Although Destin has long been known as the "World's Luckiest Fishing Village," there are a few new things in tackle and electronics that can enhance the fishing experience.
TOOLS OF THE TRADE
The next big thing to come down the pipe in the reel department is the Penn 704 and 706, according to Tim Broom of Half Hitch Tackle in Destin.
"The 706 is the big one used for cobia fishing," Broom said.
Penn used to make a 706 but stopped production on it twice. "It's been about 10 years" since it's been in production, Broom told the Log.
When the 706 first came out in the ’70s it sold for about $126; now those same reels are being sold on eBay for $250 to $350, Broom said.
However, the new Penn 706 should be at Half Hitch in about eight to nine weeks and will retail at $199.
"It's a very good reel for the money," he said, and Half Hitch will start taking orders in the next for weeks for the reel.
"You walk on our pier and all our old guys’ fish with one of those," Broom said, noting they are popular from Orange Beach to Panama City Beach.
The 706 doesn't have a bail, just a manual pickup, whereas the 704 does have a bail.
Other new reels to hit the scene will be the Stradic C14+ and the Saragosa SW both by Shimano.
"Shimano has lots of new toys," Broom said.
As for rods, "Terez has a big game trolling rod, with roller and conventional guides," Broom said.
Plus, they are bringing back the Tallus rod, with a roller guide and a turbo guide. These rods are due out in September to October, Broom said.
"Shimano is a cutting edge developer with matching rod, reel, line and lure," Broom added. "They are top of the line with finish, durability and fish-ability."
GET PLUGGED IN
When it comes to electronics on a boat, the two leaders for small and large boats is Garmin and Lowrance, according to Peter Wright of Destin's Ships Chandler.
Garmin has a 7200, 5200 and 700 series that comes in various sizes; all are touchscreen and waterproof.
And CHIRP (Compressed High-Intensity Radar Pulse), which is an option with Garmin equipment, "has added a whole new level of sensitivity to bottom fishing," Wright said.
"You can paint the bottom at 3,000-feet," Wright said. "You can see structure and the different kinds of fish. They don't really know how good it is yet. What you thought was good, it's a whole lot better."
As for Lowrance, "you can cover a 200-foot wide area," Wright said. "It's neat what you can see."
With all the electronics and fish finders on boats today, there is "no guess work," Wright said.
"You could even throw your watch overboard and you could find it."
The biggest thing happening for bay boats and skiffs is Minn Kota i-Pilot system for trolling motors, Wright said.
Trolling motors used to be hand controlled but now they can be operated with a key fob.
"It can hold you right on a spot in two-foot seas," Wright said.
However, for the angler who's looking to have fun on the boat, the Go Pro camera is it.
"It's the coolest thing that ever went on a fishing boat," Wright said. "From yachts to Jon boats they are all using them."
Wright said you can attach the camera to a gaff head and put it underwater for some incredible pictures.
"You can also drop it down to bottom spots — 200 feet — just to see what's down there," he said.
But you've got to watch out for the triggerfish.
"They like to peck at it."
The camera costs between $300 and $400, and they are remote controlled as well.
Both Ships Chandler and Half Hitch Tackle are located in the heart of Destin and have staff ready to answer any fishing questions.