What type of sonar is best for your new pontoon boat?
Today’s angler or pontooner have more choices in advanced marine electronics than ever before. Depending on how serious a person is about fishing will determine how much is spent on these amazing machines. The good news is that even basic units can be upgraded
down the road by swapping out a transducer- so you don’t have to break the bank immediately.
While Angler Qwest can handle today’s huge screens right in the console, anglers who kick things up a notch are mounting forward-facing sonars like Panoptix on the bow and others add sonar to the stern as well.
Offerings from Garmin, Humminbird and Lowrance have base units that can be had for under $500, each of which offer a ton of performance. The base Garmin Striker Vivid Series, Lowrance Elite Series, and Humminbird Helix series can be had for easily under the $500 mark (depending on the size of the screen), but a person can add on performance whether they want side-scan, versions of down-imaging, and forward-facing technology.
For a person just running for fun and who doesn’t fish much, a standard 2D sonar is on every unit and gets the job done. Keep in mind, that these are just fine for making sure your depth is safe and for jigging or targeting fish in deeper water. They often have fairly narrow cone angles, so if a person sees structure or a school of fish, and you drop a line down, you know you’re on in the game and not 50-feet away from the target.
No shame in that, and they can be had for under $200.
Now, if a person is often cruising waters that are unknown, it might not be bad to add side-scan or even forward-facing technologies because you can literally tell if a rock or other piece of structure is in your path. Transducers or upgrades for these can be $1000 or more. But that’s not a bad price rather than taking a chunk out of the pontoon. These upgrades not only make you safer on the water but pay HUGE dividends if you ever get serious about fishing- especially if hunting down schools of suspended panfish for the kids.
One thing that really should be added on for a pontoon is GPS. It’s sometimes as little as $150 more on a basic locator and is well worth the upgrade for getting your family home safe.
Lastly, you can have the most sophisticated electronics on board but if you don’t take the time to learn to use them, they’re not worth much. Spend some time on the water and get to know them well and you’ll get the most out of them – and your money.