From flashers to flat screens

To this day a lot folks think those arcs on their depthfinders are some kind of international fish symbol made up by electronic companies. But those arcs are formed by fish as they pass through the transducer cone. At the far edge of the cone the signal is weaker so the line is thin. But as the fish moves through the cone the signal gets stronger, forming a thicker, darker line that “humps” up before thinning back out.

The best part of the paper graph was when you got home, you could take your used paper out of the graph and cut out the sweet spots that featured breaks, ledges or some kind of structure on the bottom. I used to keep these paper graph records and write notes on them about what I caught on each spot and where they were located. Keep in mind, this was long before GPS, so in order to find these spots again I had to use a paper map, compass and a lot of triangulation.

The biggest problem with paper graphs was they had a lot of moving parts to them. Scrolling paper, a rotating stylus and it ate carbon paper. 

Sometime around the mid 1980s liquid crystal technology made an appearance in the fish finder world, replacing paper with an LCD or LCR screen. The first couple of generations of these units were not exactly “HD” to say the least. They had huge pixels and tiny screens – not a good combination. So for several years the dispute about which was better – flashers or LCDs – was a common topic among pros.  

That score was eventually settled with the advent of GPS technology for bass boats. Lowrance’s Global Map 2000 blew the fishing world away when it integrated positioning, mapping and sonar into one unit. Having all three in one unit allowed the LCD type displays to really distance itself from flasher units. Like flat screen TVs, generations of electronics that followed grew in size with more pixels, definition, mapping and processing power.

More recently the advent of sidescan and downscan has brought yet another quantum leap in fish-finding technologies. What these ultrasound-like images allow us to see in the water borders on surreal. It’s like seeing the surface of the moon for the first time.

And the list of advancements goes on with Wi-Fi capability, the ability to create your own maps and using satellite image overlays. This year I will be running three units, two HDS Carbon units with 12-inch screens and one with a whopping 16-inch screen – that’s 40 inches of flat screen dedicated to finding bass.

What’s even crazier is I don’t think these innovations in electronics are anywhere near slowing down. When I wirelessly “mirror” movies from my phone to my TV I have to wonder how much longer it will be before we just have one central computer secured safely in a compartment that processes all of the sonar and GPS info and “streams” it wirelessly to only screens in our consoles and bows. Can you imagine having thin, flat screens without the wires, other than power?

Hey, I don’t know, maybe it’s not even possible. But then again, when I bought my first little green box 30 years ago, I never dreamed that having 40 inches of fish finding power at my fingertips would be possible. And look where we are now.

Originally posted on Bassmaster Go to Source
Author: David Walker

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