Fishful’s 10 Biggest Fishing Innovations in the Past 70 years
• Electronic Sonar. So-called “fish finders” have not only enabled anglers to locate vertically suspended fish but also to accurately read bottom topography. In my opinion, electronic sonar is, by far, the most significant innovation and is responsible for more fish getting caught than any of the other items on this list.
• Lightweight waders and raingear. Honestly, I think if I had to fish the rest of my life wearing neoprene waders and rubber raingear, I would quit. Just think of all the additional fishing hours that have been spent due to comfort. Amen to Gore-Tex!
• Scents. Dr. Juice started a revolution. Scents are molded into lures primarily to attract fish and no warm-water angler can question the effectiveness of adding scent.
• Plastics. Molded plastic tails, especially twister-type, have fooled uncounted zillions of fish around the world. All species.
• GPS. Marking locations and having the ability to return to exact fishing hotspots have given anglers monumental information to target fish. And the confidence to return to the boat ramp safely without getting lost.
• Electric trolling motors. The main advantages here are “stealth” and “quiet.” In the past few years, electric trolling motors have been synched with GPS to produce constant positioning in deep water without rope.
• Beadheads. Fly fishermen are putting heavy beads on flies so they sink more rapidly and spend more time in the “fish” zone.
• 4-piece rods and integrated ferrules. Not having to pack and carry rod cases half the length of the rod has become a major convenience for all anglers. Building ferrules into the basic construction of the rod rather than attaching rod sections with unbending metal ferrules has given all anglers a better “feel” for the rod, especially fly fishermen.
• Power ice augers. Hand augers mean fewer holes and fewer fish.
• Strike indicators. Yes, I know, they are only bobbers but these small bobbers have given millions of novice fish fishermen a better chance to fight a fish. Almost made the list: Lightweight PFDs; synthetic insulation materials; copolymer and braided lines.
Jerry Smalley’s Fishful Thinking column appears weekly in the Hungry Horse News.