DID YOU JUST BLINK? Okay, then—all the electronics on your boat have just become obsolete. At least, it certainly seems that way sometimes, doesn’t it?
New marine electronics come out at such a rapid-fire pace these days that you can buy the latest, greatest unit one spring, and when the next season rolls around it already seems sub-par. Just in case you missed any of the recent advancements, here’s the latest low-down.
• Virtually all units from the lower mid-range up, now incorporate one level of CHIRP or another. A decade ago the use of multi-frequency pings was limited to units costing big bucks, but today you’ll find it in fishfinders that cost just a few hundred dollars.
• Same goes for scanner/imagers, which use high-frequency sonar to paint an incredibly detailed picture of what lies beneath your boat. This is now found even on the least-expensive units, including those that cost just $150 to $200, usually bundled with a transducer that can pick up both scanner/imager frequencies and traditional frequencies.
• Side-finders are now also available in much less expensive packages. Everybody’s got ‘em, though each brand’s system tends to have its own list of advantages and drawbacks.
• 3-D fishfinders are now offered by most of the major players. A couple of years ago, the choices were very limited, but now you have a number of brands to choose from.
• “Live-style” scopes that offer video-like imagery are the newest rage. The marketing hype suggests that these show you the fish in “real time.” However, if you think about if for a second, that’s more or less what all fishfinders do and the lack of a history is in some ways a drawback. That said, the detail level these units provide is pretty spectacular—you can actually make out the individual fins on a fish. This means this genre of fishfinder is the first to offer the ability to distinguish between different species of fish. Range is limited and some unusual transducer rigging is required in many cases, but it’s still pretty cool stuff.
So, should you run right out and buy a new fishfinder? —yes, no, maybe.
We’ve learned two important lessons through the recent rush of technical advances. First, if you harness the latest and greatest fishfinder tech you absolutely, positively will become a more effective angler. Second, if you upgrade as rapidly as this stuff comes out you may have a tough time learning how to harness it before it’s time to upgrade again.
Awww, shucks – we guess that means you’ll just have to go fishing more often.
—story by LENNY RUDOW