Fish Finder Electronics Pioneer Dies at 80

The fishing world mourns the loss of the inventor of the sonar “fish finder” that so many recreational anglers use today.

Darrell J. Lowrance, who founded and led Lowrance Electronics from 1964 to 2006, armed anglers with more information than they’d ever had before. The company credits Lowrance with inventing the Fish-Lo-K-Tor, better known as the “Little Green Box,” and also developing the first graph recorder and hte first integrated sonar/GPS unit.

According to, Lowrance came up with the idea for fish finders while working as pilot. As he flew over Oklahoma’s Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees in the 1950s, he could see schools of fish through the clear water. He wondered if sonar— developed to find submarines— could be used to locate school of fish, too.

“He developed the famous “little green box” with the help of his father, Carl, and his brother, Arlen, to help fishermen and boaters monitor water depth and find fish. The product was introduced in 1959 and it revolutionized fishing,” Bassmaster reports.

Lowrance was also influential in the fishing community, serving on the Board of Directors for the American Fishing Tackle Manufacturers Association, now known as the American Sport Fishing Association. He was inducted into the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame in 2013.

The Lowrance Electronics Facebook page reports that Darrell J. Lowrance died of a stroke Saturday morning, March 16. He was 80 years old.

A moment of silence was planned to honor him during the Knoxville Bassmaster Classic, and many competitors wore blue ribbons in his memory during the final weigh-in.

In a statement, the company writes, “We mourn this loss and we offer our sincere condolences to Darrell’s wife, Kathleen, and to his family.”

-Meg Walburn Viviano