When I started bass fishing in the mid-‘70s most boats had two depth finders – one on the console and one of the bow. These units were predominantly flashers made by Humminbird, Lowrance or Vexilar. About that same time paper graphs also started to take hold in the industry so by the late ‘70s you’d see boats with a paper graph and flasher on the console and then a flasher on the bow.
Nowadays serious anglers are placing two widescreen GPS/Depthfinder units on their consoles and two on the bow with some anglers even going as far as using iPads for more mapping capability. How times change.
In 1962, though, depthfinders were still a luxury item most anglers didn’t think they needed. The units back then, mostly manufactured by LEMCO (Lowrance), were all portable units and were powered by lantern batteries.
Lowrance introduced the Red Box flasher to the industry in the mid-‘50s and by 1962, the concept hadn’t really caught on. Only the serious angler, guide or writer had the units, while most others scoffed at the $139 retail price.
In order for more people to purchase and use the new-fangled gadget, someone had to convince John Q. Fisherman it was worth it. Magazines like Sports Afield, Field and Stream and books like Don Fuelsch’s Southern Anglers Guide all ran articles that showed the advantages of using a depthfinder and coupled with a topographical map how it could decrease the time to learn a lake. It’s funny to think any angler would feel this way today.
Recently while reading through a set of Southern Anglers Guides, I noticed that each issue, except for the 1961 issue, had a great piece on the use of depthfinders. Although they’re basic in concept, the one thing about science is it doesn’t change from one year to the next or from state to state. In fact, a lot of what has been taught in these old writings has long been forgotten due to the point-and-click ease of new units. In fact, when was the last time you increased the depth setting on your unit in order to see if there was a double echo to determine the hardness of the bottom? With the old units, the ones that only had a couple of depth settings and didn’t have an auto button, second and even third echos were as plain as day.
Below is the full text of the article on electronic fishing that was published in 1962 in Don Fuelsch’s Southern Anglers Guide. Again, it’s a great look back in our electronic history. If you’re interested in a more in-depth piece on electronics of days past, I highly recommend getting a copy of Buck Taylor’s book, The Complete Guide to Using Depthfinders. As the title says, it is complete but the other fact is it goes into detail how and why depthfinders work and how to interpret their signals. Although our new units leave a lot of the guesswork out of the puzzle, some inquiring minds may want to know more and this is the best resource I have ever found.