I’m thinking most of you have heard that many of us who fish the Bassmaster Elite Series are going to be fishing with more than one brand of electronics this year. I’ve been asked a lot of questions about why. Here’s my short answer.
The first thing that comes up is sponsorships. Obviously, if we run different brands we’ll lose our sponsorships and have to buy our electronics. Is that a big deal? Yes, it is money wise. These units are expensive. However, I think it’s worth it for me. Here’s why I say that.
Electronics sponsorships may not be all that lucrative, even for pro anglers. They often only amount to discounts so they aren’t losing much except what it costs to buy units. That’s not all that much if we catch more fish using those electronics. My 2020 season is an excellent example of that. However, I have had a long and favorable Lowrance relationship before walking away from any electronics deal this year.
If I’d have caught just one or two more fish in the first two days of all the tournaments last year, I would have probably made a couple more checks and maybe secured a spot in the 2021 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Huk. That’s the way I am looking at it.
Specifically, consider that I finished second at the 2020 AFTCO Bassmaster Elite at St. Johns River. One more fish that added 3 pounds, 3 ounces to my total would have secured the win. That’s not a lot of weight on the St. Johns River. The difference in earnings would have made up the money difference buying electronics several times over.
More electronics don’t guarantee that you’ll catch more fish. I’m betting for me that they do make it more likely. Here are a couple of situations where having different types of electronics might come into play.
On the bow, I will have a Garmin Echomap, Humminbird Helix 12 and a Lowrance HDS LIVE 12. I’m using the Garmin for the Panoptix LiveScope, the Humminbird to take advantage of the Mega 360 Imaging and the Lowrance for the maps and 2D Sonar. I know the Lowrance inside and out. I am mainly using the Humminbird for the Mega 360. The 360 is key because I want to know where any cover is around my boat as soon as I drop the trolling motor. Nothing else does that better.
Lowrance and Humminbird both have a live view coming out soon. I have an Active Target system on order with Lowrance. I have already seen it on the water, but I am going to put it side by side with the Garmin to know exactly how good it is in the real world. Humminbird won’t have their live system out until our season is around halfway over so that’s not for me this year.
On the console, I am running the Helix 12 and the LIVE 12. The Lowrance is my go-to because I know how to use them so well, and I love having the SonicHub for some tunes on the water. Lowrance also has the best waypoint management system. The Humminbird at the console is mainly for the LakeMaster topography to check against the Lowrance mapping. Some lakes will favor one, others will favor another. I’ll find out for sure over this year. Both units also have strong side imaging so I have both transducers mounted.
Now, for the brutal truth: This is not an option for everyone.
First off, it’s expensive without a return on your money. If you’re a recreational angler, even a serious one, you have to think about how much money you're spending and whether or not it could be spent on other things that would benefit you more in the long run. I’m specifically thinking about expanding your tackle inventory and spending more time on the water learning.
The other issue is that these units all have different controls. Some are easier to use than others. You have to know what you need to do to make each one do what you want it to do and show you what you need to see. If you only fish 20 or 30 days a year, that’s not going to be easy. You’ll forget things. Believe me, I spend a ton of time with mine, and I struggle with that sometimes.
That’s a basic summary of what’s happening with electronics and professional anglers. As the year goes along I’ll spend some time talking about what I’ve found out about all the different units as I work more with them. In the meantime spend some time on the water and catch some fish.