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Who’s the Fish Finder?

Is it the captain or the electronics?

My whole life I have believed that the skill of the craftsman was more important than the fanciness of the tools.
    I reached this conclusion in college when many of my classmates bought $100 slide rules. I got better grades with my $20 model.
    In my field of passion, fishing, my belief was reinforced by the most successful fisherman I have ever been out with. Geoff’s boat was a wreck, and he never got around to mounting his fish finder (probably the cheapest model ever sold). When it was time to find fish, he would wrap the ends of the power wires around the battery terminals, and one of us would lean over the stern to hold the transducer under the water. Crude, but Geoff always found the fish.
    The fish finder on my boat is a low-end 15-year-old model. Like every other fisherman on the Bay, I want to catch more fish.
    In need of advice, I call Frank Tuma, a charter captain running out of the Magothy River since 1995. His 30-foot C-Hawk, Downtime, always finds the fish.
    “You don’t blame the tools for a poor carpentry job,” Tuma tells me. “The fish finder is the guy behind the wheel.” I’m feeling very righteous until he adds “Of course, every captain needs good electronics to help.”
    Convictions wavering, I place another call. Dennis Doyle, Bay Weekly Sporting Life columnist, responds firmly to my dilemma.
    “Even the most frugal commercial captains will equip their boats with the latest and greatest electronics,” he tells me. “They’ve made a lot of progress in electronics in the past 15 years. You should upgrade.”
    I read Doyle’s column every week; he catches a lot more fish than I do. I think a new fish finder is in my future. Now all I have to do is decide which model to get, and learn how to effectively use it. No small task.
    When the season ends this fall, I’ll let you know how I made out. Then we’ll know if it was the skill of the fisherman or the fanciness of his tools.