You’ll be forced to make important decisions when trying to add electronic equipment to your boat or kayak. You’ll need to determine what types of electronics you want, the budget you have to spend on them and what brands and specific models will serve your needs best.
What to Get?
One of the most common questions that anglers wrestle with involves the acquisition and selection of a GPS unit and a fish finder. Specifically, they wonder if it is wiser to purchase a combination unit, or if they should buy a GPS and a separate fish finder.
There is no perfect answer to this question, and some anglers prefer one strategy over the other. You must simply consider the ways in which the units differ and make the best choice based on your circumstances.
Combination units do not work well on screens less than 7 inches. The split-screen function on these units, which is normally a great way to view both data sets simultaneously, is often too hard to see. If you are looking at depth finders with screens in the 2- to 6-inch-range, it is better to purchase discrete units.
If a combination fish-finder-GPS fails, you lose the function of both tools. This may only be a minor nuisance for an angler in a kayak or johnboat working on a small pond, but it could have disastrous consequences for an angler who is marine fishing.
If you depend on your GPS for navigation, instead of just helping you to catch more fish, it is wise to select separate units, especially in a maritime environment.
By definition, combo units take up less space than separate units do. So the best option is to select a combo-style GPS-fish-finder.
This is a concern of those who fish from kayaks and other small crafts, but space can be a problem for those piloting larger boats too – particularly those who already have other electronic devices taking some room.
Combo units are often available for less than it would cost to purchase two separate units in the same price class. In other words, it is usually cheaper to buy an entry-level combo unit than it is to purchase an entry-level GPS and an entry-level fish finder separately. But if money is not a big concern, most anglers are better served by purchasing separate units.
Anglers usually prefer one brand’s sonar, but another brand’s GPS units. In such cases, it is preferable to purchase discrete units rather than a combo so you can get the best of both worlds.
But if you can’t afford to buy separate units, it makes sense to purchase a combo unit from manufacturers that make whichever component you consider most important.
If you are seeking to combine the data from both your GPS and fish finder, they’ll need to be compatible. That may limit your ability to use a GPS made by one company and a fish finder made by another, which might change your mind about purchasing separate units in the first place.
If you require a top-of-the-line fish finder, but only need a GPS for marking a few fishing spots, then you may be better served by spending more money on the fish finder and less on the GPS unit.
This implies that you should seek out separate units. This is also true for anglers who want the best possible GPS, but doesn’t care much of having high-end sonar.
Much like cell phones, computers, and other electronic devices, GPS units and fish finders become better every year. Eventually, we’re all bit by the gear bug and start getting the itch to upgrade to the latest and greatest tools available.
If you purchase a combo unit, you’ll have to replace both units at the same time, which will cost more than if you purchase separate devices.
Whether you decide to purchase a combo fish-finder-GPS or just stick with separate units, be sure not to compromise on the quality of your fish finder. Doing so will only leave you frustrated and wishing you’d opted to spend your money more wisely.