Love to bowfish? Maybe you have thought to bowfish from your paddleboard. Bowfishing from paddleboards has skyrocketed in popularity, and you get a full-body workout at the same time. Some people say that paddleboard bowfishing even has its advantages over a kayak. Bowfishing happens in water between 2 to 4 feet deep. That makes it ideal to do from a paddleboard.
Tip #1: Pick a Heavier Paddleboard
You want a heavier paddleboard for a couple of reasons that include:
- Accommodates a cooler
- Add extra clothing and supplies
- Emergency gear
- Safely store your bow while paddling
Heavier paddleboards add stability, a necessity while shooting your bow. You can safely store your bow on a heavier paddleboard as you paddle to your bowfishing spot.
Tip #2: Look for a Paddleboard Designed for Fishing
Paddleboard companies recognize the opportunity in selling boards made specifically for fishing and bowfishing. This type of paddleboard has advantages even over a kayak. Like with a kayak, your paddleboard can enter shallow and weedy areas that a boat couldn’t enter.
In particular, look for a paddleboard that says, SUP. This type of paddleboard does especially well for bowfishing and works for fishing too.
Some of the features to look for with a bowfishing paddleboard include:
- Tie downs
Look for features on the paddleboard that can you use to improve your bowfishing experience.
Tip #3: Wear Polarized Sunglasses
If you plan to bowfish from a paddleboard, you will most likely do it during the day because you don’t have the room for a bowfishing generator and lights. Seeing fish on the water during the day poses some challenges, but with the right polarized sunglasses, the task becomes much easier. Anyone who would like to learn more about polarized sunglasses should check out the article that I wrote here.
Polarized sunglasses matter even more with bowfishing than regular fishing because you have to see the fish to shoot. This is one of the reasons some bowfishermen prefer to wait until nighttime when they can light up the fish with lights.
Tip #4: Understanding the Advantage of the Paddleboard
You take most bowfishing shots from 10 to 20 yards at the most. The arrow weighs more than a regular arrow to penetrate the water better. With a paddleboard, you don’t have to deal with walls around the boat, which can obstruct your shots or throw them off.
Tip #5: Don’t Get an Inflatable Paddleboard
Especially since you will take your shots with the bow, you need to have stability. A solid paddleboard offers greater stability for aiming, and it rides lower in the water. Before you buy a board, you should understand how SUPs take more storage. Check to see that you have space for it.
Tip #6: Start with Fishing Structure
Perhaps one of the most annoying elements of SUP bowfishing, the paddleboard shifts constantly. With a bow, while trying to aim, especially if new to paddleboard bowfishing, you will have a hard time getting the right angle on the fish. You can get past this through fishing near docks or oyster beds.
Don’t go out on a windy day for bowfishing from the paddleboard because it will blow you all over the place.
Not only that, but bowfishing often requires water like glass during the day so that you can see the fish.
Tip #7: Bring along a SUP Anchor
In the last tip, I talked about how keeping your paddleboard in the right position for bow shots poses a challenge. You may want to bring a SUP anchor because it can root you to an area. Like with kayak bowfishing, the wind and currents will blow you around without an anchor. You will find that you have to paddle more to take the shots.
You don’t want to have to paddle constantly and position the board. Eliminate this problem by having an anchor. The one cool thing about not having an anchor is that the bigger fish especially will pull you around on the board. Doing this while standing up could send you straight into the water, which is a less-than-an-ideal situation.
Tip #8: The Board Matters
Don’t buy a surfing paddleboard and expect to bowfish from it. SUP boards come with essential features for fishing and bowfishing, which make it easier. You want one big enough to support your weight and your gear. For bowfishing, you need stability for easier aiming. You want a larger paddleboard at around 11 feet for maximum stability and space, but anything from 9 to 11 feet will work.
A surfing paddleboard doesn’t work well because of the lack of stability. Manufacturers designed surfing paddleboards with a different purpose, and you can flip them more easily. You don’t want that while carrying sharp arrows. I’ll leave that to the imagination for you to figure out why.
Tip #9: Takes Time to Get Comfortable
You won’t feel comfortable on the paddleboard right out of the gate. It takes time to adjust to it. Don’t think of it as impossible, however. Plenty of people fish from paddleboards, and you have a growing number of people who bowfish from them. With bowfishing, it all comes down to the stability of the board and getting used to it.
When you first get started, you may not even want to take along your gear. Try it on calm water to get used to the balancing. Don’t feel bad if you don’t get it right away. Many people have to try a few times before they learn how to do it.
Tip #10: Avoid Doing These Things for Success
Do not start paddleboarding from a surf stance. Stand-up paddleboarding differs from surfing, and you should leave this to the professionals. When starting, avoid congested areas because you can get nervous and fall off the board.
Don’t stand too far forward on the SUP because it causes the back fins to lift, and you can flip your board. At the least, it won’t be as stable and harder to control.
Tip #11: Kayak vs. Paddleboard–What’s Easier?
In general, I’d say that a paddleboard is even easier to bowfish from because of how you can stand on them more easily. With a kayak, you have to buy a kayak made for standing on if you plan to stand on it. You don’t need a kayak that you can stand on, but it will help with your shots.
Paddleboards, on the other hand, were made for standing. Someone who doesn’t want to stand the whole time may not like the paddleboard as much as the kayak. However, a lot of people like shooting from the paddleboard, but it may not be the ideal choice for an all-day excursion.
Tip #12: Not That Difficult
Previously, I talked about how you may not even want to try bowfishing on your first time paddleboarding. I should emphasize, however, paddleboarding is not a difficult sport. You may fall off it on your first few tries, but it gets easier after that.
The greatest challenge comes when the board isn’t moving. You want to start without your bowfishing gear because it gives you the chance to learn how to do it without clutter. Once you get the hang of it, you won’t find it too difficult.
Tip #13: Don’t Bring Too Much Gear
Think of paddleboarding as a type of minimalism to bowfishing. If you want the big fancy stuff on hand, then paddleboard bowfishing isn’t for you. You won’t have space on an 11-foot board. The more gear you have on deck, the harder the bowfishing becomes.
Especially when you first get started, only bring the bare minimum. Some of the bare minimum things that I’d recommend taking along include:
- Polarized sunglasses
- Bow and arrows
- SUP paddleboard
Bowfishing has one beautiful thing about it in that you can make it as complicated or as simple as you’d like. You don’t have to spend $5,000 to get started. You can spend as little as a few hundred and get started. If you want a good paddleboard for bowfishing, check out the Wavestorm 9’6″ SUP paddleboard bundle.
Tip #14: Put Your Smartphone in a Floatable Waterproof Case
You may want a case like this that can handle all your sensitive electronics. While it may sound obvious, you’d be surprised how many people go out without protection and complain later when their phone gets wet. Don’t let this be you. You can easily get past this problem by buying a waterproof case.
Tip #15: Check the Weather Forecast Before Going
Bowfishing from a boat differs in that the weather won’t necessarily spoil a good time. Even a light wind on a paddleboard can throw up some resistance. You want a sunny day with no wind when paddleboarding.
Every year paddleboarders get rescued on the ocean because they paddled out too far, and they couldn’t return against the strong winds.
Expert Tip: Let’s say that you find yourself in trouble, which could happen to anyone. Things happen when you’re having fun. Don’t let that stop you. Kneeling or sitting on the board will get you out of the wind. At the same time, it’s a more stable position. Kneeling will give you a little more power behind your paddle strokes, which can help you in a strong wind. In general, it’s better to go bowfishing on the paddleboard in light winds or no winds at all.
Tip #16: Buy a Paddle Leash
Ever heard the saying, “Up a creek without a paddle?” You don’t want this to become you because you lost your paddle. Why even have a risk like this when you can simply use a paddle leash. In this way, you don’t even have to bend over to pick up the paddle. Just be sure that the paddle leash is never at risk of tangling with the bowstring. This can be extremely dangerous. Wrap the leash around your waist.
Tip #17: Shoot from Sandbars
You may use the paddleboard to reach a sandbar. This may lead you to ask, “Why?” You have one key reason to bowfish from the sandbars over the paddleboard. First, this puts you in a key spot for the fish. Second, it hands you more stable ground. Even putting down an anchor, your paddleboard will still move toward the fish. Depending on the fish species, they hunt in schools, which will spook the other fish that you want to shoot.
Granted, bowfishing tends to spook them anyhow, but you have a third advantage on the sandbars. You don’t have to contend with the positioning of your board. Every shot that you take feels more stable.
Tip #18: How Big Should Your Anchor Be?
You have many SUP anchors that I wouldn’t recommend because of the lightness. The whole point of an anchor is to remain anchored. Otherwise, it’s useless baggage on the board. Doing a 3-pound anchor is less ideal than doing a 10-pound grapnel anchor. I never recommend that you go without an anchor while bowfishing from a paddleboard because you’ll get towed all over the water. While fun at first, it loses its charm. Here’s a decent one to use. The 9 or 13-pound anchor should be more than sufficient.
Tip #19: How to Stay Stable on the Board
Stability means the difference between getting your shot and missing. For that reason, I’d like to give you a tip on how to take a shot that will improve your aim. This is a classic aiming method where you take a deep breath and exhale completely. Next, you inhale half a breath and let it out slowly. Without the constant exhale, you will have a steadier and deadlier shot.
Bowfishing shots often get made without a lot of time to aim, so you may not even need this, but it can help with your aim on the board. Most bowfishing shots use the snapshot. You don’t take much time because the fish will vanish if you do.
Bowfishing from a paddleboard is an acquired taste and not everyone will like it. That said, if you already have a paddleboard, you might as well try it. Standing up helps you see the fish better, and they don’t disturb the fish as much as a larger boat. You improve your chances from a paddleboard.