Sight Fishing is basically what you and I can see with the naked eye, be it structure such as points, humps or steep cliffs, cover such as weed lines, timber, rocks or man-made cover such as bridges, fences, jetties and last but not least, fish, especially in the spawn. When sight fishing your electronics are merely doing two basic tasks, giving you depth (so you don't knock your trolling motor) and water temperature.
This is the most common form of bass fishing, at all levels, from first timers to World Champions (as seen recently on the Vaal River). Most of us went fishing with a friend the first time, and the first thing they would have told you, is "Cast to the bank by the weeds (cover), that is where the bass are"
Now here is a strange thing when it comes to sight fishing - when I started fishing the Albert Falls Tournament, and the water level was low, you would usually find a large percentage of the fleet around Centre Trees and Tim's Trees due to the timber sticking out the water, and very often the best fish came from here. The following year, the dam would be at 100% and all of a sudden there are just a handful of boats around the few tree tips still visible. Did the fish move away from this key cover because the dam is high and only a few tips are sticking out? No, the visual attraction was lost to the anglers and therefore they moved to what they are comfortable with, often a terrible mistake.
Chart Fishing on the other hand, is when the only information you have is what is on your charts, be it contours, sediment (survey charts of before the dam wall was built), satellite (imagery of when the dam was low), sidescan mosaics such as StructureMap or our Mosaic and more recently UltraHF, drone imagery which is 20 times the resolution of satellite known as AerialHD on our charts, or the latest in technology, Elevation which is derived from the extremely high resolution data from the drone to create a type of 3D contour chart but with 50 times the detail one would get from sonar when creating a contour chart. The more information you have from your charts, the more confident you will be as an angler to stick to one spot more than another, very much like sight fishing along a bank. Think about that for a minute or two.
While fishing a shoreline, anything above the water is obviously going to offer you a 20/20 vision of the structure and cover, but what happens when the water quality deteriorates, and clues as to what lies below are lost ... you have just dropped from 20/20 to as low as 0/20 depending on the water. Now you are back to a 'hit and miss' style of fishing.
When I first started bass fishing from a boat, I remember my fishing buddy saying - "If it starts to get quiet along the bank, turn around and take a few random casts into the deep". I always remembered this because later that same day I did exactly that and hooked a pretty decent bass. Unfortunately, I had no idea what I was casting to as my 'sight fishing advantage' was lost.
This is where charts become extremely valuable while fishing the bank. You will know exactly what is approaching at all times and how far it is from you allowing you to make very accurate casts to points of interest around you as they come into range. Just recently while I was at the 13th Black Bass World Championships held here in South Africa on the Vaal River, I remember seeing a number of teams pounding the visible shoreline cover, and so often I would look down at my chart, and in relation to where a boat would be fishing, there would be some prime key structure either directly beneath them or behind them, and they never even knew it was there. What a terrible missed opportunity to come so far and at such expense not to have the best chart data available. Read any article on fishing tournaments on a foreign body of water, and they will all say the same thing - "Speak to the locals at the local bait shops to find out what's biting, and get the best charts you can get your hands on."
If you have dual units on the bow while sight fishing to the shore, you can still have up to four charts automatically feeding you information without having to touch a single button, and now with the latest Heat Overlay function you can track your thermal trend right there on your chart. This is what you have always wanted your 'fishfinder' to do, but never could, until now.