Getting A Line On Apps
Rundown of the best fishing apps on the market
Article by Jay Kumar
Choosing the best fishing apps is a point-in-time exercise simply because apps change and new ones are coming out all the time. What makes it tougher is there aren't a lot of across-the-board apps yet. Many look great but don't work well, or just aren't useful. With that disclaimer, following are some of our favorites in alphabetical order.
But first, what's an app? Anyone with a smartphone or tablet computer knows apps as little icons – some downloaded free, some a few bucks – that when clicked open a small world of functionality. No surprise there since "app" is short for "application," which means a software program.
Since it's software, there actually are two kinds of apps: ones only useable on a phone and/or tablet like an iPad, and web-based apps useable on any device including computers. Here the focus is mostly on the former, but include a couple of web apps. These are only apps that are useful no matter where in the country you fish.
Description: Web app that is one of the best fishing map services right now. Lots of great features including shaded depths and contour lines, and the ability to mark, save and download/upload waypoints.
Cost: $14.99/year, or less than $1.50/month.
Pluses: Great maps, easy to use, most contour data available in any one place, and really helps you visualize what's under the water.
Minuses: Narrow scope, so no weather or fish-catch data.
Why It's Good: Does what it does very well, and it continually evolves for no extra cost.
Description: Web app that takes thousands of bass tournament patterns (how/where/what), turns them into data, then crunches that data to provide recommendations. In other words, you benefit from the fish-finding and fish-catching of the nation's best bess anglers. Companion iPhone/Android app is in the works.
Cost: $35/year membership, less than $3/month.
Pluses: It really works, nothing else like it, cuts way down on fish-finding time, database and features constantly growing.
Minuses: Cheaper than a tank of gas, but some may find it costly. We'd love to see it as a mobile app.
Why It's Good: It's pretty incredible. One example: BassGold was 92 percent accurate in predicting 2012 Bassmaster Elite Series winning patterns and weights, earning props from bass experts like Mark Zona, Jerry McKinnis and many others.
Description: Enables you to easily find an on-water tow when you need it, plus other useful features.
Cost: Free, no BoatUS membership needed even for a tow. Tow fee depends on BoatUS membership level.
Pluses: App's GPS works even when out of cell range, boaters have been found this way! Easily carry a digital membership card for discounts at some marinas.
Minuses: Can't think of any.
Why It's Good: A simple app that works well and can literally be a lifesaver.
Download at www.BoatUS.com/Towing/app
Description: Diagrams, animation, videos of how to tie fishing knots. Honestly we're not huge fans of knot apps because once you learn how to tie a few of the strongest knots (e.g., Palomar), why do you need an app with tons of knots? That said, lots of people find these apps enjoyable. Two of the best are Fishing Knots for Android (by Perished-Apps), and Knot Wars.
Pluses: Tons of fishing knots at your fingertips.
Minuses: A few knots, including knots for certain line or hook types, are left out, though this could be fixed with updates. Also, there's no substitute for having someone show you in the real, 3D world how to tie a knot.
Why It's Good: These apps can help if you're still using on the improved clinch, or if you don't want to surf Google results for a particular knot.
My Fishing Advisor
Description: A popular app that gives fishing advice for all species based on current conditions and certain parameters you enter.
Pluses: Multi-species (can be a minus for some), gives you a starting point, at times has very on-point advice.
Minuses: Sometimes can be too generic or offbase, and is based on fish behavior generalities rather than actual catch information.
Why It's Good: It's helped a lot of people find and catch different species of fish, and for multi-species anglers it has a lot of info.
Description: Chartplotter from the leader in electronic navigation charts, Navionics, plus lots of useful features.
Cost: $9.99 for the U.S. only, $14.99 for the U.S. and Canada.
Pros: Great maps, great features (too many to mention), you can download a map so you can navigate without cell service.
Cons: Track-up orientation missing. You may miss other functions from a "real" a GPS/chartplotter unit.
Why It's Good: Amazing maps that used to cost hundreds of dollars now on your phone, can work without a cell signal, cool features.
Orvis Fly Fishing
Description: Highly regarded as the best fly fishing app, feature-rich: fly guide, videos, podcasts, fishing reports.
Cost: $9.99, but you get a $10.00 Orvis gift card with purchase and registration.
Pluses: Covers the bases from beginner to expert, something for everyone, and well done.
Minuses: Can't think of any.
Why It's Good: Well-organized, easy to navigate, nothing else as good in fly fishing.