As fishermen, we're constantly bombarded with new products — many of which promise to make us better anglers or catch more fish. Occasionally those claims hold true, but all too often, they don't.
I have a garage full of stuff I've wasted good money on, and I bet you do too.
Hopefully, that's about to change. In this installment of Pro Spective, I'd like to introduce you to some products I believe will truly enhance your fishing experience … and give you your money's worth.
I can't guarantee they'll make you a better angler, but they just might.
That said, here's a rundown of some new products I like.
With so many recent advances in marine electronics, it's hard to imagine there's any room for improvement. But the people at Raymarine have managed to do just that — improve what we see below the boat.
When I first saw their new Dragonfly GPS/Sonar combo unit with its exclusive CHIRP DownVision technology, I was blown away … for several reasons.
First, the unit's clarity and definition is unmatched. I was amazed at how detailed subsurface objects appear on the 5.7-inch LCD screen. It's more like high-definition television than sonar.
When I asked how the Dragonfly's CHIRP technology made things appear so clear, this is the response I got: Unlike conventional sonar units that ping individual signals, then wait for the echo of those signals to read objects, the Dragonfly sends a constant swath of signals, which together render a much greater amount of information. And it does this with very low power draw.
It's sort of like dial-up versus cable — the difference is night and day.
What's equally impressive is the Dragonfly's ease of operation. I can't recall ever having a unit this simple to use, even before we had all the high-tech stuff. With just a couple of keypad buttons and a single knob, you can control everything. And if you're like me, simple is best, especially when it comes to electronics.
Another plus is cost (about $650). Nowhere on the planet can you buy a comparable unit, for even twice that asking price!
Knowing Raymarine has been a longtime leader in saltwater electronics, I figured it was only a matter of time before they entered the freshwater market. Luckily for today's bass enthusiasts, they're here in a big way. In fact, the Dragonfly won the 2013 NMMA Innovation Award for best new marine electronics.
For more on the Dragonfly and other Raymarine products, visit their website or watch a couple of their videos. The first is a promo introducing general features and functions of the unit. The other is an underwater clip showing how accurate and detailed it displays subsurface objects. Both are well worth your time.
What's My Line?
If you go through miles of fishing line like I do, you'll like this unique product. It's called the Spoolin Buddy.
Basically, the Spoolin Buddy is a triangular shaped frame that supports up to three dowels, each of which is designed to hold multiple spools of line. And there's almost no limitation on spool size. It can handle small filler spools all the way up to 3,000-yard bulk spools.
Company owner, Butch Morris developed this unique "line caddy" years ago, constructing the original models from wood. More recently, he's found high-grade plastic to be more practical and durable. Now he offers five models, each of which can hold varying numbers of spools.
I love mine. Now I never have to worry about finding the right spool of line or wonder whether or not I have enough. With a Spoolin Buddy, I can see exactly what I have at a glance.
On one dowel I place multiple spools of the same line type (such as fluorocarbon) in graduating increments—6-pound, 8-pound, 10-pound, 12-pound-test and so on. On the next dowel I do the same, but with braid. And on the third dowel I stack graduating spools of regular mono.
Because of the Spoolin Buddy's triangular shape, it serves perfectly as a stable support bracket anytime I need to spool up. No more chasing spools of line around the boat or having to ask a friend to help. Everything is self-contained.
At over $100 for the larger sizes, the Spoolin Buddy may not be the cheapest tool on the list, but it still ranks high in practical application. You can purchase one on their website.
G-Man Brings G-Force
If you've ever had a trolling motor cord snap, then you'll like the G-Force replacement handle kit by T-H Marine. Conceived by Elite Series pro Gerald "G-Man" Swindle, this new product is considered a necessity among the pros.
Instead of the usual nylon cord, Swindle's invention utilizes rubber-coated steel cable. There's zero stretch. Plus, the handle is sturdy and comfortable to grip.
Installation takes about 20 minutes and, believe me, it's well worth the time and cost. You'll never have to replace it. And because of its non-stretchy nature, the bracket will release instantly and easily — no more repeated jerking or tugging. Simply pull and the bracket responds.
To learn more about the G-Force Replacement Handle Kit and other T-H Marine products, visit their website.
Shallow water anchoring devices have almost become standard issue on today's tournament boats. Nearly every angler on tour has at least one, and two are quite common.
The innovator of the shallow water anchoring system is JL Marine, makers of the Power-Pole. And each year they up the ante with something new and creative to enhance their product line.
One such item is their remote control key fob. Worn around your neck or from a belt, this little remote control is super handy. Designed initially for saltwater anglers who pole their skiffs (a hands-on endeavor that requires balance and concentration on a raised platform), it works equally well for bass fishermen, too.
I wear mine around my neck, simply because that's how I learned in saltwater. Anytime I see a potential shallow-water target or obstruction, I grab the remote and it's "anchors away." It's so handy it's helped me countless times in tournaments.
And for you smart phone types, JL Marine has a new app for controlling and updating the software on their newer Power-Pole systems. To learn more about these and other JL Marine products, visit their website.
Oh, and if you're in the market for a shallow water anchor, check out this YouTube video they released. If you have any doubts about the Power-Pole's durability, this video will put them to rest right quick!
Locked and Loaded
If you trailer a boat, then you need a transom-saving bracket of some kind. The question is, "Which one?"
For years, I used the old long-stem style bracket that braces the engine's lower unit against the trailer. But after having a few of them break loose on bumpy roads, I started doing some research. That's when I discovered the MotorMate.
Compact, strong and simple to install, this product is a no-brainer. Instead of relying on the trailer for support, the MotorMate secures the engine directly to its own mounting bracket. That way there's no chance of it breaking loose or getting pounded should the boat separate from the trailer (like on a bumpy road). It also prevents the engine from torqueing to one side.
Made of non-corrosive metals and heavy duty springs and bushings, this transom saver will easily outlast the manufacturer's 3-year warranty. It's basically bullet-proof. And for under $100, it's one of the best investments you can make in the care and protection of your high-dollar vessel.
There are several sizes to accommodate most major outboard brands, including most big block engines and even some earlier models. To find the right fit for your boat, go to their website.
Pound Them Out
Rapala has added a new digital scale to its line of angling accessories. This time it's the Compact Touch Screen 50lb. Scale.
What's different besides the smaller size is the way it calculates weight. It can display weight in pounds and ounces, decimal pounds or kilograms. And it does it accurately.
Once the weight of an individual fish is recorded, that information is then stored in a "bin." As you weigh more fish, the scale creates additional storage bins, which make referencing and culling much simpler. When you're not weighing fish, the digital display shows the cumulative weight of your catch in large, easy-to-read numerals.
The Compact Touch Screen Scale is also back lit for easy viewing under low light conditions. But what I like best is its diminutive size. This scale fits in a pocket or the palm of your hand, making it convenient to use.
So how does this help you catch more fish? The answer is simple. Less time weighing means more time fishing!
For additional information on this and other Rapala angling tools, visit their website.