Using a Smartwatch to Catch More Fish

How to mark spots and control your boat without stepping away from the action.
Angler wearing a smartwatch
With built-in GPS, Quatix 7 marine smartwatches provide graphic tide charts for the area in which you are fishing. Jim Hendricks

While drifting over an expansive sand flat off the coast of California recently, all three anglers on my boat hooked up simultaneously with big white sea bass. Pandemonium ensued, and no one had time to run to the chart plotter to create a waypoint so that we might return to the fish later. But I was wearing a new Quatix 7x Solar Edition smartwatch, which allowed me to mark the spot as I battled the fish.

The idea of using a smartwatch to catch more fish might sound far-fetched. Smartwatches from brands like Apple, Carbinox, Coros, Polar and Tag Heuer can perform an amazing number of functions, but most of these wrist-worn computers fail to focus on the marine market. Only one company—Garmin—has developed smartwatches with boating anglers in mind. 

With suggested retail ranging from $699.99 to $1,199.99, Garmin’s latest series of marine smartwatches—the rugged Quatix 7 series—incorporates a mind-boggling array of boating and fishing features.

Watch Vs. Phone

A key question among boating anglers often arises: Why do I need a smartwatch when I can use my smartphone? While these two types of mobile devices perform many of the same functions, the smartwatch has advantages on a boat. For one, a smartwatch is more accessible, says David Dunn, senior director of marine and RV sales for Garmin.

“On a fishing boat, phones usually get tucked away in a safe, dry place so they don’t get wet or fall on the deck or go overboard,” Dunn explains. “A smartwatch, on the other hand, is strapped to your wrist, so you don’t have to run to the helm or risk dropping your phone while on deck.

“Each Quatix also carries a 10 ATM underwater rating, so you need not worry about getting them wet or even reaching into the livewell to grab a bait,” he adds.

With a smartwatch, you can quickly check a text—maybe about a hot bite—while fishing or handling other onboard tasks. That said, in order to access text and email, Quatix marine smartwatches require a wireless connection to a smartphone that has a cellular or Wi-Fi connection. The watch-to-phone connection occurs with the Garmin Connect app using Garmin’s ANT+ wireless technology. 

MFD Control

One of the coolest functions of the Quatix smartwatch is the ability to monitor and control one of many Garmin multifunction displays. For example, I can stream information and access control of my Garmin GPSMap 723xsv using the 7X Solar watch from anywhere on the boat, even while fighting a fish. 

To do this, you first create a Wi-Fi network on the MFD, assigning it a name and password. Make sure you note these for future reference because you will need them to wirelessly connect using the Quatix settings menu. Once the connection is made, it opens a world of possibilities, including the ability to control the chart plotter, view depth readings, and adjust the depth scale or sensitivity. 

While it might not result in more fish, the Quatix also allows you to control a Fusion onboard audio system from anywhere around the boat or on the dock.

Motor Monitor

“Quatix smartwatches can also keep you abreast of engine operating parameters; for instance, if you need to transfer command of the helm to a crewmember while you grab a bite to eat or tend to other duties,” Dunn says. 

“The Quatix will replicate the engine display from the MFD. So, with a twist of the wrist, you can see the boatspeed, rpm, volts, engine temperature and more, even while checking on the condition of your live-bait supply or just digging into the cooler for a sandwich.”

These smartwatches can also be configured to serve as a remote control for Garmin’s Reactor autopilot systems. You can change the heading, engage pattern steering and follow a GPS track, even when you’re not at the helm. That can prove handy when you’re on deck tending trolling lines.

Garmin smartwatch lineup
The new Quatix series includes the 7, 7 Sapphire and 7x Solar smartwatches. Courtesy Garmin

Independent Operator

Even without a connection to a smartphone or an MFD, Quatix smartwatches offer a wealth of angling-related information and functions. Each has a built-in multiband GPS to provide position information anytime and anywhere. 

You can record an MOB directly on your Quatix (independently of the MFD) at the press of the touchscreen and save that waypoint as a fishing spot for future reference.

Each watch comes loaded with Garmin’s SkyView maps and offers support for Garmin’s BlueChart g3 coastal charts (sold separately and updated wirelessly) showing fish-holding reefs, wrecks and ledges, as well as critical navigational data. 

The watches also include built-in tide charts, and you can program them to alert you to important tide phases so you can plan to be at the right place at the right time to intercept fish.

Anchor Watch

Should your fishing plans include an overnight stay in a remote anchorage, a Quatix smartwatch can serve as a critical safety item. That’s because it features an anchor alarm to wake you up if the anchor drags, and it works with or without a connection to an MFD. 

In addition, the new 7X Solar has a powerful LED flashlight on the side of its titanium housing so you don’t stumble around in the dark while checking the anchor.

A Quatix can also facilitate payment at the fuel dock so you don’t have to grab your wallet and risk dropping it in the drink. Using the Garmin Pay app, you can add a credit card to the Garmin account on the watch ahead of time. When paying for fuel, ice and other provisions, just hold your wrist to a pay scanner for a secure, contactless e-payment. “It’s almost too easy,” Dunn says.

Marine-specific smartwatches can do much to make life on the water easier and more productive for boating anglers. While they come with a high price tag, their wide range of functions are clearly useful for anglers, cruisers, and anyone else who drives a boat. I wouldn’t be surprised to see other major marine electronics brands jumping into this market in the years to come.