Showing posts with label lowrance. Show all posts
Showing posts with label lowrance. Show all posts

New Products for Testing

With two new projects ramping up in the last 60 days, I am increasing the amount of testing I am doing. What that means for PPF and the other projects is more information on more gear for people to look over and decide if it is worth their hard earned money or not.

Over the next month I'll be testing out these products and possibly more:

KC Kayaks K12

Humminbird 598ci HD SI

Hobie Mirage Adventure Island

Lowrance Mark 5x DSI

JVC Adixxion Action Camera

Bass Pro Ascend FS12T

Review: Wilderness Systems Commander 140

This winter I was able to acquire a kayak I've been eyeing for over a year: The Wildy Commander 140. I first demoed one last year at Fly Fish Texas in Athens, TX and had been thinking about it since that time. I've had several trips out on the water now and it is time to report in.

The Rigging

My Commander, nicknamed "Winter Soldier" by my son, is the 14 foot version with a front bow skirt and a rudder system. I've added a Lowrance Elite 5 fish finder, a Super Nova Fishing Lights LED light kit, several RAM and YakAttack accessories, a Bullwinkle mount, an anchor trolley and switches for the electronics. I move it from place to place with a C-Tug cart and transport it either via trailer or in the bed of my truck with a bed extender. It is the camo color offered by Wilderness Systems.

The Good

The Commander 140 is the second easiest kayak to stand on I've ever tried, just short of the Hobie Pro Angler (but let's be honest, that thing is a barge, like standing on a cruise ship). Because the Commander is a sit in/sit on hybrid, the point of balance for your body when standing is not your ankles, it is actually your knees because of the padded side rails. Imagine trying to extend your arm perpendicular to your body while standing. Now, in that extended arm, with just your fingertips hold out a six foot long broom handle with a tennis ball on the end from the opposite side. Now try it again, two feet closer to the ball with your whole hand. The second way is easier. Much easier. This is the same thing with the Commander. Using a support point closer to your head eliminates sway in your torso and allows you to balance better.

Standing isn't the only nice thing though. The kayak is spacious. I can store my BlackPak and C-Tug in the back without a problem. There is even enough space that I usually bring a bag of snacks and drinks to stow back there as well. In the main area, the seating options also shine. The lumbar support offered from the Wildy seat is good with adjustable leg straps, back rest straps and tensioners to keep the seat in place. If you need to get a little higher up just fold the seat back down and slide it under the Captain's Perch. The Perch is molded like a seat and getting up and down changes your angle and can also relieve stiffness after long hours on the water. If the Captain's Perch still isn't high enough up, just stand up and paddle.

In front of the main area is a cross bar for mounting items or carrying or resting items. This separates another front area that when you add the bow skirt with the mesh pocket can become additional storage that is not on the floor of the kayak.

As for tracking, the Commander 140 stays pretty straight when paddling and doesn't deviate course. For long paddles with wind, this helps your paddle stroke be more efficient.

So it is pretty easy to stand in, tracks well, has good seating options and ample storage space. There is one more thing that shines about this kayak: The Weight. Listed at only 68 pounds, this 14 foot kayak can be carried on your shoulder and has padding provided to do so. Going from Point A to Point B is easier than with most.

The Needs Improvement

As with most hybrid sit in/sit on kayaks, there are no scupper holes. You need to keep a sponge or pump handy if you are fishing in heavy chop or rain. With a bow skirt you'll eliminate most of the water that could potentially get in on normal paddling days. I also don't recommend this kayak for anything surf side but bay side adventures will be a great fit.

Another thing that is difficult is inside the side track you have these bungee connectors that can move back and forth to be tightened. The tightening happens with a hex key. The hex key is a size that isn't included in a normal $10 set at the hardware store so hang on to the key. I don't have mine and it's been a bear trying to find a size to match it. If Wildy could make a place, possibly under the Perch that had a couple of clips and a couple of the hex keys it would help. At least for me.

Bow and stern skirts currently need to be purchased separately but in the future it would be cool to see a retractable skirt integrated into the front and rear hatches. If you need it you extend it and if you don't it rolls back into its self on the hull. Think of it like those retractable window shades for cars.

It could also be a nice addition to include rod tubes for the main area. I currently store rods in my BlackPak and two on a Bullwinkle mount up front. Rod tubes would store a few of the rods out of the way of limbs etc and also not have them in the way of a sweeping hookset.

The final thing is maneuverability. Because the Commander 140 tracks so well and is long, it needs some extra effort to turn. It takes some extra strokes (as does any 14 foot kayak) to turn but the added rudder can greatly ease that burden. I don't see this as much of an area of needed improvement as a "just be aware of it" item if you don't get a rudder.

Final Thoughts

If you are in the market for a kayak you can stand in, camp in, store tons of gear in, and just all around enjoy, this is a kayak you should look at. With 450-475 pounds of capacity it will accommodate most paddlers and sometimes an additional guest. The Commander is stable and can make a long day of paddling seem short. I'd highly recommend a demo of one.

Waypoint Transfer From Google to Your Fish Finder

by ChrisCoufal 
Using Google Earth prior to a fishing trip has many advantages. It allows you to quickly scout the lake and look for what I call "POI" or also known as "Points Of Interest". Before I ever head to a new body of water, I always spend an evening scouting the lake in Google Earth and marking waypoints to check out once I'm on the water. GE also has a historic timeline that allows you to find great structure/cover when the water was low that might not be seen once the water is back to regular level. Once you set your waypoints in GE, you will need to save them, convert them and then upload them into your fish finder so that you have them once you are on the water. Here is one way to go about doing this and then using the files in my Lowrance HDS10 to have a super productive trip:

When you have GE open, you will need to select the files you want to convert. I prefer to save them by lake and load them specifically for the lake I am headed to. The reason I do this is because some units will not hold over 5000 waypoints and some units do not allow different waypoints to contain the same file name. I also label my waypoints by what they are so that I can quickly tell while on the water. For example, rocks will be labeled RCK1, RCK2.....or a bridge might be BRG1 and BRG2. By saving the lakes on GE by specific folders, it allows me to be very detailed with my waypoint management. 

Click the lake folder you want to convert. In this case we will use Lake Georgetown. When I check the folder, it will check all of the waypoints inside of it. Everything that is checked will be converted. In this example you can see all of the waypoints labeled as FA. These are fish attractors placed out by TPWD. Right click the folder and click "save as". Change the file type to .KML

Secondly you will need to go to and download the most current version of GPSBabel. This is a free program.

After you install the program, open it up and your screen should look like this image below. The first thing you want to do under the "INPUT" section is to change the format to "Google Earth Keyhole Markup Language". This is also known as .KML and is the file type you saved your waypoints as. 

Next you will want to locate the .kml file you saved. Click "file names" and find the file. Mine is in a folder and labeled as Georgetown.kml. Click it so that it adds the location to the GPSBabel program.

After this, you will move to the "OUTPUT" section and change the format to the new format you are trying to use in your fish finder. Lowrance uses .USR files. 

Next click "file name" in the OUTPUT section and locate the folder you want to save it to. Name the file and click save. You can see that I again named mine "Georgetown". make sure that the file type is the proper one you are trying to convert it to. In this example we are converting to a Lowrance file or a .usr

Next you click "APPLY" 

That's are all done. You can see both the GE file and the Lowrance file in my folder. Save the Lowrance file to your SD card and upload it to your unit. You can import the waypoints and be ready to hit all of the areas you found prior to ever launching your boat. 

Don't forget that time on the water and good waypoint management are both invaluable. Time on the water and time studying the maps are huge advantages that not everyone has access to. When you start building your waypoint collection, don't forget to save them multiple times in multiple places. If you ever have equipment failure, you do not want to lose the weeks, months, years you have invested into locating those waypoints. 

I hope this helps you guys.
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