California’s Brent Ehrler has proven he’s one of the most versatile anglers in the world. Due to the fact that he hails from the western United States and is widely known as an excellent finesse fisherman, it should be no surprise that his use of electronics is crucial to his success. Like all bass anglers, he welcomes the advances in technology and now cannot imagine fishing without them. Below, he shares some of his expertise on setting up your electronics, how he utilizes them and maximizes their effectiveness.
Setting Up Your Electronics
Today’s electronics can be as sophisticated as you want them to be and the simple task of adjusting the settings often leaves anglers scratching their heads. FLW Tour pro Brent Ehrler explains, “Really the way they come out of the box is pretty good as far as the settings go. One thing I do is turn up the chart and ping speeds and leave the other settings on automatic.” He feels that these two are most important to get the most accurate readings of what lurks beneath. When asked why he prefers a faster ping speed, he says, “With the sonar bouncing to the bottom and back, the more signals and the faster they come back increases the chance that you will see a fish that is under the boat since they are often moving.”
One setting he prefers to keep on automatic is the depth setting. “I like keeping the depth range on auto especially when I am driving on plane moving at a higher speed. The automatic setting adjusts as I am driving and I can see how quickly an area changes depths or if I come across humps,” adds Ehrler. He adds that by keeping the settings on automatic you will get a more accurate reading of depth changes.
Use Your Presets
With so many different screens available on today’s electronics, the use of split screens has become a valuable way to see different pictures of the underwater landscape. Brent Ehrler is a fan of presets. “It’s like setting the presets in your car radio and it really saves me a lot of time. I’ll always have different presets with different split screens so I can switch between them with one touch,” says the FLW Tour pro.
He will typically have one preset dedicated the split screen of Sonar/GPS, one for Down Scan/GPS and Side Imaging/Sonar. He prefers to have GPS and traditional sonar settings split with the newer Side Imaging and Down Scan technologies. The ability to compare them to the GPS map and also with sonar allows him to get a better bearing of where he is and exactly what he is seeing.
The two biggest manufacturers of electronics, Humminbird and Lowrance both produce a great product. Each has their own loyal following and both offer many of the same features. Brent Ehrler acknowledges that they both produce a good product, have great technology and a clear display; but prefers Humminbird based on the ease of use. “I love my Humminbird because it is so easy to use; it’s not at all complicated to learn. I had a fast learning curve when I switched brands and it really only took me a couple hours to feel comfortable using every one of the features” states Ehrler.
Advanced Humminbird Settings
One additional Humminbird feature that has proven itself useful to him is two advanced settings that can be enabled with one touch of the button. The units have what is called Max Mode and Clear Mode. “I like to use the Max mode setting when I am fishing really deep water. The detail is unbelievable and you can see your bait fall all the way down to 40, 50, and even 60 feet deep,” mentions Ehrler. He said the increased sensitivity can become too much if there is debris in the water. The other setting is Clear Mode which still provides rich detail but does not get as much interference with objects in the water. Again, both of these settings can be enable with a few touches.
When the side scan technology first hit the market it changed the entire landscape of the fishing electronics market. The technology has allowed for pros and weekend anglers alike to see a whole new view of what is under water. After using it, Brent Ehrler could not imagine life without it. “It’s so crucial for my fishing and allows me to cover so much more water. I like to use it on the console and also up front on my trolling motor so I can see what is out away from me as I am fishing along,” adds Ehrler. He recalls several instances of where it has shown him structure he would have otherwise never seen.
Like Side Scan, Down Scan has found a permanent place among bass anglers. “The detail is so good on these units; I can see a brush pile and actually see the fish inside of them. At this year’s Forrest Wood Cup, I was able to see brush piles and tell how old they were based on whether I saw just branches or branches that still had some leaves on them,” says Ehrler. At the particular tournament on Lake Lanier, Georgia, he found that the fish preferred the fresher and newer brush piles. By using down scan he was able eliminate numerous areas and focus solely on the more recent additions.
If you follow professional bass fishing, you are probably aware of the fact that many pros will have multiple units on the bow and console. The array of units may look like overkill to the casual angler, but for professional anglers it comes down to convenience. “With so many different options and features, it makes sense for me to have them all featured without having to switch screens. If you just have one unit, you can still switch back and forth between the different screens by using your preset buttons,” mentions Ehrler.
The Future is 360
The Humminbird 360 technology won an award at the recent ICAST show for Best New Electronics. Brent has not had the chance to use it, but is as excited to see it as the voters were at the show. “At Lanier, another guy was out doing some testing with it and I could not believe what he showed me. You were able to see bluegill beds in over ten feet of water and actually make out the bluegill on the bed,” adds Ehrler. He has been thinking of numerous ways this will be useful and one of the best things in his opinion is the ability to locate deeper bedding bass.
GPS has proven to be very useful for anglers looking to return to their best fishing spots. Along with the mapping technology, it has made it much easier for fishermen to find the right spots to fish. It has also nearly replaced some common items that bass anglers have relied on for years; paper maps and marker buoys. Although marker buoys are still used, Brent Ehrler has stopped using them entirely. “One thing I really like about my Humminbird is the ability to setup casting rings around my waypoints. I will go directly over the piece of structure and then mark my waypoint and set casting rings to 50ft,” adds the California pro. When returning to the area, he is able to pinpoint his casts to the exact spot he wants based on these rings that show up on his graph, eliminating the need to use marker buoys which could potentially give away his best areas.
Like everything else in the world, marine technology has made life simpler and allowed us to do things never imaginable. Brent Ehrler and those who are serious about catching more bass have found a way to use new technology to their advantage while bass fishing.