Do Glow In The Dark Lures Work?

Dale Shetler
By Dale Shetler
Updated February 11, 2020

If you're familiar with night fishing, there's a solid chance you've heard of fluorescent fishing lures. The lures glow in the dark and the theory behind it is that predator fish will get attracted by the glowing entity in the dark water.

Still, fishermen have divided opinions on whether glowing fishing lures work or if they're just another gimmick to sell more.

With years of experience fishing in the dark both with and without glow lures, I definitely have my opinion as to whether glow in the dark lures work or not. So, let's get right into it.

Can you catch more fish with fluorescent lures?

Glofish, genetically engineered fluorescent fish

From my experience, glowing lures work quite well for some species while others don't seem to care for them at all. Particularly there seems to be a difference between saltwater species and freshwater species.

I've had much more success using these lures in dark waters with saltwater species than with freshwater fish. To name a few, bass, flounder and trout all seem to respond positively to the use of a glow lure.

So yes, you can catch more fish with a fluorescent glow lure if you're targeting the right species and fishing in saltwater.

Why are they effective?

Although the research on the topic is fairly limited, common sense goes a long way to explain why UV light fishing tackle can be effective in certain scenarios.

First off, bioluminescent prey is more common in saltwater as opposed to freshwater and since species like squid and salmon often feed on glowing prey, you're more inclined to get something to bite.

The general theory is that, in dark water, a lure that glows will be more visible than other prey, so they may better catch the attention of fish like blues, halibut, and rockfish.

Some anglers even use it when jigging on deep waters in the day time where sunlight doesn't reach. UV rays penetrate deeper through the water than the visible sunlight does and the UV rays are what makes the lure glow in the dark. So, for the ideal experience, you want to keep your lure at a depth where visible light doesn't reach but UV rays do.

Excellent for ice fishing

Winter fishing. Fishing rod for ice fishing

One of the areas that glow in the dark lures excel in is for ice fishing. Sure, the light is able to pass through a bit of ice, but if there's even a thin layer of snow on top, the story is a whole lot different. This'll let you fish both on deep and shallow waters at any time of the day using a glowing lure.

We highly recommend adding a few glowing lures to your arsenal as they're worth trying in quite a few different scenarios. It doesn't have to be dark as long as you're fishing at a depth where the UV rays don't reach.

How do you make a glowing lure?

Although they aren't expensive, you may be on a budget or simply enjoy crafting your own lures. If you want to make a glowing lure yourself, there's a really simple way to do it.

First, get yourself some neon glow in the dark paint (can be bought in hobby stores) in any color you'd like. Personally I've had solid success with green. What I usually do is take an existing lure and add one or two details to it. Maybe a bit of paint on the tail or on the eyes.

Don't go overboard. It has to look realistic. You can't just paint it solid with glow paint. I suggest trying a few cheap standard lures and see what yields the best results for yourself. If any parts of the lure provide or mimics movement, it may be a good place to add the glow paint as it'll only help to grab the attention of predator fish.

Which color is best for fluorescent lures?

Although there are divided opinions on the topic, it is well known that certain colors are more reactive to ultraviolet light.

A color that has been known to be effective for a long time is chartreuse (which is a sharp and bright color between yellow and green. It is known to light up very well under a blacklight.

Wrapping Up

Saltwater Glow in the dark lure by Dr. Fish

Testing different products here is certainly key. Not all fishing gear is equally effective. There is no doubt glow in the -dark lures have their place in a night fishing rig but they aren't a make-or-break deal. If you're using over-the-top glow in the dark lures, chances are nothing will bite and you'll end up wasting your time. Make sure to keep it minimal and realistic - just like the prey that actually glows in the dark.

You can ask around and you'll quickly realize this is an area that splits the waters between fishermen. Some think it's useless or even bad for your catching rates while others would swear to it on their life. Personally, I am of the opinion that it works in saltwater for certain species that prey on bioluminescent prey. Not all baits work equally well so trial and error go into the equation and there doesn't seem to be an objective conclusion as to how effective it is.

My recommendation: Give it a try and see for yourself. Maybe you'll get good results or maybe you'll learn a thing and go a few dollars short.