“Multifunction display” grows in meaning with each new generation of marine electronics. Sonar functions now include traditional down-looking 2-D scanning with and without CHIRP, high-definition side and down scanning, live forward scanning, 360-degree circular scanning and a choice of frequencies to optimize each type for either maximum detail or greatest scanning depth/distance. Most units with Ethernet connections can also show radar scans and forward-looking infrared (FLIR) live video for extra safety when eyesight isn’t enough. They can also share readings with other displays in real time. Units can network with virtually any NMEA 2000 or NMEA 0183 sensor or device and with some engines to show data like RPM, pressure and temperature readings. Many displays can also control autopilots, shallow water anchors, bow-mounted trolling motors, and your boat’s stereo system. All these capabilities compete for the limited space on our displays.
Sonar fishfinders have always helped us find fish and fish-holding structure, but helping us precisely target fish has been another story. Early on, bulb-type flashers supported vertical jigging. You dropped your lure and watched its flash move down to a flash marking a fish and then, hopefully, all you had to do was set the hook.
The problem was that not all the nearby fish were directly under our boats — not even all the fish we saw on our screens. Some were at the outside edge of the cone of sound generated by our transducers and we couldn’t tell if they were to our left or right or off our bow or transom.
A bass club member I used to know was hilariously secretive about his tournament fishing. As we watched from the headquarters dock, he would circle around the far side of a lake before returning to weigh-in to hide where he’d been fishing.
Unfortunately for our wallets, we can’t avoid some cost increases in electronics. They stem from new features appearing in each product generation that require more computer power and better screens. And the almost universal use of personal electronics with touch screens has fishermen looking for the same familiar convenience in their marine electronics. All this calls for high-tech components reliable enough for marine use and new software to tie them all together.
An electronic watch can be as smart as Einstein and still be useless to fishermen if it isn’t waterproof.
Well, Garmin’s Quatix 3 ($449.99) can be submerged to 100 meters — about 178 feet deeper than the practical limit for SCUBA divers on compressed air — so this watch should handle anything a fisherman is likely to encounter.
If you have never turned your boat or tow vehicle’s ignition key only to have it do absolutely nothing, you should be both wary and happy.
Be wary because it happens to almost everyone sooner or later, and be happy because you still have time to prepare for it.
Wires are the blood vessels of your boat’s electrical system. If they aren’t right, everything that runs on amps and volts is at risk.
We’re talking about boats here, so when we address wire we’re talking about marine-grade wire you can get from your local marine dealer or online at places like West Marine, Boaters World, Cabela’s or Bass Pro Shops.
My first real bass boat was a new 1973 Raycraft Pro built in St. Augustine, Texas, right between Lake Sam Rayburn and Toledo Bend Reservoir.
Tri-hulls designed with a larger center hull and two smaller side sponsons were cutting-edge for bass boat hulls back then, and every company had its own version.
Ask three fishermen what they like most about their radar units and you might well get three different answers.
The most-experienced user might tell you it ties with sonar as his most valuable fishing tool.
There was a time when updating your electronics meant buying new units.
We gadget-minded fishermen understood that keeping up with technological evolution meant replacing our fishfinders and navigation units every eight to 10 months.