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Rods, Reels and GPS!!
By: Chad Morgenthaler


Buttons bells and whistles, how can anglers ever learn to use all the new technology? I agree, at first glance the electronics rigged on new bass boats can be very intimidating.  But I can testify it’s not as complicated as it seems. Surprisingly it’s also not very difficult to use. After a couple of hours of on-the-water usage anglers can start to feel comfortable with the new products, as well as all the amazing capabilities.

Throughout my travels and time on the water I’m constantly coming in contact with anglers that know very little, or have a limited understanding, of the basic functions and advantages of a good GPS/depth-finder unit. With technology advancing at a rapid speed, and so many different makes and models to choose from, it’s easy to get confused.    

In this article I’m going to simplify the decision making process and explain the differences and usages for anglers that may not have an in-depth knowledge of on-board electronics.

I would like to start by stating that if I can use a GPS/depth-finder unit, anyone can learn.  I’m not computer savvy, so it was a little intimidating for me at first as well.  Fortunately Lowrance makes purchasing a GPS unit simple with their “all-in-one” package, which offers a preloaded hard drive full of electronic charts.

Through satellite signals a global positioning unit (GPS) can help anglers accomplish several things.  It allows anglers to mark and save key locations on a particular body of water, which shows fishing potential. The marked areas on the Lowrance unit are referred to as “way point” icons. Way points are marked by anglers with a quick-save feature on the unit.  This function saves current location with longitude and latitude coordinates.  An example of areas that anglers might “way point” are off shore structure, or even an area in a cove that has potential.  This feature easily allows anglers to return to the exact position at a later date.

Lastly, a GPS unit also performs a unique navigational function that allows anglers to travel to and from certain points in the same track. This feature is an important navigational tool.  Especially if encountering hazardous conditions such as shallow water or stump fields while boating.

A depth-sounder, or also called a depth-finder, in its most basic function reads the depth of the water at any given location. The background and science of sonar is a simple concept.  The unit sends out an electrical impulse. When the impulse hits an object it bounces back to the unit, transmitting a detailed image of what the “underwater” looks like. Having a depth-finder in my line of work is extremely important because I have to know what type of structures lay beneath the water.

The most important feature that I look for in a depth-finder is the amount of pixels the unit offers. Keep in mind the more pixels the better detail of underwater structure. Next, I personally like a full color screen (as opposed to a grayscale screen) because the full color unit reveals details by highlighting the color difference. For example, if there is a very hard bottom the unit will read a thin, deep red line. If fishing in grass, the unit will show the grass in a lighter shade of color compared to the bottom as well as give a very detailed look at the edges of the grass.

When fishing I always have the most basic function of my Lowrance LCX 111C-HD unit on at all times. The basic function allows anglers to view their position on the lake or river system on screen.  This function really helps cut down on navigational time. I also use the split screen feature a lot. With the GPS/depth-finder unit anglers can choose what features they want to show on screen. The split screen map and depth-finder is a feature that I use 90% of the time. In this mode, the lake map is displayed on one side of the screen and the depth-finder information is displayed on the other side of the screen. If needed, the unit will also display water temperature, compass information and even ground speed.

There are a few things to keep in mind when preparing to purchase a new Lowrance unit. Prices vary dramatically between the units and not every angler needs the most expensive unit on the market. First, ask yourself “Is a GPS unit something that I need”?  If you fish large bodies of water, or in tournament competition, the answer should automatically be “Yes”.  I think all serious anglers’ boats should at least be equipped with a depth-finder for safety. Knowing your depth on unknown bodies of water, or in unfamiliar areas of the lake is very important. If you are a recreational angler and you do not often fish where precise navigation is a necessity, then a high pixel depth-finder is a good choice.

Even though intimidating at first, these products are very easy to use and are extremely helpful.  I believe Lowrance Electronics has the best products on the market. They’re simple to use, and they provide the best quality available.  In order to find the best product for you, log onto and read through the tutorials, or simply visit a local dealer.  

Make sure and log onto my web site and register for my fan club.  E-newsletters are forwarded monthly and one lucky winner each month receives a prize.  Tournament summaries are posted after each tournament, and pro tips are updated every two weeks.  It’s a great source of bass fishing information.

A special “Thanks” to all of my sponsors: Jasper Engines and Transmissions, Yamaha Motors, Ranger Boats, Lowrance Electronics, Svanda GM Motor Group, Reaction Innovations, Maxima Line, Kistler Rods, Minn Kota, Plano , Nameoki Village Marine and Solar Bat.