Bowfishing Boat Setups: Build the Best Deck & Shooting Platform

Bowfishing, Bowfishing Boat Setups, Bowfishing Deck, Bowfishing Lights -

Bowfishing Boat Setups: Build the Best Deck & Shooting Platform

There are many bowfishing boats for sale, but the problem is most bowfishing boat setups were put together on the go rather than brainstormed and carefully thought out. On the resale market, the previous' owners problems are passed down to you. We want to walk you through the different styles of bowfishing decks to help you design the most optimal shooting platform possible. 

Keep in mind, wiring your Bowfishing Lights can be very difficult. Make it easy and choose one of the Swamp Eye Bowfishing Lights which are compatible with the building block wire harness. These injection molded connections make wiring a breeze, and allow you to customize your light setup however you want. 

Content Summary

Raised Bowfishing Deck

  • Great for daytime bowfishing.

Low Profile Bowfishing Platform

  • Ideal for multi-purpose boats that require removable platforms.

Flush Mounted Bowfishing Deck

  • Most common among purpose-built bowfishing boats, guide boats, and airboats. 

Hooped Light Rail for Bowfishing

  • Extremely low profile, with open spaces around the lights. Ideal for smaller boats that need as much open space as they can get. 

Raised Bowfishing Deck

A bowfishing boat with a raised bowfishing deck is common among both night shooters and day shooters because it gives bowfishermen a better ability to see further out as well as put the force of gravity in their favor by leveraging the increased height above water. Bowfishing bows are relatively low poundage bows, so this helps bowfishermen pack more of a punch on those longer shots.


  • Day time bowfishing - higher perspective makes it easier to see fish.
  • Night time bowfishing - spreads light out more
  • Can be made to be removable
  • Most common on day time bowfishing boats 


  • More difficult to navigate with deck interfering with view, limits accessibility to areas with low hanging trees and low bridges.
  • Added weight - may not run as shallow as you could with alternative option.
  • Higher risk to lose fish due to increased height above water when pulling them into boat from front.
  • May require long shaft trolling motor. 
  • Increased air drag from raised deck

raised bowfishing deck  raised bowfishing platform  raised bowfishing deck on sea ark boat  

Raised Bowfishing Deck with Swamp Eye HDs

Raised Bowfishing Deck with Swamp Eye HDs

Raised Bowfishing Deck with Swamp Eye HD Bowfishing Lights

Raised Bowfishing Deck with Swamp Eye HDs

Raised Bowfishing Deck with Swamp Eye Light Bars

Raised Bowfishing Deck with Swamp Eye Light Bars

Another strong attribute for raised decks is that bowfishing lights and any additional gear and bowfishing supplies can easily be stored underneath the bowfishing platform. Some bowfishermen prefer to mount the lights higher up on the hand rail of the platform to allow for a greater light spread. On the flip side, it is believed that you can limit the amount of bugs in your face if the lights are mounted below the platform.

Disadvantages of Raised Bowfishing Deck

The biggest downside to raised bowfishing decks include the difficulty to see what's ahead of you while driving to your bowfishing spot, the requirement for you to bend over to flip the trolling motor out and utilize it while bowfishing, the need for a long shaft trolling motor, and there is a chance that a raised bowfishing deck that is not properly fabricated may be unstable.

Despite these downsides, raised bowfishing decks are still popular on bowfishing boats across the nation. It is believed by many that the benefits of being high off the water outweigh the constraints associated with elevated bowfishing decks. 

    Low Profile Bowfishing Platform

    A low profile bowfishing platform is most common among night shooters. The low profile bowfishing deck is raised just a matter of inches above the front of the bowfishing boat to allow for the bowfishing lights to fit snug underneath.

    Common bowfishing lights for low profile bowfishing platforms are Swamp Eye Bowfishing Light Bars due to their ability to be concealed in a confined space while really lighting up the waters. The Swamp Eye HD Bowfishing Lights are also a great low profile option, at just a couple inches taller than the light bar. Not to mention both of these lights' brightness and ability to adjust color tone for clear or muddy water on the fly is a huge game changer. 


    • Night time bowfishing - closer shot on fish in comparison to raised platform. Fish are typically closer to boat at night compared to during the day. 
    • Easier to pull fish in boat and less risk of fish coming loose when pulling into boat. 
    • Commonly seen on multi-purpose boats that require an easy to remove deck for duck hunting, bowfishing, and rod and reel fishing. 


    • Bowfishing lights are closer to the water, less spread when compared to raised platform. This isn't a huge issue, as most bowfishing lights provide a lot of flood. 
    • Minimal added weight, not quite as light as flush mounted bowfishing deck option. 
    • May require long shaft trolling motor.

    A tournament bowfisherman once told me the reason he uses a low profile bowfishing deck is because he likes the ability to keep bugs underneath his feet and is able to quickly pull fish in the boat without having to worry about any railing. It also makes it much easier to navigate when headed out to a bowfishing spot because you have a clear line of sight and no raised bowfishing deck to block your view.

    The biggest upside when compared to flush mounted bowfishing decks is that these low profile "slightly raised" bowfishing decks can be fabricated for easy removal. This helps turn your bowfishing boat into a year-round boat for duck hunting or general fishing. 

      low profile bowfishing platform  low profile bowfishing deck 

    Low Profile Bowfishing Platform with Swamp Eye HDs

    Disadvantages to a Low Profile Bowfishing Platform

    The downside to low profile bowfishing platforms is that the bowfishing lights are typically pretty close to the water, especially on the smaller boat hulls. This can limit the amount of spread you get from your lights as it is recommended your bowfishing lights are at least 30 inches above the water. (Regardless of the style of light you choose.) 

    Another downside is the need for a long shaft trolling motor, depending on how low profile you make your deck. Standard trolling motors are typically designed for flush mounted purposes only. You may want to double check the shaft length on your trolling motor prior to installing your low profile bowfishing deck. 

      Flush Mounted Bowfishing Deck

      A flush mounted bowfishing deck is very common among night shooters and is even more common among guide services. The reason bowfishing charters favor a flush mounted bowfishing deck is because there is more open floor space for guests to shoot fish.

      Most flush mounted bowfishing decks have a box mounted around their bowfishing lights, which are flush mounted to the deck of the bowfishing boat. 


      • Night time bowfishing - closer shot on fish, minimal risk in losing fish when bringing them in to boat from water. 
      • Minimal air drag. no obstructions when navigating. 
      • Most common deck used on purpose-built bowfishing boats; most common style seen in bowfishing tournaments and among bowfishing guides. 


      • Bowfishing lights are closer to the water, less spread when compared to raised platform. This isn't a huge issue, as most bowfishing lights provide a lot of flood. 
      • Deck is permanent, not removable. 

      flush mounted bowfishing deck  flush mounted bowfishing platform  

      Flush Mounted Bowfishing Deck with Swamp Eye Light Bars

      Flush Mounted Bowfishing Deck with Swamp Eye HDs

      Flush Mounted Bowfishing Deck with Swamp Eye HDs
      Flush Mounted Bowfishing Deck with Swamp Eye Light Bars
      Flush Mounted Bowfishing Deck with Swamp Eye HDs

      Similar to low profile bowfishing platforms, the flush mounted decks allow better visibility when navigating to a bowfishing spot and they do not require the amount of climbing up and down a raised platform does. A unique feature for flush mounted decks is that unlike either of the two other options, the need for a long shaft trolling motor is no longer dependent on the deck you choose.

      If you are outfitting a standard commercially available boat, then a normal trolling motor shaft should work. If you are outfitting a custom built bowfishing boat, then it is important to measure the side walls of the boat to decide if a long shaft trolling motor is needed. 

      Disadvantages to a Flush Mounted Bowfishing Deck

      The downside to flush mounted bowfishing decks is the inability to be leveraged up higher in the air for longer range shots. The bowfishing lights are also typically mounted closer to the water, which can sometimes hinder the amount of spread you get from your lights. 

      The flush mounted decks are great for night shooting and have the most flexibility in terms of floor space used to keep your bowfishing supplies, but it is more difficult to make the light boxes a removable setup for your bowfishing boat. Guide services such as Capt. Moody's Texas Fishing Addiction will mount their flush mounted bowfishing lights in such a way that both the lights and the light boxes take up the most minimal amount of space possible, allowing for the bowfishing boat to be utilized for rod and reel fishing, duck hunting, and many other outdoor hobbies. 

      Hooped Light Rail for Bowfishing

      Hooped light rails for bowfishing boats are slowly gaining in popularity. They are most commonly seen on smaller airboats that don't have a lot of space, but need a way to mount their bowfishing lights.  

      Variations of this design are also seen on some large boats as a space saving measure. They are very similar to the flush mounted bowfishing decks, and can probably be considered a type of flush mounted bowfishing deck. 

      Here's an example of a guide boat that utilizes 10x Swamp Eye HD Bowfishing Lights on a hooped light rail system. 

       Hooped Light Rail Bowfishing Deck

      Bowfishing Boat Deck with Hooped Light Rail

      One of the great things about these hooped bowfishing light rails is that they can be fabricated to be made removable. The entire rail can be removed by just removing a couple bolts. 

      Here's a similar setup with Swamp Eye Gen 2X Light Bars. It has individual boxes the lights mount into, taking up minimal space. 

      Low Profile Bowfishing Light Setup

      Low Profile Bowfishing Deck with Lights

      Here's another customers boat who went with 3x Swamp Eye HD's up front, 1 on each side, and then 1 on each side in the back. He has zero shadows. This customer bent 1-inch aluminum pipe to make hoops to mount the lights to, and then welded 1/2-inch aluminum flat bar to the bottom of the hoops to bolt them to his boat. While 1/2-inch flat bar is a little overkill (3/16 would work fine), this is a pretty easy do-it-yourself method of making your own light rail. 

      Hoop Mounted Bowfishing Light Rail

      Hoop mounted bowfishing light rail system

      This system takes up very minimal deck space and allows you to easily bring fish in over the boat without having to worry about the fish hitting the light rail and coming off your bowfishing arrow. 

      The disadvantages to this style of bowfishing platform is similar to the above flush mounted bowfishing deck. You don't get the height advantage of raised decks. All in all, this is a great option for those seeking to maximize their deck space. 

        What Bowfishing Deck or Platform Fits You?

        Raised Bowfishing Deck - Ideal for day time bowfishing on open water.

        Low Profile Bowfishing Platform - Ideal for multi-purpose boats (duck hunting, rod and reel fishing, etc.)

        Flush Mounted Deck - Ideal for purpose-built bowfishing boats. Most common deck style used among guides and tournament bowfishermen. 

        Hooped Bowfishing Light Rail - Ideal for bowfishing boats looking to maximize their deck space. These are also able to be made removable fairly easily with a good fabricator. 

        Once you've decided on the bowfishing deck setup that suits your needs, you are going to need to determine a good bowfishing lighting option. To learn about what to look for in finding the best bowfishing lights, read our Guide to Buying the Best Bowfishing Lights for Sale.

        Thanks for reading along - if there's something we missed please leave us a comment below to let us know. If this has helped you figure out how to setup your boat with bowfishing supplies and lights, please leave a comment below!


        Outrigger Outdoors is your trusted source for bowfishing lights and supplies. To light up your bowfishing boat, shop our selection of bowfishing lights today. If you have any questions about your bowfishing boat setup, feel free to contact us directly. 

        Leave a comment

        Please note, comments must be approved before they are published