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SUP Bowfishing: How to Get Started

fishing lake

Stand up paddle boarding and bowfishing go very well together. Stealth is a key factor in bowfishing and there is no better vessel to help you sneak up on your prey than a SUP! 

However, paddleboard bowfishing may seem intimidating if you’ve never tried it. Attempting to shoot a moving target underwater when you’re on a small floating platform doesn’t sound easy. Not to mention all the equipment you have to buy to get started. 

But SUP bowfishing isn’t that hard. It may be slightly challenging but that’s what makes it fun! In this guide, I’ll cover the basics of SUP bowfishing, including what you need and a few tips to help you get started. 

Key Takeaways

  • SUP bowfishing is a fun and challenging activity that combines stand up paddle boarding and bowfishing.
  • You need a stable and spacious fishing paddle board, a bow, arrows, an anchor, a PFD, a leash, and polarized sunglasses to get started.
  • You should practice paddling and balancing on your SUP before attempting to bowfish from it.
  • You should check the weather forecast and bring only the essentials for your SUP bowfishing trip.
  • SUP bowfishing has some advantages over kayak fishing, such as better visibility and the fact that SUP is a better workout.

What You Will Need

The beauty of paddle board bowfishing, and fishing from a SUP in general, is that you don’t need a lot of gear. The following essentials are enough. 

a. The Right Paddle Board

While this one is obvious, choosing the right SUP board for bowfishing can be a daunting task. 

Luckily, there are paddle boards designed for fishing so you can narrow down your search to that specific type. These SUPs are wide and offer maximum stability because you move a lot while fishing. They also have enough storage options for you to safely store all your SUP fishing gear

You can choose to get an inflatable paddleboard or a solid paddleboard. An inflatable SUP would be a great option if you want a portable SUP that won’t take up a lot of storage space. If you want better performance and don’t mind having a heavier paddleboard, a solid SUP would be ideal for you. 

Make sure the fishing paddle board you pick has a high weight capacity, enough to hold you and your gear. 

b. Polarized Sunglasses

The blinding glare from the sun can be frustrating when you’re trying to bowfish from your paddleboard. Not only is it uncomfortable, it also makes it extremely difficult to see and accurately aim at your target. 

So don’t forget your floating polarized sunglasses, especially when bowfishing during the day! Polarized lenses help you to see better by preventing light glare from hitting your eyes directly as it reflects off the water’s surface.

c. A SUP Anchor

An anchor keeps your paddle board from being blown around by the wind and drifting. Trying to keep the SUP in place and shoot fish at the same time is not fun, more so on a windy day. Having a paddleboard anchor saves you the trouble. 

You can use a sand spear to anchor your SUP when bowfishing in shallow water. 

d. Paddle Board Leash and PFD

Safety should always come first. You shouldn’t hop on your paddle board without wearing your leash and personal flotation device (PFD). 

The leash ensures that you are attached to your SUP, even when you fall off. The PFD belt keeps you afloat and prevents you from drowning. 

ALSO READ: How to mount a fishing finder on a paddle board.

4 Useful Tips for a Successful SUP Bowfishing Trip

Here are a few tips to help you have a safe and enjoyable stand up paddleboard bowfishing experience. 

1. Less Is More

This is an important rule, not just for SUP bowfishing, but SUP fishing in general. Bring only what you’re sure you’ll need; think bare minimum. Unlike a boat, a stand up paddle board doesn’t have much space. Carrying more than the SUP can handle will make paddling difficult. 

As long as you have your bow, arrows, a waterproof case for your phone, the essentials listed above, and a cooler, you’re good to go. 

2. Check the Weather 

Bad weather conditions can ruin your experience and even put you in danger. Always check the weather forecast and prepare for any possible scenarios. 

If it is really windy, for instance, it can be hard for you to paddle against the wind and make it back to shore safely. So check the forecast and make sure you can handle the expected conditions based on your skill level. 

3. Take Time to Get Used to the SUP

Paddle boards are much smaller than boats and you may feel uncomfortable at first. The good thing is that paddle boarding is easy to learn. However, you need to take some time to get used to it and learn how to maintain balance. 

Practice in calm waters, close to the shore, and without your gear! Master the basic paddling techniques so you can paddle efficiently, and then practice with your gear too so that you can get used to the weight. Practice and preparation is key.

4. Experiment with Different Arrow Types

The type of arrow that is best for you depends on several things, including the depth of the water. Experiment with different arrow types to see what works best for your situation. 

Also read these tips to take your paddle board fishing to the next level.

SUP Bowfishing Vs Kayak Bowfishing

A kayak and a paddle board have a lot in common and most anglers will have a good time using any of them. Read this article for the differences between paddle board vs kayak fishing.

The main advantage of SUP bowfishing is that you will be standing, which gives you an amazing view. You can attach a kayak seat or bring a cooler which doubles as a seat for when you get tired.

The other benefit of paddle board bowfishing is that it is a full-body workout. It engages almost every muscle in your body. 

With kayak fishing, on the other hand, you will be seated most of the time. Sitting is more comfortable than standing, especially for long periods. Some kayaks designed for fishing are stable enough for you to stand and fish. 

It all comes down to personal preference. 

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Wrapping Up

Stand up paddle board bowfishing brings together two fantastic activities, creating the perfect combination. In addition to enjoying a full-body workout, you can fish in spaces that are too small for a boat, and approach with stealth so you don’t scare away your prey. 

Just make sure you bring the proper gear and only what you need. Check the weather before going on your fishing trip. 

Don’t forget to have fun!

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