Bowfishing Bows Breakdown: The Different Types of Bows Used in Bowfishing

Bowfishing is a great way to combine both the challenge of fishing and skill of archery, and the sport is growing in popularity year after year. It is a combination of archery, fishing, and hunting, all rolled into one and it is this excitement that draws many people to it. Archer-anglers can target a large variety of different fish species, and every bowfishing outing is a unique experience. 

If you're new to bowfishing or interested in becoming an archer-angler, you're in luck. You don't need a ton of gear to get started. Learn more about the 6 essential pieces of gear you need to start bowfishing here. In this post, we'll breakdown the different types of bows that can be used for bowfishing.

A quality bowfishing bow will help a shooter land more hits and improve their archery skills. It's an essential piece of equipment for bowfishing. Even if you are new to the sport of bowfishing, buying or putting together a bowfishing setup does not have to be complicated! There are plenty of different types of bows that can work great for bowfishing, so let’s go over the variety of bows that you can choose from!


Recurve Bows for Bowfishing

Recurve bows are the classic, traditional option when it comes to bowfishing bows. They are very simple and straightforward bows, with the tips curved forward in order to give it its power. They are also very light and easy to take care of - a big advantage for beginners. One of the biggest benefits when it comes to recurve bows as bowfishing rigs is the ability to very quickly shoot and get off an arrow. When you are bowfishing, you may only have a split second to draw back and fire. A recurve bow is great in this aspect. They are usually the most affordable option as well, with plenty of new and used options available.

The downside to recurves bows is that they do usually require a little more strength and skill to effectively use. A bowfishing recurve bow, however, does not need to be especially powerful to be effective (unlike a regular hunting recurve). In fact, most bowfishing bows usually have a draw weight of less than 50 pounds.  Recurves can be a little less precise than other types of bows, but they are still one of the most popular options to use as bowfishing bows. 

Bowfishing with a Compound Bow

If recurve bows are the traditional option for bowfishing bows, then compound bows are the modern equivalent. Compound bows are probably the most popular bows among both hunters and archers, and they can also be used for bowfishing. These bows use a system of cables and pulleys to generate their power. This levering system makes them very fast and very accurate. 

One of the biggest advantages of compound bows is that they usually have an adjustable draw weight. This is perfect for setting up the bow to fit the shooter's capabilities. You will want a comfortable weight when bowfishing, as you will be drawing, letting down, and shooting repeatedly while on the water. 

When it comes to bowfising, compounds bows do have a few potential downsides as well, like the fact that their cams can get jammed with mud and weeds. You will have to be diligent in cleaning and maintaining your compound bow if you choose to use it for bowfishing. This will help avoid any problems and keep your string and cables from wearing out faster. 

A young male shoots a compound bow in a field

Lever Bows for Bowfishing

Lever bows are almost a combination of both recurve and compound bows. They use a lever system on their limbs in order to generate their power. These bows have a smooth draw and can be very quick like a recurve. It also has a breakpoint, like a compound bow, so you are not holding the entire weight of the draw after pulling back. 

Like all bowfishing bows, lever bows have their own set of advantages and disadvantages. They can be heavy but offer a comfortable draw. They are also slower than other bows like the compound, but quick to shoot like a recurve. Trying out each type of bow is a good option to see what types you may like, and which ones you may personally dislike. 

Bowfishing with Wheel Bows

Wheel bows are a type of modern compound bow that has the cams in a round, wheel pattern. These offer very smooth draws and do not have the traditional “let-off” that most compound bows feature. This makes them a good bow choice for bowfishing, as many archers do not use bows with a let-off function (this is also what makes recurves so popular for bowfishing). Not having a let-off allows a shooter to pull straight back and release very quickly, or even pull back to different lengths depending on the distance, power, and speed of the shot needed. 

What is the Best Type of Bowfishing Bow for You?


As you can see, there are plenty of different types of bows that you can use for bowfishing. But which bow is best for bowfishing? It all comes down to you. Trying out each type of bow is a good option to see what types you may like and which ones you feel most comfortable shooting. 

Keep in mind, not only are there different varieties of bowfishing bows, but there are also hundreds of different brands and models out on the market today. It will all come down to your own personal likes and dislikes. A big factor may also be your budget. 

A great option for a new bowfishing bow is to use one of your old bows that you already have and set it up for bowfishing. Maybe you have an old recurve laying around, or maybe you upgraded your compound bow for this hunting season and are not sure what to do with your old one - make it your bowfishing bow! Just set it up with the proper equipment, and you will be ready to begin your bowfishing adventure. 

Setting up an old hunting bow, no matter what type of bow it may be, is a great way to start into the sport of bowfishing without having to spend a lot of money. Once you have some of the basic equipment, you can hit the water and start to learn the amazing sport of bowfishing!

Ready to read more? Check out this post about picking a bowfishing reel for your bow. 


John Robert

John Robert

Hi, I am John Robert Your article “Bowfishing Bows Breakdown: The Different Types Of Bows Used In Bowfishing” is very helpful for me. After reading your article I got a lot of knowledge from your article. I have some knowledge about bow but after reading your article I think; I have to gain more knowledge about this topic. Thanks!



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