What’s the Best Bow for Bowfishing?

By Brodie SwisherSeptember 1st, 2021

For anyone dabbling with the idea of giving bowfishing a try, the question will soon arise, “What’s the best bow for bowfishing?”

There was a time when the bowfishing bow consisted of whatever old-school bow you could pick up from the pawn shop or garage sale. However, times have changed, and there are now more options than ever for getting outfitted to hit the water on your first bowfishing adventure. So what’s the best bow for bowfishing? What style of bow works best? We’ll take a closer look below at the basics of bowfishing bows, as well as some of the key  players on the market today. 

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What's the best bow for bowfishing?

When it comes to bowfishing bows, keeping things light and shooter friendly is the key. You don’t need  much poundage to shoot fish. Bows with 30-40 pounds of draw weight are more than enough for shooting fish, yet they are light enough for all-day shooting without muscle fatigue. So if you can find a youth bow with plenty of adjustability in draw length, you’ll have a great option that’ll fit most anyone. Other options include the classic recurve, old-school compound bows from the past, custom bowfishing bows, and some of the popular hybrid options on the market. 

The Recurve

The traditional recurve is an option many shooters are drawn to because of the fact that they often have one tucked away in the attic or shed from days gone by. But the recurve is also a great option for its snap shooting ability at darting fish. There’s not likely a faster drawing bow out there to launch an arrow from. But the recurve also has its fair share of disadvantages as well. Recurves are typically long and not as maneuverable as a modern compound bow. They are also built from wood, which may, or may not, handle the abuse dished out while bowfishing. 

bro-recurve-bowfising
Got an old recurve tucked away in the garage? Turn it into a bowfishing bow this summer!

The Garage Sale Special

I’m always on the lookout for used bows at garage sales. Quite often, the seller has no idea, or care, what the bow is worth. It’s a great chance to snag a deal. Last summer, I bought an old PSE compound bow with an AMS bottle real and arrow included. The bow wasn’t worth much – maybe $40. But the reel was worth over $100. The lady was asking $20 for the whole setup. Again, garage sale shopping is a great way to get outfitted with several bows for bowfishing without spending a lot of money.

Custom Bowfishing Bows

There are a number of bow companies that have answered the demand for bows built specifically for bowfishing over the last decade. Options are now available from Muzzy, Cajun, AMS, PSE, Diamond, Fin Finder and others. These bows range in price from $250 – $500 and are a nice upgrade due to the fact that they are typically built with no specific draw length, making them easy to draw for fast shooting, but they also fit a variety of shooters, regardless of size. These bows are typically built with stainless steel components to help them stand up to the elements.

The Hybrid

Some of the hottest bowfishing bows on the market come in somewhat of a hybrid design. They deliver the best of both recurve and compound bow concepts. Bows like the Oneida Osprey and Muzzy LV-X are considered some of the best of the best in this category. Top shooters from across the country rely on these bows for their performance, as well as their ability to be worked on from the boat, without the need of a bow press. 

Lever bows like the Oneida Osprey are hard to beat for a fast shooting bow option with plenty of punch.

Conclusion

So what’s the best bow for bowfishing? That all depends on your budget or access to a spare bow. The beauty of bowfishing is that it’s relatively inexpensive to get started. If you’ve got an old bow you can designate for bowfishing, you’ll just need a reel and arrow ($100), and you’ll be ready  to roll. 

It’s not advised to use your deer hunting setup for bowfishing. For one, it’ll have entirely too much draw weight. And two, it’ll take far more abuse than you care to dish out on your favorite hunting rig for fall. 

Bowfishing provides some of the most exciting archery action you’ll find all summer long. Get rigged up, and make it happen this season!

Brodie Swisher
Brodie Swisher is a world champion game caller, outdoor writer, seminar speaker and Editor for Bowhunting.com. Brodie and his family live in the Kentucky Lake area of west Tennessee.
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