Do Crossbows Work Underwater? 🤿

Fact checked by Steven Lines, lifelong Hunter and Outdoorsman.

Crossbows are becoming more and more popular as they add more features and make it easier for people to focus on their game. One question that people often ask is, “Do crossbows work underwater?”

The truth is that you cannot use crossbows underwater. There are too much drag and resistance from the water, and they aren’t designed to be used this way. 

Although you can’t use a crossbow underwater, you can enjoy bowfishing with a crossbow. People use this to get ready for the upcoming season or a change of scenery. Bowfishing with a crossbow is a lot of fun, and you need to know what equipment you need and any specific rules that govern the crossbow fishing sport. Continue reading to learn how to bowfish with a crossbow.

What Is Bowfishing?

Bowfishing is a sport that combines bowhunting with fishing. You look for fish in the water, and when you find them, you can release your arrows or bolts. You will have a line attached to the arrow, and you can reel the fish back in. 

There are plenty of different places where you can bowfish, including rivers, lakes, marshes, and even fields that have been flooded. Bowfishing traditionally uses a standard bow and a fishing arrow, but you can use your crossbow with a fishing bolt. 

You will need to take your crossbow and set it up for fishing. It would help if you had a reel, which looks like a bottle or a spool. Fishing arrows or bolts are normally heavier than standard bolts to give you greater energy transfer and penetration underwater. 

Advantages of Using Your Crossbow for Bowfishing

One of the major advantages of using your crossbow to bowfish is that starting is relatively inexpensive. You only need some barbed bolts that can be joined to a special fishing line on a reel. You can mount the bowfishing reel to your crossbow in the lower front part of the crossbow underneath the bolt path’s trajectory.

You aren’t required to attach the reel to your crossbow, as you can use an existing rod and reel in place of it. It is quite simple; you open the bail on your reel as you would cast a lure, which allows your line to free flow out. Once you do this, you can attach your line to the crossbow bolt. You can tie it with a slide ring or with a safety slide. You can use a fishing knot to hold it.

Types of Bolts to Use for Fishing with a Crossbow

It would help if you used different bolts for crossbow fishing because they are heavier than standard bolts. This is important because you need the bolt to penetrate the fish. You won’t need any bait because you are using the crossbow and will see the fish feeding. You need to know the local rules, but many fish are drawn to light if you fish at night. Make sure that you have the heavier bolts so that you can penetrate the fish.

Disadvantages of Fishing with a Crossbow

There are a few disadvantages to fishing with a crossbow. First, you need to remember that it is illegal to put the fish back into the water. You will need to harvest all of the fish that you hit. If you enjoy catch-and-release fishing, you are not able to do this with a crossbow. 

You also need to be thoughtful about the type of fish you are fishing for. It is illegal to fish for certain types of fish with a crossbow, so you need to know your local rules. Also, the crossbow can overpower some fish, and the bolt can go right through them. You will want to stick with larger fish that are denser. 

It is also important to remember that drawing a crossbow is slower than drawing a regular bow. If you miss, you will probably scare the fish away. By the time you redraw the crossbow, it will be gone. 

Why Can’t You Shoot Crossbows Underwater?

Although you can use some crossbows in the rain or snow, they aren’t made to go underwater. When you know that you are going out in the rain with your crossbow, you will need to take precautions to prevent problems down the road. You will wax your strings and cables to keep moisture out. You will also keep your rails lubed—oil your trigger assembly lightly to keep moisture out of there as well. 

You will also want to place a thin coat of vaseline or oil on your broadheads to prevent rust. If you know that it will be raining, you should even bring a canvas covering to place over the crossbow while waiting in the stand. It is very important to keep water out of the trigger mechanism. 

Since you have to take such precautions to prevent your crossbow from getting wet in the rain or snow, you can only imagine the disaster that would occur if you submerged your crossbow underwater. Crossbows are not made to be used underwater, so you should stick to using them above the surface. 

What to Do If Your Crossbow Gets Wet

If your crossbow gets wet, you need to take care of it as soon as possible. You will want to use a clean, dry towel to remove as much of the moisture as you can. Leaving moisture on your crossbow can lead to future mechanical failures. 

You can use WD-40 to displace water in the crevices of your crossbow, and you can dry it with a hairdryer set on the lowest setting. You need to take your time and do not increase the heat because it could ruin your crossbow. 

Once you are confident that it is dry, you need to wax the strings and cables. This will help to protect them. Ensure that there isn’t any water left on them because the strings can mold and fail. Next, you should lube the rails and add some lube to the trigger box. Then, add a light coat of oil over any screws to prevent them from rusting. 

Once you have finished, you should consider placing your crossbow in front of a fan that is set on low until you are sure that it is dry. Don’t put it in the case until you are confident that there is no moisture remaining. 

If you try to submerge your crossbow underwater, there is a good chance that you will have trouble getting it dry quickly enough, and it could ruin it.

Final Words

People often wonder if crossbows work underwater, and the answer is a resounding no. It is never a good idea to put your crossbow underwater because its parts are not meant to be submerged.

You can use your crossbow in rainy or snowy weather as long as you take the time to make sure that it is completely dry afterward.

If you want to hunt fish with your crossbow, your best bet is to go crossbow fishing from above the surface. Your crossbow will be safe, and you can practice for hunting season.

Do Crossbows Work Underwater? 🤿

Steven Lines is a hunter and outdoorsman from Safford, Arizona, USA. He has been hunting and fishing since a child and has over 20 years of experience in the outdoors. Steven works as a hunting guide in Arizona during his spare time and runs a Youtube channel dedicated to sharing his outdoor adventures with others.


Hi, I'm Sam, and I love archery! I used to work as a caregiver, and I'm in medical school now. I started this blog to help people like my parents get healthier in fun and exciting ways, more than just going to the gym. If you like one of my articles, I'd appreciate it if you share it with your folks and help them get healthier too!

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