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Need advice - New Fishfinder/GPS


kal77

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Looking for input on which fishfinder/gps combo to get for the yak. Right now I am running an early 90s lowrance with no gps that the old man had sitting in the corner of the basement. Looking to upgrade this year as it's a pain trolling with no gps. I have been looking at the Lowrance Elite-5 HDI & the Humminbird 597ci HD DI. I would say 75% of my fishing is on Lake Michigan while the other 25% is spent on inland lakes, mainly Lake Winnebago for walleye (max depth 20ft, lots of nearshore structure). Any input on the two above units or recommendations in that price range (~$500)?

Some things I am looking for:

-Ease of use. Any time I spend messing with my fishfinder on the water is time that I am not paddling/aka trolling.

-Speed/gps accuracy at low speeds. I do not care if the sonar washes out at speeds greater than 5mph. If I get going any faster than that I can assure you all I'll be doing is holding onto my paddle for dear life :eek:

-Can it mark fish and can you distinguish if it's a bait ball or a salmon

-Any advantage to having down imaging on the great lakes and does it take a larger transducer than a basic unit? The smaller the ducer the better for me.

-Transducer frequencies/cone angles for deepwater fishing?

-Energy usage - I currently use a 7ah 12v battery and sometimes fish for 12-16 hours straight. I would need something that wouldn't chew through batteries like crazy.

Any thoughts/recommendations would be great. If any of you have any used units in this range I would be open to buying used. Just looking for something reliable.

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I would consider Raymarines Dragonfly if I were looking for a unit in that size. It is their attack at that market. The dragonfly has down imaging and it is also a CHIRP sounder which the other two are not. From screen images I have seen their is definitely a distinction from bait schools and individual fish.

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Like Josh said the Dragonfly's look like very nice units. Out of the 2 you asked about I would say that the Humminbird is easier to use. I have friends who have each unit and I thought the HB was more intuitive. I would think that for use out of a kayak both down imaging and side scan would be helpful, even on the great lakes. Both units should be able to distinguish between bait and fish. On battery life, you would have to ask another kayak fisher. Most people on here fish out of boats that have engines and alternators. Or if anyone has used either of them ice fishing. But I think that using them as both a sonar and GPS will draw more power. Good luck.

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The only thing with the dragonfly is that I'm pretty nervous buying into any new technology such as CHIRP until they have worked out the kinks in the first few generations. I will check out some reviews and see how people have been liking it so far. That chirp technology sounds pretty cool and effective though.

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No the Dragonfly isn't perfect. The 5" screen is a bit small. The GPS and mapping isn't great, there's better units out there. The technology isn't really new, its been around for many years, what's new is the price entry point and Raymarine getting into that end of the fresh water/saltwater market. Garmin makes a similar and very likely better CHIRP unit but it's a couple or three hundred more expensive. But to get a multi-function unit with sonar and the depth range it has, bottom scan with that type of depth and clarity capabilities, and a decent GPS /mapping in the $600 range is pretty impressive.

Been debating getting one myself to replace my old Garmins. The darn things are about 13 years old and still going strong. I guess if I can come up with the extra 3 bills I'll probably go Garmin again........ Dunno.

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The Dragonfly may not be perfect but honestly in that size and price range I do not think you will find the ultimate do all unit. And of course, personal preference will come into play as well. I do not care much for Humminbird myself and that includes the high end 12'' MFD Geonav unit I had that was made by and used Humminbird sonar etc.

As far as entry level CHIRP, the following thread is a great read and some of the short comings of the new entry level "baby CHIRPs" and more so the importance of having a good transducer over screen manufacturer

http://www.thehulltruth.com/marine-electronics-forum/458737-abbors-sounder-screencaps.html

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I Have A 597. Use It To Troll For Walleyes and salmon.

In The Switchgear Mode You Will Mark The ThermoCline And I Troll As Slow As 6 For Walleyes. Marks Fish And Bait. And I Run It Off A Deep Cycle 27 Battery Four About 36 He's With Out recharging

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I agree killerbe20. For a unit that does all that the Dragonfly does and for that price, its a pretty impressive little unit. It seems to be the best dollar for dollar unit in that price range out there. My first post was meant to say that but I didn't do very well. Plus I double posted. Zsheesh. I like this site but not being able to edit is frustrating sometimes.

Anyhow the Garmin 547xs is comparable but by the time you buy a transducer its $300 more. I'll probably end up getting a Dragonfly but still debating about the Garmin since I've owned and liked them in the past. Lets see, don't accidentally double click......... and send.

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I think a lot is going to come down to how happy you are with the display and ease of use. The issue i see is power consumption with the GPS on and sonar cranked up most of these units will kill your little battery in a few hours. Because your nearly stationary I would look into a good handheld GPS and a low power fishfinder or plan on a much bigger battery pack to power the system.

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I ran my 597 off of 1battery for the first time this year.

I ran 2 trips a day for 3 days with out needing a charge. Average trips was 5 hours with 1 8 hr trip in there. 36 total hours and the volt meter on the unit was 9.9 volts when I put it on the charger. I usually dont put it on the charger till the low volts warning comes on at 9.7 v. Battery is a bps group 27 deep cycle not hooked to any charging on the boat

With the gps set to fastest update and sonar set to max ping rate.

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I understand that Steve however a battery is technically dead at 10.6 volts run it down to 10.6 and recharge it that is considered a cycle. Going below 10.6 causes the battery to heat up and shortens it's life. The second issue is your using a group 27 deep cycle battery most batteries in that size avg 125ah his is 7ah which is nearly 18 times smaller so if you got 36 he would get roughly 2 hours. Ask anyone who ice fishes with a high power sonar it is tough to carry a big enough battery which is why my ice fishing sonar is a hand held unit that mostly gives me depth and once in a while shows a fish on it. Lots of times I just use my GMT 40 as I can drop it down and it tells me depth and temp all the way to the bottom so I can fish based on water temp and depth and it uses nearly no battery power and fits in my shirt pocket. If the unit were to only draw 1 amp it would only last 7 hours on a fully charged battery for him unless he gets a bigger battery. I am not sure a 70lb group 27 battery is going to work in a Kayak.

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Thanks for all of the input. I think I'm going to avoid the dragonfly for now due to some of the reviews I have read but if given the opportunity I will check it out. To solve the battery issues I might upgrade it a bigger battery or bring along two 7ah batteries.

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  • 1 month later...

After seeing your last fishing report I got to thinking about this thread again, I was wondering if it would be possible to use a small solar charger like this to help maintain your batteries on the water. It probably wouldn't be enough to keep them at a full charge but it may extend the life long enough to get away with a smaller battery.

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Thanks for that link Kyle. I think I'm going to start out just using the 9 ah battery I have and bring a backup along for longer days. That solar charger might be a hassle on a kayak but you've got me thinking about getting one for weekend camping trips to recharge my fishfinder battery.

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I think I would go with a low power fish finder without lots of fancy features or extras like GPS that will run the required time off your small battery. Then get an Android or iPhone cell phone or Android or iPad tablet with a built in GPS receiver (all iPhones & android phones will have GPS, not all tablets) and buy the Navionics app. You don't need cell phone service for the GPS to work and even an Android that is running v3 or an early model of v4 can be found pretty cheap used. With the voice and data services turned off the battery should easily get through an average fishing trip. Worst case, get a spare battery to charge and bring along.

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I have the 597ci without the down imaging. I've used it in Canada fishing for walleye, as well as on lake michigan salmon fishing, and ice fishing. I always hook it up to my ice fishing batteries (~7 Ah). I have 2 batteries so I can switch out when the charge gets low. I get about 6-7 hours of runtime per battery. I have also used the unit on my kayak.

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I think I would go with a low power fish finder without lots of fancy features or extras like GPS that will run the required time off your small battery. Then get an Android or iPhone cell phone or Android or iPad tablet with a built in GPS receiver (all iPhones & android phones will have GPS, not all tablets) and buy the Navionics app. You don't need cell phone service for the GPS to work and even an Android that is running v3 or an early model of v4 can be found pretty cheap used. With the voice and data services turned off the battery should easily get through an average fishing trip. Worst case, get a spare battery to charge and bring along.

I have been using my iphone with navionics for gps but it really eats through the battery and is difficult to mark a waypoint quickly when I hook up or mark a bait pod. It makes me nervous about having a dead phone battery while out offshore in case if I need to make an emergency call. Navionics has been great for ice fishing though since I don't need to have it on all of the time.

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  • 1 year later...

Altough Raymarine is good unit , I think it is not enogh. It has some poor features like Screen and GPS . I put the Lowrance Elite 7X in my boat in a weekend. Quick and easy.Install Instructions were very easy to follow and I couldn't wait to get the boat out to give it a test run. I didn't take any fishing poles so I could get to know the fishfinder. I was amazed at the detail of the down imaging. I highly recommend it. I found it on http://www.fishfinderguy.com/ .It was great choice for me.

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  • 6 months later...
  • 7 months later...

have you checked out the helix model hb,s I have the helix 7 di with gps and it has the brightest screen I have seen. I use it in a tri hull open bow and can clearly see the screen in direct sunlight. and it has a very fast screen update. if the 7 is a little to big for a yak there's always the 5. but I like the 7" screen a lot better than the 5" screen.

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