Disclosure: We may earn commissions if you purchase products after clicking on a link from our site.

Do you want to learn how to bowfish? Bowfishing is a fun and exciting sport that can be enjoyed by people of all ages. In this guide, we will teach you everything you need to know about how to bowfish.

We will cover the basics, such as how to choose the right equipment and how to set up your shot. We will also discuss some of the best techniques for bow fishing, including how to spot fish in shallow water and how to shoot them accurately.


How To Bowfish
How To Bowfish











Bowfishing Equipment

1. Bow

There are several different types of bows that can be used for bow fishing, including recurve bows, compound bows, and crossbows. However, it doesn’t need to be an expensive one. If you are just starting with bowfishing, a used one from a pawn shop or from family or friends with a good string will be ok. One with a draw weight from 25 to 50 pounds will serve you well. You can read a review of the best recurve bows from this link.





2. Reel

The reel retrieves your catch or the arrow on a missed shot. The success of your bowfishing can hinge on the reel. There are three types of reels: the hand reel, the bottle, and the spin cast reel.





A. Hand Reel

The hand reel is the most basic of the reels. It consists of a drum with a line spool around it. It is simple to use and most affordable. It has no breakable parts. After shooting your arrow, you roll the line around the drum as you pull. The hand reel, however, requires heavier lines and a lot of manual labor.





B. Bottle Reel

The bottle reel features a bottle that has a line and a handle. It is reliable and the most popular reel. Bottle reels usually use heavy lines and you won’t encounter a problem pulling in the line. However, accurate long shots may be a challenge.





C. Spincast Reel

The spincast reel is a reel mounted on a bow. You can retrieve the line faster than any other reel with the spincast reel. Spincast reels feature thin lines and this allows you to take long shots with more accuracy. Spincast reels pose a challenge to clean and maintain. They are also not the cheapest reels.


Bowfishing Ideas
Bowfishing Ideas










3. Arrows

The arrow for bow fishing is not the regular arrow used for hunting. It is a specific arrow for bowhunting. They are durable as they are made of carbon or fiberglass. Bowfishing arrows are long and thick.





4. Arrow Rest

The arrow rest keeps the arrow in position when lining up your shot. It holds the arrow tight to the bow and allows it to shoot through without any issue.





5. Polarized Sunglasses

This is not a must-have bowfishing item. However, it protects your eyes and helps you with the glare to take your best shot.


Bowfishing Tips
Bowfishing Tips










6. Lights

If you will fish at night, lights can help you see the fish better. Spotlights and headlamps are usually the lights anglers use for bowfishing at night.





7. Waders

Waders allow you to go deeper into shallow water to have better shots at the fish.





8. Bug spray

Bug spray will keep insects and other pests away from you as they are attracted to light.



Bowfishing Tips And Tricks
Bowfishing Tips And Tricks












Types Of Fish For Bowfishing

1. Carp – Common, Bighead, Silver, Grass




2. Gar – Longnose, Shortnose, Spotted, Alligator




3. Buffalo – Bigmouth, Smallmouth




4. Freshwater Drum




5. Catfish




6. Tilapia





Bowfishing Tricks
Bowfishing Tricks












Bowfishing Tips

1. Know your state’s law. You might need a fishing license or a hunting one might be what you need. You can read this article on 30 hunting items every hunter needs.




2. Bowfishers have to judge the distance from the fish, the light refraction, and the fish’s depth.




3. Due to refraction, you want to be 10-15 feet away from the fish when you shoot. Aim at about six inches below the fish to compensate for the water’s refraction. If it is a big fish, aim for its belly to hit it.













4. Don’t aim directly at the fish. You will most likely miss it. Always aim low because of refraction.




5. Dams and overflows are good places to bowfish, especially during the spawn.




6. After taking many shots and with experience, you will not have to think about aiming lower as it will come instinctively.


Learning To Bowfish
Learning To Bowfish










7. A hat, polarized sunglasses, and suntan lotion will help if you bowfish during the day. At night, you will need lights and bug spray.




8. Sharpen your shooting skills by taking practice shots with some object or a leaf under the water. This will help you to adjust your shot.




9. Start bow fishing with a body of water that you are familiar with. When you hone your skills and gain experience, you can choose a lake or river that you are familiar with especially if you will bowfish at night.




10. It is good to know where the shallow parts of the river are, the clumps of vegetation, and where the fastest currents run. You can do some research with Google Earth to identify possible locations of these areas.




11. Many bowfishers believe that the best time to bowfish is the spawn. During this time, the fish are easily seen, they are in the reedy shallows and distracted.




12. In the Spring, carp are usually in weedy and shallow areas. Additionally, areas with stumps, reeds, and brushes are also good places to bowfish.




13. Shallow rocky rivers in the spring can reveal a treasure trove of carp.







Ideas For Bowfishing
Ideas For Bowfishing












Bowfishing Safety Tips

1. Have a safety slide installed on all of your arrows to prevent tangles, especially if you are a beginner.




2. Be attentive and watch out for your line tangling or sliding around the bow.




3. The bow fishing line should never be tied directly to the back end of your arrow.




4. If you are in a boat, wear your life jacket at all times.




5. Be familiar with the areas you will be bowfishing in. Research on Google Earth can help.




6. Don’t fish in areas that are not permitted for bow fishing.




7. Monitor the local weather for the area you want to bowfish in before going out.




8. Have safety gear with you at all times.




9. Have a first aid kit with you.




10. Take along a waterproof flashlight, maps, flares, and a horn, or whistle.




11. Make sure your cell phone is charged and take a solar charger if possible.




12. Wear hip waders and waterproof boots if you will only bowfish the shallow areas.




13. Step with caution and be mindful of the depth of the water you are wading in.




14. Inform someone where you will be going to bowfish. Inform them of your departure and return times.




15. Take enough snacks and bottles of water.


Tips For Bowfishing
Tips For Bowfishing












Safety Gear Checklist

1. Life Jackets



2. First Aid Kit



3. Maps






5. Waterproof Flashlight



6. Flares



7. Whistle or Horn



8. Snacks



9. Bottles of Water



10. Cell Phone & Solar Charger



11. Hat



12. Sunscreen



13. Polarized Sunglasses



14. Rainwear












Do you aim high or low when bowfishing?
Due to refraction, you have to aim low. You can’t aim directly at the fish.
How difficult is bowfishing?
Bowfishing is not difficult. You can start with gear from a friend or family member. Practice your shots by targeting at the bottom of the water until you adjust your shots. Take into consideration water refraction and in time it will become instinctive.
What do you do with the fish you shoot bowfishing?
You can eat it, give it away, or use it for fertilizer.
How deep can you bowfish?
You can blowfish 3 to 4 feet deep.
What is a good draw weight for bowfishing?
A good draw weight for bowfishing is about 25 to 50 pounds.
Can you bowfish during the day?
Yes, you can blowfish during the day. Take along polarized sunglasses, a hat, suntan lotion, etc.



The Bottom Line

Bowfishing is an exciting outdoor activity that continues to gain more popularity. In this article, we discuss how to bowfish, the basic equipment you need, some of the popular fish bow fishermen go after, safety, and other bowfishing-related topics. We hope that you learned something to help you be successful at bowfishing. You can learn how to fish a pond by reading this article from this link.