The best bowfishing boats are simple to use and have flat bottoms so that you don’t run aground as you fish. For the highest overall quality, choose boats manufactured by Lowe, Sun Tracker, Grizzly, Gator, or Alumacraft.
Some people start bowfishing because they want to combine their love of boating with their passion for archery. Others are interested in conservation. After all, bowfishing allows experienced fishers to target invasive species such as snakeheads, Asian carp, and unwelcome trout species.
Whether you’re a novice bowfisherman or you’ve been angling on the water for your entire life, purchasing a bowfishing boat is a great way to make the most of your time on the water.
What are the Best Boat Models for Bowfishing?
Here are our picks for the eight best bowfishing boats by model.
Best Overall: Alumacraft MV 2072
This aluminum boat seats up to five people and relies on a 30-gallon tank to power its motor. Use the Lit Cooler to store your catch or keep your favorite drinks cold as you fish. If you need a little more space, you can leave two seats behind onshore.
Best for Night Use: Grizzly 2072 MVX CC Sportsman
The Grizzly 2072 MVX CC Sportsman is another aluminum boat that should be at the top of your list. The removable light, which offers 28,000 lumens of illumination, lets you angle for catfish and other species that are more active at night.
The shooting deck is raised above the main deck, giving you a better angle for your shots, and the walls are lined with foam, so you don’t make too much noise as you look for your next catch.
Best for Families: Bass Buggy 16 DLX
Sun Tracker manufactures this sleek pontoon, which relies on 24-inch pontoon tubes and a four-stroke engine to propel you through the water.
This 16-foot boat has plenty of room to relax as you’re cruising to your next shooting site. Seat up to seven guests on two removable chairs and a large lounge bench. There are also two gates, making loading and unloading a breeze.
Best for Rivers: Roughneck 2070 Archer
Check out Lowe’s aluminum Roughneck 2070 Archer when looking for a good bowfishing boat. This craft is great for a party of five. Its fuel tank can hold 19 gallons, and it comes with a raised shooting platform. Put a blind around it and it’d also make a fine duck boat.
Best Budget: Classic Accessories Colorado Inflatable Pontoon
If you can’t decide between a fishing kayak and a pontoon, one of the best boats for bowfishing is the Classic Accessories Colorado Inflatable Pontoon.
Its tube system gives it more buoyancy than kayaks, but it’s only 9 feet long and weighs just 71.5 pounds, making it easier to maneuver. You can attach a motor if you want to troll quickly, and the boat also comes with an anchor.
Best Flexibility: Gator Tough 20 CC
This highly adaptable bowfishing boat measures over 19 feet long and is nearly 8 feet wide. It sits up to six people and can store 19 gallons of fuel for a full day (or night) on the water. Choose from a variety of four-stroke engines:
- Yamaha Mid-Range F70LA
- Yamaha Mid-Range F75LB
- Yamaha Jet Drive F90JB
- Yamaha In-Line Four F115LB
You can also pick your hull’s color, the style of seats, and any angling accessories you want to add.
Best for Stability: Grizzly 1648 MVX Jon
This aluminum Jon boat manufactured by Tracker comes with a hull with a 7-degree incline. Unlike most flat-bottomed bowfishing boats, this slightly angled boat allows you to cut through the water much more smoothly. Measuring just over 16 feet, this model can hold up to four people, and it offers maximum stability.
Best for Lakes: Roughneck 1860 Archer
Lowe’s Roughneck 1860 Archer features a heavy-duty metal shooting deck. The aluminum construction keeps you stable as you aim, and the fuel tank can hold 19 gallons. Take up to four people with you on this 19.75-foot boat.
What are the Best Bowfishing Boats?
Outboard Aluminum Boats
Some of the best boats for bowfishing are outboard aluminum boats. Aluminum boats are very light, making them easy to maneuver into your river or lake from the shore. This metal doesn’t rust the way iron does, so it lasts for years if you take care of your boat.
For bowfishing, Jon boats are your best option among outboard aluminum boats. These crafts are usually less than 20 feet long, and they have flat bottoms, allowing you to maneuver in the shallows where the big suckers lie.
You can also find aluminum Jon boats that come with motors.
If you want to go bowfishing farther from shore, consider investing in a powerboat.
Boats with high-power motors fit into this category, and they’re also called speedboats and motorboats. Flats powerboats have the smooth hulls you need to get close to the shore.
Pontoon boats have motors, but they offer more room to spread out and enjoy the day than standard powerboats. Their most distinctive feature is the interior tube system that keeps them afloat.
At first glance, fishing kayaks may look like standard recreational kayaks, but they’re different.
Optimized fishing models allow boaters to sit on top of the kayak rather than sinking below the water’s surface. They’re also wider to give fishermen more stability as they wrangle with tough catches.
Recreational kayaks typically lack attachments and storage. Because fishermen need places to put their gear as they move, fishing kayaks include rod holders and special gear storage compartments.
These extra components make fishing kayaks slightly heavier than recreational ones, but most bowfishermen are more interested in stability than speed.
What Makes a Good Bowfishing Boat?
The best bowfishing boats offer a high-quality boating experience that lasts. Flashy boats with lots of high-tech accessories that require hours of maintenance each month and break down after a few trips aren’t worth your money.
Price range is a much more subjective factor than quality level. If you have a low budget, a fishing kayak or a small outboard aluminum boat is the best option for you. A pontoon or powerboat gives you more space to spread out if you can spare the cash.
Regardless of what style and price range you choose, the best boats for bowfishing should be well-reviewed. Particularly for higher-end models, check the warranties carefully.
Ease of Use and Capacity
Your location and group size determine how important ease of use is in your bowfishing boat decision. If you go bowfishing on your own or with one other person, you probably don’t need more space than a fishing kayak provides.
Similar light crafts such as small aluminum boats are suitable for areas that don’t have big docks or marinas.
On the other hand, if you’re going bowfishing in a bay or the ocean, a lighter craft is not easy to handle; you need the durability of a speedboat or pontoon. Big boats also simplify outings with lots of guests.
Depending on your bowfishing style, you may need a boat with many amenities, such as lights for fishing at night and space for a cooler to hold your catch.
For example, if you’re picking between different fishing kayaks, look for one that has hooks where you can secure your snakeheads or trout.
Unless you’re picking a kayak or you don’t want to take up too much space, your bowfishing boat should have a shooting deck. These decks increase your distance from the water, allowing your arrow to hit your target with greater force. It’s also easier for you to install bow mounts and lights with the added space.
Some bowfishing experts think the best bowfishing boats have flush decks because they take up less space, and there’s less risk of falling into the water. These work well for small craft and calm waters. If you’re serious about catching fish, especially big ones that put up substantial fights, an elevated deck is your best bet.
Don’t forget about safety when looking for a good bowfishing boat.
For pontoons, powerboats, and outboard aluminum boats, make sure that the rails are high enough to keep you safe as you swim.
Backup generators provide an extra level of security if your motor fails or your tank runs out of gas.
Finally, having storage containers provides the perfect opportunity to store safety equipment:
- Spare life jackets
- First aid kits
- Emergency radio
- Bottled water
- Nonperishable food
Picking the best bowfishing boat for you depends on your budget, fishing preferences, and location.
When in doubt, consult with other fishermen or reach out to the manufacturer for more details.
You can also look for information about bowfishing communities in your area on Facebook. See whether experienced bowfishers are willing to take you out on their boats before you make up your mind.
If you want to have fun and at the same time help manage snakeheads and other invasive species, choose one of these best bowfishing boats before your next outing.
Complete Your Bowfishing Gear Setup
We recommend that you check these buying guides: