Study: Fishers Still Fear Fishing Apps

Submitted by Brett Fitzgerald on September, Sep 26, 2018



A recent survey completed by Southwick Associates found that a mere 21% of fishers use any kind of fishing app yet 85% of anglers own a smart phone.

While skimming through the article, which came my way via the daily Fishing Wire – my personal favorite companion to my morning coffee unless I am zooming to a pre-dawn fishing hole – I realized that the reasons people gave for not using a fishing app were fairly obvious, but not necessarily intuitive. What I mean by that is, each point on the list of reasons why people choose not to use fishing apps made me literally think, ‘well, duh’. At the same time, I don’t know that I have heard myself or anyone else say them out loud even though we build fishing apps at Angler Action!

Sometimes, saying a thought out loud is what is needed to move it from a nebulous intuition – a half-concept that doesn’t require words nor imprint a specific memory – to an obvious idea is anchoring it to the sights or sounds of language.

Said another way, an idea is often useless or temporary until it at least becomes a communicable thought.

Back to the point. The top five (paraphrased) reasons provided by anglers for not using a fishing app included: Don’t see the need (56%); want to leave technology behind (46%); want to keep hands free on the water (20%); didn’t know one existed (19%); and fear of damaging/losing phone (14%).

This is very interesting to me, because like I said, we build fishing apps. And we talk about them, a lot, to any fishing-type person who will listen. Fishing clubs, trade shows, conference calls, tackle shops, etc. And the number one reason we hear people say they don’t want to use an app didn’t make this list!

I’ll tell you what that reason is later. Don’t bother wondering what it is because when you see it later you’ll say “well, duh” and think it was obvious.

For now, let’s look at each of these top-5 reasons and see if any of them are robust enough to keep us from giving in to marrying fishing and technology.

Let’s start with the most common response, which was that anglers didn’t feel they needed any help from an app. This one baffles me, frankly. I am 50 years old, and I check the surf and weather projections every single day! It might not help me learn something new each time I peek, but it certainly helps me plan what days I might need to call out sick.

We’ve written dozens of articles explaining the power of maintaining a personal fishing logbook through our free app iAngler (and/or the parent web based platform www.angleraction.com). Tracking your personal data over time can be an immense help when it comes to catching more fish. It becomes easy to see what has the most impact on your success in a given spot when you can enter them into an electronic log. (PS – subscribe to our free newsletter and you can continue to learn more about that aspect.)

But when it comes to fishing, there are many sides to the word “need.” Frankly, the fish need more and better data even more than us fishers do, so they can be best managed. The habitats need more and better data, so managers can understand what and where to protect. Without a system like Angler Action, which was designed for the purpose of collecting data to help fish and fisheries, improvements are going to be hard to come by. So yeah, you, the fish and their habitats would benefit from you using the fishing app iAngler. Now you know. You need it, and the fish need you to do it.

Next on the list: wanting to leave technology at home. OK – this one I get. Fishing is an experience. It’s truly a lifestyle, and I mean that. More so than the latest diet fad or wonky exercise routine, fishing is something that has a “way” about it that should be sacred. Some of us have grown accustomed to whipping out our phones on the water for two or 3 seconds to log a fish, others don’t and won’t. Know what? That’s OK! You can log during the boat ride home, or at home, and you don’t even have to use the iAngler app. The website www.angleraction.org uses the same username/password as the app, and you can enter everything there. Some folks enter the basics on the app, then log in at home to fill out the details. Some just use the website, or log on the app but parse through their data on the website. Whatever floats your boat. Point is, you don’t need to sully the fishing experience by using the app if you don’t want to. The value of your data in helping the fish and fisheries (see point #1 above) should encourage you to suck it up and give it a shot either in iAngler or on the website – sometimes just taking that first step and logging one trip is all you need to overcome the initial fear, apathy or disgust you thought you should feel for fishing apps.

20% of the survey responders said they don’t use an app because they want to keep their hands free. Cool. I love it when my previous answer applies perfectly to another problem! Use the website after you get home! Or you can do what many iAngler users do now. They open their fishing trip in the app so they can record their locations and fish real-time. Then when they get a fish, they get it ready for a quick photo and snap the pic through the app and they can put the phone back down. Once the fish is released or placed in the cooler, the angler saves the info and is ready for the next one. If you are already taking selfies with your fish, you’re spending as much time with your hand on your phone as you need for a quick iAngler log.

That almost 1/5 of you said you didn’t know that any fishing apps existed is pretty surprising. I thought by now everyone knew there truly is an app for everything. Actually, there is an app for each of the 50 different shades of everything, and then some. Then again, assuming one exists doesn’t mean you’ll be able to find it without some direction. For example, just because you know there are thousands of words in a dictionary doesn’t mean you can find the word that means ‘animals that eat only dead things’, unless you have a smart phone with an app that helps you look such things up, that is. Otherwise you have to first have at least a half-baked thought about the concept, then linger on it long enough to be able to ask yourself a question about it. If you never develop that thought into language that at least makes sense to you, you won’t know what to look for. (The obvious word, by the way, is scavenger.) Same with fishing apps I suppose.

We at Angler Action need to do better with this one, and let more people know about iAngler and its many benefits. You can help us with that – after you download it yourself please tell a friend. Please and thank you, from us and the fish.

Finally – fear of damaging or losing your phone. See items #2 and #3 above. Also, see the word nomophobia, and realize that next time you are at the bait shop or West Marine, 14% of the people around you suffer from it. Fear of losing your phone, for what it is worth, is slightly different than having “phone separation anxiety,” which both of my kids seem to suffer from. They ironically do not have nomophobia, which breeds a carelessness in them that leads to the latter.

So there you have it. I think we’ve all learned something here, and should feel better about ourselves. You hopefully have learned that your reasons for not downloading iAngler or logging in Angler Action are not all that worthy of keeping yourself deprived of a better relationship with your geeky fishing side. We learned that maybe, just maybe, we’ve focused too hard on why we think you should log in iAngler instead of trying to understand the value in your reasons for not logging. The difference is subtle, but legit, and the informal tone of this piece shouldn’t take away from that fact that the Southwick information is actually very powerful and useful to us.

The hard truth is that we recreational fishers live in a time when our lifestyle is in peril for increasing reasons. Many of them, fishing data collected in an organized way can help immensely. Coastal habitat loss is nothing new, nor is worsening water quality. Increased populations, more fishing pressure, competition for resources, higher prices for fishing tools – the daily barrage of bad news is enough to turn us all into hermits, drunks, or criminals. Or all three.

Logging with Angler Action might be better than therapy because it not only helps you, it helps other anglers as well as the fish and habitats. It’s time to hop the fence and join the minority of our culture and embrace some kind of smartphone technology. It’s easy, rewarding, and best of all totally free.

If you were so engrossed in the topic that you forgot that I said I would get back to what our most common excuse heard for not logging is, you are in luck. I wrote a note to myself so I wouldn’t also forget. So here’s a made-up quote meant to represent the most common response we hear: “No way, next thing you know fifty people will be fishing on my top secret spot.” Based on the Southwick stucy, you’ll be only slightly interested to know (less than 14% apparently) that that problem doesn’t exist with iAngler – data is password protected and not shared with any other individuals. Only fishery and habitat managers, or other researchers with a valid ‘need to know’ will ever gaze upon our raw data.

Please do the fish, the habitats, and yourself a favor. Download iAngler today and start logging your fishing data.