May 03, 2019
By Tony J. Peterson
When my father first took me bowfishing as a pre-teen, the gear we used was terrible. We toted old recurve bows that were poorly fitted with drum-style reels. Our arrows were nothing special, but they tended to last much longer than our arrow points did. This was the case for most of our bowfishing spots, but a hard and fast rule when we shot anywhere with some level of rocky bottom — which was the case with most of the rivers we waded for carp and suckers.
As we got into bowfishing, we started taking excursions to the backwaters of the Mississippi to target bigger fish like buffalo and gar, but to also shoot in sloughs with muddier bottoms. While our arrow tips fared better in our new bowfishing environment, the reels and reel seats couldn’t handle the bigger fish all that well. It was a frustrating endeavor that changed drastically when AMS first released its Retriever reels.
At the very least, things became much easier with fewer line tangles, faster shooting, and overall fewer headaches on the water. Nowadays, those reels are the industry standard and as I start to introduce my seven-year old twin daughters to bowfishing, I’m very grateful for that.
But, there is a new option on the market that may very well change the way weekend warriors and diehards alike look at reels.
A Feat Of Engineering
At the 2019 ATA Show I got to handle the new MegaMouth Reel and I can safely say it is built bombproof. This is good because in a bowfishing boat at night with the lights shining and scaled chaos all around, babying equipment isn’t a high priority.
Before getting into the tough-as-nails design, it is important to understand the functionality of the MegaMouth first. For starters, it is built in such a way that there is no release button, meaning if you want to shoot you can safely do it without having to push a button or flip a latch. This is the way all reels should be, not only for ease of use, but for safety purposes.
With other spincast or bottle-reel designs, you need to grab the handle on the reel and turn it to slow the line or fish down. Normally, you do that with your draw hand so there is some time required to move your hand to the reel and slow down a fish. With the MegaMouth, you can engage the reel with your bow hand without ever grabbing the handle on the reel. This feature as it saves valuable time in keeping a fish out of the weeds, log or back of the boat.
And as you engage the reel, you’ll notice that the line is retrieved very quickly. This is due to the 4:1 gear ratio built into the MegaMouth, which draws in 28 inches of line every time you crank the handle. This reel also features four internal lights for night fishing, which not only helps you do your thing in the dark, but also looks cool as anything.
Why It’s Different
The thing about spin-cast reels that are sold as bowfishing gear is that they’re generally just repurposed from the traditional fishing arena. If you know that world at all, you understand that no one who is fishing for big, hard-fighting fish would use a spin-cast reel. They’re mostly appropriate for kids plucking panfish off the dock and not 25-pound carp from the cattails.
Imagine one of those same reels redesigned with stainless steel and brass gears, an anti-reverse system, and heavy-duty axial pins. Take it further and imagine that this beefed up reel is also designed by hardcore bowfisherman solely for the purpose of providing the single best reel option on the market for big fish, and not by someone who has 10-inch perch and crappies in mind.
Is It Necessary?
Quality has its price, and the question most of us ask ourselves is whether a piece of gear is worth it or not. I just celebrated my 39th birthday and have come to realize that I’d rather spend up for good gear that will last and greatly enhance my time afield or on the water versus saving some coin and buying subpar gear.
This goes for the elk mountains as well as the time I spend on the water trying to skewer a few rough fish. If that sounds like you and you’re into bowfishing at more than a once-or-twice-per-year level, then you might want to get your hands on a MegaMouth reel. That’s where a true understanding and appreciation for its design and American-made construction comes into play.
It’s at that point where you’ll see understand that this thing is different than every other option on the market. That’s a good realization to come to, and you’ll likely decide that you need one sooner rather than later.