It's no longer just how big your tranducer is, but how clever, writes Clarke Gayford.
Exactly a year ago I wrote an article on recreational marine technology, which when reviewed now makes me sound like an absolute Luddite.
Not just for boats either, we are talking jetskis, kayaks, paddle boards, pretty much anything that floats can now have something jammed on to it and powered up. I've even seen a device that casts a fish-finder from the rocks. Ridiculous.
Anyway, the nerd in me is genuinely fascinated and amazed by the gathering pace of this march of engineering. Forget complaining about how your phone or TV is out of date months after buying it, chances are your depth sounder has been discontinued by the time you've figured out how to install it, as my dad's was.
Whereas a year ago, I was talking about the strength of transducers (the bits that hang off the bum of boats telling where all the fish are), things have evolved so rapidly, that it's now not just how big your transducer is, but how clever.
In June, Garmin electronics introduced the first recreational 3D transducer, which can produce 3D images of what's underneath. Like an instant photocopier whooshing back and forth, it allows you to manipulate your boat on screen in real time to see everything underwater around you, front and back, side to side. As disclosure, Garmin have put electronics in the boat where we've been filming, but not this new tech, so at this stage it's hard to tell if this might become industry standard or is perhaps another "Google Glasses". Time, feedback and fishing success will tell.
Like the world around us, everything electrical is now starting to talk to each other and boats are no exception. In just a year, the new dive watch on my wrist now links to the boat's depth-sounder. I kid you not. I can literally stand anywhere onboard and get live readings on my wrist. The practical uses for this include jigging for kingfish, looking for reef structure, setting an anchor alarm and as a bragging tool with mates in the pub because, let's be honest, that plays a role too. As the saying goes; fishing lures are designed to catch fishermen not fish, and boat accessories are no exception.
These advancing goods aren't the domain of foreign companies either, with several Kiwi operations in the thick of it. I was proud to note the French-made boat we've been lent arrived in the country already sporting a New Zealand-designed and engineered sound system. In a classic example of adapt or die, NZ's Fusion Car Audio, who you may remember from the days of Jonah Lomu's huge custom car speakers, saw the writing on the wall as car-stereos became integrated into the dashboard of vehicles. So they took a calculated 90-degree turn to specialise in marine audio. Fusion Marine was born and is now recognised as the industry's gold standard in thumping water-proof sound systems worldwide. This includes being the first marine device to be given the hallowed keys to Apple's Airplay operating system for complete integration. And yes, my watch can also now control the stereo.
So in one gloriously nerdy configuration I can now technically play music off my phone through the stereo, which will display on the depth sounder screen that also monitors all my engine vitals, which is controllable through a Bluetooth widget, on my watch that tells me how deep it is. I know, ridiculous, and certainly not guaranteed to catch any more fish, but a lot of fun to muck around with when they aren't biting. Who can predict what the year ahead might add?
• Clarke Gayford hosts Fish of the Day, returning to Three this year.