Bowfishing is becoming a hugely popular pastime that can be enjoyed by people of all ages.
It can also be enjoyed at any time of day or night – providing you have the right gear.
And shooting when it’s dark is one of the most thrilling and rewarding aspects of the sport.
With that in mind, we take a look at the best bowfishing lights for 2023, with a view to helping you set up a rig to keep you on the water for longer.
A full buyer’s guide and FAQ section will follow for some additional illumination.
Let’s get lit!
Table of Contents
- At a Glance – The Best Lights for Bowfishing
- The 11 Best Bowfishing Lights for 2023
- Swamp Eye Bowfishing Light
- Nilight LED Light Bar
- Fin-Finder Splashlight Bowfishing Riser Light
- Ustellar LED Flood Light
- Quans LED Flood Light
- GearOZ Coon Hunting Lights Headlamp
- Linkstyle LED Submersible Fishing Light
- Sucool LED Flood Beam Lights
- Seapon Pontoon Boat Light
- Weisiji LED Light Bar
- AMS Bowfishing H2Glo Lighted Nocks
- How to Choose the Best Lights for Bowfishing – A Buyer’s Guide
- How many lumens do you need for bowfishing?
- Can you use LED light bars for bowfishing?
- What are the best lights for bowfishing?
- When is it fine to use warm white for bowfishing?
- What is the best type of bulb for a bowfishing light?
- Do I need a generator for bowfishing lights?
- How do I set up bowfishing lights?
- What color light is best for bowfishing?
- Can I use solar lights for bowfishing?
Disclosure: At BonfireBob, we recommend products based on unbiased research, however, BonfireBob.com is reader-supported and as an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases if you shop through the links on this page. For more information, see disclosure here.
At a Glance – The Best Lights for Bowfishing
Before we highlight the products, let’s take an illuminating look at some of the things you should be looking out for.
These can include:
- Types of Lighting – including LED, halogen, bow-mounted, and high-pressure sodium lights.
- Water clarity – you’ll need different colored lights depending on how clear or muddy it is.
- Lumens – how bright bowfishing lights are – and how bright they should be.
- Durability – as ever, it’s nice to find products that last – especially in tough conditions.
- IP rating – how water and dustproof your chosen lights are.
- Power source – where’s the juice coming from?
- Number of lights required – customize your set-up to suit your needs.
- Cost – how much are these things, anyway? Keep reading to find out.
With these points in mind, we poured over plenty of bowfish lighting options, and picked out our top three that offer the best balance of quality, value, and practicality.
First up, is the Swamp Eye Light Bar, which has been specifically designed for bowfishing. Quite frankly, the option to adjust the color and brightness of these lights at a touch of a button is hard to beat.
For anyone on more of a budget, the Nilight light bar is ideal for a variety of vehicles, but works just as well on a boat, given the fact that it has an impressive IP rating of 67.
Then there’s the Fin-Finder Bowfishing Riser Light – a flashlight device that attaches to the riser of your bow.
That offers 600 lumens of light in a fully rechargeable unit, which will give you up to four hours on the water before it requires a new charge. Plenty of time to stick those fish well into the night!
Of course, there’s so much more out there than these picks, and I highly recommend staying switched on to this article, as we delve into some enlightening reviews!
The 11 Best Bowfishing Lights for 2023
How to Choose the Best Lights for Bowfishing – A Buyer’s Guide
There are a few things you need to consider before purchasing a set of lights for bowfishing, so read on for some expert tips and advice on what you should be looking out for.
Why Use Bowfishing Lights?
Bowfishing is predominantly a spring and summer sport, and these seasons offer ample daylight hours in which to enjoy the hunt for as long as possible.
However, bowfishing at night is also a thrilling experience (sometimes even more so) and attaching lights to your craft allows you to continue the fun well after dark.
In fact, you’re seriously missing out if you DON’T have a nighttime bowfishing setup – so get on it!
Types of Bowfishing Lights
LED lights are the most common as they have multiple advantages and are ideal for use as a bowfishing option. They’re easy to install given the fact that they are powered by low-voltage batteries, usually very lightweight, and inexpensive.
They’re also available as headlamps and bow (as in weapon) mounted options, which are well worth considering as an alternative to lighting around a boat.
The biggest disadvantage of LEDs is that they will run out eventually, but some last considerably longer than others.
Halogen lights are high-powered options that require a mains or generator to run.
While they’re pretty straightforward to install, they’re not quite as ready-to-go as LEDs, and will take some know-how when it comes to setting them up.
High Pressure Sodium lights will also require powerful generators, and they’re few and far between to purchase.
While some bowfishers do use them, they’re often regarded as overkill, as I believe them to be more suitable for lighting up billboards.
When selecting your bowfishing lights, it’s important to understand the type you should choose based on how clear or muddy the water is in the area that you most commonly fish.
- For muddy water, you should be looking for warm yellow, green, or white LEDs that will help visibility in the face of sediment. These colors work similarly to using a dipped headlight beam in fog, as they won’t reflect back and blind you.
- For clearer water, it’s best to use cool white LEDs, which will help penetrate the depths and improve your chances of spotting fish.
Remember, when it comes to bowfishing, brighter isn’t always better, and you certainly don’t want to be frightening your quarry.
Which brings us nicely onto talking about lumens.
How bright do bowfishing lights need to be? Well, this is where the lumens number comes in.
A lumen is a unit of luminous flux, and represents the quantity of light output by a single source – per unit of time. To keep things simple – the higher the number of lumens, the brighter the light.
For bowfishing, you’re probably looking at 900-1000 lumens per light. However, it all depends on the kind of set-up you’re looking for, and how bright you personally want your rig to be.
It will vary from bowfisher to bowfisher, area to area, and boat to boat.
If all you’re looking to do is spot the fish, you’re unlikely to need anything particularly bright, whereas some bow anglers prefer to illuminate as much and as far as possible.
Anyone who is rocking bowfishing lights on their boat will understand that durability is key when it comes to their overall quality and how long they’re going to last.
These devices are going to take a lot of punishment – especially when shaking and rattling on the back of the trailer as you boost at 70 MPH down the highway to get to your favorite fishing spot.
As such, they need to have the strength and build-quality to take a beating. Cheaply-made, flimsy units aren’t going to cut it and will likely fall apart their first time out.
With that in mind, look for lights that are built to last, with decent reviews regarding their durability.
As well as the overall durability of the light casing and bulb, the IP rating of a light is very important, as it’s an indication of how water and dustproof it’s going to be.
The first digit represents dust and debris. The second digit represents moisture.
The higher either of these numbers, the better the device will be able to repel foreign bodies that can cause significant damage – such as dirt and liquid.
So, for example, a light with an IP rating of 67, such as the Nilight flood bar, is 100% dustproof with a rating of six, and can be submerged in one meter of water for up to 30 minutes with its moisture rating of seven.
Obviously, for bowfishing lights, it’s advisable that they have higher IP numbers than your average home security system, given the environment in which they’ll be working.
Thankfully, given the fact that they all need to be used outdoors, most floodlights in this class are well protected from anything that might try to compromise them.
For more information, take a look at this article and have IP ratings explained.
More powerful units will need larger batteries or even gas-powered generators.
Remember, you should take noise into consideration, as you really don’t want to frighten the fish, or be pissing off any of your fellow bowfishers – or anyone else who happens to be using the waterways.
Quieter generators will cost a fair amount of coin, so unless you’re willing to fork out, you should avoid lights that require that level of power.
Number of Lights
This is entirely up to you and will depend on where and how you’re bowfishing.
You might want a setup that surrounds your whole craft and offers the widest field-of-view and/or range. In that case, it’s estimated that a typical bowfishing boat should have six lights.
Of course, this is dependent on the type and size of the craft you’re using, so you should adapt the number for use with your own boat.
And consider purchasing a set of lights that come with more than one unit to save some money.
Alternatively, you might be the kind of bowfisher who prefers standing in one spot and having a more focused illumination in that area alone.
If that’s the case, then perhaps using a headlamp or other focused light is the preferable way to go – like a riser-mounted flashlight that attaches to your bow.
Either way, there’s no right or wrong answer to this – have fun with it, play around, and enjoy building your own, unique bowfish lighting rig.
You can spend as much or as little as you like on lights for bowfishing – depending on the effect you wish to achieve, the size of your boat, or if you even have a boat in the first place.
Just bear in mind other expenses, such as how much it’s going to cost to run them, and if you need to spend extra money on installation and setup.
I always advocate for buying the best you can afford – relative to how much you’re going to use them.
You don’t need a $500 lighting set up if you’re only going out once or twice a season.
How many lumens do you need for bowfishing?
It really depends on personal preference, but I would say somewhere between 600-1000 lumens is a good starting point for each light.
You certainly don’t want it too bright as you’ll scare everything off.
Be wary of people and websites telling you otherwise, or trying to sell you something just because it claims to be brighter than the sun.
Can you use LED light bars for bowfishing?
Yes, you most certainly can. And indeed, I’ve included a couple of good examples in this review.
In fact, LED light bars make for some of the best lights for bowfishing because of their design and easy installation.
You can get away with mounting two or three bars around your boat instead of trying to install a bunch of individual floodlights.
What are the best lights for bowfishing?
Again, it depends on a number of factors, including what you’re fishing for and where, as well as the conditions of the water.
But LEDs make the best lights for bowfishing, and if I had to pick one for my boat, I’d go with this option for clear water.
However, if money were no object, I’d probably kit my boat out with lights that are fully adjustable at the touch of a button, such as this option from Swamp Eye.
When is it fine to use warm white for bowfishing?
You can use a warm white anytime for bowfishing, but they’re especially recommended for use when the water is cloudy, muddy, or contains debris.
What is the best type of bulb for a bowfishing light?
LED bulbs work best for bowfishing, and you should choose warm yellows, greens, and/or whites if you’re fishing in water that’s stained, muddy, or cloudy in any way.
Cooler, brighter whites are the best for clearer waters.
Do I need a generator for bowfishing lights?
Generators can be great for powering lights, as they’ll last a lot longer than a battery.
However, they’ll be significantly louder, trickier to set up, expensive, and are only designed for more powerful lighting systems.
As such, you don’t need a generator for bowfishing – but if you want to run longer and brighter, then it will probably be a better choice for your needs.
How do I set up bowfishing lights?
There are many ways to set up bowfishing lights, and how you do it will depend on the lights you choose, the power source available to you, and the type and style of boat itself.
Unfortunately, it isn’t “one-size-fits-all.”
That said, take a look at the two videos below for a couple of examples of different set-ups – and hopefully it will give you inspiration on how to go ahead with your own.
For a generator setup:
For a battery setup:
What color light is best for bowfishing?
Use cool white lights in clear water, and warmer colors such as greens, warm whites, or yellow in muddier conditions or when fishing in stained water.
It’s pretty much the same if you’re trying your hand at spearfishing instead, so follow that link if you’d rather shoot fish with a speargun over a bow.
Can I use solar lights for bowfishing?
Meh, it might be possible – but you’d need to choose a solar light that could be turned on and off, and make sure it’s had a full, uninterrupted charge during the day.
How much light it provides and for how long will depend on the quality of the unit, and how much direct sunlight it’s had before you set out.
Even the best solar lights will see a significant dip in brightness if it’s been charging on a cloudy day, rather than in bright sunlight.
As such, for reliability, solar lights aren’t usually the go-to option for bowfishing, and are more suitable for illuminating your driveway back home.
That said, you’re more than welcome to try, as if they work well you can save a small fortune on power, not to mention their silent operation.
Providing you can power it from a battery or generator, you can pretty much use any lights you want for bowfishing – but some work much better than others.
I hope this article has helped you find the best bowfishing lights in 2023 that are right for you.
Let me know which option you’ve got for and why.
In the meantime, stay bright, and happy hunting.