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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My boat has no instruments of any kind and I'm starting to plan what I want to add for this summer.

A depth gauge seems like an obvious thing to add, but this In-Dash Digital Depth Sounder is $140 and for only $30 more I could get this Elite-4x HDI 83/200 Fishfinder and then I would have pretty color pictures to look at.

I've never used a fishfinder before, but they look cool. It seems like you could even see the depth a bit ahead of you, which might be handy.

Is there any downside to using a fishfinder instead of a standard depth sounder?
 

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Fish finder is useful for understanding bottom composition. You can get B&W fish finders for under $100, there is really no reason to get a depth finder unless you are trying to fill an existing instrument hole.
 

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Tartan 37
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I almost went the fish finder route, but I really wanted to replace the wind instrument as well so Tack Tick won. I could easily see adding a fish finder though. I think if you have nothing, it a great choice, not sure where the transducer mounts on those things though?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I downloaded the PDF of one of Lowrance's fishfinders and it shows wiring diagrams for the transducer, but not where it's supposed to go. In the v-berth, in front of the keel maybe?

If I get my boat up to Lake Superior depth isn't really an issue (one of the boats I took ASA classes on didn't have a functional depth sounder, it was not a problem), but all the lakes right around Minneapolis are pretty shallow and it seems like being able to see the shape of the bottom might be a real help.

The only downside I can think of is that I'm sure the display draws more electricity than a simple depth instrument, but I have a reasonable solar system so that shouldn't be a problem.

Are there any favored models?

And now I'm getting into cost creep. I notice that for only a hundred or so more I can get a fishfinder/chartplotter combo. I don't really need a chartplotter, but hmm.....
 

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The fish finder will typically come with a transducer that is meant to mount to an outboard engine. However they can be attached to a solid fiberglass hull and shoot through the hull. Mounting it forward of the keel along the centerline is the ideal location.

The mounting medium needs to be clear of air. Epoxy or toilet bowl wax works great. The latter is a lot easier to experiment with.

I used a Garmin Echo 200.

If you think you might put a plotter on later then consider doing so now instead. Most plotters have optional fish finding features too.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
If you think you might put a plotter on later then consider doing so now instead. Most plotters have optional fish finding features too.
On charter trips I've been pretty happy with my iPad as a chartplotter, so I wasn't planning on getting a dedicated chartplotter.

But it looks like it's just not that much more to get a chartplotter/fishfinder combo, and then if later I added an AIS receiver.....

COST CREEP! My $100 depth sounder is suddenly a $600 chartplotter. Is this what boat ownership is like? :)
 

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There is nothing wrong with using separate plotter and fishfinder if that is your preference. On my Catalina 25 I used a small handheld GPS that was permanently mounted for speed, a fishfinder mounted next to it for depth, and an iPad for charts.

The integrated system on my new boat is a lot better however, and it's nice having one device instead of multiple.

If you want AIS make sure that the plotter that you are buying has NMEA 2000 or NMEA 0183 to integrate with the radio. Raymarine A67 or Garmin GPSMAP 527 are two options, and both are closer to $700. The Raymarine has free charts (since last month), where charts will cost extra for the Garmin.
 

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Hey,

For under $300 you can get a color chart plotter / fishfinder with a 4" display, transducer, charts, etc.

Check out the Lowance elite 4. You can but it lots of places with everything you need for under $300.

This unit will show you how fast you are going, where you are, your course, depth, and display the bottom contours.

I like the plotter b/c it will show your speed, heading, and location. The fishfinder is way better than a depth meter because you can determine the bottom type which will make anchoring easier.

good luck,
Barry
 

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Many Fish finders also show your Battery voltage, water temp, depth alarm for too shallow & too deep (anchor alarm), size of fish, and more.
 

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One of the advantages of a fish finder over a depth sounder is that you "see" the bottom contour. With a depth sounder, you only see a number.

My boat draws 5.7'... Before I swapped out the depth sounder, I frequently remember seeing 3.2', or some such impossible reading for several minutes, and wondering if I had a large fish under the boat. Now I know what is going on down there.

I have a black & white Garmin Echo 200. The transducer shoots through my hull next to the keel, and is mounted in a gob of silicone glue. It does not use much power, and I believe that it uses less amperage than the old Signet Marine unit that it replaced.
 

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Fishfinders are great! Aside from the depth you get so many extras in the same package (bottom type, battery voltage, anchor alarm etc.). They are also very cheap (under 100 bucks) and easy to install. I also like the idea of mounting the transducer inside the hull (no holes to worry about!). I removed two depth sounders and fiberglassed the holes and replaced them with two fishfinders. They work well and consume very little power.
 

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loved my fishfinder for bottom contours...that and my gps work well to see what is under me.... i have gps depth in bow,and fishfinder transducer under cockpit sole...so i have depth forward and aft....is a deep keel boat and that can be difficult to maneuver in shoaling areas.....
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
OK, I'm sold on a fishfinder. Probably a chartplotter/fishfinder combo. Now I just need to pick a model.
 

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Courtney the Dancer
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A depthsounder is arguably the most important instrument on board. Whether you use a sounder or fishfinder is a matter of preference and mounting space. The fishfinder has advantages over just a numerical depth display, but it will not show depths any further ahead than a depthsounder (they often use the same transducer). It's best to locate the ducer ahead of the keel if possible and as close to the centerline as you can. The transducer is the most important part of the system, and can easily cost more than the instrument (several thousand dollars for some of them, although what you will be looking at will either be included or $1-200). The advantage of the fishfinder is that it gives a visual trend line for the depth so with just a glance you can tell whether it is getting shallower of deeper without having to monitor the numbers to determine a trend. If it works for your boat a transom mounted ducer can also give you speed through the water which is handy for comparing to your GPS speed across the ground to determine current speed and direction. When comparing transducers they are rated in watts, the more watts the more power (not that it's important when sailing to know whether it's 400' or 600' deep) but the more powerful ducers give more reliable readings, even in shallow water, especially if shooting through a fiberglass hull.
 

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I just bought a garmin 150 fishfinder...will install shortly on my boat hope all goes well
I have had a few boats with fishfinders already installed by previous owners so they do and can work just fine

my issue was my current boat came with a depthsounder and bad display....as usually happens but when I started looking for compatible displays for the transducer installed the damn displays were twice as expensive than any mid priced fishfinder...

so if I DO get a chance to get a display for my transducer I will so, but for now its fisfinder all the way
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I'm kind of looking at the Lowrance Elite-4 HDI chartplotter/fishfinder combo. Apparently it lots you log the sonar info with the GPS info and create your own bottom maps, that's pretty cool. $300 doesn't seem that bad.

Lowrance Elite-4 HDI

Does anyone have experience with these models?
 

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I'm kind of looking at the Lowrance Elite-4 HDI chartplotter/fishfinder combo. Apparently it lots you log the sonar info with the GPS info and create your own bottom maps, that's pretty cool. $300 doesn't seem that bad.

Lowrance Elite-4 HDI

Does anyone have experience with these models?
is the 4 inch one Nema 2000? I would not go with one that was not. I know the 7 is, but is a couple of hundred more.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
is the 4 inch one Nema 2000? I would not go with one that was not. I know the 7 is, but is a couple of hundred more.
I believe it is, I think I was only looking at NMEA 2000 models. I should double-check.

(Not that I have anything else that is NMEA anything, but thinking towards the future.)
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Ahh, bugger.

The 4 and 5 only do NMEA 0183. I hope I never have to set a baud rate or a parity bit again.

You have to go to the 7 before they have NMEA 2000, and that's $700 as opposed to $300. Hmmm....
 
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