Bow Fishing Spinning Reel Buyers Guide

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Bow fishing is becoming an increasingly popular sport that hasn’t lost its appeal since time immemorial. 

It’s a fun activity that incorporates creative archery skills and focused discipline.

But, to get it right, you need the proper equipment to avoid wasting time untangling lines, which may take out the fun from the activity.

You may not need any special training typical with retriever reels to operate a bow fishing spinning reel.

Whether you’re out for finesse fishing or light-line applications, a spinning reel will offer the best performance for any angler.

AMS Bowfishing Retriever Pro Combo Kit - Made in The USA - Right Hand

Unfortunately, choosing the best bow fishing spinning reel may be challenging for those with little knowledge of their operations and the terms used when talking about their performance.

The article will cover a detailed guide on choosing the best bow fishing spinning reels for first-time shoppers and veterans looking to upgrade their reels.

How to Choose a Bow Fishing Spinning Reel

Spincasters are easy to install and use. They have smooth light lines making retrieval of your catch a straightforward process. 

Unfortunately, spinning reels are more prone to wear and tear.

These reels have more moving parts, which expose them to frequent breakages, especially in challenging bow fishing conditions.

AMS Bowfishing Retriever TNT Reel - Right Hand - Made in The USA

However, that doesn’t limit their performance when it comes to bow fishing.

They are tough and have a great speed, thus a favorite for most big game and tournament bow fishers.

Below are factors to consider when buying a bow fishing spinning reel.

Line Length and strength

Many lines come pre-spooled, meaning the manufacturer has already decided the line size for you.

However, that does not limit you in any way as you can switch it up depending on the type of fish you intend to hunt and the extent to which you want to cast.

Your choice of appropriate line is a matter of common sense.

Cajun Winch Pro Bowfishing Reel Kit

For big game bow fishing, aim for a heavier strength. 

For long-distance shooting, go for a longer line.

Always choose bright-colored lines for clear visibility of your placement in the muddy waters.

Ease of Use

Although most spinning reels are straightforward to use even for amateurs, still it’s crucial to consider your level of experience shopping for one.

Spin and drum reels are easy to shoot, tangle, retrieve the line and rewind the reel.

However, you may need someone to show you around if it’s your first time using a spinning reel. 

If you ever used a drum reel before, you may not require any training to operate a spinning reel.

Gear Ratio

In spinning reels, the gear ratio refers to the number of times the bail rotates around the spool in a single reel handle turn.

For instance, the bail will rotate four times in a single turn for a spinning reel with a 4:1 ratio. 

That’s a low-speed ratio considering the small amount of line picked up in one crank.

However, they offer more torque, making them suitable for big game fishing.

A 6:1 ratio is considered high-speed—common with retriever reels, whereas 5:1 is medium.

Always aim for a medium spinning reel if you only need one spinning reel. It’s the ideal ratio for medium to large bow fishing.

As you advance in your angling, you may upgrade to high-speed spinning reels, which are the favorite among seasoned anglers chasing larger fish.

Comfort and Convenience

The left-hand/right-hand issue is an important consideration, especially for anglers who spend many hours in the waters.

If you’re comfortable casting with one hand then changing over to your other hand to reel, the left-hand/right-hand issue should not bother you.

Muzzy Bowfishing 1069 XD Pro Spin Style Reel with Integrated Reel Mounting system and 150# Line Installed - Reversible Left or Right Hand

However, for anglers who spend the whole day fishing, you may need to invest a little more on a reel that allows you to switch to the next hand when you feel fatigued.


A good spinning reel construction should be light enough to take you for long hours of fishing and strong enough to withstand high torque when reeling large fish.  

All-metal reels are the toughest and most durable.

High-end reels use sophisticated alloy for enhanced strength.  

Copolymer and graphite construction are considered good, whereas hybrid graphite or copolymer featuring metal faceplate is a better construction. The best option is an all-metal reel construction.  

For casual or fun fishing, plastic or graphite construction should be your choice.

They are cheap and very light but only suitable for small fish. 

Otherwise, if you intend to go after the big game, an all-metal reel will suffice.

Ball Bearings and Water Factor

If you’re going to fish in brackish or salty waters, make sure your reel can withstand such harsh conditions. 

Quality ball bearings are free from noise and vibration. Such bearings are made of steel and do not rust.

A good spinning reel is gauged by the quality of its bearings.

Muzzy Bowfishing 1069 XD Pro Spin Style Reel with Integrated Reel Mounting system and 150# Line Installed - Reversible Left or Right Hand

And while more is always the best for smoother reeling, a reel with six quality bearings will outperform one with 12 low-quality bearings.

Talk to your dealer to guide you on the choice of quality bearings and how they impact your fishing.

Tips and Tricks to Enhance Your Bow Fishing Experience

Below are valuable tips and tricks anglers can use to improve their bow fishing experience using a spinning reel.

  • Get a good pair of polarized glasses to protect you from the reflective sun rays that may blur your view of the target. Polarized glasses offer a good balance between enhancing crystal clear vision and screening out the sun glare. Avoid shades at all costs.
  • Keep your bow fishing tips sharp for deeper penetration. Superficial penetration will make it easy to lose your catch when reeling. Although your bow fishing tips will dull after some time of use, you can always sharpen and use them for a more extended period.
  • Since most fish nestle inshore under natural covers such as stones, tow your canoe or kayak deep into the water to get closer to such spots.
  • Employ the right tip depending on the type of fish you want to catch, lest you risk losing your gear. For instance, you’ll need a big prong when going for larger carps—more giant carps will easily rip off small and weak prongs. Besides, some big game fish have armored scales that will require strong blades to net them.

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are answers to common questions about bow fishing spinning reels.

What’s an Ideal Length For My Bowfishing Line?

Most shooting targets rarely go beyond 20 yards, even for seasoned anglers. As a result, you may not need a line longer than 25 yards, especially for beginners.However, bow fishing lines are available in various lengths to choose from. That allows you to adjust the lines shorter or longer depending on your casting needs.

Can I Install a Bow Fishing Spinning Reel By Myself?

There are multiple types of reels such as drum, spin, and retriever. Each comes with a set of instructions on how to install them in a bow. Follow the instructions in your manual to set the reel in your bow. Alternatively, you can shop for a bow fishing kit with a pre-installed reel. It’s an ideal option for beginners.

AMS Bowfishing Retriever TNT Reel - Right Hand - Made in The USA

Bottom Line

Shopping for the best bow fishing gear will yield more success and make the activity more fun.

However, given the different types of reels available on the market—all with varying features and different levels of performance, you may need to do thorough research before making your purchase.  

Read reviews about bow fishing reels to get a proper grasp of how each reel works.

Bow fishing spinning reels pack most of the qualities that will interest both beginner or veteran anglers. 

They are affordable and easy to use and also suitable for both small to medium fish size angling. 

Unfortunately, spinning reels have more moving parts, making them more prone to breakages.