Outdoors column: 2012 fishing electronics

by Steve Carney

We have come a long way with regards to fishing electronics!

Think back to the early days of the fishing boom in the late 70’s and early 80’s when the big deal was the Green Box. This flasher style unit changed the way we viewed fish under the boat.

Today’s modern fishing electronics are so good that even the entry level units are far superior over old technology. Submitted photo
Today’s modern fishing electronics are so good that even the entry level units are far superior over old technology. Submitted photo

Variations of that continued on as we went to paper graphs, more sophisticated sonar/TV units and on and on. Today’s modern units are now rather amazing as they now possess a multitude of different features we only dreamed about years ago.

Here’s a primer…

Pixels are the key
The word pixel has incredible meaning nowadays as everything from televisions, cameras to marine electronics contain them. They are basically little squares that make up the big picture on any given screen. The more pixels on your screen the better the picture or resolution.

A very common pixel mix is 480 by 480. You can also go down from there and up depending on the amount of money you wish to spend. For everyday usage the modern angler will have great success with the standard 480 by 480 mix.

Cost relative to performance
Many anglers are under the assumption that the more they spend on their fishing units the better anglers they will become – not necessarily. The irony of that is that I still use a flasher style unit from the early 1980s alongside my modern, very expensive GPS/Graph/Map unit. These two units are incredibly different but both do exactly what I want them to do – show fish.

I rely on both because I am rather dependent on the old unit as it is in my comfort zone and the new unit is much faster and more efficient. Between the two I can do everything I need to do in finding fish.

A couple of weeks ago I experimented with two modern units side by side to see which one was the best in showing individual walleyes. The first unit was a basic, $150 graph and the second unit was a $1,400 top-of-the-line graph.

Both of these graphs showed walleyes just off the bottom in exactly the same picture.

The fish hooks shown were excellent on both. It goes to show that today’s modern electronics even in the inexpensive are still miles ahead in performance over yesteryear.

Brand names
I have sampled just about every manufacturer out there in the fishing world and can honestly say that I believe most of the brands out there are pretty equal and no one brand is better than another.

There is so much quality control and top notch engineering going into today’s units that they are all on the same plane. Service is the key with electronics and the one thing that will make a company better than the other. Check out the service plans before buying and make sure there is a service center or reliable contact information available if you have to send your unit in for repair.

Steve Carney is a contributing writer to the Outdoors page.