Flu-flu arrows have broad feathers intended to slow the arrow after a short flight, usually around 40 yards. The feathers stand high off the shaft and flatten just after the arrow is loosed and it has its highest velocity. After dropping below a certain velocity threshold the feathers stand back up and provide a sudden increase in drag, bringing the arrow to a halt. The idea is that you can shoot into trees at squirrels or birds and your expensive (or labor-intensive) arrow won’t fly into the unfathomable depths of forest. People also often tip these arrows with blunt heads to keep them from burrowing into the ground or penetrating deep into impromptu targets when roving.
But why the funny name?
According to Maurice Thompson in The Witchery of Archery, a Seminole named Tommy may have coined the term and invented the design:
“He had a very broad-feathered arrow which he had named ‘floo-hoo,’ on account of a peculiar roaring sound it made while flying through the air.”
This is straight from the chapter Three Weeks of Savage Life, in which Maurice describes living on the shores of St. Lucie Sound for three weeks in mid-1800’s Florida (and also the chapter that inspired the namesake of this website).
Is this how the term flu-flu originated? “Floo-hoo” is not an exact match, but I personally believe it to be the inspiration for our modern day equivalent. Thus I like to give silent thanks to Tommy, the patron saint of recovered arrows, every time an arrow is loosed and not lost.