By Bob Jensen

I’ve been in the business of fishing for about 40 years, and have been fishing even longer.  The changes in fishing and fishing equipment over those years have been many, and a lot of those changes have effected, for the better, the way we fish and what we catch.  Following are some of the changes that I’ve experienced.

I remember when graphite fishing rods were first introduced to anglers.  The actions of the rods weren’t very good, they were a little fragile and a lot expensive.  And every angler had to have one.  The graphite rods that we fish with today are way better.  They’re strong, we can find rods with actions that are perfect for a particular technique, and when the increase in quality and inflation are considered, the price of rods are actually less than they used to be. 

Boats have changed a lot also.  When I got my first boat that was to be used for business, it was aluminum and 16 feet long.  It had a 50 horsepower tiller motor that put a lot of exhaust into the air.  It also used a lot of gas, It had a flasher depth finder in the back of the boat and an electric motor that I steered with my hand on the bow of the boat.  When I was fishing from the bow, I moved the sonar from the back to the front. When we wanted to stay in a particular location, we put an anchor out.  I couldn’t imagine a better boat for fishing then, but my powers of prediction were never very good. 

The boats we run today are so much better and so much easier to control.  When we want to fish from a particular location, we push a button on the electric motor and it keeps us there.  No more anchors to lift or get tangled in.  The 150 horsepower motor of today uses less gas than the 50’s of yesteryear, and sitting behind a steering wheel is so much more comfortable on those long runs than the 50 horse motor that I started with.  Of course, there are lots of folks, I’m one of them, that still likes to fish from a 16-foot boat with a 50 horsepower motor.  But today’s 16 with a 50 is so different, in a better way, than the 16’s with 50’s of 40 years ago.

Fishing line is superior today, and we have a lot more choices of it.  We can spool on a line that is close to perfect for any technique, and it’s also much more reliable.

There’s a much wider selection of artificial baits now than 40 years ago.  Sizes, colors, shapes:  It’s possible to tie on a bait that seems to look livelier than the live version.

And, best of all, in many situations, the fishing is better now than it was 40 years ago, for size and numbers.  Much of that is because of the improvements in the equipment that we use and the knowledge that has been shared down through the years, but it’s also due to better fisheries management.  We’ve learned that all lakes can’t be managed the same way:  One size does not fit all.  It might be a bit confusing and kind of a nuisance to have different regulations on different bodies of water, but in many cases, not all but many, those regulations give us the opportunity to catch truly big fish more often than we used to.

I admit that I’m slow to accept change, and my computer, cell phone, and sonar still do way more than I need them to do, but the changes that we’ve seen in the world of fishing in the past few decades certainly have for the most part increased our chances for success when we’re on the water.

Photo Caption—Because of changes in how we fish and what we fish with, walleyes like this one are more common than they used to be.

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Midwest Hunting & Fishing

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