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Author Topic:   What the Professionals Use
jimh posted 03-05-2013 01:40 AM ET (US)   Profile for jimh   Send Email to jimh  
I have watched a few episodes of some rather banal television show modeled after DEADLIEST CATCH in its format in which in episodic fashion several boats are followed for several days or weeks as they try to make a living by angling for Atlantic Ocean Tuna.

I have discovered that the best way to watch this show is to record it. Then you can fast forward through about 80-percent of the show, stopping only to watch the minute or two of interesting video when the boats actually have a tuna on the line and are trying to land it.

The most interesting information I have obtained from the show is the generally unlikeable character of most of these people. There are only two to a boat, usually, and they seem unable to get along very well. I think most of these guys are in the business of angling for Tuna because they could not hold any other job. But, I am getting away from my topic, which is the electronics they're using.

It seems just about universal, across the board, one-hundred percent compliance that all of these boats out hunting for Tuna as commercial fishers are using one brand of SONAR: they are using FURUNO. There is not a Lowrance, a Humminbird, a Garmin, a Raymarine, or a Simrad in sight. Every boat seems to have a Furuno. That sounds like a rather amazing endorsement of Furuno.

I believe that Furuno is 100-percent Japanese in its origin and there is probably no other nation which combines so much experience in the design, engineering, and manufacturing of marine electronics with the tradition of fishing the seas as Japan does. Perhaps this has been a factor in the development of Furuno as the preeminent fish-finding machine.

I cannot bring myself to get a Furuno. First of all, no screen capture on any of them that I have looked at, and no NMEA-2000. Both are deal breakers for me. But, if you want to make a living putting Tuna in the boat, it looks like Furuno is the way to go.

swist posted 03-05-2013 09:26 AM ET (US)     Profile for swist  Send Email to swist     
I have two completely tangential comments.

For one thing, in today's global supply chain, it is hard to say for certainty what nationality a given product is, but I'll take your word for it that Furuno is more Japanese than the others you list.

The other factor is the Japanese demand for sushi-grade (mostly North Atlantic bluefin) tuna is huge and any such tuna landed by any country's vessel will usually get a better price selling to a Japanese buyer (they are stationed around the major tuna ports of the world).

It must be that Furunos catch more fish that the Japanese like :-)

Seriously, I have no idea. But those are the reactions I had to the topic at hand.

Jefecinco posted 03-05-2013 09:38 AM ET (US)     Profile for Jefecinco  Send Email to Jefecinco     
Not only in fishing boats is Furuno the favored line. In recent years virtually every large commercial vessel I've boarded has a suite of Furuno electrons at the helm. Raymarine seems to occupy the price point just below Furuno.

Even serious offshore recreational anglers seem to favor Furuno sounders.

Pricey stuff but it seems to do well in the marketplace.


bluewaterpirate posted 03-05-2013 10:37 AM ET (US)     Profile for bluewaterpirate  Send Email to bluewaterpirate     
Furuno makes a great FF, simple to use and pretty much bullet proof. I've caught many a fish using my Furuno 620.

My wife an I fish with a friend who runs nothing but Furuno equipment. He fishes commercially for bluefin tuna. We had a great day this particular trip.

Video .... got two this day. This was an $18000 + day for us.

We do not use harpoons to land the fish. Image-4892322-31033951-2-Web_0_d39b919082c5a8235a793760d23b9a40_1 Image-4892322-31033934-2-Web_0_d7fe93a6b13c2193b6c15ab8a7b47cb3_1 Image-4892322-31033955-2-Web_0_3a4e74f07b7f4a43e94a323282826c22_1 4892322_2160482_31033983_WebLarge_3/ Image-4892322-31033983-3-WebLarge_0_759442423f4643f1b54bd6d277628917_1

These two were hooked simultaneously at a place known as 240 Rock trolling skirted mullet. Took us close to two hours to boat them. My wife Cheryl was on one rod and yours truly on the other.

Great day of fishing for sure.


Tom W Clark posted 03-06-2013 10:40 AM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     
As a life long resident of Seattle, home to Alaska's fishing fleet as well as much of Washington's fishing fleet, I have always noted that Furuno is almost exclusively used on commercial applications.

Washington States ferry system, the largest in the US, uses Furuno exclusively.

Washington State also has several mega-yacht builders and those boats, which cost tens of millions of dollars, generally use Furuno.

My own boats had Furuno electronics installed on it by the pervious owner. I still use the GPS chart plotter/fishfinder that was installed around 1998. It has been 100 percent reliable. I have never even had to clean a corroded connector on that unit and it has been used all this time in a saltwater environment.

My take on Furuno is that is is not as easy to use or as stylish, lacks some of the bells and whistles of consumer brands, but is very robust, reliable and durable. For commercial operators who use their equipment every day, having a very intuitive, easy-to-figure out interface is less important because a daily user know his equipment very well.

Mambo Minnow posted 03-07-2013 03:13 PM ET (US)     Profile for Mambo Minnow  Send Email to Mambo Minnow     
Every Navy ship I ever served on had a commercial Furuno added on the bridge. It was the "go to" navigational device.
jimh posted 03-07-2013 11:23 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
In a prior article about the electronics used on the United States Coast Guard new Small Rescue Boat,

it was noted that the GNSS receiver, the chart plotter, the RADAR, and the SONAR were all specified to be FURUNO consumer-off-the-shelf devices.

jamesmylesmcp posted 03-08-2013 05:58 AM ET (US)     Profile for jamesmylesmcp  Send Email to jamesmylesmcp     
I currently have a Furuno NavNat 1834C on my helm it has 36 mile RADAR,weather,fishfinder, and utilizes a heading sensor to overlay C-Map chartography over RADAR. I have been very happy with this unit. The chartography of my Hummunbird 1197si is preferred as it uses Navionics Platnium + and offers greater detail. The price of many of these Furuno units may limit their use amoungst the recreational crowd.
jimh posted 03-08-2013 11:02 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
My initial comments might not have been quite clear or explicit, but I was thinking of the SONAR devices in particular. In the other areas of vessel electronics such as RADAR, chart plotting, and general electronic information display, I think Furuno has plenty of competition, and I don't see Furuno being a universal choice. But in cases where people are trying to catch fish for a living from the ocean, it really does seem like Furuno is the fish finder of choice.

As for Furuno being Japanese, this was a surprise to me, actually. I used to think they were an Italian firm. Digging into some documentation for a Furuno device one day led me to some schematic diagrams. They were of a style generally seen in Japanese work and annotated with what I presume were Katakana or similar glyphs. A visit to the corporate history page of FURUNO leaves no doubt:

An excerpt from the above:

1938 --FURUNO ELECTRIC SHOKAI LTD. founded in Nagasaki, Japan.

1948--Commercialized the world's first practical fish finder.

jimh posted 03-08-2013 12:07 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
ASIDE: It might be interesting to look at the history of some of the other marine electronic suppliers offering SONAR.

GARMIN was not even founded until 1989. FURUNO had been in business already for 51-years and had been making SONAR devices commercially for 41-years. GARMIN's primary expertise has been in global navigation satellite systems, particular the GPS system. I don't think GARMIN even began to manufacture SONAR devices until rather recently.

LOWRANCE has been making fishfinders since c.1957, giving FURUNO only a 19-year head start. But Lowrance has traditionally been oriented to shallow water SONAR and freshwater fishing, not open ocean fishing at greater depths.

HUMMINBIRD goes back to 1971. They also seem oriented to shallow water and freshwater fishing.

RAYMARINE goes back a while, too. As part of their original company, RAYTHEON, they say they made a depthsounder in 1923. Raytheon was a primary defense electronics contractor for decades. In 2001 the marine electronics separated from Raytheon and became its own entity, based in England. In 2010 Raymarine was acquired (in distress) by FLIR.

hauptjm posted 03-08-2013 04:10 PM ET (US)     Profile for hauptjm    
It seems most commercial vessels I've seen use combinations of Furuno and JRC for all of their communication, radar, sonar, etc.

Mambo Minnow posted 03-08-2013 05:00 PM ET (US)     Profile for Mambo Minnow  Send Email to Mambo Minnow     
Darn, I was in Nagasaki in 2010, wish I had realized that is their corporate HQ or I would have tried to visit and purchase. Then again, I found Shimano reels are more expensive in Japan than in California!
phatwhaler posted 03-08-2013 05:41 PM ET (US)     Profile for phatwhaler  Send Email to phatwhaler     
Most of the smaller USCG boats have Furuno for radar.and chartplotting.

I have Furuno on my boat.

JTC posted 03-09-2013 09:42 PM ET (US)     Profile for JTC  Send Email to JTC     
I fish for Bluefin Tuna on my 28 Conquest every Summer and Fall off Cape Cod in many of the same places (Cape Cod Bay, Stellwagen, E. of Chatham) that they depict in the show. Unlike these commercial fishermen who mainly anchor up and chum, I mostly troll with a spread of artificial lures, but I've done a few charter trips on similar boats. I've trolled past a couple of the boats on the show, and I keep watching to see if my boat goes by in the background! Anyways, a couple of comments:

Yes, EVERY tuna charter boat I've been on uses a Furuno finder. However, in practice, nobody seems to pay that much attention to the finder. Sometimes you mark tuna on your finder, but often you end up using it more to find the bait fish on the theory that the tuna will come to the bait. The finder is even less informative when trolling.

A huge amount of the action on the show is kinda faked in that it's edited from mismatching sequences. You can see a fish going tight on one reel and then when they cut back to the fighting, it's a different reel entirely. The particularly egregious example was when they showed the anchor line going THROUGH the bow thruster tunnel which, of course, is impossible.

Catching a Bluefin is unbelievable. And it's even better on a Whaler!

jimh posted 03-10-2013 09:50 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Maybe in regard to the fishermen on the television show I should have put quotation marks around "professional." It did seem a bit odd to me that they were anchored in some scenes and in others operating the boat in a manner that seemed like they were chasing after the hooked fish.

If using a Furuno fish-finder is seen as a badge of expertise for the charter boat, perhaps some charter boats just equip with Furuno as a way of suggesting their captains or guides know what they're doing.

The latest developments in SONAR seem to be in use of continuous wave frequency modulated SONAR (often called chirp SONAR), and in that realm it seems like Furuno is slow to adopt the new technology.

JTC posted 03-10-2013 07:49 PM ET (US)     Profile for JTC  Send Email to JTC     
So actually going from anchoring to running the boat when fighting is actually accurate. The boats fishing with bait -- chunked mackerel, live macks, or live pogies (aka menhaden) -- usually use an anchor that has a float attached to the rode. When you get a bite, you quickly slip the rode so that you can maneuver the boat. For some reason, they don't ever show this step on the show.

For smaller fish you just spin around as necessary to keep the fish coming in from the right angle (esp so that the line doesn't go under the boat or get caught in the out drives is so equipped). For bigger fish you might have to chase the fish down if your'e in danger of getting spooled and you might back down on the fish at the end to get it in the right spot for a gaff or harpoon shot.

Jefecinco posted 03-11-2013 09:17 AM ET (US)     Profile for Jefecinco  Send Email to Jefecinco     
[Notes that someone in cyberspace has said that] Furuno (FUSA) now offers chirp technology, that FUSA [was to] to debut the DFF1-UHD at the Miami International Boat Show, and that FUSA and will start delivery this spring.
jimh posted 03-11-2013 11:37 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Here is news of FURUNO's latest sounder. If the transducers cost $5,000, imagine what the sounder will cost.
jharrell posted 03-11-2013 11:48 PM ET (US)     Profile for jharrell    
Fishing vessels would probably have a searchlight sonar, somewhat equivalent to Humminbird's lower end 360 imaging.
jimh posted 03-12-2013 01:17 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
In the situation portrayed in the television entertainment program about Tuna fishing, it looks to me like you don't need any SONAR. All the scenes show several other boats in close proximity. If the boats are anchored and chumming bait over the side, I don't think they are using SONAR to hunt for fish. But they all seem to have Furuno units. It looks like you don't even need a chart plotter--just follow the other boats.

These new models of Furuno SONAR look very impressive, and they will probably become de rigueur on charter boats that really want to find big ocean pelagic fish or just really want to impress their clients.

The crazy notion of continuouswave frequency modulated (or chirp) SONAR is the cost of the electronics does not seem to be a barrier. It is the cost of the transducers that becomes a financial concern. Even modest transducers are at the $600 level, and the upper bound for them is now about $5,000.

I guess if each fish you catch can be worth $10,000 it might pay to put that sort of money into your SONAR, assuming it helps you find and catch those fish.

jimh posted 03-12-2013 01:20 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Here is the press release on the Furuno DFF1-UHD:

Furuno Debuts CHIRP-Enabled Fish Finder

Press ReleaseTuesday, February 19, 2013

The DFF1-UHD features TruEcho CHIRP, Furuno’s professional-grade broadband fish finding technology.

Designed to operate across a range of frequencies using a CHIRP transducer, the DFF1-UHD delivers improved signal clarity, resolution and target definition, helping to find target species, game fish and bait fish, even when they are tightly schooled together or near the sea floor. Two new features of the DFF1-UHD are Bottom Discrimination and Accu-Fish technologies.

Bottom Discrimination Mode provides you detailed graphical information about the make-up of the bottom. This is accomplished by classifying the bottom as one of four types: Rocks, Sand, Gravel or Mud, as well as assigning and displaying an icon or symbol for that bottom type. Knowing the make-up of the bottom provides information to help locate rich fishing grounds, potential hazards, and even good anchoring spots. The bottom details are shown on the screen in either a graphical representation or probability graph.

Accu-Fish is a fish size assessment function that can tell you the approximate size of the fish below the boat. Fish symbols appear on screen, along with the size of the fish or the depth where it found the fish. It can detect fish size from four inches up to about six feet long, in depths of seven feet to over 300 feet of water. Other DFF1-UHD features include A-Scope, Alarm (fish, depth or temp) and enhanced automatic cruising or fishing modes to suit your style of boating. A CHIRP transducer is required, and optional speed/temp sensors are also available.

The DFF1-UHD TruEcho CHIRP Fish Finder transmits and receives pulses across a range of 90 frequencies (50kHz +/- 20kHz, 200kHz +/- 25kHz) within each transmission. The equivalent sound energy transmitted into the water can be up to 1,000 times greater than a conventional Fish Finder, resulting in more energy on target which provides greater resolution and depth capability than a comparably powered
standard Fish Finder. Furuno’s digital signal processing (DSP) interprets the returned echoes from fish and underwater structures with unparalleled clarity, accuracy and resolution.

The Furuno DFF1-UHD connects directly to any NavNet TZtouch and NavNet 3D MFD, or it can be connected to a NavNet supported Ethernet network. A software upgrade may be required to utilize this new Fish Finder. Upgrading to TruEcho CHIRP capability can be an easy transition for current installations. The DFF1-UHD will function at a fixed frequency with many existing transducers.

JTC posted 03-12-2013 06:52 PM ET (US)     Profile for JTC  Send Email to JTC     
The finder is essential for finding the schools of mackerel or herring that you jig up for bait, and the tuna tend to be on the bait so it definitely helps in finding the right spot. But yeah, these guys typically anchor up in one spot, start chumming, and not move around much. A lot of these guys are also fishing for other species, e.g. cod/haddock & striped bass, for which the finder is more or less essential.

On the other hand, I find the chart plotter is critical for bluefin fishing. Navigation aside, my experience is that the bait tends to pile up on structure and then the schools of bluefin move onto the bait. So being on a steep edge where the tide is pushing the bait up is always a great place to troll.

If anyone ever wants to try it or do some buddy-boating off Cape Cod Bay / Provincetown / Stellwagen, give me a holler.

20dauntless posted 03-12-2013 06:54 PM ET (US)     Profile for 20dauntless  Send Email to 20dauntless     
In the Pacific Northwest (WA, BC, AK), Furuno seems to dominate the radar and sonar business, Nobeltec is the preferred electronic charting system, and Comnav is the most common autopilot. This information is strictly anecdotal.
20dauntless posted 03-12-2013 06:55 PM ET (US)     Profile for 20dauntless  Send Email to 20dauntless     
That's for commercial fishing boats, by the way.
jimh posted 03-12-2013 07:04 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
In the really excellent series MIGHTY SHIPS there was a recent episode featuring a big trawler-factory ship, fishing in Alaska, the NORTHERN EAGLE. The captain was shown surrounded by five or six very large-screen LCD displays of chart plots and SONAR, hunting for the right spot to trawl his huge net. The SONAR displays looked like generic large computer LCD screens, so I infer the SONAR devices were some sort of black box SONAR, or maybe the screens were just secondary displays from some primary SONAR device located somewhere else. But the SONAR looked quite impressive. Each net haul yields thousands and thousands of fish, if you trawl in the right place. Again, it looks like the money spent on the SONAR is of no concern compared to the money to be made in one good set of the trawl.


jimh posted 05-01-2013 09:22 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Again on an episode of MIGHTY SHIPS, this time an older episode from 2008, I saw some consumer electronics on the bridge of a ship--on the US Navy's nuclear missile submarine USN KENTUCKY, SSBN 737. This submarine cost $2-billion. In several scenes recorded in the main control area a FURUNO chart plotter could be seen. There was no mistaking it, as its sun-cover was in place with the big blue letters FURUNO very visible. Also, a VHF Marine Band radio appeared to be a Standard-Horizon model, and in a white case. That gave me a laugh because many boaters think the dark gray cases of boat radios look more "military."

ASIDE: I knew right away this was an older episode. It was narrated by Barbara Budd, a Canadian woman with a distinctive and commanding voice who was employed by CBC Radio for a long time. I have not heard her on the more recent episodes.

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