Fishing friends and acquaintances often ask me about the best marine electronics for their boats. One thing I always tell them: Buy the biggest components you can afford and/or fit on your boat. This applies to everything from multifunction displays (MFDs) to chirp transducers. Internal micro-processing components continue to shrink, making marine electronics ever more powerful and compact. Yet, some elements of marine electronics need a decent amount of real estate to perform as intended for boating anglers.
One feature on today’s marine electronics that keeps growing is the size of the screen on MFDs – and for good reason. Brands such as Furuno, Garmin and Simrad offers monitors as large as 24 inches (diagonal). Humminbird and Lowrance MFDs now reach 15 and 16 inches, respectively.
A larger screen size facilitates the very nature of an MFD, that is to effectively display as many as three or four functions simultaneously in split screen mode. The bigger the screen the larger you can make each “pane” in a split-screen view. That’s important when you try to read a chart plotter, sonar and radar simultaneously on heaving boat.
Also, my eyes aren’t getting any better as I age, and that’s why I welcome the trend toward larger screen sizes – they help me cope with my less-than-stellar vision. So if you're considering one or more new MFDs for your boat, don’t scrimp on the size. Get the biggest display(s) you can fit at your help. Yes, larger MFDs cost more, but the purchase price will fade from memory, and the ability easily ready displays and data on large screen will pay off for years to come.
Some of today’s transducers marketed as being chirp-capable might be too small to maximize the effectiveness of a chirp-capable fishfinder. They will chirp, but you might not get maximum chirp performance from them. This applies to through-hull, transom-mount and shoot-through-the hull transducer models.
Unlike single- or dual-frequency transducers that require only a few internal ceramic elements, true chirp sonar transducers possess multiple ceramic elements – as many as 25 in some high-end transducers from Airmar Technology – to send and receive sonar signals over a wide bandwidth. The greater the number of elements, the more physical space is required. And that’s why the larger the chirp transducer, the more effective it becomes.
It is also the reason you don’t want to scrimp when it comes to size. Get the largest chirp transducer your boat and your budget will accommodate. You will see the difference on the display of your chirp-capable fishfinder.