The Guide to Buying the Best Bowfishing Lights For Sale
The Guide to Buying the Best Bowfishing Lights For Sale
Quality bowfishing lights are essential for a successful night out on the water. Many times, the lights can be what make or break your trip. Luckily for you, you are reading this review to put the odds in your favor to by finding the best bowfishing lights that will help you have more successful bowfishing trips.
Finding the best lights for bowfishing starts with looking at the key factors we need to accomplish to improve our chances of seeing more fish.
Key Factors to Consider for a Great Bowfishing Light
There are five key factors to consider for the best lights for bowfishing, which are water clarity, the ability to power on and off quickly, power flexibility, brightness and visibility, and the ability to hold up in the elements. Let’s dive into what these key factors mean for finding the best bowfishing lights.
The water clarity can be addressed with optimal bowfishing lighting, but first let's understand what causes great or poor water clarity:
- Wind speed
- High winds make for choppy and muddy waters.
- Low wind results in calm, clear water.
- Identifying wind-protected areas typically leads to better water clarity.
- Tide (coastal regions)
- Incoming tide = clear water, more areas to bowfish
- Outgoing tide = muddy water, stirred up sediment and less areas to bowfish
- Bottom makeup
- Grass beds and rocks promote clear water
- Mud flats promote muddy water
- Related to amount of suspended solids in water column
- Warm weather promote algae growth, resulting in muddy water
- Cold weather reduce algae growth, resulting in clearer water
What does this mean for bowfishing lights?
The best bowfishing lights you should consider buying must be efficient in increasing water visibility regardless of the water clarity. Whether you have muddy, windy, or choppy waters, you’ll be able to increase your visibility when you install fishing boat floodlights.
Also, keep in mind that the color of your bowfishing lights matters. A cool white bowfishing light does a better job at increasing visibility in clear water, while warm white bowfishing lights are best for increasing visibility in muddy water.
This is related to reducing the number of suspended solids your bowfishing lights illuminate in the water column. This is also similar to how high beams work in fog. A cool white light will reflect off the water particles while a warm white (fog) light is capable of penetrating through the suspended particles.
After interviewing several tournament bowfishermen, we found a common method to address the water conditions was to swap their lights out pre-tournament depending on the water clarity of the lake.
The Swamp Eye Bowfishing Lights are one of the only bowfishing lighting options that can adjust color tone on the fly. In a matter of seconds, tournament bowfishermen can adjust their lights to penetrate clear or muddy waters as efficiently as possible.
Another important determining factor of water clarity is tide. If you are near the coast, you must be aware of the tidal changes.
- Outgoing tide results in dropping water level and stirred up sediment, making for muddy water. Warm white bowfishing lights work best for an outgoing tide.
- Incoming tide results in rising water level from offshore, making for clearer water conditions. Cool white bowfishing lights work best for an incoming tide.
Power On and Off Quickly
Some fish such as bighead carp are very light sensitive. It is crucial to be able to turn on and off your bowfishing lights in an instant. If your lights do not come with an on/off switch, some bowfishermen will implement a "big foot switch" to turn their lights on and off quickly. These switches were originally designed for trolling motors.
Power flexibility is key to winning bowfishing tournaments, and is even more important when picking out your bowfishing lights. After all, bowfishing lights are second only to your bowfishing bow in terms of important tools.
The ability of your bowfishing lighting to be flexible on power is related to the long run duration associated with being powered by a generator, and the quietness associated with being powered by batteries. It's crucially important to learn how to run bowfishing lights on a generator if you want to compete in the all-night bowfishing tournaments.
Bowfishing team Trash Fish Taxi put it best after winning the Big Fish trophy at the Bass Pro Shops U.S. Open Bowfishing Championship: "the ability to run silent or on generator with our Swamp Eye Light Bars gave us every opportunity to get closer to big fish, while being able to run all night long!"
Reasons for Power Flexibility in Bowfishing Lighting
- Running on batteries has no noise or vibrations, making it easier to find sensitive fish such as silvers and bighead carp.
- Generator will last for long durations, typically 8 hours or more on a tank of gas.
- Multiple batteries can be much heavier than a generator, making it difficult to bowfish the shallows.
- The best bowfishing light setup can switch between the two power options to stay lightweight, quiet, and run all night long.
- The Swamp Eye® HD Bowfishing Light and Swamp Eye® Light Bar are among the only lighting options that have full power flexibility.
The versatility in power flexibility is one of the most overlooked features in bowfisher lights, but is the most sought after by bowfishing guides and tournament fishermen.
Visibility and Brightness of Your Bowfishing Light
A high brightness bowfishing light capable of maximum water penetration to illuminate the aquatic life surrounding your boat is among the most important features to consider. Combine high brightness with the right color tone for the water conditions you're in, and you are setting yourself up for the most optimal bowfishing boat setup possible. This is crucial to seeing more fish.
Keep in mind - a high brightness light that is the wrong color tone for the water conditions you are in can make matters worse. Similar to turning on your brights when driving through fog. Having an adjustable color tone, combined with high brightness, makes for optimal visibility in various water conditions. So when you’re looking for the best spotlight for night fishing, keep this information in mind.
Water Resistant Light Housings
This seems overly simple in choosing the right lighting for bowfishing, but there are many light brands out there that spend all their time figuring out how to make a light work and forget that the light will be on a boat and subject to water splashing.
Another common pitfall is brands that slap their label on a Chinese made floodlight, which they now call a bowfishing light. This marketing gimmick can leave bowfishers beyond frustrated when their lights fail prematurely due to water intrusion. If you're going to outfit a boat for bowfishing, choose a light that was made to do so. The best lights for bowfishing have water-resistant light housings to protect them from water damage.
We've established some of the crucial needs in bowfishing lights; now, how do we put the odds in our favor to find the best boat floodlights? We've done the work for you to find the best bowfishing lighting available, which has been proven to place at the top of bowfishing tournaments nationwide.
Best Bowfishing Lights
Bowfishing Boat Lights
The Swamp Eye Light Bar and the Swamp Eye HD Bowfishing Light are the only two bowfishing lights available that will meet and exceed all the criteria listed above. The Swamp Eye Light Bar is great as a low profile bowfishing light setup, while the Swamp Eye HD is ideal for those looking to get the most brightness possible. The Swamp Eye Light Bar is 24 inches long and 3 inches tall while the Swamp Eye HD's are 12 inch long and 6 inches tall.
They are both versatile bowfishing lights, well fit for boats of all shapes and sizes. Here are some mounting ideas for Swamp Eye Light Bars and mounting ideas for Swamp Eye HD Bowfishing Lights.
Water Clarity - They are the only fully color tone adjustable bowfishing light, capable of adjusting from a deep warm, HPS color (2000k) to a cool white, LED color (6000k) and anywhere in-between without having to swap out LED chips. In order to do this with HPS lights, you'd have to swap out for metal halides and change your ballasts out as well - it's very time consuming, costly, and cumbersome.
This light does not use inefficient filters to change color, it changes color from the light source for a true warm or cool white color. The lights come with a controller to adjust the color tones depending on the water conditions you are in. Seeing the adjustability first hand, it is truly amazing how barely adjusting the color tone output of the lights will make a world of difference in seeing more fish.
The Swamp Eye Lights will penetrate deep into muddy or murky water by adjusting the color tone to 2000k warm white, and they will penetrate deep in very clear water when adjusting it to 6000k cool white. If your water clarity is anywhere in-between the two, you can easily adjust as needed to increase visibility.
Power On and Off Quickly - The Swamp Eye Light Bar and Swamp Eye HD Bowfishing Light can turn on and off in an instant. This is great for light sensitive fish such as bighead carp. Wait until you are near a school of fish, then flash the lights to illuminate the whole area. HPS, metal halide, and similar sodium-type lights have a warm up period that can take 3 minutes on the low end, but as long as 7-10 minutes on the high end to reach peak intensity.
Power Flexibility - To run all night long, you need one of two things: lights that are capable of adapting to a generator (110/120 volt AC), or lights that can hook into your battery bank (12 volt DC). The Swamp Eye Light Bar is capable of running on both 12/24 volt DC AND 110/120 volt AC. The Swamp Eye HD is capable of running on 24 volt DC and 110/120 volt AC. These lights are the only lights currently available that can switch between the two modes. Many bowfishermen are unsure if they want to use a generator or not because they don't want to be too loud for nearby homes on the lake or they are hesitant about spooking fish. These lights will let you hook up to a battery when you need to or run on generator when the opportunity presents itself.
High Visibility, High Brightness - High brightness is key when looking for a quality bowfishing light. Coming in at over 12,000 lumens of lab tested flood power, the Swamp Eye Light Bar is in a league of its own within the high brightness lights. If that's not enough, the Swamp Eye HD Bowfishing Light puts out and upgraded 24,000+ lumens of light output at all color spectrums.
The efficiency factor of the Swamp Eye HD compared to an HPS light is double. Anotherwords, a 160W Swamp Eye HD outputs the equivalent illumination as a 320W High Pressure Sodium (HPS) bowfishing light. This is based on an actual field test, an HPS and Swamp Eye HD side by side, measuring lux output of the same color setting on HPS vs Swamp Eye HD. If the Swamp Eye HD is set to the cool white color setting, the light output is even more efficient and the lux readings are as high as 2.5x the output of an HPS light - making the brightness (in cool white) equivalent to a 400W HPS light. The Swamp Eye HD's can achieve a similar brightness, with more color adjustability, at a fraction of the power consumption.
Water Resistance - If you're on the water, your lights need to be water resistant or they won't last. Seems simple, but this is one of the most overlooked items in choosing your next set of lights. The new Swamp Eye Lights are rated IP 67 waterproof, fully capable of taking a wave over the bow of the boat or catching a rain storm on the trip back in. The Swamp Eye Lights are among the best bowfishing lighting options available.
Considering the Swamp Eye Light Bar, but don't know how to mount it to your boat? Here are some great mounting ideas for your Swamp Eye Bowfishing Lights.
Want to learn more about the Swamp Eye HD Bowfishing Lights?
Need ideas for mounting your Swamp Eye HD Bowfishing Lights?
Capt. Mark Malfa on Swamp Eye Bowfishing Lights
Swamp Eye Bowfishing Lights in Action
Tournament Winning Bowfishing Lights
The Swamp Eye Light Bars and Swamp Eye HD Bowfishing Lights are seen in the winner's circle across many bowfishing tournaments around the Nation.
Team MoKan / Southern Style Bowfishing
Team MoKan / Southern Style Bowfishing has won several bowfishing tournaments across the Nation, with the latest win coming in the 2022 Dixie Classic out of Alabama. They've won the World Bowfishing Championship, and have consistently placed at the top of the Bass Pro Shops U.S. Open Bowfishing Championship along with the Texas State Bowfishing Tournaments. This team travels all over and relies on the Swamp Eye HD Bowfishing Lights to get the job done.
Team Ignited Bowfishing
Team Ignited Bowfishing took home first place in the Missouri State Bowfishing Tournament and finished in the top 5 of the Nation's largest bowfishing tournament in history - the 2022 U.S. Open Bowfishing Championship. They were running a combination of Swamp Eye Light Bars and Swamp Eye HD Bowfishing Lights.
Team Firehouse Bowfishing
Team Firehouse Bowfishing took home biggest common carp two years in a row at the Bass Pro Shops U.S. Open Bowfishing Championship, running Swamp Eye HD Lights.
Team Damron Bowfishing
Team Damron Bowfishing has won several Michigan State Bowfishing Tournaments and has placed among the top teams of the World Bowfishing Tournament put on by the Bowfishing Association of America. Team Damron runs entirely Swamp Eye Light Bars on their boats.
Bowfishing Bow Light
The Bow Mounted Bowfishing Light was crafted through years of experience with bowfishing guides and tournament bowfishermen, and more recently we've been fortunate enough to get hands-on feedback from customers who have used our previous versions. It has always been at the top of its class in terms of bow lights, but it keeps getting better with every bowfishing tournament it competes in.
What makes it the best bowfishing bow light?
- It pushes out over 2,000 lumens
- Interchangeable warm white and cool white LEDs for penetrating all water conditions
- Integrated On/Off and Momentary BigHead Switch that is fully removable
- Tailcap switch to easily turn bow light into hand flashlight.
- Adjustable Spot/Flood Beam for near and long range shots
- Reinforced switches that can take the abuse associated with bowfishing tournaments
- Mounts to any bowfishing bow, compatible with all bowfishing reels.
- ALL-NEW High Capacity Lithium Ion 21700 batteries that last twice as long as conventional 18650 Lithium Ion batteries.
The attention is truly in the details, and the only way to optimize this bow light to be the best was to continually adjust based on the feedback from those that use it the most: our customers. Every Bowfishing bow light is assembled and quality control tested by hand before a customer puts their hands on it.
They are notoriously used in competitive bowfishing tournament for shooting light sensitive fish, and equally used by recreational fishermen who just want to shoot fish from the bank.
Bowfishing Bow Light in Action
Alternative Bowfishing Light Options
Color tone adjustable LED bowfishing lights such as the Swamp Eye Light Bar are second to none in terms of power flexibility, the ability to penetrate diverse water conditions, and overall truly made for the harsh bowfishing environment.
Other lighting options for bowfishing include utilizing metal halide or halogen street lights for a cool white appearance or high pressure sodium street lights for a deep warm white appearance.
Halogen and Metal Halide Bowfishing Lights
Halogen light bulbs have a color tone of roughly 3000k while metal halide bulbs are typically an even cooler white at 5000-6000k. Generally speaking, these lights work best when bowfishing in clear water ways. The downside to these lights is they are not as efficient as their LED counterparts.
Most halogen and metal halide lights have a brightness of roughly 60-90 lumens per watt. They are capable of putting out a lot of light, but it typically comes with very high power consumption. Most halogen or metal halide bowfishing light setups are pulling 400-500 watts per light. This requires a very large generator, and they tend to add a significant amount of weight to the front of your boat.
HPS Bowfisher Lights
High pressure sodium, or HPS, bowfisher lights work well in muddy waters. They are not as advantageous in clear waters and they are also relatively fragile. There are still some guys running HPS lights, but most of the bowfishermen who bowfish on a daily basis (or more than your average joe) elect to go LED due to the maintenance issues.
HPS lights, along with metal halide and halogen lights, are known to rattle while trailering your boat from one boat ramp to the next or even traveling on the water from one bowfishing spot to the next. The solution to the rattling is to silicone the inserts, but even that does not always work long term.
If you're able to get past the large (noisy) generator and on-going maintenance issues associated with HPS, metal halide, and halogen lights, then they may be a great option for you.
There is no doubt that once everything is running, they are pretty bright lights if you choose the 400-500W ones. If you plan to shoot tournaments or light sensitive fish such as bighead carp, then you should consider alternative lighting options. HPS, MH, and halogen lights take a relatively long time to warm up before they are at their peak brightness. LED bowfishing lights reach their peak brightness within seconds of flipping the switch.
How to Determine Bowfishing Light Brightness
The brightness of a bowfishing light is determined by the lumen output. The lumen output of a bowfishing light can be estimated by assuming 100 lumens per watt, or multiplying the total wattage by 100. A 100 watt bowfishing light has an equivalent bright of 10,000 lumens. This is a general rule that is accurate for most bowfishing lights.
Some of the higher end bowfishing lights, such as the Swamp Eye® HD Bowfishing Light, are capable of outputting beyond 100 lumens per watt. The Swamp Eye® HD Bowfishing Light outputs nearly 160 lumens per watt, making it among the highest bowfishing light efficiencies on the market.
The ability to hold up in a harsh environment and be flexible enough to adjust to different water clarities is what ultimately makes a light the best bowfishing light. As we previously mentioned, the Swamp Eye® HD does this very well.
Bowfishing Lights to Avoid
There are many different types of lights; please note that there are very few actually made for bowfishing. After recently becoming aware of plagiarism of the material we provide in our blogs, we have come to realize that Amazon Affiliate bloggers are copying our content and linking to Amazon outdoor lights saying they perform with the same design features. These are bowfishing lights you should avoid. These lights are not designed to be on a boat and most of the manufacturers are not even aware of what bowfishing is. These links are coming directly from bloggers who are looking for new ways to generate their affiliate commission with Amazon. Please be aware of the source where you get your information.
Outrigger Outdoors is a company that is very involved with the bowfishing community; we are proud supporters of local, state, and world bowfishing tournaments and we are also proud supporters of the Bowfishing Association of America. Our information comes from hands-on experience and consulting with experts in the field. Experts in the field include bowfishing charter captains who have been in the business for 10+ years and tournament bowfishermen who have placed at the top of several of the largest bowfishing tournaments in the nation. It does not come from copying people on the internet. We have worked hard to obtain the information we share, and it is truly sad to see these bloggers plagiarizing us to boost their affiliate links.
Bowfishing Lights: Frequently Asked Questions
1. What lighting is best for bowfishing?
The best bowfishing lights must be designed to increase visibility in the water you are bowfishing in, which is why the color tone adjustability of the Swamp Eye Bowfishing Lights is so important. It is also important for your lighting to be able to stand up to the abuse associated with traveling on a boat in open water at night. If you are near saltwater, it is important the lights are saltwater resistant as well. The best lights for bowfishing are the Swamp Eye Bowfishing Lights.
2. Do light bars work for bowfishing?
Most light bars do not work well for bowfishing because of the reflector pattern. They are designed to be a spot-flood combo, and for bowfishing you need a true flood reflector such as what is on the Swamp Eye Light Bar. The Swamp Eye Light Bar is made specifically for bowfishing at night, and works very well.
3. How bright do bowfishing lights need to be?
Bowfishing lights are typically 100 lumens per watt, and the standard bowfishing light is 100 watts. Based on this, bowfishing lights need to have a minimum brightness of 10,000 lumens each. We recommend mounting a minimum of 2 Swamp Eye lights on the front of the boat and 2 more lights down each side of the boat.
4. How many bowfishing lights should go on my boat?
Most bowfishing boats should have at least 6 lights. This is heavily dependent on the length and width of the boat. An 18 to 20 ft boat with a 6 to 8 ft deck should have at least 2 bowfishing lights up front and 2 lights on each side. A 12 to 16 ft boat with a 4 to 5 ft deck should have at least one bowfishing light up front and one on each side.
5. Can the Bow Mounted Bowfishing Light mount to a Spincast bowfishing reel?
Yes. The Bow Mounted Light comes with an attachment that allows it to mount in conjunction with spincast reels. If your spincast reel has a picatinny rail underneath, the light can also mount onto the picatinny rail.
6. Can the Bow Mounted Bowfishing Light mount to a bottle retriever bowfishing reel?
Yes. The Bow Mounted Light comes with a threaded insert that mounts in the stabilizer hole. An attachment is included that allows the stabilizer hole to be used for other accessories in addition to the bow mounted light.
7. Does the Bow Mounted Bowfishing Light have a good pressure switch?
Yes. Other lights are known for having problems with switches to stop working prematurely. We have also had this problem in the past, but we have addressed it with a new reinforced switch design which allows the light to take more abuse and hold up for longer.
8. What is the best bowfishing light setup?
The best bowfishing light setup can vary depending on the size layout of your boat. Here are some great bowfishing light setups to get ideas on how to setup your lights.