Underwater cameras made a major splash on the freshwater recreational fishing scene in late ’90s. Enterprising anglers quickly learned their benefits, and in years since, they’ve remained a mainstay for those of us seeking the closest look possible at the underwater world without donning dive gear.
As any camera buff can tell you, peering beneath the surface offers a wealth of rewards. First off, you can quickly confirm what your sonar signals are trying to tell you. For example, are your returns revealing a monster walleye tucked tight to bottom, or is it a boulder, log, or lake sturgeon? In a similar vein, is that fishy-looking blob midway down the water column a ball of baitfish or simply a treetop? In fact, the ability to better interpret sonar readings is a major windfall in itself, since improved skills are a benefit anytime you’re on the water, whether using a camera or not.
Cameras also allow you to go the extra mile exploring bottom content, assessing cover, and scoping out the infinite twists and turns of fish-attracting transition lines, pockets in weedbeds, and other fine underwater features. Of course, the ability to see your quarry can also be a big plus when targeting the largest fish in a school, determining when to set the hook, and in simply finding out how fish are reacting to your presentational sleights of hand.
While early cameras could be challenging when it came to viewability, cable and directional management, and other issues, today’s crop of cameras is better than ever. To help you assess your options, we’ve assembled eight great choices for drawing back the curtain on the underwater world.