Product Review - Garmin EchoMap plus 94sv
I just recently upgraded the GPS / Fish Finder unit on my skiff. My last unit was a Garmin EchoMap and I chose to stay with this line due to the reliability of the last unit. I also have the Garmin system down pretty good so the learning curve has been limited only to the new technology.
My new unit is the EchoMap plus 94sv. This is a touch screen unit with more features than I will ever use. As I learn more about the unit I will share my thoughts on the features and how they can be useful to Fly Fishermen and those who spend their time in the skinny water.
In today's post I will be reviewing one particular feature that is new to me. For shallow water anglers it could be a game changer.
Most Garmin units come with the G2 or G3 marine charts installed.. These are incredibly detailed coastal maps with all land, channels and navigational aids clearly marked. There are also detailed maps of docks, hazards etc.
This is great but as soon as you enter the back country Bays, Rivers and Creeks the mapping runs out and you are on your own as far as bottom contours are concerned.
The 94 sv has the Garmin Quickdraw Contours Feature. This feature allows you with the addition of a blank memory card to map detailed contours of any body of water you choose.
It is a simple process of hitting the record button and driving over the areas you wish to map.
Over the last few days when I have not had charters I've been mapping some of my favorite back bays, rivers and creeks. So far I have done several smaller 5 to 10 acre bays and one major back bay. These are areas that I know very well. I fish them most days. Over time I have learned the areas that fish use within these bays and now I have a better understanding of why. I am confident that with this feature I can greatly increase opportunity for my clients. I can also cut the time down on learning new areas.
Within the Quickdraw Mapping feature there are lots of options on how you can display your data and how detailed you want it to be. You can set the detail to as low a 1 foot contour lines and you have the ability to color shade depth ranges. You also have the ability to custom set your your own depth ranges.
In most of my fishing areas the water is from 0' to 10' so I only need a few custom depth range colors. Trout and Redfish spend a great deal of time in the back bays in water that is 3 to 5 feet deep. When the water is moving they also move up into the really skinny water to feed. On my new custom maps I have broken the water column down into 4 ranges. All water under 1 foot deep shows up as red. I have 1 foot to 3 foot as lavender. The prime 3 to 5 foot range is blue while the drop off from 5 to 10 foot shows yellow.
In this smaller bay that I partially custom mapped you can clearly see the 3 to 5 foot water in blue where the fish will spend the low tide periods. You can also see the Lavender sections of 1 to 3 feet of water and the clear outline of the drop-offs where the fish will feed during tide movement. The custom map also revealed a shallow water hump sitting in the middle of the deeper water.
In this particular bay the fish feed best on the drop-off which is down current of the prevailing tide. This means that on the incoming one side of the bay usually fishes better than the other. This reverses on the outgoing.
Below is another section of bay that I partially mapped. You can also see additional contour lines showing subtle depth changes within both of my custom set ranges. The section mapped below is probably 10 times larger than the previous map. It is just shown at a different zoom.
Below is a third section I have mapped. This is a travel area that I use regularly to travel through a vast area of mangrove habitat that is like a maze. This is shown zoomed in. It is actually more than a half mile of travel route. These thin travel areas carry heavy current on tide changes. These areas have lots of hydraulic features during water movement and the custom colors clearly show where the soft spots and likely fish holding areas.
Having all of this custom information is an incredible edge if you interpret it correctly and develop an overall fishing strategy for the areas you frequent.
All of the best guides share similar traits but the ones who stand above have an instinct for interpreting whats happening every day. They make adjustments to their strategies on the fly and have a 6th. sense on where to be. They are also experts at time management.
Most top guides know the spots where they can expect action and move through their spots slowly producing opportunity for their guest throughout the day. Information provided through custom mapping greatly focuses your efforts on the precise high percentage areas and cuts back on the searching and fishing unproductive areas.
Incorporating this technology into your strategy easily bring your daily numbers up and increases your chance at mature fish.
The more you map the more you learn your area!
To learn more about my guided Fly Fishing Trips in Tampa Bay please visit my Tampa page on this site at
You can also visit my dedicated Tampa Bay site at www.tampabayflyfishingguide.com
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