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.
CannonLink 800/661-9086 • www.cannondownriggers .com MSRP: $199; including fishfinder, $800 and up. Seen for: $189.
You have four anglers fighting four fish, but there’s no one left to bring up the downriggers – brace yourself, here comes a train wreck! If, that is, you don’t have the CannonLink. This black box works with Humminbird Matrix fishfinders and it lets you control as many as six downriggers from the helm.
High Points: Automatic offset feature will raise and lower the downrigger to follow the contour of the bottom and even compensates for wave height. Jig function cycles the downrigger up and down to find the best fishing depth. Add a sensor to the downrigger ball and get water temperature and clarity data. ****
Low Points: You may have to swap depthsounders to get the new downriggers functioning properly. Data windows on your fishfinder screen will eat into the amount of other information the display shows. ****
Verdict: Get wired now!
Another Choice: Permanently station a crewmember next to each downrigger, and yell at them.
Simrad Glass Bridge 425/712-1136 • www.simrad.com MSRP: $25,000 and up. Seen for: $25,000 to $100,000.
This is one of the biggest and most advanced electronics suites to hit the battlewagon/megayacht market yet. If you’re outfitting a 70′ Rybovich and couldn’t care less about cost, this is the system to look at. ****
High Points: The Glass Bridge network can support up to a dozen 19″ displays and can “stitch” them together to make photo-blended and chart-draped multi-monitor visuals on the dash. There’s a 3D generator with variable mixing grades and chart overlays, plus crystal-clear resolution.
Low Points: Costs as much as a new 26′ center console and requires a heavy-duty professional installation job. Huge amount of dash space is a prerequisite.
Verdict: Quite possibly the most advanced-and expensive-electronics package in existence today.
Another Choice: Northstar’s N2 networked system, which can handle up to five monitors and costs up to about $60,000.
ELECTRONICS TIP / ELECTROLITE
Remember Ohm’s Law? “Resistance equals voltage divided by amperage.” Also remember that the power dissipation of a given cable is proportional to the square of the current flowing through it. Double the current, quadruple the loss; 10 times the current equals 100 times the loss. So keep your cable runs short and use the largest diameter cable possible, or suffer big power losses.