The Ultimate Guide to the Best Bowfishing Reels in 2024: Top 7 Reviewed

Kenneth Reaves

Kenneth Reeves

Executive Director

Daniel ONeil

Daniel O'Neill

Head of Product Testing


Last updated:

In pursuit of the best bowfishing reel, we’ve cast our lines through rigorous trials. From battling the behemoths of the deep to reeling in the rush of the catch, each reel was put to the test—not just scrutinized for features but also challenged in real-world bowfishing scenarios.

Our search for uncompromising quality and performance has yielded insights that promise to elevate your game. Join us as we unravel the reels that made a splash and those that merely rippled, so you can secure the companion your bowfishing adventures deserve.

Best Bowfishing Reel – Our Top Picks

What We Look For: Essential Factors To Consider

  • Durability: The best bowfishing reel must withstand the rigors of the sport including exposure to water and the force of large fish. Look for reels with robust materials like stainless steel and aluminum and pay attention to the construction quality to ensure longevity.
  • Line Management: A reel’s ability to manage the line without tangling or snapping is crucial. Consider the line type and retrieval mechanism ensuring it offers a smooth feed and retraction. Reels with a zero-drag system for uninterrupted shots and those with reliable line retention features should be prioritized.
  • Ease of Use: A reel that allows for quick and easy operation can be the difference between a catch and a miss. Look for one-handed operation capabilities and ease of mounting, factors that will allow you to focus more on the hunt than on the gear.
  • Compatibility: Your bowfishing reel should fit seamlessly with your bow. Universal mounts that offer vertical and horizontal adjustments will provide versatility and ensure a perfect fit. Check the reel’s hand orientation and ensure it matches your shooting preference.
  • Drag System: The drag system of a reel is essential when tackling strong fish. Opt for reels that allow braking and reeling simultaneously, giving you control over the fish during retrieval.
  • Weight: Balance and handling can be affected by a reel’s weight. A heavier reel may provide stability but can lead to fatigue over time. Consider a reel that offers an optimal balance between weight and performance.
  • Warranty and Support: A good warranty can be a testament to a reel’s reliability. Manufacturers that stand behind their products with lifetime or limited warranties offer peace of mind. Additionally, responsive customer support in case of issues is a significant plus.

Our Recommendations In 2024


Editor’s Choice: AMS Bowfishing Retriever Pro

AMS Bowfishing Retriever Pro Reel - Made in The USA

Having rigorously tested the AMS Retriever Pro, I’m convinced of its place at the pinnacle of bowfishing reels. Its price point reflects the quality and reliability one would expect from a domestically produced item.

Despite being engineered for right-hand use, it’s an inclusion in one’s arsenal that promises to turn the tides in any bowfishing endeavor. For those accustomed to traditional reels, the learning curve is offset by the Retriever Pro’s outstanding performance and durability.

It’s a worthwhile investment for the committed bowfisher.

“The AMS Retriever Pro is tailored for serious bowfishers seeking an unfailing reel. It stood out in field tests for its sturdy construction and seamless operation.”

– Kenneth Reaves, Editor-in-Chief & Executive Director

The Retriever Pro is the original bottle-style bowfishing reel, a design that has evolved and proven itself over four decades. With a 17″ line retrieval per crank and a robust 200# test braided Dacron line, it’s engineered for power and efficiency. The quick-release quiver mount adds convenience, allowing swift adjustments and easy removal.

The lightweight aluminum handle provides a comfortable grip while the EverGlide Safety Slide ensures smooth arrow release. This reel has been a game-changer for me, providing the speed and reliability needed for successful bowfishing expeditions.

The AMS Bowfishing Retriever Pro Reel isn’t just a piece of gear; it’s a reliable companion for serious bowfishers. As someone who values both quality and performance, I recommend this reel without hesitation. Its durability, American craftsmanship, and ease of use make it the best overall pick in the bowfishing reel market.

The AMS Bowfishing Retriever Pro stands tall as the epitome of reliability and performance. While the price may be a consideration for some, the investment pays off in terms of durability, ease of use, and American-made craftsmanship. For anglers seeking the best overall bowfishing experience, this reel is a hands-down winner.


Cajun Winch Pro

Cajun Bowfishing Winch Pro Bowfishing Reel

The Cajun Bowfishing Winch Pro Bowfishing Reel is a sterling choice for the dedicated bowfisher seeking reliability and strength. Although left-handed anglers may have issues and the weight might be noticeable, the reel’s overall performance is commendable.

It eclipses others in durability and functionality and while the instructional content could do with enhancement, personal testing affirmed its value—definitely a high-caliber addition to any bowfishing arsenal.

“The Cajun Winch Pro Reel is a resolute ally for the avid bowfisher. Its remarkable durability and innovative design ensure performance and longevity, making it worthy of inclusion.”

– Kenneth Reaves, Editor-in-Chief & Executive Director

The Cajun Bowfishing Winch Pro Reel combines durability with innovation, making it a standout choice. The aluminum frame guarantees resilience while the fighting wheel brake allows users to brake and reel simultaneously, offering an edge in various bowfishing scenarios.

The universal fit of this reel is a game-changer, accommodating both vertical and horizontal adjustments. The ceramic string guide enhances performance ensuring that every arrow retrieval is smooth and trouble-free. It’s this blend of adaptability and functionality that positions the Winch Pro as the most versatile bowfishing reel.

The Cajun Bowfishing Winch Pro Reel is a testament to the brand’s commitment to innovation and performance. It’s included in our selection because of its unmatched versatility. If you seek a reel that fits seamlessly into any bow setup and delivers consistent performance, the Winch Pro is your go-to choice.

In the quest for the most versatile bowfishing reel, the Cajun Bowfishing Winch Pro takes the lead. Its universal fit, durable construction, and innovative design make it a top-tier choice for anglers seeking adaptability without compromising on performance. Whether you’re a seasoned bowfisher or a novice, the Winch Pro stands as a reliable companion for a variety of bow setups and fishing conditions.


Muzzy 1097 XD


The Muzzy XD Bowfishing Reel emerges as a valuable asset for bowfishers, providing a substantial balance between high-performance features and practicality. Its durable construction and ambidextrous utility commend it as a top pick, albeit with some concerns regarding the longevity of its internal gears and potential discrepancies in manufacturing information.

In comparison to its peers, the Muzzy XD holds its ground with grace except when faced with the rare yet notable mechanical failures as reported by a minority of users.

“Muzzy’s XD Bowfishing Reel is chosen for its robust build and seamless operation, prefaced for dedicated bowfishers seeking dependable gear.”

– Kenneth Reaves, Editor-in-Chief & Executive Director

The Muzzy XD Bowfishing Reel stands out as a reliable companion for anglers seeking a seamless bowfishing experience. Its elongated hood enhances flow ensuring smoother shooting. The reel’s stainless steel construction including the handle and bearings, contributes to its durability and robust performance. With dimensions of 6.25″L x 5.5″W x 9.5″H, this spincast reel accommodates ambidextrous use and features a nylon body in an attractive silver color.

In my hands-on evaluation, the Muzzy XD Bowfishing Reel showcased remarkable dependability, effortlessly integrating with a mini crossbow. The convenience of a pre-installed 150 lbs line is a time-saver while its proven durability in a 24-hour tournament speaks volumes about its robust design. However, users should be cautious about occasional missing parts and potential limitations in gear strength under heavy use.

For anglers prioritizing dependability in their bowfishing gear, the Muzzy XD Bowfishing Reel emerges as a top choice. Despite minor drawbacks, its reliable performance and proven durability make it a compelling option for those seeking a trustworthy companion on their fishing expeditions.




The Zebco 808BOW DIRECT MOUNT 200# is a reliable selection with a quality build suitable for serious bowfishers. While it demands a degree of proficiency and may require an updated line for optimal performance, its durable build and satisfactory drag system make it a recommended choice.

Hands-on use suggests that it’s a dependable reel although buyers might consider pairing it with a higher-grade line for an improved experience.

“The Zebco 808 is a solid choice for the seasoned bowfisher. It’s earned a place in this guide for its reliability and adaptable design, even if it may present a challenge to beginners.”

– Kenneth Reaves, Editor-in-Chief & Executive Director

The Zebco 808BOW DIRECT MOUNT proves to be a game-changer in the realm of bowfishing particularly for enthusiasts exploring slingbow alternatives. With an innovative design eliminating the need for a separate reel seat, this product streamlines the fishing experience. Noteworthy is its patent-pending “Safe-Shoot” feature, employing bright indicators to signal optimal shooting conditions, enhancing safety during the adrenaline-pumping moments.

In my recent endeavors with the Zebco 808BOW DIRECT MOUNT, I found it to be a commendable choice for those venturing into slingbow bowfishing. The learning curve attributed to the drag release button was a minor hiccup but the reel’s overall performance especially in tandem with a Chief AJ slingbow, earned it a solid 5 out of 5 rating. Zebco’s commitment to quality shines through making this reel a trustworthy companion.

For anglers seeking a reel that seamlessly integrates with slingbows, the Zebco 808BOW DIRECT MOUNT stands out with its innovative design and safety features. While some users may need time to adjust, the reel’s overall performance coupled with its nighttime adaptability and intuitive drag system positions it as a hidden jewel in the bowfishing arsenal. With proper care, this reel proves to be a reliable companion on fishing expeditions showcasing Zebco’s commitment to quality craftsmanship.

In a market flooded with specialized gear, the SinoArt Bowfishing Reel sets itself apart with its user-friendly features. While it won’t break any records for line capacity, it offers a robust starting point for those venturing into bowfishing.

The reel demonstrates a fair balance between cost and functionality, albeit the quality may vary. Anglers on a budget or those in search of an entry-level reel, might find the SinoArt Reel to be an adequate, if not perfect fit.

“The SinoArt Bowfishing Reel is included for its ease of use and ambidextrous design, appealing to a broad range of anglers. Despite some shortcomings, it’s a commendable option.”

– Kenneth Reaves, Editor-in-Chief & Executive Director

The SinoArt Bowfishing Reel Seat positions itself as a cost-effective entry point for bowfishing enthusiasts. Its user-friendly design caters to the youth and beginners, seamlessly integrating with youth compound bows. Crafted with corrosion-resistant materials, the exterior ensures longevity while the die-cast alloy internal gears contribute to a smooth fishing experience. The reel’s dual-handed counterbalanced rocker arm made of stainless steel facilitates easy force application and its ambidextrous design allows users to swap hands effortlessly.

In the realm of budget-friendly bowfishing reels, the SinoArt Bowfishing Reel Seat makes a solid contender. It’s a practical choice for young anglers and beginners, fitting seamlessly on youth compound bows. While some users reported quality inconsistencies, my experience within certain limitations was generally positive. It caters well to those entering the bowfishing arena without a hefty investment.

For those dipping their toes into bowfishing without breaking the bank, the SinoArt Bowfishing Reel Seat offers a commendable balance between affordability and functionality. Its youth-friendly design and corrosion-resistant build make it a practical choice for beginners. However, the reported quality variations and potential thread compatibility issues warrant consideration. As an introductory option, it serves its purpose well offering a reasonable starting point for novice anglers. Always assess your specific needs against the reel’s features before making a purchase.

The Cajun Spin Doctor Bowfishing Reel stands out with its determined focus on durability and tackling common bowfishing hassles like tangling lines. However, the trial revealed some issues—mechanical reliability can vary and the red dye from the line may bleed.

While its performance exceeded that of standard reels when functioning correctly, anglers frequenting the waters may wish to consider the longevity of their investment compared to options like the Muzzy Tournament reel.

“The Spin Doctor targets dedicated bowfishers with a penchant for rugged design. It made our list due to its full metal pickup pins and innovative spooling despite some quality inconsistencies.”

– Kenneth Reaves, Editor-in-Chief & Executive Director

The Cajun Spin Doctor Bowfishing Reelhailing from Cajun Bowfishing, stakes its claim as the pinnacle of durability and innovation in spincast bowfishing reels. Designed to endure the rigors of the sport, it boasts dual pickup pins with a full metal assembly. The longer hood and larger hole contribute to better line feeding, making it a robust choice for bowfishing enthusiasts.

Our hands-on testing revealed that the one-sided handle significantly reduces the risk of tangles, offering a smoother bowfishing experience. The reel’s faster pickup enhances performance across various scenarios and its extreme durability ensures it can withstand prolonged use in diverse conditions.

In the realm of bowfishing reels, the Cajun Spin Doctor stands out for its remarkable durability. Having put it through rigorous testing, our team found that it excels in preventing tangles offering enhanced performance and proving its mettle in durability. While acknowledging the mixed user experiences, our positive encounters lead us to endorse it as a top choice for those prioritizing durability in their bowfishing gear.

For the angler seeking the most durable bowfishing reel, the Cajun Spin Doctor is a compelling choice. Its innovative design marked by dual pickup pins, a full metal assembly, and a tangle-resistant handle positions it as a reliable companion on bowfishing adventures. However, users should consider the mixed durability reviews emphasizing the importance of individual preferences and experiences. In our extensive testing, this reel emerged as a durable option for those who prioritize longevity and performance in their bowfishing gear.


Cajun Screw-On


The Cajun Bowfishing Screw-On Drum Reel provides a mix of reliability with its lifetime warranty and convenience with easy setup. However, practical experience suggests a need for improvement in line retention with the metal tab and string durability being the main concerns.

Compared to higher-end models like the AMS Retriever, this reel might not rise to the same level of uninterrupted performance but stands as a serviceable option for those wanting a secure and enduring reel without breaking the bank.

“The Cajun Screw-On Drum Reel is chosen for its solid build and warranty assurance, suitable for bowfishers seeking a reliable gear. Its ease of installation is appealing, albeit with a caveat concerning line security.”

– Kenneth Reaves, Editor-in-Chief & Executive Director

The Cajun Screw-On Drum Bowfishing Reel, our pick for the most reliable partner in bowfishing stands out for its exceptional features. This reel backed by a limited lifetime warranty offers users the confidence and assurance needed for prolonged use. The inclusion of 50′ of 80 lbs test braided line contributes to its reliability, ensuring that users are equipped with durable gear right out of the box.

Our team’s hands-on testing highlighted the premium construction of this reel. The all-aluminum 5″ diameter drum not only adds to its durability but also positions it as a robust choice for challenging bowfishing conditions. However, user feedback pointed to a design quirk related to the aluminum tab impacting its ability to retain the fishing line securely.

The Cajun Screw-On Drum Bowfishing Reel earns its spot as the most reliable partner in bowfishing. The lifetime warranty coupled with the inclusion of a sturdy 80 lbs braided line, makes it a trustworthy choice for anglers seeking longevity in their gear. While the aluminum tab design quirk should be noted, the overall durability and premium construction outweigh this concern.

For anglers prioritizing reliability in their bowfishing reel, the Cajun Screw-On Drum stands as a top contender. The limited lifetime warranty provides users with a sense of security and the inclusion of a robust 80 lbs braided line ensures immediate usability. While some design nuances such as the aluminum tab were observed, our testing confirmed its overall reliability making it a recommended choice for those navigating challenging bowfishing conditions.

Questions & Answers

  1. How does the durability of a bowfishing reel affect its performance?

    A bowfishing reel’s resilience to these challenges is crucial for ensuring a reliable and effective fishing experience. Opting for a robust reel constructed from high-quality materials like stainless steel or aluminum is key to withstanding the demanding conditions encountered in bowfishing. Durability directly influences the reel’s performance, allowing it to function smoothly, resist corrosion, and handle the sudden, powerful movements of fish. The unique nature of bowfishing, involving the retrieval of fish using a bow and arrow, demands equipment that can endure the intense strain of both the shooting and reeling-in processes.
    An unreliable or undurable reel poses the risk of failure at critical moments, potentially resulting in lost catches or, worse, damage to your gear. Therefore, prioritizing a bowfishing reel with a proven track record of durability is not just a matter of longevity; it directly contributes to the success of your outings. In the dynamic and challenging environment of bowfishing, where precision and speed are essential, a durable reel not only enhances performance but also ensures that your equipment stands the test of time. Making an informed choice regarding durability can lead to more successful outings, increased catch rates, and an extended lifespan for your bowfishing gear.

  2. What should I look for in a bowfishing reel’s line management system?

    A bowfishing reel’s line management system should allow for quick and tangle-free shooting and retrieval. Look for a system that prevents line twists and snags which could hinder the arrow’s flight or cause difficulties during the retrieval of a fish. A reel with a zero-drag system is ideal as it enables the line to leave the reel without resistance, resulting in faster, cleaner shots. Additionally, the reel should offer efficient line stacking or spooling to avoid tangles upon retrieval. Features like a durable ceramic string guide or a well-designed line feeder can enhance the reel’s line management making it easier for anglers to focus on the shot rather than on managing the equipment.

  3. Is it important for the bowfishing reel to be easy to use?

    Yes, ease of use is a critical factor for bowfishing reels. In the midst of bowfishing where quick reactions are often needed, a reel that’s intuitive and straightforward minimizes distractions and complications. Features such as one-handed operation and easy installation methods can significantly enhance the fishing experience. These aspects enable anglers to spend less time fiddling with their gear and more time focusing on the prey. Additionally, a reel that is simple to use reduces the learning curve for beginners and can increase the overall enjoyment of the sport. The less effort it takes to operate the reel, the more anglers can concentrate on strategy, aim, and the thrill of the catch.

  4. Why does the compatibility of the bowfishing reel with the bow matter?

    The compatibility of the bowfishing reel with the bow is crucial because it impacts the balance, handling, and overall effectiveness of your bowfishing setup. A compatible reel will securely attach to your bow without wobbling or misalignment which could affect shot accuracy and comfort. Universal fit designs that accommodate both vertical and horizontal adjustments ensure that the reel can be precisely fitted to any bow, optimizing the angler’s technique and performance. Ensuring that the hand orientation of the reel is suited to your shooting preference is also important for ergonomic use and safety during the draw and release of the bow.

  5. What advantages does a good drag system provide on a bowfishing reel?

    A good drag system on a bowfishing reel provides the angler with control over the fish during retrieval which can be crucial when dealing with powerful or large fish. A reliable drag system will allow the angler to apply the right amount of pressure to fight the fish effectively without risking the line breaking. Additionally, some advanced drag systems enable simultaneous braking and reeling, giving the angler the ability to manage large, fighting fish with precision. This level of control can increase the success rate of landing fish and also protect the gear from damage caused by sudden forceful movements of strong fish.


In our pursuit of the optimal bowfishing reel, the AMS Bowfishing Retriever Pro Reel has risen as the undisputed champion, showcasing exceptional durability, superior line management, and unparalleled ease of use. When choosing the ideal reel, it’s essential to weigh factors such as compatibility, the efficiency of the drag system, weight, and the extent of warranty coverage. Armed with these insights, you’re now prepared to secure a winning reel that not only elevates your bowfishing endeavors but also ensures reliability precisely when you need it the most.