Skip to main content

How to Select the Right Spotlight for Night Fishing

Shopping for the perfect night fishing spotlight can become overwhelming considering there are a lot of different types to choose from – make it easier on yourself and learn the ins-and-outs of the various types

How to Select the Right Spotlight for Night Fishing
How to Select the Right Spotlight for Night Fishing

When you need a super-bright, far-reaching light, a spotlight works best. Navigating a boat at night, viewing wildlife after dark, frog hunting and emergency signaling are all tasks for which a spotlight is well suited. Before buying a spotlight, however, study these facts that will help you choose a product best suiting your needs.

Power Options

Power options are important considerations when selecting a spotlight.

Some spotlights, like the Q-Beam Marine Blue Max and Dorcy’s Weather Resistant 1-Million Candle Power Spotlight, work on 12-volt systems, with a plug adaptor for hook-up in a cigarette lighter. These must be constantly plugged in to work, so they must be used in a boat, truck, RV, ATV or other place where a plug-in is available.

The user's mobility is limited by the length of the cord (usually 6 to 10 feet), but the light will come on instantly and shine continuously as the long as it's hooked up to a viable power source.


Rechargeable spotlights also are available. Some, like the Q-Beam Performance Night Vision 682 Rechargeable Spotlight, have both 12V (auto or boat) and 110V (home) chargers. Others, like the Coleman CPX 6 CSP7O Spotlight, operate on D-cell batteries or a rechargeable power cartridge (usually sold separately).


The user's mobility is unlimited with any of these cordless, handheld models, but run-time varies considerably, from three hours (on high) for some halogen-light models to eight hours for an LED spotlight.

If the spotlight loses its charge, you might have to wait several hours during recharging until you can use it again. As a result, these models aren’t well suited for extended-use scenarios such as long nighttime boat rides.

Several deck- and rail-mount spotlights for boating applications also are available, like the Golight Gobee Stanchion Mount Light with wireless remote control and the RAM LED Spotlight with 1" Ball, which is easily placed where you want it using one of several RAM mounts. One model from Blazer International is made especially for use on an ATV.

Lumens and Candlepower

Spotlights typically incorporate one of two types of illumination: halogen lights or LED lights.


Halogen models have long been the most popular because they offer the brightest light at moderate prices. Some are so bright they can easily illuminate the eyes of a frog or alligator at distances of a half mile or more.

Each is rated in terms of candlepower, varying from 400,000 candlepower on the Optronic Marine BlueEye model to the Cyclops Colossus 18-Million Candlepower Spotlight.

LED spotlights, like the Coleman CPX 6 Folding LED Spotlight, have brightness levels measured in lumens – the more lumens, the brighter the light and the greater the distance at which the light will illuminate objects.


LED lights aren't as bright as halogen lights, however, and won’t illuminate objects at comparable distances. On the plus side, LED bulbs almost never need replacing, and the lights stay cool to the touch. A halogen light may get hot enough to cause serious burns if touched. Choose accordingly.

Additional Features

Today’s spotlights offer features that make them much more versatile than spotlights available in decades past. For example, several such as NoCry’s Waterproof Rechargeable 1000LM Spotlight and Dewalt’s MAX Cordless come with red or amber filters or LEDs that provide better night vision and aren’t as likely to spook wildlife.

Lockout switches on models like the High Noon 4C Light prevent accidental power-ups. Folding handles that allow easier storage in a smaller space are available on some Coleman models.

The best spotlights also have durable, water-resistant or waterproof housings that are less likely to chip, break or succumb to an accidental plunge in a lake or stream.

Some good rechargeable models like the CREE LED from Usteller offer multiple brightness modes. These allow using less light for up-close tasks like tying knots or camp set-up, thus extending the battery charge considerably.

Trigger locks also are valuable features, allowing the light keep shining without constantly applying fatiguing finger pressure to the trigger.

Other useful features include momentary-on switches, integrated carry loops, built-in storage compartments for chargers and adjustable swivel stands for hands-free lighting.

In the end, you should consider all the pros and cons of each type of spotlight before deciding which is best for you. Fortunately, there are many different models from which to choose, and one of them is sure to be just right for your needs. Make your selection and let there be light!

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Daiwa Saltiga Lever Drag Saltwater Reel

Daiwa Saltiga Lever Drag Saltwater Reel

In this ICAST Fishing Gear Guide video, Mark Mills with Daiwa and Florida Sportsman's Jeff Weakley talk off-shore fishing gear.

Daiwa J-Fluoro Samurai Fluorocarbon Fishing Line

Daiwa J-Fluoro Samurai Fluorocarbon Fishing Line

Pro angler Cody Meyer calls Daiwa's J-Fluoro Samurai the best fluorocarbon he's ever fished. Meyer spoke with In-Fisherman associate publisher Todd Ceisner as part of the 2020 ICAST New Fishing Gear Guide.

Lure Lock Deep and Thin Boxes

Lure Lock Deep and Thin Boxes

In this video, TakLogic president John Skrabo chats with Game & Fish's Dr. Todd A. Kuhn about what's new in the Lure Lock line. And see how the TakLogic gel will even keep a cell phone in place.

Shimano Vanford Spinning Reel

Shimano Vanford Spinning Reel

In-Fisherman's Managing Editor, Rob Neuman, sits down with bass pro Josh Douglas, to get insight on the all-new ShimanoVanford spinning reel. It features a LongStroke Spool for long-distance casting. The Vanford spinning reel will be available in 7 sizes: 500-5000. MSRP: $299.99 - $239.99.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

Dozens of different bait types are commonly used for catfish, including these great options.12 Great Catfish Baits Catfish

12 Great Catfish Baits

Jeff Samsel

Dozens of different bait types are commonly used for catfish, including these great options.

Celebrate with great food for your backyard BBQ or picnic with these outdoor recipes.10 Recipes for Your Backyard Get Together Wild Game

10 Recipes for Your Backyard Get Together

Game & Fish Online Staff

Celebrate with great food for your backyard BBQ or picnic with these outdoor recipes.

The colder waters of early spring are prime times to use these proven bait rigs for stripers.3 Proven Bait Rigs for Stripers Striper & Hybrid

3 Proven Bait Rigs for Stripers

J.B. Kasper

The colder waters of early spring are prime times to use these proven bait rigs for stripers.

When it comes to fishing baits, you won't find a more unusual variety than the strange brews of smelly ingredients often used to catch catfish. How To Make Your Own Catfish Dough Bait Catfish

How To Make Your Own Catfish Dough Bait

Keith Sutton - August 04, 2015

When it comes to fishing baits, you won't find a more unusual variety than the strange brews...

See More Trending Articles

More Fishing

Habitat restoration on several northern California rivers makes them prime waters for rainbow trout and steelhead—especially during the fall months.Shasta Cascade a Prime Destination for Fall Trout and Steelhead Fishing

Shasta Cascade a Prime Destination for Fall Trout and Steelhead

Larry Larsen - September 28, 2020

Habitat restoration on several northern California rivers makes them prime waters for rainbow...

Catch each of the trout that make up the Utah and Wyoming Cutthroat Slams.Cutthroat Quest: A How-To Guide Fishing How-To

Cutthroat Quest: A How-To Guide

Gary Lewis - October 26, 2020

Catch each of the trout that make up the Utah and Wyoming Cutthroat Slams.

Mountain lakes offer exceptional trout fishing in late summer, early fall. Here's where to go, some tackle recommendations and what to offer them at the end of your line.Best Trout Fishing Out West: Where, When and How Fishing

Best Trout Fishing Out West: Where, When and How

Gary Lewis - September 15, 2020

Mountain lakes offer exceptional trout fishing in late summer, early fall. Here's where to go,...

That one little thing we don't think about while on the water, it's what separates the men from the boys.Tough Fishing Lessons Learned – The Landing Part Stories

Tough Fishing Lessons Learned – The Landing Part

Jeff Johnston - September 14, 2020

That one little thing we don't think about while on the water, it's what separates the men...

See More Fishing

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Game & Fish App

Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Game & Fish subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now