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Walleye Boat Rebuild Part 7: Lights

Adding LED lights for night fishing is an easy and inexpensive weekend project that can add a lot of function to your boat.

Walleye Boat Rebuild Part 7: Lights

A lot of walleye fishing seems to take place early and late in the day, if not even in the middle of the night making lights a necessity. (Ross Robertson photo)

A lot of walleye fishing seems to take place early and late in the day, if not even in the middle of the night. This makes it necessary to have some additional lights in your boat to see better when rigging, netting, and just to function at all. Modern-day boats have better light packages than our project boat, but we wanted to take it one step further since the plan to night fish in this boat is a priority.

One of the first and biggest steps in my opinion is to take the time to think about and draw up the layout of the lights. Next, you need to see where you can realistically mount them while hiding the wires. The last thing you want is for the lighting wires to get caught up in rods and lures, or just be an eyesore.

A walleye boat dashboard with gauges, buttons, and switches.
The interior lights were put on a simple on-and-off toggle switch. (Ross Robertson photo)

For me, this meant making a U-shaped layout with an 18-gauge TH Marine tinned copper shielded wire. There would be two of these, one for the interior compartment lights and one for the deck lights. I chose white lights for the interior compartments for better visibility and blue lights on the deck for easier night vision. The interior lights were put on a simple on-and-off toggle switch and I choose a TH Marine dimmer switch for the blue deck lights to be able to control the amount of light.

Two hands splicing wires with a T-tap connector.
T-tap wire connectors are designed for specific wire sizes and make connections a breeze. (Ross Robertson photo)

Each light was spliced in with a T-tap wire connector. These specialty connectors are designed for specific wire sizes and make connections a breeze. You simply place both the positive and negative wires into the appropriate holes and crimp them down with both the light fixture wire and the main power wire running throughout the boat. This setup makes it quick to firmly attach the lights, especially when they are in tight spaces. I find it best to use a pair of lineman pliers (gently) to make sure the internal crimp is solid and then use a few wraps of electrical tape to ensure it stays closed. This step also helps to keep out moisture. Have a separate small battery that you can use to check if each light is working before you tape it up and tuck it away.

A strip of LED lights on a carpeted section of a boat.
I used bolts to piggyback the interior lights making them more secure with fewer holes. (Ross Robertson photo)

For attaching the TH Marine strip lights, I decided to use more than the adhesive strip and through-bolt them for one more reason. I used a bolt long enough so that I could piggyback the interior lights to both making them more secure with fewer holes on the backside of the deck lights in the compartments. The carpet and thin glass would make mounting options limited so this was a win-win option for me.

Two boat battery hatches illuminated by blue LED lights.
Figuring out where you can realistically mount lights while hiding the wires is one of the first steps. (Ross Robertson photo)

Adding LED lights is an easy and inexpensive weekend project that can add a lot of function to your boat.

Capt. Ross Robertson

Bigwater Fishing




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