The Best Bowfishing Techniques And Tricks

By Moritz

Sep 17

Interested in bowfishing, but don’t know much about it?

Keep reading to learn more about the best bowfishing techniques and tricks:

bowfishing carp

Catch your carp with a bow. Used under creative commons from: Lolo770461

What Is Bowfishing?

Maybe you have stumbled accidentally over this article, so I want to explain briefly what bowfishing is.

If you already know everything about bowfishing, you can check out a great recurve bow and a compound bow that were designed especially for bowfishing.

It is obvious that we are trying to catch fish with bow and arrow when we are bowfishing.

But how is that even possible?
Fish are so quick and they are under water.
What happens with your arrow after it left your bow? How can we get it back?
What if I want to shoot bigger fish or even alligators? Can I?
Is that a new fashion sport or does it have a history?
What type of equipment do I need?

All these questions will be answered below, so stay tuned and you will know everything you need to know to get started with bowfishing.

How To Hit A Fish With A Bow

Truth be told, it is difficult and some would even say that a lot of luck is involved when trying to hit a fish with an arrow!
But as it is with anything else, it is the experience that makes a master.
On your first bowfishing trip, you might have some lucky shots, maybe none.

Don’t get encouraged by this and keep practicing.
You’re overall archery skill is important too, of course.

Most bowfishers will hunt fish while standing on a boat. It keeps them dry while getting access to more fish at a time.

The easiest targets are not moving ones, but fish can be scared easily and the slightest movement will send them swimming away. You have to anticipate that when fishing with a bow.

You can bait fish by putting some food in the water, but that’s not really necessary. Fish are curious and often come near boats anyways.
Try to make not too much noise and movements and wait for a fish coming near, estimate where it will be in a second and loose your arrow.

It is an amazing feeling when you caught your first fish with a bow!

fishing with a bow

Fishing with nets is one way, but I prefer using a trusty bow!

How Can I Bring The Fish In After A Hit?

This is done the same way as you would do it with a fishing rod.

A bow for bowfishing has a reel attached to it, which you will use to bring the fish in.
Your arrow is attached to the fishing line, so you don’t lose it after a shot.

A specialty is, that you need special arrows for fishing.
They need barbs or they would not be able to hold on to the fish. Normal target points or broadheads would just fall off and the fish would get away (bleeding and dying).

Depending on what you are hunting, you need a line that is strong enough to pull in the fish without snapping.

This recurve bow for bowfishing features a 150 lb line which should be enough for most fish you find in lakes and rivers.

Bowfishing Equipment You Must Have

bowfishing recurve bow

The perfect recurve bow for fishing.

First of all, you should take anything you would take normally when go fishing. If you are an experienced fisher, you know what you need, so I am going to talk about the things that bowfishers require:

  • reel attached to the bow
  • fishing arrows
  • arrow rest
  • finger guard

I already talked about the reel and the arrows above, so I just want to remind you that it is crucial to use special arrows you would lose every fish you hit.
Modern arrow tips for fishing, like the “carp points” can hold on to fish with soft flesh easily.
By turning the tip, the barb will be turned to point the opposite way which makes it very easy to remove the arrow once the fish is safely on board.

Arrow Rest

Most modern bows have some kind of arrow rest. But when you go bowfishing it is mandatory to have a really good arrow rest! The arrow rest has to hold your arrow in position without making it fall off the bow all the time.
You are most likely standing on a boat that will move beneath your feet and an arrow rest will help you make it easier to aim and shoot at the fish.

Finger Guard

This one is something I haven’t talked about in the past, as it is mostly only used by bowfishers:

Don’t mistake it with a finger tab or shooting glove which is used by most archers to keep your fingertips safe from blisters.

The finger guard I am talking about is not something you put on your hand, but is attached to the bowstring!
It is made of rubber and has two functions.
First, it protects your fingertips like a tab or glove would.
Second and more importantly, it gives you a safe hook on the bowstring even when your fingers are wet. The rubber of the finger guard will prevent the bowstring from slipping from your fingers and loosing the arrow too early.

This is a must-have in my opinion!

Can I Hunt Big Fish Or Even Alligators?

You sure can but at your own risk!

For alligators you will need a strong bow and a strong fishing line. The line should not be attached to your bow!
You might lose your bow or be pulled into the water by the alligator!

It is best to use a reel with a buoy that will follow the alligator.

Try to hit them behind the shoulders or jowls.

The alligator will most likely not die from your arrow, so you have to be prepared to kill it with other means, e.g. with a bang stick.
For that, you’ll have to pull it near your boat after it ceased struggling and your partner kills it.

Don’t become the hunted, though!

Never hunt alligators alone and don’t underestimate them at any time.

Similar techniques can be used for big fish, but you can usually keep the line attached to your bow. You just have to make sure you have a strong grip on it.
It’s the same as with a rod then.

Bowfishing Has A Long History

traditional bowfishing

I don’t want to go too deep into the history of bowfishing, but it does have a long tradition.

Many cultures have used bowfishing to get food on their tables.
One example would be the Philippines whose people used bows for a long time to catch fish.

Others are Inuits, hunting with spears or bows, but also Aborigines, Aztecs were known to use bows when hunting fish.

Over time it became a popular sport!

If you are interested in it, make sure to check the regulations for it in the country or state you are living in.
I know that it is not allowed everywhere!

Go And Get Some Fish!

Have I sparked your interest in bowfishing?

Do you think that this is something you would want to try?

If yes, take a look at a fantastic recurve bow set for bowfishing I have reviewed.
If you don’t have much love for recurve bows, you can try a compound bow or even a crossbow, which are both equipped with everything you need for bowfishing.

Come back here to tell me your story of the first fish you caught with your bow!

How did it go?

Was it a great challenge?

Leave a comment below. I would love to discuss everything about bowfishing with you!

Happy hunting!

Moritz

About the Author

Hi, as a huge archery enthusiast I love sharing my knowledge about archery. Enjoy your stay and don't hesitate to leave a comment if you have a question.

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(2) comments

Burt Silver January 13, 2017

I had a friend of mine mention bowfishing to me recently and I thought it was a joke. Now that I know a little about it, it seems like a really cool thing to do, I’d love to try it! I had no idea that people used bowfishing for hunting alligators. That sounds terrifying, but I bet it is challenging and fun.

Reply
    Moritz January 14, 2017

    Hi,

    bowfishing is so much fun and can be a real rush when you are hunting bigger prey!
    You definitely should try it one time when you are into fishing and archery!
    One of my favorite bows for bowfishing is this compound bow.
    All the best,
    Moritz

    Reply
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