Is Bowfishing Hard? + A Few Pointers & Tips to Get Started

Bowfishing is a new and hot trending hobby and sport. It’s rising quickly in popularity.

Why shouldn’t it? It’s an amazing way to go about landing some fish.

However, when I first began bowfishing, I was a little intimidated by the idea of it.

I didn’t know what gear would be required or how to begin. I think the problem I had, in the beginning, was purely not being able to gauge the difficulty of bowfishing.

I would sit and think to myself, is bowfishing hard?

Bowfishing is not hard. It does take some practice to get accustomed to. Primarily aiming. This is where many struggle when first beginning bowfishing. This is due to water refraction. Fish appearing under the surface of the water are not located where they appear.

This causes difficulty aiming without adequate practice.

There is plenty that can be done to counter this issue and grow accustomed with aiming and bowfishing.

In the rest of this posts, we are going to cover some other aspects that may have you wondering how difficult bowfishing may be and answer some other common questions that arise when first launching into the hobby.

Here’s a look at some of these other frequently asked questions that we can begin clearing up.

Where Can You Begin Bowfishing? Can I Bowfish Anywhere?

You can bowfish nearly anywhere. Lakes, ponds or rivers.

The key is targeting the correct species of fish and sticking to shallow waters usually 3-4 feet deep. Keep in mind that bowfishing doesn’t require a hunting license but since you are actively catching fish, you are required to still carry an active fishing liv.

Double check local laws and state laws in your area to ensure you are following all guidelines when bowfishing.

Can You Bowfish at Night?

When I first started bowfishing, I had the same question.

Yes, you can bowfish at night. You will, however, want to ensure you have the proper gear. This includes an elevated shooting deck to bowfish from as well as lights. Bowfishing at night is however very popular and an enjoyable way of going about it.

When Should I Start Bowfishing?

This is also a good question and I ran into the same question. Many of us know the best time to traditional fish and when the best times are to execute for best results but bow fishing was an entirely new adventure for me.

I found myself wondering as well. When should I start bow fishing?

If you are targeting carp. Spring is a great time. More specifically late spring or spawn time. This gets them in more shallow water and brings them to the surface and within range for clear visibility.

This overall will enhance the ability to make accurate shots. Especially when you are just starting out.

What Kind of Fish Can I target Bowfishing?

This is probably something all of you are wondering.

This kind of fish you can bowfish for varies based on local DNR laws and it’s best to double check before assuming. This will avoid any potential penalties or fines for targeting fish that are not legal to bowfish.

I also have a detailed list of the fish that are most common to bowfishing in my guide here.

FAQ About Bowfishing

Time to start gathering the gear but it may be troubling for you to figure out what exactly you need. To bowfish you will need a few items. First and most importantly you need a bow. Any compound bow will get the job done.

Recurve bows are also a great bow for bowfishing. This is due to the fast draw times recurve bows allow for. You will also need a retriever reel and arrows. Outside of these items, the other gear is optional.

There is plenty of gear options and new and emerging gear coming out on a frequent basis. If you are an enthusiast, you can strengthen your bowfishing arsenal as it seems fitting with the development of the hobby and with what fits well with your budget.

Can I Bowfish at Night and During the Day?

Yes, you can bowfish at night and during the day. Many bow fishermen enjoy going at night but going during the day will yield great results as well. It’s all about preference when it comes to bowfishing. Night or day, you can shoot right into plenty of fish.

Can I Bowfish Without a Boat? Can I Bowfish From Shore?

Some of us can’t necessarily put together the funds nor have a desire to fish from a boat so you may be wondering, can I bowfish without a boat?

Yes, you can bowfish from shore and be effective. You will want to be actively targeting shallow areas or even flooded areas near shallow waters.

What Else Makes Bowfishing Difficult?

Outside of learning to aim with bowfishing, the most difficult aspect people will run into is simply just learning the gear and how to use it.

Learning the pound draw that you want to use and learning how to use the line retrievers is easy in theory but it does take some time to acclimate to.

In addition, I’d say another difficult aspect of bowfishing is learning how to stalk and find fish more effectively in shallow and flooded waters. It’s just a completely different form of fishing so does take a little effort and patience to get used to at the beginning of learning the hobby.

Is Bowfishing Expensive Compared to Traditional Fishing?

Not at all. I’ve even read or know other individuals who use old recurve or compound bows that they use during bow season for hunting. You can pick up used equipment when first starting out to save some money as well.

Overall, only 3-4 items are essential to get started and it’s easy to find online deals to buy used bows, retriever reels, and arrows/points. It shouldn’t cost you more than 75-100.00 plus a fishing license to have decent enough equipment in the beginning.

However, I am confident after you penetrate that arrow through your first fish, you will most likely be hooked on bowfishing just like I was. At that time, you will probably begin spending a little more money and upgrading equipment. Hey, that’s okay.

That’s how we all break into a hobby. Slow at first and keep it cheap till we are sure we are going to continue with it and once we fall in love, we find any excuse to begin upgrading everything we can as often as we can. It’s just how it works.

Don’t Ignore the All In One Package Options

I’d also recommend considering the fully put together bowfishing packages that are now fully put together and ready for use. If you are going for all new gear or haven’t been able to find any good decent used gear yet, AMS and other bowfishing gear manufacturers make great all in one kit that can have you ready to go right after receiving the package on your doorstep.

Typically these will include your bowfishing bow, bowfishing reel, retriever, arrows and tips. It’s the easiest fastest ways to get started and you can still find these for under a couple hundred bucks in most circumstances depending on how nice of a package you elect to purchase.

When Are You Going to Give Bowfishing a Try?

It doesn’t take long to grow acclimated to bowfishing. Aiming takes time. Learning the gear can take time but overall if you practice shooting at some sinking 20oz bottles you can pick up the ins and outs quickly.

It’s a newer growing sport with fishing but I assure you, it’s worth the time and patience to learn it if you are an avid outdoors fanatic or even an avid angler.

Anyone here have any top tips for bowfishing or tips to help anyone new just starting out with the hobby? What worked best for you when you first started and what’s your trophy catches to date with bowfishing? Be sure to drop a comment below.

Bob Hoffmann

The author of this post is Bob Hoffmann. Bob has spend most of his childhood fishing with his father and now share all his knowledge with other anglers. Feel free to leave a comment below.

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