Evolution of Electronic Fishing Bite Alarms
for Carp Fishing.
by Joss Gardner
Time flies when you’re having fun (at
least that’s what they tell me!) so we
anglers must be doing
Fishing tactics change at the blink of
an eye, new ideas come and go, but new
technology…well that changes
forever. As soon as new angling
tools and equipment
that’s it, anglers don’t need
We grab the advantage with both hands
and don’t look back. Fresh innovations
follow; a new
design here, an improved
and before you know
it a decade has gone by and you look
at the pile of old tackle gathering dust
in the corner of your fishing room and
wonder where the time went
! I know I
When it comes to bite alarms, this evolution
in technology has been phenomenal.
computing power in
some buzzers today than were in the first
space rockets to land on the moon,
isn’t much the modern day
In the late 50’s, early 60’s, it became apparent to the early pioneers of carp angling, that an audible
indication was needed to compliment their bobbins, which in those days was usually made of
dough! One of the first audible detectors was the legendary ‘Heron’ indicator which consisted of a plastic
body with ‘ears’ and a bent piece of wire which the reel line was hooked around. When the line was
pulled forward by a fish, the wire moved and completed a basic circuit which created a sound through
the extension box that can only be described as a ‘quack’, like a duck makes.
This system was not very efficient as wind movement caused a lot of false indication or sometimes it never
registered as the wire was prone to sticking. The extension box only had 1 LED and of course had long
leads and suffered from water ingress, but it was all that was available and better than nothing.
Optonic alarm heads soon followed and although still operated via a sounder box and leads, the system
proved to be far more efficient than its predecessors.
The roller wheel system had been introduced to the heads and was considered a revolution in bite detection.
When line was pulled forwards or backwards over the wheel a vane, something like the sails
on a windmill, would break a light beam and register a ‘beep’. The faster the line moved over the wheel,
the faster the ‘beeps’ would go. When used in conjunction with a monkey climber or bobbin, these heads
would also register ‘drop back’ bites.
The problem was they were a fixed volume and tone and not very loud, making it difficult to hear a take
if it was slightly windy, but again a vast improvement on anything else that was available at that time.
Optonic compact heads soon followed which contained all the electronics inside the head, but still
maintained the same size alarm body, proving how fast electronics were moving with smaller components
fitting into the bodies. These alarms worked as an independent head with 1 red LED but again were a
fixed tone. A sounder box could also be used on long leads to put in the bivvy at night to give
the angler a chance of hearing a run on windy nights. Many an angler has run out of his bivvy in the
pitch black and tripped over the leads, which always seemed to be in the way no matter how hard he tried
to conceal them.
As more and more anglers began fishing with 2 rods it became apparent that an alarm was needed which had
independent tone and volume controls and various colour LED’s. The ‘Compact XL’ was born and had
a choice of red, yellow or green LED’s. This helped the angler determine which rod had a ‘bleep’ on, i.e.
red or green light which latched on for 20 seconds. This was particularly useful at night if the angler had
nodded off to sleep. Again these alarms could be used in conjunction with a sounder box which by now had
a volume control, allowing the angler to set the volume to his preferred level.
Various conversions to existing alarms followed and other companies provided their own versions of alarms, all
improving as they went along. As technology improved so did the alarms, providing the angler with a much
wider choice to suit his particular needs.
Roller buzzers of various designs have stood the test of time, and normally incorporate a wheel with magnets
embedded in it. This wheel rotates with the line moving thus tripping a magnetic reed switch and causing a bleep.
Gardner’s super rugged TLB Compact Buzzers/Alarms are the epitome of this design, and are handmade
in the UK (no factory assembly line). This ensures each and every one is
Gardner Video - In the following video you get to see the TLB Alarms in action, UNDERWATER.
constructed with great care and attention
so these simple, high quality buzzers give
many years (decades even)
of unfaltering service and with Gardner’s unparalleled after sales support for customers, even in the rare
event of a problem, you know you’re going to be covered. Like other popular roller buzzers they simply have
an on/off switch and if the sound needs to be muted then the speaker hole can easily be taped over to make
it quieter. Simple, but hugely effective, the TLB Compact is probably the most reliable buzzer you can
buy – they usually even work after falling in the water, something that most other alarms are unlikely to do!
Wireless remote systems were the next obvious progression for buzzers, and companies such as Delkim
and Fox were quick to respond.
Delkim produced a transmitter module that fitted to their standard alarm, converting the alarm into a
transmitting head, and of course the angler had to purchase one module for each head plus the receiver.
This was a dedicated system so the modules only worked with Delkim heads. In addition to this, Delkim
also produced a fully transmitting head with more functions and a receiver that had 6 LED’s and
volume and vibrate facility built in.
The method used for activating the alarm had moved away from the widely used but ultra reliable roller wheel.
Delkim’s preferred system was the use of a vibrating sensor. As the line moves over the sensor a take is
registered, and again as the line moves faster the alarm mimics the speed of the take, producing a warble
type sound, as opposed to the more conventional bleep.
This appeals to some anglers because of the sensitivity offered when fishing locked up when the angler is
unable to let any line off of the reel in order to stop the fish from running into snags. But on the other hand,
many people still prefer the trusty roller wheel sensor because they can better tell what is happening, whether
the bite is a fast run, or slow twitchy bite. Fox on the other hand, introduced a transmitting system to their
range of alarms. The transmitter is quite bulky and still has wires from the transmitter to the alarm heads.
Although the wires are quite short and the system still fits on a rod pod or buzzer bars, it restricts an angler
from separating his rods should he wish to fish them spaced a few feet apart.
At the forefront of modern day alarm technology proudly sits Advanced Technology Tackle (ATT), having
produced the first fully Remote System, the ATTx, which works with virtually any make of alarm that has a
Gardner Video - In the following video you get to see an interview with Darren Henwood, the manufacturer of the ATT bite alarms and the ATTx Bite Alarm Receiver, on how they work.
now introduced an improved version of
the ATTx system, the V2. The Transmitter,
which is barely the size of a thumb, contains state of the art components and the circuitry is all encapsulated in
a fully water proof moulding. Just plug it into the alarm jack socket and after an easy programming procedure
the system is ready to go. The receiver, which is light and compact (it fits in the palm of your hand), also boasts
a host of features such as 30 second latch, extended range, last activation recall, 10 selectable tones, volume,
low battery warning and can accept up to 5 alarms so you could easily combine a TLB with a Delkim with an
ATTs alarm with a Neville alarm, etc and they will all happily work alongside each other, in harmony! The
ATTx was also the first remote receiver to include a vibrate function, which was revolutionary for the deaf and
hard of hearing.
The ATTx system was primarily designed for anglers who want to keep their existing alarm heads and have
the benefit of a fully remote wireless system. This is probably one of the most cost effective systems available
today. Even if an angler changes his alarms he can still keep the remote system to use with his new alarms.
Also available as optional extras are a Car Pager, Sonic motion detectors and Mini Receiver. These extras can
be fitted inside your vehicle and should anyone try to break in while you are fishing, the ATT Receiver or
Mini Receiver will flash in sequence and give an audible warning. The Mini Receiver fits on your key ring
and warns you if someone is trying to break into your vehicle even when you’re not fishing – so even if you are
out of earshot of your car alarm – you can feel confident that you will receive notification if your vehicle is
Advanced Technology Tackle are poised to release their own fully remote alarm heads, the ATTs, which are
packed with the latest micro technology and are reportedly 100% waterproof and probably the smallest alarm
head on the market at this time. A dedicated silent head designed to work with the remote receiver
box, the advantage is that you will get sound where you want it and not at the water’s edge spooking the fish.
Available in a range of the most popular colour LED’s, the new ATTs heads are ultra compact and extremely
rugged. They will be available as sets with a receiver, or for customers that already own a Version 2 ATTx,
the heads will be available separately.
The ATTs will set new standards for electronic bite indicators, and future ATT products in development will
consolidate their position as the market leaders for innovation, producing great products that offer value and
It looks likely that ATT will be the ones to bring about the next revolution in bite indication. With a wealth of
knowledge and experience in electronic gadgetry and an impressive awareness of what anglers need
(and what they don’t need!), the advances that ATT have brought about so far see no signs of letting up.
Nowadays there is something for everyone. There are buzzers with enough options and settings to suit anyone’s
requirements. There are the ultra reliable TLB’s that give you the confidence to fish knowing that you will
never miss a bite, and now there is the latest technology offered by the ATTs and ATTx systems
bringing you the best of both worlds.