Most anglers today can’t imagine fishing without sonar to show them the depth and presence of fish. Add an electronic chart to the equation to provide a detailed lake map right in front of you, and GPS to show the precise location of your boat on that map, and you’re in total control. Whether you’re fishing a bass boat, walleye boat or utility boat, good electronics not only show you fish, but help keep you in the hotspot, too. They can even help you find your way back to the ramp or nearest fuel dock.
Today, most ‘packaged’ aluminum fishing boats come factory-rigged with a reliable fish finder, and your aluminum boat dealer can easily upgrade your electronic array to incorporate Global Positioning Satellites (GPS) for navigation, and chart plotting to show your fishing boat’s exact location on the lake as well as the structure around you. In addition, available chart plotting software will even tell you what your options are for restaurants and motels near the lake when you’re done fishing.
Adding GPS helps you mark productive spots that hold fish for your return later in the day—or even the next year. While installing a GPS unit used to mean also installing the module that picked up the satellite signals to triangulate your position, many modern GPS units feature that module built-in. All you need is a battery to run it. You might even opt for an inexpensive hand-help GPS unit that you can affix to its own in-boat mount.
From there, the sky is the limit for rigging your aluminum fishing boat with electronics. Today’s state-of-the-art units feature high-definition sonar, side-scanning sonar to see fish and structure to the side of your boat, even 360-degree scanning to show what’s under the water all the way around your boat. Larger aluminum walleye boats used in all sorts of weather benefit from radar—recreational radar units have fallen drastically in price over the last few years. Chart plotters come with a chip loaded with detailed lake maps that show lake bottoms for several surrounding states—all on the same chip. Gone are the days of massive paper map books. Anglers can trailer their bass boats or walleye boats to any lake in the country and have a detailed map of it right on their console. For trolling in your walleye boat, you can even add a speed-and-temperature probe that shows you the exact level of fish-holding temperature breaks, and if you’re trolling with or against an underwater current.
If budget is an issue and you need to keep it simple, basic electronics to help you find fish and monitor the depth and structure are not expensive. If you have an open aluminum utility boat, either a jon boat or a utility-V boat, you can purchase a sonar unit for less than $100. And you don’t have to drill any holes to mount the transducer, which is the small puck that actually shoots the sonar pulse down into the water. Transducer brackets are available to simply clamp onto the transom next to your outboard.
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