Although bowfishing is similar to harpooning, it’s not like bomb lances. They contained a gunpowder charge and time fuse that triggered an explosion deep within the whale’s body. Although scaled down dramatically, in our sport of bowfishing it’s much more fun because we get to reel a live fish to the boat or shore.
That’s why we need a great bowfishing reel that can stand the forces a fighting fish puts upon it. Let’s go on a quick quest to explore your best option for a bowfishing reel!
Before we choose the best bowfishing reel it needs to be clear, there are 4 basic types of bowfishing reels. They are:
1) Spincast like a basic Zebco closed face reel with push button.
2) Spinning or open faced reel with a bail.
3) Bottle reel.
4) Drum reel.
The two reels unique to bowfishing are the Bottle and Drum reels. Let’s look at these first since most people aren’t as familiar with them as they are with the spincast and open faced spinning reels.
What Is A Bowfishing Drum Reel?
Drum reels, sometimes called handwrap reels (for good reason), are about as low tech as they come in bowfishing equipment. Draw back your bow, release your arrow, then manually wrap the line around the outer diameter of the drum when you’re ready to retrieve it.
There have recently been enormous advances in drum reels for bowfishing that get you away from the hand wrapping of the line. That’s right, you can reel the line in like other reels now. Look at this.
Fin-Finder Sidewinder Bowfishing Drum Reel
Unlike other drum reels, this reel has an easy-to-grip knob and rotating spool. This great drum reel removes the need to use your hands to reel the line in with. Save your hands from being chaffed and line burned. It’s also probably the easiest to mount of all reels on the market. It’s very basic in design, yet refined with an easy-to-grip knob to reel in fish. Click Image For Current Price.
The Fin-Finder Sidewinder offers bowfishers a quick spin reel that retrieves quicker than all spin cast and drum reels on the market.
They built this great bowfishing reel to last and constructed it from stainless steel and nylon. They made the Sidewinder bowfishing drum reel to resist corrosion and rust, even in the harshest conditions, so saltwater use and long days is never a problem.
Cajun Bowfishing Screw-On All-Aluminum Drum Reel
This is without a doubt the best budget reel yet keep in mind you’ve got to use your hand to wind the line around the reel. This quality reel is affordable on almost any budget. It’s an all metal 5″ diameter aluminum drum reel that mounts into the bow stabilizer bushing with a center bolt. Included with the reel is 50’ of 80 lb. test braided line for several seasons of bowfishing fun! Click Image For Current Price.
What Is A Bowfishing Bottle Reel?
Spincast and open faced spinning and baitcast reels can be found in every type of fishing yet bottle reels were made specifically for bowfishing. You won’t pull in the fish as quickly as the other reels, but the excitement is really elevated to a new level. Bottle reels can withstand almost any type of treatment. They feel super sturdy on the bow because they were designed just for the bowfishing bow.
Another great plus of a bowfishing bottle reel is the line within the bottle doesn’t tangle easily. Tangling, like with any fishing reel is frustrating but can create danger to bowfishers due to arrow kickback.
If you launch an arrow and it only goes 5 feet and is stopped by a tangle, guess what? It may not hurt you but it’s like a boomerang, it keeps coming back. You could snap your line or it may never reach the water before snapping back at you.
If you keep your line clean and don’t have lots of debris in the bottle, you will probably never have a tangled line. If you suspect a problem, all you have to do is easily remove the bottle to check for any debris or obstructive material.
Unlike spincast reels, bottle reels can actually withstand a lot of dirt, grime, and debris on them. If anytime you’re in doubt, simply remove the bottle and check for anything that may obstruct a clean line release.
Experienced Bowfishers As Well As Beginners Like the Bottle Reel
Each bowfisher differs in what reel they prefer, yet a lot of experienced bowfishers like the fast-paced action of the bottle reel. It makes bowfishing more fun. Also, beginners can use the bottle reel without a problem because it doesn’t create many setbacks.
The Bottle Reel Doesn’t Have a Drag System
The spincast reel incorporates a drag system that can be used to increase control or used to make it easier to reel in the fish. Bottle reels don’t have this drag system. Reeling fish in with the bottle reel lets the bowfisher feel every part of the fighting that occurs with the fish. This is because of the lack of a drag system. If you’re going to be catching fish over 20 lbs, then you may want to choose a reel with a drag system.
Each bowfisher has their preference. You may want to try each type to decide what you like best. There are many people who prefer the bottle reel, yet there are also people who like to stick with the spinning open face or the closed face spincast reel. It depends on the type of bowfishing you do. If you’re one who prefers to reel your fish in fast then you’ll want a spincast or spinning reel.
Take a look at these great choices for bottle reels for bowfishing.
AMS Bowfishing Retriever Pro Bottle Reel
Best High End Reel: As close to perfect as a bowfishing reel can get. The design that has proven itself over 40 years! It’s durable, reliable and it performs! And, it’s simple to use. There are no buttons to push before the shot. Unlike most other reels, Retrievers are always ready to shoot. They’re always in free-spool mode. Just draw and release! The AMS Bowfishing Retriever Pro Bottle Reel has zero drag. Click Image For Current Price.
The line is stacked in a bottle rather than wound on a drum or spool so there is no drag on the line when it’s released. The line freely spools out of the bottle and on the retrieve the line simply stacks right back in.
This bottle reel has heavy-duty construction and have proven to be able to take the abuse of extreme bowfishing and will stand the test of time! They are built with machined brass gears, stainless steel hardware and lightweight, corrosion resistant housing to ensure long life in fresh or saltwater.
The Retriever Pro has a Quick-Release Quiver Mount which mounts to your bows sight holes. One t-screw controls 4-way movement of the reel and also allows for quick removal. An arrow quiver is also integrated into this mount.
The Retriever Pro retrieves 17” of line per crank and includes 25 yards of 200# test braided Dacron line. Also included with every reel is an AMS patented, EverGlide Safety Slide for your arrows. THIS BOTTLE REEL IS MADE IN THE USA! Click Image Above For Current Price.
Cajun Winch Pro Bowfishing Bottle Reel
This cajun bowfishing reel is the most versatile. It’s engineered to fit all bows, without exception. The Cajun Winch Pro Bowfishing Reel is built with a fighting wheel brake that allows you to brake and reel simultaneously. There is an adjustable durable ceramic string guide for smoother string feed. This revolutionary design allows for one-handed operation while your other hand is free to handle tall grass or overhanging limbs while on the water. Click Image For Current Price.
It’s designed with a rugged aluminum frame for superior durability. To add to the features of this great bottle reel are vertical and horizontal adjustments that allow the perfect fit on any bow.
Spincast and spinning reels for bowfishing
Now let’s take a look at a few of the all familiar spinning and spincast reels put to use as part of your bowfishing reel kit. This category of bowfishing reel offers drag adjustments and the ability to haul in those huge and super strong fighting fish.
Muzzy Bowfishing 1069 XD Pro Spincast Style Reel
The Muzzy Bowfishing 1069 XD Pro Spincast Style Reel with Integrated Reel Mounting System gives you a great bowfishing reel seat and comes with 150# line already installed. This great reel is reversible left or right hand retrieve. Click Image For Current Price.
The integrated Switch Activation System allows you to lock into shooting mode and provides a visual indication that the reel is ready for arrow release.
It comes with pre-spooled with 150 ft of 150 lb. test tournament line
Made in the USA
Best overall pick for the price: Heavy duty construction for the most extreme of circumstances. Click Image For Current Price.
Muzzy Bowfishing Tounament Reel
This is a top of the line in spincast reel for bowfishing. This new Muzzy Tournament reel is purpose built for big action. It’s a superb heavy-duty spin cast style reel featuring Muzzy’s renowned elongated hood with an increased opening and slots for line lubricant. The dual stainless steel pickup pins allow for lighting fast retrieval while a carbon fiber handle with larger foam grips deliver extra leverage and comfort for ultra-fast uptake of line. Click Image For Current Price.
By updating the classic anti-reverse system to a one way bearing, bowfishers can now expect extended reel life with the same great feel expected from a Muzzy Reel.
KastKing Megatron Spinning Reel, Fresh & Saltwater Spinning Reel
The MegaTron spinning reel brings you a unique, geometrical, bionic engineering design for your bowfishing. A spinning reel of this rugged build and unique optics deserves a special place in your fishing tackle arsenal. Its precise geometric forms offer a distinct autobot look that set it apart from all others and helps reduce weight while maintaining strength.
With it’s rigid aluminum skeletal frame the KastKing MegaTron spin fishing reel is built for enormous strength and endless durability. Click Image For Current Price.
The KastKing Megarton reel has pro level quality gears. The main drive gear is made of durable zinc alloy matched with a pinion gear machined from solid brass. Both deliver rigidity and smoothness needed in building reels ready to tackle tough conditions. MegaTron spinning reels feature a CNC machined T6061 aerospace aluminum alloy spool and exclusive design robot inspired aluminum handles.
This MegaTron is a perfect big game spinning reel. The triple-disc carbon fiber drag delivers consistently strong and flawless drag without start-up hesitation that can result in snapped fishing lines and lost fish.
The fluid performance will leave you amazed at the dynamics and faultless mechanics of this KastKing MegaTron spinning reel.
Other features are the 7+1 MaxiDur double-shielded stainless-steel ball bearings. An instant anti-reverse provides for quick hooksets. Double-shielded stainless ball bearings mean the MegaTron will perform equally in saltwater fishing and freshwater fishing, they are like a fishing robots in disguise! Fish with peace of mind.
How To Choose A Bowfishing Reel
Now that you know the types and see some examples of choices in bowfishing reels the only thing left to do is choose the one that’s right for you. The statement “right for you” is very important.
Look at your fishing conditions. Are you on a boat? Is there lots of debris and high grass that could interfere with your reel? Are you fishing for extremely large and heavy fish like carp?
With the information provided above you should easily be able to decide on a great no risk bowfishing reel. One that will serve you for many years outside on and around the water.
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