Bowfishing Boats and Lighting Systems

Bowfishing boats and lighting setups can be all the difference when it comes to bowfishing success on the water. Our budgets will often dictate what we use so its important that we spend our money wisely when it comes to these two options. Bowfishermen need a boat that handles the water well and provides ample room and good platforms to shoot from. Bowfishing lights are another element that can make life easier when trying to spot fish. When it comes to bowfishing lighting setups, there are many options to choose from. It’s important to experiment to find which lighting setup works best for you in a variety of water conditions. Lets take a closer look at bowfishing boats and lights.

Bowfishing Boats

There is no specific kind boat needed to bow fish. Some of the different options that are commonly used are aluminum jon boats, flat bottom skiffs, and pontoon boats.

Aluminum Jon boats

These kinds of boats are popular among bow fishermen because they are able to get into the shallow parts of the waterways where a V shaped bottom cannot access. The use of an aluminum boat is a popular choice because it’s very easy to clean out once you are done shooting. You don’t want to use your expensive bass boat and get blood, slime and mud all over it. Another reason a flat bottom is used is because people build platforms on the bow of their boat. This is done because the extra height aids in seeing fish at a greater distance, allows for lights to be mounted on the platform for night shooting, and helps in the light diffraction in the water. Aluminum Jon boats are typically powered by an outboard, trolling motor or fan.

bowfishing boats

Flat bottom skiffs

These boats are lightweight, made of fiberglass and are generally used in saltwater flats. They are becoming popular among bow fishermen today because of their lightweight, maneuverability and they are easy to clean. Platforms are generally not made for this type of boat like the aluminum boats but different accessories are available to be purchased for increasing elevation. Skiffs are normally powered by an outboard, trolling motor or hand pushed with a push-pull rod.

Pontoon boats

Pontoon boats are great bowfishing boats for bowfishermen who prefer a lot of lights. These boats are wider and more stable than aluminum jon boats and skiffs. Pontoon boats can hold more people comfortably and can support more weight. Pontoons are generally powered by an outboard, trolling motor or a fan.

Bowfishing light setups

Lights are used for nighttime bowfishing. There are many different types of lights that can be used on any given bowfishing boat. The best kind of light to use usually comes down to personal preference. One of the most popular lighting choices due to their electrical efficiency is LED lights.

bowfishing lights


LEDs are one of the most popular choices among professional bowfishermen. Although they can be expensive, they demand a fraction of the electricity when compared to other lighting options. LEDs are ran off direct current (DC) electricity so a battery or two (hooked up in parallel) can provide all the electricity you need. LEDs come in many different options. These are generally the most common and most effective colors to use.

  • Bright white
  • Warm White
  • Yellow

High Pressure Sodium (HPS)

High pressure sodium lights are light weight and have an excellent bulb life. They can cast more of a yellow/orange light but are extremely powerful for penetrating murky waters. They demand much more electricity than LEDs but are preferred by some bowfishermen.


Halogen lights are very accessible at any major hardware store. They put out a ton of light but demand a lot of power in the process. These very affordable lights put out a color that many bowfisherman prefer but do demand a larger generator to supply the higher demand of electricity.

What lighting system is best for you?

Our suggestion is to try all of the options to find out what you are most comfortable with. If you can narrow down your choices, then its comes down to what you can afford. Purchasing bowfishing lights is normally an expensive process, so make sure you are getting the lighting system that is going to work for you.

Power source

The power source you need is going to be dictated by the lighting system you choose and your budget.


Generators are required for using HPS and halogen lights due to the high demand of electricity. Options are endless depending on your budget. Powerful, yet quiet generators are by far the best option but they carry the highest price tag. Generators range from a couple of hundred dollars all the way up to $1,000+ and can be found at any major hardware store.


Deep cycle batteries are commonly used with LEDs because of the low watts required to run them. One of the major advantages to using batteries with an LED setup is the absence of noise. The quiet environment that LEDs and batteries provide ensures a much less stressful environment which is a huge plus when you’re on the water.


We will say it again: test drive all the options. Ask to ride along in boats with different setups. Which boat do you feel more comfortable in? Which one is in your price range? Which lighting system works better for your eyes? What is the average clarity of the water you will bowfish in the most and what does that suggest? Answer these questions so you don’t have to “buy it twice.” Good luck in setting up your boat and lights. The most important thing is to get out on that water and have fun. Just remember one thing, aim low!