Is it important to become tech-savvy in order to become a better walleye angler? I 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.
The marine electronics (sonar, GPS, etc) 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 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 I 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 I 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!
And the technology doesn’t stop there. There are features that allow you to monitor your outboard, control your shallow water anchor, even have Wi-Fi available right from your boat’s console.
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 to help you get your Next Bite!