So what’s it mean to be a “tech-savvy walleye angler”? It means you are knowledgeable and skilled with the latest and most up-to-date technology the fishing industry has made available to you. Now that may sound simple enough, but with the amount and level of technological advancements that have hit the fishing scene over the past couple years alone, it does take some serious time and effort to become “savvy” with the “tech” available to us as walleye anglers.
Is it important to become tech-savvy in order to become a better walleye angler? We certainly think so. Obviously if you are serious enough about walleye fishing to be competing in any type of tournaments, be it on the club level or opens, today’s modern technology will definitely help keep you competitive. Even if you don’t fish competitively, your time is precious and utilizing fishing technology can go a long way to help you make the most of your all-to-little time on the water.
Obviously when we talk technology and fishing, the first thing to come to mind is fishing electronics; the locator and GPS mounted on your boat. Whatever model of unit you have, the more you know about its capabilities and are able to put it to use in the best way possible for your situation, the more it’s going to help you catch fish.
The units available to us today are basically computers with many of the same features available to us on our laptops, tablets and even smart phones. But these are very highly specialized “computers” designed to allow us to see where we are on at any given time on a particular body of water and precisely what’s below the boat in that specific spot … in a nutshell.
When it comes to choosing a unit for your fishing purposes, the choices are many, ranging from Lowrance’s top-of-the-line HDS-12 Gen3 Touch, a touch-screen unit with a 12 inch high definition display, to the smaller, but still very technologically advanced, Lowrance Elite-5 HDI, a 5 inch display model that still offers a lot of features at a very affordable price. The key is to match the technology available to your style and level of fishing.
So what kind of features are available to today’s tech-savvy angler? The list honestly seems to grow every day, but let’s look at some of the key features we feel the more hard-core walleye angler should absolutely become knowledgeable of.
For those of you with walleye rigs in the 18 to 21 foot range that consider yourself serious anglers, Lowrance’s HDS Gen3 series of units are serious contenders for your attention. The list of features is too long to cover here, but we would like to discuss a couple that can be of particular interest to fellow walleye anglers.
Lowrance recently worked with MotorGuide to create the Pinpoint Gateway system to connect the MotorGuide Xi5 trolling motor to Lowrance HDS units. This connects the Xi5 to the Lowrance NMEA network in your boat and allows you to use the stored information in the HDS units (like your waypoints) to position the boat. You can use the Xi5’s “Anchor Mode” to anchor the boat on a waypoint or you can use “Heading Lock” to troll to a way point. One of the really exciting things coming down the line is the ability for the Xi5 to follow a route stored on the HDS unit. Especially on the new Gen 3 HDS units, making a route is extremely fast and easy. So if you see a contour that you want to move along, you simply press your finger on several points along the contour and tell the motor to follow it.
Another feature that we really feel is going to change how anglers look at GPS mapping is Lowrance’s Insight Genesis. This feature gives you the ability to create your own contours maps. Basically you can drive around a lake, reservoir, or river, log your sonar data, upload it to the Insight Genesis website, and have precise information generated for you that can be displayed back on your Lowrance HDS units. This data has precise contours, but you can also get bottom-hardness data and vegetation data. The bottom-hardness data is particularly interesting to walleye anglers because walleyes like to concentrate on hard to soft bottom transitions. So going back to creating a route, if you have that hardness data (which usually does not match the contour data) – you could create a route on the hard to soft transition and then have the Xi5 follow that. Unreal stuff for sure!
We have talked before about the advantages we have come to love from using our Power-Pole Shallow water Anchors and the Drift Paddle for better boat control. Lowrance Gen3 units now offer the ability to wirelessly control the Power-Pole via a simple touch-screen panel allowing anglers to engage the anchor and control it right from the console.
Of course Lowrance’s StructureScan technology has added more to an angler’s ability to see what’s below the surface than regular sonar ever could. The ability to see visually what’s below and to the sides of the boat can make finding fish and structure so much easier.
And the technology doesn’t stop there. There’s another Lowrance feature called SmartSteer user interface that allows anglers to switch between electric-steer, trolling-motor as well as outboard-motor control. The system also allows users to easily convert trails to routes to retrace a previous track and to make the perfect pass by fish or structure. You can get Wi-Fi for your Gen2 units with a Go-Free Wi-Fi module, or the new Gen3 units come with built-in Wi-Fi. This lets you use your mobile electronics to view chartplotter, sonar, StructureScan HD, engine data and more. You can even control your favorite music right from your Lowrance unit.
The big question we often get asked is “Do you really need all this technology to catch walleyes?”, and the answer is obviously no, you don’t NEED it … But you do need to be “savvy” with the technology and equipment you do use if you are going to be good at catching walleyes. Technology helps us do the job better and more efficiently. Whatever technology you use on your boat, be tech-savvy enough to use it to its best ability and it will go a long way to helping you get your Next Bite!