Many bowhunters want to know what the best fletching for fixed blade broadheads they should use. This is not an easy question to answer. Each type and size of fletching affects the result of your shot.

Feathers have been used traditionally as fletching for many years. The best feathers for fletching are generally feathers from a turkey's wing. They have a quality of stiffness and rigidity that makes them ideal for making an arrow fly true.

As technology improved, so did the ability to make synthetic fletching made from rubber or plastic called vanes. Because vanes are manufactured, they can be made to precise specification.

The fletching is necessary for an arrow because it helps to create the correct wind resistance or drag. It also determines how straight the arrow flies or its stability and rotation rate for that arrow. 

The success of a shot depends on three factors: 

  • arrow trajectory
  • velocity of the arrow
  • how far the arrow travels 

The drag and rotation rate affect the arrow's stability, speed, and distance after it is shot. 

The weight of the arrow also affects these three factors, especially the distance it will travel. This is where the type and size come into play. If the arrow has a heavier weight, it takes more drag to create rotation and keep the arrow stable while it is in the air. 

The drag will determine how stable the arrow’s trajectory is while it is in the air. The length and shape of the fletching create the desired drag. Many different styles, shapes, and lengths of feathers or vanes can be used on an arrow. 

There are a lot of combinations of fletchings and arrows that bow shooters, especially bowhunters, use. The article will focus on fletching for fixed blade broadhead arrow tips. These are primarily used for hunting large game animals. 

Fixed Blade Broadheads are pretty heavy, so they need a lot of drag as they move through the air. This usually requires larger feathers or vanes. 

And sometimes, adding an extra feather or vane can help create just the right amount of drag for the top-heavy arrow. It is possible to make too much drag even with a heavier arrow.  

Size and Amount of Fletches - Surface Area

As mentioned early the size of the fletching is essential for an arrow to hit the target in the place you are aiming for. The surface area of the feathers or vanes makes a difference in how the arrow moves through the air. 

Length and Profile

Fletching lengths can run from about two inches long to five, maybe even six inches long.

The length of the fletching affects the amount of drag on the arrow.

Short vanes provide less drag, so the arrow goes faster, but there will be a higher chance of the arrow going off course.

A longer fletch creates more drag, reducing speed, but the arrow is more likely to fly more accurately and will hit the target where you aim.

Read more about the difference between short and long vanes.

The height of the fletching profile affects the spin or rotations of the arrow, which also helps the arrow stay on target.

Fletching profile height is the amount of material that is making contact with the air. If you are using feathers, the highest profile would be an untrimmed feather; to lower the profile, you would trim off some of the feather to make it shorter. 

Most broadhead arrow users opt for longer and higher profiled feathers because of the weight of the arrow. 

Number of Fletches

Most arrows have three fletches on the nock end of the arrow. Some hunters use four for heavier arrows because a fourth fletch may create more drag than just three.

There is no real proof one way or the other. It is a matter of preference. 

Fletching Material - Surface Texture

There are three different types of fletching material. Feathers have been used for centuries, but now there are also synthetic vanes and specialty vanes that try to mimic the lightness of the traditional feathers.

Feathers

Many Broadhead users like feathers because they are very light to offset the arrow’s weight. Feathers are also flexible throughout the feather because of their stranded nature of it.

Feathers can also have a downside. They are not as helpful or light in rainy conditions. The feathers get heavier from the water, and they can lose their shape. Some products can be used to combat water issues.

It is also a long and expensive process to prepare the feathers to become fletching. They cannot go from ground to arrow. They must be collected, cleaned, and processed. The expense involved in this procedure is passed on to the consumer.  

Standard Vanes

Standard vanes are usually made of rubber or plastic. They are easy to produce, and they are resistant to rain or other weather conditions. 

However, the drawback is that their vanes can be up to three times heavier than feathers of the same length and profile.

This added weight can be problematic for fixed blade broadhead users because the arrow is already so heavy. 

This can be offset somewhat by the shape of the vane with options such as shield cut or parabolic which will provide slightly different types of control in flight.

Specialty Vanes (Blazer Vanes) 

The Blazer vanes are made of urethane-based plastic instead of rubber. This type of plastic is much more rigid than standard vanes. 

The Blazer vanes are usually two inches in length, making them some of the shortest.

But it is said that the rough plastic and the cone-like shape help make these vanes more aerodynamic to make up for the lack of length. 

Orientation 

There are three different ways to place the fletching on your arrow. They can be placed in a straight pattern, an offset pattern, or a helix-shaped pattern. Each pattern has a different effect on the rotation and drag on the arrow. 

Straight

The straight pattern means that the fletching is parallel to the shaft and evenly spaced from each other. 

Even though this pattern may lead to the greatest speech, it is not widely used. The speed can be affected by several other factors negating pattern advantage. 

The wind has a more significant adverse effect on the arrow. This pattern only yields better results if you are shooting a stationary target at close range.

Offset

The offset orientation means that the fletching is not precisely parallel to the shaft. The fletching can be offset to the left or the right. 

The left offset causes the arrow to rotate counter-clockwise, and the right lean causes a clockwise spin. There is no indication the rotation direction really matters. 

There is a notable increase in stability in the offset orientation compared to the standard orientation.

Helical

The helical orientation looks like half of a DNA helix. This orientation gives the greatest stability and is ideal for broadhead users for that reason. 

From here it will then come down to a matter of determining whether they should be left or right helical fletching.

Conclusion

It is ultimately up to the bow hunter to decide what fletching they want to use for their broadhead arrows. 

When making this decision, keep in mind that the higher and longer it is helps stabilize and combat the arrow’s weight.

Feathers are the lightest, but they can be susceptible to weather conditions. Vanes are heavier but are more durable and weather-resistant. Blazer vanes have a higher rate of aerodynamics. 

Of the three orientations, the helical provides the most stability.

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