Raymarine Dragonfly – The Best Fishfinder For The Money

Posted by admin | Reviews | Posted on July 1st, 2014

Boaters looking for a new fishfinder often ask what is the best fishfinder for the money. It’s obvious that a $2000 fishfinder will be better than a simple $100 unit. However, the question on everybody’s mind when buying a fishfinder is where is the sweet spot, how do I pick the fishfinder that offers biggest bang for the buck. After testing and experimenting with several new fishfinder models, our opinion is that Raymarine Dragonfly is the best fishfinder for the money.

The Dragonfly has a 5.7 inch, crystal-clear display. The display is not as big as the high-end units, but the it’s horizontally stretched which makes a good use of the screen real-estate. It’s also very bright and provides high definition image, much better than similarly priced competition. The other feature that stands out with the Dragonfly is the transducer. It’s very big and sturdy and can take a lot of abuse.

What is most exciting about the Dragonfly is the CHIRP technology. Unlike traditional fishfinders which use 2 frequencies to produce the output, the new Raymarine utilizes a whole spectrum of frequencies which results in super-accurate sonar image and great target separation. Raymarine was able to equip the moderately priced Dragonfly with CHIRP technology that until now was only available on ultra-expensive, high-end units.

The new Raymarine comes with Navionics Gold mapping so you’re getting great GPS along with the sonar. The mapping display is basic but accurate. What’s great about the Dragonfly is the simplicity of operation. There are no hundreds of menu and submenus, everything is accessible with a single click of a button. Raymarine has completely revolutionized the fishfinder world. When it comes to value, the Dragonfly beats any unit on the market today.

What to look for when buying a fishfinder?

Posted by admin | Reviews | Posted on April 26th, 2014

Buying your first fishfinder may seem like a difficult decision but it becomes much easier when you know what to look for. You need to read fish finder reviews before making your decision. Here are the main factors that determine which unit is right for you.

• Display – The most important attribute of a fishfinder is the screen size. The screen size is specified as the diagonal dimension, similar to TV specs. Another important, and very often overlooked, attribute is the screen resolution. For example Lowrance Elite 7 Chirp and Raymarine Dragonfly 7 both have 7 seven inch displays. However, Dragonfly has 640 X 800 resolution and Elite 7 only 480 x 800. The difference between 640 and 480 vertical resolution doesn’t seem like a lot but when you convert it to pixels (difference of 160 * 800 = 128000 pixels) it becomes obvious which display will give you a clearer picture.

• Imaging Modes – Modern fishfinders provide traditional 2d sonar image as well as down imaging, side imaging and can even display down image overlayed on top of 2d sonar display. Down image displays photo-like representation of the area directly below the boat, while side image can cover area of upto 240 feet on both sides of the boat. Side image is useful when scanning large areas but it’s requires a learning curve when it comes to interpreting the output. Down image is simple to decipher and helps when locating structure. Every angler knows that you have to find structure before you can find fish.

• Transmit Power & Frequency – The more powerful the transducer, the better picture you will get. More powerful transducer will also be able to reach greater depth but that is also dependent on the frequency of the signal. Lower frequency signal will be able to reach greater depth. That is why most modern fishfinders support multiple transducers utilizing different frequencies. 200/83 kHz transducers are using for shallow water, while 200/50 kHz transducer are meant to be used in deep water situations. Most modern transducers support two frequencies but we have to note the difference between dual frequency and dual beam transducers. Dual frequency transducer can reach different depth depending on the frequency used while dual beam reaches the same depth at both frequencies – the 2 beams have different angles. Wide angle beam covers more area while the small beam provides more detail and smaller coverage.

• GPS – Those navigating difficult environment will want to a fishfinder that supports GPS. But the GPS is useful also when it comes to pinpointing your favorite fishing spots. Note that GPS-equipped units come with preloaded maps. In many cases the maps may not be sufficient and carthography upgrade may be required.

Lowrance Elite 4 HDI – Best Budget Fishfinder

Posted by admin | Lowrance | Posted on April 24th, 2014

Lowrance introduced the new Elite 4 HDI earlier this year and the unit immediately became a big hit.  There are several reasons why this model is very popular.  First of all, it’s a smaller version of a Elite 7 and Elite 5 models and it offers pretty much all the features of its bigger predecessors.  The main feature is the Hybrid Dual Imaging which supports both traditional broadband sonar as well as the down imaging.  HDI allows anglers to easily identify structure and fish.  Another interesting tool is the Downscan Overlay that displays 2d sonar output on top the downscan image and could reveal additional detail not visible in either view.   Elite 4 HDI also provides Insight Genesis that is used to generate underwater maps from sonar recordings.  Elite 4 supports Navionics maps.  If you are planning on using the GPS on this unit, make sure you buy maps for your area, the preloaded maps don’t offer much detail.

The second reason for Elite 4 HDI’s popularity is the screen size.   Lowrance took the page out of Raymarine’s playbook.  Instead of conforming to the unwritten rules that every small and mid-size fishfinder should have screen size of either 3.5, 5 or 7 inch diagonal, the Elite 4 HDI comes with the 4.3 inch diagonal size screen which is 30% larger than the comparable 3.5 inch units.  The screen size will become a tie-breaker for many buyers.

The last but not least factor that contributes to Elite 4 HDI’s popularity is the price.  The GPS-equipped unit is priced at $299 which is much lower than Humminbird 386ci HD DI price of $399.  The 4x version without GPS has an MSRP of $199, that is well below the $269 pricetag for Garmin echo 301dv.  All of this makes the Elite 4 HDI a favorite among anglers, especially those fishing in kayaks and small boats.  The unit comes in several different versions with diferent types of transducers.  There is also Mark 4 HDI which is the greyscale cousin of Elite 4 HDI.  The new Elite 4 HDI series is a big milestone in the evolution of sonar technology – it’s a budget unit that provides a set of features that until now were only available on bigger, much more expensive units.