New To Bowfishing?

The basic principle of bow fishing is quite simple.  You spot a fish lurking in the shallows, carefully move in closer, draw back your specially equipped bow and arrow, take aim, then let it fly.  If your aim is true and your barb-tipped arrow hits the mark, you reel your fish in by the line attached to your arrow.

You may not have tried your hand at bowfishing yet, but you can bet you’re not far from a body of water that will offer you the opportunity.  Rivers, lakes, flooded fields, and marshes provide a variety of shallow habitats accessible from shore, by wading, or by boat.  With minimal expense and a few key pieces of equipment, you can easily get started in your area.


The three basic components you will need are a bow, a reel with heavy line, and a fishing arrow. 

Bowfishing Bow

The difference between a hunting bow and a bowfishing bow is quite simply. A hunting bow is going to deliver high velocity, high accuracy, with a real long draw back. Hunting bows are both accurate and precise but they can cause extreme fatigue if you were to shoot 500+ times in one night. Bowfishing bows are designed to be light weight, quick draw bows which can accurately hit a fish while only half-way drawing the arrow back. We strongly advise you to not install a bowfishing reel on a hunting bow.

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 Huntingdoor takedown recurve bow is only 56” in length and one of my favorite for bowfishing.

huntingdoor takedown recurve bow

Regardless of your personal choice, I recommend considering a bow that has accessory equipments such as the sight, stabilizer, and plunger hole. It’s fairly easy to add the sight and stabilizer.

Bowfishing Reel

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 your equipment.

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.

bowfishing reel

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 Arrow

bowfishing arrows

Bowfishing arrows are typically heavier in weight than a standard hunting arrow, allowing for increased penetration and energy transfer through water. Shooting distances are often shorter and penetration becomes the most important factor.

For bowfishing points, you want one that penetrates and is able to hold on to the fish. Maybe you 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.

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.