As another open water season unfolds before us, I am once again amazed by the advances we are seeing in the fishing tackle industry. I speak about technology in the ice fishing segment every year, from sonar to plastics to clothing and battery powered ice augers, but the open water industry is certainly home to many new and exciting innovations. Let’s take a look at some of them.
Sonar technology is probably the one area where it is easy to become overwhelmed, and many who purchase this advanced technology never scratch the surface of the unit’s capability. CHIRP technology is one of the newest terms when it comes to sonar, and it simply means the unit uses a multiple frequency sonar section rather than a fixed frequency, such as the common 83 Khz or 200 Khz range. This allows the units computer to analyze the returns, and determine what and how it will display, separating strong signals from weak, flesh and bone from rock and wood, and allowing less interference from other nearby units. Chirp also excels in deeper water situations, where it was originally developed.
Mapping technology has also come a long way, and there are now programs that allow you to map the lake bottom as you fish, assembling all the info as you go into a comprehensive map that you can share with others globally, or keep to yourself. This technology is allowing hundreds of anglers in Florida, using the Navionics program, to re-map coastal areas that were ravaged by Hurricane Irma. This is especially helpful around here, where lake mapping is nowhere near the level of the more populated states.
Tungsten weights and lures have been increasingly popular in the ice fishing world, where small jigs are the norm, and the extra weight without increased size is almost always welcome. Tungsten in the open water world offers the same benefits, but also allows much better feel as anglers move jigs and weights along the bottom, transmitting information directly to the anglers hands. Rock, wood, sand and gravel bottoms all feel different, and the accompanying noise can attract a fish’s curiosity. Smaller jig heads also allow the bait to become the focal point, and the fact that tungsten is nontoxic compared to lead is not lost as more and more anglers are becoming concerned about the effects of lead and the environment.
Carbon fiber and graphite have been used in rod construction for years now, and these materials are now finding their way into reel construction, oars, net handles, fishing shoes and more. Rod and reel combos in the $100 range and up weigh increasingly less, offer unprecedented feel and cast small lures and flies like rockets. Rods and reels are now measured in ounces, rather than pounds. Light weight and less mass means an angler can fish longer with less effort, all benefits especially to aging anglers whose hands, wrists and shoulders may not be all they once were!
Lastly… line. It was not very long ago when Dupont introduced monofilament fishing line to the masses, who until then were dealing with cotton, nylon, rayon and dacron fishing lines. Mono changed how anglers fished, just as braided lines, fluorocarbon and micro lines have. Today’s angler has more choices in line material, strength, construction and uses than ever before. No matter what technique or reel you use, there is a line that has been developed for you, and good ol’ monofilament is better than ever.
One look through the fishing departments at our local retailers, or an hour spent paging through the latest Cabelas or Bass Pro catalog is enough to make the most seasoned angler feel like a rookie, but don’t despair! Doing a little research on your own, talking with the folks who work in the fishing departments and spending a little time on You Tube will help you find the new technology that was designed to make you a better angler. I’ll see you on the water!