“Oils ain’t Oils”
Many Aussies will remember the old Castrol GTX2 ads from the eighties. “Oils ain’t Oils” was the message, it’s still a memorable advertisement, at the time engine oils were a fairly simple product. Like fuel, you put oil in your car and didn’t think much more about it, sure you may have had a brand you considered better but this was probably more a result of good marketing than a better product. Well, that ad certainly got us thinking about oils, whether it was a better product or not is debatable.
These days modern engines require high-grade oils to keep them happy so we appreciate the importance of quality oil. It’s a brave man that puts a cheap or incorrect grade of oil in his pride and joy and there are far more options these days.
So what has this got to do with fishing?
Like everything in modern society we have constantly refined, innovated and improved products and fishing tackle products are no exception, technological advances have changed the way we fish.
Our hooks are sharper, our lines are thinner and stronger, our rods are advanced graphite composite construction, and of course, our engine oil is an advanced blend of synthetic ingredients designed to prolong the life of your engine.
Advances in technology are not always high tech though, we tend to think of technology as the high tech stuff like our digital devices, electronics, vehicles and the like.
We need to be reminded that technology is simple stuff as well. All the tools we use today were developed and almost always evolved and advanced in some way. Advances as simple as the shape of our hooks and sinkers are all forms of technological advancement.
At the other end of the technology scale, we have products like Side Imaging Sonars, GPS, Spot-Lock electric motors, braided lines, thinner and stronger than anything we could have imagined, fluorocarbon lines almost invisible underwater and extremely abrasion-resistant. There are some amazing products out there for us anglers.
It is all about refining and improving our fishing, finding the fish and presenting our baits in the most natural and effective way. All these great new products seem to just keep coming so it’s worth thinking about how and why these products evolve.
How Fishing Technology Evolves
There are a few theories about how technology evolves and these certainly apply to anglers. One theory is that a new technology or invention “determines the way we behave “.
That is, a product is designed to do something new or different, we use it in the way it was designed and we behave or fish differently.
This is true with many fishing products, with sounders and GPS devices we fish differently, we hunt, travel and plan our fishing differently. Lures (artificials) designed for a specific type of fishing style or species mean we fish them according to their design. New technologies can present us with exciting new ways to land fish when used for their intended purpose, we certainly change our fishing behaviours with new gear at hand.
On the flip side of this is the theory that ” the way we behave determines the way technologies evolve”.
That is we take existing technology and use it in a way that it was not necessarily designed for, our behaviour shapes the technology as opposed to the technology changing our behaviour.
This is where the really exciting stuff happens, where innovative techniques and new ideas bring on new developments in products.
I can’t think of many other pastimes outside of fishing where this sort of innovation occurs on this scale. There are so many variables in fishing that it demands that we are innovative, fish behaviour, weather, tides and an endless list of variables mean we constantly try new things.
Using what we have at hand we constantly evolve our techniques and use the tools at hand in new and ingenious ways.
We just have to look at the explosion of soft plastics, jig heads and rigs available today to see this innovation in action. Soft plastic and lure anglers are doing some amazing things, tapping into species that were previously never targeted with artificials.
Jewfish and Snapper, previously considered the domain of bait anglers are now common captures with artificials. Lure anglers are throwing poppers at Whiting and even chasing Flathead with surface lures on the sand flats. The way we fish is driving innovations in new products and it doesn’t look like slowing down.
Fishing Technology and Fishing Basics
With all the excitement over new products and innovative techniques, it’s easy to neglect the basics.
In any worthwhile pursuit, it’s always worth going back to basics and fishing is no different. As anglers, it’s easy to get caught up in the hype of the latest and greatest, sounders, GPS, high-end reels, spot lock electrics and all the amazing tech we have access to may mean we neglect fishing basics.
Local knowledge, species knowledge, bait choice, hook size and style, line weight, sinker weight and style, location, tides, moon phases, rigs, knots and leaders, time of day, targeting species, the list of things to consider outside of the high tech stuff goes on.
The best anglers are all over these basics and the high tech stuff is the icing on the cake. Technology gives us an advantage, but without the primary ingredients, they are not much help. A sounder can tell you that fish are there, it’s the basics that tell you what they are, what their feeding on, what tackle and baits to use and ultimately how to catch them.
Whether fishing land-based, off the beach, offshore or estuary fishing it’s the hunt that keeps us going back. Technology can give us great advantages but it is the simple things that make us great anglers. There is no substitute for experience and time spent on the water.
Fishing technology just keeps getting better and just soaking bait and waiting for a bite can seem too simple.
While oils have advanced to meet the demands of modern engines it’s worth remembering that basic principles of fishing have not changed. Fish are still just swimming around looking for a feed. If you can put a bait or lure in front of a hungry fish your in with a pretty good chance, when used correctly technology just makes it easier to do this.