Bass fishermen are tinkerers. Whether adding a couple of suspendots to a jerkbait or dipping the tail of a brush hog in some chartreuse dye to get just the right look, bass maniacs have always attempted to apply their unique style to the sport.
In recent years however, tinkering has expanded rapidly out of the rod, reel, and lure arena and into angler’s boats and tow-vehicles. Pro anglers are given free rein to design their jerseys, boat wraps, and tow-vehicles to best represent their sponsors and individual personalities, making a trip to a tour-level event these days a spectacle reminiscent of P.T. Barnum.
There are a million things an angler can do to put his or her personal touches on their rig, and Bassmaster Elite Series angler Scott Ashmore has experience with most. Since he joined the Elites in 2010, Ashmore has been a pioneer in tricking out boats. He was the first to integrate an Ipad into his dash, and his vivid wrap designs and bold color choices were unique on the tour until very recently.
One particular accessory Ashmore has helped pioneer is the integration of LED lighting, something that until a couple years ago only a handful of anglers were doing. “I started doing the lighting thing about four years ago, and there weren’t really any others on the tour that were doing it. Now, I’m pretty sure every angler out there has at least some LED lighting somewhere on their boat, and several boat manufacturers are now offering it as an option.”
Ashmore’s gets his LEDs from his title sponsor, Blue Water LED. Blue Water LED is a pioneer in the development and installation of high performance LED lighting systems for a variety of outdoor industries including boats, trucks, motorcycles, and atv’s.
To Ashmore, LEDs are a no brainer over previous lighting options. “LEDs are brighter, waterproof, never need new bulbs, and draw an insignificant amount of current to run. They obviously do a great job lighting just about any space, but they also increase your on-water visibility and make low-light and nighttime operation safer.”
As great as it would be if we could all afford to install LED lighting on every square inch of our boats like an Elite Series Pro, but the reality is; most of us are working on limited budgets. To that end, I recently caught up with Ashmore and asked him to make an “LED Priority List”, of the five places he recommends installing LEDs to not only look great, but increase your safety and efficiency on the water.
- 1. Front and Rear Decks: Ashmore thinks that installing LED lights on the casting decks of a boat not only provide the most aesthetic impact, but they also greatly increase the safety of a boat, saying “Tournament anglers are frequently operating in the dark. LED’s on the deck make navigating around the boat a lot safer. I’ve seen people trip on tackle bags, step on rods or baits, and even fall out of boats in the dark. I can set my deck lights to the perfect brightness, and I’ve had marshals comment on how much easier they can move around my boat in the dark.”
- 2. Storage Compartments: It might be a no-brainer, but adding lights to the compartments is a huge benefit; one that Ashmore definitely appreciates during the rigors of an Elite event. “I’m often working on tackle until well after dark on tournament weeks. I am a lot more efficient because all my compartments are well-lit and I can easily find what I am looking for. I can do an hours’ worth of tackle prep in half the time.”
- 3. Livewells: It might seem odd to install lights in your livewells, but Ashmore says they even benefit you during the day. “In really muddy or dirty water, having livewell lighting makes finding fish in the livewell and culling a lot easier. My Legend Alpha 211 has a huge 47 gallon livewell, so illuminating the fish from below can be helpful even during the day.”
- 4. Under the Console: Lights under the console illuminate the seating area and floor of the boat. “I think the lights under the console are another great way to increase safety and efficiency in a boat. Have you ever dropped something in the bottom of your boat in the dark? Most bass boats come with insufficient lighting in the seating area and it can also be a safety concern if you or a co-angler has gear or clothing stowed down there.”
- 5. On the Trailer: “I didn’t realize until I started doing the LED thing how much it would help me with visibility while trailering.” Ashmore says, continuing “I turn on my trailer lights at the ramp in the morning, and I can easily see the ramp, potential obstacles, and any people that might be walking by. Bluewater even makes special strips for reverse lighting as well that will really light up the bottom of a small ramp. LED lights are waterproof, so I can easily load my boat in the dark and the lights will show me where the bunks are.”
Blue Water LED is an American owned, faith based company located in Kentucky, right in the center of bass country. Their LED lighting and accessories come with an industry exclusive lifetime warranty, the only dimmable system components, and they will go out of their way to create a custom lighting system for any application. Pre-selected LED kits are available at many retailers, but their entire catalog can be seen at www.bluewaterled.com