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    1. A Beginners Guide to Bass Boat Electronics

      Bass boats are designed for serious fishermen who want to maximize their success on the water. To that end, bass boat electronics play a critical role in maximizing performance and safety. Outfitting your boat with depth finders, trolling motors, and other devices can make your fishing trips more efficient and enjoyable. The right combination of electronics can be the difference between success and failure on the water. 
      The goal of this guide is to provide you with an understanding of bass boat electronics. We will explore the major manufacturers and their core technologies and discuss the different types of bass boat electronics, from depth finders to trolling motors. 
      Overview of Bass Boat Electronics
      Bass boat electronics are designed to maximize performance and safety on the water. There are three major categories of bass boat electronics: navigation, sonar/depth finders, and trolling motors.
      Navigation Electronics include GPS systems and chartplotters that provide detailed maps of lakes and waterways so you can easily navigate to your destination. Additionally, navigation electronics provide other features such as waypoint tracking and route planning to make your fishing trips more efficient.
      Sonar/Depth Finders are designed to locate fish in the water and measure the depth of a body of water. Sonar systems use sound waves that detect objects in the water by interpreting reflected signals from the bottom and sides of a body of water. Depth finders measure the depth of a body of water using sonar technology, providing critical information to anglers as they navigate through shallow waters or work to locate fish.
      Trolling Motors are designed to provide smooth control over your boat in all conditions. Trolling motors can be operated either manually or with remote controls for precision control over your boat’s movements. Trolling motors are essential for tournament fishing, as they provide the ability to precisely position your boat in relation to structure or cover.
      Bass Boat Navigation
      Navigation and sonar are a given on bass boats. The most popular type of navigation systems for bass boats are GPS Plotters. They provide detailed maps of lakes and waterways, displaying depth contours and other important information so you can easily navigate to your destination. They also have waypoint tracking and route planning capabilities so that you can easily retrace your steps or locate the best fishing spots.
      Mapping software has improved over the years and now includes high-resolution maps of most popular fisheries. Many of these maps include features like 1-foot depth contours, shoreline structure and cover, points of interest, and even aerial images. Humminbird has brought Smart Strike technology to the table, allowing anglers to quickly identify productive fishing areas based on their species preferences and lake and weather conditions.
      Bass Boat Sonar and Depth Finders
      When it comes to finding fish, a quality sonar/depth finder system is essential. Most bass boats come standard with basic units, but if you are looking for more advanced features such as side imaging or down imaging technology, then you may need to upgrade your current unit.
      Traditional 2D Sonar is the most common type of sonar on bass boats. It is a basic system that displays a two-dimensional view of the bottom, showing structure and cover as well as fish targets. It is an effective tool for locating structure and fishing spots, but it does not provide the high-resolution images of down or side imaging systems.
      Down Imaging Sonar provides a more detailed view of the water column below your boat. It uses sound waves to create a three-dimensional image of what is going on beneath the surface, allowing you to locate fish and structure with more accuracy.
      Side Imaging Sonar takes the concept of down imaging one step further by providing a detailed view of both sides of your boat. This technology uses sound waves to create a three-dimensional image of what is going on beneath the surface, allowing you to easily spot schools of baitfish, cover and structure, and even the fish themselves.
      360 Sonar is a relatively new type of sonar technology that provides an even more in-depth view of the water below your boat. It combines down imaging, and side imaging into one system to create a 360-degree view of everything happening beneath the surface. This type of sonar is great for finding fish and structure in deep or murky waters.

       
      Forward Facing sonar is the newest technology in sonar for fishing. It uses sonar to give a live view of the area directly in front of your boat, allowing you to track cover or fish that you are targeting. This is a great tool for tournament anglers looking to locate and target the biggest fish in an area.
            
       
      Want to learn more about Forward Facing Sonar, check out our Deep Dive into Forward facing Sonar. 
      Fishfinder Brands
      Most fishfinder units made for bass boats will have GPS chart plotters built into the fishfinder unit. Brands are a matter of preference and need to specific technologies. Popular brands for bass fishermen include Humminbird, Lowrance and Garmin. When purchasing, you must consider the transducer type and the frequencies needed for the type of fish you intend to target.
      For example, Garmin has great traditional and advanced sonar, but were the first to introduce forward facing sonar, which many consider to be a game changer in tournament bass fishing. Livescope, Garmin’s forward facing sonar technology, allows you to scan the area in front of your boat for fish and structure so that you can hone in on the best spots and biggest fish faster.
      Humminbird is another popular brand for bass fishermen. They offer a range of transducer and fish finder options, from basic 2D units to advanced side imaging and down imaging and forward-facing systems. They were the first to offer 360 sonar technology and are known for their high-resolution mapping. They also have their patented Smart Strike technology, which allows anglers to quickly identify productive fishing areas based on the species they pursue and the lake and weather conditions.
      Lowrance is the oldest fishfinder brand, with over 50 years in the business. Lowrance is another great brand for bass fishermen, offering a full range of fish finder units, from basic 2D models to advanced side imaging, down imaging and forward-facing systems. They also have their Hook Reveal technology, which combines traditional sonar with down imaging to create a high-resolution view of the water below your boat.
      Most advanced units from each manufacturer can be networked with other devices of the same brand on the boat. For example, a Humminbird on the console can share sonar imaging, mapping, waypoints and much more with the units installed on the bow. Networking simplifies waypoint management for serious tournament anglers that need to quickly search for and navigate to structure.
      By carefully selecting the right brand and type of unit for your needs, you will be able to locate and target fish. With the right system in place, you can make the most of your time on the water and increase your chances for success.
      Trolling Motors
      Trolling motors on bass boats are used to control the boat’s speed and direction. They also allow you to hold your boat in a specific location without drifting. Trolling motors are a bass angler's primary navigation tool while fishing, allowing you to slowly creep along shorelines or through areas of structure without spooking the fish. Available in 12v, 24v or 36v, there are trolling motors that are suitable for a bass boat of any size. When considering how you will power your trolling motor, you must consider the space you have for batteries. If space is a limitation, more expensive lithium batteries may be a solution for you.
      The major bass boat trolling motor manufacturers are Minn Kota, Garmin and Lowrance. While the brand is usually a matter of preference, each manufacturer has their own specialties and pair with specific brands on fishfinder head units.
      Spot lock is a feature found on many higher-end trolling motors from each of the major manufacturers. It uses GPS to lock your position, allowing you to stay in one spot without having to constantly adjust the trolling motor. This feature is a great tool for anglers who are jigging or targeting particular areas of structure.
      An alternative to spot lock is a shallow water anchor, such as Power Pole. These are specialized anchors designed specifically for shallow waters, allowing you to hold your boat in one spot without drifting. This is a great tool for anglers targeting shallow waters, as they can quickly and easily anchor their boat in one spot without having to adjust the trolling motor.
      Final Thoughts
      Having the right equipment for bass fishing can make a huge difference in your success on the water. By carefully selecting the right brands and types of fish finders and trolling motors, you will be able to locate and target bass more efficiently. With the right equipment in place, you can make the most of your time on the water and increase your chances for success.
      By researching, considering the features that matter to you, and finding the right balance of quality and cost, you will be able to find the perfect setup for your needs. With the right tools in place, you will be able to make the most of your time on the water, and increase your chances for success.

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    2. A Deep Dive into Forward Facing Sonar

      Forward facing sonar is changing the way we bass fish. This technology has revolutionized the way anglers catch fish. By sending sound waves ahead of your boat from a transducer mounted on your trolling motor shaft, you can identify structure and weeds, as well as see fish. This new technology allows you to fish with more accuracy and confidence.
      Forward facing technology is also becoming an essential tool for serious anglers, offering them insight into what lies ahead and providing the information they need to make informed decisions on where to fish. With forward facing sonar, you can be sure you are in the right spot at the right time and potentially catch more fish.
      But is it a change that is good for tournament bass fishing? Bass anglers have long debated whether or not this technology should be allowed in tournaments. Some argue that it gives an unfair advantage to those who can afford the expensive equipment, while others believe it helps level the playing field for amateur anglers.
       
      What is Forward Facing Sonar
      Forward facing sonar is a type of sonar system that transmits sound waves ahead of your boat, allowing you to detect the presence of fish and structure. This technology can also be used to measure water depth and bottom composition. It works by sending out high-frequency sound pulses which then bounce off objects in the water and return back to the transducer.
      This data is then processed and displayed on a screen, providing anglers with an image of what lies ahead of them. The technology can be used in both shallow and deep water, which makes it ideal for tournament fishing where you may not have time to explore an area thoroughly.
       
      Catching Fish with Forward Facing Sonar
      Forward facing sonar can be a valuable tool for tournament anglers, but like any other technology, it should be used with caution and in moderation. By understanding its advantages and pitfalls, anglers can make informed decisions on how to use it to their advantage. With the right approach and effective strategies, forward facing sonar can help anglers better target fish and improve tournament performance.

      Advantages
      1. Helps identify structure and weeds from a distance.
      2. Reveals the presence of fish in the water ahead of your boat.
      3. Provides information on water depth and bottom composition.
      4. Can be used in shallow as well as deep water areas.
      5. Can potentially help tournament anglers improve their performance and catch more fish.
       
      Disadvantages
      1. Expensive technology that not everyone can afford.
      2. Can be distracting and lead to missed bites.
      3. Could potentially give an unfair advantage to those who can afford the technology, leading to inequality in tournament fishing.
      4. Could lead to overfishing if used in an irresponsible manner.
      5. Can be difficult to interpret, requiring practice and experience.
      Best Baits to Use with Forward Facing Sonar
      Jerkbait
      Dropshot
      Swimbaits
      While there are other baits that could be used, these are the most popular baits for utilizing forward facing technology for bass fishing.
       
      Best Forward Facing Sonar for Bass Fishing
      For serious anglers looking to upgrade their bass fishing experience, it’s important to choose the right forward facing sonar system.
      The most popular system among professional anglers include Garmin, Humminbird, and Lowrance. Currently, the most popular Forward Facing Sonar brand is Garmin's Livescope. Garmin was the first to the Forward Facing Sonar market and many anglers currently prefer Garmin over their competition due to the image clarity offered by Garmin. Many anglers even refer to all forward-facing sonar as "Livescope".

      Forward Facing Sonar's Impact on Tournament Fishing
      Currently, there is a lot of debate on this topic. Just watch some YouTube and you can see many strong opinions, but a lot is going on in the world of bass fishing that may be impacting tournaments and fisheries. At the same time that forward facing sonar is gaining in popularity, bass fishing in general is exploding in popularity. Club membership is up, high school and middle school bass fishing is growing exponentially, and bass boat sales have been gang-busters for a few years.
      On some of the more popular bass lakes, it is not uncommon to have 200-300 boat tournaments every other week or so during the spring and fall. This is in addition to club tournaments and your casual fishing. All of these issues have put more pressure on our fisheries for sure. Forward Facing Sonar is only a part of that pressure.
      Forward Facing Sonar technology has definitely opened up deep-water fishing to those who have normally stayed close to the banks, but the question is - has that impacted the fisheries negatively? Currently, there is only conjecture as it appears that most states are not limiting fishing tournaments, and definitely not placing limits on technology. So what are the issues?
      Well, a lot of it is human nature's fight against progress. Many of the anglers who grew up with no technology, or early sonar technology feel that forward facing sonar removes some of the challenge to finding and catching the fish that used to just be a part of the sport. It is definitely changing how anglers approach tournaments, but the question is - is that any different that when side scan or 360 sonar was introduced?
      There is a lot of opinion, but for now... forward facing sonar isn't going anywhere. So, as an angler, you can embrace the technology and learn it (if you can afford it), or you can continue to fight the progress and struggle when other anglers and excelling.
       
      Final Thoughts
      Forward facing sonar can be a great addition to an angler’s toolbox, but it should be used with as one of the tools in your toolbox. Sonar technology is great for locating and catching fish, but it should not completely replace everything that you have learned in your years of fishing. Sonar should be used to confirm what you are seeing with your own eyes.
      When using sonar, don’t forget the basics - watch the water and look for signs of life - fish, baitfish, and structure. If you are able to combine your own skills with the power of modern forward facing sonar technology, then you will be able to get an edge over the competition that is not taking advantage of these resources. Regardless of what tournament anglers think about the impact of Forward Facing Sonar, it is here to stay. So, embrace it and use it to your advantage.
       
      Frequently Asked Questions
      How much does it cost?
      If you already have a compatible head unit, you can add on forward facing sonar for between $1200 and $2000. This number can go up significantly with different mounting options, networking, or other upgrades. 
      Which is the best brand?
      Well, that really depends on you, the angler. Many of us already use a specific brand of electronics, and unless you are going to use two different brands, you will most likely go with the brand that is installed on your boat. There are those who will install a Garmin Livescope, regardless of what brand they already use on their boat, however this comes a cost. Two different brands require 2 different head units, so to add Garmin Livescope to a boat with Humminbird or Lowrance would mean you have to buy a Garmin head unit in addition to the Livescope system. 
      How far out can you see your jerkbait?
      This depends on the model of your forward facing sonar and its settings. Generally, the further out it can see, the less detail there will be in the images. Many anglers can see their lure at 40-50 feet when jerkbait fishing. This is very dependent on your setup and skill level.
      Does a forward facing sonar transducer have to attach to your trolling motor shaft?
      No, although that is the most popular mounting method. There are turret mounts available, like the Humminbird MegaLive Target lock. This allows your forward facing sonar transducer to operate independently of the trolling motor, which could be useful if your trolling motor has spot lock.
      Can you see bait or only big fish and structure?
      The detail available on these units, especially at closer range can be amazing. You can not only see the bait, but you can even watch the fish chase the bait. Of course you lose detail with distance, but you can still see bait balls at distance.
      Ok, its a game changer for bass fishing, but how about crappie fishing?
      In the past, it took a while to find that "5 gallon bucket" area where the crappie were holding and if they moved, or your boat moved, you had to search again. With this technology, once you have found brush piles holding crappie, it is much easier to target them and even see what lure action triggers bites. 
      But will I catch fish?
      Well that is the question, isn't it? It is not magic. You still have to search for fish, and get a bite. That is where it can still be quite challenging. Its discouraging to see large bass suspending out in front of you, only to throw jerkbaits and have them chase it only to turn away and not bite. So as an angler, the challenge is using technology to learn how to get bit.

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  • A Beginners Guide to Bass Boat Electronics

    Bass boats are designed for serious fishermen who want to maximize their success on the water. To that end, bass boat electronics play a critical role in maximizing performance and safety. Outfitting your boat with depth finders, trolling motors, and other devices can make your fishing trips more efficient and enjoyable. The right combination of electronics can be the difference between success and failure on the water.  The goal of this guide is to provide you with an understanding of bass

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