In today’s fast-paced world, traditional fishing with the rod is declining, especially for people who seek to make the fishing experience more fun and less burdensome.
The good news? Bowfishing is becoming increasingly popular, and for a good reason. Bowfishing combines the thrill of hunting with that of fishing, making it the perfect activity for people who enjoy hunting, but for underwater fish.
However, if you’re new to the world of bowfishing, you might find choosing the perfect reel a bit of a challenge, since they come in different types. While it is easy to select the right bow and the perfect arrows, it’s a different case for reels because you can’t test their efficiency unless you try them yourself.
Now, we’ve conducted the necessary research to help you pick the best bowfishing reel without buying each and every product out there to try before you buy!
All you have to do is to read our list of the best 7 bowfishing reels we’ve combined for you.
List of the 7 Best Bowfishing Reels:
- AMS 610 Retriever Pro Bowfishing Reel – Best Overall Bowfishing Retriever Reel
- Fin-Finder Heavy Duty Drum Reel – Best Bowfishing Reel for Beginners
- Zebco 808HBOW80BX3 Bow Fisher Spin-cast Reel – Best Backup Bowfishing Reel
- Muzzy Bowfishing 1069 XD Pro Spin Style Reel – Best Bowfishing Reel with a Visual Indicator
- SinoArt Bowfishing Reel – Best Corrosion-resistant Bowfishing Reel
- Cajun Winch Pro Bowfishing Reel – Second Best Retriever Bowfishing Reel
- Cajun Bowfishing Screw-On All-Aluminum Drum Reel – Best Price Drum Reel
Our Top Picks:
The AMS 610 Retriever Pro Bowfishing Reel
|Retriever||25 lbs. of 200 yards||
The Fin-Finder Heavy Duty Drum Reel
The Zebco 808HBOW80BX3 Bow Fisher Spin-cast Reel
The Muzzy Bowfishing 1069 XD Pro Spin Style Reel
|Spin-cast||150 feet of 150 lbs.||
The SinoArt Bowfishing Reel
|Spin-cast||40-70 yards of 10 lbs.||
The Cajun Winch Pro Bowfishing Reel
|Retriever||25 yards of 250 lbs.||
The Cajun Bowfishing Screw-On All-Aluminum Drum Reel
The Best 7 Bowfishing Reels in 2021
1. AMS 610 Retriever Pro Bowfishing Reel – Best AMS Retriever
AMS retrievers were the first-ever reels manufactured, especially for bowfishing, and they combine both efficiency and durability. The AMS 610 Retriever Pro Bowfishing Reel, in particular, is no exception to that and even has more to offer.
Functionality-wise, nothing is as simple as the usage of the AMS Retriever Pro since you don’t have to experiment around or push any buttons to start retrieving your catch. All you need to do is pull the trigger guard and turn the handle to start reeling in. Its design and functionality are perfectly convenient for the average bowfisher.
Additionally, durability is just another word for the AMS 610 Retriever Pro, no exaggeration. The reel is made of heavy-duty brass, the trigger is made of aluminum, the fasteners of stainless steel, and the bottle of sturdy material. This build guarantees that the reel will last for long under both fresh and salty water.
As for the line itself, it is stacked into a clear bottle, making it easy to fly out quickly as soon as you shoot, and unlike drum reels, you don’t need to hand-wind any spool. A simple pull of the trigger followed by a turn of the handle will suffice to retrieve your line, hopefully with the fish on it!
If you missed your shot, with the AMS 610 Retriever Pro, you don’t have to worry! The speed of the line and the smoothness it flows with make it easy to re-shoot. It offers zero drag and exceptional line control.
One more thing we like about this retriever is that it has a telescoping clamp that allows the reel to be quickly adjusted for varying sized hands, making it perfect for people of all ages and hand sizes!
- Easy usage
- Sturdy build
- Relatively cheap compared to counterparts
- Functional design
- Line length is not as expected for a retriever
- Accuracy is not 100% guaranteed
The AMS 610 Retriever Pro Bowfishing Reel is the best choice for bowfishers who are looking for ease of use and durability. If you’re sure that you’re wholeheartedly into bowfishing, and you’re willing to invest money in one that won’t wear down easily, you need to have this reel in your fishing-gear closet.
2. Fin-Finder Heavy Duty Drum Reel – Best Bowfishing Reel for Beginners
If you’re new to the world of bowfishing, and you need something that will easily do the job without having to pay more than 100$, then you should go for the Fin-Finder Heavy Duty Drum Reel.
As its name implies, this drum reel is sturdy since it is made of heavy-duty aluminum, which guarantees it will last for long if you pay it proper care.
Additionally, this reel has a simple design featuring a bolt screw, making it easy to install the bow, and it attaches easily to a standard stabilizer bushing. Just like that, voila, it’s ready to use!
One extra feature of the Fin-Finder drum reel is that it comes with an 80 ft. bowfishing line, which facilitates reaching faraway targets.
On the other hand, there are two particular aspects of this reel that could have been made better. For one, it has sharp edges that may snag against the line and tear it. Secondly, the metal line retainer’s build would have been better if it were made of thick plastic to enable the line to reel in faster.
- Simple to use
- Comes with a fishing line
- Relatively large reel
- Sharp edges
- Requires manual rewound after post-shot
- Average performance with fast catches
All in all, the Fin-Finder Heavy Duty Drum Reel is ideal for beginners who are seeking a bowfishing reel that is easy to use yet durable and won’t cost a fortune.
3. Zebco 808HBOW80BX3 Bow Fisher Spin-cast Reel – Best Backup Bowfishing Reel
If you’re just starting with bowfishing, and if you’re transitioning from using traditional fishing rods to bowfishing reels, then a Zebco 808HBOW80BX3 Bow Fisher Spin-cast Reel is what you should opt for.
First off, it’s very light and fast, making it convenient to use when you’re out on the water, trying to catch that stubborn fish! It functions through a button that you press when you’re ready to let the line out. It doesn’t require frequent manual winding, which makes it preferable than drum reels like the Fin-Finder, for example.
An extra feature that we cannot highlight enough is that it has a reversible retrieve, which makes it easy to use for left-handed and right-handed people alike, according to their dominant hand.
What makes this reel an excellent backup is that it is sturdy compared to cheaper reels that are usually made of internal plastic components. Also, its line is being fed out just like the traditional fishing line, which ensures a perfect speed and allows you to transition smoothly from rod-fishing.
- Speedy line release
- Perfect for beginners transitioning from traditional fishing
- Easy to use
- Reversible retrieve feature
- Weak string
- Difficult installation
- Requires special bows
If you got bored of conventional fishing and you want to take it to a new level but don’t want to exert a tedious amount of effort, you should consider the Zebco 808HBOW80BX3 Bow Fisher Spin-cast Reel for its easy usability. Also, if you’re a bowfisher looking for a backup reel, it will do the trick!
4. Muzzy Bowfishing 1069 XD Pro Spin Style Reel – Best Bowfishing Reel with a Visual Indicator
The Muzzy Bowfishing Pro Spin Style Reel is among our favorites because it incorporates a variety of features that make it handy, convenient, and effortless to use!
For starters, it has a reversible hand-retrieve, which is convenient for left-handed and right-handed bowfishers alike. Additionally, it is equipped with a mounting system that ensures efficiency and ease of installing, so you won’t worry about setting it up.
In addition, it includes a ‘Switch Activation Feature’ that helps you lock the reel into the shooting mode and allows a free spool option.
To help beginners out, the Muzzy Bowfishing Pro Spin Style Reel comes with a visual indicator to guide them when the reel is ready to go out and when to release the line.
The reel comes with a pre-spooled 150-feet-long line that weighs 150 pounds, leading the reel to be overall long and robust.
- Visual cues for beginners
- Switch activation system
- Reversible retrieve
- Fast fishing line retrieval
- Pre-spooled fishing line
- Relatively heavy
- Slightly challenging to mount
If you tend to speculate a lot while on water, then you’ll need the Muzzy Bowfishing 1069 XD Pro Spin Style Reel by your side since it gives you visual cues to make you release the line. It is robust, uses improved technology, and is ideal for hand-fighting your fish.
5. SinoArt Bowfishing Reel – Best Corrosion-Resistant Reel
The SinoArt Bowfishing Reel is one of the best on the list, particularly that it’s corrosion-resistant and is made of solid material that stabilizes your balance smoothly.
Build-wise, it features die-cast alloy internal gears that provide the reel with a smooth touch and guarantee durability, while the exterior is made of corrosion-resistant materials.
As for functionality, the SinoArt Bowfishing Reel is quite easy to use since all you have to do is check the button located on the wheel and press it to shoot the arrow, allowing the disengagement process to begin.
Besides, it comes with a sturdy line, a fishing reel seat, and a spin-cast reel, all to make your fishing trip comfortable and enjoyable.
The SinoArt Bowfishing Reel can also be attached to a compound bow, and it has left and right hand oriented arms made of stainless steel to preserve your balance without requiring much effort from your end.
- Easy installation
- Durable internal gears
- Can be used as a slingshot
- Left and right-handed orientation
- Light and compact design
- Bow is an extra-purchase
- Button may cause hindrance
The SinoArt Bowfishing Reel is among the top-rated reels not only because it’s convenient to use, but also because it’s corrosion-resistant, which makes bowfishing near land better as it guarantees your reel remains as good as new.
6. Cajun Winch Pro Bowfishing Reel – Second Best Retriever Bowfishing Reel
The Cajun Winch Pro Bowfishing Reel is a newly designed reel that is particularly designed to bring in and retrieve monster fishes during both day and night.
It is a very strong and substantial reel since it has a fighting wheel brake that allows you to brake and reel simultaneously, and it also enjoys a rugged aluminum frame for ultimate durability.
Additionally, it features a ceramic string that can be adjusted to give a smooth feed and a white test line that enjoys high visibility, ensuring that you can follow your fish, whether in the daylight or in the evening.
Lastly, it is composed of stainless steel hardware and solid aluminum, making it tough enough to withstand all weather conditions without making you come back from the trip empty-handed.
- Reversible hand operation
- Easy to use
- Vertical and horizontal adjustments
- Relatively expensive
The Cajun Winch Pro Bowfishing Reel is a vigorously solid reel ideal for bowfishers who have their eyes on monster fishes, along with those who enjoy bowfishing when they please without being restricted to certain hours. With a highly visible white line, you’re ensured a clear-sighted outlook in the water morning and night alike.
7. Cajun Bowfishing Screw-On All-Aluminum Drum Reel – Best Price Drum Reel
The Cajun Bowfishing Screw-On All-Aluminum Drum Reel is the most reasonably priced drum reel on the market. If you’re looking for the perfect balance between cost and quality, this is the one for you.
Being the lowest priced on the market doesn’t mean that you lose the main features of a drum reel. On the contrary, this reel is among the easiest to install and use since it directly mounts into the bow stabilizer with a center bolt, and you’re all set and ready!
It is entirely constructed of aluminum, which makes it durable, and it has a 5-inch diameter, which some argue is a bit of a hindrance when you reel in the line. It also comes with a 50′ of 80 lb-test braided line.
- Easy to install
- Backed by a warranty
- Wide diameter impacts speed
If you’re just trying your hand at bowfishing and you need a basic reel to get you started without breaking the bank, then the Cajun Bowfishing Screw-On All-Aluminum Drum Reel should be your next purchase!
How to Pick a Bowfishing Reel
Now that you have a good idea about the features of each reel, we’ll help you narrow the scope of research and make sure you invest your money in something that proves efficient.
1. Bowfishing Reel Type
The seven products we reviewed can be grouped into three categories based on their bowfishing mechanism: the drum reel, the spin-cast reel, and the retriever reel.
With drum reels, you have to roll the line back around the drum manually. They come in two shapes: screw-on mounts or tape-on reels. Both are relatively cheap because they require minimal effort; all you have to do is attach the reel to the stabilizer hole on the bow.
Drum reels are the least speedy of the three-reel types, but they’re effortless to set up and use, making them the best for beginners who are still in the early phases of bowfishing. However, if you’re planning to fish for fast-swimming fish, drum reels won’t serve you well.
Spin-cast reels are on a higher level than drum reels, including at how easy they are to use. They’re also the most similar in function to traditional fishing rods, which also makes them suitable for beginners making a transition from traditional fishing to bowfishing.
They use the push-button technique, so you push the button in, and the disengagement process begins as the line is released. Following that, you turn the crank to make sure the line won’t go out anymore before you retrieve it back with your fish. The push-button technique is a fast one, so the chances of retrieval are high.
The only disadvantage of spin-cast reels is that the buttons can cause the opposite effect if you misfire before making a shot, which will lead you to lose an arrow given that the bowline snaps directly after your shoot.
Retriever reels are manufactured to be very practical, speedy, lightweight, and allow for the lowest margin of error since you don’t have to push any buttons before the shot, and you don’t have to pull the line back yourself.
They also feature thicker lines itself than those of drum and spin-cast reels, which is convenient for hand-fighters. The line is stacked into a bottle, and when you shoot, it flies out with the arrow, then you use the crank to retrieve it.
Speed-wise, retriever reels exceed the speed of drum reels, but they’re slower than spin-cast reels. On the downside, retriever reels are on the expensive side of the spectrum due to the quality they offer.
2. Experience Level
Your level of expertise determines which reel serves you best. If you are a beginner in bowfishing, then you need to consider a drum reel, one like the Fin-Finder Heavy Duty Drum Reel, or the Cajun Bowfishing Screw-On All-Aluminum Drum Reel. What makes them suitable for beginners is that they are generally cheap, and they are easy to set up and use.
If you’re already familiar with fishing, but you want to give bowfishing a try, then you should get a spin-cast reel like the Zebco 808HBOW80BX3 Bow Fisher Spin-cast Reel, the Muzzy Bowfishing 1069 XD Pro Spin Style Reel, or the SinoArt Bowfishing Reel. They’re more convenient for transitions from traditional fishing to bowfishing.
If you’re well-versed and you already know much about bowfishing, and you need a professional reel, then, by all means, a retriever is what you should opt for, something like the AMS 610 Retriever Pro Bowfishing Reel or the Cajun Winch Pro Bowfishing Reel. Retrievers are generally pricey, but they are the easiest to use once you learn how to install and use them.
3. Gear Ratio
The gear ratio specifies how fast you’ll be able to pick up the line. 4.3:1 is the most common one among bowfishing reels, indicating that the spool will revolve around itself 4.3 times for each one to handle revolution. Note that this is influenced by the required effort for reeling in the fish you catch. The more experienced you are in bowfishing, the higher the gear ratio you should seek.
For many fishers, sturdiness and durability are the determinant factors that dictate their choice of a bowfishing reel.
With fishing being an outdoor activity, the gear is exposed to different weather conditions. Accordingly, your bowfishing reel needs to be tough enough to handle different weather conditions, and it also needs to be able to ensure your safety. Accordingly, look for sturdy materials, such as heavy metal!
Frequently Asked Questions:
What Else Do I Need to Get Started with Bowfishing?
Bowfishing is a thrilling activity, and to make the most of it, you need to make sure you have the right equipment and tools. These include a sturdy bow with a stabilizer, arrows, tips, lights, and if you have a boat, that would be a great plus because it will significantly improve your chances of catching fish that are located deep into the water.
Can We Bowfish During the Day?
The answer is yes, but it’s preferable to bowfish at night because the fish are usually more active and visible. In that case, you will need some sort of fire or lights on your boat to shed light on the fish.
Which Type of Bowfishing Reels Should I Get?
It depends on your experience level, along with your fishing preferences.
A drum reel is your best bet if you’re on a tight budget or if you’re looking for a reel that’s easy to set up.
In contrast, a spin-cast reel is best for slightly more experienced bowfishers who need a reel that is similar to the traditional ones, or those who are switching from traditional fishing to bowfishing.
As for professional hunters and bowfishers who want to invest in durable, fast, and light reels, a retriever reel is the best.
While the bowfishing experience is a thrill in itself, using the right reel makes it all the more fun and convenient.
Having said that, if you’re a beginner, then you should consider one of the two drum reels we’ve mentioned, the Fin-Finder Heavy Duty Drum Reel or the Cajun Bowfishing Screw-On All-Aluminum Drum Reel.
If you’re an intermediate level bowfisher, consider buying one of the three spin-casts we’ve recommended, either the Zebco 808HBOW80BX3 Bow Fisher Spin-cast Reel, the Muzzy Bowfishing 1069 XD Pro Spin Style Reel, or the SinoArt Bowfishing Reel.
If you want the top-notch professional reel, certainly invest in a retriever!
Final tip: make sure to buy a reel with a warranty, and don’t forget to supplement the trip with the other necessary equipment to make the most out of it, like a stabilizer, arrows, tips, and lights.