Old Book Reviews: Fish Locators; Babe Winkelman

The cover; The Comprehensive Guide to Fish Locators

The cover; The Comprehensive Guide to Fish Locators

We’ve mentioned a few different books on this site before that dealt with electronics. This one is another, and falls under the heading of that ‘ONE’ book that helped me understand my electronics better. The full title was, “The Comprehensive Guide to Fish Locators” written by Babe Winkelman. Being from the Midwest, a lot of what we learned about bass fishing back in the early days came from those multi-species experts that seemed to be prevalent with the area, as opposed to the more ‘bass only’ culture that was developing south of the Mason-Dixon line . The book was published in 1985, contains 80 pages, and I’d swear came in a package that also included a cassette tape or two, though I can’t for the life of me verify that. I can tell you it was purchased from the sporting goods section of my local Sears store though.

Understanding sonar basics from the book.

Understanding sonar basics from the book.

After a brief introduction, the book takes about a dozen pages to explain the basics of sonar, including how the units work, resolution, frequency, and cone angles. After that, it has another dozen plus pages with diagrams showing how to interpret signals from a flasher. Where the book really starts getting into the ‘meat and potatoes’ of interpretation is the following section on graphs. Paper graphs were still “THE deal” for any serious structure fishermen of the time, and units like the Lowrance X-16 or the Eagle Mach I or II paper graphs were what all the local pros were running. The great part about this book is that those nearly 3 dozen pages of graph interpretation were actual pictures from Babe’s paper graph rolls with explanations for everything you were looking at. Arguably one of the best features about those old paper graphs was that you could save your old paper rolls and archive them, taking hours to slowly go through them and mark/highlight the burned paper rolls for future reference. Admit it – you did it, too.

Multi-species educators from the Midwest fished for everything, including largemouth bass.

Multi-species educators from the Midwest fished for everything, including largemouth bass.

The remaining pages talk about proper transducer installation, battery maintenance, and some other electronics of the time such as pH monitors, Loran C units and the Color-C-Lector. There’s even a short test at the end of the booklet to see how much info you retained rom reading.

I honestly have no idea how common this book is, or if you can even find one today, because I simply haven’t tried looking. I can say that I’ve never accidently run across a mention or picture of it before on the Internet, and that’s saying a lot given the amount of time I spend burning up bandwidth – LOL.. If you do come across one of these books, you might seriously consider picking it up, especially if you were one of those paper graph addicts like the rest of us. There are lots of good memories scrolling through the diagrams of that section.

Flasher Interpretation

Flasher Interpretation

Actual on-the-water paper graph recordings used for interpretation.

Actual on-the-water paper graph recordings used for interpretation.

  • Ralph Manns

    Two different items of interest, here. My first non-flasher was a Vexilar chart recorder. the step up from a flasher was eye-opening. My first NEWlesson was that there are a whole bunch of fish, some bass, out there that won’t bite. this was the first solid evidence that bass and other species actually had long innactive periods.

    the second point: Early sonar instructors usually, almost all, failed to point out the role of boat motion in sonar /flasher imagery. The illustration on your page shows a tree and associated flashes in one image. But, in the real sonar world, such an image is developed only if the boat moves slowly over the object. Its the changes that show. A stationary boat is more likely to paint the same thing over and over again, which makes the tree look a lot more like a change in bottom depth than a distinct piece of cover on the bottom. The speed of the boat can show a gradual depth change as a sudden bluff or as a very gradual shift. . I’d used flashers, the Vexilar, and early chart recorders many years before I fully understood these relationships.