Bowfishing Boat Setups: Build the Best Deck & Shooting Platform
There are many bowfishing boats for sale, but the problem is most bowfishing boat setups were put together on the go rather than brainstormed and carefully thought out. On the resale market, the previous' owners problems are passed down to you. We want to walk you through the different styles of bowfishing decks to help you design the most optimal shooting platform possible.
Bowfishing Boat Setups: Raised Bowfishing Deck, Low Profile Bowfishing Platform, and Flush Mounted Deck.
Raised Bowfishing Deck
A raised bowfishing deck is common among both night shooters and day shooters because it gives bowfishermen a better ability to see further out as well as put the force of gravity in their favor by leveraging the increased height above water. Bowfishing bows are relatively low poundage bows, so this helps bowfishermen pack more of a punch on those longer shots.
Another strong attribute for raised decks is that bowfishing lights and any additional gear can easily be stored underneath the bowfishing platform. Some bowfishermen prefer to mount the lights higher up on the hand rail of the platform to allow for a greater light spread. On the flip side, it is believed that you can limit the amount of bugs in your face if the lights are mounted below the platform.
The biggest downside to raised bowfishing decks include the difficulty to see what's ahead of you while driving to your bowfishing spot, the requirement for you to bend over to flip the trolling motor out and utilize it while bowfishing, the need for a long shaft trolling motor, and there is a chance that a raised bowfishing deck that is not properly fabricated may be unstable. Despite these downsides, raised bowfishing decks are still popular among bow fishermen across the nation. It is believed by many that the benefits of being high off the water outweigh the constraints associated with elevated bowfishing decks.
Low Profile Bowfishing Platform
A low profile bowfishing platform is most common among night shooters. The low profile bowfishing deck is raised just a matter of inches above the front of the boat to allow for the bowfishing lights to fit snug underneath. Common bowfishing lights for low profile bowfishing platforms are Swamp Eye Bowfishing Light Bars due to their ability to be concealed in a confined space while really lighting up the waters. Not to mention their ability to adjust color tone for clear or muddy water is a huge game changer.
A tournament bowfisherman once told me the reason he uses a low profile bowfishing deck is because he likes the ability to keep bugs underneath his feet and is able to quickly pull fish in the boat without having to worry about any railing. It also makes it much easier to navigate when headed out to a bowfishing spot because you have a clear line of sight and no raised bowfishing deck to block your view. The biggest upside when compared to flush mounted bowfishing decks is that these low profile "slightly raised" bowfishing decks can be fabricated for easy removal. This helps turn your bowfishing boat into a year-round boat for duck hunting or general fishing.
The downside to low profile bowfishing platforms is that the bowfishing lights are typically pretty close to the water, especially on the smaller boat hulls. This can limit the amount of spread you get from your lights as it is recommended your bowfishing lights are at least 30 inches above the water. (Regardless of the style of light you choose.) Another downside is the need for a long shaft trolling motor, depending on how low profile you make your deck. Standard trolling motors are typically designed for flush mounted purposes only. You may want to double check the shaft length on your trolling motor prior to installing your low profile bowfishing deck.
Flush Mounted Bowfishing Deck
A flush mounted bowfishing deck is very common among night shooters and is even more common among guide services. The reason bowfishing charters favor a flush mounted bowfishing deck is because there is more open floor space for guests to shoot fish. Most flush mounted bowfishing decks have a box mounted around their bowfishing lights, which are flush mounted to the deck of the boat.
Similar to low profile bowfishing platforms, the flush mounted decks allow better visibility when navigating to a bowfishing spot and they do not require the amount of climbing up and down a raised platform does. A unique feature for flush mounted decks is that unlike either of the two other options, the need for a long shaft trolling motor is no longer dependent on the deck you choose. If you are outfitting a standard commercially available boat, then a normal trolling motor shaft should work. If you are outfitting a custom built boat, then it is important to measure the side walls of the boat to decide if a long shaft trolling motor is needed.
The downside to flush mounted bowfishing decks is the inability to be leveraged up higher in the air for longer range shots. The bowfishing lights are also typically mounted closer to the water, which can sometimes hinder the amount of spread you get from your lights. The flush mounted decks are great for night shooting and have the most flexibility in terms of floor space, but it is more difficult to make the light boxes a removable setup for your bowfishing boat. Guide services such as Capt. Moody's Texas Fishing Addiction will mount their flush mounted bowfishing lights in such a way that both the lights and the light boxes take up the most minimal amount of space possible, allowing for the boat to be utilized for more than just bowfishing.
Once you've decided on the bowfishing deck setup that suits your needs, you are going to need to determine a good bowfishing lighting option. You can read more about the key features that make a quality bowfishing light here: The Guide to Buying the Best Bowfishing Lights for Sale.
Thanks for reading along - if there's something we missed please leave us a comment below to let us know. If this has helped you figure out how to setup your bowfishing boat, please leave a comment below!