Electronics are Essential for Catfishing


Of all of the equipment that can make you a better and more efficient catfish angler, there is no bigger game changer than electronics. Before we go any further, though, I must tell you that the best electronics on earth won’t help you catch more fish if you don’t have the basic knowledge of the fish you are trying to catch.


As a catfish angler, many levels of electronics will fit into the way you fish. There are also many factors that play into what you need. Basically, with today’s electronics, you can go as far as your pocketbook and enthusiasm will allow.


Over the past years, as I traveled the Midwest speaking to catfish anglers, it seems that every year I had to update my slides. To say, “Thanks to the technology we now have, this or that amazing new feature is now available to us. Here is how it works and how it will help you catch more catfish.”


Basic electronics for catfishing


If you are new to catfishing and on a budget, a good place to start is at the beginning. Basic electronics with 2D sonar will get the job done. They’ll tell you where the drop-offs and holes are. Using basic 2D does not tell you some of the information that the more advanced electronics does. But, they tell you enough to get started. And, they force you to learn to read water—especially when you are fishing rivers.


Basic 2D technology, these days, is much better than just a few years ago. It allows you to identify some structure and mark fish. If you can learn the basics of reading water and paying attention to your surroundings, it can assist you in catching a lot of fish. You’ll also become a much more well-rounded angler.

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AutoChart Live mapping capabilities quickly reveal the depths below, painting the structural layout. Spend a few minutes driving around the area as your unit records all the information, converting it into a colorful map on your screen which can be saved for future use.

Most units, these days, provide GPS. The Global Positioning System was a game changer in its day and can make your life so much easier by allowing you to get a coordinate on a good catfish spot. With that coordinate, you can come back to that spot again and again. It saves the time and hassle of lining up on a tree or rock and hoping you are in the right spot.


Advanced electronics for catfishing


There is no bigger change in catfishing than in the world of electronics. Humminbird, in particular, has introduced many game changers for catfish anglers over the past decade.


The first advancement that changed the game was side imaging. Introduced back in 2007, side imaging gave catfish anglers the ability to see to the sides of the boat, identify structure and see how it is situated in a hole. Knowing this information, you can then fish it more effectively. You could also mark fish on more of a pinpoint level.


The next introduction that blew the doors off catfishing in rivers and small bodies of water was AutoChart Live. That provided the ability to build detailed maps on previously uncharted waters. Now you can know where a hole is, how it is laid out, and, matched with side imaging, know where the fish are in that hole. Once you get your GPS coordinate on the spot, it is ironed out for future needs and fishing with ease


You can be among the first to get the latest info on where to go, what to use and how to use it!

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The last huge development is an extension of the first. In 2017, MEGA imaging was introduced to take side imaging to an entirely new level. Now, not only can you identify structure and see fish, you can also identify individual fish and go after exactly the ones you want. You can literally pick out a catfish in a school of carp and target that fish.


What do you need?


The answer to this question is, you need as much as you can afford and still utilize. Unfortunately, many people who have some of this great technology simply can’t understand it or use it to its maximum potential. Admittedly, it takes some study and practice to get the hang of it. But, boy, is it ever worth it!


At the very least, get a good color unit with built-in GPS. This will allow you to find breaklines, drop-offs and holes. You can also save the coordinates on the spots for later needs.


If you are serious about finding catfish and identifying structure, side imaging is a must. It helps make you the most effective angler you can be with your time on the water.


Mapping capabilities from AutoChart Live are a very helpful tool and an absolute must if you plan to fish in uncharted waters on a regular basis. If you live on uncharted water, this feature will change the way you fish, no matter what level you are at.


In essence, electronics have changed the catfishing game. They level the playing field for anglers of all skills, making many of us much more efficient and effective. This ever-changing world will continue to grow and evolve as we go forward, making people much better anglers.


With this tool at our disposal, it must be stated that we have the responsibility to release the trophy fish to ensure that they are there for others to catch, and to maintain the level of quality that we all enjoy today.



Captain Brad Durick is a nationally recognized catfish guide on the Red River of the North, seminar speaker, and author of the books “Cracking the Channel Catfish Code” and “Advanced Catfishing Made Easy.” In 2018, he started Adventure Catfishing from kayaks. For more information go to redrivercatfish.com.