The majority of stand-alones combine the sounder and plotter on one machine. In this case, stand-alone means a dual-function instrument that’s not part of a network. This makes sense, as plotter and sounder functions increasingly overlap. Case in point is the functionality of Lowrance stand-alones, most recently the Elite-7, a combination unit sized for smaller boats, where a network is unnecessary.
Recording and saving bottom data is the hallmark of the Lowrance Insight Genesis mapping system that allows anglers to create custom charts based on sonar logs: a function that requires plotter and sonar to work together. The 7-inch Elite-7 is available as a plotter, fish finder or combo model ($499 to $869).
Garmin’s new 5-inch GPSMAP 547 plotter ($749.99), plotter/sonar 547XS ($849.99), 7-inch GPSMAP 741 plotter ($1,599.99) and combo GPSMAP 741XS ($1,699.99) are designed to fit fishing boats in the 18- to 21-foot range. Different mounting options accommodate just about any helm configuration, on any size boat. They can flush, flat or surface mount; the 500 series has a swivel mount available, and the larger 700 series has a gimbal mount. While not networkable, these are sophisticated instruments; the sonar versions are CHIRP capable for maximum detail and resolution. They are preloaded with coastal cartography, and upgradable to Garmin’s proprietary G2Vision cartography.
Raymarine has moved away from nonnetwork sounders and plotters, according to marketing manager Jim McGowan. The company’s smallest and most economical rollout, the a65 GPS/chart plotter ($814.99) and a67 GPS/chart plotter/fish finder ($914.99) combine power, simplicity and economy.
“Out of the box you can run this as a plotter,” says McGowan. “There is one screen, one box, and even with the fish finder, it’s under $1,000.” The a-series is networkable, but it’s not necessary. “You can add a second screen on the other end of the boat, or a higher-powered sounder on the network. The adaptability is there,” says McGowan. Both GPS and sounder modules are built in, so the units are totally self-contained, perfect for fishing boats in the 20-foot-and-under range. Though diminutive, the a-series has the same processor, graphics and software as Raymarine’s larger systems. “Small doesn’t mean cheap in boats,” says McGowan. “There are a lot of premium small boats, and fishermen in that category demand the premium navigational experience the a-series provides.”