Best Bowfishing Reels

Bowfishing Reels - Reviews & Guides For 2024

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Bowfishing reel buying guide

Want to experience the adrenaline-pumping thrill in fishing? Involve yourself in bowfishing to have fun and the taste of hunt.

In bowfishing, you have to choose the best gear to reel in the bigger fish. With several bowfishing reels present in the market, you have to carefully study every aspect before investing your money in an option.

While selecting a reel, you have to consider your fishing experience, size, length of the rod, line quality, and many other additional properties. A comprehensive buying guide provides you all the essential information under one roof.

You can quickly analyze all of them and funnel down the best option for your expedition. However, to have a clear picture of the product in mind, let us go through a quick introduction.

What do you mean by Bowfishing Reels? Why do you need them?

If you are an avid fish hunter, you must know about bowfishing. Nowadays, this sport is quite popular, and a lot of people are more likely to enjoy the experience of bowfishing.

As the name suggests, bowfishing is a special kind of fishing where you need archery equipment to catch fish. So, the line is attached to the bow and arrow instead of the rod.

Otherwise, the bowfishing reel is quite similar to the typical fishing reels. You need to target a fish and shoot it, and thus it makes your fishing game more interesting.

You can go for bowfishing at any time of the year. But what you need the most is the right fishing gear. Choosing the top quality bowfishing reel will surely help you to get a good catch with efficiency.

Types of Bowfishing Reels

  1. Hand Wrap Drum Reels

Drum reels work with straightforward technology. You need to use your hands to warp the fishing line manually around the outer spool before you retrieve it.

There is a line holder that helps you to launch the line. You have to retrieve and rewind the reel by your hands to make it ready for further use.

You can mount the screw-on reels on the front of the bow where the strap on reels does not have any mounting holes, so you need to use straps or tapes to secure the bowfishing reel.

As drum reels require low technology, they are less expensive. Also, they are easier to set up and last long.

However, the winding may take some extra time, and line speed is also slower than other reels, which are significant drawbacks of drum reels.

  1. Spincast Reels

Generally, spincast reels are used by the beginners for bowfishing because they are more likely the traditional reels.

With a line holding spool and a crank handle, you can retrieve the line very quickly. Spincast reels follow a drag mechanism for retrieving the line that is essential for bowfishing.

The reels are attached to the bow, and you can shoot faster due to the light line.

Having the spincast bowfishing reel means you can set up the drag effortlessly, and it works faster than the drum reels. It is also straightforward to reel back and get ready to shoot again without any hassles.

However, one of the significant disadvantages of the spincast reel is that it is not very resilient, so you need to be careful before shooting to avoid the loose line.

  1. Retriever Reel

Unlike spincast reels, you can use retrieve reels for shooting small and medium fishes. Instead of a spool, a bottle is used to hold the line and a manual lever helps to drag the line.

Though retriever reels are very lightweight, the thicker line makes them durable and efficient for adapting the crank method.

But one significant disadvantage of the thicker line is that it slows down the speed. Because of the high-quality materials, these reels come a little bit expensive as well.

Why should you read this buying guide before selecting a particular option?

With several brands gloating over their models in the market, you can easily get confused to select the apt reel. Here in this guide, you will find all the details and facts that define the product's usability and performance.

We have laid out all the critical pointers in an organized way so that you can give a quick look to them. So, let us dive into this extensive guide and sort out the best option without wasting any more time.

Things to deem while selecting a particular model

Sturdiness and build

The first thing you should check while choosing your bowfishing reel is the build quality. You should keep this feature on the top of your priority list.

Bowfishing is a little different from regular fishing, and you have to deal with varying elements during this sport. So, choosing a sturdy and robust reel will help you to shoot in rough weather conditions effectively.

It will be better to search for a bowfishing reel, which is made up of durable materials to withstand temperature changes and other outdoor issues.

Moreover, you should check the line, whether it is tough enough or not. A sturdy and robust line can handle larger and bigger fish without any hassle.

If you do not want a broken reel when you are shooting your target, check the construction properly in advance.

Gear Ratio

Without considering the gear ratio, you can not make a good purchase of your bowfishing reel. The gear ratio indicates the speed of the bowfishing reel to pick up the line.

For the bowfishing reels, the standard gear ratio is 4.3:1.

From this ratio, you can easily understand that the spool will revolve 4.3 times after the handle completes one full rotation.

But having said that, you should choose the gear ratio according to your bowfishing skills. If you are experienced enough in bowfishing, you can look for a higher gear ratio. The beginners should start with lower.

Skill Level

Bowfishing requires a certain level of skills, and it is needless to say that the skill level differs from one person to another.

There is no point in getting embarrassed by your skill level because you always have that chance to improve your skills.

You should maintain and nourish your skills and do not over complicate a simple thing.

It will be wise to look for expensive gear if you are incredibly confident in the bowfishing skills which come from practice and experience.

To operate a new gear, you will need more expertise. Only then will you be able to learn new techniques and develop your skills successfully.

For instance, if you start bowfishing, you should use a spincast bowfishing reel, and with a higher skill level, you can try different other reels.


It will be an imperative decision to pick a durable bowfishing reel. Typically, bowfishing reels have to withstand several outside elements, so they can not last long without being durable.

You will invest a good amount of money to get a bowfishing reel. It is suggested to spend a little more to ensure that the reel you are having offers maximum durability.

Looking for a high-quality bowfishing reel is a better way to have a durable reel that you can use for a more extended period without any replacement.

You probably do not want to ruin your bowfishing experience with a broken reel.

Therefore, you must pay much attention to this feature and buy your bowfishing reel accordingly.


If you select a bowfishing reel that does not match your expertise level, it will be difficult to shoot your target fish. So, you should always keep this factor in mind before buying your reel.

Different types of reels are available in the market. Some reels are easy to use, where some others are a little more complex.

What you need to do is to choose a bowfishing reel according to your ability. For the beginners, a drum reel or a spincast reel can serve the purpose. But an experienced fisher can go for a retriever reel without any doubts.

You should choose a reel that you can use conveniently. Different people follow different techniques for shooting, retrieving, and rewinding the reel and line.

You must choose the reel design carefully to make sure you will not miss your target while bowfishing.

Ease of use

You should look for a bowfishing reel which is easy to use. Considering this factor before buying the bowfishing reel will help you to use the reel at your convenience.

Your skill level also matters when it comes to deciding what will be easy for you. It ultimately depends on your experience of how you can manage to rewind the reel and deal with shooting, retrieving, and tangling the line.

Nevertheless, you will want a reel that you can use effortlessly. There are three styles of bowfishing reels, and each of them works in a significant way in particular areas.

So, you should determine the features beforehand and select a bowfishing reel that meets up all your requirements effectively.


Most of the time, people overlook this factor while choosing the bowfishing reels. But you should remember that the lesser is better.

Distance has no significant role in shooting your target. It solely depends on your skill level and techniques.

It will be wise to reduce the friction, or the line will fluctuate. This is the reason for restricting the length beforehand.

Fish Size

Bowfishing is a little different from the traditional fishing game.

If you want to shoot a bigger fish, you must be ready for an intense fight. You should use a sturdy and robust gear to pull up the struggling fish.

You can go for a larger diameter of the reel for more advantages. With a spincast reel, you can easily catch a more prominent and massive fish.

By adding a reel seat made of metal, you can get rid of the wobble reel.


Another crucial aspect that you must consider before buying your bowfishing reel is the budget. These reels come up with a wide variety of price ranges. You should fix your budget according to your needs so that you can narrow down the choices quickly.

If you are going to start bowfishing for the first time or not sure enough whether you want to continue these sports further or not, you should look for a basic model.

In such cases, spending a hefty amount of money on getting an expensive reel will be pointless. You will have the chance to upgrade your reel when you stick to bowfishing in the future.

On the other hand, cheaper models do not offer high-quality construction. If your target is to get the best quality bowfishing reel designed with high-standard materials to make sure that you will last long.

Line Length Strength

You can choose line length according to your convenience though most of the bowfishing reels are pre-pooled. It is relatively easy to upgrade the reel depending on the size of the fish you are going to catch.

If you want to shoot longer distances, you will definitely need a longer line. It is as simple as that. Also, it is no brainer that a more massive and tougher reel will support you the best when it comes to pulling up a more significant and larger fish.

So, it is up to you which type of fish you are targeting and select the line length accordingly.

Drag System

When you are going to buy the bowfishing reel, you should not forget to check the drag system. Besides several other factors, it is also essential to determine the performance of the reel.

Most of the reels used in bowfishing have a powerful drag system. Although the drag system is mainly found in the baitcasting reels, some spincast reels are using the same system.

Drag is a weight system that is mainly used to hold up the line properly under extreme pressure. If the line fluctuates, there may be a chance to miss your catch.

It is a little tricky to apply these techniques, but you can learn it effectively with experience and more practice.

Reel Seat and Reel Mount

In the case of traditional fishing, you will see a fishing rod where you need to attach the reel. But for bowfishing, the reel is attached to the bow. However, you must make sure that the reel fits tightly on the bow.

You can go for the single -point mount, which is quite popular among the bow-fishing enthusiasts. This reel mount helps to minimize any shake or vibration so that you can target a fish without any disturbance.

If you do not want a mounted reel, you can search for the bowfishing reels that will bolt onto your bow directly.

Usually, spincast reels are designed with in-built reel mounts that have a snug fit so that you can use them comfortably when you need faster speed.

Line Weight and Capacity

Before considering the line weight of the bowfishing reels, you should decide the size of the fish you are going to target. If you target a larger fish, you should use a more massive line.

Typically, thinner lines are easy to snap. Especially if you are catching a bigger fish, the thunder and weaker line will not come in handy even though it has a barb.

However, it is not always necessary to look for a more massive line. When you plan to catch a medium-sized fish, a reel should weigh between 30 and 45 pounds. It can help you get your job done efficiently.

In general, reels for bowfishing are also capable of controlling 30 to 45 pounds of weight. For heavy-duty bowfishing rigs, you should check whether they can handle 100 to 200 pounds or not.

You will not need a longer line length for bowfishing. If the line capacity is somewhere between 100 and 150 yards, it will be sufficient to have a good catch.

How does Bowfishing work?

Bowfishing is a particular type of fishing, but it has some similarities with traditional fishing. In both cases, you will need a line and fishing reel to achieve your desired goal.

For bowfishing, a line is attached to the bow, and you can fire an arrow from the line. You can reel in the barbs or pull them manually by your hands.

You will essentially need the bow, arrows to target a fish. Besides, it is vital to have trigger guards, arrow guards, quiver, etc.

When you aim at a fish, you should be careful about the refraction caused by water. It happens because light becomes distorted by the water surface.

So, it will be better to aim low when hitting a fish.

Commonly, bowfishing is restricted to 'garbage fish' such as carp, sheepshead, gar, etc. These species can be found between early spring to post-summer in a large number in both salt and freshwater.

Therefore, you can plan for bowfishing within this period to have a successful and enjoyable bowfishing experience.

Bowfishing Tips

Bowfishing is considered a popular sport. If you have the proper bowfishing rigs like bowfishing reels and lines, bow, arrows, etc. it will be fun to experience this fishing game. Bowfishing is addictive too.

These sports not only include fishing technique but also you need the right archery skills. There are some special tips which can help you to excel at bowfishing without any extra effort.

  1. Use good glasses

The surface of the water can create refraction. Also, the sun glare directly falling on the water surface may weaken your vision to not see the fish correctly.

Without having a pair of polarized glasses will help you to have a transparent and clear vision. Polarized glasses are better than shades in terms of clarity.

  1. Choose the correct tip

You must have a specific idea about the fish you are going to catch.

You can not attract a big carp with a tiny prong. There are some species of fish having flimsy blades that can snap off the line quickly.

  1. Sharp tips for a sharp catch

You must use a pointed bowfishing tip. The edge naturally gets dull and blunt over time because of the rocks and several other factors. Blunt or dull heads will create a big entry hole that can pull out the line during reeling in.

  1. Switch it up

You will find some species of fish that are more likely to nestle near the inshore where they can be inside the rocks etc. They like more natural places to lie together.

It will be better to use a kayak or canoe to make sure you can reach close to those spots as much as possible.

  1. Search for the trout

Basically, there is no particular size of fish that can be considered as the ideal size for bowfishing. You can find suckers in clean and running water, whereas the carp prefers to be in muddy water.

You can look for gar, Buffalo, etc. in rivers or creeks. So if you want to be a successful bowhunter, you should follow a DNR map to locate the water bodies near to you. It will help you to get what you exactly want.

  1. Snap shoot

This is something related to archery skills. When you are thinking of bowfishing, you must develop some necessary archery skills to have a good catch. You can start scouting water from the river bank or seashore, and when you spot a good catch, shoot it. For snap shooting, you do not need a full draw. Just make sure that you are not making anything overcomplicated.


  1. How can you attach bowfishing reels to the bow?

As different types of reels are available, the steps depend on the specific models of bowfishing reels. You need to check the instructions written on the reel to know about the right steps to attach it with the bow.

  1. What are the ways to string up the arrow on the rig?

You need to begin by the inspection of the line. If not frayed, string up your line following the groove. Later, you can string the line backward.

  1. What is the basic difference between a traditional and bowfishing reel?

Mostly both are the same with one significant difference. In bowfishing reels, the line is connected to the arrow, and you get to shoot the fish in the activity.

Final Verdict

With all this information under your possession, all you need is to make an informed decision. With a suitable reel, you can quickly reel in the bigger fish.

In this guide, you will find all the correct information regarding the product. Examine all the pointers and select the best option for your expedition. / - © Copyright 2020