The only thing connecting your arrow to your bow is a length of line, and when you hit a monster carp or a big blue cat, you’ll want that slender cable to act like it was made of steel.
Suffice it to say that what counts as strong fishing line isn’t even beginning to register on the archery angler’s mind.
If you’re new to bowfishing, that may leave you at a loss for where to start. The good news is that we’re here to help, and below, you’ll find reviews of some of our favorites, plus a complete buying guide that demystifies line choice.
Quick glance at the best bowfishing line:
Table of Contents (clickable)
Test strength: 200 lbs.
Color: lime green
Muzzy’s experience in archery is unquestionable, and you can count on their know-how for your bowfishing needs. That’s certainly true for their excellent 1078 line, and it’s a great choice for a number of reasons.
Manufactured from nylon, it’s very knot-friendly. That may not seem like a big deal - until the first time you have a failure at your safety slide and watch your arrow, and your fish, disappear. Easier to tie securely than both Spectra or Dyneema, nylon is a great choice where larger diameters aren’t a problem.
Nylon is also much, much more resistant to abrasion than alternative materials, making it a fantastic option where stumps, rocks, and pilings are going to be an issue.
That said, I’d still recommend cutting a few feet off each time you start fishing, just for extra confidence that you’re working with undamaged line.
Muzzy’s 1078 is a bright lime green, making it easy to spot in the dark and in muddy water.
One downside to nylon is that it can pick up memory, essentially remembering the shape into which it’s been squeezed by your reel. That can cause problems, and some folks find that tangles are an issue when using either spinning or retriever-style reels.
But there’s no doubting the strength and durability of this line, and it’s a perennial favorite with archers who appreciate these qualities.
Test strength: 250 lbs.
Length: 25 yards
Like Muzzy, Bear is no newcomer to archery, and if they sell a product, it’s worth a second look.
Cajun, their bowfishing subsidiary, offers a nylon bowfishing line rated for 250 pounds. That’s all that most archers need, and the bright, clean white color is easy to spot no matter how dark the water is.
As you'd expect given the material similarities, this nylon line shares the strengths and weaknesses of Muzzy’s 1078. It ties very, very well, creating a secure connection to your safety slide.
It’s also among the most durable options you’ll find: strong nylon like this is as good as it gets against everything from shells to barnacles and pilings to stumps.
But as is the case with Muzzy’s excellent 1078, you should expect some issues with memory. That’s just par for the course with nylon, and tangling can be an issue for both spinners and retrievers.
Test strength: 200, 350, 450, 640 lbs.
Length: varies with the test strength
Color: yellow, white, and orange
AMS manufactures its own line to ensure compatibility with its awesome retriever reels. And let me tell you right off the bat, this stuff is no joke!
Manufactured from a proprietary polyester called Dacron, AMS bowfishing line is ridiculously strong for its diameter, in no small part due to its braided construction. That allows for extremely high test strengths without compromising function in a retriever-style reel.
But Dacron has drawbacks. Polyethylene terephthalate, the specific polyester in question, is pretty slick stuff, and knot integrity can be an issue unless you learn to tie a superline-friendly connection.
And be warned: when some of the woven fibers are compromised by abrasion, Dacron line starts to lose its test strength - and fast! That makes it a less than optimal option for high-abrasion environments, but where that’s not an issue, it’s just hard to beat the incredible strength this stuff has to offer.
On the plus side, Dacron has low to no memory, so tangles are rarely an issue. If you’re having trouble with nylon lines, this might be a good alternative.
Available in three bright, hi-viz colors, AMS’s bowfishing line is a great choice for everything from cats to gators, provided you keep it away from the rough stuff.
Test strength: 400 lbs.
Length: 30’, 100’, and 1000’
SpearIt produces a braided Spectra line that - I’m speculating here - has been repurposed as bowfishing line. That in no sense speaks against it, and this is a strong, thin, highly visible option.
Specta is another of the polyethylenes, and it’s closely related to the Dacron used by AMS. Very strong for diameter, this material is often used in conventional braided fishing line, and when sized up to 1.3mm by SpearIt, it can hold an incredible 400 lbs!
Now keep in mind that this isn’t a measure of a sudden shock, but rather a stable force on the line, so a big alligator might still be able to create enough force to break free. And like all braided lines, abrasion can be a problem.
When component strands are compromised, strength decreases rapidly. That just doesn’t happen with monofilaments like nylon, and for high-abrasion environments, that’s something to consider carefully.
SpearIt offers this line in three lengths: 30, 100, and 1000 feet, and as is common with Spectra, it’s a bright, UV-resistant white color that’s very hi-viz.
Spectra has two other qualities that bear consideration.
First, it’s very limp and retains little to no memory. That makes this line ideal for spincasting reels, as staying coiled around a spool isn’t going to do nylon line any favors when it comes to tangles.
Second, Spectra is very, very slick. It exhibits what engineers call “a low coefficient of friction,” meaning that it doesn’t bite against itself very well. Dacron is a bit better in this regard, and nylon is much better.
What’s the issue?
It doesn’t like to hold knots. Be sure to tie a “braid-approved” knot to connect your line to your safety slide. Otherwise, you’ll almost certainly lose your arrow under load!
Test strength: 200 lbs.
Length: 125’, 150’, 160’, and 500’
RPM has a growing following for its Monkey Wire, a low-diameter synthetic line.
Now RPM is a bit cagey about the material, insisting it's the same stuff bullet-proof vests are made from. A little digging reveals that this might be simple Spectra, as these fibers are a common component of body armor.
And given its real-world characteristics, I’ll stand by that guess.
Available in a 200-pound test strength, Monkey Wire is strong line and more than enough for any fish you might skewer.
It exhibits very low memory, making it ideal for spinning reels, but be warned that its small diameter makes it unsuitable for retriever reels.
The reason is simple: it’s too thin for the gears to grab, and you’ll just be frustrated to no end.
Offered in a range of lengths, you’ll find the right one for your spinning reel, or you can cut your own custom length easily enough with the longest length.
Expect a high-visibility yellow that’s easy to spot in the dark and in muddy or stained water.
RPM braids this line, strengthening my conclusion that it’s made from Spectra, and as a result, you can expect problems with abrasion. Ditto on knot integrity: you’ll need to learn a braid-friendly knot to attach your line to your safety slide.
Where abrasion isn’t an issue, and where 200 pounds is plenty of strength, RPM’s Monkey Wire is excellent line - just remember not to use it in a bottle-style reel!
Test strength: 600 lbs.
RPM is well aware of the popularity of AMS’s line of retriever reels, and knowing that their Monkey Wire won’t function with them, they offer a larger diameter alternative: Gorilla Wire.
Probably made from the same Spectra, and woven into line that’s essentially identical to Monkey Wire - with the exception of its diameter and thus strength - Gorilla wire is ideal for bottle-style reels but too thick by far for spincasters.
And other than the 600-pound test strength and a single length on offer, everything that’s true of Monkey Wire is true of Gorilla Wire, too.
In the real world, it’ll be a bit more abrasion resistant just by dint of its size, but this still isn’t line I’d choose to fish around a barnacle-encrusted pier, for instance.
But in relatively open water, I wouldn’t hesitate to run this line for big fish and alligators, as it has the strength, limpness, and visibility to really shine.
Bowfishing line is made from the same materials as conventional fishing line, just sized up to match the forces you’ll encounter when dragging a big fish sideways through the water!
Three materials are common, and each has strengths and weaknesses you should think about:
Nylon monofilament - Nylon mono has three advantages to recommend it:
First, it stretches under sudden load, allowing it to act as a shock absorber. That matters a lot when a big fish - or alligator - makes a sudden surge. Many people don’t realize that a line’s test strength doesn’t gauge its shock integrity but rather the load it can support under relatively stable conditions.
Second, it bites against itself really well, creating tight, hard-holding knots. If you’ve ever lost a fish - and an arrow - when your knot let go, you know why that’s important!
Third, it’s very abrasion-resistant. Nylon is tough stuff, and because it's a single round filament, it can shrug off more abrasion than braided line. This isn’t a question of test strength - it’s simply a question of physics.
But it has weaknesses, too:
Apples-to-apples, it’s larger diameter for less test strength when compared to braided Dacron or Spectra. You get more line on your reel, and more strength, with braided alternatives.
Nylon remembers the shapes into which it is forced, meaning that it will “memorize” the coils it forms on your reel’s spool. That can lead to tangling issues.
Braided Spectra and Dacron - Both Spectra and Dacron make excellent bowfishing line, and there’s a lot going for both of them:
First, Spectra and Dacron are very limp, exhibiting very low to no memory. That makes them both ideal for spinning and retriever reels because it reduces tangles.
Be aware, however, that because these lines can be very thin, lower test strengths won’t work well in retriever reels. They’re just too tiny for the gears to pick up.
Second, Spectra and Dacron are very strong for their diameter. This family of polyethylenes are simply amazing and, for their size, are stronger than steel. This lets you pack on year after yard of very strong line.
But not everything about braided Spectra and Dacron is ideal:
Dacron is pretty slick, and though not quite as bad as Spectra on this front, it doesn’t like to hold a knot. Be sure to use “braid-approved” knots with this line.
Spectra and Dacron, and braided construction in general, just can’t withstand abrasion. Big line helps, but even when you compare diameter to diameter, nylon mono is better suited for the rough stuff.
Bowfishing line needs to be strong, and you should buy line with a test strength that matches your quarry.
But keep in mind that test strength and diameter are directly related, though Spectra and Dacron are always more slender for a given strength than nylon.
This can affect how these lines function - or don’t! - in a reel type, so always be aware of what you’re spooling onto your reel.
Where stumps, rocks, piling, and other hazards are common, you need great abrasion resistance.
Typically, that means choosing nylon over Spectra or Dacron.
Let me warn you right now: though very high-test strength braided lines can hold out a bit better than their lower-diameter alternatives, diameter to diameter, nylon will simply crush them in terms of abrasion resistance.
That’s a fact that’s been confirmed time and time again.
You want bowfishing line that’s highly visible in the dark and in muddy or stained water.