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Tool Review

Extending fishing hours with Black Diamond's updated Moonlight Headlamp

Date: 7/24/03
Tackle type: Tools
Manufacturer: Black Diamond
Reviewer: Zander

Total Score: 8.66

Introduction: Fishing in the twilight can be very productive for many species of fish. The problem is that tying on lures, accurate casting, or even navigating a shoreline can be difficult without proper lighting. Traditional flashlights are hard to manage for anglers as they require the use of one hand. The Black Diamond Moonlight offers a solution, and while it may have been designed for cross country skiers, or rock climbers, but is now finding a home on top of the heads of many adventurous anglers.

Black Diamond Moonlight Specifications

Housing Material Plastic
Light Source 4 LED's
Power Source 3 AAA batt. (Included)
Weight (Without Batteries) 3.0 oz.
Weight (With Batteries) 3.2 oz
Battery Life 70 hours
MSRP $29.95

Impressions: If I could I would fish every waking hour. There have been times when I have seen wild trout explode on the surface of streams in the twilight, or fished large surface plugs for Bass in the middle of the night. But wielding handheld flashlights seemed like a juggling act as I tried to clutch the torches in my arm, or in the crook of my neck, while at the same time trying to reel my rig. This is exactly what the Black Diamond Moonlight is made for, to provide ample light in whichever direction you turn, all without the use of your hands.


Selecting and tying on the right lure in the dark is a lot easier with your hands free


Application: The Black Diamond Moonlight is absolutely perfect for a variety of angling applications that range from shore fishing for channel cats in the middle of the night, to tossing trout lures while streamside at dusk. The headlamp frees your hands so that while tying on new lures or handling fish you need not fumble around with your light source. Many fish can be caught at night, as many species like Bass can hunt on vibration and noise alone. Many anglers are discovering that working buzzbaits or surface plugs in the middle of the night can catch some of the largest bass. At night not only are fish like bass more susceptible to lures that take advantage of water displacement and sound, but overall fishing pressure on the lake will be next to none. In fact many anglers believe that fish will become more aggressive during the night as they are not as aggressively pursued during this period.

The Moonlight's tilting lamp housing allows very accurate focus adjustment

Design: A headlight has many advantages over a normal torch, with most factors being related to movement freedom and flexibility. In the case of climbers and skiers for example...these are sports that absolutely require your hands be free. Angling can be put in a similar category. The Moonlight features a very well thought out tilting lamp module, so that you can adjust the perfect angle for your application. This is very helpful when you are looking down to tie on a fly, or selecting a new lure. The entire module is water resistant, but not completely waterproof. the light is provided by four high intensity LED lights, which shine a very even and bright white light. The only downside we found to the lamp assembly was the lack of any cover option on the LED's themselves. While they are behind a raised lip it is possible to drop the lamp in just the right place to knock out a LED.


Four ultra bright white LEDs provide the illumination, the only thing we would have liked was a little more protection for the lights


Comfort: The Black Diamond Moonlight differs from most competing headlamps in that the battery pack is on the rear of the strap while the lights are on the front. By separating the two units the Moonlight achieves a optimal balance on your head. Often times competing headlamps are front heavy, and tilt downwards. In addition the Moonlight has a overhead strap to hold the lamp securely in position, even if you run or jump. Other competing headlamps have only one strap around your forehead. This also allows the straps to be adjusted a bit looser as you are not using pure pressure to maintain the headlamp in place. Overall the Moonlight is rather light at only 3.2 oz. and after a few minutes fishing you won't even notice the extra weight.


On the back of your head is the battery compartment, which is also water resistant and padded with soft rubber for comfort

Function: In our tests we ventured out do some fishing in the dark for Bass, as well as some night fishing for wild trout in Yosemite. While walking in the dark the Moonlight does an excellent job illuminating a wide area, but still maintains a surprisingly good distance. While in total darkness you will be able to discern objects from 50-60 feet with little difficulty. Tilting the light downwards allows you to tie on lures with ease. Anglers used to bulb flashlights will need to adapt to the intense bright "white" light of the Moonlight. The light is so even at a distance of 10-20 feet that while walking I found it difficult at first to identify objects on the ground, as there is very little shadowing. But within a few hours you will find yourself traversing the dark environment with a renewed sense of confidence.


New improvements to the latest version of the Moonlight include a new computer chip which will allow you to adjust the LED intensity, which not only prolongs battery life, but also allows you to fish with even more stealth. In addition the lamp can be set in strobe mode for emergencies. With 70 hours of battery life you can fish for an entire trip without worrying.


During our tests I caught numerous trout in backcountry streams, and largemouth Bass in local reservoirs. the ability to fish longer, and during unique low pressure periods allowed me to target and land more fish. While back in the tent I also found that hanging the Moonlight made it into a very good camp light.


Fishing in the dark allows anglers to land more fish, with less  pressure from other competing anglers


Durability: While fishing in the backcountry on the second day I was assaulted by a surprise thunderstorm, and was drenched within minutes. While the Moonlight has  a water resistant lamp and battery housing it is not rated as fully waterproof. But I was happy to note that after the conclusion of the storm I wiped off the Moonlight and it still turned on just fine. During our tests we also conducted drop tests from a height of six feet over dirt and granite surfaces. During the tests the lip succeeded in protecting the LED's and the lamp continues to burn without issue. Overall the Moonlight is well constructed and can take plenty of abuse, as long as you don't drop it in the river.



Black Diamond Moonlight Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality Great construction, the plastic housings are durable and water resistant 9
Performance Great weight and battery life. Only thing we would have liked was additional protection of LED's and complete waterproofing 8
Price A good price for a headlamp with this many features. there are lamps for less money but many do not offer the same level of features or detail in design. 8
Features Plenty of features that include tilting lamp housing, brightness adjustment, and strobe capability 9
Design (Ergonomics) Lightweight and comfortable, the top strap makes it easy to use this lamp on top of a cap or beanie 9
Application Great for anglers who want to fish in dark conditions. the ability to use both hands while fishing is a must, and this lamp makes it possible. 9

Total Score


Pluses and Minuses:

                 Plus                                    Minus

J Good construction L Not 100% waterproof
J Comfortable, well balanced L More protection for LED's
J Durable and reliable  
J Good price  

Conclusion: Whether you enjoy fishing in the dark or just want the ability to fish longer, the Black Diamond Moonlight can help extend those fishing trips. By freeing up that extra hand anglers can fish with the same comfort and ease as if it was in the middle of the day. When in the dark anglers simply shouldn't mess around when it comes to safety, and the durability and reliability of the Moonlight helps instill confidence in anglers, so all you need to worry about is which lure to tie on and toss next.

Until next time....Tight Lines!









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