One of the most disposable items we use in bowfishing is arrows. This is unfortunate as most arrows on the market today cost over $20 each, so continually losing arrows can hit your pocket pretty hard.
There are many reasons why why people lose arrows, so we are going to take a look at why you lose them and how to prevent that from happening.
1. Compromised String
Over time and with repeated use, your string will fade, wear, and start to fray which causes weak points. It's really hard to catch this happening so the most common way find out when your string is compromised is the moment you lose an arrow. As most seasoned archer anglers know, it typically happens when you hit the biggest fish of your life. The good news is, there is something you can do to prevent this from happening and causing you to lose an arrow (and the fish it hit).
The Easy Fix - Check your line every time. I always check my line before I go out. If the line is discolored or frayed, it's much more likely your line will break on the next trip. The weak point is typically found in the first foot or so past your tie point. This part of the string is what takes the most abuse.
This is very simple way to prevent lost arrows while bowfishing. Just pull your string out of your reel until you find the point in the line that looks like it's transitioning to a brighter color. This is a good indicator that this part of the line is in much better condition. When you hit this transition, cut the line and retie to your arrow. If you don't have enough line for a full shot, it's time to replace your line.
Team Loxley Tip - Loxley sells a very brightly colored bowfishing line so you can easily tell when it's time to refresh. You can get it here.
Team Loxley Tip - Check your line throughout the your trip as well. If you are shooting a lot, it's possible certain circumstances will accelerate line fray.
2. Poor Arrow Maintenance
An often overlooked reason you are losing arrows while bowfishing is due to poor arrow maintenance or storage. How you store your arrows is actually very important. Bowfishing arrows and their components are not made to last forever. Fiberglass may start to peel and points will become rusty. Proper storage of equipment should always be on your mind to extend the life of your equipment and improve your performance.
The Easy Fix - Only take the number of arrows you think you'll need on the trip. Although I own about 50 full assemblies, I tend to only take 4 or 5 with me on a typical bowfishing trip. If you tend to lose more arrows, you might want to take a couple extras with you.
By only bringing what you need, you are saving your other arrows from the elements and bouncing all around in your boat/barrel/tube or anywhere else you store your reserve arrows during a trip. It also means less to put away, so you don't have a bunch of arrows sitting in your boat for a week after an all-nighter.
3. Your Arrow is Ready to Retire
Your arrows will only last so long. Bowfishing is a rough sport that beats up your equipment. If you are lucky enough to have an arrow long enough, it will start to get weak in certain areas. As those points weaken, they have a chance of breaking. If that happens while your arrow is in the water, you might not get it back.
The Easy Fix - Check the fiberglass of your arrow with a bend test. Bend your arrow while rotating to see if it has any weak points. While bending you should be inspecting for any discoloration and listening for cracking. If you hear the arrow crack, it's time to retire the arrow. If you remove an arrow from your line-up, the good news is you can still usually salvage the point, tip, and slide (if you use one).
4. Mother Nature Claims Your Arrows
Here in Michigan, the bodies of water seem to be all cattails and phragmites. Once your arrow passes the roots, which are only a few inches deep, the point catches on the way back up and makes it nearly impossible to pull it out using the string only (assuming it's still attached). This is why I carry an arrow out tool to prevent arrow loss while bowfishing.
By adding an arrow out tool to the boat, I'm no long reaching into the water and weeds to recover lost arrows. I just grab this and retrieve my arrows from whatever muck they're stuck in. Trust me when I tell you it’ll pay for itself in its first year of use.
The Easy Fix - Buy an arrow out tool and carry it on your boat for every bowfishing trip. Here is a link to their website.
Don't Let Lost Arrows Ruin Your Bowfishing Trip
Those are the four ways make sure I have the same amount of arrows in the boat from the start to the finish of my night. Over the years, I’ve stopped buying a dozen or more arrows a year to now only buying revolver replacement tips. Hopefully some of these practices will keep you from losing some of yours.
- Johnathan Beebe
Johnathan Beebe is an expert bowfisherman from Michigan with 20+ years of experience. He is the most recent back-to-back winner of the Great Lakes Bowfishing Championship (2019 and 2021) and a proud member of the Loxley Bowfishing team.