The Electronic Angler/ Part Two "Using a Chart Plotter"

Part Two- Using a Chart Plotter

I have been asked many times "Do I really need a chart plotter/ GPS on my fish finder?" The question I always ask them is "how serious are you about fishing?" The easy answer is; if you fall into the group of Anglers who want to master their local waters and be the best at fishing them, then the answer would be get a unit with a chart plotter. If you just enjoy getting out and fishing whether or not you catch fish then the extra cost may not be for you.

What benefit would a Chart plotter be over not having one?

1: Most chart plotters come with a base map installed with Bathymetry, this is the study of underwater depth of lake or ocean floors. In other words, bathymetry is the underwater equivalent to hypsometry or topography. It will show you contour lines of the bottom (whats under the surface). This allows the Angler to see underwater bottom features that may hold fish like underwater points, humps, ledges, steep drop offs and flats. This map also allows the Angler to select a feature on the map as a way point and navigate to it with no other reference point or visual clues as to where this feature is. You can also purchase an aftermarket chart that is installed on a micro SD card that is way more detailed than the factory one. My favorite is the Navionics chip. This is very detailed and way better than the factory base map. Note: Your unit must have the option of inserting a card to use this upgrade.

2: Chart plotters used in conjunction with the sonar can help you locate fish that you went over at high speed and passed. You can use the cursor function on your sonar screen to back track to the return that you passed and set as a way point. Your fish finder records the GPS location of every inch of ground you covered and when you set the return as a way point you will be able to navigate to the exact spot that the return was located. This is much easier and more accurate than using the Man overboard feature because it takes your reaction time out of the equation.

3: Snail trail, You unit can record your path. This is very useful for multiple reasons. First if you get far away from shore and your visibility becomes reduced because of fog or rain, it is very easy to become disorientated and paddle in the wrong direction. So having a path that you can reverse and follow back is an awesome feature. Secondly it is a great feature to look at the overall path and distance that you paddled that day. All this information can be helpful in the strategic planning of consecutive trips and help you to learn a specific area quicker.

4: Speed is an important factor when using trolling techniques. Having a GPS will allow yo to monitor you speed over ground which will help you in not pulling your bait too fast or too slow. Whether you are pulling diving lures, Lead Core, Umbrella rigs, Down Riggers or live bait speed is critical.

5: Navigation; when planning a trip you can set up way points in advance of your trip and store them on your memory card. This helps in the strategic fishing of any water and saves time when out on the water looking for productive areas.

This is just some of the helpful features of having a built in chart plotter with your sonar. Hope this helps you in deciding whether or not you need this feature when you decide to get your first sonar.

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