How Difficult Is Bowfishing?

Bowfishing can be a lot of fun, but it’s not for the faint of heart. It takes a lot of practice and patience to be a good bow angler. It’s even legal to hunt frogs, snakes, and other small water creatures with a bow and arrow in many states.

A Glimpse of the Sport

Let us begin by lightly skimming the surface of the bowfishing community. This field of fishing combines a couple of talents that most avid fishers strive to master; such as coordination, speed, patience, and agility.

There are ample bowfishing opportunities on both fresh and saltwater, as long as the waterfront is clear and visible in front of you. In simple words, you aim your bow at your target fish and you shoot. Of course, we all wish it was that simple. 

Why Is Bowfishing Considered a Difficult Sport?

There are so many myths and misconceptions surrounding bowfishing, which makes people steer clear from the sport and those who try to partake in it. Fortunately, all of these claims can be debunked, and we’ll bet on bowfishing success!

  • For instance, how difficult it’s to increase your catch rate when depending solely on your vision. We’d like to say that practice makes perfect. Just like any other type of fishing, bowfishing needs consistency.
  • Some people say that it’s brutal for the fish, as there is no chance of catch-and-release bowfishing. Primarily, returning the fish to the waterfront is a matter of law and preference.

You don’t need a special fishing license to bowfish, and as long as the rules of the waterfront say you can take the fish home to eat it if it’s edible or dispose of it if it’s not, then, you’re good to go. 

Besides, the fish we speak of is mostly invasive rough fish that needs to be cleared out of the lake’s ecosystem now and then to help its balance.

  • One thing that fishing anglers know they can be guilty of is shining extra bright lights to increase their visibility. Although it’s not maliciously meant to disturb whoever lives by the waterfront, we understand it can be annoying, and a simple heads-up is enough for us to direct our lights elsewhere so that we don’t intrude on your privacy.

Now that’s out of the way, let us give you our tips and tricks for mastering the art of bowfishing. Thus, you can forget about the question ‘’how difficult is bow fishing?’’

Areas of Difficulty and How to Overcome Them

Let’s discuss each item on its own, and check off these difficulties as we prepare our gear and head out for a fishing archery adventure!

Choosing the Right Bowfishing Equipment

Naturally, the most crucial aspect of a successful bowfishing trip has to be your equipment and tools. If you’re not properly prepared, then you’re putting yourself at a decided disadvantage before you even step on your boat or the shore.

Still, thankfully, bowfishing doesn’t require a plethora of equipment, you just need to use the right ones for yourself.


When it comes to bows, you can buy one at a garage sale for less than $10 and you can end up paying around $1000 when purchasing it from a professional tackle store. Hunting bows are our golden standard, and they boast so many subtypes.

Nonetheless, the most common ones used for fishing will have to be the recurve bow and the compound bow.

The first one is more suited for beginners. It’s simplified, easy to aim, and tune. The thing is, they’re quite large, which can complicate the process a little bit if you’re not in-tune with your bow.

As for the latter, compound bows come with much reinforcement in the form of pulley systems, wheels, and cogs, which all do a great job of smoothing the roughness of bowfishing. It takes a lot of pressure off your upper limbs and allows you to aim with higher efficiency.

Our favorite bows for bowfishing include:


Bowfishing arrows are made mainly out of fiberglass. Recent updates brought additions to that to add specific features. Momentarily, we’ve carbon fiberglass, which gives a huge boost to the arrows’ durability.

On the other hand, we have aluminum fiberglass, which not just adds strength to the arrow, but also weight, allowing it to pierce the water and hit your target fish in one swift move.

One thing we don’t want you to forget about is the arrowheads on bowfishing arrows. You don’t want an arrow that doesn’t retrace its barbs, as tacking it out of the fish will prove to be a hassle, and you’ll destroy the body of the fish as you try to rip it out to re-aim. 

Last, but certainly not least, we can’t skip over the weight of the arrow, as it affects the smoothness with which you can shoot it and take it out. 

That, of course, depends on the type of fish you’re going after. The bigger the fish, the bigger the arrow; yet, you must also be able to dislodge it easily. Thus, we would recommend 25-30 lbs arrows in favor of heavier ones, and our top picks for bowfishing arrows include:


Your bowfishing reel is one of the things you should splurge on. You’re not just pulling in your fish, you’re pulling the fish and the arrow, so we need something strong, durable, and fit for both fresh and saltwater.

If you want something affordable, then you should go with the drum reel, which is a completely manual reel and is known for its durability and strength. On the other hand, it does require a lot of manual labor, as you’ll be doing all the reeling by yourself. Check these models out:

If you want to jump to the other side of the spectrum, and treat yourself to the ultimate bowfishing reel, then we’d recommend the retriever reel, which is completely capable of, not just pulling in large fish, but even alligators. 

Although it takes a little bit of time to get used to, you’ll find its lightweight design and adversity to tangling a breath of fresh air. We have more than one popular bowfishing reel to show you:

Lastly, if you want to use something from your old tackle box and stay on middle grounds, then a spincaster will do the job just fine. With its brakes and drag system, it’ll help you reel in your catch with relative ease. These releases caught our eye:


When it comes to fishing line and bowfishing, we resort to our top two recommendations; the nylon monofilament and nylon braided fishing lines. These two boost incredible strength and abrasion resistance, which is exactly what you want.

Yet, keep in mind that monofilament has some memory to it, which can create some tangles. Hence, the braided line jumps a step higher than the monofilament one. You can start with:


No matter what kind of boat you’re fishing from, if you’ll partake in night bowfishing, you must have stable, trustworthy lights for bowfishing, without annoying the neighbors.

The best way to go about this is to use metal halide lights and high-pressure sodium lights. These give you all of the luminosity you might need, without the burden of humongous noisy generators.

Extra, Yet Crucial, Bowfishing Gear!

You thought we were done, didn’t you?! Well, we’re not. We just have a few more bits and pieces to add to your bowfishing experience.

GPS & Fishfinder

A GPS and a fishfinder are priceless additions to your bowfishing journeys. Why? Because, they boost your field of vision on bowfishing grounds, in indirect ways, which is the primary point in all of this.

When you have a GPS, you’ll be able to, not just fully navigate the waterfront with ease, but map out your routes to certain fish beds. Keep an itinerary of all the popular bowfishing hotspots.

If carp is having a fish bed in a certain area, you’ll know how to return to it. If there is a certain spot on your fishfinder full of weeds, debris, plankton, and small fish, you’ll see that on your fishfinder, and suspect that bass is enjoying Itself there.


Safety is always our top priority for everyone onboard. So, don’t ever step on a boat without the proper PFD. Make sure that your personal flotation device(s) aren’t ruptured or malfunctioning in any way, so in case of a tip-over, you’re safe.

Polarized Glasses

If you’re fond of daytime bowfishing, the harsh sunlight and bugs can be incredibly annoying and distracting. Consequently, polarized glasses are one of the most famous attire pieces amongst professional bowfishing anglers. Keeping them on hand will save you a trip back to your car.

How to Practice Underwater?

Now that we’re all set and ready to hit the water, let’s master the bowfishing techniques. How do you overcome the refraction index of the water, the swift movement of the fish, the weeds, etc., etc.? Our answer is that baby bowfishing steps will lead to bowfishing success.

With time, you’ll know that if you’re seeing a fish at this spot, it’s most probably shifted in a certain way in real life, and the best way to get used to that is by using the sunken soda can method.

The Sunken Soda Can Method

As you can surmise by the title, you’ll fill up a soda can with water, let it sink, and shoot at it. With every subsequent aim, you’ll learn the effect of the refractive index and light on the water, and how to shoot your bowfishing targets properly without scaring them off.


A memorable bowfishing adventure combines the thrill of archery with the excitement of underwater fishing. There are so many merits to this sport, besides the fact that it’s pure fun, such as controlling fish populations in lakes and rivers. So, don’t be swayed by anything you might hear, and try the sport yourself. Don’t forget to check out our top bow fishing equipment to fully prepare for this onslaught of entertainment.

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