You may have thought that bows and arrows were only reserved for archery these days, but no, fishing with bows and arrows (bowfishing) is a popular and well-established form of fishing. The art has evolved from an instinctive hunting survival practice to a recreational sport shooting freshwater species such as paddlefish and carp.
Lights are crucial to your success bowfishing. Before reviewing specific bowfishing lights, there is a buying guide to ensure you have the broad knowledge of what to consider before purchasing the best bowfishing lights.
Quick Top 5 Bowfishing Lights:
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Before purchasing bowfishing lights what do I need to do before going bowfishing?
The first task if you wish to go bowfishing is to get a license. Licenses vary from state to state, and you will also have to identify whether you wish to fish as an occupation or for recreation.
To enhance your bowfishing experience even further, it is important to purchase the most suitable lighting system for your fishing needs.
What are bowfishing lights?
A secure and reliable lighting system will dramatically increase your chances of success bowfishing. Provided the water is clear during that it should not be too difficult to track fish in the water, however at night and in shallower water, you will need a lighting system to help you catch fish. The most well-known choices of bowfishing lights are Halogen, LED lights and High Pressure Sodium.
Is a bar light suitable for bowfishing?
Perhaps not. Bowfishing requires particularly strong and durable light sources. Bar lights are generally acknowledged as more difficult to fill in the dark spaces. Furthermore, the shape of the bars reis not the most suitable to be fitted to the edges of fishing boats.
For bowfishing, it is essential to have something that enlightens water under the boat. Therefore bar lights are the most suited to bowfishing.
What is a bowfishing boat?
It does not exist. Bowfishing is flexible with the type of boat where it can take place. Shooting Time suggest flat bottom skiffs, pontoon and aluminum Jon boats are generally considered as the most common bowfishing boat.
How many lights should you install on your boat?
It very much depends on the size of your boat as well as the water and atmospheric conditions in which you will be bowfishing. A good tip is that when fishing in water that is darker you should yellow light to be more effective and in the clearer water, you should use white light.
There is some debate within the bowfishing community as to the numbers and quality of lights to use. Some are content with four or five 55-watt floodlights, whilst on the other hand, there are those who are loyal to having 6 LEDs and 6 Halos.
Whatever you end up buying, it is recommended that you try individual lights before spending money on a full kit.
What type of bulb to use for bow fishing?
Before purchasing a bowfishing light, it is good to be aware of the range of lights available. Each type of light has its pros and cons, so it is on you as the buyer to consider exactly what your needs are and how to mitigate any potential problems.
Halogens provide a really easy light source and can be found in almost every hardware store. They can provide a vast amount of light; however, this requires a considerable amount of energy and are therefore high input lights. There are different wattages of halogen light available, and they are also very light which ensures they are easy to transport. Halogens are also remarkably durable and will work in all weather conditions.
- Strong light source
- Easily accessible from hardware stores
- High energy input
LEDs are widely considered as the best bowfishing lights.
Although more expensive than other lighting systems, LED lights to have many superior qualities which encourage many bowfishers to invest.
For clear freshwater, the bright LED light is very successful at piercing through the water. For less clear water, the warm white LED lights are much more suitable. LED’s require less input as one or two batteries are sufficient for providing the power source for the lights.
- Variety of light options for different water conditions
- Battery requirement for an easy power source
- Expensive choice compared to other lighting systems
High Pressure Sodium
High Pressure Sodium provides a consistent source of light in different water conditions. When the water is less clear, the yellow/orange high pressure sodium lights offers a reliable light source.
- Strong performance in murky waters
- Lightweight and easy to transport
- High electricity input
What power source does your bow fishing light require?
The sources of energy required for different lights differ based on the lighting system. While some lights require a high energy input, others require much less energy. It is common for bowfishers to take a more lightweight light for ease of transportation.
LEDs are powered by a current flowing in one direction, also known as a direct current.
Therefore, all that is required are batteries to provide the LEDs with a sufficient power source. LEDs are available in different light colors and wattage. Therefore, you can select the correct batter accordingly. LEDs are particularly recommended for smaller boats.
High Pressure Sodium
High Pressure Sodium lights require considerably more power. Powering them sufficiently requires heavy generators and flashlights.
Many prefer a generator powered by gasoline. However, these generators are very heavy and clunky, not to mention the added noise-making and potential hazards. HPS lighting is recommended for larger and more spacious boats.
Halogen lights also need higher energy input to be powered up. The bulb life of halogens is also shorter; therefore, you may wish to test out if Halogens are suitable for your fishing experience.
How bright can bow fishing light get?
Warm white LED light
For reference, the Watts unit is used to measure energy output while Lumen is the measure of visible light.
For bowfishing light brightness, more lumens equate to an increased level of brightness. Therefore, when shopping for bowfishing lights, it is worthwhile to compare the lumen measurements from different available lights if your primary concern is brightness.
A focus on lumens, as opposed to wattage, is generally more advisable when shopping for bowfishing lights.
To give a rough indication of the Watt to Lumen ratio, the ratio for incandescent bulbs is as follows:
- 100Watt = 1500 lumens (A 100W bulb is equal to 1500 lumens)
- 75Watt = 1125 lumens
- 60Watt = 900 lumens
- 40Watt = 600 lumens
What voltage should you run your light system on?
You may have identified the ideal brightness level of your bowfishing light but the next aspect to consider is the voltage level of your lighting system.
Below are three common voltages:
12 Volt DC
12 Volt DC requires very straightforward wiring as if you were installing some electric devices. Issues do occur however when you add more light to the system.
The more lights you add, the more power is required. Therefore, having a large number of bulbs on a small fishing boat may not make financial sense, and it may be more productive to switch to a 24 Volt system.
24 Volt DC
It is very easy to add a 24 Volt DC battery to your system provided a 12 Volt DC system is already in place. There shouldn't be any complex wiring, and you can use the same terminals, lugs, and switches as the 12 Volt DC system.
With a 24 Volt DC system, you will certainly notice improved performance, and it also ensures you don't have the added complication of extra wiring on your boat.
120 Volt DC
120 Volt DC is recommended for professional bowfishers. The system at this voltage is very efficient and provides considerably less hassle when bowfishing for long periods. The downside of this high voltage system is the increased chances of hazards.
You need to ensure that the lighting system you purchase can match the high voltage. If it cannot, there is an increased risk of a fiery explosion.
How do you set up bowfishing light?
If you are a committed bowfisher, purchasing a bowfishing light kit is certainly a worthwhile investment that you will be thankful for if ever you encounter installation issues. Once you have identified the necessary voltage, it is essential that you understand the power values.
It is straightforward to work out the power consumption of your lighting system by using Ohm’s law.
Don't be scared by the math! It is an easy calculation.
You need to know three measures: Power in Watts (P), Amperage (Load) in Amps (I), and circuit voltage(E).
The equation for power consumption is as follows:
P = I * E
It’s as easy as pie. Power equals Amps multiplied by circuit voltage.
For example, if you are using 500 Watts and 120 Volts, you will get 4.17 Amps to power the lights.
In this example, if you were to use ten lights of 12 Watts each, you will need a total of 4.17 Amps to power all of the lights. After you have completed this equation, the next stage is wiring your lights and ensuring you are considering safety precautions at all times. Make sure that the wiring components you are using are rated at a figure of 20% higher than your power consumption calculation.
What light colors you should choose for bow fishing?
Before choosing the color of your light, you should take a close look that the water in which you will be bowfishing.
You will want to categorize the water regarding clear versus full of debris. Imagine a scale of 1-5 and categorize your water conditions accordingly.
Cool White Lights
Cool lights are most suited to water that is semi-clear. This means the water contains debris, but it is more clear than stained water.
Cool white lights can penetrate the water to good effect and provides the bowfisher with very visible access below the surface of the water. It is also possible to buy polarised sunglasses to improve your sight beneath the water.
Warm White Lights
If the water you will be fishing in resembles a tea-like stain, the best color option should be a yellow and amber light. These colors in these conditions ensure a much clearer vision compared to cool white lights.
Yellow light is widely acknowledged as the most suitable color of bowfishing light when the water is very murky. The yellow light also works well on a wide variety of light spectrums.
Polarised sunglasses also help in these conditions in enabling the human eye to detect movement below the surface of the water.
It is a useful practice to purchase a few different colors of lights to see which ones are most effective in your choice of water. It can be difficult to identify the water type before trying out the lights exactly.
How to choose the best bow fishing light?
Bowfishing has become increasingly popular over the years, but many do get frustrated by the inefficiency and the inconsistency of their lighting systems.
The recommended features to consider before purchasing are:
As previously discussed, understand the positive and negatives of the three main types of bulb (LED, Halogen, and High Pressure Sodium) to determine which one is most suitable for your fishing needs and conditions.
There are simple rules to follow when considering the color of your lighting system. If your water is semi-clear, then cool lights are more favorable and warm lights are better for stained water. When the water is murky, yellow lights are essential for you giving a chance to have a successful bowfishing experience.
Brightness is the most important feature for lights. You are buying lights for their visual assistance and not for the power they generate. Therefore, always focus on the Lumens of the particular light rather than the Wattage.
It is inevitable that your bowfishing lights will get wet. Although your boat is above water, your lights will not be immune to getting splashes or full immersion in water. Therefore, considering the water resistance of a lighting type is also a useful factor to consider. Often resistance lights are made from stainless steel.
Why are my lights not lighting up?
It may happen that your bowfishing lights are not working, despite being newly unpackaged. A common reason for this is that you have bought bulbs and fixtures that are not compatible.
For example, a 120-voltage bulb is not compatible with a 12v fixture.Check on the bulb packaging or an expert in store to find out you are using the correct combinations. There is also a guide here.
The Best Bowfishing Lights
Creation of the best bowfishing lights and sound experience is the main focus of Usteller. Usteller manufactures products to make your indoor and outdoor life wonderful. This 2-pack 60w LED floodlight is an energy saver and will ensure a cheaper bowfishing experience.
Each pack can replace a 300w halogen bulb. Because of its IP66 waterproof rating, Usteller LED Floodlight can handle any type of weather and won't give in to any elements commonly associated with fishing such as corrosion and electrostatics.
This floodlight will save you labor costs involved with replacing bulbs because of its long-lasting life. Whether an indoor or outdoor application, Usteller Floodlight is super bright and illuminates all the darker areas of the water. It comes with a 3-year warranty to cover you whenever there are defects in the Floodlight.
In addition to bowfishing, QUANS Floodlight can be used in restaurants, gardens, hotels, ambient lighting or art galleries. With 30w power, QUANS bright floodlight produces 300k-3500k warm white color temperature. Note that the brown wire is the positive and blue
wire is negative terminals.
With this floodlight, you can use battery power, AC, solar power or DIY car boat lamp as sources of power.
Do not make a mistake of connecting the floodlight directly to a 110v AC or more as the light will be burned and you will need a power transformer. With 15cm to a 20cm length of wire, it works well in the rain because of the IP65 waterproof black finish, therefore perfect for coping with the wet conditions of bowfishing.
QUANS Security Floodlight is equivalent to a 250W bulb for low power consumption and will give you a satisfying experience when out on the water. It is easy to maintain and has a longer lifespan compared to other lighting systems.
This off-road lighting is widely used for fishing, engineering vehicles, specialized vehicles and off-road vehicles. Engineering vehicles include; excavator, bulldozer, road roller, mining track and crane. Specialized vehicles include; rescue vehicles, police cars, communication vehicle, military command vehicles and fire engines. Off-road vehicles include; SUVs, ATVs, trucks, bus, ship and trains.
Advanced technology is used in the manufacture of the whole product to ensure it is of high quality. With a high-quality aluminum housing, this off-road lighting has a longer lifespan and saves you on energy and maintenance cost. You can easily install the wire and adjust in any type of vehicle you have. It is waterproof, dustproof, rustproof and shockproof for good performance in rain or bad weather.
The projector lens used in the lamp reflector ensures light is reflected for longer distance. This product is located in Los Angeles warehouse and will arrive one week after you make payments.
It's ‘off-road' qualities certainly ensure reliable and durable performance when bowfishing.
This floodlight is a product developed by LEPOWER to ensure convenience and high efficiency for customers. It is easy to install, with your preferred angle, you will need to tighten up the screws on both sides of the metal bracket. The light lamp body makes it easier to adjust to up to 150 degrees.
LEPOWER Floodlight is a great energy saver and is a great replacement for an equivalent 500w halogen bulb, providing you with super bright lighting. It is made of aluminum and tempered glass for a longer lifespan. The IP66 waterproof rating makes this floodlight suitable for both your indoor and outdoor lighting. It has a wide illumination range of 120 degrees which is shadow-free and anti-glare to provide a wider lighting range.
LEPOWER Flashlight comes with an 18-month warranty and 60-days money back for any defects on the lights. If brightness is your thing, the Lewpower flashlight is certainly with considering to aid your bowfishing experience.
NI06A Series is known to most customers for its affordability, high quality and designed for excellent appearance for bowfishing. With an LED power of 18w, it is designed with a special lamp cup with a wider illumination range enabling you to see both to the left and right side.
The heat sinks are made of aluminum alloy and 10pc cooling fans for better heat dissipation. The silicone gel is for quality heat conduction to extend light bar’s lifespan to over 30,000hours. NILIGHT NI06A Series is highly protective. With IP67 waterproof rating, it is waterproof for 30mins up to 1 meter of water and is highly dustproof. Perfect for being on the water!
The adjustable mounting brackets are stainless to prevent rust and corrosion and to enable you to change direction easily to about 45 degrees. The NI06A Series is perfect if you need flexibility on the water.
This is yet another light you can use for bowfishing. Cutequeen has reflector cups wide enough to make flood beam for a broader view range. If you want to change the direction of the beam, it is easy because of the adjustable stainless mounting bracket. With the IP67 waterproof rating, it gives you protection from water, dust, moisture and condensation.
Made with thick die-cast aluminum housing, it provides a better cooling effect. Cutequeen has passed through a rigorous 8-hour burn-in test to ensure that its lifespan is over 50,000 hours working normally. Cutequeen is suitable for your household lighting, off-road vehicle lighting, industrial and mine lighting, outdoor lighting and ship and boat lights.
If you are looking for a more expensive but long-lasting option to your bowfishing lighting needs, the Cutequeen spotlights are worth considering.
This version of the NI06A series has double the wattage of the older version is over 1.5 times the size. At 36w and 6.5 inches long, these ‘super bright’ driving fog lights are perfect for piercing through waters whilst bowfishing.
Containing many similar features to the 18w 4-inch version such as being lightweight and flexible, these led light bars promise even stronger performance on the water.
If you are a novice to bowfishing, it is advisable to try the more affordable 18w version of the product before committing to the more powerful 36w version. Test them out before firm commitment.
This buying guide hopefully gave you an idea on how to spot the best bowfishing lights. It is important, however, that you make your choice considering your specific context. You should think about the size of your boat, how often you go bowfishing, what your budget is and what condition the water you go bowfishing is like. The buying guide also details other product specifications that you should consider.
It is recommended that you try out some options before committing to a specific type of lighting or brand. Furthermore, you can be a step ahead if you can work out the straightforward power calculations to avoid wasting any money on options that are incompatible.
Bowfishing is also great for kids. Teaching balance, concentration and accuracy, bowfishing has the power to connect younger generations with the great outdoors. Therefore, if you are thinking of attempting bowfishing for the first time or a more experienced bowfisher, take time to research all lighting options to ensure the most enjoyable and successful bowfishing experience.