GPS for Mapping Options

By Lance Valentine

One of the most common questions we get at TeachinFishin is “What map chip do I need”? Such a simple question actually needs a pretty detailed answer depending on where you fish, what unit you are using, and what features do you want.

Today’s mapping options can provide so much more than just depth contours (often wrong), navigation aids and shoreline features. With the right mapping option, we can create “live” maps as we fish, see bottom composition, see weed growth, shade productive depths and much more. Let’s take a quick look at mapping options available today.

1) Built in mapping: Most units bought today have some type of “internal” mapping. This is often limited to a small number of lakes with average detail and no advanced features. While internal mapping is a start, anglers should always add one or more of the advanced mapping options available.

2) SD card mapping: Several companies produce maps on SD cards that can be inserted into a card slot and show more detailed data than the built-in mapping. SD cards can be brand specific or universal. Most feature highly detailed lakes or areas of lakes. Most current models are upgradeable so the user can add newer, updated, more detailed depth information each year.

3) Live Mapping: One of the newest options is the ability to create a “LIVE” map while you are fishing. Some units require only an empty SD card be installed, while others require a SD map card that has a “live” feature. Live mapping is great for lakes with no maps, low detail or for finding small pieces of structure

4) SonarLog Mapping: Along with “live” mapping, sonar logging has become a feature that many anglers find invaluable. By recording, or “logging” your sonar information during the day, then uploading it to a third party, you can create maps with precise and accurate depth contours. Some SonarLog mapping companies also provide maps with bottom hardness and/or weed growth.

5) Custom Options: Using one or more of the new mapping options can give you the ability to view bottom hardness, weed growth, depth shading to make productive depths easier to see and more.

Knowing EXACTLY what is below your boat is one of the fastest ways to catch more fish faster. Using the proper mapping option for how, when and where you fish is an easy way to get more from your GPS, see more, put a pattern together faster and catch more fish.

If you need help choosing the right mapping option for you, send us an email to and one of our staff will help you make the best decision!

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