5 Tips for Finding the Best Lights for Night Fishing
There is one purpose behind having a light for fishing at night and that's to attract fish. There are so many different lights for night fishing that it's hard to determine why fishing with light A is better than fishing with light B. We are going to make this easy for you by listing the 5 most crucial tips you need to consider when looking for the best lights for night fishing.
Tip 1: Choose the Right Wavelength Light to Attract Fish
The best color light for night fishing is a true green color which is approximately 520 nm wavelength. The only type of light that can achieve this true green color is an LED light. Green sodium bulbs are not a true green color, they are more of a warm white tint of green. If there is only one light around, they can still do a good job at bringing in fish. However, if there are other lights around, the fish are more likely to go to a true green color than an off-white color. We tested this by putting a green LED underwater light next to a sodium light, and the true-green LED fishing light attracted far more fish than the sodium light. The outside rings of the light were almost touching.
Tip 2: Decide Between Underwater, Floating or Above Water Fishing Light
It is true that each of these three lights have advantages, but ultimately it depends on what your goal is for your light for fishing at night. We'll discuss some pros and cons of these styles of lights for night fishing. We will also make a final recommendation on which style you should go with if you want the best nighttime fishing light.
Floating Fishing Light
Lights that float while you're fishing are great if you are traveling from spot to spot in your boat and need something that you can quickly throw out and bring back in once you are finished fishing.
- These lights are typically low voltage lights, meant to quickly toss out to fish and then retrieve
If you are looking for a permanent fishing light, then these lights are not the best option. Floating fishing lights are more likely to be stolen if you are in a canal, they are subject to degradation from the sun during the day time, and they can get in the way of boats and be moved by waves. Most people who use a floating fishing light will put it out while they are fishing and then put it up when they are finished. There are far better solutions for a permanent fishing light.
- Waves cause light to constantly move
- More likely to be stolen
- Not good for permanent use: gets in way of boats, degrades from sun.
Above Water Light for Fishing
An above water light for fishing at night works best when you are fishing in really deep waters and it is difficult to use an underwater fishing light.
- Lights up the dock as well as the water.
- Attracts bait fish to the surface
- Maintenance free - no worries about barnacle build up.
The number one reason most people opt for an Above Water Green Fishing Light over an Underwater Green Fishing Light is simply due to the fact they are maintenance free. There's no chance barnacles are going to grow on it, and as long as it's a quality night fishing light that is well-built, it will last a long time.
The biggest downfall to an above water fishing light is that a portion of the light will be reflected off the water surface rather than penetrate through the water column. This is most apparent by shining a light at the water and watching it bounce off the water and light up the neighbors house across the canal. If you are in a canal, your neighbors may not appreciate an above water light.
UPDATE: with new above water green spot fishing lights coming into the mix, we are seeing homes on canals having great success with these lights. Here's a complete comparison of the different types of above water fishing lights.
This reflection requires most above water fishing lights to be high wattage to penetrate the water column the same as an underwater light would.
There is one exception to this rule - we recently came out with an Above Water Green Fishing Light that has a reformatted circuit board with high efficiency LEDs, allowing it to output the desired vibrant green LED light fish are attracted to at an extremely high intensity, yet only 160 watts of power draw. If this is an option you're interested in, you can learn more about our Above Water Green Fishing Light at this link.
- Water surface reflects the majority of the light
- Requires high power in comparison to other options
- More likely to upset neighbors
If your house is near other houses or on a canal, we recommend not using an above water light. Above water lights are more common on piers that are away from other houses. If you are fishing in deeper waters, above water fishing lights may be a good option unless you are able to mount an underwater light to your dock post. This brings us to discussing underwater lights for fishing at night.
Underwater Light for Fishing
Underwater lights for fishing at night are the most common setup you see for homes and piers across the nation. They are underwater and out of the way, they are very efficient in penetrating the water column because there is no light lost to water surface reflection, and they are more likely to illuminate bigger fish that swim closer to the bottom. Underwater lights typically sit on the bottom and shine up, rather than shining down from the top. Big fish typically like to swim closer to the bottom, so you are more likely to see them with underwater fishing lights.
- Underwater and out of the way
- More efficient illumination, no water reflection
- Illuminate larger fish that swim closer to the bottom
Underwater lights for fishing at night do have their downsides. Since they are always underwater, they are subject to barnacle growth, fishing lines, and even boats passing by.
- If light does not heat up enough, may have barnacle growth
- Must lay flat on bottom to prevent from fishing lines and boats from hitting them.
- Sodium underwater lights are very fragile and will break easily
The con's associated with underwater fishing lights can be fixed with a proper design. We'll talk more about this in our final recommendation.
Final Recommendation: Underwater Light for Fishing at Night
As we discussed above, the most optimal and universal light for fishing at night is an underwater fishing light. Underwater fishing lights can have their own problems, especially if you purchase an underwater fishing light that wasn't designed properly. Design flaws may show themselves immediately, or they may not show themselves until several months later. It's best to know what to look for when buying your underwater fishing light.
As for the cons we discussed regarding the underwater fishing lights, there is one fishing light that does a great job at addressing these issues. The underwater green fishing light does not need to be cleaned if it run constantly or on a dusk to dawn timer. The light heats up enough to prevent barnacle growth and keep itself clean. In addition to this, the light is designed to lay flat on the bay floor and is made from reinforced materials that can stand up to a boat sliding over the top of it. A prop may break the lens on the light, but the lens is easy to replace. The LEDs are double sealed so that if the lens breaks, the light is not ruined. A new lens just needs to be installed.
Tip 3: Stay Away from Stainless Steel or Carbon Steel Housings
The best housing material for an underwater light is either aluminum or a composite plastic. STAY AWAY from any stainless steel or carbon steel housing. These two materials are highly prone to electrolysis, especially if mixed with dissimilar metals such as screws and nuts. It is very common for these housings to rust shortly after installed underwater, and then start slowly disintegrating like a dissolving alka seltzer tablet over time from electrolysis.
Boat motors are affixed with a zinc plate to act as the sacrificial anode that dissolves and prevents the motor from disintegrating. However, unless you want to mount a zinc plate to your underwater light, it's best to just stay away from these materials.
Tip 4: Quality LED Fishing Lights Outlast Sodium and Halogen Lights for Fishing
LED lights are more efficient in terms of lumens per watt than sodium or halogen lights, and they also require significantly less maintenance. For these reasons, LEDs are some of the best lights for night fishing.
Sodium and Halogen Fishing Lights
Most fishermen like sodium and halogen lights because they generate a bunch of heat, and will keep barnacles and growth off the light as long as they are run on a dusk to dawn basis. Beyond this, there is no other reason people prefer sodium or halogen over LED. Sodium and halogen bulbs break very easily, whether it's from passing boats brushing up against them, a fishing line snagging them, or even from a fish tale hitting the light. Once a sodium bulb breaks, they are very costly to replace.
As I write this article, a friend of mine has been venting to me about his sodium fishing lights and how he has had to replace them 3 times over the past 2 months. He has essentially bought his light several times over since he first purchased it, and is now changing to an LED fishing light. LED is not only far tougher than sodium and halogen, they are brighter and the color can be optimized for attracting fish. Until recently, LEDs did not generate enough heat to self clean themselves of barnacles if run dusk to dawn. Let's talk more about LED fishing lights
LED Fishing Lights
Today's high power LED fishing lights are capable of being engineered to withstand the harsh saltwater environment, generate enough heat to self clean from barnacles and growth, and be color optimized for attracting fish. This has put LED underwater fishing lights far ahead of sodium and halogen lights.
A quality LED fishing light will last several years and if run on dusk to dawn, it requires very little maintenance. In addition, due to their higher efficiency output, they can provide more lumens while costing you less on your electric bill.
Tip 5: Choose a Fishing Light that has Protection
When looking for a light for fishing at night, choose one that has proper electrical protection so that if something happens to the light while underwater it doesn't fry the electrical attached to your house or blow up a battery. The best underwater fishing lights use an inline GFCI plug for electrical protection, which breaks the power circuit when it senses a power surge. Other options have internal fuses that help mitigate problems.
If the fishing lights you purchase do not have electrical protection, then you should strongly consider installing your own electrical protection in the event something happens to the light while underwater.
Fishing lights are exposed to a lot of abuse whether above water or below water. The housing of your fishing light must be made of quality materials that can stand the abuse from the surrounding environment. Boats may come by, fishermen may catch the power cord on their fishing line, and many other things can happen. A quality fishing light that can stand up to this abuse is important to keep you from having to replace your fishing lights often.
Added Bonus: Dusk to Dawn Lawn Plugs Work for ALL 110V AC Fishing Lights!
One of the most common questions we've been asked when talking fishing lights is "can you set these lights to dusk to dawn mode?" and the answer is always yes. Some fishing light suppliers will sell dusk to dawn plugs separately, but you can also use the dusk to dawn lawn plugs you get from your local grocery store or Walmart.
These plugs have small photocell sensors on them that "turn the power on" when there is no light detected and "turn the power off" when day light is detected. They typically have multiple plugs on them and can run from 1 to 3 lights at a time.
The Best Light for Fishing at Night
The best light for fishing at night is the Outrigger Outdoors underwater green fishing light. It is extremely bright and efficient, with the optimal wavelength of green light to attract fish; it was designed with the best material to hold up in harsh saltwater environment while maintaining rigidity to stand up from passing boats and wandering fishing lines; and it was made with safety at top of mind, with an inline GFCI plug that protects the power source it is plugged into.