The editors at Marlin have teamed up with the experts at Imtra to bring you advice on how to keep your boat in Bristol condition and get the most from your hours spent out on the water. For more great tips, see Billfish Bits and Bites with Imtra »
As LED Lighting technology as has improved over the years, the popularity of underwater lights for boats has exploded. Previous halogen versions of underwater lights drew a lot of power, generated a lot of heat, and didn’t last very long before burning out. Of course, nobody wants to haul their boat just to change a bulb on an underwater light, so naturally underwater lights didn’t reach widespread popularity on boats until longer-lasting and more durable LED came along. Today you’ll find the majority of powerboat manufacturers offering them as standard or optional equipment on most of their boats.
While underwater lights are typically used for aesthetic reasons to add a little extra flair to your boat at night, many fishing boats have found them to be functional as well. Just like bugs are attracted to the lights on your front porch at night, small sea creatures like zooplankton, squid, and shrimp are also attracted to sources of light. Those smaller animals attract the bait fish that eat them, and the bait fish, in turn, attract bigger game fish. Given that many game fish do their hunting at night, adding some underwater lights to your boat to attract the bait fish can make your nighttime fishing expeditions a lot more lucrative, save you the trouble of trying to find the fish, and instead bring them directly to you.
How Many Underwater Lights Should My Boat Have for Fishing?
There’s no specific number of lights that net the best results for fishing, but in general having multiple lights that are spaced out by a few feet each is better than having just one. A greater dispersion of light covering a larger area makes it more likely that the small creatures will see the light, be attracted to it, and bring the predatory fish along with them.
What Color Underwater Boat Lights are Best for Fishing?
The general consensus within the fishing community is that white and green lights are best for attracting fish, followed by blue. The wavelengths of green and white lights allow the light to spread through water further and deeper, attracting more fish. Colors like red, orange or pink will lose their brightness much quicker than white, green or blue as the light waves get further from the source. Full spectrum color-changing underwater lights are a great solution to allow fishermen to change up the color of the light in real time to make sure they have the light color that is working best for any given fishing spot.
Are Underwater Boat Lights Good for Trolling?
Typically speaking, underwater lights are best for fishing when the boat is stationary or just drifting. Small marine organisms and bait fish are not very intelligent, have poor eyesight, and have very short attention spans, so they’re not likely to be able to track a moving light. Instead they’ll lose interest before being able to follow the light to your boat.
Are Surface-Mounted or Thru-Hull Underwater Lights Better for Fishing?
To the fish, it makes no difference whether the light is surface-mounted or thru-hull, so this decision should be made based on what is best for the specific installation on your boat. Some lights are available for fishing that are not attached to your boat, but instead dangled over the side. In general, having the light attached to your hull is more effective because it disguises the hull from the fish below, looking to them just like a light source, but a light dangling over the side my illuminate the profile of the hull, scaring the fish off.
If you’ve ever asked a fisherman for advice on the best ways to catch fish, you likely know that there is a lot of superstition and folklore surrounding the best practices for fishing, but there is no debating that underwater lights attract more fish than complete darkness. So if you’re often fishing at night, or want to try it out, it’s a good idea to have to some underwater lighting.
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