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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My last boat was a jon boat with oars and a 5hp Clinton engine. I had an orginal 1972 Fishhawk (spinner-type) depth finder that stuck to the seat with suction cups and was powered by a couple of lantern batteries. ;) [BTW it still works! I use it at places where I rent boats.]

then, I went 30 years without a boat

now, I'm back and I'm spec'ing out a 17 deepV :-D

So, I come to this question of sonars. I'm gonna get a nice GPS/sonar to go on the console.

But, I see a lot of guys will have a 2nd sonar to go on the bow so that they can keep an eye on things as they troll or cast a shoreline? or, ??? This sonar is a lesser model? has the transducer in the troll motor? Is it there because when you're in the bow seat / casting platform you can't see the console-mounted unit? (I'll have a walk-through windshield)

Does the 2nd sonar have some special feature(s) that the main/console sonar doesn't have? Do ya really need it?

What up with the side-view vexilar thing?

I can afford the stuff, but I don't want to have it just to have it or for the "looks" of the rig. So, please chime in on your experience or opinion, whether its: a) can't live without a sonar on the bow, or save your bucks or, whatever.
 

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Well I am no expert on electronics and I am sure others will have more in depth answers to your questions, but I like the additional sonar mounted on the bow because it allows me to see what is going on right below the front of the boat where I am sitting. Otherwise you are looking at sonar information for stuff you have already passed over when the transducer is mounted in the hull or on the back of the boat. This is especially handy when vertical jigging or trying to fish right along a drop or something. In certain situations I can even watch my jig on the screen if fishing straight down.
 

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Yep that last post pretty much covers it.

I have a Lowrance 104 on the console, and a X15 on the bow. Both hooked to one GPS reciever. I can save waypoints from both locations.

I also have the bow transducer mounted on the trolling motor so that I can watch my jig directly below me while vertical jigging.

Most times the bow unit is the same or somewhat lesser model, as its nice to have a backup unit....so go with the same brand and cable connectors if possible.

If you fish from the bow often, a bow unit is a requirement for me. Well worth the money.
 

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reelman has a great point. The depth difference can be 10 feet+ from the front to the back of the boat. It is nice to see exactly what you are fishing over. You have a little less gap if one of the transducers is internally hull mounted. I used to have 2, but ended up scraping both of them and going with just a rear mounted transducer, with the console on the hull. I can spin it and get a good luck at it when I am up on the casting deck, but it is a minor annoyance to have to look back to read it, and also not have always have an accurate depth at the front of the boat.

If I had the money to burn, ideally I would have GPS/Sonar on the console. For navigation and trolling the GPS is a great tool. On the front end I would spend much less money. Something such as a Humminbird 565. All that is required is an accurate water depth from the front of the boat, a good look at the bottom structure, and water temps. I would hook it up to the universal sonar on the Min Kotta and call it a day. Maybe on my next boat :p Good luck with your purchase :)2
 

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It all depends on what type of fishing you do. I always put the best finder up on the bow since I spent most of my time up there and used an adequate finder at the console if one at all. I was always looking at my sonar even when fishing the bank because that is how you find NEW targets. I also have this theory that if fish are suspended at say 6ft down off the bank where my boat is, I target the bank in that depth range. If you fish new lakes or unfamiliar lakes it is benificial to have good electronics. if you fish the same lakes over and over you do not need multiple electronics if you know most of the lake. If you troll open water put the best finder at the console or if fishing a tiller put it in the back. If you fish with people that you know they know what they are doing have one set up off the transom and visable for them to use.
 

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A Sonar/GPS combo works great on the dash and bow if you want to put out the bucks. It is very convenient. Another suggestion would be to stick with the same brands front and rear. New sonars have several different pages/screens that can be brought up for adjusting your display, sensitivity, GPS and other fine tuning. Having units from different manufacturers can be frustrating when attempting to adjust on the water. Whether you choose Lowrance, Eagle, Humminbird or others, match your units so that you don't need to take a manual out every time you want to adjust it. For instance, I have a Lowrance lcx38 on the dash and a x67 on the bow. The screen pages and adjustments are very close. ;)
 

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If you ever fish any mid lake drop offs, or mid lake sturcture, you will need both. Say your boat is 18ft long. You want to fish a 10' rock pile. By the time you see it on your console locator the bow of the boat is 18' away from it.
 

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One thing that should be mentioned is two sonars with separate transducers operating at the same frequency may interfere with eachother. The cone angle increases as depth increases and they eventually cross over eachother. That can happen in as little as 10 foot depth. You can avoid that by having sonars that can network but then you are still using the transducer on the back of the boat.

I have two Eagles that are virtually identical 480 units except the one on my dash is the dual frequency Sea Finder 480. The one on the bow hooked up to my Minnkota Universal Sonar is the single frequency Fishmark 480. I run the 50 KHz frequency on the dash unit which provides me with a wider angle view of the bottom. It helps find bottom changes and structure a little faster.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Guys,
Wow! Thanks for all of the great responses!
reelman2: I had no idea that a jig could be seen onscreen! your points are all well taken
uplandk9: I had no idea these could be rigged together and that waypoints could be saved from either unit – that’s a nice feature!
FishinMatt: I’m thinking of a thru-hull for the console and a Universal sonar for the Minn-Kota up-front – I wonder if I can have the separate transducers for sonar, and plot common wavepoints for the GPS?
spoonman: great comments on putting this all into context with the type of fishing. I expect to fish a big variety of water. At least once a year I’m planning to put out on Lake of the Woods or Lac Seul.
jdspinners: you’re obviously speaking from experience. yes, I’m planning to but from the same company – probably Lowrance.
ffishman: yeah, I fish mid-lake structure as much as possible. in fact, it is those humps, etc. that I know that I “can’t wait” to see with my new electronics. I love working these less pressured areas.
KP: another awesome comment. I would have never thought of or imagined that (interference).

thanks again to all!
 

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Three Sonars

I primarily target walleyes... So, I use three sonars...

A good color unit on the console for finding structure and fish...

A "pretty" good unit at the bow running off the bottom of the transducer...

A third unit mounted at the back for trolling and handlining. The console and rear unit are different brands and frequencies to avoid interference.
 
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