Arizona Crappie Association

Fishing and Dock Talk => Crappie Gear => Topic started by: OneBlade on January 01, 2011, 03:16 PM

Title: Fish Finder (Decent and Affordable)
Post by: OneBlade on January 01, 2011, 03:16 PM
Hey, I'm looking to get a fish finder.  I'd like to know what I should look for when buying one.  I sort of hoped that $150 to $300 would be my price range, but I got those numbers out of a hat and don't know if they're reasonable.  Sure, I can find one that price but want one that will last a long time and be useful.  For features, I want a good sized screen, GPS, quality view of the bottom and of any structures (e.g. trees, branches, etc.), etc.  When I looked at them at Bass Pro Shop, it seems liked to get color screen, I have to pay $150 more, maybe more.  Also, does output power matter?  I saw a Hummingbird 365i, which has a 4" diagonal screen (I think this is maybe too small?).  It has 2400 PTP power and DualBeam sonar, whatever that means.  Any suggestions on what specifications really matter including any specific model recommendations would be appreciated.  Also, does color provide me anything except better to see in daylight and cool?
Title: Re: Fish Finder (Decent and Affordable)
Post by: PhishingPhreek on January 01, 2011, 05:44 PM
I've only stuck with the standard Lowrance FFs in the past. Mostly because they're fairly simple and complex. I've wanted to get a pretty bad ass one though since I got into crappie fishing.

Bill (Fish Hawk) bought a sweet set up he was showing me up at SCF last year.  I know he did a lot of research for that before buying one. I wish I could remember what exact model he bought. In fact, I can't even find any of the posts he made about it. Hopefully he'll chime in.
Title: Re: Fish Finder (Decent and Affordable)
Post by: AzFishingGuy on January 01, 2011, 07:55 PM
The new hummingbird units that are coming soon will have the features that you list.They might be a little more than you want to spend. They are making new ones to be more competitive Price with lowrance units

Title: Re: Fish Finder (Decent and Affordable)
Post by: Piscolli on January 01, 2011, 10:13 PM
Lowrance has a new struction scan only model in the new Bass Pro cataloge for $299 that looks really sweet.
Title: Re: Fish Finder (Decent and Affordable)
Post by: Fish Hawk on January 02, 2011, 07:19 AM
If I was going to buy a unit between $150-300 I would go with the Humminbird  700 series the 718 is $200 the 718 is $300. alot of bang for the buck
Title: Re: Fish Finder (Decent and Affordable)
Post by: menrats on January 03, 2011, 06:17 AM
as a trolling fisherman basically trolling an area im not sure what good side or structure scanning does. the reg finders still show fish and stucture and since were not target casting i havent been to keen and spending the big bucks. i would like the gps unit though but havent pulled that string either. looks like i need a vro pump for my next 5bills, then a new cover , then new seats, then new carpet. the list seems to go on and on.
Title: Re: Fish Finder (Decent and Affordable)
Post by: OneBlade on February 26, 2011, 06:18 AM
Well, I'm back on this topic again. Art mentioned how important it is having a way to mark precise locations.  I mentioned how everyone was using some guy's orange buoy as a reference point the other day on San Carlos and he said "exactly, everyone!"  It seems critical to have a GPS so you can mark your own points without the whole flotilla using them.  Not that I don't mind sharing my secrets but perhaps not so immediately like a buoy marker does.  So, FishHawk says the Hummingbird 718 may be a good option.  Cost is $200 but assume I add on $100 for local maps, right?  Power is 2400watts. Can I assume that the power output can be used as an indicator to how well it reads everything below?  So, I don't get color with this version, that's o.k.  I don't think GPS is included either.  I suppose it varies, but I wonder if most people get GPS in their fish finder or just have a separate unit? 

Piscolli mentioned a structure scan model was in the catalog for $299.  Can someone describe what "side or structure scanning" is and provides other than standard fish finder stuff?

Also, if anyone has recommendations on cheap but quality portable GPS units, please reply here or IM me.  Thanks.

Title: Re: Fish Finder (Decent and Affordable)
Post by: Piscolli on February 26, 2011, 07:34 AM
Bass Pro now has the Eagle 480 (no color) with GPS for $209! Jump on one before they are gone.

I personally have not been using GPS (until recently they cost too much) and have done pretty well without it. But I would like to upgrade soon. Remember that first you have to find the active fish.
Title: Re: Fish Finder (Decent and Affordable)
Post by: TRITOON on February 26, 2011, 08:30 AM
Great questions   I am interested in the answers and all the good advice that will be shared.  Thanks for asking them.
Title: Re: Fish Finder (Decent and Affordable)
Post by: Fishless on February 26, 2011, 04:12 PM
output watts are important for the graph reading at depth and pixels are important to show good definition and ability to see in daylight, want to get color graph with GPS, I take my hand held GPS with me and (Billy E.) witnessed what I do when I don't like what it says!! actually bumped it in the lake in 30' of water  :crybaby2: :wtf:thankfull had the waypoints saved in computer. with built in GPS can mark points for trolling and save trees and structure where you find crappie.
Title: Re: Fish Finder (Decent and Affordable)
Post by: sandman on February 26, 2011, 08:31 PM
I would do separate GPS and FF. They are electronics and electronics screw up. With separate units, you only have to replace or upgrade '1/2' of your setup.
Title: Re: Fish Finder (Decent and Affordable)
Post by: dieselaw on February 27, 2011, 08:23 AM
I would do separate GPS and FF. They are electronics and electronics screw up. With separate units, you only have to replace or upgrade '1/2' of your setup.
              +1         That is what i do. Handheld GPS units are cheap and you can use them somewhere other than the boat.
Title: Re: Fish Finder (Decent and Affordable)
Post by: OneBlade on May 18, 2011, 08:40 PM
Resurrecting this thread.  I was on a boat today and watched the guy point out on his fish finder various structures on the bottom and fish on the bottom.  I plan to ask him what model he has.  My fish finder doesn't show that kind of detail and is from somewhere in the mid 1980s.  I'd like to upgrade so I talked to Bass Pro guy.  I saw a sonar only unit (Lowrance Mark 5x Pro for $200), a downscan image only unit without sonar (Lowrance DSI Mark 5x for $250 after $50 rebate), and then saw one that had both but went Hummingbird (569C HD DI for $550).  I checked Hummingbird for the combined unit because it appears to be significantly cheaper than Lowrance when looking at units that have both sonar and downscan imaging.

I'm trying to understand if I can get by with just sonar, just downscan imaging, or really just should bite the bullet and get both.  Looking at downscan imaging unit, I could barely make out the fish as they were little dots on the screen that were tough to see, but the structures and ground looked awesome.  Viewing the sonar unit, the fish showed up better and the ground, well wasn't as good as the downscan imaging one.

Would I be wasting my money getting a unit that is downscan imaging only ($250) without sonar?  Does sonar work better in some ways (e.g. suspended fish or finding fish in general)?

Or, do you think the sonar-only unit would show decent ground structure, enough to be able to find not only suspended fish but recognize a large boulder, tree, and perhaps fish on the bottom?
Title: Re: Fish Finder (Decent and Affordable)
Post by: Fishless on May 19, 2011, 04:44 AM
I have been playing with the new hummingbird (now have a degree in fishfinder use ;D :headbang:) actually once I read the book and played with it out on the lake I am finally starting to understand its use. One thing to remember down scan units don't show fish unless there is a large number of them to get a image and it shows up as a shadow area like shad or straight line such as stripers, but it is easy to switch back to standard sonar or do a split screen. I hope to download my waypoints off the hand held GPS to a SD card and download to the unit and purchase a good lake map SD card as the internal model supplied with the unit is very weak map half the time at pleasant it shows me driving on dry land :laugh: the down scan works great even when up on plane. I do notice I am getting interference between the eagle 480 on the troll motor and the new hummingbird still playing with the settings, for a troller the down scan would be great to show trees etc. then you could mark your course on the graph to stay where you want and to mark a particular area to troll over more than once in open water?
Title: Re: Fish Finder (Decent and Affordable)
Post by: menrats on May 20, 2011, 06:42 AM
remember the trolling motors or just the ipilot system is a gps system. you can mark spots or your last track. once i git er figured im gunna put a wuppin on yall.
Title: Re: Fish Finder (Decent and Affordable)
Post by: OneBlade on May 20, 2011, 07:00 AM
fishless, what model number did you end up getting?  Maybe I'll make that as my starting point.  Seems like the Hummingbirds were more affordable when looking at DSI & Sonar combined units.
Title: Re: Fish Finder (Decent and Affordable)
Post by: Fishless on May 21, 2011, 04:13 PM
my graph is the hummingbird  597 ci HD, still playing with it to figure it out, totally different command functions from my eagle graphs
Title: Re: Fish Finder (Decent and Affordable)
Post by: sandman on May 21, 2011, 05:57 PM
Found one situation last weekend where the i-Pilot doesn't work. Wind quartering from behind and trying to maintain a drift at a speed less than the wind pushes you :). I would be drifting towards the bank and the power level would be on '0' so no steering. Had to turn around and troll back into the ind to make it track reasonably straight.

That 'anchor' function works pretty well to if there's a little breeze. No wind and it goes nuts trying to keep you on a spot.
Title: Re: Fish Finder (Decent and Affordable)
Post by: OneBlade on May 22, 2011, 02:03 PM
Fishless, I took a look at the 597ci HD that you have.  It has dual beam plus and power of 4000W PTP, but doesn't have down imaging.  I did take a look at the few models that contain both dual beam plus and down imaging, but for some odd reason, they lower the power down to 2400W PTP.  That's a concern and I don't know why they did that.  I'd rather fork over the money to get all features and at 4000W, but can't find a Hummingbird model like that.  So, I may check out Lowrance at this point.  Did you go through this decision point as well whether or not to get down imaging with less power or just get the dual beam plus at higher power? 
Title: Re: Fish Finder (Decent and Affordable)
Post by: Fishless on May 22, 2011, 08:38 PM
mine must be the 597ciHD DI model weird because on the front removeable face plate for SD card it does not have the DI on it but looking at them online it shows it? but mine has down imaging