Thursday, February 09, 2006

Fishing for Luddites

Let me start this post out with a really old joke:

A man pulls into town with a truckload of fish. The game warden sees him and asks him how he caught them.

"Come on I'll show you," he says. The guy gets in the boat with the warden and proceeds to the middle of the lake. The warden asks "how do you catch fish with no pole?"

The man opens box pulls out a stick of dynamite and lights it. The warden says "Hey that's illegal! I'm going to have to arrest you." The man hands the warden the sizzling dynamite and says you going to talk or fish?

I live in Minnesota where a lot of people, including me, like to go fishing. There's an incredible amount of technology that seems to be involved in catching a 2 pound walleyed pike. I may be a luddite, but to me it's getting out of hand.

When my brother goes fishing (that's him above), he does so in a $10,000 special purpose fishing boat outfitted with:
- (2) gasoline motors, one large and one small
- electric trolling motor with foot operated remote control
- (3!) combination depth finder/fish finder sonars (get this) networked together using some sort of ethernet LAN
- Walkie Talkie to talk to other fishermen
- Air and water temperature sensors
- Several special purpose boron-fiberglas-carbon rods
- Aluminum/titanium/plutonium spinning, bait casting, and spin casting reels
- Several hundred dollars worth of tackle
- Oxygenated live well to optimize bait viability

Although Steve doesn't have one, other people use underwater television cameras and who knows what else. Furthermore, they wear polarized oakleys, space age quickdrying fabric vests, "fishing boots" and so on.

I have a question about all this: Is there a backlash out there against all this technology for as simple an activity as trying to catch a fish? For example does anyone know if there's an association of "cane pole" fishermen and women? If I eschewed all this technology in favor fishing with a cane pole from a dock or rowboat, using a worm or minnow, how many less fish would I catch? Isn't there a diminishing return on using all this technology. I mean, it's just fishing.

Also, are there similar examples of backlash against technology in other sports? For example, tennis players who use wooden racquets? Hockey players who play on out door rinks? Please, I'd like to hear about other examples or general thoughts about this if you've got them.


Pete said...

I watched a documentary called "Okie Noodling" on PBS a few weeks ago (you might be able to catch a repeat on TPT2). It's not really a backlash, but more the opposite end of the spectrum. It's about guys in Oklahoma who catch 50-70 pound catfish with their bare hands.

One backlash I can think of involves cycling. Bikes started out with just one gear, then they graduated to 3 and 5 speeds. When I was growing up, the 10-speed was a "normal" adult bike. Now, many bikes have 21 or 24 gears. After years of adding more and more gears to bikes, there is a small backlash in the form of singlespeed and fixed gear bikes. One gear. On a fixed bike, they don't even have a freewheel, so you can't coast. If the wheel is turning, your pedals are too.

JeffO said...

As if bowhunting didn't fit your criteria enough, I knew a Bow maker in Pittsburg, KS who tried to make exact replicas of historical bows. He had English Longbows, and various Indian replicas on his wall. There is evidently a number of hunters who refuse to use the sighted compound pulleyed bows. The bow maker told me how he would measure people before making the bow, because that type of bow has to be very personalized.

Dave said...

Kitesurfing/kiteskiing. This is a huge and fast-growing sport; something like 250,000 units sold in 2003, the last year I have data for.

Kitesurfing started out simple--coupla biggish stunt kites and a pair of old water--or snow--skis. State of the art today for this "simple" sport is a quiver of 3-5 big purpose-built kites (flown one at a time); cost $1000-1800 apiece, plus a carbon fiber kiteboard ~$600; plus CF control bar ~300. (;; many others).

Except for these guys: Plans for DIY kites as good as any the big guys build (some are knock-offs without licenses paid; beware; but then again, many are custom designed by highly successful kiteboarders themselves and, yes, by professional kite designers). Simple DIY plywood boards made from scrap--which can be faster than the carbon fiber ones. Some great photography and videos. Check out "The Stoopid Thing."

Predictably, Saul Griffith and some of his gang at Squid-Labs are responsible for this site.

Rob Davis said...

Bill -- Minneapolis was recently home to the "US Pond Hockey Championships" -- a 3 day, 100+ team, 25 rink event. The whole driving reason for the event was to return to the original spirit of hockey -- the back yard pond. Read the write up in Sports Illustrated:

Chris Barrus said...

A local bowmaker here always disdainfully refers to compound/fiber/etc. bows as "bows with training wheels."

lcmaven said...

I remember listening to a piece on the radio on a golf tournament played with wooden clubs. Those guys hit the ball a very respectable distance. Unfortunately, I can't find a link to it right now; maybe somebody else can find it.

kamagurka said...

Now, this is certainly no sport, but shaving is one thing where those who know what's good escew all the modern crap. No pressurized goop and Mach3 for us shavegeeks, nossir.

Bill said...

Tell your brother to go kayak fishing! Some of us use fishfinders but no room for 3 on board. No motors, no gas tanks, no live wells (unless you count 3 gallon buckets). Most kayaks run under $1000. Check it out! NorCal Kayak Anglers