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chartplotter-fish-finder-review
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The navigation officer at the chart table, equipped with ruler, compass and pencil, bent over the official nautical chart in huge DIN A0 format. This is a familiar image from various films that are supposed to give us an impression of how a ship’s course data is determined and set. Chart tables and official nautical charts in paper format still exist on modern sealiners. This is the mandatory program.

But the digital age with electronic nautical charts has been a part of navigation on the water for a long time. With these, the position and course of the ship are visible on a chart plotter. This technology has also made its way to the recreational sector – and thus for us anglers – and should be part of the standard boat accessories when traveling on large bodies of water.

Many anglers still believe that a fish finder is the most important tool for catching fish. However, lake anglers and those who frequently travel on large lakes know that the chartplotter, in conjunction with nautical charts, makes a far more important contribution to finding fish than many a fishing enthusiast assumes.

In any case, in seafaring, the chartplotter is much less dispensable than the depth sounder. We want to show you in this article, that as an angler you should be focused on a “chartplotter with depth sounder module” and not vice versa.

1. What is a chartplotter? (And how does it work?)

Electronic nautical charts are data that originate, among other things, from official sources of a country. They are combined in smaller units (the so-called tiles) to the desired sea area and stored in a special data format on data media.

This data can be read by a device (the mentioned chartplotter) and made visible on its screen. From a strictly technical point of view, a chart plotter is a small computer with a processor, RAM and an operating system. In terms of its layout, it corresponds most closely to a tablet that has been adapted for a specific use.

The most important equipment detail of a plotter, apart from its computing unit, is the GPS module. Without this, it would be impossible to navigate with the charts read in.

2. What is the Global Positioning System (GPS)?

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In the 1970s, the U.S. military developed a new positioning system that was to replace all previous individual solutions of various army units (e.g. the Navy). Under the abbreviation GPS (Global Positioning System), this system finally became fully operational in the 1990s.

Why this development took around 20 years becomes understandable when one consider the technical effort that was necessary. A global positioning system is not something that can be installed overnight.

First, a large number of satellites had to be launched into orbit and placed on various orbital planes. In addition, numerous ground stations were needed to ensure the accuracy of the measurements. And then, of course, well-functioning receivers were needed that were matched to the intended use.

Initially, GPS was only available for military purposes. Civilian use without restrictions only became possible at the turn of the millennium, after an artificial signal degradation was switched off.

Today, it is possible for everyone to determine positions via the GPS system, which can be accurate to about one meter. However, this requires the use of certain alignment systems, which we will discuss in more detail later.

chart-plotter-gps-fish-finder
Fig. 1: The Lowrance Elite TI² GPS system has found 10 suitable satellites, more than enough for a position fix. Explanation - EPE: Current achievable accuracy 8 m. HDOP: Positioning accuracy is 0.9 (very little deviation, none = 0). SNR: Signal strength of the best four satellites >30 (very good), the average of all >25 (very good). The current boat position in degrees north/east, as well as time and date.

3. How does the GPS tracking work?

We first assume that there are so many satellites on various orbital planes around the world that successful GPS receptionispossible from most places on earth around the clock. Reception is successful when the receiver has found the minimum number of three sufficiently strong satellites. This condition is called a GPS FIX.

With these three signals a position determination is possible, but unfortunately with very poor accuracy. To improve this, a fourth celestial body is needed for alignment. Technically, it works like this: Each satellite sends a coded radio signal, which contains its position and the exact time.

The position of the satellite in space and the difference of the own and transmitted time (= propagation time of the signal) are the values with which the own position can be determined. Unfortunately, the time measurement values of the “inaccurate” receiver clock are not exact enough to allow an accurate position determination. Therefore, a fourth satellite is still needed for alignment, with which the receiver time can be determined more precisely.

The GPS signal can be used to determine the position of the receiver as well as its speed and direction of movement. The speed of the receiver is determined e.g. via the Doppler effect. This describes the change of the running time during the signal duration, which results from the change of location of the receiver (boat) (see figure).

chartplotter-how-gps-tracking-work
Fig. 2: One and the same signal has different travel time measurements resulting from the boat movement. The difference of these travel times is the basis for the speed calculation by the GPS. The greater the difference, the higher the speed.

It can also be used to determine the direction of movement of the object. Electronic compass measurements, which are possible with GPS devices, are based on this method. However, this means that a digital compass only works while the receiver is moving, as this is the only way to set changes in transit time.

Conversely, this means: no movement, no compass. Therefore it is also possible to calculate the speed of the receiver mathematically instead of using the Doppler effect. Such calculation models come from a subarea of the analysis, which examine facts of functions (here e.g. a way-time function) by derivations (differential calculation). These derivatives provide information about the instantaneous velocity of the object after time.

4. SBAS, WAAS, EGNOS, MSAS: Why do GPS signals have to be corrected?

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In practice, the function of the GPS system is not quite as simple as described so far. On a path of around 20,000 m that the radio signal has to cover from the transmitter (satellite) to the receiver (GPS device), some things can falsify the time measurement.

Before the signal enters the atmosphere, which can have a meteorological influence, it must pass through the ionosphere. Depending on the conditions currently prevailing there, this also has an effect on the signal.

In addition, there are other interfering factors, e.g. reflections, which can even render the signal unusable. One of the main focuses is on the influencing factors in the atmosphere.

Among other things, this problem has been addressed by a comprehensive extension of the GPS system, the SBAS (Satellite Based Augmentation System), which consists of various continent-based components.

chartplotter-gps-systems-worldwide
Graphic of SBAS extension systems worldwide. Full coverage is not yet given, as some building blocks (such as Oceania, and Africa) are still under construction or testing. Russia operates its own system (similar to the U.S. GPS) called GLONASS.
  • The WAAS (Wide Area Augmentation System) is available for North America,

  • in Europe, the EGNOS (European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service) is used,

  • the MSAScoversJapan,

  • as well as the GAGANdoes forIndia.

  • Additional extensions are under construction worldwide, such as in Australia or Africa.

The basic principle of these GPS extensions is the collection and transmission of correction data, which are distributed via individual geostationary satellites. So that every GPS device, no matter how simple, can receive and process these data, they are sent on the same frequency as the actual GPS signal. To distinguish between the two pulses, the correction delivery has a higher satellite number as an identifier.

The collection of the data and the calculation of the correction factors are performed by ground stations installed throughout the area, which detect atmospherically caused errors in their coverage area and calculate the correction data from them. With this information, the WAAS/EGNOS-compatible GPS receiver can determine the signal’s travel times much more precisely.

Deviations from the actual value are between 0.3 and 1 m after correction. Without this, only position determinations with a tolerance frame of 5 to 15 m would be possible. Unfortunately, the use of the correction techniqueis associated with two disadvantages:

  1. Increases the power consumption of the GPS receiver not insignificantly.

  2. The reception of WAAS/EGNOS signals is strongly dependent on the location of the receiver.

This means that correction on the open sea and in higher regions usually works without problems. Mobile receivers on the ground – especially in cities – have to manage without this help because the correction satellite is “shadowed”.

5. How do digital maps and GPS data fit together on the chartplotter?

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We simply imagine the following picture: There is a paper map on the table that shows our current cruising area. We simulate the position of our boat with a laser pointer. This meanswith a small red luminous point, which moves according to the boat movement, on the map.

By looking at a more or less large section of the map, we can see in which direction the boat is moving. In addition, this also gives us an indicator of the boat’s speed, depending on how fast the point is moving on the map.

To prevent the illuminated point from disappearing from our field of vision at some point, the chart is trailed so that our section always remains roughly the same in relation to the boat’s position. A chart plotter works in a very similar way.

Our digital map usually works vectorially, this means we can zoom in or out of the maps. Depending on which detailed information we need in the driving area. Each point (i.e., each position on the map) has an identifier that uniquely defines it. These are its coordinates.

On the globe, we take the longitude and latitude circles of the globe. Where a certain meridian intersects with a circle of latitude is our point or our current position on the map. The position information is provided by the GPS, the chart plotter determines in the second step where exactly these coordinates are located on the map and places a boat symbol there.

The position query runs 10 times per second on mid-range and higher GPS systems. As a result, boat movement on the map is very smooth and the displayed boat position is very close to the actual conditions. In addition, the system works even at slow boat speed to normal drifting when fishing.

6. How to navigate the lake with the chartplotter?

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Well, we have seen so far that something happens on the displayed nautical chart after the plotter is turned on. The boat symbol appears at the current position and continues to move on the chart. So the direction of travel and the progress of the boat are easy to follow. We know all this from our navigation system in the car. With this, the map display runs very similarly, without anything being entered. We can continue the comparison, because there are some parallels.

Let’s start with the destination input: Here, you can either enter the destination address in the form of coordinates on the chart plotter. Or you can mark the location on the map itself via the touchscreen or the cursor in the case of keyboard operation.

The chart plotter then creates trackpoints that it can save and recall. Waypoints can be connected to a route, which is comparable to a start-finish route on a car navigation system. Including a number of intermediate destinations that lie on the route.

If you travel such a route with the boat, the chart plotter lays down a travel track on the screen – the so-called tracks. These contain all maneuvers with all deviations from the rod itself. These tracks can be saved and recalled on another occasion.

Tip: All tracks are recorded and also displayed in the default setting. This means that more and more track traces become visible on the map. From time to time, however, you have to delete them on the screen, because otherwise they cover the map. You can’t believe how many fish finder owners are super annoyed because they can’t see anything on the map at some point.

The tracks are also important from a safety point of view on the water. When the fog suddenly sets in and visibility is poor – which sometimes happens very quickly, within just a quarter of an hour – the tracks are the only way to orient yourself on the water.

You simply reverse the previously recorded track and drive it back. With careful driving, as well as a “lookout” at the bow, the “backtracking” to the safe harbor should succeed.

Navigation to a waypoint or on a desired route is started with the command “Navigate to”. The chartplotter then shows the route from the start to the destination point with a strong line (e.g. magenta on Garmin fish finders and chartplotters ), which indicates the direct course to the destination point. In the middle of this line is another thin line (e.g. purple on Garmin) indicating the corrected course.

chartplotter-fish-finder-gps-navigation
Chartplotter Garmin Bluechart G2 Vision: The wide magenta line draws the direct course, which can also pass over obstacles and therefore MUST be corrected. The narrow line in the middle shows the corrected course. As you can see, nothing has been corrected here yet.

This line is dynamic –that means it shifts as soon as there is a deviation from the direct course – and thus indicates the course to be followed at the moment. Of course, you can also return directly to the original course (magenta line) and/or use the orange heading arrow as a tool for a course correction.

All common chart formats also offer “autorouting”, which calculates a safe suggested route based on current boat and water data. An autopilot would follow this course suggestion.

But the same applies here – as with all suggested courses, by the way: The decision and last instance in the responsibility for boat and crew lies with the skipper. He decides whether or not to follow the guidelines.

7. How important are good charts for the chartplotter?

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A chartplotter without maps is like a computer without software. This answers the question posed at the beginning of this article in a nutshell. Nevertheless, there are still many users among us who first buy an expensive combination device, but subsequently do without suitable sea charts – because they cost money. We always recommend to such users to remove the charts from their car navigator and to navigate on a white background. Or even better, use a LiveMapping, which gradually creates its own road maps.

To this must be added that cars drive on roads that can be followed. On the water, there are no marked paths. We don’t even want to talk about extreme situations – such as orientation in fog.

An example to illustrate:

chart-plotter-gps-navigation
At this point, a fishing group caused a total loss of the motor (9,000€) because they did not go far enough around the point at low water. Navigation with the chart plotter would have prevented this mishap. With the chart plotter, all sections of water that do not have a safe depth are marked in color on the chart (usually darker blue) - and thus off-limits for passage. Especially on the high seas, where we cannot visually judge the conditions below the water surface, "anticipatory driving" applies. And that can only be done with an up-to-date nautical chart that contains all the necessary information.
chartplotter-fish-finder-gps-navigation
The Garmin Bluechart G2 Vision nautical chart clearly shows the danger area clearly outlined in the photo above. A route suggested by the plotter would avoid this area by a wide margin.

Sea charts are therefore an indispensable purchase for us as soon as we are on the move on larger waters. In saltwater areas, they should be part of the mandatory equipment of a boat angler, everything else is negligent.

Anyone who does not want to follow this postulate should take a look at the functions of a plotter that are left unused and only run with existing charts. And what opportunities they miss to find hotspots on the map and thus catch more fish, we will show in the following two examples.

8. What are the advantages of the chart plotter for us anglers besides navigation? (Examples from practice)

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We want to illustrate the use and possibilities of a plotter with two model examples to show the advantages of using one for fishing with fish finders.

8.1 Chart plotter in saltwater fishing

As a fishing area we have chosen a fjord section of Hardanger near Onarheim. It is our first time at this water and we want to quickly find the hotspots and of course fish successfully.

Preparation:

Find possible hotspots on the map, examine them in detail and set waypoints.

marine-gps-chartplotter-fish-finder
With the bathymetric chart (fishing chart, Navionics Platinum+) possible hotspots are quickly identified. First search the depth contours for steep slopes (5), basins (1), mountains (3), plateaus (4), canyons (2) and edges (6). Then you mark the respective positions so that you can approach them precisely with the plotter if necessary.

Determine drift directions in rising water and plan drift passages:

Here at an example Hotspot No. 2 exemplary listed. If you want to be precise, you can provide the individual drift passages at the start with a waypoint, then this particular drift can be repeated at any time.

marine-gps-chart-plotter-navigation
When the water is rising, the drift direction at Hotspot 2 is clear because of the breach at the bottom to the very deep part of the fjord. The entire area of this hotspot is fished in a fan shape and dwells where fishing success occurs. In the middle area (from the depths of about 100 meters into the shallows) were the big specimens. Further to the right in the shallower passages there were passable chunks to be caught even when the water was running out.

8.2 Freshwater fishing for pike

As an example, we have chosen one of the great Shannon Lakes in Ireland. Lough Ree is very popular with pike fishermen due to its excellent fish population. Structurally, there are similarities with its Mecklenburg relatives – at least as far as depth geometry is concerned.

The screenshot (Garmin Bluechart G2) shows a section of water in the north near the mouth of the river Inny. How promising the work with plotter and map is can be seen directly from the present map section.

chart-plotter-fish-finder-gps
In a relatively small area, there are two excellent trolling routes for pike. The first stretch (I) is quite demanding, because it quickly goes from shallow to depths of up to 20 m, and then rises again in exactly the same way. The second stretch (II) runs along the channel towards the mouth of the River Inny. It varies only slightly in depth. This facilitates successful baiting. Many pike between 4 and 8 pounds were caught on stretch II. The larger specimens up to 20 pounds came from stretch I. Some of the successful spots are marked (1-5). The 20-pounder was outfoxed at site 1 (elevation in the kettle).

Also worth reading: In 10 minutes to the pike

9. Which charts are recommended for chartplotters?

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On the whole, three chart providers are interesting for our European region. Which one is shortlisted for a specific acquisition project depends first of all on the respective chart plotter model.

If, for example, you have chosen a device from Garmin, only the charts from the same manufacturer (the Bluechart G2/G3 charts) come into question. All others are not compatible.

The remaining two chart providers, Navionics and C-Map, then serve all other manufacturers from Lowrance and Humminbird to Simrad and Raymarine.

As far as Navionics is concerned, the division was bought by Garmin, but nothing has changed in terms of device compatibility. At the moment, it can only be observed that there is a lively exchange of data between Garmin and Navionics and that the map offering is being shifted to Navionics.

If you want to take a closer look at this question, we recommend our upcoming article on the topic of nautical charts. For us, the main focus of chart use, if not with Garmin, then with the Navionics offerings.

Why is quickly explained: Besides the Garmin Bluechart G2 charts, the Navionics+ and Navionics Platinum+ charts provide the best bathymetric representations for us anglers.

With high-resolution depth contours and large zoom ranges, they are the best tool for exploring a body of water and conducting successful fishing trips. The following illustrations make the advantages and disadvantages of the different fishing maps clear at a glance.

fish-finder-gps-charts-review
All maps are set to "high resolution depth contours". No. 1 shows the C- Map 4D, No. 2 the Garmin Bluechart G2, No. 3 the Navionics Platinum+ and No. 4 the normal navigation map for comparison. In our opinion, maps No. 2 (Garmin) and No. 3 (Navionics Platinum+) are the most informative. In the detail enlargement (zoom in), the differences become a bit clearer.

10. Why live mapping is a useful chartplotter addition?

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In order to create your own waterway maps, two tools are required as minimum equipment.

  1. A GPS system to set the coordinates,

  2. and an sonar module to sound the depth and record the depth contours.

The map recording – or as it is so nicely called the mapping – always takes place live in the area that is just passed through by the boat as well as recorded by the fish finder. Thus, a complete record of the current water can be created gradually. The common combination devices from different manufacturers all have live mapping functions.

  • At Garmin it is called “Quick Draw Contours”,

  • at Lowrance and Simrad works the “C-Map Genesis Live”,

  • Raymarine calls its system “RealBathy” and

  • Humminbird is mapped via “AutoChart LIve”.

If one has now decided on a particular fish finder manufacturer, only the respective system supported by the manufacturer is available. With the live mapping functions, the possibilities of the plotter in conjunction with the purchasable nautical charts are also extended to waters that were previously without a map offer. This applies to all virgin fishing grounds.

However, established fishing grounds also benefit from this recording method. For example, Navionics offers the possibility via “SonarChartLive” to subsequently revise the existing charts and insert them into the existing charts. This means that the plotter can in principle be used profitably in all types of waters.

11. Which is the best chartplotter? Test with device recommendations!

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If you are looking for a chart plotter and want to use an existing depth sounder, you have several options. In advance, it should be noted that the screen size should not fall below the 7-inch mark, if possible. On smaller screens, details in the water formation that indicate hotspots can easily be overlooked.

The following overview of recommendable solutions is graded according to the purchase price, which is calculated from

  • the device price

  • plus the expenses for the nautical charts

  • and any necessary accessories

is composed of. Note: The prices we quoted were current at the time of publication of this article – in the meantime they are probably somewhat lower (or in individual cases higher) than the values quoted here.

It should be noted that most models with comparable equipment and performance are available in all common screen sizes. That means: If you have found a suitable device in the 7-inch class, you will also find one in 9 and 12 inches with the same sample.

11.1 Chartplotter with sonar module

In individual cases, chart plotters are also available as plotter-only devices. As a rule, however, they are purchased as a combination device with a more or less extensively equipped sonar. In case of doubt, you will also take the combination offer, because the price difference to the pure chart plotter is rather small. The prices for chartplotter combos start in 7 inch at around 500 €. In this the sonar transducers are mostly already included. For 10-inch models, however, you’re looking at €2000 and more. This does not include the cost of the required sea charts.

a) Inexpensive 7-inch combo devices (< 700 €)

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In this chapter you will find our recommendations for chartplotter combos for under 700€, starting with the

Raymarine Dragonfly 7 pro

The Raymarine Dragonfly 7 is already a true classic with

  • Dual Chirp,
  • DownScan
  • and a properly equipped chart plotter,
  • which, in combination with Navionics marine charts, meets the requirements of marine navigation.

As with the Hook Reveal, access is via the keyboard, whereby the joystick in the center has a central function. In terms of hardware, the Dragonfly is sufficiently equipped – waiting times are to be expected during map build and zoom-in, but they remain within typical behaviors of this price range. This Raymarine fish finder would work wonderfully with the Apple iPad chartplotter solution shown below for live mapping via the Boating app, so you could combine a great chirp sonar with a 10-inch chartplotter.

Raymarine-Dragonfly-7-pro-chartplotter
  • Price: 529,00 €
  • Suitable nautical charts: Navionics+ small
  • Price: 133,50 €
  • Total cost: 529,00 + 133,50 = 662,50 €
Lowrance Hook Reveal 7

The latest addition to the Hook family has been revised in terms of hardware (e.g. with the Solar-Max display) and, in addition to the usual fish finder functions, now also has a complete chart plotter with GPS that can be equipped with Navionics or C-Map nautical charts. In addition to a highly sensitive and stable running GPS module, all functions necessary in operation from (back)tracking to auto-routing are supported.

The map build runs sufficiently fast – large zoom jumps and memory-heavy overlays require smaller waiting times, but do not differ significantly from other devices in the price range. Using the fish finder functions, the Hook Reveal combo device then also succeeds in live mapping with C-Map Genesis Live. This can be used to produce, display and save your own individual waterway maps in real time.

Lowrance-Hook-Reveal-7-chartplotter
  • Price: 530,90 € (incl. Triple Shot encoder)
  • Suitable nautical charts: Navionics+ small
  • Price: 133,50 €
  • Total cost: 530,90 + 133,50 = 664,40 €
Garmin Echomap Plus 72cv with GT52M-TM transducer

As the most affordable 7-inch member of the Echomap Plus family, this Garmin fish finder is equipped with 2D Chirp and DownScan (DownVü). It also features touchscreen operation including keyboard support. The built-in chartplotter offers all the usual functions to navigate safely and accurately on the water. The GPS sensitivity is excellent, so that even difficult reception conditions are mastered without any problems.

The Garmin solution of marking the calculated route with a magenta-colored dual line, which shows the basic course (static line) and a dynamic line for the current course, makes navigation and course keeping very easy in practice. The wide, magenta-colored line follows the calculated optimal route, which can also pass over obstacles, for example. Within this is another narrow line that shows the current course, which avoids obstacles.

Garmin-Echomap-Plus-72cv-chartplotter
  • Price: 799,99 €

  • Suitable nautical charts: Garmin Bluechart G3 HD regular

  • Price: 135,00 €

  • Total cost: 799,99 + 135 = 934,99 €

b) Mid-range chartplotter with 9-inch screen (< 1400 €)

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In this chapter, you’ll find our recommendations for mid-range combo devices up to 1400€, starting with the

Humminbird Helix 9 CHIRP DS GPS G3N / model year 2020

This inexpensive combination unit with a large 9-inch screen only has a 2D chirp module integrated and does without more advanced fish finder technologies such as DownScan or SideScan. In return, the favorable purchase price, which also includes a suitable XT standard transducer, is an important argument for buying. On board is a full-fledged chart plotter with high-sensitivity GPS and live mapping function, which fully meets expectations in terms of performance, operation and accuracy. The hardware equipment of the Humminbird Helix 9 is also not fundamentally flawed in the class field.

Humminbird-Helix-9-CHIRP-chartplotter
  • Price: 1069,00 €
  • Suitable nautical charts: Navionics+ small
  • Price: 133,50 €
  • Total cost: 1069,00 + 133,50 = 1202,50 €
Raymarine Element 9 HV with HV-100 transducer

An absolute bestseller among the 9-inch devices. With four sonar functions including a 3D display, the device has a unique selling point in sonar technology with the quad encoder HV-100 – also in terms of price. Minor limitations can be found in the keyboard operation (no touch). The chart plotter basically offers everything that can be expected from a device in this price range.

All the usual functions and performance features including live mapping (Real Bathy) are present. Only the GPS sensitivity (as already seen in the 7-inch device) could be better. According to the manufacturer, however, the latest software updates should have remedied this. With Real Bathy, the Raymarine Element 9 HV now also offers personal nautical chart recording in real time.

Raymarine-Element-9-HV-chartplotter
  • Price: 1109,00 €
  • Suitable nautical charts: Navionics+ small
  • Price: 133,50 €
  • Total cost: 1109,00 + 133,50 = 1242,50 €
Simrad GO9 XSE with active imaging stern transducer 3-in-1

This device is an almost identical copy of the Lowrance Elite 9 Ti2 with the fish finder functions and the new active image encoder. In addition to 2D-Chirp and the StructureScan functions DownScan and SideScan, we find a very well-equipped chart plotter that includes all common navigation options with a highly sensitive GPS module. With fast navigation readiness and good accuracy, even demanding users will not miss anything in the device’s scope of features.

  • Price: 1249,00 €

  • Suitable nautical charts: Navionics+ small

  • Price: 133,50 €

  • Total cost: 1249,00 + 133,50 = 1382,50 €

c) 12-inch combination devices (from 2000 €)

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Except for the 12-inch Garmin GPSMAP device, the other two models have already been discussed in the 9-inch devices. The Lowrance Elite Ti2 and the Simrad Go are practically identical – with the only difference that the Simrad Go also allows the use of Raymarine radars.

Raymarine Elements 12 HV with HV100 encoder

Equipped like the 9-inch model, only with a larger screen. Including the encoder, the purchase price remains just under € 2000.

Raymarine-Elements-12-HV-chartplotter
  • Price: 1919,00 €
  • Suitable nautical charts: Navionics+ small
  • Price: 133,50 €
  • Total cost: 1919,00 + 133,50 = 2052,50 €
Lowrance Elite 12 Ti² with Active Image Encoder 3-in-1

This Lowrance fish finder is equipped with a multi-touch display including key support. With three scan functions, it is sonar technically best equipped in the chartplotter sector. In addition, there is a highly sensitive GPS and appealing navigation options – as described for the 9-inch Simrad Go.

Lowrance-Elite-12-gps-chartplotter
  • Price: 2299,00 €
  • Suitable nautical charts: Navionics+ small
  • Price: 133,50 €
  • Total cost: 2299,00 + 133,50 = 2432,50 €
Garmin GPSMAP 1222xsv with GT52 encoder

Fully equipped combination device: Three fish finder functions, a fully equipped chart plotter, high-sensitivity GPS and extensive navigation options up to autorouting. In addition, there is a sophisticated keyboard operation with multifunctional control wheel on the high-quality keypad.

Garmin-GPSMAP-1222xsv-chartplotter
  • Price: 2742,00 €

  • Suitable nautical charts: Garmin Bluechart G3 HD regular

  • Price: 135,00 €

  • Total cost: 2742,00 + 135 = 2877,00 €

d) The alternative: The cheapest chartplotter solution with 10 inch screen (< 500 €).

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This proposal is not a chart plotter in the strict sense. It uses a universal tablet in 10-inch format and equips it with suitable accessories to make it suitable for boating. Functionally, this solution uses the Navionics boating app, which works with the same Navionics+ charts as many chartplotters from the relevant manufacturers.

Device recommendation: Apple IPad 2019 (10.2 inch)

The tablet is ideal for plotter use for three reasons:

  1. First, the built-in hardware (CPU, memory) goes hand in hand with an almost lag-free map build with and without overlays.
  2. Secondly, the screen is more suitable for outdoor use than the average tablet competitor.
  3. In addition, the device’s price is quite affordable and there is a comprehensive range of accessories from third-party suppliers.

The inexpensive 32 GB version of the iPad is perfectly sufficient for use as a plotter. Price: 329.00 €.

chartplotter-apple-ipad-gps
Necessary accessories:

For use on the water, a waterproof case must not be missing – as well as a mounting option via suction base or railing clamp, of course. There are plenty of waterproof housings for the iPad, but for our use on the boat, they unfortunately have to be combined with a clamp (with suction base) from another manufacturer. This combination, mostly designed for the car, is admittedly not the ultimate for boating.

The only really useful accessory for our purpose comes from Armor-X USA. The manufacturer not only produces the waterproof cases, but also the matching mounts. These can be clicked into the device on the back of the case (X-MOUNT). This is an extremely stable and wobble-free connection with a suction base that holds the heavy Apple IPad securely. Unfortunately, the Armor-X parts can currently only be ordered directly in the USA. From there, however, they are delivered in around a week (5-7 days) with the DHL shipping option ($20).

For those interested: MXS-A10S case ($69.99) and x14T mount ($24.99)

Price: €103.50 (including express delivery of $20).


Can be found for example here

For those who find this too inconvenient – or who would rather have return options and a warranty – the following accessories are recommended:

  1. MOKO case for IPad 2019. price: 48,99 €.
  2. Ibolt suction cup holder. Price 44,90 €.

We also recommend an external power supply (fish finder battery), because the tablet’s battery will barely last a day of fishing when the GPS is active and the screen is at full brightness. A small – but powerful – external power supply with 10 Ah in the form of a powerbank can help. It is advisable to use a brand manufacturer for lithium cells, since they can also cause problems. We found a model in Panasonic’s EB-P1100C that can easily keep up with no-name products in terms of price. Price: €15.90

Nautical charts: The matching boating app from Navionics is available free of charge from the Apple Store (or Google Play). The Navionics+ nautical charts are downloaded with the app. The maps for all of Europe cost €42.50, smaller areas are correspondingly cheaper.

Total cost for this solution: 329,00 + 103,50 + 15,90 + 42,50 = 490,90 €. (Comparison: A 10 inch chart plotter costs more than 2000 € including maps).

This brings us to the end of our detailed article about chartplotters and how to use them. If you are still unsure about which fish sonar to buy, you can have a look at the other fish finder reviews in our extensive fish sonar test or write us a short message. Have fun on your next angling trip and “Petri Heil” – Jan and Martin.

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