Brad Laabs column: How sonar technology changed the fishing game – Detroit Lakes Tribune

DETROIT LAKES – Every year, the fishing industry introduces new or improved lines, rods, reels, electronics, and almost everything to do with fishing. We crave new and better in most things in our lives, and anglers are more than willing to spend to gain an advantage.

A few years ago, a significant advancement in electronic gaming was introduced by Garmin called “Panoptix”. It’s amazing sonar technology that sees fish in real time. It may look like a video game to the angler using it. It could be used to see down and be pointed directionally to locate fish and see where they were. Not only was it so sensitive that it picked up the movement of the fish, but you could see your lure relative to the fish and how the fish reacted and reacted to the presentation.

Ice fishermen were the first to jump on this new sonar technology and noticed a huge difference in success not only in locating fish, but also in being able to adapt to get them to take a lure or a bait. You could see them bite before you felt the blow.

It took a little while for the rest of the competitors in the fishing electronics market to catch up with Garmin on this new and improving sonar. The last two years have seen Lowrance come out with “Active Target” and Hummingbird come out with their version called “MEGA Live”.

One of the first challenges in adapting this new sonar to open water fishing was figuring out how to effectively use the transducer to find fish in a boat. Early adopters developed garage-made poles and adapters to deploy the transducer for hunting fish in open water.

Trollers place the transducer on the back of the boat, engine or trolling motor. It faces the back of the boat and we could see fish approaching and reacting to trolling presentations.

Companies have released brackets for different ways to deploy or use transducers, and the world of tournament fishing has revolutionized their use. The last two seasons, in particular, have seen the top finishers in bass and walleye tournaments have been anglers proficient in the use of this type of sonar.

You’ll hear these units referred to as “forward-looking sonar” when tournament anglers mount them on bow-mounted trolling motors. They were able to rev the motor to see all directions and locate fish. Once the fish is found, using the “spot lock” or “anchor” feature on the trolling motor allows the angler to cast towards the fish and show their real-time reaction to the bait.

Some anglers still like to use the stick with a handle to deploy the transducer and turn it by hand until they locate the fish.

This is not an inexpensive addition to add to your fishing arsenal. Sales of these units have skyrocketed over the past year. Over the next two years, I would expect the price to drop a bit, even with the rate of inflation as it is now.

These companies will compete for market share of new sales, and upgraded units will continue to be added. I would be looking for even more improvements in the next two years to utilize this innovative new sonar technology.