Do Fish Lights Work?

The fish light, is it a useful tool or useless myth? Wouldn’t it be great to have a magic bullet for attracting more fish to the spot you are fishing? Of course it would, I love fishing as much as the next person, but I love catching even more. The only thing more fun than throwing a line in the water for a while is feeling it go taut and hauling in a monster. Recently, a few companies have begun marketing submergible lights touting a nearly supernatural ability to attract fish. Is it too good to be true? Maybe not this time, it seems there may actually be some science behind this one.

The science behind this idea is actually relatively simple. We have the food chain to thank for the effectiveness of the fish light. While not always true, a good general rule is big animals eat small animals. By that logic, attract the small animals to an area and the big animals are bound to follow in search of another meal. Queue the fish light. Many smaller organisms are attracted to light. Think about the moth in your garage and you have the basic idea. The same proves true in the water. Small organisms that feeder fish eat are attracted to light. In turn, feeder fish gravitate to their favorite meal, which happens to be hanging out by the light you dropped in the water. Guess what follows the feeder fish? You got it, all the bigger fish that we want to catch. It is that simple, Mother Nature at work, helped along just a bit by human ingenuity.

Science in nature, unlike in high school, actually can be a beautiful thing apparently. Still sound too good to be true? I thought so too, however it really is no joke. Crappie fisherman have been using this trick for years in various ways, from flood lights attached to the under structure of a dock, to fancy submersible lights suspended by Styrofoam in the water, to simple lanterns hung from poles off the side of a boat. More recently, anglers have applied the practice to nearly every type of game fishing imaginable with at least some success. There are reports of success with everything from catfish to swordfish.

So if this really works, what is the best way to take advantage? There is a range of options, depending on each angler’s individual situation. For the boat or dock angler alike, fancy powered submergible lights are now available through most any outdoor sports outfitter. Prices vary from as little as $20 to as much as $100. For a more permanent solution, install floodlights on a dock or other existing underwater structure. Even disposable chemical lights paired with some rope or twine will work in a pinch.

If you are still skeptical, talk to some experienced local anglers in your area. Chances are you can find someone with experience and you likley will not be the first person to ask. We anglers are generally a friendly type, more than willing to help a fellow out. I know I will, as long as you stay away from my spot.