YAKIMA, Wash. — I am always amazed at the technology that finds its way into the fishing world. Used to be all you needed to catch a fish was a fishing pole, a reel, some line, a hook and maybe a few worms dug from the garden.
Today anglers spend thousands of dollars on their equipment. Now there are $400 fishing rods, $500 fishing reels and bass lures that can run $30 or more. Not to mention all of the other electronic gizmos — downriggers, depth finders, GPS systems, et al — you can put on your boat.
The other day I was trolling for steelhead down at Drano Lake when I heard a beep-beep-beep noise. It sounded like the alarm a big truck makes when it’s backing up, but it was faster in repetition. It caught my attention for sure, and I was nowhere near the source of the noise.
The next time I heard the beeping alarm I was fairly close to another boat that was trolling by. When the noise broke the silence the four guys in the boat all jumped up and starting reeling their lures in.
Now, I have fished at Drano for over 30 years, and know where just about every snag and stump is located in the lake, so when I looked at the guys jumping around in the boat I was pretty sure they hadn’t caught a lure on something, so the alarm wasn’t being emitted from their depth finder.
The only thing it could be was some kind of an alarm that went off when a fish was on.
As I watched the guys I could tell none of them had a fish on, and they quickly went about getting their lures back in the water, downriggers set and went back to fishing.
I kept an eye on the boat and sure enough, one of the men actually had some kind of an electrical device attached to his fishing rod that alerted him when he had a bite from a fish. When it would go off, he and the rest of the guys in the boat would jump to action.
Knowing there was such a thing I went on line and did a little research on fishing bite alarms. Turns out there are several different types that attach to your fishing pole made by more than one manufacturer. One company, called Galaxy, actually makes a wireless digital bite alarm that retails for $270! Yikes, that’s more than most of my fishing rods combined.
Other, less fancy models that Galaxy makes retail for less than $35.
Another product called the Poletap SmartRod by Tackobox, is a fishing rod that has the bite alarm actually built into it. It utilizes computer technology to detect when the fish bites in the rod.
The technology works by combining a microchip with an accelerometer (is that like a flux capacitor?) that measures the sensitivity through the rod. It also features a “present tilt mode” that reads the rod angle changes. When a bite is detected the device alerts the angler with a light and sound alarm. The computer shuts the alarm off while the angler fights the fish.
The rod comes in three lengths, and when you consider the technology, seems to be fairly priced. On line it can be found for between $55 and $70.
Outdoor Hub, an online outdoor newsletter, did a product review of the SmartRod and gave the fishing rod a four out of five stars on quality, and five out of five stars for value.
I guess if I did a lot of bank fishing, and was just letting my fishing rod sit in a forked stick waiting for a bite, I might be interested in getting a fishing rod with an alarm. Otherwise part of the fun of fishing is to feel the actual bite, isn’t it?
Yes, most of the time when I am trolling for salmon or steelhead, my fishing rod is in a rod holder. And, while I think I watch my pole pretty diligently there have been a couple of times when I have been putting along and someone will holler over to me from another boat, “Hey buddy, you have a fish on!”
Then there was the time Merle Shuyler and I were fishing for spring chinook in a huge mass of boats at the Wind River. With that many boats, lines from other boats get crossed and somehow my lure got tangled with the line of a boat going the opposite direction. As soon as I noticed what was going on I started reeling my line in and yelling at the guys in the other boat.
It was a typical cold and rainy day at the Wind and the two old timers in the other boat were inside the cabin with the back curtains all zipped up. My guess is they even had a heater going. Both were facing forward, not even looking at their fishing poles.
I yelled and yelled but it was falling — literally is my guess — on deaf ears. When I got their line and lure to me, I started jerking on their line.
“Surely they will notice this,” I said to Merle. “What if it was a fish bouncing their rod?”
Nope, the two old boys just kept trolling along without a care in the world.
I jerked and jerked on the line to get their attention. But it was to no avail. Finally I just cut their lure off, and Merle and I went back to fishing. The last thing we saw were the two old boys trolling off into the distance, on line flying straight back in the stiff breeze.
Who knows when they noticed something had come and taken their lure? The beeping of a strike indicator alarm might have awakened them to their dilemma. Or maybe not.
I have plenty of technology in my boat. I just don’t think I am ready for a fish alarm. At least, not quite yet. Thinking about those two old boys, though, there may come the day.