WON Landing Page OCT 2022

Don’t Just Fish … Bowfish! Get Started with this Essential Gear.

To bowfish is pure archery fun. Warm weather, fast action and plenty of shooting make bowfishing a great off-season activity. Even so, it requires specialized equipment and a different approach to shooting than big-game hunting.



Archers use recurves and compounds to bowfish. Recurve bows are the more affordable option. When buying a recurve bow, make sure you can mount bowfishing accessories to it. The bow should have a stabilizer bushing or sight-mount holes for mounting a bowfishing reel. An archery store can help you choose a recurve for bowfishing.

Compound bows offer a compact package for easy maneuvering in a boat. They also generate faster arrow speeds than recurve bows. Some compound bows are built specifically for bowfishing so they can be shot with fingers. They also have a consistent draw weight, much like a recurve, for fast shooting.

You could also convert your hunting bow to a bowfishing rig. However, it’s best to dedicate a bow to bowfishing. Bowfishing-specific compounds are inexpensive and, unlike your hunting bow, they’re built to handle bowfishing’s harsh conditions. Complete bowfishing rigs are available at archery stores. They come with everything you need to start bowfishing, and cost less than buying all the accessories individually.


(Paul Sherar photo)


The two most popular styles of bowfishing reels are the “bottle” and “spincast” models, and each has advantages and disadvantages.

Spincast reels are popular with experienced bowfisherman. They’re much like a traditional spincast reel for hook-and-line fishing, and let bowfishermen reel in fish they arrow. The downside of a spincast reel is that it must be set to “free spool” before shooting. The free-spool setting feeds line freely from the reel when shooting the arrow.

The spincast reel’s other setting is for reeling in the line. Line cannot feed freely in this setting. If you forget to put the reel in free spool before shooting, the line attached to the arrow cannot feed. The line breaks when you shoot, or prevents the arrow from leaving the bow.

Blake Shelby, vice president of sales and marketing at PSE, is also an avid bowfisherman. He prefers spincast reels because they let you retrieve the arrow and shoot again quickly. “And it allows me to actually fight the fish on the reel,” Shelby said.


(Paul Sherar photo)

A bottle-style reel is easy to use and excellent for beginners. Shelby said beginners usually start with a bottle-style reel and graduate to a spincast reel. “A lot of beginners like to use the bottle-style reel because if they forget to engage the reel, it doesn’t do any damage,” he said. “The disadvantage is that it’s difficult to fight the fish. You basically hand-line the fish in.”

Continue reading, ‘Don’t Just Fish … Bowfish!’ at Archery 360.

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    The Women's Outdoor News, aka The WON, features news, reviews and stories about women who are shooting, hunting, fishing and actively engaging in outdoor adventure. This publication is for women, by women.