Bowfishing is a unique sport that has seen a surge in popularity over the past few years. With its growth in media, many people have been left wondering how to get involved in this rewarding sport. Well, it all starts with the knowledge to choose the best bowfishing bow for you.
For the most part, a bowfishing bow is just a normal bow you would use for any other purpose but with some added gear. There are a few features that are vital and some that are just a good idea to get. You want to make the most of your bow, getting the correct setup is important, especially when starting out.
None of this is too complicated. Below you will find a comprehensive selection guide and some product suggestions. There are a number of great bows on the market, most will work well for bow fishing but some may have a little edge.
If you are interested in getting into this sport, read on! Everything you need is below.
What Makes a Good Bowfishing Bow?
When it comes to bow selection for hunting, there are a lot of factors that people prioritize when they start shopping. Power, Accuracy, Speed, any of those are good contenders for what a person may want when taking a deer. They are all important, even in bow fishing, but those aren’t the most important.
Durability & Resistance
The number one factor in choosing a bow fishing bow should be how good it is at resisting the inevitable damage it will take from being in a boat and being wet. Inevitably your bow will be kicked, stepped on, dropped in water, and any number of other calamities. Unless you want to buy a bow every month, it's worth getting one tough enough to handle the abuse.
If you want a fishing bow for saltwater use, you may also want to look into materials that are corrosion resistant. Rust will always be an issue when you have hard-use gear around water but salt water will destroy even the best bows in no time if you let it. Always keep your gear clean but getting the right gear up front will be an asset.
This makes the use of a recurve bow for bowfishing very appealing. They are simple, tough, and often made of materials that won’t degrade in salt water. But many compound bows will do the same thing. That leads well into the next topic.
Recurves or Compound for Bowfishing
This is the argument on every boat and every lakeshore whenever two bow fishermen meet. Each has their strengths and weaknesses to consider but both serve as a great platform to start a bowfishing setup. The choice is ultimately up to you, what you want and where you plan on using your equipment.
Here is the basic bowfishing info that you need to know up front: Bowfishing arrows are heavy and fire slower; Water is dense and slows arrows more; Arrows deflect in water and make hitting a challenge; fish move erratically and are evasive in water.
That means in addition to durability, you will need a bow that shoots arrows somewhat quickly, can be aimed easily, and has sufficient power. This makes compound bows very attractive as they excel at these things. However, when durability is considered, most recurve bows are more durable.
The simplicity of the recurve is its greatest strength. A good, all or mostly fiberglass recurve will last for years no matter what you do with it. They can be stepped on, soaked in water, beaten against the boat, and never miss a beat. But they are a little slower and harder to aim.
My suggestion would be a recurve in you are on a budget or use a bow in shallower water only. For anything deeper than a couple of feet, I would use a compound if the money was there. For saltwater, a recurve shines with its lack of corrosion but most saltwater needs deeper penetration to get to the fish.
Power & Speed
While you don’t need a massively powerful bow to bowfish, you can’t get by with a twig either. You need some power but how much will greatly depend on how deep you plan to fish. Water has a dramatic slowing effect on an arrow, you need to get the arrow going as fast as possible before it hits the surface.
If you are fishing very shallow for carp, you can get away with a 30-pound bow as a general rule. Once you pass about 4 feet, you are going to want about 40 pounds. About the deepest, you would ever want to fish is 6 feet and you will need at least 50 pounds to get that deep.
You will never need a 70+ pound bow with a super speed. The benefits are not there. There is little reason not to use one if you want but it won’t accomplish much over a 50 or 60-pound bow.
Speed is a direct result of power and one place where a compound bow shines. The more speed you have, the deeper you can get and the less time the fish has to get out of the way. However, the more speed you have, the more deflection you get on your arrow. When it comes to that, it's just a matter of getting used to your bow.
Other Factors & Accessories
The first thing your bow will need is a place to attach one of the many styles of bowfishing reels. Most of these attach at the stabilizer position on the bow. Which style of reel you prefer may take some testing but all function about the same. If you happen to have a bow without a stabilizer, there are a few reels that clamp onto your bow.
Sights are not a frequently used accessory in bowfishing but as a personal preference, you can add them. Most shots with a bowfishing rig are going to be 15 feet or less and the effect water has on your shot will make sights less useful. Learning to instinctive shoot is your best bet.
Some companies sell a bowfishing kit that comes with everything you need to get started. While these are a great option in most cases, some are of less than stellar quality. Do your due diligence when selecting your bow and kit. A good bow is the first requirement to successful bowfishing, you can get the bowfishing accessories later.
Your bow will still need some form of arrow rest and probably a nocking point on your string. These are universally useful. You may be using the same bow for deer and bowfishing. If so, you shouldn’t have to change much to make it effective at either sport.
Bowfishing Bow Comparison Table
Bowfishing Bow Reviews
1 Diamond Archery Infinite Edge Pro
Diamond Archery makes top of the line bows and if you wanted a top of the line bowfishing rig that could hunt anything else, this would be the place to start. This is not a kit, just the bow so you would have to add a reel and some bowfishing arrows to get it up to speed. Once there, this would outperform most any other bowfishing setup out there.
As a bow, this is one of the most customizable you can get. Draw length can be set from 13 to 31 inches, making it useful for anyone up to probably 6’4” or a little over. Draw weight is adjustable from 5 to 70 pounds to cover any condition or hunting you may want to apply this bow too.
This bow comes with a stabilizer and sights as well as a quiver. For an effective bowfishing bow setup, you will probably strip all of these things off but having them for other uses is quite a cost savings. You may also want to replace the arrow guide while you are at it.
As for speed, you can push better than 310 fps out of this bow. It has the speed and power to fish as deep as any bow out there. Its sturdy and durable enough to take the rigors of being in a boat is made of almost completely corrosion resistant materials. All around, this is about the best bowfishing bow you could ask for.
2 Southland Archery Supply Scorpii Bowfishing Kit
If you want a great little compound bow that comes as a complete bowfishing package, the Scorpii is the answer. It has the power, speed, and durability you need and won’t cost you a fortune to get. This kit can be up and running minutes after you receive it.
As a bow, the Scorpii is shockingly good for the price. It will push near 300 feet per second when topped out at 55 lbs of draw or can be scaled back to 30 pounds for when you can get by with less. Draw is adjustable from 19-29 inches which will cover 99% of adults.
The bow riser is made of aluminum while the limbs are compressed ABS. This makes a bow that is very resistant to damage and almost immune to any issues with water, even salt water. Throw it in the boat and never have a worry that it will be damaged.
You get quite a good reel with this setup, better than most budget reels you would buy on your own. The arrow is of reasonable quality and does the job well. All in all, if you want a compound bowfishing kit, this is a solid choice.
3 PSE Kingfisher Kit
There are two truths: PSE makes amazing, top of the line equipment, and I love a bowfishing recurve. They may be a little more challenging but they are very versatile, easy to use, and far less prone to having issues than a compound bow. I can tell you first hand that this bow is highly successful as a bowfishing rig.
Once you get past my obvious bias, this 45-pound bow draws at a max of 30 inches but is most comfortable around 28 inches. With the very thin, light limbs, you can get some surprising speed out of this bow, pushing the 250 fps mark. In the world of bowfishing recurve bows, this is about as good as they get and for an amazing price.
Durability wise, this bow leaves nothing lacking. Fresh or saltwater will not harm the bow in any way and you can toss it around without a care. It may not be bombproof but it's very close to. Mine is about 6 years old and has been abused but shows no weakness.
This sweet little bowfishing recurve kit comes with everything you need to get started. It comes with the famous Cajun Bowfishing reel, a great arrow and tip, and even an improved arrow rest for a cleaner shot. You need nothing else and no upgrades, just get this kit and go.
4 Cajun FishStick Bowfishing Kit
In the world of the hardcore bowfisher, probably no company is as well known as Cajun Bowfishing. From bows to accessories, arrows and bowfishing tips, or just about anything else, they are the go-to source. This bow, if you are after a bowfishing recurve bow, is about as good as you can get.
As a bow, it pulls about 45 pounds at a 28-inch draw. But that is just the basics. Everything about this bow was designed from the ground up for a bowfisher. It has a non-slip rubber grip for when your hands are wet, blister proof pads for long fights, and all of the most durable and corrosion resistant fittings.
It comes with a full loadout of Cajuns best bowfishing accessories. The reel is amazingly good, even if it isn’t Cajuns top of the line. The arrow is the industry standard for quality and among the best, you can get. Top it off with a roller rest for clean shots and Cajuns own Piranha Point that sticks a fish right and you have a great setup.
While I would rank this behind PSE in quality, there is no reason not to go with this sweet Cajun bowfishing bow kit. It will do everything you ever need for most freshwater, shallow fishing. This would be about 90% of all the fishing that bowfishing ever entails.
5 iGlow Compound Bow
If you want good power on a budget and are willing to take some time to put together a quality kit, you can start with a decent, simple bow and build from there. If that’s the case, the iGlow is about the highest quality compound bow you can get for under a hundred bucks.
This bow may be far from perfect but does great as a throw around bow for bowfishing. It draws a max of 55 pounds which is just right for most bowfishing applications. Draw length is adjustable from 27 to 29 inches which covers the majority of the population. You can push about 225 fps out of this bow which gets you down to 5 feet or so no problem.
Durability wise, the cheaper materials used in this bow actually play well into the needs of a bowfishing bow. The limbs are surprisingly durable against the rigors of bowfishing and nothing on this bow is noticeably corrodible. This is a budget option that could last for years with a minimum of care.
You will need to add all the accessories but this bow has the attachments for them. The bow is very short at only 41 inches which makes it highly maneuverable on small craft. You could do a whole lot worse, just count on spending between $50 and $100 bucks to fully kit it out.
The reviews above should cover the gamut of options for quality bowfishing setups. You can add and take away any number of accessories to fit it to your needs. At least at the outset, you will have a great platform to build off of unless you bought one of the kits. Every kit above is fishing ready and will do a perfect job.
I would encourage you to try a recurve for the excitement and challenge but there is nothing wrong with any of the compound bows and they actually improve your chances starting out. Any way you go, you will have discovered a rare and exciting sport that few every try. One that is addicting, satisfying and will most likely keep you out many long nights when you should be in bed. Add a boat for increased enjoyment.