June 17, 2013
Don't Go Overboard With Bass Fishing Electronics
By Dave Wolak
Have you ever been on the lake and seen that guy driving a bass boat with so many electronics it looks like the space shuttle cockpit? In one extreme case I literally saw 5 full-size units fired up on a guy's boat, and all he was doing was casting a spinnerbait down the bank. Don’t misunderstand, I’m all for new technology, but I often question whether or not the anglers that jump on the latest electronics actually know how to use them. People ask for my advice on electronics fairly often, and here’s what I tell them: Take one good unit (or maybe just one feature of that unit, such as side-imaging), learn it thoroughly, and mesh it into your fishing repertoire. Once you’ve mastered that unit or feature and figured out how to use it to catch more fish, then move on to another feature or second unit. People also ask me about the electronics set-up on my boat. Well, here’s how it breaks down.
First, I’m pretty particular about how my electronics are mounted. My graphs are integrated into the console and the front panel on my boat, not RAM mounted. Console mounting might be more of a pain, but it helps you avoid problems if you stuff a wave, which is often inevitable if you fish places like the Great Lakes. I don’t need my units shifting in rough conditions.
For the record, I am by no means a guy that treats my graph like a video game, drop-shotting to one arc on the screen in 40 feet of water. But I do like good electronics that do all the modern jobs. I run two Humminbird 998c HD SI units (a moderately sized and priced model), one in the front and one in the back. The transducer for my front graph has what's called a universal transducer to make it look like its part of the trolling motor head. This helps me avoid cracking transducer heads off on the bottom when fishing shallow, and I’d say 50% of my bass fishing is done in shallow water. Otherwise, my front graph is linked to my back graph so that the GPS waypoints I mark driving at the console pop up on the front graph as well, and vice-versa. As for new and advanced features like side- and down-imaging, I only use them about 10-15 percent of the time, but those times are usually the crucial times where that technology can make or break my position in a tournament. As an example, if I find a school of fish and they move, relocating that school is much quicker and easier with side- and down-imaging. All of that said, what’s most important in terms of electronics is never becoming completely reliant on them. Sometimes being able to position the boat by lining up features on the bank or using your eyes to detect bottom transitions will get you into more fish than the best units out there.