Hook, Line & Thinker: To Forward Scan Or Not to Forward Scan?

by Steve Chaconas

By Steve Chaconas

To scan or not to scan, that’s the question on the minds of bass anglers, pros, fans, and media. No question Forward Facing Sonar (FFS) is turning pro circuits upside down as younger, barely out of their teens, anglers are taking over. Fans of reliance on FFS applaud the new kids on the block, while old school fans give it a thumbs down, longing for the day watching their heroes grind it out on a variety of fisheries. 

   The only parallel was the Alabama Rig which was banned from tournament competitions. A-Rigs were already banned in a few states, so there wasn’t much resistance to the elimination of a big fish catcher. The majority of FLW and B.A.S.S. pros didn’t want A-Rigs, making it easy for these trails to ban them. 

  But the big difference between then and now is money. Not much in A-Rigs. But with Humminbird and Lowrance joining Garmin with FFS, there’s a lot of money on the line for tournament organizers and anglers. 

   To be sure, there’s no comparison with other electronics technology, not 360, not SI, and not GPS. FFS allows real time access to fish, seeing lures get close to fish. 

   Fans find broadcasts boring and unwatchable as FFS pros stare at screens, heads down to video game their lures to fish. 

   Accusations that older pros are unable to figure out the technology aren’t true. Instead, they aren’t fully embracing or relying on it. Younger pros don’t have near the knowledge or experience to compete any other way. Tournament results prove that FFS has changed fishing with record setting weights on every body of water. Is this a sport or video game?

    Money aside, there’s resistance from co-anglers who are hauled out to deep open water with nothing to cast to, while boaters lock on, chasing a single bass around until caught. 

   There’s a large economic investment many anglers can’t or won’t make. As they compete against those who have FFS, non-scopers are at a disadvantage. Recognizing this, many clubs, including Cumberland Area Bass Anglers have made FFS illegal for the 24 tournament season, saying cost gives unfair advantage to FFS anglers.  

   Wisconsin is considering a ban on FFS, asking constituents to weigh in on the future of this technology. They contend advancements in fishing electronics are having an adverse effect on the state’s fish populations. At least 12 other states are making similar rumblings. To protect fisheries from over harvest and inevitable tournament delayed mortality, restricting FFS or a complete ban could be on the horizon. B.A.S.S. Elite Series pro John Crews says those want to restrict the use of FFS need to come up with a solution. He suggests a time limit on the use of FFS.       

   Fisherman shouldn’t be deluded into thinking that using tech to increase catching is a benign act. Solutions and decisions will be difficult as states move to protect fishing tourism, tournament directors maintain the integrity of the sport, and fans once again enjoy pro bass fishing.

Author Capt. Steve Chaconas is Potomac bass fishing guide & freelance writer. Potomac River reports: www,nationalbass.com. YouTube video channel NationalBassGuide.

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