Steps to Convert a Hunting Bow into Bowfishing Bow
Steps to Convert a Hunting Bow into Bowfishing Bow

Converting A Bow To A Bowfishing Bow

Can You Turn A Compound Bow Into A Bowfishing Bow

Can You Turn A Compound Bow Into A Bowfishing Bow- You don’t have to stress if you are thinking of bowfishing but are hesitant about spending money on a bow. You can convert almost any bow, recurve or compound, into a bowfishing weapon by simply purchasing the right accessories.

Assess the bow you intend to use to bowfish. A lot of people choose to use an older hunting bow or a second-hand bow that is affordable. If you wish, you can use your existing hunting bow.

Ideal draw weight for a bowfishing rod should be between 30-50 pounds. However, if it is slightly less it is not too important.

Different types of reels

Your bowfishing reel is the next accessory to consider. There are many options available and you can break them down into three categories.

  1. Hand Reel: This is the simplest of all three types of bowfishing rods. These are very popular for traditional bows because they are lightweight and don’t add much weight to an already light bow. The hand reel screws directly into your bow, where a stabilizer would normally mount. The spool holds the bowfishing lines and is easily reeled in by hand. You can also use this reel with thicker braided bowfishing lines to ensure it doesn’t cut.
  2. Bottle Reel : This reel is very popular and its name is easy to remember. The bowfishing line is kept out of harm’s way by being enclosed in a clear plastic bottle. A trigger mechanism is used to stop the line from spinning out when you’re not ready. With a few bolts, the bottle reel attaches to your bow’s riser. This reel uses a thick braided line which is both durable and gentle on the hands. A few hybrid versions of the bottle reel exist, which is a combination of the spinner-style reel and the bottle reel. (See number 3)
  3. Spinner Style Reel: This type of bowfishing reel is similar to a standard push button fishing reel, but much larger. The braided bowfishing lines are used and it works in the same manner as a fishing reel. Reels like these require a reel chair, which is similar to a stabilizer. The reel seat attaches to your bow, where a stabilizer would be. The reel then clips into the seat. You can also add a bowfishing or laser light to the reel seat.
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Although there are many opinions on which reel is the best, they all accomplish the same thing.

A bowfishing light can be added to your bow if you intend to do a lot at night. This light is designed specifically for night bowfishing and mounts on the bow where a stabilizer would be. You can use it while shooting because it is battery powered and has an on/off switch that you can use. Lights are very helpful, especially if you are shooting from the bank.

Finger savers are one of the last items you can add to your bow when bowfishing. They aren’t necessary but they can be very helpful. Finger savers are small rubber pieces that attach to your bowstring and protect your fingers while you draw your bow many times a day. You can also use a tab or shooting glove to protect your fingers.

Some bowfishers prefer to keep the D-loop off their bows and use a release to continue bowfishing. Although this is fine, it makes it harder to take quick shots with a release.

How To Convert a Hunting Bow into a Bowfishing Bow?

5 Steps to Convert a Hunting Bow into Bowfishing Bow

Step 1. Select a Rest

When it comes to bowfishing – simple is better.  You don’t need a fancy drop away rest to shoot effectively.

In fact, less moving parts means fewer opportunities for failure or malfunction. Also, from a safety standpoint, it is advisable to go with a simple rest such as our Current Arrow Rest or our Hydro Glide.

Either style of rest is effective when installed properly.  These rests will install on the riser of your compound bow, but if your old hunting bow is a traditional bow – you’ll need to make sure that the riser is indeed drilled and tapped for a rest.

We don’t recommend shooting off the shelf of your trad bow when bowfishing.

Step 2. Swap Your String Accessories

If you shoot a compound bow with a release aid attached to a string loop, you will want to swap your string loop out for some variation of string nocks.

Bowfishing is fast-paced, and you won’t be needing that trigger release you’ve been using for big game bowhunting.  For this reason, optional accessories like the Fin-Finder Hydro-Shot Finger Savers have become popular with a lot of bowfishing enthusiasts.

They are an easy install and provide a nock point on your bowstring while making finger-shooting without a glove or finger tab much more comfortable.

If you have a peep sight on your string – that can also be removed. The aiming process with bowfishing is not the same as with archery hunting or target shooting and this accessory won’t be needed.

Vibration dampeners are a personal preference. However, if your bowstring is already equipped, you can leave them on the string.

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Step 3. Choose a Sight

Bowfishing with a sight is optional.  Some people enjoy the challenge of instinctive shooting, while others prefer refracting laser sights.

In 2019, we developed the RefractR BLS which is another version of a laser sight with upgraded components and features, including multiple mounting options.

Laser sights can be especially useful when bowfishing at night, but each bow-fisherman or woman has to decide what bowfishing sight is right for their rig.

Step 4. Select Your Arrows and Points

Make sure you give some consideration to the fish species you most likely expect to get into, as well as the conditions in which you will most often be bowfishing.  Both of these factors will affect the arrow and point combination you ultimately choose to go with.

If you need some assistance in determining what points are best for the fish you are after, you can reference our Wrecking Level Chart here.

Likewise, our new Custom Arrow Builder option allows you to choose your shaft, color, and point combination if you can’t find the right “stock” option to suit your needs.  Fiberglass arrows are a great and highly durable option for most bowfishing applications, but other types of shafts are available – including hybrid carbon shafts.

You’ll also want to be sure to match your arrows and points with the type of fish you are pursuing so that you do not blow through smaller, softer fish.  You will want to select points that will hold up in rocky bottoms if you will be bowfishing in those conditions.

Now is also a good time to point out that some high-poundage, high-velocity speed bows might not be optimal for some species of fish.  Most bowfishing bows top out at draw weights of under 50lbs. because speed is not as important, and high poundage bows can result in more shoot-throughs.

Step 5. Select Bowfishing Accessories

There are a lot of bowfishing accessories that can take your rig to the next level.  You will have to determine what is needed for the type of bowfishing you intend to do.

If you plan on doing a lot of night time bowfishing, and possibly solo bowfishing, a bow-mounted light is a valuable accessory to have. You won’t have a partner to hold a spotlight or boat’s lighting to highlight the action for you.

Other convenient accessories include an arrow quiver which will help to keep your arrow and line from becoming entangled in other equipment or other bows on the boat. It’s also a good idea to invest in extra points and arrows in case a point gets damaged on a rocky creek bottom or you have the unfortunate situation where you have to cut your line.

Time to Bowfish

Transitioning your old hunting bow into a bowfishing bow is a quick and easy way for you to get out on the water and catch the bowfishing bug. It’s also a great way to stay sharp in the off-season of bowhunting.

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Now that you’ve completed these 5 steps, you’re ready to wreck some fish with your newly transformed bowfishing bow!

Consider Views But Do Not Spend A Lot Of Money Here

You should use fewer sights on your bowfishing bow. Many archer-anglers do not use sights. Bowfishing is fast-paced, so you will rely on your instinctive shooting. You don’t need to use sights if you bowfish. Most shots will be within striking distance. You don’t have to spend a lot of money on fancy or expensive items.

Pick A Lucky Light For Night Time Extractings

A light is another accessory that you might want to add to your bow when you’re converting it. If you intend to bowfish at night, lights are essential. Bowfishing lights can be mounted easily and are usually battery-operated. This will be especially useful in low-light situations to aid in identifying your target.

Add Optional Accessories

Lastly, another accessory that you might want to add to your bowfishing bow is finger savers. Although they are not required, these accessories can help beginners bowfishing. These rubber or plastic pieces are attached to your bowstring to prevent your fingers getting too tired. Bowfishing is a sport where you draw your bow back to shoot fish. This can cause damage to your fingers. If you don’t want to add another accessory to your bowfishing bow but still want some protection, you can opt for bowfishing gloves instead. These gloves will protect your hands, and provide grip to help you reel in the fish once they are landed.

It’s Time For Practice Shooting

Once you have all of the accessories installed on your bowfishing bow you can get some arrows for practice shooting. Bowfishing is a messy and muddy sport. Make sure you clean your bow every time you go out.

It doesn’t matter what kind of bow you have. Converting it into a bowfishing rig can give you more use from your bow without spending a lot of money. Your old hunting bow can be converted into a bowfishing rig that will help you catch hundreds of pounds of fish with a bit of practice and work.


It doesn’t matter what kind of bow you use, bowfishing can be dirty. Any bow that isn’t made with waterproof hardware can be subject to constant mud, water, and sand. This is a good reminder to clean your bow as needed. If necessary, check the cams on the bow and the limb bolts for rust. If you bowfish often, it’s a good idea to keep your bowstring oiled and change it every other year. Your bow will take good care of itself.

Lewis Mark is a vastly experienced fly fisher. His encyclopedic knowledge of fly tying has led to start blog on fishing. He also review Fishing equipment based on his knowledge and experience.