I wasn’t sure nylon staging twine tied to an arrow and wrapped around a coffee can bolted to my bow would be the most effective bowfishing outfit around, but it certainly was the cheapest.

The outfit was still holding together after a few missed shots at gars. The line fed off the can perfectly. I finally compensated enough for the light refraction in the water and drilled a 2-foot gar as it rose to the surface. After a brief struggle, I pulled the gar toward my feet. My homemade rig never hiccuped, and soon I was looking for another fish coming to the surface.


I’ve been using that same homemade rig for a few springs and I still marvel at my results. If I do my part and keep my line from getting tangled, the rig will handle small gar and carp all day long. When adding up the costs, the most expensive part of the outfit is the fiberglass fish arrow.

I built the rig by simply fitting a bolt into the stabilizer hole on my retired hunting bow. Next, I drilled a hole in the base of a large metal coffee can. I fitted the coffee can over the bolt and secured it with a nut and long-arm socket wrench. I punched a smaller hole just above the bolt and fed my fishing line through it. Then I secured the line to the bolt inside the can.

I knew most of my shots would be close-range at fish weighing no more than 5 or 6 pounds, so I didn’t mess with too much line. I wrapped an adequate amount of line–about 35 feet–around the can.

The grooves on the coffee can keep the line in decent order when the rig is loaded, and the line flows well off of the can when it’s fired. I keep the plastic lid on to dampen the sound of the coffee can reverberating with the shock after the shot.


One of my primary concerns with bowfishing is keeping the arrow from tangling and snapping back at me while I’m shooting. You can minimize this possibility by drilling a hole at both ends of your fish arrow and running a strand of bowfishing line through a two-way barrel swivel along the shaft.

Rather than attach your main line to the arrow itself, attach it to the swivel. This will keep the line from tangling when it’s time to draw, because the barrel swivel and main line will slide to the front of the arrow. At the shot, the swivel will slide to the back of the shaft and minimize its effect on the arrow’s flight path.

This isn’t a rig I’d use for tackling a monster alligator gar, but it works well for casual bowfishing purposes like shooting spawning carp and smaller needle-nose gars. Plus, in the off chance that it breaks, it’s easy and cheap to replace.


  • First, drill a hole through the bottom of the can. The hole should be the same size as the stabilizer hole on the bow.
  • Secure the bolt with a nut. Punch a small hole in the bottom to feed the line.
  • Secure the line to the bolt and wrap 35 feet around the can. Attach it with a barrel swivel to the line on the arrow.

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