bowfisher standing on rocks

TOP 13 Best Bowfishing Bows Reviewed 2019 for Different Fishing Experience

Are you one of those people who find traditional fishing to be a boring pastime?

Admittedly, it’s not for everyone.

What about archery? Firing off a bunch of arrows at a static target?

Riveting.

Personally, I love both, but if you’re not into either, how about combining the two?

Bowfishing in the US has been on the rise the past few decades, with the Bowfishing Association of America setting up shop back in 1990.

It’s becoming a hugely popular sport (one of the fastest-growing in the states), with all the family able to get involved as a more sociable, exciting, active, adrenaline-fueled alternative to using the rod and reels.

So, even if you’re an old hand or you’re just new to this interesting archery/fishing/hunting hybrid, check out this review of the best bowfishing bows available on the market today.

A buyer’s guide and review will follow – which will be invaluable if you don’t know the first thing about bowfishing.

It’s time to channel your aquatic Robin Hood!

TOP 13 Best Bowfishing Bows 2019

Barnett 1108 Vortex H2O Youth Archery Bow

Review: First up as an entry-level option we have this right-handed youth archery bow from highly respected British archery company Barnett. It is a compound bow design, with a 31-45 lbs pull, and adjustable draw modules that are specifically targeted at developing teenagers’ archery skills.

Don’t let that fool you though, as adults are equally at home with using this bow with its adaptable draw strength and draw weight. A quiver and three arrows are included so you can get right out onto the water, while the packaging doubles as a carry-case for convenience.

It includes a fiberoptic sight with pins that are visible in low light, with a synthetic string and cable system that will have you landing your first catch in no time.

Pros

  • Great price.
  • Adjustable draw length and weight.
  • Fiberoptic sight.
  • Arrow rest
  • Quiver and arrows included.
  • Packaging carry-case.

Cons

  • Sight and arrow rest are not the best quality.

Takeaway

This is an ideal entry-level bow for a teen, but it’ll still do the job for adults if you’re looking for a quick, easy set up with everything included for a great price.

PSE Kingfisher Right Hand Bowfishing Kit

Review: Precision Shooting Equipment is the largest privately owned manufacturer of archery equipment in the US. Operating since 1970, they were never going to be too far away from a review on anything to do with archery, fishing or otherwise.

This is another entry-level offering, a right-hand, recurve bow with a 40 lbs pull and all-season camouflage finish.

It’s tough and durable and includes a front mounting reel, 50 feet of 80 lb test line, 31-inch solid fiberglass arrow with point, and the new SnapShot arrow rest which is made of high-grade aluminum and stainless steel.

Pros

  • Great price.
  • Tough and durable.
  • Quality manufacturer.

Cons

  • On the heavy side.
  • Noisy operation.

Takeaway

Another good option for a beginner, or possibly as a step up from a youth bow. PSE are well known in the field for their quality and although they tend to favor compound bows these days, this is a great shout if you’re looking for a solid recurve.

Cajun Fish Stick Take-Down Bowfishing Bow

Review: This takedown bow from US company Cajun Bowfishing is another excellent starter set if you’re new to the sport – as most people seemingly are. It measures 56 inches long with a draw weight of 45 lbs.

Featuring a high-grade aluminum riser and composite limbs that are tough and durable, it can easily stand up to the rigors of regular bowfishing. Included in this particular set is a drum reel with line, roller rest, and a single arrow with a piranha point.

The all-important grip is super-comfortable with non-slip rubber and ‘Blister-Buster’ fingerpads to keep you shooting comfortably all day long. The Fish Stick is highly adaptable and is built to accommodate mounting sights or reels that accept Cajun Winch Pro and Winch Pro.

Pros

  • Good price point.
  • Simple, easy-to-use system.
  • Highly durable.
  • Adaptable to suit your needs.

Cons

  • You’ll want to upgrade the reel ASAP.

Takeaway

For ease of use in a durable, powerful takedown bow that is versatile with mountable attachments and accessories, you can’t go wrong with this effort from Cajun. Possibly the best bow fishing bow for the money out there.

Anglo Arms Mantis Fishing Crossbow

Review: I thought I’d throw in something a little different in this review and include a crossbow option for bowfishing. This is a British made product that comes with 12 two-wing Morris 80 bolts and 8 lbs fishing reel. It is a self-cocking pistol crossbow, and also includes 3 aluminum bolts, shark fishing bolt, and 2 wing fishing bolts.

It’s made from a tough and durable resin construction with a high-tech fiberglass limb that offers 80 lbs of draw weight for a 175 ft per second shot while weighing just 2.35 lbs itself. It’s simple and safe to use with the auto-safety mechanism engaging when cocking the bolt retainer.

It’s a great price for what you get in the package if you prefer using a crossbow to snare those fish.

Pros

  • Excellent price point.
  • Everything included.
  • Shakespeare reel.
  • Easy-to-use.
  • Auto-safety and self-draw.

Cons

  • Crossbows are not for everyone when it comes to bowfishing.

Takeaway

A solid alternative to traditional bows, and while there are more powerful and expensive crossbows out there, but this gets the nod for what you get in the package.

D&Q Archery Recurve Bowfishing Bow

Review: This set is also a great starter option considering what’s included for the price, and it even gives you the option of choosing either a 30 lbs or a 40 lbs pull, depending on what you or your family is comfortable with.

It’s a recurve bow that comes with a high-quality metal fishing reel, bow stabilizer, arrow rest, arm and finger guards and six fishing arrows.

You’ll find it’s easy to put together, made with an alloy riser and fiberglass coated limbs that ensure the bow is tough and wear-resistant, and able to keep you bowfishing until your heart is content. It packs down easily for portability and is altogether a comfortable, pleasurable shooting experience for any age or ability.

It’s simply a really good bowfishing bow at a great price for what you get. There’s a lot of bang for your buck here.

Pros

  • Loads of accessories – all you need to get started.
  • Well built, durable construction.
  • Easy to set up and dismantle.
  • Choice of draw weights available.

Cons

  • Right-handed option only.

Takeaway

Yet another great package that has everything you need to start enjoying the sport. Anyone would think bowfishing was something new.

For left-handed bowfishing bows, however, you’ll need to look elsewhere.

Cajun Sucker Punch Bowfishing Bow

Review: Cajun has another entry here with their popular Sucker Punch compound bow, weighing just 3.2 lbs with an impressive draw weight of 50 lbs at its peak.

It features constant draw or draw length specific modules included with deep cam grooves to prevent derailed strings, and has a 60% let-off so you can comfortably hold a ready-to-shoot position for longer without causing too much discomfort.

The Sucker Punch also offers dual draw modes, so you can be ready to release a second shot in double quick time if you need it.

And like the Fish Stick, it comes with a super-comfortable grip with the ‘Blister Buster’ finger pads. Tough and durable with a smooth as silk action, this bow was built for fun – no matter what you’re shooting.

Pros

  • Lightweight.
  • Dual-action.
  • Deep cam grooves to prevent derailment.
  • Left and right-handed options available.

Cons

  • It can be a bit awkward to set up.
  • The reel isn’t the best quality.
  • Only the bow included in the package.

Takeaway

An excellent compound with a powerful draw weight that offers smooth, dual-action shooting should you need it.

Although a bit fiddly to set up, it’s a solid as a rock and the choice for left or right-handers should be mandatory for every bow.

Gen-X Cuda Bowfishing Kit

Review: We’re cranking it up a notch with this Gen-X Cuda bowfishing kit that is again targeted both at pros and newcomers. The draw weight can be adjusted to accommodate archers of all skills and abilities, from a 25 lbs to a 40 lbs pull – making it ideal for all the family.

It has a progressive let-off for a super smooth draw cycle, while the full package comes with a fiberglass arrow with safety slide, arrow rest, and a premium, heavier grade Zebco 808 fisher reel pre-spooled with a 200 lbs line.

The Cuda has been engineered with a 35 1/2 inch axle-to-axle length to enhance your stability and precision, while the whole set-up smacks of quality and yet is very easy to use.

If you’re looking to up your bowfishing game, this could well be the choice for you.

Pros

  • Everything included in the kit.
  • Premium Zebco fishing reel.
  • Good draw weight options.
  • Right and left-handed bows available.

Cons

  • You’re going to have a lot of fish to carry.

Takeaway

Makers of some of the best bows for beginners, Gen-X take it to the next level with this sturdy, all-round compound that has everything you need to get started in bowfishing without compromising quality.

Muzzy Bowfishing Vice Bowfishing Kit

Review: One of the premium arrow manufacturers famous for their broadhead designs, Muzzy are very well respected in the target sports community. This is a premium package with their trademark quality that is built to reel in the big fish.

It features a professional push-button reel, pre-spooled with 150 feet of 150 lbs tournament line. There’s an integrated reel seat, Muzzy fish hook rest, a classic white fish arrow with a carp point and nock, and glove-free finger guards pre-installed on the string.

Draw weight is simple to adjust from 30 to 40 lbs and the easy-to-maneuver 30-inch axle-to-axle bow fires arrows up to 320 feet per second. Power and precision in one quality package.

Pros

  • Name to trust.
  • Professional set up.
  • Finger guards on the string.
  • Ready to go right out of the box.

Cons

  • This is the right-hand model only – although a left-hand version is available.

Takeaway

Quality through and through, this is another excellent Muzzy addition to target sports. Whether you’re a beginner or an old pro, Muzzy has you covered with the Vice.

CenterPoint Complete Bowfishing Kit

Review: Right out of the box this Centerpoint bowfishing bow is fully assembled and ready to go with a 100 lbs test dynamo line installed. It has fully adjustable draw weights between 15 to 55 lbs and draw lengths to suit all users at any skill level.

Featuring a spin-cast reel system for left or right-handed retrieve with a double-locking aluminum reel seat. The durable arrow rest is also made from aluminum, and it comes with a 33-Inch fiberglass arrow with quick-release carp point and Cajun ACS slide system.

Rubberized finger guards are installed on the string of this mid-range but professional quality compound.

Pros

  • Premium materials throughout.
  • Excellent draw weight options.
  • Well balanced.
  • Lightweight.

Cons

  • Let me know if you find one.

Takeaway

A well-designed compound with practical additional features, good balance, and adjustability. A definite step-up on the ladder for anyone looking to make the transition from an entry-level kit.

AMSBowfishing Water Moc Recurve Bowfishing Kit

Review: Back to the recurve bows now with this AMS Bowfishing kit, made by the very first bowfishing company to specialize in the sport. Featuring a 45 lbs pull draw, with their AMS Retriever TNT reel with 35 yards of 350 lbs premium Spectra line in a takedown style that’s really easy to set up.

The package also includes a white fiberglass arrow with Chaos FX point, the AMS Bowfishing Tidal Wave arrow rest, and green finger guards pre-installed on the bowstring. It’s super-lightweight, waterproof, and stylish to boot.

Probably the best recurve bow for bowfishing on the market, it’s certainly helped by the fact that it has been 100% designed from the ground up for this sport and nothing else. Although feel free to practice on empty water bottles in your back yard.

Pros

  • Top-quality make and manufacture.
  • Highly durable.
  • Premium arrow, reel, and line.
  • Easy setup.

Cons

  • No left-hand version is available.
  • No sights – recurves are harder to aim.

Takeaway

You’d expect the pioneers of bowfishing to come up with something decent in this day and age – and they certainly have. This is an excellent recurve bow with premium additions to significantly improve your bowfishing experience.

RPM Bowfishing Nitro Bow

Review: This sexy, black-as-night, beast of a bow comes from RPM Bowfishing who have quite the following. Based out of Utah, they offer some seriously stylish and powerful bows that cater to those looking to up their bowfishing game, or if you just want to show off from the get-go.

The Nitro bowfishing compound features alloy riser construction, aluminum timing wheels, aluminum full capture limb pockets, draw stops and aluminum saddles. It boasts a draw range of 26 to 28.5 inches and a draw weight of 35-55 lbs.

Made with premium materials, this bow looks and feels this business, which probably explains why it’s in this price range. Light and well balanced, this is a serious piece of kit for serious bowfishers.

Pros

  • Quality construction.
  • Smooth draw and action.
  • Very powerful.
  • Stylish look and feel.

Cons

  • Pricey.

Takeaway

A gorgeous looking and yet powerful compound that will net you a whole vat of fish – if you’re willing to part with over $500 for the privilege.

E-Rad Eradicator Bowfishing Bow Kit

Review: AMS Bowfishing gives us another option from their product line, this time the rather aptly named Eradicator. This compound features a draw weight of 30 to 60 lbs, so there’s plenty of power here if you need it. The draw length can be adjusted between 25 to 35 inches, with a draw stop included.

The bow weighs 3.5 lbs and comes with a retriever TNT reel with 105 feet of 350 lbs line. Also in the kit, AMS provides their Tidal Wave rest with Lava Crux Ankor FX Arrow – so you’re getting premium-quality accessories in the bundle.

With a machined aluminum riser the E-Rad is built for the rigors of bowfishing so you can shoot all day without it letting you down. Right and left-handed options are available.

Pros

  • Name to trust.
  • Tough and durable build.
  • Quality accessories.
  • Powerful draw weight.
  • Premium performance.

Cons

  • Very expensive.

Takeaway

Quite possibly the best compound bow for bowfishing available, the E-Rad can wage a one-bow war on unruly fish stocks everywhere.

Oneida Eagle Bows Osprey Bowfishing Muzzy Package

Review: When it comes to bowfishing bows – or any bows for that matter – Oneida Eagle Bows are the best of the best. This is their Osprey model, which is combined with Muzzy accessories to really give you an outstanding, all-inclusive package.

The bow itself is top-drawer, with a super-lightweight magnesium riser, a lever-action design that delivers excellent performance on the water, and modules that allow custom draw length and let-off options.

The smooth draw allows the archer to shoot anywhere in the cycle, while the Muzzy gear includes the pre-spooled XD reel, fish hook rest, reel seat and Alcatraz arrow. There’s a reason why Oliver Queen uses Oneida as his weapon of choice – this is the best bowfishing bow money can buy.

Pros

  • Market leader in target sports.
  • World-class manufacture.
  • Muzzy accessories included.
  • Tournament quality action.

Cons

  • Exorbitantly expensive.

Takeaway

It really doesn’t get any better than this – but for serious bowfishers only. Or, if you’re made of money.

How to Choose the Right Bowfishing Bow

As it’s still a young sport, relatively speaking, most people will find themselves new to bowfishing. This guide will shed some light on what you need to look out for if you’re interested in getting involved.

Bow Type

First of all, you’ll probably notice that the bows come in various different types – each offering something a little different to the archer.

While there are several different variations of bows across the full range of archers weaponry, for the purpose of bow fishing, there are two distinct types.

Recurve Bows

Recurve bows are easy to identify, as the center part of the bow curves towards the archer, while the tips curve away. This gives these bows serious power, while less strength is required for the draw.

Recurve bows are popular with beginners, as they are really easy to pick up and use. Anyone learning archery for the first time is likely to use a recurve model.

In bowfishing, a recurve is ideal for snap-shooting – taking a powerful shot without being at the full length of the draw. This is mainly used to spear fast-moving fish when you have little reaction time to pull.

Recurves have less moving parts than compound bows, which means they’re less likely to break or malfunction.

They’re also a lot cheaper, too, making them the budget-friendly option for anyone just starting out.

However, they have significant downsides. The draw weight of the bow is what you’re stuck with – you can’t adjust how many pounds of pull it has.

This means they can be tricky to use for some people, that and the fact that they are generally more difficult to aim means they’re usually not the go-to bow of choice for sport hunters.

bowfisher standing on rocks

Compound Bows

First introduced in the 1960s, compound bows are also easy to identify, as they use a system of pullies, cables, and cams to make it easier for the archer to draw and hold a heavy pull.

This gives you more time to aim without the risk of fatigue or discomfort creeping in.

Compounds have a huge advantage in the adjustable draw weight. Regardless of who is using the bow, they can set it at what is comfortable and easy to draw.

With increased let-off (the percentage of the full draw weight that the cam system stores by mechanical advantage), compound bows hit harder. This makes them clearly the most popular choice when it comes to hunting and bowfishing.

However, not only are they more expensive than recurves, but they also are much more prone to malfunction. Dirt and debris can clog the system when you need it the most. Constant care is needed to continue its smooth operation.

They’re also not as portable as a takedown bow, and generally much heavier.

There is a third option that I’ve included here – the crossbow. While they are used for bowfishing, they’re not that popular due to their slow reload time.

However, they come into their own when shooting bigger game, such as shark or alligators.

Failing these options, you could always get in the water yourself and try one of the best spearguns for fishing. Or, if you wanted to practice being a James Bond villain.

For more information, watch the awesome video below. It’s not specifically for bowfishing, but it will highlight the pros and cons of both bow types.

Weight

There are two weight factors to consider when making your bowfishing bow purchase – or any bow for that matter.

The first is the actual weight of the bow. For a bowfishing bow, you should try and look for something that is no more than 3 lbs.

The reason for this will soon become obvious when you’re out on the water all day, transporting your equipment from place to place, or for its ease of portability.

The draw weight of the bow is certainly more important. This is how many pounds of pull weight it takes to draw the bowstring to its capacity.

Having a heavier draw weight will increase the range and power of your shot. Of course, the trade-off is that it’s much harder to pull back.

There is a complex science behind this with lots of facts and figures involved. If you want to know more about draw weights and lengths, check out the video below to find your perfect set up.

Grip

It pretty much goes without saying that a comfortable grip is essential for a good bowfishing experience. You’re going to be using it a lot.

Try to get a bow that has anti-blister pads that will enable you to keep shooting all day without introducing any discomfort. You’ll be surprised how quickly a painful sore can appear when you’re using a poor grip.

At the very least, the grip should be well-padded and pleasant to hold.

It’s also worth noting that you’ll need to decide which hand you’re going to be using when shooting, as bows have right-handed and left-handed grips.

A right-handed archer will hold the bow with their left hand and draw the string with their right. Left-handers will be vice-versa.

Right-handed bows are far more common, so if you’re “unlucky” enough to be left-handed, you might have a little bit of a challenge sourcing the right bow for you.

Reels

Primarily, what sets a bowfishing bow apart from a standard archery bow – is the reel.

You’re going to need one – otherwise you’ll lose a lot of arrows and won’t catch any fish.

Many of the bowfishing starter kits included in this review will already come complete with a reel – but be warned that their quality can vary.

If you’re not entirely happy with the device that comes with your chosen kit, it would be a good idea to upgrade it.

Arrows

Likewise, arrows are equally as important – because you can’t just use your regular flights.

Bowfishing arrows have to be specially designed, they’re usually made from fiberglass, solid aluminum, or carbon fiber.

They’re much heavier and stronger than traditional arrows – they also have special barbed heads to spear the fish so you can reel it in.

Again, many of the bowfishing kits mentioned here will come with at least one arrow – but of course, you can upgrade or increase your quiver capacity as you so please.

bowfishing in sunset

Cost

The beauty of this sport is that you can get right out on the water reeling in fish for relatively little expense.

Most starter sets are only a little over a hundred bucks.

However, it starts moving into silly money if you’re serious about bowfishing, and adapting your rig with all the bells and whistles can set you back substantial sums.

Not to mention the bow itself, as professional and tournament bows don’t come cheap.

It’s up to you how much you spend, but I would say stick to a sensible budget if you’re just starting out.

You might not like it after all.

Which is highly unlike – so just go all in and buy the most expensive thing there is!

FAQs

Can I Use Any Bow for Bowfishing?

Yes, you can. If you’ve already got a decent compound or recurve bow, you can adapt it to take a reel and get it out on the water.

You could even use a longbow if you wanted to.

But bear in mind that it should really be a tough and sturdy rig to be able to handle the rigors of bowfishing. You’re going to be putting through its paces – so it needs to be of good quality in the first place.

A bowfishing bow is going to get dirty, dropped, bashed around, covered in filth, sand, water, blood (hopefully not human) and all sorts of other muck.

On your head beit if you want to adapt your own bow for such purposes.

Watch the video below to see how this gentleman attaches a reel to his compound bow.

And remember – you can’t use regular arrows for bowfishing. Heavy-duty flights are required with a special tip.

Do You Need a License for Bowfishing?

Yes, is the short answer. Bowfishing is considered game hunting rather than just traditional fishing – you are hunting with a deadly weapon after all.

Before embarking on your fish-spearing escapades, make sure you’ve checked the local regulations where you intend to bowfish – so you’re toeing the line when it comes to being on the right side of the law in that state.

Contact the local fish and wildlife agency to keep yourself covered.

You also need to be over the ripe old age of 18.

What Type of Fish Can I Bowfish?

You’re most likely going to be hunting for rough fish – carp, eels, suckers, perch, catfish, and gars in freshwater. They’re the undesirable swimmers, not commonly consumed and hunted to control population numbers.

In saltwater, dogfish, sharks, and rays are often targeted.

Again, I must stress it’s vitally important that you check state laws so you know what you can and cannot legally bowfish.

Where Can I Go Bowfishing?

Providing you have the right credentials (AKA a sport fishing license) you can bowfish just about anywhere.

For freshwater, you can check out lakes, rivers, and ponds, while for saltwater you should be hunting in bays, beaches or estuaries.

A simple google search will help you locate good bowfishing hot-spots in your area, but don’t be afraid to ask an experienced hunter for some tips and advice on where to look.

Most people in this rapidly growing community are only too happy to help a beginner take up the sport.

Should I Use a Compound or Recurve Bow for Bowfishing?

That is a decision I cannot make for you – it all comes down to personal preference.

Refer back to the pros and cons of each type of bow above and make your choice based on your gut.

Both have their advantages and disadvantages, but the vast majority of sport fisherpeople will use a compound bow.

The question is – which would you prefer to shoot?

Do I Need a Fishing Vest While Bowfishing?

You don’t have to, as you’re not going to be carrying as much bait and tackle as you would when traditional rod and reel fishing.

But these days you can find some excellent fishing vests that are just handy to have for any extra bits and pieces you might need – or if you also enjoy using the fishing poles from time to time.

Follow that link and check them out.

Is Bowfishing Safe?

Providing you follow the rule and regulations of the state, employ a large amount of common sense and take great care where you aim – bowfishing is a perfectly safe activity for all the family to enjoy.

I’m going to cover my bases here and advise that it’s a good idea to use a PFD if you’re out on the water, so have a look at these kayak fishing personal floatation devices that are also perfectly suitable for bowfishing.

Especially useful if you’re out on the water with younger archers.

Summary

One of the fastest – if not the fastest growing sports in the US is inexpensive, fun, and accessible for all ages and skillsets.

And if you’re looking to get started, you’ve come to the right place to find the best bowfishing bow for you – or anyone in your family who wants to give it a try.

Shoot me a message in the comments below if you need any further information to help get you started, and keep your eyes peeled for more bowfishing articles coming soon.

Good luck and happy fishing!