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Best fishfinders/sonars for 2018
07/02/2018


For the next several weeks we’re going to tell you about the top electronics on the market in 17 categories­, ranging from AIS and autopilots to vessel monitoring systems and wireless devices. Marine Electronics Journal does this exercise every year as part of the Buyers’ Guide. It works like this: We ask manufacturers to identify the one model they produce in a particular category that they consider to be their Best & Brightest—not necessarily the most technically advanced or newest but rather the one they rate highest in their product line for one reason or another. Could be the functions and features it offers, or maybe it breaks new ground in maximizing effectiveness or utility, or maybe it’s the most popular as measured by sales to boaters.

We lead off with a category of electronics that is vitally important to boaters of all stripes, but especially to fishermen. The technology that gives you an underwater eye has come an incredible way since Lowrance rolled out its Fish Lo-K-Tor in the late 1950s. Now fishfinders and sonars open up the depths straight down, to the sides and ahead whether you’re looking for fish or keeping an eye on rocks and other unfriendly obstacles to avoid. Here's the pack:

 




Furuno DFF3D

Turn your NavNet TZtouch or TZtouch2 MFD into a multi-beam sonar that can see 120 degrees port to starboard, allowing you to see the depth and direction fish schools are moving, while displaying the seabed condition in real time. The DFF3D allows you to explore fishing spots and find fish in deep water far faster than conventional single beam sounders. The main beam penetrates right under the boat at a depth of over 1,000 feet, and the side beams to over 650 feet, depending on water conditions. Detect fish like never before with a variety of display modes, including Cross-Section, 3D Sounder History, Single or Trip-Direction Fish Finder, and a side scan display. The DFF3D was designed for deep fishing, so you can catch fish like the pros. It won the NMEA Technology Award in 2017.

 

 

Garmin GSD 26

For serious deep-sea sportfishing, the GSD 26 takes high-definition targeting to a whole new level. With a compatible transducer, the GSD 26’s Spread Spectrum technology scans on multiple frequencies at one time, returning vast amounts of data to the receiver. As a result, you can expect precise, shallow water-like target separation at much greater depths–down to 10,000 feet. A traditional fixed-frequency mode allows you to manually adjust frequencies from 25 kHz to 210 kHz for enhanced targeting of specific fish species. You can also adjust transmit power from 300 watts to 3 kW (depending on transducer) for even more control over your sonar returns. The GSD 26’s dual-transceiver design allows for simultaneous and independent transducer operation.

 




Simrad S5100

The Simrad S5100 is our first sounder module to feature three fully independent sonar channels, delivering true simultaneous coverage of up to three different depth ranges with uncompromising performance at every range. Connect three single-channel transducers, or pair one dual-channel and one single-channel, to create the perfect sonar coverage for the areas you fish. Since all three sonar channels are completely independent, different frequency ranges can be viewed simultaneously in a split-screen layout on a single display. With the S5100’s advanced CHIRP technology, you’ll see clear to the bottom with no mid-water noise or clutter. It is compatible with Airmar’s wideangle CHIRP transducers that deliver enhanced coverage of the upper water column, and are an ideal fit for targeting pelagic species.

 

 

B&G ForwardScan

The award-winning ForwardScan forward-looking sonar shows what lies ahead, allowing sailors to avoid potentially dangerous areas and sail with confidence in unfamiliar waters. The B&G ForwardScan sonar system offers an effective range of eight times the actual water’s depth, real-time updates and a built-in configurable shallow depth alarm. Sailors have access to historical sonar logs showing depth history in relation to their boat’s current position, as well as an exclusive depth interpretation representation, known as Heading Line View. Heading Line View uses a color-coded heading line extension to illustrate shallow water, medium water depth and deep water. B&G ForwardScan can also be viewed on a smartphone, and operated from a tablet when used on vessels equipped with the B&G GoFree WiFi-1 system.

  





Humminbird SOLIX 15 CHIRP MEGA SI GPS

Introducing the revolutionary SOLIX 15 CHIRP MEGA SI GPS. Equipped with Humminbird’s exclusive MEGA Imaging, the SOLIX 15 is the first touchscreen unit that takes fishfinding sonar to the megahertz range, resulting in the clearest underwater views ever seen in a fishfinder. It also includes CHIRP digital sonar for improved detail and target separation. The Cross Touch Interface allows anglers to operate the unit via touchscreen or keypad, while customizing the screen with up to four viewing panes. AutoChart Live creates customized maps by identifying depth, bottom hardness and vegetation, the trifecta of fish-holding habitat. Humminbird Basemap provides map coverage to the entire US coastline and 10,000+ lakes. Bluetooth lets you view missed calls and texts on a massive 15.4 inch display, Humminbird's largest ever. 

 





Koden KDS-8000BB

Koden’s new KDS-8000BB sonar is a powerful, high-speed eight-inch broadband sector sonar engineered for the most demanding commercial fishing vessels and applications. The KDS-8000BB is a black box sonar designed to integrate with a wide range of displays to accommodate individual vessels and customer preferences. Koden also offers a high-resolution 17 inch monitor as an option. This multi-beam sonar is a true broadband system that can be easily set from 130 to 210 kHz in 0.1 kHz steps, allowing operators to adjust frequencies on the fly to fine-tune the ideal set-up for each fishing situation. Conditional memory settings make it easy for operators to select and recall favorite system parameters and settings to match different environments, locations and fishing situations.

  

Lowrance StructureScan 3D

Lowrance StructureScan 3D with enhanced SideScan and DownScan Imaging gives freshwater and saltwater anglers game-changing, three-dimensional view of fish, structure and bottom contours, making it easier to understand where fish and structure are located in relation to your boat. A recent software upgrade took StructureScan 3D contrast and definition to the next level with High Visibility Color Sonar, a new feature that makes full use of the dynamic color spectrum, enabling 3D, SideScan and DownScan Imaging to deliver richer images with greatly enhanced detail and better contrast. High Visibility Color Sonar automatically enhances brightness in darker areas while preventing overexposure in brighter areas, extending the visible range, making it possible to see what is in the shadows close to the boat or more than 100 feet away.

 



ONWA KFish-7

KFish-7 is the latest upgrade for our compact dual-frequency (50 and 200 KHz) fishfinder. This device features a 7 inch color TFT day-view LCD display and a 600 watt transducer. KFish-7 applies the most advanced digital sounding technology and eliminates all noise and interference with excellent sea bed discrimination. One new feature is the ability to automatically calculate and display the size of individual fish and fish schools. Another is Sonar Sound, which allows the user to determine when there is a fish or school beneath their boat and also determines the size by sounding an alarm. KFish-7 has NMEA 0183 interface for connections with other navigational equipment onboard.

 

Raymarine RealVision 3D

RealVision 3D is the amazing multi-channel sonar found inside every Axiom RV and Axiom Pro RVX model. No longer is 3D sonar imaging an expensive and complicated add-on. With Axiom RealVision 3D, everything you need for exceptional underwater imaging is built into the display and the all-in-one Axiom RealVision 3D transducer. In addition to high-quality 3D imagery, RealVision 3D sonar also features CHIRP DownVision, CHIRP SideVision, and conical high CHIRP fish targeting. The RealVision 3D transducer contains an internal AHRS sensor for gyro-stabilization, which compensates automatically for boat movement and delivers life-like underwater images. RealVision 3D transducers come in transom mount, composite through-hull and bronze through-hull configurations. Through-hulls are available as a single all-in-one transducer for flat bottoms, or as transducer pairs with internal offset elements for boats with significant deadrise. 

 




SI-TEX  CVS-128B

The SI-TEX CVS-128B Broadband Sounder is offered with two transducers and lets users “fine-tune” optimum high/low frequencies between 24 kHz and 210 kHz in 0.1 kHz steps—enhancing species-specific fishfinding abilities while reducing interference from other vessels. Capable of displaying two selected frequencies simultaneously on its brilliant 8.4 inch, vertically oriented color LCD display, the CVS-128B provides excellent viewability on open or closed boats. Advanced digital filtering technology ensures superior target detection and separation of fish targets under a wide range of conditions, making this an ideal choice for coastal and offshore fishermen. The 2 kW output CVS-128B operates in depth ranges from 10 to 3,600 feet. Its long list of top-grade standard features includes a sleek, IPX5 waterproof case, Auto Cruising/Fishing modes, A-Scope, and a host of audible and visual alarms.  

 

 


If you’re not really sure what CHIRP is . . .

Although CHIRP technology has been around for many years, it is now a staple in sounder electronics and for good reason---it delivers impressively clear images at a wide range of depths. Here’s an excerpt from an excellent article Tom Burden wrote for West Marine’s The West Advisor.

CHIRP (an acronym for Compressed High-Intensity Radiated Pulse) is a game-changing technology that has been used by the military for decades in both radar and sonar. CHIRP technology began filtering down to recreational sonars in about 2009.

CHIRP fishfinders transmit a longer pulse than traditional sonar, putting more energy into the water column, with a true broadband frequency range of up to 117kHz. Instead of pinging a single frequency like traditional 2D sonar, CHIRPing devices transmit a sweeping range of frequencies. With each pulse, the transducer starts vibrating at a low frequency, which is then modulated upward to a high frequency over the duration of the pulse (130 to 210kHz, for example).

A traditional sonar transmits about 1% of the time, but CHIRP sonars transmit ascending pulses that are 10 times as long in duration. They put dramatically more energy into the water column, 10 to 50 times more, even though CHIRP devices often transmit at lower peak power than traditional fishfinders.

Using advanced digital pattern matching and signal processing, known as “pulse compression,” CHIRP devices receive and process dramatically more information from each pulse, enabling them to achieve unprecedented resolution and target definition.

Click HERE to read the entire article.

 






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