Sitting in my boat recently, I considered how advances in angling technology have changed the way I fish, just within the past several years. There have been three particularly noteworthy advances that have made fishing easier, more fun, and more effective.
The first revolution occurred with the incorporation of global positioning system (imagery into electronic units for fishing. This satellite-based system, owned by the U.S. government and operated by the U.S. Air Force, allows amazingly accurate navigation and reveals potentially productive fishing spots when paired with digital mapping that’s available on today’s top sonar units.
Maps are either built into sonar units or are available on SD memory cards. With this technology, the learning curve to find fish is smoother than ever, because we can pick out good-looking spots at home, set a waypoint, then drive directly to them on the lake. Formerly secret honey holes are now in the public domain, thanks to GPS and digital maps.
The next advancement was more gradual, as sonar units evolved to reveal ever-clearer images of what lies below the surface. Today, high-tech side-imaging, down-imaging, 360-degree-imaging, and even live-imaging have endowed anglers with unprecedented power.
With the Mega Imaging transducer on my Hummingbird sonars, I can spot a muskie lying well off to the side of the boat. In the old days, we needed a follow to know where one was holding. Now we can spot him on side-imaging.
Measure the distance to your target and fire a cast right to it. The fish is undisturbed and has a good chance of striking, though with muskies, nothing is a sure thing! I use this system to find submerged log jams for catfishing, rock piles and logs that hold bass, deep brush piles for crappies, and other applications for almost every species.
Some of the latest units will even display fish moving toward lures in real time, almost like an underwater camera, but from some distance away, thanks to amazing new transducer technology. New and more advanced sonar units arrive every year, offering ever-clearer views of the underwater world.
The final breakthrough has been trolling motors linked to GPS systems, so they can hold your boat on a spot with the touch of a button, even in wind and current. Hook a fish and you can hit Spot-Lock so you don’t drift away. Guides love this feature because they can rig lines, bait hooks, and net fish while staying on a hot spot. I don’t even bother bringing my 25-pound anchor anymore, thank goodness!
In the future, even more amazing breakthroughs will come along. They’ll make fishing even more fun and efficient, though they may come with a hefty price tag. I expect, however, that the costs of these high-tech marvels will decline as technology continues to advance.