Using radar can help you catch more fish, whether you’re searching for birds diving on breakers, locating trawlers for chunking, or trying to find the “fleet” at an unfamiliar hotspot. But today’s marine electronics are networked, expandable, and yes, expensive. What are you going to do if you’d like to add a stand-alone radar to your existing arsenal of electronics? We don’t see an awful lot of new one-offs hit the market these days, but there are a few of interest.
There’s at least one brand-spankin’-new unit hitting the market right now, from Si-Tex. The T-760 series is a 4 kW unit with up to 48 miles of range, which displays on a dedicated seven-inch LCD. The T-760 has an 18” radome and runs $2,095 and the T-761 has a 24” radome and goes for $2,895. One nifty thing about the T-760 series is that LCD display. It’s surprisingly thin, at just 3.5” deep. That means it’s be a winner for small or cramped helm stations, of for flush-mounting where there’s very little room behind the dash.
As a point of comparison, that’s a full inch less than the seven-inch LCD Furuno uses with its stand-alone 1715 radar, which puts out 2.2 kW, has a range of 24 miles, and lists at $2,195.
While the other major manufacturers have gone the route of multifunction MFDs, there is one other option worth noting: for a bit more cash than the T-760 (around $2,150), you could get a Lowrance HDS-7 Gen2 MFD and a Broadband 3G radome with 24 NM of range. This would also get you a back-up GPS/chartplotter, and, if you wire up the transom-mount transducer, a back-up fishfinder as well. $600 more would get you 36 miles of range, with the 4G version of Broadband.
Now let’s say you've decided which unit is best for your needs, and you’re ready to boost that catch-rate. Here are three tips for finding more fish, thanks to radar.
1. With relatively low-power radar like the ones mentioned above, don’t expect to get solid returns on flocks of birds working over breaking fish. You’ll see wispy blips and blobs, which appear and disappear on-screen. Anglers who are serious run-and-gun fishermen will use the radar in tandem with a strong pair of gyroscopic-stabilized binoculars.
2. When trawler chunking is the tactic of the day, look for trawlers (which usually appear as much larger, more solid returns than recreational boats) that have stopped, as opposed those that are in motion. When they “haul back” and lift the nets, the predators following behind often go into a frenzy.
3. In areas where mahi-mahi swim, keep an eye on the radar for the small but solid returns provided by floats on commercial fishing gear with “high flier” radar reflectors. Schools of mahi regularly hang out around these floats, and bouncing from one to the next can be highly productive.
For more information on using electronics to boost your catch, check out Using Your Electronics to Catch More Fish: AIS, Autopilot, Chartplotter, Radar, and Sonar.