I fish a lot of deeper water and I enjoy traveling to new bodies of water to explore while kayak fishing. To help me in both of these endeavors, I picked up a detailed mapping chip to supplement the base map on my GPS sonar unit. I choose to go with the Navionics Gold Charts for several reasons.
First, I fish with the Humminbird 385ciwhich does not support the 3D imaging of the larger units, and the Gold Charts only has 2D charts so I’m not paying for the 3D charts. Secondly the Gold chip includes the entire US coast line, the Bahamas, Baja California and inland waters in one chip, so unless I get to take my Malibu to the Central America or Canada I should be covered. When you purchase the 3D chips the regions are much smaller and Marine and Inland maps are on different chips.
Installation and set up is easy as you just slide the chip into your GPS system and make sure the unit is set up to look to the card slot for maps, this was the default setting on my unit. Now it’s time to go fishing!
The extra detail you will see depends on where you go. In my neck of the woods the chip added a few contour lines to most of the ponds I fish, on other dammed up ponds though you can now see the old stream channel that is still flowing through the pond. I have found these channels before just by using the sonar but it will help to find them now and find the fish this summer when they start looking for the deeper water. On the larger lakes that I go to the chip adds a lot more detail. Not only do you have contour lines every few feet to help you find the structure the Smallmouth’s hangs out around in 30’-40’ feet of water, and the drop offs the Lake Trout hang out on in 90’-130’ of water. It also adds docks and shore structure that I’ll use to fish for Largemouth and Pike.
It also adds all of these features to the coastal waters on the US, as well as grass and mud flats, and navigational buoys. Where I’m not worried about running my kayak aground they are important surface markers to help you plot a coarse while trying to troll up fish.
Additionally you get an application you can download to your computer that lets you view the charts and plan trips on your computer. Overall I am very satisfied with the Navionics Gold Chip, it does everything Navionics said it would. I would give it a score 9 out of 10 with the only downside being the cost of the chip. At nearly $300 it nearly doubled the price of my sonar unit.
About the Author: Gregg Crisp has been an avid fisherman all of his life. In 2008 he discovered kayak fishing and has never looked back. As an environmental contractor he has traveled and lived all over the United States, having fished in over 20 states. He currently resides in New Hampshire with his wife and two sons. Gregg is also the author of YakFish.net.