How to Fish With a Bow

How to Fish With a Bow

Posted by Joshua Pena on Aug 29th 2023

Did you know that most bows and arrows can be used for fishing? It’s called bowfishing, and it’s growing fast due to it being exciting and challenging. This form of fishing requires patience, practice, and skill. 

In this blog, we will explore what bowfishing is, how to get started fishing with a bow and arrow, and some tips for success.

What is Bowfishing?

Bowfishing is a form of fishing where the angler uses a bow specialized with a reel and string attached to an arrow to shoot fish. Instead of using a traditional fishing rod and reel, the angler aims and shoots the arrow at the fish. The fish is then reeled in with the reel attached to the bow. The arrows used for fishing are typically heavier and feature barbed tips to ensure that the fish are securely hooked.

One of the most significant benefits of fishing with a bow is that it allows anglers to fish in shallow water, whereas other forms of fishing may not be as effective. Bowfishing is also a more environmentally-friendly method of fishing, as it does not rely on traditional fishing equipment that can harm the ecosystem.

Getting Started with Bowfishing

If you are interested in trying to fish with a bow, there are a few things you will need to get started. First, you will need a specialized bow designed for fishing. Although most bows can be specially equipped to bowfish, actual fishing bows are typically more powerful than traditional bows used for archery and feature a specialized reel that attaches to the bow string. You will also need a set of arrows for fishing, along with your bow—preferably those specifically designed for bowfishing.

Once you have your archery supplies, you will need to find a suitable location to fish. Bowfishing is often done in shallow water, such as lakes, rivers, and streams, where fish tend to congregate. It is important to research the area you plan to fish in and ensure that it is legal to bow fish there. There are also some bowfishing guides that will take you out for a fee. Different areas have different species of fish ranging from carp to alligator gar and even stingrays if you’re lucky.

Bowfishing Tips For Success

Bowfishing can be a challenging sport, but with some practice and patience, you can improve your skills and increase your chances of success. Here are some tips to help you get started fishing with a bow:

  1. Find your bow: Rent a bow from a guide or buy and build a setup. A full setup should include:
    • The bow
    • Bowfishing reel (hand reel, bottle reel, or spinning reel)
    • Archery sight
    • Bowfishing arrows with proper barbed tips

    Pro Tip: Contrary to popular belief, a boat is not a necessity to bowfish.

  2. Practice your aim: To be successful at fishing with a bow, you need to have good aim. You should spend some time practicing shooting at archery targets to improve your accuracy. It would be wise to practice shooting down and at different angles to mimic shooting in water. Shooting at targets underwater may be a little more challenging, as you will have to aim slightly lower than your fish, due to light refraction making the fish look closer than it is. A good rule of thumb is 3 inches lower for every 1 ft of depth. Practicing draw-aim-release will help drastically for realistic scenarios. Opportunities might present themselves very quickly, so you’ll need to be ready.
  3. Use polarized sunglasses: Polarized sunglasses can help you see through the water and spot fish more easily.
  4. Choose the right time: Similar to hunting animals, fishing with a bow is often more successful during the early morning or late afternoon when fish are more active but can also be done in some areas at night with the assistance of submersible and overhead lights.
  5. Learn the behavior of the fish: Different species of fish have different behaviors and feeding patterns. By understanding the behavior of the fish you are targeting, you can increase your chances of success. Look for:
    • Spawning times of the year
    • Time of day when most active
    • Weather like clouds or overcast
    • Temperatures
  6. Stay patient: Like other forms of fishing, bowfishing requires patience, as you may need to wait for the fish to come within range before taking a shot. The opportunity will present itself, so stay ready and all the practice will pay off.

Bowfishing: The Best of All Outdoor Worlds

Bow and arrow fishing is a unique and exciting form of fishing that combines the patience of fishing, the thrill of hunting, and the persistence of archery. With the right hunting equipment and some practice, you can enjoy the thrill of catching fish with a bow and arrow, with or without a boat. Get out there and give it a try. 

There are many resources to acquire the right equipment. Reach out to your local archery shops and ask about bowfishing. There are plenty of fishing guides that offer the experience, and most of them have bowfishing setups for rent. As with any form of fishing, hunting, and archery, always remember to follow local regulations and guidelines and practice safe and responsible fishing techniques.