6 Bowfishing Tips for Beginners

There are some bowfishing basic tips and tricks you can employ to make your time on the water a bit more enjoyable and help you put more fish in the bucket.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, so if you’ve got a neat tip that’s not covered here, please feel free to leave it in the comments below!

Beginning Bowfishing Tips 

1- Bowfishing Tips on Aiming

Let’s start with the golden rule of bowfishing: aim low!  Without getting too technical, the reason you need to aim low is simple; water refracts (bends) light, making things in the water appear farther away than they actually are.

The amount of refraction depends on a few different things, such as how deep the water is and how far away you are from the object horizontally, but the end result is nearly always the same: you need to aim lower than your target, or you’re going to miss on the high side.

The exception to this rule is when you’re shooting straight down, which does happen from time to time. If you have a straight down shot, aim right at your target, and let ‘er fly!

Overall, the best way to get the hang of aiming is to shoot into water…a lot. Shoot at different depths, different distances, and in different water conditions, and you’ll get the hang of it in no time.

2- Bring Extra Gear

I’m not saying you need a whole extra setup, but it’s wise to bring an extra arrow or two and some extra tips for your bowfishing points. At some point in your bowfishing endeavors, you’re probably going to lose an arrow.

You’re also going to hit a rock, a stump, a clump of cattails, or something else hard that will dull the tip of your arrow. Both of these things happen from time to time, that’s just the way it is.

Fortunately, they’re easy fixes if you come prepared. If you want to be really prepared, you can also bring a small repair kit with extra safety slides, slide stops, nocks, and some superglue in case something on your arrow breaks.

3- Go Slow in Heavy Cover

If you’re fishing over a weed bed or along a weeded shoreline, sometimes it pays to slow down. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen fish, especially carp, burrowed down in the weeds with just a tail sticking out, but missed the opportunity to shoot because I was moving too fast.

While it can be tough to remain patient, sometimes it pays to slow down and fish at a more leisurely pace. If you’re in open water and just want to cover the ground, you may be able to crank up the trolling motor and move faster.

Did I mention aim low yet? I did? Ok, well, one more time…Seriously, AIM LOW!

4- Keep Your Bowfishing Gear Clean

Bowfishing is a messy sport, and there’s no other way to say it. Well actually, there is…grimy, slimy, dirty, bloody, fish gut-y, muddy. Any one of those adjectives will fit. Take one of each, I’m feeling generous.

Keeping your bowfishing gear clean will not only allow it to perform better, it’ll last longer too. I’m not saying you need to wipe your arrow down after every shot. But it does help to give your bow, reel, and arrow(s) a once-over with a clean cloth every now and then to remove the dirt and grime.

Compound bows are very susceptible to rust, so drying them off after every use is a good idea.

Any dirt or grime on the cams or in the groove of the cams should be removed too, to prevent the string from jumping off the track the next time you shoot.

To quote my father, “take care of your gear, and it will take care of you.”

He’d better copyright that before somebody else steals it…

5- Be Ready

It happens in the blink of an eye: a fish suddenly appears, in range, but it’s on the move. You’ve got about two seconds to raise your bow, draw, aim, and get the shot off before it gets away.

If you’re ready, it’s doable. If you’re a bit slow though, you might as well save your shot for the next one.

Bowfishing can be fast and furious if you are “on” the fish, so be ready to shoot quickly.

6- Have a Fishing Gaff, and Don’t Be Afraid to Use It

If you’re fishing in an area where the big fish are plentiful, a gaff can be a real-life…make that a fish…saver.

Yeah. Terrible joke, but damn it, I’m riding this one into the sunset!

Even with a good shot and decent penetration, the strength of a big carp or gar can pull your arrow out when you’re reeling itt in.

If you’ve got a big one on and it’s getting close to the boat, have a gaff-man ready and waiting. It’ll take some of the weight off of your arrow and increase your chances of getting that bruiser into the boat. If you don’t have a gaff, a net will work too.

Wrapping it Up:

Do you have a good tip or a neat trick you use when you’re bowfishing? Let us know in the comments, and we’ll include it in this list!