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GPS/Depth finder combo

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Capt. Paul I want to upgrade to a Depth Finder Chart Plotter combo unit. I have a 19 ft Basstracker and primarily fish Lake Ponchatrain and Delacroix. I would like to stay in the low end range for size and price and want a color screen. Any Ideas?
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What is the BEST GPS Combo unit?
~ Captain Paul's response to: ~ Crabtracker ~

WOW ! This question is like trying to suggest what kind of a car or truck you should get. The bottom line is that you will have to do some homework yourself to get the unit that is best for your type of fishing and navigation.

Here are some pointers that may give you some shortcuts to making your decision.

If you are like other outdoorsman, the price of the system will probably ve the primary consideration. A GPS unit as you indicated can run from $300 to $6000. You will have to make a list of features and decide what of those features you want of need in your unit.

First for the GPS part of the question. Many readers select their GPS unit by the type of maps that are available for the unit. This may sound strange, but the state of the art in GPS technology means that most manufacturers have the option of using a GPS receiver chip that has 18 or more channels, has WAAS and can deliver a position to within 3 meters (9.8 ft). However if the unit can deliver a position to within 10 feet but your map only shows a scale of 1:250,000 or greater, you will not be able to see the features where the unit is located. To avoid sticker shock, most manufacturers include a Base Map which is a very basic map of the area. These type of maps usually only show major roads and bodies of water. They do not depict the many small bayous, lagoons, bays, canals and lakes that make up the Louisiana coastal marshes. Some units do not allow any supplemental mapping programs. That means you are stuck with the maps you have in the units and cannot add additional map images. If you can you will find that you must supplement the existing base map with an approved after market mapping system. These can cost another $200-$500 expenditure over the cost of the GPS unit itself.

The cost and performance difference comes in the manufacturer’s operating software that determines how many different screens, the size of the screen and if they are color or grey scale images, the amount of waypoints, routes and tracks they can store, the ease of performing the operations and if they are button or touch screen operated, and the type of case and weather protection they are afforded. And, as I mentioned, the internal and accessory maps that they have or can use should be a really big consideration in the selection process.

Next comes the Depth Finder part of the equation. It makes no sense to have the expense of having 3000 foot depth capabilities in salt water when you will be fishing in waters under 200 feet, or in your case under 50 feet of water. Dual transducers add to the clarity of the image and of course the overall cost of the unit, so you should decide what features you need, really need in your unit. Certainly you would want clarity of the images and an accurate depiction of the bottom, but you will have to decide if you want or need some of the other features that are now available in the sounder units.

I suggest that you search the internet for the type and features you want on the major manufacturers web sites. Check out their SUPPORT section to see if you are speaking to a real person in U.S. English or if you have to email or post your questions.

The three largest consumer manufacturers are Garmin, Humminbird and Lowrance. Check their units on their web sites. You can fine GARMIN units at www.garmin.com, the LOWRANCE units at www.lowrance.com and the Humminbird units at www.humminbird.com

Yes there are others, but start with these to get an idea what is available.

~Captain Paul ~