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Welcome to the 3Rivers Archer's Den

Archer's Den

Welcome to the Archer's Den. Here you will find a gathering of traditional archery stories, tips and techniques, trophy animals taken with traditional bows, and plenty more. Stay a while and learn something. We hope you enjoy and even submit a trophy of your own, or leave a comment on a post.

Tag Archives: bowfishing

Bowfishing is Fun!

Fred Eichler out bowfishing

I bit on the bowfishing bug early in life. I am known for taking things to the extreme and bowfishing was no different. It started with carp and then I graduated to sharks, stingrays, alligators, gar and all sorts of fish. It is not only fun but you can also pack some great meat in the freezer. It is just white instead of red. 

Traditional Gear and Bowfishing just go together. Fortunately for us there are tons of equipment options available for traditional bows. Like many things, options range from gear for the occasional bowfisherman that doesn’t want to drop a lot of cash, to gear for the addicted bowfisherman that spends more on their bowfishing boat, lights and platform than they do on their vehicle. Yes, I do know people like that…..sorry mom.

Eichler family bowfishing fun

Excluding a boat which is nice but not mandatory for bowfishing, you can get all you need to bowfish for anywhere from twenty dollars to a hundred and twenty. The two main types of bowfishing reels are the hand wind or the reel style. Hand reels are inexpensive and great starters. They come in two different types: One mounts to a stabilizer bushing and the other is a tape-on model that works well for longbows and recurves without a bushing.

These hand reels generally retail for under twenty dollars and are a good option for beginners or experienced shooters on a budget. Although this inexpensive system works well, it is slow and makes a quick follow up shot impossible unless another bow and spool are rigged up and ready nearby.

Fred bowfishing on a family trip to Mexico

For the reel style bowfishing rig there are two options available. I have used both and would recommend either one. One is the AMS retriever bowfishing reel. The retriever has a handy finger regulated drag and a twist free bottle that your line goes into. It also sports a fast line crank, which speeds up your recovery time. The Retriever reel retails for approximately one hundred dollars.

Fred showing off a Muzzy bowfishing reel effectiveness

Another popular choice is the Muzzy Xtreme Duty Bowfishing reel. It comes with 100 feet of braided 200 lb test bowfishing line and is easy to use. It has a familiar push button release and a standard reel adjustable drag. This set up retails for around 45 dollars. 

AMS bowfishing fiberglass arrow with point and slide

Bowfishing arrows are pretty simple and inexpensive. Most pro-shops usually carry only one or two models. The two most common are all fiberglass shafts or carbon infused shafts. The solid fiberglass shafts I use are extremely durable and retail for anywhere from $15-$25, which includes a bowfishing head and safety slide. Even more important than arrow selection is the type of fish head you choose. There are many bowfishing heads that look great in the display case, but are not so great in a fish. Choose a rugged, functional head. There are few things more frustrating than missing a shot at a darting fish and then pulling up a bent or broken head. One thing to look for is a head that has a short distance from the point to the barbs. These require less penetration for the head to be held securely. This is especially important with large fish or when shooting bows with low poundage.

Traditional Bows are perfect for bowfishing because most of your shots are snapshots at moving fish. Just the ticket for a longbow or a recurve.

Fred with a monster he took with his recurve bow

Don’t forget that you have to shoot low to compensate for water refraction. That is a fancy word for “the fish isn’t where it looks like it is.” I’m sure a smarter person than me could explain the formula for exactly how low you have to shoot based on how deep the fish is. It is really more a matter of S.W.A.G That’s another term for Just shoot low and hope. I should warn any newbies that bowfishing is an addictive smelly sport. So if your currently having a problem finding a spouse that will put up with your bowhunting addiction, I wouldn’t add this one. Have Fun!

By Fred Eichler
Everything Eichler

Bowfishing with a Traditional Bow – The ‘Must Have’ Gear

The height of bowfishing season will soon be here and just weeks away from some of the best bowfishing action. So let’s talk about the essential items you’ll need. Regardless of whether you’re after rolling carp from the bank of a river or somewhere on the coast looking for stingrays, the right bowfishing gear will make a difference.

Below is a list of what I consider necessary items. First and foremost is the fact that each state has their own set of rules that can differentiate on individual lakes. Be sure to check local regulations for licensing and species information before heading out.

Equipment:

The sport of Bowfishing is tough on gear and you can expect for items to get scratched and dinged along the way. Here’s what I look at in the way of equipment for bowfishing.

Cajun Bowfishing Fish Stick BowBowfishing Bows:

As mentioned above, you can expect your gear to take some abuse. I don’t want to take an expensive bow with me and have it get damaged on the inside of a boat. Worse yet, it could get broken because I set it down in the wrong place during the excitement. There are many options to choose from when looking at a new bowfishing bow. The truth is most any bow can be used for bowfishing, but some have distinct advantages over others.

Bowfishing is often fast action and a traditional bow lends itself well to this style of shooting. When you first see a fish, it can disappear as quickly as it appears, especially in dark murky water. So most of your shots are going to be in the form of snap shooting. This is what makes traditional bows well suited for bowfishing.

Longbow: Longbows offer a lightweight bow, so it can be less tiresome when bowfishing for long periods of time. However, just like the name, they are typically longer in length. This makes them a little more difficult to maneuver in places such as a boat.

Recurve: I feel the best choice is a recurve bow. They come in different lengths allowing you to select the ideal size that’s suited to your preference. They can also be found in takedown models that can be disassembled for easy storage and transportation. The bear Super Magnum is only 48” in length and one of my favorite for bowfishing.

Regardless of your personal choice, I recommend considering a bow that has accessory bushings such as the AMO sight bushings, stabilizer bushings, and plunger hole. There is the Traditional Gadget Adapter if you find yourself wanting to add a stabilizer bushing without altering the bow. If you don’t mind installing them yourself, it’s fairly easy to add the sight bushings and stabilizer bushings.

Bowfishing Reels:

There are a number of bowfishing reels on the market. These reels commonly mount to the stabilizer or sight bushings and have their advantages and disadvantages as well. A quality reel should hold up over time and it’s the one place where I prefer to spend more on my equipment.

Cajun Archery Bowfishing Drum Style reelDrum Reels for Bowfishing:

Using this style of reel, the fishing line is manually wrapped around the drum and spools off once an arrow is released. The advantage of these reels is that they are cost effective when compared to other reels. However, these reels tend to be slow as you pull the line in by hand and then rewind it on the drum after each shot. Since Bowfishing can be a fast pace sport with multiple shots appearing at one time, this can be a problem. Another issue is that the line can tangle easily causing some frustration. These reels have different mounting options as some will mount to the stabilizer bushings and others mount by taping the reel to the bow. If you have a limited budget, this reel can be a good option. However, you will most likely want to upgrade at some point.

Cajun Archery Bowfishing Spincast ReelSpincast Reels for Bowfishing:

Spincast reels are similar to reels frequently found on fishing poles. Usually, they come pre-spooled with bowfishing line and ready to go. Just like a standard spincast reel, you have to push the button to release the line prior to shooting an arrow. One of the advantages of a spincast reel is the drag adjustment. This option allows you to tire out the fish, making it easier to reel them in. By just simply spinning the crank on the side, you reel the line back into the spool. Some of the better reels have different gear ratios to make it even faster to retrieve the fish. Most of these reels are mounted to the bow using a reel seat that fits the stabilizer bushing in the riser.

AMS Pro Retriever Bowfishing Reel mounted to bowRetriever Reels for Bowfishing:

Retriever reels have become popular over the last several years. They often use a heavier braided line stored in a plastic bottle and work well with larger game fish. There are no buttons to push before shooting, making it quick to operate. The line easily spools out after releasing an arrow. Experiences with tangling issues are few and by squeezing the trigger, you reel in the line. The only disadvantage is the fact that it can be a little slower winding when compared to a spincast reel due to the gear ratios. This style reel normally connects to the bow using the AMO sight bushings.

Bowfishing Arrows

Muzzy Carbon Classic Bowfishing ArrowBowfishing arrows are typically heavier in weight than a standard hunting arrow. Shooting distances are often shorter and penetration becomes the most important factor. Usually these arrows are made of fiberglass or solid carbon. Under normal circumstances, you won’t lose a lot of these arrows. So I don’t mind paying a little extra for one that’s durable.

AMS Safety Slides:

AMS Safety Slide on bowfishing arrowRegardless of the type of reel, I highly recommend using Safety Slides on your fish arrows. Safety Slides are designed to eliminate the “snap back” of an arrow should the line get hung up. They don’t interfere with arrow flight, are inexpensive, and help prevent possible injuries. In my opinion, this should be a mandatory part of your bowfishing gear.

Bowfishing Points:

Bowfishing 3 Barbed Grapple PointFor bowfishing points, you want one that penetrates and is able to hold on to the fish. There are many options to choose from and everyone is going to have an individual preference. I look for something that’s easy to use and has proven itself over time, like the 3-Barb Bowfishing Grapple Point. These points penetrate great and have three barbs, so you’re not likely to lose a fish after it has been shot with one these. The barbs are easily reversible making it simple to remove the point after hauling in the fish.

Other Bowfishing Gear

Bowfishing Rests: There are a lot of options for a rest and even some prefer to just shoot off the shelf. The plastic/rubber flipper rest or weather rests are easy to use, but the longevity is generally short and they don’t hold the arrow in place. Roller rests are another popular design that’s simple to install and allows for centershot adjustments. The Cajun Brush Fire Bowfishing Rest is the design I prefer. It’s offers fast shooting and holds the arrow in place until you’re ready to shoot.

Polarized Sunglasses: These make a big difference by reducing the glare on the water. Using a good pair of polarized sunglasses enables you to see fish that you might ordinarily miss. A good pair of sunglasses should be a necessary part of your gear.

One last item to consider is Finger Savers. This can solve the problem of sore fingers after a long day of shooting. They are easy to install, waterproof, and inexpensive making it a worthwhile addition to your bowfishing gear list.

It’s hard to beat a day of bowfishing on the water with some friends. Getting started doesn’t take a lot and you just might find it addictive. However, paying close attention to some of the essential items might make a difference to your success.

By R. Strong

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Setting up a Bow Fishing Arrow

by Johnathan Karch

Johnathan Karch on the water with his bowfishing set-up
Bowfishing Can Be Fun and Rewarding

Bow fishing is fun for all ages. It is a sport that can be enjoyed by the beginner looking for more of a challenge than targets (and more fun) to shoot, to the die-hard bowhunter that loves to have the bow in their hands all-year round. Using the same bow as for shooting targets or bow hunting, an archer can be set up for bow fishing in quick order.

The bowfishing reel and arrow are the only gear requirements (however, many states/provinces require a fishing license, check your local regulations) needed to get you on the water chasing fish. Each of these pieces of gear requires a bit of focus. For now we’ll be covering the bowfishing arrow.

The majority of my bowfishing experience has been shooting carp on rivers. They are an invasive species and as a bottom feeder they won’t bite on a lure; making them the perfect target for a bowfisher. Easy to spot in the water due to their large size, you will be surprised how enjoyable sinking an arrow in one can be.

Building a fish arrow for carp is great for the beginner. I find it a great starting point as carp are found in most places in the United States and the same fish arrow can be applied to other bowfishing game.

Bowfishing Arrow Shaft

The backbone of your bowfishing arrow is the shaftThe backbone of any arrow is the shaft. The first thing you will notice about a bow fishing arrow is how heavy it is. This is due to the material used for the arrow must be extremely durable for taking hard hits, and the arrow must have great penetration to punch through scales on tough fish.

Most bowfishing arrows are made of fiberglass, carbon, or a hybrid combination of the two. Fiberglass is tough and less expensive, but nothing is as tough, nor offers the stiffer spine or straightness as carbon. The hybrid models of bowfishing arrow shafts inlay strips of carbon on/in the fiberglass to add the advantages of carbon (strength, stiffness, and straightness) without having the cost of a solid carbon arrow.

Most people leave a fish arrow full length, and do not cut it shorter to match their draw length like you would with other arrows. Bowfishing arrows are extra stiff, and the extra length helps weaken the spine so it is better tuned for your bow. The extra length also adds more weight to the finished arrow for heavier hitting power.

Bowfishing Points

Match your bowfishing point to the fish and location
The point is the most important part of your bowfishing arrow set-up. Matching a bowfishing point to the fish you are after and your location can make or break your day on the water. Going after big carp on rivers/creeks is way different than gar on a calm lake. For carp, holding power and hard hitting penetration tend to be the most important. I also like a point that can reverse the barbs without having to touch it, as with bigger fish it is hard to push the arrow all the way through the fish to get at the point. For small gar in deeper in water, being able to get your arrow to the fish without water planning is important. Having a replaceable tip is an arrow saver if you bow fish in rocky areas.

On many bowfishing points there is a small hole at the base of the ferrule. This is so you can reinforce the point by installing a steel pin or nail through the shaft. Not a necessity, but if you are worried about hitting a lot of rocky surfaces, this is great insurance to not lose your point. It is recommended to use a drill press to drill the shaft for accuracy and safety.

If you’re not sure which point would work best, or if you do a lot of different types of bowfishing, checkout RPM Bowfishing points. Their APS (All Point System) uses a universal ferrule that all of their point bodies mount to easily so you can find the perfect fit for your shooting.

Putting it all Together

For building a bowfishing arrow, you need the same components as with a target or hunting arrow (except the fletching):
1) Point 2) Shaft, and 3) Nock.

The AMS safety slide system installed on a fish arrowThe only addition for a fishing arrow is a safety slide system. Some may say this is not a requirement, but in my opinion safety is always #1. The AMS Safety Slide system keeps the bowfishing line in front of the bow to prevent the line from tangling with the bow string and having the arrow snap-back to potentially hurt (or kill) you and those around you.

For the first step you need to choose a fish shaft for the arrow. I prefer a carbon/fiberglass hybrid like the Cajun Yellow Jacket or RPM Hazard (shown here). I glue the nock in place first so the safety slide is aligned properly. For gluing the nock on I use a fletching glue such as Fletch-it Archer’s Adhesive or Fletch-Tite Platinum. It dries fast and has good holding strength. I glue the nock so the pre-drilled hole at the back of the shaft is even with the notch of the nock (so the safety slide stop will be on top of the shaft).

Finally, for installing the bowfishing point I use some sandpaper to rough up the end of the arrow so the epoxy has something to grip to for an extra strong hold.
Next I install the safety slide and all its components as it is important to have the slide in place before installing the bowfishing point.

Finally, for installing the bowfishing point I use some sandpaper to rough up the end of the arrow so the epoxy has something to grip to for an extra strong hold. I recommend AAE 2-Part Epoxy for mounting bowfishing points as the slow 24 hour cure time retains elasticity, yet holds like iron. This is a very good combo for points that will be taking a lot of punishment. Alignment of the point has no bearing on how it will shoot, so go with whatever you prefer. I prefer horizontal, as the barbs are out of my view and gravity has an equal impact on the barbs (if they are movable, like with the AMS Mayhem or RPM NOS Point). As I said though, it will have zero impact on how the arrow shoots.

Straight Shooting
Johnathan Karch

For more information contact:

3Rivers Archery
PO Box 517
Ashley IN 46705

1-260-587-9501

info@3riversarchery.com

But How do I Bowfish?

Bowfishing from a boat

By Jason D. Mills

You know what bowfishing is, and you’re interested in trying, but you’re still not quite sure how or where to start. Bowfishing is unique in the world of archery in that it can be practiced day or night, on land, while wading in the water, or on a boat.

To get started you’ll need a bow, a recurve is best simply because smaller bows are a bit easier to manage while bowfishing. There is no need for sites because of refraction and because they can’t account for depth. You’ll probably want a bow that shoots 45 pounds or greater in order to have sufficient force.

Bowfishing rig

You will also need a reel and special bowfishing arrows; typically, bowfishing arrows are heavier, use barbed broadhead, don’t have fletchings, and are longer than traditional arrows. They are also attached to a fishing line. On that note, never tie a line to the back of an arrow, it should always be attached to the slide near the front of the arrow. If tied to the back, the line could get tangled in the bowstring, causing the arrow to snap back at you, resulting in facial injuries and even death.

You might also want to bring a pair of hip waders, some gloves, sunglasses (if you’re fishing during the day), sunblock, and a hat. If you’re fishing at night you’ll probably want to bring a decent flashlight or spotlight.

If you have the option, and if you’re shooting from a boat, you’ll probably want to use a flat-bottom vessel, so you can take it into shallower water. Like sport fishing and hunting, individual states regulate bowfishing, so you will probably have to pickup a fishing license.

When you’re bowfishing on fresh water you’ll be looking for fish like carp, eels, suckers, perch, catfish, gars, or even alligators. If you’re saltwater bowfishing you’ll probably target fish like dogfish, sharks, and stingrays. The exact type of fish that you’re allowed to bowhunt legally is regulated by the state, so check on your local regulations.

Something that seems obvious, but should also be mentioned about bowfishing. there is no catch-and-release in this sport. Bowfishing kills the fish.

If you decide to give bowfishing a try, but you don’t have access to a boat, then you’ll be limited to wading or bank bowfishing. You’ll want to do this kind of bowfishing in the spring, while the fish are spawning, before and after the spawn the fish can be harder to find. If you’ll be bowfishing from a bank, you’ll want to target lakes, rivers, and ponds with shore access. If you’ll be wading, you have the option of heading to a marsh with tall grass, where the fish feel safe.

If you’re having trouble narrowing down a good spot for your first bowfishing trip, just give your local DNR fisheries biologist a call and tell them you are looking for heavy concentrations of carp, eels, suckers, perch, catfish, or gars.

If you’ve got a few places in mind, but you’re still not sure about the perfect spot, the most important thing you should consider is the consistency of water depth and overall water clarity – clear water that is between 3-4’ deep is ideal for bowfishing.

Now, if you’re like me you don’t hunt what you won’t eat. That said, many of the fish that you’ll be after (such as carp) can contain contaminants, so it’s a smart idea to contact your local DNR office and ask about fish advisories before heading out.

Refraction

When you finally do get to your fishing spot, the main difficulty that most new bowfishers have is refraction. When light waves pass through water they are deflected, which makes things look like they are where they are not. This is most easily demonstrated using a straw and a glass of water.

Refraction

To compensate for this, you’ll want to aim about 10” below the fish you’re aiming at; keep in mind this is just a general rule of thumb and you should be prepare to miss quite a bit your first time out.

Don’t Leave Your Bow Hanging This Summer!

By Patrick Durkin

Bowfishing has been growing in popularity in recent years as more beginning archers look for fun shooting opportunities for spring and summer. As with almost everything in archery, you can get into bowfishing at nearly any price point you choose.

For basic equipment, some archers simply buy a kit that includes:

One solid-fiberglass fishing arrow

Fishing points

bowfishing reel

Some people who bowfish transfer all the equipment back and forth to their regular hunting bow, or buy a new bow for hunting and put their bowfishing gear on the old bow. Regardless of what you choose to do, our expert techs at 3Rivers Archery can guide you into the right product whether you’re just starting out or looking to upgrade your equipment.

Carp 101

Various species of carp are the most commonly targeted fish. Carp aren’t native to North America. They were brought over from Europe in the 1800s and released across much of the continent.

Because carp are destructive rough fish that reproduce readily almost everywhere they’re found, archers who bowfish typically shoot all they can, often using the fish as fertilizer for gardens and flower beds. Some also are smoked, canned or added to fish stew. About the only requirement is that those who bowfish take home everything they catch.

Bowfishing Is a Good “Next Step” From Recreational Shooting to Bowhunting

Bowfishing provides multiple shooting opportunities. For those archers interested in expanding their interest and archery skill into an outdoor adventure, it’s an ideal stepping-stone between target archery and bowhunting. No two shots are ever the same in bowfishing, and there’s usually much more action than in bowhunting. When bowhunting deer, elk or bears, bowhunters can go weeks – or several hunting seasons – between shots.

It’s also accessible.

Bowfishing can be done from piers, shorelines, and boats. This includes canoes, kayaks, airboats, motorboats, and Jon boats. As paddleboards become increasingly popular across the U.S., bowfishing from paddleboards is also gaining traction, particularly among a younger demographic eager to get outdoors. Several years ago, the Florida-based company, BOTE, partnered with ATA member Realtree, to offer its customers several camo-clad boards.

With bowfishing, you’re seldom restricted to one small area like you are when bowhunting deer from a tree stand or turkeys from a ground blind. If you see carp or gar nearby, you can stalk closer to try intercepting them. Those experiences also help prepare you for stalking or setting up on deer, elk or other game animals.

Gators Too?!

Carp and other rough fish like gar and buffalo make for exciting bowfishing, but perhaps the ultimate in big-game bowfishing is an alligator hunt. States like Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina allow bowfishing for ’gators, but no state offers more alligator tags each year than Florida. This requires specialized equipment, however, so it’s probably best to hire a guide or hunt with an experienced friend before taking on an alligator.

Amy Hatfield contributed to this story.

Reviewing the Martin Independence Recurve

2326XI recently had the opportunity to pick-up the new Martin Independence Recurve. Speaking with the Martin representative over the phone, he told me that the Independence Recurve’s light weight, small size, and stabilizer bushing made it perfect for bowfishing. I was intrigued, and being that bowfishing season will quickly be upon us, I decided to open one up and share my findings. That being said, this is very much an opinion piece and is far from comprehensive. If you have something you’d like to add, or if you feel I missed something please leave a comment and let me know.

The sight bushing blends right in, you might miss it if you weren't looking for it
The sight bushing blends right in, you might miss it if you weren’t looking for it

My first thought when pulling the Martin Independence Recurve out of its box was, “Wow, this thing really is small.” However, that’s to be expected from a bow with a 52” AMO. I was happy to see the stabilizer bushing looked clean – like it was born there. I did notice that there are no sight bushings, I expected this, but it does mean that if you want to use side mounted reels, such as the extreamly popular AMS Retriever® Pro Bowfishing Reel or the AMS Retriever® TNT reel, you’d either have to install sight bushings or buy the AMS Bowfishing Traditional Mount Adapter. If I were going to use it strictly as a bowfishing rig I’d likely install sight bushings, but the AMS adapter works great if you want to just try out a side mounted bowfishing reel without having to drill holes in your bow.

Big-Shot Elk Archery Shooting Glove
Big-Shot Elk Archery Shooting Glove

Vintage Leather Stiff Back Armguard
Vintage Leather Stiff Back Armguard

Before going any further, I’m going to tell you a little about me (so you have a baseline of where I’m coming from). I’m a bigger guy, 6’ 2” and 225 pounds. I shoot with either an X-large Big-Shot Elk Archery Shooting Glove or a large Safari Tuff 3-Under Finger Tab. Don’t ask me when I shoot with which one, because I really do enjoy shooting with both – just depends on how I feel that day if I’m going to shoot with a tab or glove. Also, because I’m a bigger guy, I have a long 31” draw, which means I have long forearms, so I use the 8 ½” Vintage Leather Stiff Back Armguard. I’m right eye dominant and a right handed shooter. I shoot 3-under, string walk when I’m shooting with a tab, and shoot purely instinctive with a glove.

Martin Independence Recurve next to a Predator™ Takedown Recurve
The Martin Independence Recurve next to a Predator™ Takedown Recurve for comparison.

Independence next to a Tomahawk Bows® SS Longbow
I wanted to show you that the Martin Independence Recurve’s handle is even smaller than some longbow handles. This is the Independence next to a Tomahawk Bows® SS Longbow for comparison.

Moving on, the handle on this bow is tiny. I mean it’s very small; smaller than some longbow handles. That said, my hand does fit comfortably, but I could see my pinky either getting squeezed after a while of shooting or opting to shoot using an open grip. Someone with smaller hands would probably not have this problem. However, most bowfishing is done very quickly – there’s a lot going on and a lot of moving parts, which means the smaller handle probably won’t bother you even if you do have big hands.

Holding this bow it occurs to me that it is light as a feather. I weighed it and it comes in at a little more than a pound and a half. I could hold this thing for a while without worrying about fatigue, which means I could likely be out on the water with this bow all day.

Damon Howatt logo
This image shows what I was talking about when I said the bow is not “stamped” with the standard Damon Howatt logo, instead it looks like it was drawn on by hand.

While inspecting the limbs I noticed that the bow is not “stamped” with the standard Damon Howatt logo, instead it looks like it was drawn on by hand. This kind of gives it a nice custom vibe – they might not all come this way, but the one I’m playing with did and I like it.

Martin Independence Bow Fishing Recurve
I really like the look of the Martin Independence Bow Fishing Recurve

I really like the cornucopia of colors featured in the riser of this bow, they make it stand out and it makes the bow feel more like a custom bow than a mass produced bow. That said, colors are really a taste thing, and the laminated look might not be for you.

Included bow stringer
Included bow stringer

Included Bowstring
Included Bowstring

Included strike plate and arrow rest
Included strike plate and arrow rest

Included in the box are instructions, a bow string, an arrow rest, a strike plate, and a bow stringer. There’s nothing wrong with the included strike plate and arrow rest, but I’d certainly put something on it that is more my taste – something a bit less generic.

Leather Arrow Rest
Leather Arrow Rest

1959 Leather Strike Plate
1959 Leather Strike Plate

Personally, I shoot the Leather Arrow Rest and the 1959 Leather Strike Plate because they are super quiet, smooth, and I like the way they look because, let’s face it, that’s important too.

I'd probably upgrade to a Fast Flight Plus™ Flemish Twist Bow String if I were going to shoot the bow for any substantial amount of time
I’d probably upgrade to a Fast Flight Plus™ Flemish Twist Bow String if I were going to shoot the bow for any substantial amount of time

The string could benefit from an upgrade. I don’t care for the included 14 strand Dacron bowstring and would probably upgrade to a Fast Flight Plus™ Flemish Twist Bow String if I were going to use it as my personal bow. I don’t care for the Dacron because it seems to give the bow a very low brace height and is a bit more “twangy” when shot.

Personally, I use the Limbsaver Recurve Bow Stringer, it's probably one of the best stringers I've used.
Personally, I use the Limbsaver Recurve Bow Stringer, it’s probably one of the best stringers I’ve used.

The included bow stringer is adequate, but there are better ones out there (I use the Limbsaver). It’s pretty much what I’d expect from a free stringer. It was, however, a little bit snug to fit the bottom tip into, but I’m sure that would change with use.

Sorry for the poor image quality, but this shows you what the "out-of-the-box" brace height was.
Sorry for the poor image quality, but this shows you what the “out-of-the-box” brace height was.

Upon stringing the bow I wasn’t surprised to find that the brace height immediately feels very low (like I said, that can happen with a Dacron string right out of the box), so the string will need to be twisted quite a bit. Out of the box the brace height is 5-1/2” and the manufacturer recommended brace height is between 6-3/4” and 7-3/4”. This just reaffirms that if I were to get the bow for personal use I’d put on a Fast Flight Plus ™ string.

Martin Independence Recurve Bowfishing bow tip
Martin Independence Recurve Bowfishing bow tip

Alternate view of the Martin Independence Recurve Bowfishing bow tip
Alternate view of the Martin Independence Recurve Bowfishing bow tip

The bow is certainly snappy when shot; it’s a very quick little bow. It’s really easy to get on target quickly, the sight window is just right. That’s important when bow fishing, you don’t want to struggle to get on target. The string has a lot of twang to it, but it quiets down quick. If I were going to use this as my personal bow I’d probably put on felt pads, which would likely fix it right up, but if it didn’t I’m certain that some string silencers would do the trick.

There is quite a bit of stacking, it’s very noticeable. That’s probably because I have a longer draw, but it’s uncomfortable for me to get the bow to anchor. I’m finding myself unconsciously bending my left elbow to reverse the stacking affect. I expect some stacking from bowfishing bows (because they are generally smaller bows), but it would keep me from using the bow for anything other than bowfishing.

I decided to try on a couple of different reels with the bow; one for the seasoned bowfisher and one for the not-so-seasoned bowfisher.

The RPM Vise Bowfishing Reel Seat, RPM Synery TI-20 Bowfishing Reel, and RPM Breakout Power Rod on the Martin Independence.
The RPM Vise Bowfishing Reel Seat, RPM Synery TI-20 Bowfishing Reel, and RPM Breakout Power Rod on the Martin Independence.

The first setup I tried was what I called the RPM rig, which consisted of an RPM Vise Bowfishing Reel Seat, RPM Synery TI-20 Bowfishing Reel, and RPM Breakout Power Rod.

It took a little adjusting to get it set correctly on the bow (and by little I mean very, very little), but it’s certainly nothing an adjustable wrench couldn’t make short work of. The first thing I notice about this rig is the weight. The RPM equipment alone weighs nearly 2 pounds, which is more than the bow. However, it feels SOLID and well-made. This rig would be good for quick shots (most bowfishing shots are quick shots), but would wear on you quickly. If your left arm (or right arm if you’re a left handed shooter) isn’t used to holding the weight I could see stamina becoming a real issue with this setup.

The bow is well made, so it can take a little abuse – let’s be honest, if you’re bowfishing with friends on a small boat going after big Carp your bow is probably going to take a couple of hits. The reel is ready to use out of the box, which is nice. It comes pre-spooled with 125 feet of 200 pound Monkey Wire, an abrasion resistant string made from the same material that goes into creating bulletproof vests.

This rig would be PERFECT for quick shots on big fish in small boats.

The Cajun Screw-On Bowfishing Reel on the Martin Independence Recurve
The Cajun Screw-On Bowfishing Reel on the Martin Independence Recurve

The Cajun Screw-On Bowfishing Reel on the Martin Independence Recurve
The Cajun Screw-On Bowfishing Reel on the Martin Independence Recurve

The second setup I tried consisted of the Cajun Screw-On Bowfishing Reel and nothing else.

My first thought in looking at the Cajun was, “is this thing going to get in the way?” And the answer was a resounding, “Nope.” It’s much cheaper than the RPM rig, coming in at $24.99 plus shipping compared to more than a $100 for all three pieces of RPM gear.

The next thing I noticed about the Cajun was the weight – or the lack thereof. I weighed it and it came to roughly 6 ounces, which makes the whole bow weigh a little less than 2 pounds (which is less than the RPM rig by itself). However, there is a trade off, it looks and feels much cheaper than the RPM rig. This probably has something to do with the fact that it’s plastic instead of titanium.

Bottom line: if you’re a bowfisher with a standard draw length and you love (NEED) quality this is the bowfishing recurve for you. If you’re looking for a small, accurate, quality bow (one that you know isn’t going to blow-up on you) that gets on target quick and doesn’t look like every other run of the mill bow, then look no further than the Martin Independence Recurve.

If you’re after the big fish and you’re addicted the having the highest quality, best gear then you want the Martin Independence with the RPM rig.

If already you know you know you want the Martin Independence Recurve, but maybe you’re on the fence about bowfishing (or on a budget) then the Cajun is the rig for you.

Kingfisher™ Bowfishing Recurve Bow Kit
Kingfisher™ Bowfishing Recurve Bow Kit

3Rivers Recurve Bowfishing Kit
3Rivers Recurve Bowfishing  Kit

Finally, 3Rivers Archery offers a couple of pre-setup bowfishing bows (all they need is the fish), which might be the best option for the budget conscious (or just plain curious) bowfisher. The Kingfisher™ Bowfishing Recurve Bow Kit and the 3Rivers Recurve Bowfishing Kit, both are good bows at a reasonable price.

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