10 of the Best Bowfishing Reels on the Market for 2021

Kenneth ReavesEdited by: Kenneth Reaves
Michael DarmontReviewed by: Michael Darmont

Last Update:

The Rundown

Best Overall: Muzzy 1097 XD Bow Fishing Reel
“The Muzzy 1097 XD is perfect if you consistently pursue the largest of fish on a given body of water. It features a robust stainless steel and brass drag system, which is more than capable of manhandling large carp, gar, and drum to the bank or boat.”

Best High End Reel: AMS Bowfishing Retriever Pro Reel
“The AMS Bowfishing Retriever Pro is engineered for outright performance and features a 17-inch per revolution retrieval rate, 200 pound-test line, and a durable, rugged frame.”

Most Durable: Zebco 808 Bowfisher Spincast Fishing Reel
“The Zebco 808 is made with a dial-adjustable magnum drag, Quickset Anti-Reverse system, and interchangeable right or left-handed operation. It has great features and quality but won’t break the bank.”

The sport of bowfishing continues to grow in popularity with each passing year, largely because of its all-encompassing nature. Bowfishing offers a wealth of opportunity to outdoorsmen and women from every walk of life and is among the most enjoyable of activities to take part in, especially when armed with quality fishing gear.

Few pieces of bowfishing gear carry as much importance as that of a bowfishing reel. Quality bowfishing reels are engineered for supreme durability, feature a high-strength line, and are simple to operate.

Sources researched
Sources researched
Customer reviews
Customer reviews
Hours spent testing
Hours spent testing
Products tested
Products tested

Best Bowfishing Reels on the Market for 2021

Muzzy 1097 XD Bow Fishing Reel

Best Overall: Heavy duty construction for the most extreme of circumstances

Muzzy 1097 XD Bow Fishing Reel


  • Solid steel foot for solid reel-to-bow junction
  • Elongated hood and dual spool shaft bearings for ultra-smooth operation
  • Pre Spooled with 15’ of 150-pound line for simplicity

If you consistently pursue the largest of fish on a given body of water, with archery tackle in hand, then the Muzzy 1097 XD is likely to become your new favorite bowfishing reel.

This reel features a robust stainless steel and brass drag system, which is more than capable of manhandling large carp, gar, and drum to the bank or boat. The Muzzy 1097 XD’s overall durability is further complemented by the unit’s solid steel foot, which promotes a solid reel-to-bow junction.


The Muzzy 1097 XD is also engineered to provide ultra-smooth operation. This is achieved through the utilization of an elongated hood design, and dual spool-shaft bearings. The culmination of these features promotes a supreme level of functionality which few bow fish fishermen are accustomed to.

Bow fishermen are also likely to find favor in the fact the Muzzy 1097 XD comes pre-spooled with 150-feet of 150-pound line. This line should be ideally suited to hauling even the most sizable of fish from the water below.

AMS Bowfishing Retriever Pro Reel

Best High End Reel: As close to perfect as a bowfishing reel can get

AMS Bowfishing Retriever Pro Reel


  • Buttonless operation for simplicity
  • 17 inch of line per revolution retrieval rate for efficient reeling
  • 200-pound test line for breakage resistance

If you are currently looking to elevate your bowfishing game to the next level, then the AMS Bowfishing Retriever Pro Reel should be exactly what you have been looking for.

This AMS bowfishing reel is engineered for outright performance and features a 17 inch per revolution retrieval rate, 200 pound-test line, and a durable, rugged frame. These characteristics are likely to be appreciated by tournament bow fishermen, who take to the water with regularity.


The AMS Retriever Pro also makes operation a breeze by allowing a shot to be taken without pressing a button for the reel’s bail mechanism prior to operation. This prevents many complex issues that can arise when utilizing bowfishing reels of an alternative construction and makes it far easier to concentrate on placing one’s shot as intended.

Many bow fishermen are also likely to find favor in the simplicity surrounding the AMS Retriever’s installation. This AMS fishing reel can be installed in a matter of minutes and utilizes a bow’s standard pre-drilled and tapped riser mounts.

Zebco 808 Bowfisher Spincast Fishing Reel

Most Durable: Built to last, without breaking the bank

Zebco 808 Bowfisher Spincast Fishing Reel


  • Dial adjustable magnum drag for enhanced control
  • Interchangeable right or left-handed retrieve for enhanced versatility
  • Quick Set Anti-Reverse Technology for pronounced fighting capabilities

The Zebco 808 Series Bowfishing Reel should make an excellent option for those that are looking to make the most out of their time on the water while minimizing the expenditure associated with such endeavors. This spincast reel can be purchased at a rather reserved price point, yet is constructed in a manner that is conducive to enhanced durability.


Many anglers are also likely to find favor in this reel’s list of features. The Zebco 808 includes a dial-adjustable magnum drag, Quickset Anti-Reverse system, and interchangeable right or left-handed operation. As a result, most any weekend bow fisherman should find this fishing reel to be an excellent bargain.

The Zebco 808 also features an all-steel internal gear set, which should be capable of withstanding a significant degree of punishment. This is likely to prove valuable to any bow fisherman who pursues large gar or carp with any regularity. Even the big fish should be manageable with the Zebco 808.

Cajun Winch Pro Bowfishing Reel

Most Versatile: Engineered to fit all bows, without exception

Cajun Winch Pro Bowfishing Reel


  • Ceramic line guides for smoother string feed
  • Rugged aluminum frame for enhanced durability
  • Vertical and horizontal adjustments for easy bow fitment

The Cajun Winch Pro Bowfishing Reel is likely to make the perfect option for any bow fisherman who is experiencing difficulty in finding retriever reels that will fit their bow. This reel features bow horizontal and vertical adjustments, which make it easier than ever to achieve the perfect fit on any bow. This allows you to stomp out any misgivings, and get down to the business of catching fish as intended.


Many are also likely to appreciate the Cajun Winch Pro’s durable construction. This bowfishing reel features a lightweight, yet rigid aluminum frame, as well as a durable ceramic string guide. This should allow the Cajun bowfishing winch to withstand quite a beating at the hands of mother nature or human error. Many tournament bow fishermen are likely to find favor in this reel for that reason.

The Cajun Bowfishing Winch also features a high-efficiency wheel brake, which should be more than capable of slowing down even the largest of fish. This system also allows anglers to brake and reel at the same time, providing an unparalleled degree of control.

SinoArt Bowfishing Reel Seat Spincast Reel

Best Stabilizer Mount Reel: A simple to use reel, which is easily installed in a convenient manner

SinoArt Bowfishing Reel Seat Spincast Reel


  • Corrosion-resistant coating for enhanced protection against the elements
  • Die-cast alloy gear set for smooth operation
  • Stabilizer mount compatible for overall simplicity

If you are currently searching for the perfect stabilizer mount bowfishing reel, then the SinoArt Spincast Reel should be exactly what you have been looking for. This reel is simple to use, even for the newest of bowfishermen, and is easily installed in conjunction with a bow’s stabilizer mount. This bowfishing reel is ideal for those who are not comfortable shooting instinctively, and wish to retain the use of their bow sight.


The SinoArt Spincasting reel is also comfortable to use, and features ergonomic handles for hours of tireless use, free of excess aches and pains. This reel also features a hearty die-cast alloy gear set, which provides smooth, seamless operation.

Many bow fishermen are also likely to find favor in the SinoArt Spincasting Reel’s corrosion resistant surface coat, which resists the effects of the elements. This increases the longevity of the SinoArt Spincasting Reel, enabling consumers to get the most out of their purchase.

Muzzy Bowfishing 1069 XD Pro Spin Style Reel

Easiest To Use: A spincast reel that is simple and effective to use, no matter the situation

Muzzy Bowfishing 1069 XD Pro Spin Style Reel


  • Spool Switch Technology for a similar operation to dragless reels
  • Integrated steel mounting bracket for secure placement
  • Reversible left and  right hand retrieve for increased durability

The Muzzy 1069 XD should be the ideal choice for any new bow fisherman, who is looking to get started bowfishing, but is intimidated by many of the more complicated bowfishing reels currently available. This reel features a specialized switch activation center, which allows you to lock into the fishing mode, and provides a visual indicator for reference.


Many bow fishermen are also likely to appreciate the Pro Spin’s integrated mounting system. This system allows the Muzzy 1069 XD to be installed with ease in virtually every application, and saves consumers both time and hassle along the way. 

It is also worth mentioning that the Muzzy 1069 XD comes pre-spooled with 150’ of tournament-grade 150-pound test. This in itself provides value, as a bow fisherman’s line serves as their only lifeline toward success when attempting to boat a fish, no matter the size.

Cajun Spin Doctor Bowfishing Reel

Fastest Line Pickup: Lightning fast performance, that simply puts fish in the boat at a break-neck pace

Cajun Spin Doctor Bowfishing Reel


  • Full-metal dual-pin pickup assembly for speedy line retrieval
  • Extended hood and enlarged line hole for minimal resistance
  • Robust drag system for enhanced fighting potential

The Cajun Spin Doctor Reel should be the perfect option for those who often find themselves in the midst of fast paced fishing action. This reel features one of the fast line pickup speeds on the market, which comes primarily as a product of its full-metal dual pin pickup assembly. The use of this assembly allows the Cajun Spin Doctor to immediately begin spooling line, with even the most minimal degree of handle rotation.


Many anglers are also likely to appreciate the Cajun Spin Doctor’s use of an extended hood and enlarged line hole. Together, these features allow line to be retrieved with minimal resistance, without noticeable binding. As a result, little issue should be expected when attempting to wrangle fish of various sizes.

The Cajun Spin Doctor also features a robust drag system, which should be capable of handling whatever is thrown its way. This makes it easier than ever to retrieve even the most feisty of fish, when a sizable fight presents itself.

RPM Bowfishing M1-x Trigger Reel

Most Powerful: Powerful beyond belief, yet versatile enough to meet the needs of every angler

RPM Bowfishing M1-x Trigger Reel


  • Stainless steel reel shoe for rigid mounting
  • Pre-spooled with 150’ of 200-pound Monkey Wire line for enhanced strength
  • Convertible design for both right and left-handed use

The RPM M1-X is perhaps the stoutest of all bowfishing reels currently available. This reel is literally engineered to make quick work out of the most ferocious of fights, and is constructed in a manner that promotes natural durability. The RPM M1-X features a stainless steel reel shoe, which provides enhanced rigidity at its mounting point with any bow, to which it is affixed.


This innate level of strength is further enhanced with the use of a high-strength line, which is intended to survive virtually any fight, no matter how intense. The RPM M1-X comes pre-spooled with 150-feet of 200-pound Monkey Wire line that is renowned for its unparalleled durability.

The RPM M1-X can also be used by both right and left-handed archers. This reel is constructed in a convertible manner, allowing its handle to be switched from side to side as needed, in a matter of mere minutes.

Fin-Finder Heavy Duty Drum Reel

Easiest to Mount: Basic in design, yet refined in nature

Fin-Finder Heavy Duty Drum Reel


  • Rigid aluminum body for unparalleled durability
  • Stabilizer mount compatible for simplicity 
  • Pre Spooled with 80-feet of line for

If you are currently searching for an extremely simple to operate bowfishing reel, which can be purchased for a nominal cost, then the Fin-Finder Heavy Duty Drum Reel should be worthy of your consideration. This reel is constructed of robust aluminum, which should enhance the unit’s durability to a nearly indestructible level.


The Fin-Finder Heavy Duty Drum Reel can be operated with ease by any bow fisherman, no matter their skill level. This reel mounts in place of a bow’s stabilizer, thereby allowing for plenty of space for operation. This further enhances this unit’s ease of use, thereby assisting anglers in making the most out of their time on the water.

The Fin-Finder Heavy-Duty Drum Reel comes pre-spooled with 80-feet of high-contrast fishing line. This should come as a significant advantage to those who wish to begin bowfishing as soon as possible, upon taking delivery of their new reel.

Cajun Bowfishing Screw-On All-Aluminum Drum Reel

Best Budget Reel: A reel quality reel, that is affordable on virtually any budget

Cajun Bowfishing Screw-On All-Aluminum Drum Reel


  • All-aluminum construction for enhanced durability
  • Pre-spooled with 50’ of 80-pound line, for convenience
  • Limited lifetime warranty for peace of mind

The Cajun Bowfishing Drum Reel should be ideal for use by any individual who has considered taking up bowfishing, but is reluctant to spend a significant sum of money on equipment, until they are sure that they will enjoy such endeavors. This reel, while not overly sophisticated by any means, is perfectly capable of landing fish, yet can be purchased at a fraction of the cost associated with other reel’s available on today’s market.


Many anglers are likely to find favor in the Cajun Bowfishing Drum Reel’s all-metal construction. The 5” all-aluminum Cajun drum reel is capable of mounting to the stabilizer bushing of many of today’s most popular bows, with the use of a single-center bolt. This reel also comes pre-spooled with 50’ of 80-pound braided line.

One can also rest assured that they are covered when purchasing a Cajun Bowfishing Drum Reel, as reels within this series are backed by a limited lifetime manufacturer’s warranty. This allows consumers to purchase with confidence, knowing that they are purchasing a reel that they will own for a lifetime, no matter the case.

How to Choose the Best Bowfishing Reel: A Buyer’s Guide 

Type of Reel

Bowfishing reels are offered in numerous forms, all of which carry their own specific merit. 

Bowfishing reels can be categorized into three main types; drum, spin casting, and retriever. Each of these reel types differs in style and operational characteristics.

Drum Reel

Drum reels are minimalistic in nature, yet far more rugged than various alternatives. The drum reel consists of a basic spool, that features no moving parts. Once a fish is on the line, a bowfisherman manually wraps their line around the drum reel’s spool by hand.

Spincast Reel

As its name would suggest, a spincast bowfishing reel operates in a nearly identical fashion to any standard spincast reel. Once a fish is on the like, an angler reels in their catch by winding the reel’s handle. The reel’s line is then stored on its spool, as the fish in question is retrieved.

Retriever Reel

A retriever reel utilizes a specialty bottle to store line with a high degree of efficiency. Retriever reels of this type bolt to a bow’s riser in place of a sight, and feature a hand brake mechanism in place of a standard drag system. As the lever to this mechanism is applied, additional pressure is applied to the reel’s line, thereby slowing dispersal.

Line Length and Strength

A bowfishing reel’s line serves as the single most vital link between a bowfisherman and their catch.

The vast majority of today’s bowfishing reels come pre-spooled with line specifically chosen by their manufacturer. However, a bowfisherman can always respool a reel with the line of their choice at a later date. When doing so, it is important to select a line that accurately matches a bow fisherman’s pursuit of choice.

When pursuing larger species of fish, such as large carp and gar, line of significant strength should be employed, while this is generally less of an issue when taking fish of a smaller size. It is also imperative to consider the distance at which the shooting will take place. When bowfishing from the bank, where longer shots might be required, one should consider spooling their bow fishing reel with a lengthier segment of line.

Gear Ratio

A bowfishing reel’s gear ratio directly dictates how well it operates under a significant load.

As a rule, the higher a reel’s gear ratio, the faster its rate of retrieve, though this comes at the cost of reduced torque. On the other hand, a reel with a lower gear ratio is capable of generating significant torque, with a reduction in retrieval speed.

In order to select the gear ratio that is correct for your particular application, you must first make a determination as to the size of fish that you will be pursuing. Reels with a higher gear ratio are best suited to chasing average size fish, while those pursuing larger fresh or saltwater species of fish should consider a reel with a lower gear ratio.

Perks of Getting a New Bowfishing Reel  

Smoother Operation

Bowfishing reels have advanced tremendously over the past couple of decades, especially in regards to their ease of use. A significant number of today’s bowfishing reels now feature premium bearings, which provides smooth operation, far beyond that of many earlier bowfishing reels from past decades. This can come as an immense benefit when battling a big fish of sizable proportions to the bank or boat.

More Lifespan

Many of today’s bowfishing reels are now engineered to provide lengthy service lives and are constructed with the use of extremely durable components. This is especially true when discussing the gear sets chosen for placement within premium tier bowfishing reels. These gears are designed to withstand a tremendous amount of abuse and are capable of being placed under significant loads without coming under undo stress.

Less Maintenance

Today’s newer bowfishing reels require less overall maintenance than their older counterparts. While many older reels were reliant upon a significant degree of upkeep to provide reliable operation, more recent models allow anglers to hit the water with little in the way of advanced prep work. In the majority of cases, no maintenance is required, outside of occasional string replacement.

What Makes a Great Bowfishing Reel? 


The sport of bowfishing is relatively hard on equipment, and that which is not hearty in construction will almost certainly fail in short order.

At times, a bowfishing reel is placed under tremendous stress. Few situations can test a reel’s merit quite as aptly as being tugged on by a 40-pound carp that is fleeing as feverishly as possible. Under these circumstances, a reel of less than durable construction will typically after only a brief period of use.

Line Strength

If your line is not up to the task at hand, heartache can quickly result, as the fish of your dreams pushes your reel’s line to the brink.

A bowfishing reel’s ability to catch fish is only as pronounced as the strength of its line. Large fish, such as catfish, carp, and gar will make quick work out of any line which is not robust in its construction. When this occurs, disappointment typically follows. If you wish to avoid telling stories about the one that got away, on a repeated basis, your reel’s line must be superior in regards to strength and durability.

Ease of Use

A reel that is cumbersome to use, is unlikely to be put to work with any degree of regularity.

Today, many reels, such as those of a retriever style construction, are quite simple to use. Reels of this type require no bail manipulation prior to a shot being taken and can be used to a high degree of efficiency in virtually any situation. Likewise, spincasting bowfishing reels operate no differently than your favorite spincasting fishing reel, and retriever reel is no more difficult than cranking the unit’s handle until a bowfisherman’s catch has been landed.

Questions & Answers

Can You Put a Bowfishing Reel on Any Bow?

Virtually any bow can be used for bowfishing, though some are better equipped for such endeavors than others. Compound bows or modern recurve bows that are tapped for accessory mounting allow a bowfishing reel to be installed in only minutes, thereby getting you out on the water in rapid succession. However, even early primitive bows can be used for bowfishing with a certain level of adaptation.

How do I Install a Bowfishing Reel?

In order to install a bowfishing reel onto your bow, you must take stock of your bows pre-drilled and tapped mounting holes. These holes will be used during the installation process, as the reel itself will be attached to these points with the use of specialty mounting screws. Simply mount your reel as specified by the manufacturer’s instructions, using the bow’s riser mounts, and head to the water to enjoy a world of adventure.

What Type of Reel Should I Choose?

Most individuals begin their bowfishing career with the use of a spincasting reel, due to the ease of use associated with such units. However, the vast majority of today’s experienced bowfishermen now opt for the use of a retriever style reel. This is because of the versatility offered by such models, which allow for multi-faceted use.

How Do I Attach an Arrow to the Fishing Line?

Today, the bulk of bow fishermen choose to tie their arrows in with the use of a safety slide. This device attaches to an arrow in a relatively solid manner and features a collar through which a line is woven and secured. However, some bow fishermen who use spincasting style reels, opt to tie line directly to their arrows.

Where to Aim When Bowfishing?

When bowfishing, it is essential to aim the arrow below the fish that you are attempting to take. This is because of a principle known as refraction. Because of the manner in which a fish’s location is perceived when viewed from above the water’s surface, a bow fisherman’s target will actually sit lower than what it appears.

Can You Fish With a Bow and Arrow?

While the idea of fishing with a bow and arrow might seem somewhat abstract, such a feat can certainly be achieved. In fact, the sport of bowfishing, which continues to rise in popularity with each passing year, centers around this exact principle. With the release of a well-aimed arrow, an angler is left to reel in their catch in much the same manner as would take place when fishing with a rod and reel.

What Kind of Fish Can You Bow Fish?

Most bow fisherman pursue non-game species of fish, known simply as rough fish. This type of fish includes gar, carp, and drum. However, bowfishing can be used as a method of taking fish of virtually any species, as long as such a pursuit is legal within the area in question.

What is the Best Draw Weight For Bowfishing?

The best draw weight for bowfishing depends upon several factors, including an archer’s size, natural strength, and archery experience. However, very little actual weight is required to cleanly and efficiently take fish of almost any species. Therefore even a bow featuring a draw weight as low as 35-40 pounds can be used.

How Deep Can You Bowfish?

Ideally, any fish that is to be taken with bowfishing tackle, should be at depths of no more than 3-4 feet. This is because of water’s natural ability to slow an arrow at a rapid pace, thereby limiting its available kinetic energy beyond a certain depth. Additionally, the deeper a fish is positioned within the water column, the more difficult aiming becomes, since refraction creates more significant aiming discrepancies at greater depths.

Can you use any reel for bowfishing?

In the majority of cases, a bowfishing-specific reel must be used when bow fishing. This is because of the fact that any reel which is used must be capable of attaching to a bow’s riser. However, in recent years, several manufacturers have begun producing adaptors that allow standard reels to be mounted to compound bows for bowfishing use.

Do you need a sight for bowfishing?

While a sight can certainly be used for bowfishing, many individuals choose not to. This is because of the fact that most shots that are presented when bowfishing, require reaction times, which are seldom possible when aiming with a sight. Most bowfishermen choose to aim in an instinctual manner, which is only mastered through extensive practice.

What’s the best bowfishing reel?

Based on all of the above mentioned criteria, the best bowfishing reel currently available is the Muzzy 1097 XD. This reel features a solid steel foot, in order to form a rigid reel-to-bow junction, an elongated hood with dual spool shaft bearings for ultra-smooth operation, and comes pre-spooled with 15’ of 150-pound line for simplicity. 

Consumers can also be sure of receiving quality with the Muzzy 1097 XD, as Muzzy has been a mainstay in the archery industry since the 1980s. Since the company’s inception, Muzzy has turned out one top tier product after the next, all of which showcase unparalleled durability and operational consistency.