I started fishing in the mid-1950s – about 60 years ago. When I started standard equipment was a cane pole, length of line, split shot and hook and a can of earthworms. My uncles used knuckle busting baitcasting reels. There was no free spool on those old reels, the handle was attached directly to the spool so the handle spun backwards as you cast, hitting unwary knuckles.
Line on those reels was a form a braid, nothing like modern braid. Rods were often steel or bamboo. All broke often and were not reliable.
Boats were wooden and you paddled them. Some anglers had small gas motors that were hard to crank and would leave you out on the water way too often. To fish you skulled the boat with a paddle, stopping to fish, or had one person in the boat paddle or skull while the other fished. If you wanted to know the depth of the water you stuck your paddle down or used a sounding line. But few fished for bass deeper than a few feet deep.
I got a Mitchell 300 spinning reel in 1966 – one of the first available at a reasonable price. And it was a big improvement.
Now I fish out of a 20 foot bass boat with a 24 volt trolling motor and 225 HP gas motor that is very reliable. I have about 25 modern rod and reel outfits, including spinning and baitcasting outfits. And I use modern braid, mono and fluorocarbon line. There are hundreds of bags of plastic worms of any color and size you can imagine and I don’t want to count the number of crankbaits, topwater plugs, spinnerbaits and rattle baits I carry.
But to me the most important item is the foot controlled electric motor. With it I can maneuver the boat quietly, hold where I want to fish and have both hands free to cast, work baits and reel in, allowing me to pay more attention for bites.
What do you think is the most important fishing equipment development? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.