Gar & Ray 5″ fish finding, first impressions


I got the test Garmin 545s and a new Raymarine A60 installed on Gizmo and took a test run around my local Lake Megunticook. I don’t think Navionics, Garmin, or any one else has electronic charts for this particular lake—or many lakes in Maine for that matter—so the plotter functions were pretty pointless. But I did get a taste of both their dual-frequency fishfinders. For starters I was rather shocked that neither seemed to interfere with the other, even when both were set to the same frequency, and even though the transducers are about 6” apart on the transom. They simultaneously held onto the bottom even at 20 knots too. Is this an aspect of the digital signal processing both claim to use?

In this bigger version of the photo you can see how the screens look in pretty much their default settings. The Garmin seemed noisier, but there is a command to hide surface clutter that pretty much wipes that away. I had enabled an “A scope” window on both and liked the way Ray offers three versions including the cone shown, which also gives you a calculation of how much bottom you’re seeing. Garmin’s A scope seemed a bit anemic. I also liked having the Ray’s soft keys for quick modifications of the fish finding display, but they do obviously require more case space. The Raymarine’s screen also seemed to reflect more glare, though both were about equally bright, just able to overcome the wide open, sunny conditions. Next…salt water and maybe even some actual fishing. 
  Furuno, by the way, has just introduced a new Network Digital Fish Finder that works with NavNet 1 or vx2 devices. And note my beloved Standard Horizon HX470S VHF (superseded now by similar models), which can make DSC Alert calls and is also an FRS transceiver and AM/FM receiver. NPR, which I was listening to here, sounds good on its little but able speaker.

Ben Ellison

Ben Ellison

Panbo editor, publisher & chief bottlewasher from 4/2005 until 8/2018, and now pleased to have Ben Stein as a very able publisher, webmaster, and editing colleague. Please don't regard him as an "expert"; he's getting quite old and thinks that "fadiddling fumble-putz" is a more accurate description.

5 Responses

  1. ibsailn says:

    So Ben….how many holes does the dashboard of that little boat have?

  2. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    That’s why I mounted a slab of Awlgripped plywood over the fiberglass console. Easy to replace, or patch with something like Bondo (known locally as “schooner-in-a-can”).

  3. bhwade says:

    I’m hoping you’ll give a look at the Garmin 545’s AIS capablility someday. I was in need of simple AIS solution for a small boat and I chose to go with a Garmin 545 and Milltech SR162. It’s certainly better than nothing, but the Garmin documenation is so poor that I’m not sure I’m getting the most of it.

  4. John says:

    Great side-by-side comparison. Thanks for sharing. Until recently, these are the only two models i was looking at to replace my aging (1999 monochrome) Lowrance sonar/gps. I own an Edgewater 185CC boating in Buzzards Bay and Vineyard Sound. Quality of sonar more important than GPS resolution. Want to find reefs for striper trolling, sea bass & tautog, and when drifting for fluke.
    In searching your site, I don’t see mention here (or many places on the web) about Northstar Explorer 660. Any comments? I have not yet seen an actual unit, but the larger display seems to make that interesting.
    Many thanks for your comments.

  5. Robert says:

    Is the base unit to the HX470S (Ok, no the HX471S is what I’m looking at purchasing) water/weatherproof? I assume by where you mounted it that it is.

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