How To Hunt Fish With A Bow For Beginners

How To Hunt Fish With A Bow

Are you tired of the “conventional” fishing techniques and would like to try a new experience? By standard, I refer to using a fishing rod, spinning reel or bait caster and line.

Try bowfishing it could be the next great experience for you. It only requires you to have simple gear and know-how of when, where and how to aim.

For a beginner to bow fishing, it may take a while to get a grip on hitting the target, but with time and practice, it all becomes a matter of instinct.

To learn this and much more, I will cover How to Hunt fish with a Bow, in this tutorial. The essential equipment needed for bow fishing include:

  • Bow: most anglers use either a recurve bow or compound bow. Do not be tempted to use archery bow when out fishing with a bow. It cannot account for depth and refraction. You also, do not need high speed or top of the line bows.
  • Choose a bow that you are comfortable with using. A compound bow has a let off release that allows you to hold out for an opportune shot. For maximum efficiency, use a bow with a draw weight of more than 30 pounds to around 50 pounds.

  • Arrow: The tip of bow fishing arrows have barbs which keep the fish from pulling out of the arrow once it is hit. When you reel in the fish, you can then reverse it so that you can remove the shaft without shredding the fish and spraying its blood on yourself.

    To get a powerful, penetrating punch, you will need to use a long, thick and solid fiberglass arrow. The extra weight of the arrow will give it enough kinetic energy to be able to penetrate the water and the fish that you targeted.

  • Reel: there are three types of reels used to hold and dispense line when bow fishing. It needs to get fastened to the bow. The bow fishing line travels with the arrow, and thus, it spins out faster than the conventional spinning reel, cast from a rod.

    Using a spooled reel will slow down the arrow, are tedious to re-spool, and cause it to tangle when you shoot. Spincast reels have a drag and line release button that you need to press before shooting.

    For better performance, use the AMS Bowfishing Retriever, it cranks in the line quickly and comes with a custom mounting gear. Pretty slick, right?

How To Set-Up Your Gear

Now that you have the right necessary equipment for bow fishing, how then do you set up the bow?

Step 1: Put on Finger Savers on the String of the Bow

If you do not want to use finger savers, you can wear gloves. Shooting without finger protectors will cause your fingers to wear. Press your bow, to get tension from the string, then, remove it.

Slide the finger savers as shown in the YouTube video above. Use pliers to hold the string as you push down the rubber finger protectors to the center of the line. You can also go to a shop where they can put the finger savers for you.

Put the string back on, once you get done with sliding the protectors.

Step 2: Setup the Rest

Put the rest on at a perfect 90o off the cord. If you don’t have a rest, you can use a full containment rest similar to that of a hunting bow. Don’t put it too tightly, and put your arrow in.

Keep it close to your riser. You don’t want your line to get caught when you shoot. The rest is suitable when you are shooting heavy arrows using compound bows. A traditional bow can shoot off the shelf directly.

Step 3: Mount your reel

Depending on your riser configuration, mount the reel on the bow. Get your spacers to the bow and tighten it. Different reels have different mounting positions. Ensure that its position is in a location where you will be comfortable to reach the trigger.

If you are using a drum or spin cast reel, you will attach it to the riser using a threaded insert. For the retriever, it has a compound mounting hardware. You should use a spool of at least 25 meters and a braided line of an 80-pound test if you are fishing carp.

You can add a quiver to your bow to help keep the arrow hooked onto the bow. Remember to attach safety slide to the arrow. It will maintain the line in front of the riser as you draw and keeps the arrow from snapping back at you.

Hunting Tips For Bowfishing

bow fishing

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With your gear all setup, you can now go hunt for the fish. Always check with the regulations of your region on information on the type of fish permitted for bow fishing.

These fish may include carp, eels, suckers, catfish, etc. You can bow fish in freshwater and saltwater bodies. So, how do you hunt for the fish?

  • Look for clear water that is shallow for about 3 to 4 feet deep. It is because water is dense and will slow your arrow down. Your arrow will have more force in striking your target if you pass it through less water.
  • Try to locate fish in areas with thick cover. Look for grasses and weeds in the area; they are more likely to be found around there. Stalk the weedy shoreline shallows and watch out for those active feeders.
  • Once you spot a fish that you want to target, don’t cast your shadow over it. It will spook the fish. Try to approach it from the upwind direction. Use a stable boat or bridge to ambush moving fish.
  • If you encounter fish up close, you need to shoot quickly and instinctively. You don’t have to align a sight pin to the target. Aim at the area between the head of the fish and its dorsal fin for your arrow to be spot on target.
  • If you wait a few seconds longer as you try to position your arrow, the fish will be gone because they are fast.
  • Remember to aim lower, light gets refracted in water, and the fish will appear to be shallower than where it is actually.


If you want to try out bow fishing, spring and early summer season are the ideal time to go hunting for the fish. That is if you want to fish with a bow in the daylight. For nighttime bow fishing, you go out all year round with some luck.

However, you will be more successful in the fall and the spawning season when the water is clear and warm. To catch the big fish, try to go fishing with your bow during spring and summer. It is when fish are most active during the day or evening time.

Remember to search the shallow clear water in areas with thick cover. Keep your distance from the fish you are targeting at around 10 to 15 feet. Once you take to bow fishing, you may never go back.

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