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How To Get Started With Bowfishing


Do you think fishing is a slow paced activity? If you do, you have no idea of the thrill and excitement you can get from bowfishing. I am your traditional type of angler, using the standard fishing line and rod techniques.


This year, I decided to try something new and different from what I am used to. My friends have always been pushing me to them as they hunt fish with a bow, but I always thought that I needed to have a complicated setup to be able to be part of it. However, I learned that bowfishing doesn’t require complicated gear; sweet, right?

So, I decided to take a chance and try out this activity known as hunting fish with a bow. To be honest, the experience was worth my while and nowadays, when I am looking for more action when out fishing, I opt for bowfishing. I have become addicted to it, somehow.

What Gear To Use?

The bowfishing gear combination is pretty simple; you only need a bow, arrow, and reel. What type of gear do I use for my bowfishing expedition?

  • Bow: When I started bowfishing, I had no bow with me so, I bought one online that was pretty cheap but in good condition. I wasn’t sure I would want to go bowfishing again, it was dependent on what my first experience would be like.

It was a 45 pound recurve bow. It is the bow that I am using up to date. I had thought that an archery bow would work, but my friends advised me against it; as they said that it wouldn’t be able to account for refraction of water and depth control.

  • Reel: My all-time bowfishing reel is the AMS Bowfishing Reel. It comes with a custom mounting gear; I don’t have to spend a lot of time mounting the coil as it is simple. The advantage of using the AMS Kit is that it has no drag and will crank in the line, quickly.
  • Arrow: I use a thick, solid fiberglass arrow of 1100 grains. A bowfishing arrow is different from your standard arrow. It has barbs that keep fish from pulling out of it. So, once you strike, it cannot get the arrow out.

I always use finger savers when bowfishing to keep my finger from wearing. If you don’t have one, another alternative is to use a fishing glove. In bowfishing, you shoot to kill. It is not a sport so; you won’t practice catch and release.


Hunting The Fish

In some places bowfishing is illegal. Always ensure that the area you are fishing, you are allowed to shoot the fish with a bow. Also, not all fish can be hunted with a bow. Those that the practice is permitted include:

  • Carp,
  • Gar,
  • Suckers,
  • Dogfish, etc.
  • Fishing The Shallows


Bowfishing is ideal for shallow fishing waters. When you locate the fish, around an area with thick cover, usually, I use stealth approach so as not to spook the fish. You shouldn’t cast your shadow over the fish that you are targeting.

Where the water is warm, there is where the fish will be. If you are looking for consistent strikes, try bowfishing in the spring and early summer, when the fish are very active. You should hunt water of depths, 3-4 feet.


The deeper the waters you are fishing, the slower your arrow will penetrate the water. I normally, hunt for fish along the shoreline in the spring, targeting the active feeders on the surface.


  • Aiming

In bowfishing, you will always hear the Aim Lower Rule, but what does it mean? Water refracts light, i.e., when the light gets into water, it bends. Therefore when you are on the surface and see fish at a particular depth, that is not its real depth.

For me, aiming was a bit of hustle, but with time and practice, it is now a matter of instincts. I don’t have to calculate using the 10-4 Rule. Well, the fish are moving fast and the more you delay to release the arrow to the target, the further away it goes.

I usually aim at the vital organs of the fish, i.e. at its front half. This way, I kill it instantly.

  • Distance

Your distance from the fish is essential to your success at bowfishing. I always ensure that I am at a maximum of 10-15 feet from the fish that I am targeting. I used to practice with objects in the water as my shooting target to get my shots right and on point.

During my first bowfishing expedition, I missed a lot of shots before I could get it right. But hey, we learn from our mistakes, don’t we? Practice your shooting and retrieving so as to get a handle on the flight of your arrow, its accuracy, and retrieval.

Your shots need to be quick; the fish won’t be lying in wait for your arrow. After a few more days of bowfishing, your shots will be instinctive.


Bowfishing is an excitement and fun filled activity that you can indulge in with family and friends. It is also pretty simple, once you get a grip on how to aim also How to hunt fish with the bow. Just like the conventional fishing techniques, you need to ensure that you don’t spook the fish.

Approach the fish from the upwind direction as it will be swimming in the opposite direction. Once you locate your target, don’t spend a lot of time trying to position your shots. In the first few instances, you may need to do this as you learn the bowfishing basics.

With time, it becomes pure instincts. Bowfishing is simple, and you can use simple or complex gear if that’s how you like it. Use a bowfishing bow and not an archery bow. They are not designed for the same purpose.

All in all, bowfishing is exciting and offers you action like you have never had before. So, try it but stick within the regulations governing the area that you are fishing.


Author Bio:

  I’m Lisa. I have a strong understanding and passion for all things related to fishing. When  I am not out wetting a line, I am sharing a range of tips and tricks on Fall For Fishing  – to help others to snag their big catch!



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