WHEN YOUR’E FISHING OFFSHORE, what’s the best fish-finding instrument aboard your boat?
You might immediately think of your fishfinder, but if you carefully contemplate the question, you might realize that your own eyes probably find more fish than the screen at your helm.
When you’re fishing offshore, being able to spot rips, flotsam, shrimpers, working birds, and feeding frenzies are all things that can turn a slow day into rod-bending havoc. But in all of these cases you need to be able to see these things from afar, often in distances measured by miles.
In this case, the naked eye needs some assistance. The best way to get that assistance is with a good marine binocular.
A standard marine binocular generally offers 7X magnification and a field of view of either 30 or 50 degrees. A less powerful binoc isn’t as helpful, but more magnification is problematic because the motion of your boat makes it impossible to focus on anything.
An internal compass in your binocular can be very helpful for getting a bearing to call out to the helmsman when you spot something of interest, and obviously, you’ll want to choose a model that’s waterproof.
Good quality binoculars have coated lenses to prevent reflections in the marine environment where we’re constantly fighting glare. Also, they are filled with an inert gas (commonly nitrogen or argon) to make them fog proof. Look for rubberized armor on your binocular so it’s protected from those inevitable drops to a fiberglass deck.
A big step up is image stabilization. Image stabilization mitigates any rocking and rolling, which makes much more powerful magnification practical. In fact, with a gyroscopically stabilized binocular you can get a usable image with as much as 14X or even 18X magnification even when the boat is in rough water.
The bottom-line difference?
With a regular marine binocular you may be able to ID a handful of birds diving from a couple of miles away. However, with one of these more potent units you might spot them from seven or eight miles out. That can make the difference between a day of boredom, and a day of rod-bending havoc offshore.
Lenny Rudow shows you how to choose marine binoculars, an incredibly important tool to have on your boat. He covers important features like waterproofing and inner gas, such as argon or nitrogen, to avoid fogging. He helps you understand magnification and lens diameter numbers, and you’ll get an idea of what you’ll see when you look through the binoculars. He also covers the benefits of gyroscopic stabilization, and you can see how this technology makes a big difference. Lenny also tells you some other considerations that you might want to research, such as lens coatings and pupil diameter, when you’re making your final choice
—story by LENNY RUDOW