The Essentials You Need To Start Bowfishing

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While bowfishing may seem like a complicated activity that requires expensive gear, there isn’t much equipment that you absolutely need. We’ll look at everything you’ll want as a beginner, and after you’re hooked, you can look into upgrades and extra accessories. Here are the essentials you need to start bowfishing.


You don’t need practice to start, but it’s a good idea to practice before putting your skills to the test with real fish. This is not the most accessible hobby for beginners because you need to consider aim, light refraction, and water depth. If you aren’t good at bowfishing right away, don’t worry. With a bit of time, you’ll see massive improvements in your ability to catch.


Most states allow bowfishing with a fishing license, but some require you to obtain a modified hunting license to get out on the water legally. Look into your state’s rules and regulations by contacting the Department of Natural Resources in your area.


Believe it or not, you need a bow for bowfishing. There is a wide range of options, from ultra-expensive to totally affordable. Once you’re better at the hobby (and you know it’s for you), you might want to upgrade your bow. When you’re just starting, though, don’t break the bank for new equipment. Recursive and compound bows both work for bowfishing, so just look for something you’re comfortable with.

Reel and Line

Once you’ve hit a fish, you’ll want a way to pull it in. Spinning reels and bottle-type reels are the preferred options for bowfishing. As far as lines go, try to overestimate the size of the fish you’re hunting instead of the alternative. A line that’s too weak will snap, so it’s worth paying a little extra for a stronger option.


While you can make any bow work, you’ll need special bowfishing arrows to go along with it. Regular arrows lack the density necessary to travel well through water and don’t have a place to attach a line. Choosing the best arrows can be tricky, but excellent resources are available to help with your search.

Now that you know the essentials you need to start bowfishing, collect your equipment, and nock your arrows!

Written by Kevin O'Neill

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