Bass fishing equipment has made unreal advancements in my lifetime. When my uncles took me fishing in my preteen years we went in wooden jon boats, usually homemade, and paddled them around ponds and backwaters of Clarks Hill. Fishing was always close to where we put in, paddling very far was too hard.
My job was to scull the boat, working the paddle quietly without taking it out of the water, while my one of my uncles fished from the front of the boat. Maneuvering around was difficult and we fished slowly. Sometimes, if I was lucky, I got to make a few casts with my trusty Mitchell 300 spinning reel while my uncle paddled.
Line was a black braid that broke all to easily, or the new-fangled monofilament line that was stiff, weak and hard to tie. Lures were wooden, hand painted creations like Jitterbugs, Hula Poppers or Lazy Ikes. Sometimes we fished a Crème “rubber” worm with a two or three hook harness and a small spinner up front. They came in two colors, black or red.
We used the paddle for a depthfinder and usually fished water where it would touch the bottom. Fish were kept on stringers, either metal chains with clips or cords with a ring at one end and a metal shaft on the other. All fish were kept to eat.
Now bass boats fly over the water at amazing speeds while electronics show depth, water temperature and exactly what is under and out to the side of the boat, like looking at a picture. Rods and reels are light and trouble free and line comes in so many choices it gets confusing.
You need only to walk into Berry’s Sporting Goods to see the vast array of shapes, color and sizes of plastic worms and huge numbers of hard baits that will run from the top down to more than 30 feet. And they come in colors that look exactly like bait.
Bass are put in live wells with pumps that keep fresh water circulating to keep the fish alive, and almost all are released. Pictures are taken with cell phones to share with hundreds of people on social media. And you can win money in tournaments.
But what is the most important advancement for actual fishing. There are discussions of this in magazines and on-line. People have varying ideas but to me, without a doubt, the most important improvement is the foot-controlled trolling motor on the front of the boat.
You can sit or stand on the front of the boat and, with practice, move the boat precisely, without even thinking about what you are doing, while casting. You can go into tight places quietly and cast to spots that would be inaccessible without the trolling motor.
What do you think the most important of all those changes over the past 60 years?