Author Topic: Fishfinder/GPS 'MFD' search and results.  (Read 220 times)

Offline KenB

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Fishfinder/GPS 'MFD' search and results.
« on: April 29, 2021, 06:37:54 AM »
MFD -  MultiFunctional Display. They do 3 things:  GPS, Sonar (fish machine), and RADAR.

I did a lot of research this spring on fishfinder/GPS units (when I should have been building). I commercial rod and reel fish, so of course I want the best equipment possible. But I also don't want to spend money on things I just don't need. Here are the main things I learned:
- there are only 3 main manufacturers of head units, and only one manufacturer of transducers; the rest is just branding. Everyone makes basically same units, so you won't miss out on anything by shopping for the best price.
- every manufacture makes a midlevel unit (SIMRAD GO12 $4200) and a highend unit (SIMRAD NSS ~$8-10k)
- 10 years ago, the mid level units were not comparable to the high end units (e.g. raymarine A-series versus C-series), and you would catch less fish because of this difference, but now the new midlevel units have dramatically better signal processing and computation. There isn't really much of a gap any more, in terms of fishability. The transom mounted transducers have also improved a lot. 
- While an iphone and ipad with the same internals (or android) cost the same amount, and the bigger ipad only cost a 10% more, the bigger touch screens cost up to 50% more. Frustrating. I was comparing the 9 inch GO09 with the 12 inch GO12... the $1100 difference is enough for a Tiagra 130. In the end, I went with the 12 because you can add a second transducer. 
- Taken together, the highend MFDs and through-hull transducers are basically only required for fishing below 200-300 ft.
- I have not run my radar yet, so take this with a grain of salt, but the new digital RADAR is improving every year, while the sonar and head units seem to be pretty stable.
- Do you really need radar? If you plan to use your boat after dark, or in the fog, then yes.

In the end, I went with the GO12, because my local tackle shop is SIMRAD dealer. But you can't go wrong with any of these units. I had a Raymarine element7 on my last boat, much improved over the A60.
best,
KenB

"HOW CHEAPLY CAN A TOLMAN SKIFF BE BUILT AND JUST HOW  MUCH IS SACRIFICED IF COST IS THE PRIME MOVER?"
- Bruce Armstrong   

"I can tell you that either a nice BFT or a big YFT is an absolute riot on a Tolman. The boat is so light it's like the old man and the sea..."
- Dave Nolan

Offline AlasKen

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Re: Fishfinder/GPS 'MFD' search and results.
« Reply #1 on: April 29, 2021, 08:10:58 PM »
I am looking at this now.  I am leaning toward the midrange Lowrance unit elite fs7 @ $900 with 3 way transducer.  Why 7”?  It is $300 cheaper and fits in my dash where my lcx28c fits.  I believe I can also tie my existing lcx in via Ethernet cable, or at least it says I can.  My existing mfd works but my wife said it is getting old, maybe you should get a new one.  Who am I to argue.  I am also looking at a new vhf with AIS receiver and nmea 2k connectivity.  I am getting the boat ready for the AK summer.  This is the earliest I got it uncovered. 

I believe Lowrance is rebranded simrad but not sure.  I am looking at it because that is what I currently have, 12 years and no glitches.  I may add radar in future.  It has built in gps, the new radio has built in gps, and I have a gps unit so redundancy is nice. It also says I can tie iphone or iPad into it as well.  Any thoughts on this Lowrance unit?
Kenneth Dodson
Crystal Dawn
24' Jumbo

Offline KenB

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Re: Fishfinder/GPS 'MFD' search and results.
« Reply #2 on: May 01, 2021, 06:10:41 PM »
In general, the improvements from year to year are pretty unimpressive, but from generation to generation, the difference is huge.

- Yup, Lowrance and SIMRAD are both Navico:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Navico
- The only reason I went with the 12 over the 9 was being able to add a second transducer, which I am not sure I will even need.
- the midlevel raymarine (element) does not have RADAR, so I switched to SIMRAD
- NMEA 2k is a strange standard. For example with USB 2.0 or apple lightning, two devices on the same standard can talk. GO12 is NMEA 2K, but cannot plug into the NMEA 2k backbone the way NSS does, for multiple transducers. When I complained about this at West Marine, they said NMEA is a huge improvement; the last generation every brand had their own standards and were not even compatible between the exact same transducer for different brand names from the same parent company. 
- My general thing is to keep systems seperate...  my last VHF has its own 'mini GPS' and I liked the idea that I had a back up GPS completely unwired to the MFD.

Safety first!
best,
KenB

"HOW CHEAPLY CAN A TOLMAN SKIFF BE BUILT AND JUST HOW  MUCH IS SACRIFICED IF COST IS THE PRIME MOVER?"
- Bruce Armstrong   

"I can tell you that either a nice BFT or a big YFT is an absolute riot on a Tolman. The boat is so light it's like the old man and the sea..."
- Dave Nolan

Offline AlasKen

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Re: Fishfinder/GPS 'MFD' search and results.
« Reply #3 on: May 01, 2021, 11:40:45 PM »
After further review I am going with the elite fs 9” with 3 in 1 transducer.  I found a way to make it work.
Kenneth Dodson
Crystal Dawn
24' Jumbo

Offline KenB

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Re: Fishfinder/GPS 'MFD' search and results.
« Reply #4 on: May 02, 2021, 06:47:27 AM »
Awesome. Be sure to post some comments after you get used to it.  The biggest headache I have had is getting reasonable info from people who actually fish.

The folks who sell the things will tell you whatever they think will get you to buy one, and tend to not fish. The other group of folks seem to be 'professional reviewers' who know all the specifications, but again, never seem to give useful general advice, or 'usage cases.' If you try to tier the units by price, it's unclear if the smallest top level unit is better than the biggest midlevel unit (e.g. they are about the same price). If you tier the units by size, it's unclear what the differences between manufacturers are.

There seem to be a lot of new units out there now (probably because of the new digital RADAR) that no one has actually fished, so it's hard to pick the right one. Anyway my opinion is 'buy a new MFD and a used VHF.'
best,
KenB

"HOW CHEAPLY CAN A TOLMAN SKIFF BE BUILT AND JUST HOW  MUCH IS SACRIFICED IF COST IS THE PRIME MOVER?"
- Bruce Armstrong   

"I can tell you that either a nice BFT or a big YFT is an absolute riot on a Tolman. The boat is so light it's like the old man and the sea..."
- Dave Nolan

Offline AlasKen

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Re: Fishfinder/GPS 'MFD' search and results.
« Reply #5 on: May 02, 2021, 04:23:18 PM »
The other issue I have is those actually fishing are shallow water bass fisherman.  Trying to get actual examples of saltwater salmon or halibut fishing is slim.  I want to know if a unit can distinguish a butt from bottom at 150 - 200’?  Can it reliably mark silvers at 40 - 80’?  Am I smart enough to read a graph to tell?  My concern is MFD,s are like lures, designed more to catch a fisherman than a fish.  I’ll let you know.  Since my current MFD is around 2008 and pre chirp I hope I get some improvement.  The other item of interest is nmea 2000 is still being touted new by some and difficult to install. When I installed in 2008 it was fairly new and I had a combination of nmea 185, Lowrance blue connector nmea 2000 and red/black micro connectors which is now the nmea 2000 standard.  My radio and old auto pilot that didn’t work well we’re the nmea185 and going away. 
« Last Edit: May 02, 2021, 04:31:05 PM by AlasKen »
Kenneth Dodson
Crystal Dawn
24' Jumbo

Offline Cordell

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Re: Fishfinder/GPS 'MFD' search and results.
« Reply #6 on: May 16, 2021, 06:28:52 PM »
We have a Raymarine axiom 9. Its built in sounder puts out 600w. Using 200hz we can fairly reliably mark kings and bait down to 300+ ft. Kings have been running deep off the north Washington coast lately. Having the extra wattage helps. Some of my favorite features are the bottom mapping. Im not posative but his may use the sidescan as well because it maps a fair swath with each pass. Also there is the abilty to scroll back through the sonar log and mark a point. For example you pass a ledge with seabass hanging on it, or bait, salmon marks, or perhaps some bottom structure out in the middle of nowhere that you passes at 30mph, one can scroll back to it and create a gps waypoit at that exact spot off the log. Super handy! We have not messed around trying to find birds with the radar but we have been able to locate feeding whales in the heavy fog with it.
« Last Edit: May 16, 2021, 06:31:27 PM by Cordell »
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Offline larspa

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Re: Fishfinder/GPS 'MFD' search and results.
« Reply #7 on: May 17, 2021, 07:53:59 AM »
Cannon, with a GA, fishes off shore quite a bit and may have some good feedback.  If he doesn't chime in here, you could contact him and other off shore fisherman over on the GA forum.   <https://www.glacierboats.net/forum/index.php>  Hopefully he will post his experience for this thread.

te
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Offline Cannon

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Re: Fishfinder/GPS 'MFD' search and results.
« Reply #8 on: May 17, 2021, 08:54:44 AM »
I am currently running a Raymarine Axiom 9 and a Hummingbird with the largest screen they had at the time, can’t remember the model. The hummingbird has downscan and sidescan. That unit will be replaced later this month with a Raymarine Axiom 12 which has chirp integrated into it. I am also running Raymarine digital radar and autopilot.
My only thoughts on electronics are that they determine not only your location, but also your catch ratio. Without a good view of what’s down there, you are fishing blind which doesn’t work fifty to a hundred miles offshore. Buy the absolute best you can afford and your “investment” will pay off! That is provided you take the time to learn how to use them!
Look at it this way, fuel going for six bucks a gallon, mileage is 3 to 3-1/2 miles to the gallon making an offshore trip expensive. Not much fun to run out there and not plug the boat...
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Remember, the ark was built by amateurs; while the Titanic was built by professionals.

Offline AlasKen

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Re: Fishfinder/GPS 'MFD' search and results.
« Reply #9 on: May 28, 2021, 12:24:37 AM »
I installed the Lowrance elite fs 9” and the lowrance link-9 vhf which has an AIS receiver built in that can display vessels on both the radio and the mfd via nmea2000.  I haven’t been out yet but have played with it several hours to try and familiar myself with the screens on land without rocking.  I also reinstalled my lcx28c on the port side.  Lowrance said it would not network but still has all the nmea2000 and chart plotter features.  This will be a second unit for copilot and backup.  The radio and elite fs mfd both have a built in gps ant, so that provides some additional redundancy.  I really notice a big difference on screen clarity.  I really like the touch screen on a still, clean boat.  Time will tell when the boat is rocking and I have fish slime hands.  I could install another updated transducer for the lcx if I felt a need.

I connected my iPad via WiFi and could see a duplicate of the elite fs mfd.  That was cool.  This will allow the guy at the back of the boat to see sonar instead of constantly asking if we are marking anything.  You are supposed to be able to control the mfd from the iPad but so far all I get is view only.

I am interested in playing with the live mapping.  If anyone is using that feature I am interested in any tips.  I hope to get out well after next.

I’ll report back after I use it some.  I hope it lasts as well as the lcx which gave me no trouble in over 10 years.

I hope to add HALO radar and autopilot over time.
Kenneth Dodson
Crystal Dawn
24' Jumbo