How to Aim Bowfishing

Are you looking for some action while out fishing? Why not try bowfishing? Bowfishing can be an exhilarating experience once you get the hang of it. It is pretty simple and relies on pure instincts if you ask many of the bowfishing experts.

Bowfishing is different from hunting out in the land. You have to aim your bow at a different angle from where you see the fish to be situated. Before I delve into how to aim bowfishing, I will first cover the components you need to have as you go out to fish with a bow.

Set Up For Bowfishing

In bowfishing, you will need to have a bow and arrow. However, you need to have some other extra equipment to facilitate a successful fishing expedition. What do you need to have?

Bow: For the bow, you can either choose to buy a new one or get an old bow that is safe for use. If you purchase a new one or had one that you had been using before, check its limbs for any cracks or splitting. If it has any, it will probably not last long out in the water.

The type of bow that is commonly used in bowfishing is:

  • Compound bow- has more power
  • Recurve bow- ideal for fast snap action
  • Lever action bow- has the best of both compound and recurve bow

String: Ensure that the string of your bow is in good shape. If the lines show severe signs of fraying, it is probably wise to buy a new line and discard the old one.

Arrow: Always choose arrows made of durable materials. It will be ideal for catching small and big fish, despite the conditions. When you are out fishing; you should remember to carry several of them.

You don’t want your expedition to be cut short due to your arrow getting lost or breaking. As you set up, include a safety slide on the shaft. It will help prevent snap back of the line or arrow when you shoot.

Reel: You can use the AMS Bowfishing Reel, it has zero drag on it and a breaker to keep the line from drawing out once enough line is out. It also has a trigger that you need to hold as you reel in the line.

For more information on how to set up your gear, and what other additional components you may need as you go out to fish with a bow, the YouTube Video below; on how to setup a bowfishing bow.

The Basics of Bowfishing

Once you have the right components needed for bowfishing, and you have setup your equipment successfully, it is time to go out in the water and fish with your bow and arrow.

For your aim to be on target when bowfishing, you need to put in mind the refraction properties of water. You could observe this by sticking your arrow in the water. You will notice that the arrow seems to go straight then it appears bent.

It is due to the refractive property of water. It implies that, where you see the fish in the water, isn’t its actual location. Several rules that govern aiming when bowfishing include:

  • Aim Lower: You will hear this from many of the bowfishing enthusiasts and even read on bowfishing tutorials. Always aim lower than where you see the fish to be situated.

Recall that water has refractive properties and thus objects appear to bend in water. The deeper and further out you are fishing, the lower your aim should be. With practice, you won’t have to calculate as it all becomes instinctive mentally.

  • 10-4 Rule: It states that you need to aim 4 inches lower if you the fish is 10 feet away and appears to be 1 inch below the surface. You have to make your calculations based on these measurements.

If the distance doubles, then your aiming range should also double, and so forth, i.e. if the fish are 20 feet away, then you aim at 8 inches in depth.

Always aim for the front half of the fish as this is where the vital organs and the brain of the fish, are. By shooting at it at that particular spot, then you kill the fish instantly. In bowfishing, there is no catch and release, so always shoot at only what you are going to eat.

Once you have hit right on target, where the target is the fish, haul in the line. To remove the arrow from the fish, you will need to slightly turn the head of the arrow so that you don’t spill blood and guts on yourself as you remove it.

Fish move fast, don’t waste time aiming and shooting. With practice, it will be a mere use of instincts.


Bowfishing can prove to be an exhilarating and addictive activity. However, it is not as simple as using a fishing pole and line. You shouldn’t aim directly at the fish because as light travels from the air to the water, it bends.

Therefore, where the fish appears to be, isn’t where it is. Draw back your bow and use, say your middle finger, as your anchor point. As you aim your bow and arrow, look right through the bowstring and down to the tip of the arrow.

Ensure that the tip of the arrow is directed below the fish that you are aiming at and release. Don’t forget the principle of Aim Lower or the 10-4 Rule. Once you strike the fish, you can reel in the arrow with your catch.

Author Bio:

I’m Lisa. I have a strong understanding and passion for all things related to fishing. When I am not out wetting a line, I am sharing a range of tips and tricks on Fall For Fishing – to help others to snag their big catch!