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April 26, 2013

Electronics for Inshore Anglers

Tailored to fishermen who fish in shallow water.

[Click through the images in the gallery above.]

Inshore is a fungible term. The mangrove shorelines of South Florida qualify; so do the rocky coasts of Maine and California. In the Northeast, inshore might be three miles off the coast, where it’s legal to chase ­stripers, or out to the edge of the shelf if you’re chasing bluefins.

Inshore fishing varies from inches of water to a dozen fathoms. Suffice it to say, anything not offshore is inshore. Hunting the shallows with paddle or pole, or fishing shallow reefs and wrecks, here’s a selection of tools to make your inshore pursuit more productive.

Getting Around

Flir’s thermal night-vision cameras have carved out a place on a growing number of fishing boats, and the First Mate II series brings portability to the power to see in the dark. Dressed in a rugged marinized suit, these units slip into a slicker pocket or a boat bag. Getting into position along a productive shoreline before sunup becomes a more efficient strategy — as does returning to the dock after the light has faded. 

The handhelds are built on the same infrared-sensing cores as the bigger boat-mounted FLIR units, and there are four models available with varying levels of features. Especially notable on the latest version is InstAlert — image processing that highlights the strongest heat signatures, highlighting hazards or people in the water. Users also report success spotting bait schools on the surface in low-light situations. ­Starting at $1,999; flir.com

Sonar to Go

The echo 150 Portable Bundle guarantees you’ll never be without a fish finder. If you lack the space for a permanent installation, store your boat where you’re better off without tempting electronics aboard, or spend a lot of time on other people’s (marginally equipped) boats, this package lets you carry a complete fish-finder setup with you when you step aboard.

The package includes a Garmin echo 150 with dual beam (200/77 kHz) transducer in a protective ­carrying case with a rugged support arm and base. The case stows all the necessary components: a sealed AGM rechargeable battery with its own charger, transducer cable, suction-cup transducer mount and float.

If you already own a compatible 4- or 5-inch Garmin echo, echomap or GPSMAP, you can get the portability of it, sans sounder, for about a hundred bucks. $169.99; garmin.com

High-Value/ ­High-Tech

Raymarine’s new ­Dragonfly Sonar/GPS brings the power of CHIRP sonar within reach of every ­angler. It’s a­ppealing to smaller-boat, inshore and nearshore fishermen. ClearPulse DownVision sonar uses CHIRP technology to transmit a wide-spectrum sonar signal providing ­near-photographic sonar images. Two CHIRP channels allow simultaneous views of fish-finding sonar and ­high-res DownVision imagery.

A built-in 50-channel GPS simplifies installation, and it comes loaded with your choice of Navionics chart bundles. The ultrabright, sunlight-viewable 5.7-inch display makes it a natural for open-boat installation.

“Because it’s CHIRP sonar, it produces a super photolike image of the ­bottom, and of fish,” says Raymarine’s Jim McGowan. “It’s ideal for the shallow-reef and wreck fisherman.” $649.99 (with transducer); raymarine.com