The first 2 discussions will be my pro staff reviews and the last discussion will be Doctor Sonar's suggestions for interpretation and settings.
Mark O'Neill review
Kirt Hedquist review
Doctor Sonar 3D StructureScan training
It’s that time of the year, many are getting a new boat with electronics or are outfitting an existing boat with new electronics. Here are some things to think about when looking at purchasing new electronics. Use this as a checklist to help you make a educated decision.
And a few install tips are also thrown in.
- What is your budget?
- Prices range from 100.00 up to the sky is the limit.
- Get the biggest screen you can afford. A common comment at shows is “I wish I would purchased a bigger sonar screen when I bought my boat last year”. Many dealers will throw in 3” screen and you think oh boy a sonar and GPS! After you become experienced with the boat that 3” screen will not cut it. 7” screen size minimum size IMHO.
- What kind of boat?
- Tiller or console? This can affect what units will be right for your situation and you may save some money.
- How much room or clearance do you have to mount a unit?
- If you have a walk thru windshield you may not be able to fit a 12” screen like a tiller or side console.
- What do you have currently on your boat?
- Maybe you can repurpose this to another location or 2nd unit to serve as the GPS/Map screen or a bow unit.
- The 2 networking systems are-
- Ethernet (High speed data transfer, sharing screens, maps, waypoint management)
- NMEA 2000 (Data transfer, monitoring engine data, GPS modules, trolling motor control)
- Not all sonars have these capabilities.
- Do you own a Smart Phone or Flip Phone? The old keypad sonar technologies are similar to operating a Flip Phone! Try a touch screen sonar like the Elite Ti and Gen units and you will note how fast they are to navigate around the screen and menus. You will be amazed! And yes Lowrance work cold or wet unlike a smart phone. Go find a flip phone and try and text someone you will be looking for your smartphone right away. And the prices on the touch screen units such as the Elite Ti starting at 499.00 and up.
- Do you plan on networking to another sonar now or in the future?
- If you plan on just having a single unit now and forever why spend the extra money on units that have the networking capabilities? Example Lowrance Elite Ti without networking –vs.- HDS Gen units with networking capabilities or some Humminbird Helix Gen 1 models vs. the Gen 2 models.
- If you are buying a tiller and never plan on networking to another unit get a unit like the Elite Ti, Hook or Gen 1 Helix without Ethernet and you can spend the extra money saved for a bigger screen
- If have a console boat and plan on networking to another unit on the bow or in the future get a unit such as the Helix Gen 2 series or HDS with Ethernet so you can hook to another Gen unit and share data back and forth. Why waste the money on a non-networkable unit now then only to add another unit to the bow later and lose out on the networking bonuses.
- Do some research on how the networking works.
- Is the unit mounted in such away that the built in GPS module will be obstructed from the sky and satellite’s?
- You may need an external antenna to get a signal.
- If you fish slow or like to cast a heading sensor like the Lowrance Point-1 or Humminbird AS GPS HS will greatly assist in boat control and fishing by always showing which way the front of the boat is facing.
- The internal GPS antennas are excellent but do show which way the boat is facing until you start moving forward.
- Look at incorporating the latest sonar technologies such as-
- DownScan/Down Imaging
- SideScan/Side Imaging
- Chirp Sonar
- Bowmount trolling motor control? Many types of sonar can control a trolling motor and steer the boat with an autopilot feature or route programmed into the sonar. Anchor mode/Spot Lock saves your back or your partner will thank you for not having to pull an anchor.
- Do you troll with the main motor or kicker? Add an autopilot feature that will steer your boat while you fish. It will keep your boat on a course while you are reeling in and netting fish or deploying lines.
- If you are unsure about installing a system utilize reputable installer. It will make your time on the water much more enjoyable when it all works correctly.
- Getting the transducer at the correct placement can be a trial and error task to get a good signal at high speed.
- Use a plastic transducer board to mount transducers. It’s easier to drill more holes in the board than your boat if you make a transducer location mistake.
- Make sure to add a mapping card with more details. Units come with base mapping and it’s just that 3’ to 6’ contours or just a lake outline. Cards from companies like Navionics, Lowrance and LakeMaster give 1’ contours on many lakes that will enhance your fishing experience and save your lower unit from a date with a rock.
- Don’t use wimpy sonar mounts! Bigger is better that 9” sonar mounted on a 1” ball mount will be slapping against the dash on the first big wave!
- Many of the new outboards can be connected to sonars and get engine data right on the sonar screen. Doing away with expensive and antiquated dash mounted gauges.
- More and more units can do live mapping on the screen. Lowrance recently incorporated Navionics SonarChart Live into the Elite Ti, Gen 3 and Carbon units, Humminbird Helix models have AutoChart Live, and Garmin has Quickdraw. You can make your own map of bodies of water with no maps or poor mapping.
- Batteries don’t skimp here! Get the biggest starting battery you can or a second house battery for electronics they draw a fair amount of power and stranded on the lake with a dead battery is a bummer.
- A good house battery is the Optima D31M. Doc and his pro staff mark O’Neill and Kirt Hedquist use them because bigger is better.
- And also use Optima D31M for the trolling motor batteries.
- Go to com and follow Doctor Sonar on Facebook and read the tutorial articles on understanding sonar.
Minn Kota Ultrex Review
I am at ICAST 2016 at Orlando, Florida and I finally got my foot on the new Minn Kota Ultrex and I am really impressed.
This motor is cable steer plus electric steer so you get the advantages of both.
The cable steer models give you feedback from the pedal on where the trolling motor is pointed so I can control it without watching which way the head is pointing. With electric steer motors I watch the head to see which way it is pointed.
The cable drive foot pedal is much easier to control while fishing and is hands free. The electric steer pedals suck compared to cable steer so I use the hand held control.
Another disadvantage of the cable steer is when under power and you take your foot off the pedal to catch a fish it doesn’t stay straight but the electric steer does.
The Ultrex gives you the advantages of both which is an amazing accomplishment by Minn Kota.
I use both the Minn Kota Ulterra and the MotorGuide Xi5 for 2 seasons and love both. I used to spend all my time in the bow on a Minn Kota Fortrex until I found the value of Spot Lock.
The MotorGuide Anchor Lock works much better than the Minn Kota Spot Lock and that advantage is now gone.
My test showed the new Spot Lock was the best I have used. The boat didn’t move off the spot and the jog feature worked as advertised. The jog feature allows you to move the boat left/right/ahead/back in increments of 5 ft. My MotorGuide has the feature and is very valuable so getting this on the Minn Kota makes my day. The old Minn Kota Spot Lock didn’t have this and you had to disengage the Spot Lock, move the boat to where you wanted and engage Spot Lock but I never got the boat exactly where I wanted and now it works the way I want.
I ran the cable steer and it was smooth and responsive like my Fortrex. Looks like I will be back on the bow when I need the precision control of cable steer.
The stow and deploy is the old pull a cord method but works well and I had no problem pulling it and I am 67 YO.
It looks like I will give up my Ulterra for the Ultrex when it becomes available in spite of how much I like a motor the stows and deploys with the push of a button from my console seat!
I get many questions on what to use to view and edit waypoints on a computer. One program that will import many different brand waypoints is Contour Elite.
The background map is LakeMaster so you view your waypoints on structure.
I believe a background map is needed when you edit waypoints by name since the map helps you decide on what to name them.
You can import Google Earth, Lowrance, Garmin, Humminbird and Raymarine plus others.
Contour Elite is what SmartStrike is on a Humminbird. You can select criteria on fish based on light conditions, wind time of year and other criteria to find starting spots to fish on a new lake. There are many other features, learn more. Use this code to get 10% off DOC10.
Home map research pays off
Last weekend was South Dakotas Largest fishing tournament of the year. It brought 1050 ice anglers to Lake Oahe. With the tournament being near the holidays and having a baby in late fall I wasn't going to be able to prepare for this tournament on the water. Instead I broke down Doctor Sonar map card at home on my Lowrance fish finder. The detail of the map enabled me to narrow down my target area to only a handful of what I felt was high percentage spots. I found one area that had 3 high percentage spots within close proximity of each other so I decided that's where we were going to go tournament day. This was going to be a put all your eggs in one basket strategy due to the location and poor ice conditions.
When we arrived at the location one spot was already taken so we went to the 2nd spot on the list. It was Main lake point next to deep water with a nice deep ledge and feeding shelf. We decided the best way to attack this spot was to get into position with the Lowrance GPS and Docs map card. We then wanted to cover all depths of the point edge so we could find what depth the fish were in. This is critical. We spread lines from 15-55 ft. It didn't take long and the deep tip up got bit. Within 2 hours we had moved the shack and all of our gear out super deep. Once we got the depth right, the point and shelf just funneled the migration of fish right past us. In a short 5 hours of fishing we had caught around 40 walleyes. 5 of those walleyes being weighable fish. We were happy with that because it was our first time ever ice fishing Lake Oahe.
We ended up finishing 19th out of 525 teams. We considered that a great success since we relied purely on our Map Card and a theory. So next time you are thinking about hitting the hard water take your GPS with you and do a little homework. You may surprise yourself on how quick you can put a pattern together.
The HDS-9 Touch is on the cutting edge of current technology, but because of the combination of how the menus flow combined with the touchscreen, the average user will never be intimidated by this latest technology. In fact, my guess is that the end user will only thrive from using this product.
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For the basic user the HDS will open doors beyond expectations and for the advanced user the HDS-8 Gen 2 have more capabilities that will allow for ample growth if that is what is desired.
For the basic user the HDS will open doors beyond expectations and for the advanced user the HDS-8 Gen 2 have more capabilities that will allow for ample growth if that is what is desired.For the basic user the HDS will open doors beyond expectations and for the advanced user the HDS-8 Gen 2 have more capabilities that will allow for ample growth if that is what is desired.For the basic user the HDS will open doors beyond expectations and for the advanced user the HDS-8 Gen 2 have more capabilities that will allow for ample growth if that is what is desired.For the basic user the HDS will open doors beyond expectations and for the advanced user the HDS-8 Gen 2 have more capabilities that will allow for ample growth if that is what is desired.For the basic user the HDS will open doors beyond expectations and for the advanced user the HDS-8 Gen 2 have more capabilities that will allow for ample growth if that is what is desired.
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Lowrance HDS Gen2 Review Part 1
Lowrance announced the new HDS 2nd generation December 2011. This has been a hot topic on internet marine electronics forums with many questions about how it compares to the 1st generation HDS. For this discussion I will use Gen1 and Gen2 for the 2 generations of HDS models.
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Here is my review of the Lowrance Elite 7, with pluses and minuses. Elite 7 is a great standalone model.
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HDS Sirius Weather Review
I have the Sirius Weather for my HDS this year. I was pre-fishing for my last tournament and saw a storm to the south.
The storm appeared to be moving west and it looked like it was clearing to my west. I calculated that the storm would miss me.
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