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About the author

Bernie Schultz

Bernie Schultz

Bernie Schultz is an eight-time Bassmaster Classic qualifier, illustrator, writer and antique tackle collector. Follow his career on the Bassmaster Elite Series and get advice from this longtime pro here on Pro-spective.

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.

Clearly better

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.

The Dragonfly by Raymarine.Courtesy of RaymarineThe Dragonfly by Raymarine.

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.

Spoolin BuddyCourtesy of Spoolin BuddySpoolin Buddy

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.

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