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Handheld GPS preference?


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I'm having a discussion with some other fishing buddies about what handheld GPS unit is better. We are debating the pros and cons for GPS units that have color displays with the capability of downloading lakemaster maps(or other similar maps) for detailed views of the lake bottom. Who out there has such units and what have they found out about them? How much difference is there between Garmin, Magellen, Lowrance? Where is the best place to buy? What features do you use the most? It would be used for both summer and winter fishing. Any help is appreciated. smile.gif

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I think the handheld GPS unit topic is getting as much attention as the Vexilar vs. other flasher models topic grin.gif

Handheld units have come a long way since I've been out of the retail industry (2 years)....technology comes and goes.

When I was working at Gander, Garmin and Magellan had the most popular selling units. When the new map series came out, the Map 76 and Map76s along with the mapping e-trex series Garmin's were a far cry about their competition. Everything from a bigger screen to size of mbs in the unit were just the rage!

Lakemaster came around with their technology of lake info/contours and was able to put cards into specific units. Also colored screens hit the market and as well. Just amazin with the software that is out for lakes in MN, SD, IA, and WI! Lake Info

The manufactor that hit the nail on the head w/technology is Lowrance. With the new MMC cards being featured by Navionics and Lowrance/Lakemasters- it is hard pressed to find another company out there that has better capabilities with its units and technology.

I have always been a Garmin guy, because they seemed to always be a few steps above their competition. Though I'm a proud owner of the Map 76 and Lakemasters CD-Rom software (able to download lakes into my gps), if I were to do it all over again I'd go with any of the newer Lowrance handheld units.

The units have big, easy to read screens, very user friendly with the menus and buttons, and best of all are able to read the MMC cards in 1ft contours!

Garmin has yet to be able to get their units to read the new software in 1ft contours, so you will at best 3ft contours of specific lakes.

Because color is fairly new, I'd wait until they come down in price before I went out and bought a color screen handheld unit. Plus the advantage of a color screen vs. normal isn't a huge factor (I think) in a handheld unit.

Until you've seen the MMC cards in use, you are missing out on a huge break through in technology! Perfect example.........this last winter I was out on a particular flat on Mille Lac's. Watched the screen on my gps and took me right out to a 26-30ft break on that particular flat. Got out and looked all around me, no way in the WORLD would I have found that spot with out that technology.

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Working at gander i have found that more people are buying the lowrance h2ojust with the mmc option. That way you don't have to download map from the computer. The mmc 's have more lakes with high definition lakes.

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Personally I like the Lowrance iFinder H2O. I was after a hand-held that would work both on my boat, bike and while hunting. The Lowrance system seemed to have the best of both worlds;

- Lowrance iFinder H2O

- Fishing Hot Spots Elite North chip with 896 lakes in Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin (I'll never be able to hit them all!)

- MapCreate 6 USA Topo version w/chip reader/burner

I picked up a 512 meg MMC/SD digital media card that was able to hold the MapCreate file for all of Minnesota plus a big porton of Wisconsin, Iowa, North and South Dakota.

The only problem I have is the lack of decent depth charts for the Mississippi River (I fish pool 8 and the top of 9 normally). The topo software does a decent job of showing the channels and islands in the river but no depth.

I've heard something about a chip coming out for the Mississippi. Does anyone know which pools will be included on it?

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I have the Lowrance I-finder and like it a lot.

I put the new Mn. Lowrwnce-LakeMaster map mmc chip in it.

A GREAT gps unit for the price and easy to use ! laugh.gif


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D Heinz,

You want the MMC chip put out by Lakemaster and Lowrance. You can find the chip Here

They have a high definition map for both Pool 4 and 8 on that chip plus a ton of ther Mn lakes.

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Yep! laugh.gif That's the chip I was looking for. Thanks for the info.

Darrell Heintz

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  • 3 weeks later...

Just got back from a long work trip and found your posts on the GPS. Great information!! smile.gif I wouldn't have looked at Lowrance first since I've been a Garmin guy for so long. Definitely going to check them out first now. What does one of these units go for?

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Just adding $.02

I have the garmin emap and love it. It has a good sized screen, good battery life and is fairly accurate. I use USAPhotoMaps for software, which lets me keep track of waypoints, routes, tracks, etc. I can overlay my tracks on topo maps or aerial photos, too.

I also bought it on clearance for about $70 :-D

Big reason for me to *not* buy one of the new fancy/chip/map units is that nobody has maps of the lakes and rivers that I fish most of the time. They are smaller flowages and things of that nature that nobody bothered to map.

Works for what I use it for, which is the only test that matters :-)


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How do you use photomaps with the GPS unit? I had an eMap (now GPSMAP76CS) and I use mapsource software. Is there more to be had with photomaps?

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I've never used mapsource so i don't know what its capable of. One thing to note is that photmaps does *not* transfer maps to the gps. However, it is free, so its worth playing with.


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I also have the H2O with the premium Navionics chip. I hadn't played around with it until yesterday. I must say I was more than a little impressed. I was on Gull Lake with the 1 foot contours and I was blown away by it's detail and accuracy. Well worth the money!


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