The Next Big Thing

Over the past few years, advanced sonar systems have become more common on recreational fishing boats. This technology is revolutionizing the fishing game. As of March 2019, our boatyard crew has already installed four sonar systems since the start of the year, with four more scheduled in the coming months. Joe Dieffenbach, Owner of Custom Marine Electronics, takes us through the latest advances in these systems.

So Joe, how do you choose a sonar system for a boat?

The first step is boarding the vessel, to ensure that there is enough space in the engine room for the system components. These are commercial systems, and they take up quite a bit of space. 

Is there currently a front-runner in the sonar world?

Everyone wants a Furuno Omni CSH8LMK2 8L right now. With over 420 transducer elements, this system has the capability to reveal 360 degrees around the boat, detecting individual targets or schools of fish nearly a quarter mile away. Searchlight sonars scan the ocean floor in sections, but this system is live and updates the display every 0.54 seconds, while conventional sonar takes 32 seconds to display the full circle. This is actually a commercial system, so it is extremely well-built. So far, I have installed 14 systems, the oldest of which was installed two years ago, and there have been no failures. 

What is the ballpark price range for this system?

Including the installation costs, this system will run you between $110,000 and $120,000. The Furuno Omni CSH8LMK2 has been utilized in the commercial fishing world for years but has been widely considered too expensive for recreational or charter boats. Now that people are seeing how successful they are, sport fish yacht owners are finding these systems to be a worthwhile purchase. With their rapidly growing popularity, there is currently a two to three month waitlist for new Furuno Omni CSH8LMK2 orders.

What is the learning curve for those who aren’t experienced in marine electronics?

Because the Furuno Omni CSH8LMK2 updates the entire display (360 degrees) with every transmit cycle-this system is extremely easy to operate, with a little dealer-training.  Furuno can also be commissioned for more one-on-one training-once the system is installed.

Does sonar really change the game that much?

Having one of these systems certainly gives anglers a better chance than without. The Furuno Omni CSH8LMK2 allows you to see what’s around the boat, not just what’s underneath. If a fish is moving through the water column, you’re able to lock on a target and track it which has given anglers a huge technological edge.