More Depthfinders – Waller Fish Hawk

1975 Waller Fish Hawk ad.

1975 Waller Fish Hawk ad.

Here are the Bass Fishing Archives we continue to bring you blasts from the past on old gear and companies that no longer exist. Today’s another example as we look back to the Waller Corporation’s depthfinders and other interesting equipment.

The first ad you see is from 1975 and features Waller’s 204 and 304 Fish Hawk series flashers. They seem to follow the design concept that all manufacturers at the time were utilizing with respect to overall appearance. They also claim to be made for the bass fishing industry – in other words, a lot stronger because bass fishermen tend to beat their equipment up a lot.

Another claim they have is they say their units can read depth, structure and fish “as fast as your boat can go.” I can see that because a bass boat in 1975 could barely hit 55 mph.  They also claim that their new “titanate transducer” can read through the hull – also at full throttle.

All these claims were totally reasonable at that time and it seems to me that Waller Corp should have had a decent share of the market.

1976 Waller 550 Depth, Temperature, Oxygen, Light and Color probe.

1976 Waller 550 Depth, Temperature, Oxygen, Light and Color probe.

What got me really intrigued, though, was the next ad – a 1976 piece I found in a spring issue of Pro Bass Magazine. The Fish Hawk 550 was much more than a depthfinder.

The 550 was a unit that could read oxygen content, light penetration and temperature. Not only could it do that, it somehow translated light penetration into lure color selection and this was ten years prior to Dr. Loren Hill inventing the Color-C-Lector. And if you want to stretch it, the 550 could tell you depth because it had a digital line counter for the probe.

If you look at any of the old bass magazines from the ’70s you’ll see Waller ads in them. I remember a couple of the boat shops in my area selling them and even remember a couple of the local bass guys having them on their boats.

It appears that Waller didn’t go out of business until 2009, though. I’m not sure what happened to their business over the years but a quick Internet search showed the company was bought in 2009 by a company named Grayden Outdoors. Now instead of manufacturing standard depthfinders they are catering to the downrigger crowd manufacturing depth and temperature sensors that attach to the downrigger ball.

If any of you readers out there know more about the company, please fill us in below in the comments section.

  • Ralph Manns

    I don’t have info about the company, but have two possible pertinent comments,

    The timing was wrong for a flasher start-up, be it a better rough-seas model or not. Vexilar will soon come out with its paper graph, a quantum leap in sonar technology. That was soon followed by the pixel-picture sonar versions that let a user glance away and still understand the bottom contour and/or see bypassed fish.

    In 1976 I was preparing for my masters tracking and diving research. I hoped the Fish Hawk 550 would prove reliable enough to substitute for some of the much more rigorous water chemical tests I was to use to check habitat conditions. The YSI oxygen was scientifically reliable, but required extensive calibration and re-calibration. If found the 550 oxygen and light readings inaccurate.

    The study results revealed that, at least in much of lower Lake Travis, pH, dissolved solids, and oxygen differences above the thermocline were minor and had little to do with bass and other fish species locations. I found I could identify thermocline depth faster with my Vexilar than with a temperature probe, although I did temperature profiles throughout the study. The Vexilar provided accurate records of bass sightings, depths, and numbers, info not available via flasher..

    • Ralph,

      You bring up some great points here. First off, O2 meters are horrible when it comes to their use outside of a laboratory. I used a number of O2 meters when I worked in a Chemistry Lab and they always had to be calibrated before use an then sometimes during use if you were running more than 20 samples. The thought of having one that didn’t need to be calibrated, like the ones sold for bass fishing, was absolutely ludicrous.

      Second is the thought that lake pH, DS and other water conditions vary a lot over a body of water is also nuts.

      Third, you’re damn right in saying the old paper graphs were te best thing to use to find a thermocline. They were so much better than today’s units.