By Jeromy Gamble

When guys consider items or gear that help improve their spearfishing, items like guns, fins and masks are the most highly discussed. Everyone is looking for that little edge from their gear to help them find and land more and larger fish on a consistent basis. One item that is overlooked 99% of the time is actually the one thing guiding you to where you intend to dive.

Marine electronics.

Chart plotters and sonars have come a long way in a very short time and can be used as one of the best tools to help you find those fish we seek. Gone are the days of standard 83/200 HZ bottom machines. In today’s market we have down scan, side scan, chirp and high definition, all available in one transducer that can be utilized with a single plotter/sonar combo unit that is touchscreen and fully integrated. To be honest, the capabilities of some of the units out there is mind boggling. Wifi, stereo controls, and even the ability to watch a movie or two while making a long run are available in today’s offerings.

After years of service, the electronics on our 2150 BayKat had begun to show their age. Finny looking spots on screens and intermittent shutoffs when a wave had a square edge was becoming the norm. I knew it was time to dive into the mind-numbing technical soup of today’s electronics offerings.

After more research than any normal person should do, we decided on the brand new Simrad Go9 XSE.

Key Features

• Easy to use multi-touch interface

• Full-featured chartplotter with widest available cartography support (Insight, Navionics, CMAP)

• Radar display for Simrad Broadband 3G™/4G™ and Halo™ Pulse Compression radar systems

• Includes worldwide basemap

• Plan smarter with TripIntel™ technology

• 9-inch flush or bracket mount display

• Widescreen with bright LED backlight

• High-speed 10 Hz GPS receiver

• Includes TotalScan™ transducer for medium/high frequency CHIRP sonar and StructureScan® HD imaging

• Built-in GoFree™ Wi-Fi

• Dual microSD card slots

• Compatible with the Simrad WM-3 SiriusXM satellite weather module (North America only)

• NMEA 2000® compatible

For me the new Simrad had everything I needed as well as the ability to add on to the system in the future and an extremely reasonable price – under $1300 including the total scan transducer. We had utilized a Hummingbird 997IS in the past which worked great for finding bottom with the side scan sonar, but the navigation and chart plotting features were, well, horrible. Not wanting to give up the ability to scan 50, 70 or 100 feet on each side of the boat with the side scan, the Simrad was the perfect choice as it incorporates all standard sonar, side scan as well as down scan all into one transducer. Turns out you can have your cake and eat it, too. The Go9 is packed with options to make a spearfishing trip more efficient as well as successful. 

The Outboard Pilot™

The Outboard Pilot lets you focus on any activity while keeping the boat on course. When connected to a GO XSE, the Outboard Pilot can steer to a waypoint or along a route, select a turn pattern or simply hold a constant heading.  Easily convert trails to routes – so you can retrace a previous track.  The Simrad Outboard Pilot with Point-1AP Compass + GPS is recommended for single outboard set-ups, on boats that are 30 feet or less in length. Clearly running a straight line on long trips will always save on fuel. In addition, if you run over something on the way you c

an easily retrace your track back to explore the new find.

Broadband 4G™ Radar

This FMCW radar has all of the benefits of our revolutionary Broadband 3G™ Radar but with more advanced features, including beam sharpening for target separation control, Dual Range radar and increased target detection capabilities.

We didn’t really have the need for radar but it is nice to have the option to add it to the system at a later date if needed.

Control your onboard sound system, monitor engine data and more over NMEA 2000®

SonicHub2 Marine Audio Server

The SonicHub2 module features integrated Bluetooth®, allowing you to stream music ─ including Pandora® ─ from a smartphone or tablet. The system has an integrated AM/FM antenna, supports playback from a USB drive, and features SIRIUSXM® radio connectivity ─ all with full control from your multifunction display.

Having the ability to display a split screen of your map, sonar and chosen gauges all in one unit is a huge plus.  You choose which gauges you want displayed and can clearly monitor what going on with your motors as well as fuel burn numbers, total fuel used and total available fuel.

Once the Simrad had been purchased we had an issue: where was it going to be installed? I had wanted it flushed into the dash but didn’t have a dash setup to allow this. Once again, back on to the interwebs I went, searching custom dash manufacturers. Lucky enough, I landed on the website for New Wire Marine. www.newwiremarine.com  After a lot of reading, Google searches and flipping through photo galleries, I emailed Eric Steele at New Wire Marine and explained what I was looking to accomplish. The game plan was to totally rebuild the dash. This would consist of flushing the new Simrad Go9 into the dash on the far left. We would move the Suzuki tach to the center with the fuel below it to the left and right. Finally we would move the radio and VHF to the far right. The old style rocker switches would be removed entirely and be replaced with a series of Boca Tech push button switches now housed in a new panel below the main dash. All the labels for switches as well as logos are etched into the dash giving a cool custom look as well as years of reliability. BocaTech has really upped the game with their new push button resettable marine switches.

Bocatech’s new Mini 15ADC, solid state Push Button Switch defines the word innovation. It is built with stainless steel components, is environmentally rugged and hosts a stylish blue light. Most switches in this size and form are only capable of 3-5DC amps. Bocatech’s self-contained, new Mini Switch delivers high power 15ADC. Because of its size, the distribution, dash, etc., can be smaller and/or populated more densely and still provide high current to branch circuitry. The Mini Switch is cost efficient; no need for external electronic control or wiring. Installation is very simple; a ¾ inch hole is all that’s needed to provide power for high current products. Available in 5A, 10A, 15A & 20A, On/Off and Momentary Type as well as in Blue and Red.

After a few renderings, some measurements and final approval the dash design was set in stone and Eric took the wheel building the new custom dash.  I have to say choosing the right company to work with can make your life a living hell or a pleasure. Eric went out of his way to make sure everything was spot on and the measurements and hole sizes for each piece of equipment were precise. This level of attention to detail will pay huge dividends when it comes time to do the install. New Wire Marine offers a build-your-dash template on their website to make it super simple to design a new dash around all the new products and technology available.

After a couple of weeks, all the equipment and custom dash panels had arrived and it was time to bring the dash up to par with current times. My go-to shop for anything boat related is Fitch Powerboat Services located at 11922 Mancini Way, New Port Richey, FL 34654. They can be reached directly at (727) 992-7614. Brothers Chris and Carrington Fitch, who fortunately are also close friends of mine, were able to squeeze me into their busy schedule. The old, tired dash came out and Chris went to work rewiring the rat’s nest left from years of, well, me screwing things up. Once again, utilizing a high quality shop that has a reputation for attention to detail goes a long way here. Chris and Carrington have a long reputation of going above and beyond on customers’ boats and nothing leaves their shop unless it’s done correctly, as clean or cleaner than when it arrived, and ready to use. after a few hours of de-rigging and prep work, we began the steps of installing each piece of equipment into the New Wire Marine dash. As expected everything fit perfectly and things were taking shape.

Since the transducer still had to be run we took the time to also replace the aging cables and hook them to an extremely cool Livorsi Marine control unit. The Livorsi controls are manufactured to higher level of quality than the standard Suzuki control box and also utilize far superior materials.  The controls also incorporate trim and jackplate switches in the throttle handle for easy access and function. Livorsi has been known for years within the boating industry as the leading manufacturer of controls and gauges in the powerboat scene. Their level of precision and durability is known world wide. Livorsi now offers multiple controls, gauges and other high quality products for the fishing and recreational boat market. Check out the full line of controls, gauges and accessories Livorsi offers at www.livorsimarine.com.

As the day winded down the last wires were crimped, shrink wrapped and tucked out of the way. The last holes pre drilled and screws tightened, the only thing left was to flip the battery switch and check everything.  I’m not going to lie, I was excited. The new Simrad looked and functioned awesome. It is a massive step up from what we were used to and has been super easy to use since the installation. The new dash from New Wire Marine has held up perfectly and the new push button switches are perfect for our needs. We simply could not be more happy with the final product and results.

With that said, I’ll finally get back to my original point. With a minimal investment, you too can upgrade your current boat with new technology that will without a doubt assist in finding new spots to dive, resulting in more and better fish. The side scan will allow you to find and map in detail all your current numbers as well as find all the spots you had no idea were only 200 feet from a number you had been diving for years. I have literally found nine new numbers utilizing the sidescan doing wide loops out from a rock.  Now it was clear where all the fished been running to over the years and we could easily follow them from spot to spot as we pushed them. The technology is out. Use it to your advantage.