There are 3 types of reels typically used in bowfishing. The drum or shoot thru hand wrap reel, the spincast reel and the AMS Retriever reel. All work well for bowfishing while having their plusses and minuses. Here are the reels.....
This first reel is a simple hand wrap drum reel. While this one is attached to the bow by tape, others have a bolt running out its back that is threaded into the stabilizer hole on the bow. This reel is mounted under the arrow rest.
This reel is a shoot thru hand wrap reel. While it is similar to the drum reel in ways, it is mounted differently. The reel is taped again to the bow but higher where the arrow is shot thru the center of the reel.
The big plusses for these reel are their simplicity and low price. One can buy one of these for around $10. There is nothing to break on them and they will last a long time. The big minus for these reels are their speed in shooting and wrapping the line. The large diameter of the reels create alot of friction on the line as the bow is shot slowing down the arrow. This reduces the effective distance an arrow can be shot and the depth they can reach under water. They also are harder to wind the line onto and take more time to do so, making second shots on missed fish rare.
The next reel is the spincast reel. It is simply an oversized spincast reel that bowfishing line can be wound into. Several of these reels have been manufactured specifically for bowfishing.
The plus for these reels are their speed. You can take extremely long shots and have your arrow back and loaded quickly for a second shot at a missed fish. The minus for these reels is that button! If you forget to hit it or accidentally engage the reel you will more likely loose the arrow as the line snaps after the shoot. Worse yet, the arrow might snap back and hit you. Duribility is also an issue. You can expect to change these out every season or two as the shock of shooting really wears them quickly. They are attached to the stabilizer hole of the bow with a reel seat or on the sight mounting holes with a side mount seat. Some even use a short rod as this one does.
The final reel is the Retriever manufactured by AMS Bowfishing. The Retriever is the only reel manufactured specifically for bowfishing.
Instead of being reeled onto a spool, the line is stacked into the bottle, and this leaves no drag on the line when it is shot. Larger diameter line is used with this reel making hand fighting a fish easier. The plusses, it is ver durable and will last many years. Simple to use and no button to push. They are also very lite which is important when holding the bow for hours at a timeThe only minus we can think of is it is a little slower to reel than the spincast. This reel is also the best for big game bowfishing as a float can be used with the slotted model. (shown here)
Hope this gives those considering bowfishing a little insight into reels. As always, call or PM any BAI member for more info on the club or bowfishing!