Light It Up: Underwater Lighting Solutions

More than just for show, underwater lights are a key piece of technology

February 18, 2021
A sport fishing boat equipped with underwater lights.
More than just good looking, today’s underwater lights can provide safety and attract fish as well. Chris Rabil

“It’s a swordie—nice one too!”

With a positive species ID now confirmed, we readied the gaffs and prepared for the endgame with a 200-pound swordfish. We were fishing aboard the 72-foot F&S Second Wind, and were gently drifting in flat-calm seas about a half-mile from the Thunderhorse platform, deep in the upper Gulf of Mexico off Venice, Louisiana. The fish hit the shallow squid bait just after 9 p.m., but the fight had “shark” written all over it for the first 15 minutes or so. It was only when we finally saw the fish in the depths far below us that we knew we had the target species acquired. The boat’s underwater lights easily cut through the water, allowing us to spot the fish while it was still at least 40 feet below; the lights also made the gaffing and boating process much easier—and safer.

Changes Made

Underwater lighting is one of those product categories that has undergone significant changes in the past decade. With that in mind, whether you’re looking to outfit a new boat or replace older technology, we sought out the latest products on the market from some of the leaders in the industry.

Aqualuma Gen 5 24 Series light
Aqualuma Gen 5 24 Series light Aqualuma

First up: Aqualuma. Its 24 Series lights are the latest addition to its Gen 5 through-hull lineup and are ­specifically designed to deliver a significant ­output of light, making them perfect for large sport-fishers and superyachts. The ­one-piece polymer housing is made to be serviced and even upgraded from within the vessel, and it’s ideal for any type of hull construction. Static blue/white versions are available, but it also has the option of full color and scene ­control through the Casambi app for iOS or Android operating systems, giving the user a virtually endless palette of colors from which to choose.

Lumitec Typhoon underwater light
Lumitec Typhoon underwater light Lumitec

The SeaBlaze series from Lumitec continues to evolve as well with the introduction of the Typhoon ­underwater light, which, according to the company, sets a new standard for performance, reliability and value. Available in dual-color blue/white and a ­full-color-spectrum light, it delivers more than 10,000 measured lumens in white, and features a modular quick-change design for in-water service and upgrades. An innovative internal relay simplifies wiring and significantly reduces installation costs and complexity, ­accommodating any hull thickness up to 3 inches. The naval-grade ­solid-bronze housing design projects heat outward into the water and does not rely on internal ambient air temperature for cooling. A jam-nut locking ring system allows the light to be installed on angled hulls while resisting vibration, and ­its tool-free endcap makes for easy access.

Maintain Full Control

Controlling the light’s output is also a key feature. The Typhoon uses Lumitec’s Power Line Instruction ­technology, ­making it compatible with its Poco Digital Lighting Control system, which is sold separately but offers ­more-advanced lighting features; the standard on/off switch with built-in Timed Toggle Protocol technology is standard and has full-color control.

Lumishore Lumi-Link integration
Lumishore Lumi-Link integration Lumishore

Lumishore has two series of interchangeable lights: the EOS, with full-color change; and Supra, with blue/white options. Both have internal drivers, enabling them to be serviced from inside the hull without the need for ­hauling the vessel. Both have wide-beam angles at 110 degrees and are also flush-fit with very low profiles, making them a great choice for not just transom but also side or bottom mounting. They are among the brightest on the market today: The TIX803 EOS has an output of 10,500 lumens and the Supra 12,000, while the more-powerful TIX1603 lights have an output of 15,500 and 17,000 lumens, respectively.

Read Next: Learn what it takes to be successful in tournament fishing.

The EOS series is controlled by Lumishore’s intuitive STV-2204 display, or directly from a compatible multifunction display using Lumi-Link, which allows the option of eliminating the control head for a clutter-free helm. Wi-Fi control via Apple, Android and other web browsers is a third choice. There are customizable settings for colors, cycles, speeds, sweeps, modes and brightness, and an easy sound-to-light integration with onboard sound systems for that “I’m on the dance floor at Studio 54” feel. The dual-color Supra lights offer switching between blue and white without sacrificing brightness because both colors run at full power and are controlled either through the MFD or its own control head. The EOS and Supra are both covered by a three-year warranty.

A sport fishing boat equipped with underwater lights.
Many of today’s underwater lighting systems offer control via Wi-Fi using apps for Apple, Android and other web-based devices. Chris Rabil

Optimal control and ease of use are the keys to Shadow-Caster’s MFD lighting controller, which is compatible with displays from Garmin, Simrad, Furuno, Raymarine, Lowrance, B&G and RGB(W) lights from not just Shadow-Caster but other manufacturers as well. The all-around system provides color, brightness, and multiple fade, strobe and music-sync modes for up to six zones of lighting—above and below the waterline—by simply plugging in the network interface and following the onscreen setup—no additional software to install or complex configuration requirements.

So whether you’re using underwater lighting applications for serious ­fishing, or just want to light up the docks at night, the choices today are more powerful, more accessible and easier to control than ever before.


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