I’ve always had some sort of lighting system installed on my catfish boats to use when catching shad at night and early in the morning and for night fishing for catfish. For some reason when I got my SeaArk ProCat 240 I never installed any lights on the interior. The ProCat has a small light on the passenger side console that lights a small area but for some reason I’ve never used it much.
This past winter I was catching shad early one morning in the dark. I stepped down off the front deck to grab my iPilot remote. It was pitch black outside and I was in a hurry and I tripped and fell in the front of the boat. I fell hard enough that I was banged up, scraped and bruised in multiple areas and it took me a few days to recover.
As soon as this happened I decided I needed to install some lights on the SeaArk ProCat 240 so I started shopping.
Waterproof LED Light Options For Your Catfish Boat
Historically I’ve used a couple of small flood lights for lights on my catfish boat. They put off a lot of light but they also have tendency to get in the way and they put a big drain on the batteries but the technology has changed significantly since the last time I installed lights on my catfish boat.
I knew I wanted LED lights because they draw a minimal amount of power and wouldn’t create an battery issues.
After shopping around some I decided I wanted the waterproof LED strip lights instead of a traditional flood light. The waterproof led strip lights available for boats come in a variety of colors (which can help with bugs and visibility) and are also much more low profile so they can mounted almost anywhere and they’ll stay out of the way.
I started shopping around looking at different options and got overwhelmed pretty quickly. There’s hundreds if not thousands of different options and brands available. I found lights that were as cheap as $10 to some that were as much as $600 to $700 for a set to outfit a boat.
After doing some research online and talking to a few different anglers about LED lights for boats I made a decision. I looked at a couple of boats with $700 LED lights installed and a couple with the cheap LED lights installed also and I couldn’t really tell the difference between the two options. The biggest difference between the cheap and expensive options seemed to be the warranty and longevity of the product.
I’d be installing the waterproof led lights inside the gunnel of my SeaArk ProCat 240 so installation would be quick and easy. If the lights didn’t last a long time it wouldn’t be a big deal to replace them.
Super Cheap Waterpoof LED Lights
After reading some reviews on Amazon I decided to go with some of the inexpensive lights on Amazon instead of the more expensive options available. The SUPERNIGHT 16.4Ft Blue 5050SMD 300LED Waterproof Flexible LED Light Strip had good reviews and were super cheap at $11.95 per strip and shipping was free with Amazon Prime.
The decision came down to cost. I can buy 58 sets of these waterproof LED lights from Amazon for the cost of one of the $700 sets of LED lights. If they don’t last for a long time it’s really not a big deal.
Initially I wanted to install red lights as I’ve always found red doesn’t atttract bigs and green was my second choice. I reached out to Texas Parks and Wildlife and talked to a couple of my local game wardens as well about the legaility behind installing red and green lights. My conversations regarding staying “legal” left me reconsidering the color choices and I finally decided to install the waterproof LED light strips in blue (and I’m really glad I went with this option now, keep reading to learn why).
I ordered these lights through Amazon with free prime shipping and they were on my door step the next day.
I already had a waterproof LED rocker switch laying around so I didn’t need to buy one but that adds an additional $7 to the cost.
Installing LED Lights
Total Install Time: 15–20 Minutes
Total Cost: ~$25
- Waterproof LED Light Strips
- Rocker Switch
- Black/Red Electrical Wire
- Soldering Iron
- Wire Strippers
- Heat Shrink Tubing
- Electrical Connectors
- Mini Torch
- 3M Exterior Attachment Tape
Cut The LED Strip
The LED light strip is 16 feet long. I laid the light strip out along the gunnel of the SeaArk ProCat 240 and cut the light strip so I’d have a section to install from the front of the console to the bow and a section to install from the back of the console to the transom. There’s marks on the LED strips that show you where to cut. This leaves you with two strips, the ends with the wires on them go towards the console.
Clean Gunnels and Install
Next I secured the light strips along the bottom edge of the gunnels using the adhesive tape that came with the lights. I cleaned the gunnels off with a clean microfiber cloth and some simple green (and probably didn’t do as good of job as I should have with cleaning).
I cut four pieces of electrical wire (2 red and 2 black), stripped the ends of the wires and soldered the two electrical wires to the positive and negative wires on the LED light strips and then covered the soldered area with heat shrink tubing. Next I added a couple of electrical connectors and wired the rocker switch into the power wire for the navigation lights.
3M Adhesive Tape
Again, I didn’t do a very good job when cleaning the gunnels prior to installation. I found very quickly that the adhesive tape that came with the lights didn’t hold very well.
I installed the same lights in a friends boat a few weeks later. We cleaned his really well and the tape still didn’t hold well in a few places. We ended up adding some 3M Auto Exterior Attachment Tape that’s used for securing body trim to the lights and it holds much better than the tape that comes with the lights. I’d suggest getting a couple of rolls of this and using it on the initial install. If not, definitely make sure you have some on hand for repairs when the other tape fails.
First Impressions and Benefits of Blue Lights
These lights are REALLY bright. This one strip of lights puts off more than enough light to fish with without ever turning on another light. They make it easy to see everything in the boat and provide more than enough light for making catfish rigs, baiting hooks etc.
Another added benefit of the blue lights is they function like a black light does and really make fluorescent colors “glow” making everything really visible. When they hit the orange fishing line I use and the orange on my Chad Ferguson Signature Series Catfish Rods there’s a see of glowing orange that’s easily visible so I highly recommend the blue lights.
I’ve had the lights on my boat about four months now and have logged a considerable amount of time using them and haven’t had any issues at all. They work well, make things much safer, provide more than enough light for fishing and were a super cheap upgrade to my catfish boat. If they happen to quit working I’ll definitely order another set from Amazon and replace them.