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 – with the right gear.
And going out when it gets dark is one of the most exciting and rewarding aspects of the sport.
With that in mind, we take a look at the best bowfishing lights of 2020, 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!
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Table of Contents
- The 10 Best Bowfishing Lights of 2020
- 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?
The 10 Best Bowfishing Lights of 2020
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, which gives us ample daylight hours to enjoy the hunt.
But fishing at night is also a thrilling experience (sometimes even more so) and attaching bowfishing lights to your craft allows you to continue the fun well after dark.
In fact, you’re seriously missing out on the fun 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.
High Pressure Sodium lights will also require powerful generators, and they’re few and far between to purchase. While some bowfishers do use them, I believe them better for lighting up billboards.
When selecting your bowfishing lights, it’s important to understand what you should choose based on how clear or muddy the water is in the area you most commonly fish.
- For muddy water, you should be looking at warm yellow, green, or white LEDs that will help visibility in the face of sediment. Like using a dipped headlight beam in fog, 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.
How bright do you need bowfishing lights? Well, this is where the Lumen’s measurement comes in. The higher the unit, 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 bowfishing to bowfishing, area to area, and boat to boat.
If all you’re looking to do is spot the fish, you’re not going to need anything that 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.
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 higher the number, the more the unit will be able to repel dust and debris for the first digit, and moisture for the second digit.
So, for example, a light with an IP rating of 67, such as the first light bar in our review, 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 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.
You might prefer standing in one spot and having a more focused illumination in that area alone.
If it’s the former, you should consider lighting packs that come with more than one unit to save money.
For the latter, perhaps using a headlamp or other focused light is the preferable way to go.
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.
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. 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 good example at the beginning of this review.
In fact, LED light bars make for some of the best LED 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 many single/separate 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.
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 battery options.
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 during the day.
You’ll see a significant dip in brightness if it’s been charging on a cloudy day, rather than in bright sunlight.
As such, solar lights aren’t usually the go-to option for bowfishing illuminations.
Providing you can power it from a battery or generator, you can pretty much use any lights you want for bowfishing – it’s just some work much better than others.
I hope this article has helped you find the best bowfishing lights in 2020 that are right for you.
Let me know which option you’ve got and why.
In the meantime, stay bright, and happy hunting.
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