Going bowfishing, maybe you have wondered if you need to have a special reel for the sport. Like with any sport you have dozens of choices that allow for the maximum level of creativity with what you choose.
Can you use any reel for bowfishing? Yes, you can use any reel that you have for bowfishing. You don’t need anything special, and in fact, you have several types of bowfishing reels that you can choose from. Some strong opinions exist here, but the truth is, anything will work.
What Reels Do They Have in Bowfishing?
You have three main choices of reels that you use in the sport, and they include:
- Drum reels
- Spincast reels
- Bottle-style reels
In some cases, they also called drum reels the handwrap reels. This type of reel could be said to be as low tech as it comes. You won’t struggle to figure this one out. Simply pull back on the bow and loose the arrow. The line wraps around the outer diameter of the drum, and people like drum reels because of how they have simplicity and a low cost.
In most cases, you can buy a drum reel for under $20. Meanwhile, drum reels last for years because of the lack of moving parts.
- Low cost
- No moving parts
- Lasts a long time
- Less cool than the others
If you’d like to get even more information on the spincast reel, check out my article, “What is a Spinning Reel?” To sum up that information, spinning reels give you what you’d typically see as the most common type of fishing reel. I’ve seen this type of fishing reel more than any of the others.
With bowfishing, this reel gives you the advantage of a fast retrieval. Spincast reels use the drag mechanism to allow for faster retrieval. The drag puts tension on the line for faster retrieval or taking greater control over the fish that you have caught.
- Popularly used reel
- Fast retrieval
- Drag system
- Greater control over the fish
- Heavier the line, the worse it performs
Perhaps one of the only exclusively bowfishing reels, the bottle-style reel especially does well with picking up small to medium-sized fish. That said, if you will be shooting at giant gar, you may want something else. To apply the drag with a bottle-style reel, you will typically hit a lever that adds the tension or releases it.
I use a spincast reel, but a lot of people like the bottle-style reels because of how it is low maintenance, and you can use it easily. It is as easy to understand as the drum reels. That said, don’t use this one if you plan to arrow the bigger fish regularly because you have a harder time with a bottle-style reel and larger fish.
- Ease of use
- Easy to maintain
- Good for beginners
- Not a good choice for larger fish.
How to Choose a Reel Style
I use the spincast reel because I’m the most used to using that type of reel. It makes it easier for me to use after I have put an arrow through a fish. That said, maybe you want to try something new. I’d recommend you start with the drum reel because it has simplicity without a serious disadvantage like making it harder to fight the fish after you have shot one.
Some of the factors to use when choosing a reel include:
If I had to make a recommendation for a drum reel, the Cajun Bowfishing Screw-On All-Aluminum Drum Reel is a popular choice. The drum reel works good because it acts as a happy medium between the spincast reel and the bottle-style reel. What someone should choose will largely depend on them.
Choosing a bowfishing reel depends on you, and you don’t have anything that you can’t use.
What to Understand About Bowfishing Reels
If you want the maximum safety when bowfishing, don’t use baitcasting, spinning reels or mono. These reels have the potential to be dangerous. For example, let’s say that you took a shot with a mono reel. It can be dangerous to take shots like this because of how the mono reel could break.
You do have some reels more preferable to bowfishing, but you don’t anything that you can’t necessarily use. Like with many subjects in bowfishing, you will find a lot of opinion on the best, but I haven’t honestly seen anything that you can’t use among the ones that were mentioned.
With some of the reels, they have a float that they added to the line so that you can track the fish’s movements. Either that, or a bright-colored arrow can help you to keep an eye on where you shot the arrow.
Bowfishing Reels: One of the Most Important Decisions
Choosing a bowfishing reel will be one of the most important decisions that you make because the reel chosen will have an impact on how you crank in the fish. Each of the reels has their own advantages and disadvantages.
The one thing that I have always loved about bowfishing came from the versatility of it. You don’t necessarily need anything particular. The reel is the same way, but with that said, you do have some bowfishing reels that might be more preferable.
One of the best ways to learn what works the best for you is through trying all three of the reels. You might use them for a time before you switch out to the next one. In this way, you can decide for yourself which one you like the best.
In truth, you don’t have a particular bowfishing reel that you would say is the best. You can use most any reel for bowfishing with the three types mentioned. These are the most common types of reels that exist. You can even make your own bowfishing reel if you want. While I’ve never done this, I’ve known some bowfishermen who have done this to cut costs.