Fishfinders enter wireless world

The idea of using radio links in place of wires is nothing new. We have seen wireless remote controls for electric trolling motors, deck-mounted spotlights, helm steering systems and other equipment for years.

I should have seen it coming but I didn’t, and I was as surprised as the other writers present at Humminbird’s new product unveiling when they rolled out the new SMARTCAST RF10 portable fishfinder.

Imagine a compact, portable fishfinder that runs on eight AA batteries and uses a radio link instead of a coaxial cable to connect to its transducer. That’s right, no cable!

The self-powered SMARTCAST transducer is slightly larger than a bobber, and you simply tie it to the end of the line on a spare fishing rod and cast it to where you want to scan the bottom. When the “bobberducer” hits the water, it automatically rights itself and powers up.

In less than a second, you see what’s underneath it on the base unit’s scrolling screen picture. The screen shows you a sonar picture of everything between the transducer and the bottom, down to a maximum depth of 100 feet, as you retrieve the unit back to your rod tip.

The floating transducer generates a single sonar beam with an extra wide, 90-degree angle to cover a wider area in shallow water. It covers a circle on the bottom equal to about twice the water depth (in five feet of water it sees a 10 foot circle on the bottom). The transducer’s radio transmission range is about 100 feet, so just about any rod and reel can be used.

The RF10 base unit has a One-Touch menu system offering quick access to Fish ID, depth range, fish alarm and sensitivity settings.

A bank fisherman can make a series of casts in a fan pattern from his position and see where the water is deepest, locate drop-offs, find cover like weed beds and stumps and even see fish. An angler on a riverbank can cast upstream and spot fish magnets like brushpiles, boulders and holes as the current carries the transducer past his position. Spillway fishermen can now check out the basin at the base of a dam during low flow periods, and spot the holes where the big ones hang out.

The SMARTCAST concept will also aid fishermen in boats. How many times have you motored along the buoy line in front of a dam and wondered where the schools of fish were that always hold between these floating “keep out” signs and the dam’s big concrete face? Ever wanted to look for fish in a small cove or cut that you can’t move the boat into without spooking them? Areas like holes in weed beds and gaps in thick brush and standing timber can be checked with a quick cast.

I was only half kidding when I called the SMARTCAST transducer a bobberducer. You can rig it just like a bobber and watch as fish approach your offering, but this will use its battery power faster than just using it to scout an area with a few quick casts.

The floating transducer’s official title is “Remote Sonar Sensor,” and its internal battery should last about 400 hours. Replacements will be available at tackle dealers, outdoor retailers and Humminbird’s web site for about $20, an average cost of about five cents per hour of use.

The SMARTCAST RF10 system retails for $170, and should be available as you read this. The units are equipped with an A/B frequency switch, and sensors are available in either A or B frequency so two units can operate near each other without getting confused by each other’s signals.


For more information, contact Humminbird at 334-687-0503 or visit