Before floating the Gunnison River

Before floating the Gunnison River, use your phone or computer to check the stream flows. Jeff McKenna readies the net for a fish on line with Steve Moore. 

Throughout history man has made advances. Each period of time, during its own time, has been considered the modern age. But with the passing years and centuries, what was modern becomes ancient. We consider ourselves modern now, but others to follow will consider us ancient.

Throughout all of this has been the fisherman. Not much has really changed for the fisherman. In a relative sense, compared to the dramatic inventions of the industrial revolution such as the airplane or the telephone, the fisherman still fishes much the same way as before. Fishing in ancient times was mostly for subsistence and livelihood. The recreational fishing of today is a relatively new aspect of fishing. But that is not to say there have not been advances.

Witness such new materials for rods such as fiberglass and graphite. Fishing lines are now made of synthetics of different sorts. We have clothes and boots made of materials designed to withstand the weather. Waders allow us to get in the water without getting wet. Lures and flies are constructed of some man-made material. The list goes on.

But within the last decades, a very different invention is affecting the fisherman. This invention is a piece of equipment. But it is not equipment in the conventional sense of a rod or a reel. This invention is used to help catch fish. But it is not used directly in the catching of fish. Actually, it may be used very far from the water.

Have you guessed a computer?

While certainly not a piece of equipment that is necessary to the catching of fish, computers are nonetheless a piece of equipment indirectly important to the fisherman. Computers affect us in two very different ways. One such way is in the design and manufacture of fishing equipment. Another way is providing information to enhance our fishing experience.

Think about the first one for a minute. It may seem that not much about our equipment has changed in years, maybe decades. Yet even if, for example, material hasn’t changed, computers have changed and improved the products we use.

Take reels as an example. Reels have been made of metal for a long time. But many changes or advances have been greatly aided, if not actually made possible, by using a computer.

Ross Reels, a Montrose manufacturer of fly fishing reels, makes extensive use of computers in their company’s operation. Computers allow new reel ideas to be designed on the computer before manufacturing begins. This opportunity for pre-testing on the computer allows designers to create or change products without having to resort to costly testing using the plant machinery.

Not only do the product designers use computers, but at Ross Reels, even the machinery is controlled by a computer. This requires a highly skilled operator, and produces a quality, precision reel.

So while you don’t carry a computer with you on your fishing trip, computers do make for better fishing. Consider not only the products used directly in the catching of fish, such as a rod or reel, but also realize that more and more, computers are a part of other products involved in any sport or activity. Your car or truck that got you to your fishing spot may use computers. The boat you motored around may have electronics in the motor and controls that are monitored by a computer. If you checked the stream flow of a river before heading out, a computer and satellite were utilized.

And as to not carrying a computer with you out in the field? Actually it is now somewhat common due to downsizing of computer components. Your phone, GPS, range finder, fish finder, and watch all contain some variation of a computer.

So has the fishing improved since computers were invented? Well, the catching may or may have improved, but certainly the fishing has improved in the sense that the products we use, directly and indirectly, have been improved due to computers.

And what about that second aspect I mentioned earlier? What about the information a computer can provide relative to fishing? In the literal palm of your hand, with your phone, you can research, shop, photo, video, share and locate most anything fishing related. Incredible.

Except your phone still can’t catch a fish. At least not yet — maybe that’s coming! So get out there.

Joel L. Evans is an avid fisherman, outdoor writer and photographer, who has explored Western Colorado for decades.

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