Best Bowfishing Reels of 2020 – Complete Review

Fishing is becoming an increasingly popular sport. It is something to be enjoyed with the entire family or friends.

Bow fishing adds more creativity and thrill to it. But to do it properly, you need the right equipment. You don’t want to be untangling the lines or working hard to rotate the rusted reel. This will just waste your time and take the fun out of the activity.

So we have compiled a list of the best bow fishing reels for you. 

Comparison Chart of the Best Bowfishing Reels

PRODUCTDETAILS
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AMS 610 Retriever Pro

  • Easy to use and adjust
  • No drag gives longer and deeper shots
  • Ideal for beginners and experts
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Zebco 808HBOWHD BX3 808 Series

  • Offers quickset anti-reverse system
  • Perfect for longer-distance shots
  • Comes pre-spooled with a 200 pound braid
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SinoArt Bowfishing Reel

  • Best for the Money
  • Counterbalanced for ease of use
  • Dual purpose: slingshot fishing and bow fishing
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AMS Tournament Retriever Pro

  • Best AMS Bowfishing Reel
  • Reels in very fast
  • Easy to set up and use
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Cajun Winch Pro Bowfishing Reel

  • Best Cajun Bowfishing Reel
  • Well-built and very durable
  • Anti-reverse feature prevents tangling
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AMSBowfishing Water Moc

  • Best Recurve Bowfishing Reel
  • Lightweight and durable
  • Made to last longer in wet situations
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HBG Powerful Pro Fishing Slingshot

  • Best Crossbow Bowfishing Reel
  • Great for exercising arm strength
  • Has laser sight included
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Diamond Archery Infinite Edge

  • Best Left Handed Bowfishing Reel
  • Draw is smooth and flawless
  • Well-balanced for accurate shots
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What is Bowfishing?

We all know what hunting and fishing are. These are activities as old as man. When you think about ancient hunting, you think about a bow and an arrow. And this is done to catch land animals. Now imagine catching fish with a bow and arrow. That is basically what bow fishing is.

Rather than a rod to cast your line and a hook and bait to capture the fish, you have an arrow. The arrow is shot directly at the fish with a line attached to it, to reel it back in. The things that remain common among both conventional fishing and bow fishing are the reel and the line.

Perks of Getting a New Bowfishing Reel

If you have had the same reel for a long time, you will notice that it has become more difficult to use and just doesn’t give the same results. That is understandable of every product, no matter how good, has a limit. So here are some of the reasons you should invest in a new bow fishing reel.

Smoother Operation

Fishing equipment comes in contact with water and the salt in it. This causes it to rust, which affects the smooth operation, especially that of the reel. The fishing reel is responsible for drawing in the line after it is cast. It makes it easier for the fisherman to retrieve the line by simply rotating the handle. If it stops working correctly, fishing can become more work than fun. A newer reel will not have mechanical malfunctions or rust to hinder smooth operation.

More Lifespan

A new bow fishing reel will have a longer lifespan than an older one. You can make more fishing trips and enjoy the value of the money you paid for the reel.

Less Maintenance 

Older reels require more maintenance as you need to clean them more often. They might also have parts that no longer work. This is especially a problem with reels that have a lot of moving parts. A new reel means it is clean, smooth, and in pristine condition. All you need to do is install it, and you are good to go.

What Makes a Great Bowfishing Reel?

There are several characteristics you should be on the lookout for when buying a bow fishing reel. One thing to keep in mind is that they are not that different than traditional reels. Their basic operation is the same. 

Durability

Having a reel that can maintain its quality and operation after many uses is important, especially if you fish often. If you are going to be spending money on anything, checking for its quality should be the first thing on your list. The reel should be made from strong material that can withstand changing weather, just like any other outdoor equipment.

Line Strength

Most of the bow fishing reels come pre-wound with fishing lines. Just like normal fishing, bow fishing lines are just as important. They reel the fish out of the water to you. They should be strong enough to handle the fight the fish puts up. Their tensile strength is measured in pounds. Thinner lines have a strength of 4 to 6 pounds. Thicker or braided lines can even go as high as 150 pounds. They can be used to catch sharks and alligators.

Ease of Use

If you are a beginner, instead of jumping right into the field with a complicated reel, you should opt for a simpler option. It is like learning to walk before you run. Using the reel right takes some practice so you should do yourself a favor and buy an easy-to-use reel and work your way up. Even for experienced fishermen, ease of use is important.

Quick Take | Best Bowfishing Reels

Just looking for the top three best bowfishing reels? Here they are:

  1. AMS 610 Retriever Pro
  2. Zebco 808HBOWHD BX3 808 Series
  3. SinoArt Bowfishing Reel

Review of the Best Bowfishing Reels

Keeping in mind the above points of a good bow fishing reel, here are the reviews of the best bow fishing reels you can get your hands on right now. Go through these and find one that suits your needs the best. 

Best Overall:
AMS 610 Retriever Pro

AMS Retriever Pro - Right Hand

PROS

  • Easy to operate and install
  • Strong and durable construction
  • Very smooth and fast performance
  • Strong 200 pound line pre-installed
  • A trustworthy brand with a known name in the industry 

CONS

  • It is comparatively very expensive 

What Recent Buyers Report

This is a great bow fishing reel that helps catch big fish easily. It is simple to install and use. The only downside is the high price, but that is to be expected from the quality it gives. It seems to be a favorite with many bow fishers.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Retriever reels provide the strongest lines and build quality. The lines don’t get tangled, and they are also the easiest to install on the bow. You don’t need to spool the line as it is stored in the bottle. It has zero drag and is very light and fast because there is no button you need to press before shooting. The clamp is telescoping, so you can adjust it according to what your hand feels comfortable with. The construction materials are aluminum, heavy-duty brass, and UV-rated unbreakable bottles. It also has a built-in arrow holder.  

Who Will Use This Most

This reel is easy to use and fast, which makes it suitable for both beginners and experienced fishermen. It has no drag, therefore, it allows for deeper and longer shots. It is a right-hand reel only. Since the line strength is 200 pounds, you can use it to catch heavy and big fish easily.

Bottom Line

This is our top pick for a bow fishing reel because of its ease of use and strength. Its construction material is highly durable and trustworthy. The price is worth the result and operation it gives. This reel is recommended by all who use it and is a trusted brand.  

Zebco 808 Bowfishing SC Reel 200#

PROS

  • Durable and strong design
  • Experienced and trustworthy brand
  • A comparatively cheap bow fishing reel
  • Can be used in salt water without damage
  • Stainless steel construction helps with the rusting problems

CONS

  • The low price comes with some operational trade-offs

What Recent Buyers Report

This regular spincast reel is pretty simple and easy to use. It is used by beginners and without much to complain about. It requires some maintenance, but for those that want a cheaper option, this is the one they go for. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

The model stands out to us because it has a stainless steel cover that helps protect it against rust and corrosion, which is needed for saltwater. It comes ready to use with the line already spooled. It is very easy to use. Also, it comes with a heavy-duty 80-pound braided line. It has an anti-reverse system and dual pick-up pins.    

Who Will Use This Most

This reel can be used by both left and right-handed people because of the interchangeable handle positions. The braided line has a 210 foot length and 80-pound line test. This is a good strength for catching medium to heavy fish. This product is more aimed at beginners rather than serious users.   

Bottom Line

Overall, this is a low priced alternative for the more expensive retriever reel. This reel has good construction and ease of use. The internal gears and every component have a good rust protection feature. For beginners and those that look for convenience, this is a good pick.

Best for the Money:
SinoArt Bowfishing Reel

SinoArt Bowfishing Reel Seat Spincast Reel with Fishing Reel Seat Gear Right and Left Hand for Recvrve Compound Bow (BL25)

PROS

  • Smooth and easy to operate
  • Stainless steel external rocker arm
  • Corrosion-resistant materials are used
  • Can be used in slingshot fishing as well
  • Can be used by both right and left-handed people

CONS

  • Not as durable as some other models

What Recent Buyers Report

As per recent customer reports, this is a very low-priced spincast reel. While this doesn’t beat the best overall product, it works marvelously for small fish. Moreover, those that shot with a thin line like the working of this reel just fine. Overall, users are pretty satisfied with it. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

This reel has two variations i.e., BL25 and BL40. The BL25 has a 40-yard line while the BL40 has a 70-yard line. It comes with a fishing reel seat to set-up. The external rocker arm is made from stainless steel​. The internal construction is of die-cast alloy that gives it a smooth feel for easy operation.

Who Will Use This Most

Since this reel has an interchangeable rocker, it is suitable for both left and right-handed people. It is used by people that want to hunt for smaller fish that remain ​closer to the surface.

Bottom Line

All in all, this is the right reel for budget-friendly people. The aluminum construction and design make the reel very durable and strong. It is very easy to get used to. This is a good beginner-level reel and can be used by more experienced users as well. 

Best AMS Bowfishing Reel:
AMS Tournament Retriever Pro  

AMS Tournament Retriever Pro Bowfishing Reel, Left Hand

PROS

  • A good 4.3: 1 gear ratio
  • Strong and durable build quality
  • Fastest bow fishing reel available
  • Long handle for increased leverage
  • The lines remain tangle free during operation

CONS

  • It is very expensive

What Recent Buyers Report

Recent customer reports suggest that this is a durable reel that is easy to use and works as well as it promises. Buyers also stated that it has a good look and becomes a great gift for loved ones that love fishing.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This reel has a 4.3: 1 speed, which is preferred by most experienced fishermen. It has a long handle for better leverage, and it also adds to the speed. It comes with a Hi-Vis yellow line. The telescoping clamp makes it adjust to any hand. The package also has a trigger guard, safety slide kit, quiver mount, and mounting hardware.

Who Will Use This Most

The line that this unit comes with is 25 yards long and strong. This is a good reel for professional users. It is very durable. There are two models of this reel one for right-handed people and one for left-handed ones. Thus, it can cater to a lot of people. 

Bottom Line

AMS bow fishing has been in the business since 1979, and it makes high-quality retriever reels that give a tournament-level performance. This reel is one of their best. It is very easy to install and use. The heavy-duty construction promises durability and smooth performance.

Best Cajun Bowfishing Reel:
Cajun Winch Pro Bowfishing Reel

Cajun Winch Pro Bowfishing Reel

PROS

  • Anti-reverse feature prevents line tangles
  • Simple one-handed operation mechanism
  • Adjustable string guide for smooth operation
  • Adjustments are available to fit any kind of bow
  • Stainless steel and aluminum construction improves durability

CONS

  • It might not fit all kinds of budgets 

What Recent Buyers Report

Looking at the customer reviews, it is clear that this is a great reel that offers high performance. Many users have compared the performance with AMS reels, and it definitely holds its own. The metal construction is strong and durable as well. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

This Pro reel has an anti-reverse feature that helps remove the chances of any tangled lines. The string guide in the reel is adjustable for smoother operation. You can set it to your preference. The guide is made of ceramic material. You can use the reel and break at the same time, and it also allows one-handed operation. Meanwhile, the frame is made of aluminum for durability.

Who Will Use This Most

Since this reel has vertical and horizontal adjustments, it can be used with any kind of bow. Because of its aluminum construction and anti-rust features, it can be used in bath salt and freshwater. You can use any line you want with this reel.

Bottom Line

To sum up, this Cajun reel gives a pro-level performance. It is very easy to use and gives smooth operation. Its high price is not just that, but comes with quality construction and durable materials. Retriever reels are for professional use, and this one can handle any heavy-duty use.

Best Recurve Bowfishing Reel:
AMSBowfishing Water Moc

AMSBowfishing Water Moc Recurve Bowfishing Kit

PROS

  • Easy to install and setup
  • Comes with an arrow rest and bow
  • Water resistant seal and laminated limbs
  • Extremely strong 350-pound Spectra line
  • Lightweight magnesium riser for easy use

CONS

  • Only right-handed use is available

What Recent Buyers Report

Buyers comment that this bow is very lightweight and easy to use. The entire kit in one purchase is quite reasonable and convenient. The bowstring and reel both offer smooth performance. The set-up is also very straightforward.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Why buy a reel and a bow and arrow separately when you can buy the entire kit together? Another plus is that the bow is specifically made for fishing. This means installing it will be very easy. The draw weight on the bow is 45 pounds. It is made of magnesium and is very lightweight. The limbs have a seal to increase the lifespan and protect against water damage.

Who Will Use This Most

This bow fishing kit from AMS can be used by any enthusiast looking to buy a special bow and arrow kit for fishing rather than using old hunting gear. Plus, the price is reasonable for the things that come in the kit.

Bottom Line

All in all, this bow fishing kit is very convenient and simple to use. The reel is already installed on the bow, and it comes with protection from water, which normal bows might not have. The 350-pound spectra line makes catching heavy fish very easy.

Best Crossbow Bowfishing Reel:
HBG Powerful Pro Fishing Slingshot

HBG Powerful Pro Fishing Slingshot Reel Catapult Archery Bowfishing Arrows Slingbow with Arrow Brush,Fishing Reel,Fishing Reel Rack,Flashlight

PROS

  • Available in camo and red color
  • You don’t need to buy a separate bow
  • Aluminum construction makes it durable
  • It comes with a flashlight, slingshot, and arrow brush

CONS

  • A little complicated to use and setup

What Recent Buyers Report

For those that know what they are doing, this kit is great bow fishing gear. You need to assemble it yourself, but once done, it gives fast and smooth operation. Users also state that it works great and is easy to carry around.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This multi-purpose reel and bow set-up are for the experienced hand. It has a very cool look to it, and the slingshot rather than the bowstring is used to launch the arrow. It has a very lightweight and durable build quality. The kit includes everything you will need to assemble and use.

Who Will Use This Most

We think that this reel is not for those that are new to archery and bow fishing. There is no manual to use it or set it up. You will have to use the images to see which part goes where. For those that have some knowledge of these things and can set it up without instructions, this system works very well.

Bottom Line

Keeping in mind that not every reader is on the same level of experience, we have added reels that cater to everyone. This kit, in particular, is for serious professional users. Not to forget, the price is reasonable for its quality and build.

Best Left-Handed Bowfishing Reel:
Diamond Archery Infinite Edge 

Diamond Archery Infinite Edge Pro Bow Package, Black Ops, Left Hand

PROS

  • Adjustable draw weight
  • Very smooth drawing ability
  • For both left and right-handed use
  • Accelerates arrow up to 310 ft./sec
  • Integral stabilizer for a very balanced shot

CONS

  • The bow does not come with a reel

What Recent Buyers Report

Customer reports by recent buyers show that this is a good and strong bow that can be used by anyone. The adjustable settings help you get used to it sooner. The bow comes with many great accessories that users also appreciate.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This bow has a wide draw range of 13 to 31 inches. Its draw weight is adjustable to suit your preference. Because of the stabilizer, you get a steady shot every time. This is a very accurate bow with synchronized cams. You can adjust the poundage by turning the limb bolt, which has clear markings to help you see the weight.

Who Will Use This Most

It’s clear that this bow is not just for fishing. It can be used for normal hunting as well. It has an adjustable design. You can use it for right and left hand, and you can adjust the draw weight to suit your needs and match the target requirements.

Bottom Line

The bottom line is that this is a heavy-duty bow that you can use with your fishing equipment. You need to buy them and install them separately, of course, but the bow is a good start. The bow determines how much force you can put on it to get the target and how accurate your shot will be.

What Do I Need To Know Before Buying?

Before buying any fishing equipment, you should be familiar with the jargon and common trade characteristics. Sometimes, manufacturers can fool you by writing fancy stuff on the package to attract the more novice user. Some things you should know before buying the reel are given below.

Type of Reel

There are three types of bow fishing reels. They follow the same principles as normal reels but have a different design and more strength. The three types are listed below.

Drum Reel

This is the most basic of the three reels. All it does is give a place to spool your line. It does not have any moving parts. You have to spool the line on the ‘drum’ manually and also retrieve the line after you cast it by hand. When you want to shoot again, you have to repeat the process. It is very time-consuming but simple. This reel is recommended for beginners as it is not complicated and takes ​less time to get used to. Because of the no moving parts, it is the cheapest and most durable.

Spincast Reel

A spincast reel is very similar to the conventional spincast reel used with a rod. It is the most commonly used bow fishing reel. It comes with a pre-wound line, but you can always change it when needed. You can set the drag on it, depending on which fish you want to catch, and it is faster than a drum reel. It is also faster to assemble because you don’t have to do anything manually. You can use the handle to reel the line back in. Since it has more moving parts, it has more chances of getting damaged than the drum reel.

Retriever Reel

This is a newer type of reel but is gaining more and more popularity. Instead of a spool, it uses a bottle to store the line. This reduces the chances of the line getting tangled. You can use the crank to retrieve the line easily. It comes with heavy-duty braided lines and is used to catch big fish. It is generally used by professionals and is the most expensive of the three.

Gear Ratio

Gear ratio is the speed at which the reel will pick up the line. This means it is the number of rotations of the spool per handle revolution. The most common one found on many reels is 4.3: 1. It is the recommended speed. This means the spool will rotate 4.3 times if you complete a revolution of the handle. The more the speed, the less effort you have to put in.

Line

Lines are what draw the fish out of the water to you. They are of three types, namely Monofilament, Braided, and Fluorocarbon. Braided lines are the strongest and have the least amount of stretch, whereas monofilaments have the most stretch. Fluorocarbons are newer lines that are made to be strong and transparent. They still have some stretch, but it is less than the monofilament. Bow fishing reels often come pre-wound, but you can upgrade the line if you want. It is important to choose a line that is strong and will not break under pressure.

How to Assemble a Bowfishing Reel

Assembling a bow fishing reel is, of course, a little different than a normal reel. You can follow the steps given below to do it properly:

  1. Press the bowstring using a bow presser.

  2. Take of the string from the bow.

  3. Loop a bobby pin on one end of the string and slide the smaller section of finger savor over it.

  4. Pull on it until you are in the middle of the string.

  5. Do the same process with the long finger savor from the other end of the string.

  6. ​Put the string back on the bow.

  7. Put full containment rust on the bow.

  8. The retriever reel will have two spacers. Attach them to the bow where there is room to mount a sight.

  9. The bottle should be facing you and not the other way around.

Refer to the video given below for visual instructions and some tips.  

Conclusion

Now that you know all about bow fishing reels, you should be able to make your decision easier. Keeping in mind the type of fish you want to catch, choose the right reel for you. All the reels from our list are durable and of high quality and shine in different areas.

People Also Ask

If you want to know more about bow fishing and reels, you can refer to these frequently asked questions.

Where to Aim When Bowfishing

Just like any other hunting, you need to aim where it will ensure that the fish is caught. You should aim at the thickest part to make sure it sticks. Because of light refraction in the water, you don’t see the exact location of fish underwater. The fish is actually deeper than it appears to you, so you need to aim lower.

Can You Fish With a Bow and Arrow?

Yes, you can definitely fish with a bow and arrow. The entire sport of bow fishing revolves around this concept.

What Kind of Fish Can You Bow Fish?

Because of the nature of the sport, you can only fish for species that dwell near the surface as you can't really see too far down. This sport is also only done in clear water bodies. Some common fish that are hunted in bow fishing include carp, paddlefish, and alligators.

What is the Best Draw Weight For Bowfishing?

Draw weight is the force needed to pull the bow to get a good shoot. The best draw weight for bow fishing is between 40 to 50 pounds. Depending on your experience, you choose the one that fits you best. But you should not go below 40 pounds.

How Deep Can You Bowfish?

You generally tend to fish as low as 3 to 4 feet. For obvious reasons, you cannot go too deep. You will not be able to see the fish, and that means you cannot aim at it. For deep water fishing, stick with the conventional fishing rod and line.