the sun all day on a crowded boat.
Instead, I’d recommend that you go with an upper lower end to medium priced bowfishing boat to take away some of the negatives that you’d face from getting cheap bowfishing boat. You’ll still save money, but you’ll have more fun with it over the long term.
Tip #16: How Shallow of Water Can Your Boat Go
Pontoons can work great for bowfishing, but the one thing you have to remember with whatever boat that you buy is how shallow of water can the boat get into? The more people that you have on a boat, the lower it will sink.
Most pontoons can get into two feet deep of water, but when you have nine people on the boat, that number goes up because it puts more weight on the pontoon. The advantage of a pontoon, however, is that you don’t have to worry as much about the waves rocking your boat and making a shot impossible. However, as with whatever boat you choose, you should carefully think about the application to make sure that it will fit your requirements while bowfishing.
You can turn hunting for a cheap bowfishing boat into a fun adventure where you enjoy the entire process of searching for the boat. If you follow these tips, you stand the best chance at finding a boat that will meet your demands.
You want to choose a boat that has been specifically fitted for bowfishing. Be careful when you hunt for them online. In some cases, I’ve seen people online trying to sell what they called a bowfishing boat in the article, but in truth, it wasn’t a bowfishing boat because it lacked many of the features that a real bowfishing boat would have. For example, it had no platform where you could stand up to shoot.
When I make a suggestion, it’s to be as helpful as possible and steer you in the right direction for bowfishing, not to make a fast buck but to help my readers to get the best of my knowledge. Remember this rule of thumb: A good bowfishing boat needs a platform to shoot from. You can’t shoot a bow accurately into the water from sitting down, so if the boat is like that, it won’t be very good for the sport. Hopefully, this guide will help you to get the best deal on your next boat.