Forget about looking for birds and checking out ripples on the water. You need your electronics to talk to each other and tell you where to drop that hook. These days, some systems can drive the boat to the fish, keep tabs on your live bait, and even set your downriggers. Here are some of the latest and greatest units that are sure to put dinner on the table.
800/324-1356 • www.lowrance.com MSRP: Gauges, $199 to $449; sensors, $49.99; cable/connector kit, $59.99. Seen for: the same.
This system is your electronic backbone for integrating a GPS, fishfinder, VHF, radar, and gauge senders. It can be configured with multiple 5", 7", or 10" displays and multifunction gauges.
High Points: Simple plug-and-play connections that owners can install. Offers such specialized features as multiple livewell water temperature gauges. Online LowranceNET Designer allows you to custom design the network for your boat, check its integrity, print a parts list, and e-mail it to a dealer for a price quote.
Low Points: Lacks some advanced radar features, including overlaying the radar display onto GPS cartography. High information loads from the fishfinder and radar mean they need separate transducer cables.
Verdict: An owner-installable, low-cost networking system useful on fishboats in the 20' to 30' range.
Another Choice: Garmin Marine Network, $249 for network port expander, plus variable costs for the additional cables, displays, and black boxes.