Get Rich Quick with Electronics Software Updates

Unlock new fishing features throughout the year just by refreshing your system software.
Helm shot of Furuno electronics
Courtesy Furuno Software updates add amazing new features to an angler’s multifunction display. Furuno now offers a new feature called Catch that allows anglers to save events as fish marks (not shown).

This article originally appeared on

Updating your electronics software will make you rich!

How’s that for a misleading sales pitch? But I think we need the exaggeration in this case.

Clearly, when many anglers hear the phrase — “update your software” — their eyes glaze over. So let me entice you with a juicy promise: If you update your electronics system regularly, you will unlock hidden treasures you never knew you needed.

Like what?

Well, if you’re a Garmin owner, you can enable high-resolution relief shading. If you run a Raymarine unit, you can get a fish-detection alarm and day/night colorization. And that just scratches the surface. The wealth can be staggering.

To top it off, the updating process could not be simpler today. All you have to do is initiate. To explain why and how to update software, we asked the manufacturers to answer a Q&A. Here are their answers alphabetically by brand.


Q: How often do you offer software updates?

A: Furuno usually updates light marine product software bi-annually, but there’s no set schedule.

Q: What are some of the most recent features you’ve added?

A: Right now, Furuno is excited to be offering a massive free upgrade and new user interface for our TZtouch2 multifunction display (MFD) product line. We are adding fantastic new fishing features like a dedicated Event Mark button that is also a gateway to a new feature called Furuno “Catch.” Catch allows customers to save events as fish marks and adds fish information such as size and weight to an event mark that is logged into the MFD and then automatically logged into a personal secure website when combined with a new free app called Furuno First Mate. First Mate is compatible with Android and iOS platforms and allows customer to record images of the fish they catch and save them to the cloud. Furuno has also gone a step further, including a new welcome page and new user interface. Check out the tutorial video below.

Q: What’s the easiest process for downloading and updating your software, and how much does it cost?

A: When the MFD is connected to the internet (using a smartphone hotspot or a router at a marina or on the vessel), the system will alert the boat owner when an update is available. Then, the software downloads directly to the MFD from the cloud. The boater can also check periodically on the website and download a dedicated upgrade file that can be saved to a memory card and then plugged into the MFD. The update method you can choose depends on the size and nature of the update. The current upgrade updates the operating system as well as features. For this, downloading a file to a memory card is necessary for safety and security. Furuno does not charge for software updates to existing product.

Q: What advice would you share with readers on how often and why they should update?

A: In most updates, new features, improvements and bug fixes are introduced.

Garmin’s ActiveCaptain app
Courtesy Garmin Garmin’s ActiveCaptain app makes updating software easy and efficient.


Q: How often do you offer software updates?

A: Garmin does quarterly software updates that include new features and performance enhancements that are offered at no charge to the consumer.

Q: What are some of the most recent features you’ve added?

A: I would say the most important feature we’ve had in quite some time is the Pin Code feature rolled out in early May. It locks and unlocks the display to help prevent unauthorized use of the unit. That has been a hot topic for years, and Garmin listened to customer feedback to improve our product and customer experience. We also continue to improve our sonar quality through testing. Some other important features we have released for saltwater anglers are software enhancements but they do require the purchase of a new product. Enabling High Resolution Relief Shading on BlueChart g3 Vision requires a card but the plotter must be updated with the newest software in order to see the content. Fish Mapping from SiriusXM with the GXM 54 receiver is another phenomenal fishing tool that has been added recently.

Using the Garmin PIN Code
Courtesy Garmin Garmin’s new Pin Code feature allows anglers to program an unlock and lock code into their MFD to protect it against unauthorized use.

Q: What’s the easiest process for downloading and updating your software, and how much does it cost?

A: The ActiveCaptain app is by far the easiest way. We send out a notice over the app that says when new software is available. You can use your phone or your tablet to update your units. The app will check for new software updates, and if there is a new version, it will download it while you are on Wi-Fi so that it doesn’t eat up your air time, then when it pairs with the unit, it pushes the new update over Wi-Fi. You can also go the manual route and download the latest update from and save it to an SD card and then manually load it into the machine. (As noted above, the updates are free.)

Q: What advice would you share with readers on how often and why they should update?

A: We recommend updating software every time a new version is available. We are continuously adding new features and performance enhancements. As with all software, there’s potential for bugs so if we find those, we correct them and issue an update. Making sure you have the latest version of software ensures that your units run efficiently and that the user gets the optimal experience. We also continue to add support from other vendors such as FLIR, Yamaha and Optimus. Who doesn’t like better or more features for free? 

Raymarine website with software updates
Courtesy Raymarine Anglers can easily find any available updates on Raymarine’s website under Service and Support.


Q: How often do you offer software updates?

A: We try to update our LightHouse 3 operating system quarterly, though sometimes the increment is slightly longer depending on just how many new features are inside. Quality Assurance is a large part of every software release, so we’ll let the “quarterly update” interval extend if we need to, because it’s essential that the software update works correctly. 

Q: What are some of the most recent features you’ve added?

A: If you’re not updating regularly, you are missing out on lots of capabilities. Here are some recent additions that benefit anglers. Note, if you miss a release, simply download and install the latest and you’ll be 100 percent caught up.

· Fish Detection Alarm – Audible and visible alerts of fish in the water column, with customized icons, depth and range targeting

· System Day and Night Colorization – Axiom has selectable day and night-time system-wide color palettes, perfect for night fishing.  Charts, radar, sonar and more all respond to day or night selections.

· Fishidy Sync – Sync waypoints and catches between Axiom and the Fishidy Mobile App. Fishidy is a waterway-based community fishing app that lets you log catches, see local activity, and interact with other anglers.

· Dual-Streaming Video from FLIR cameras. View both the visible and thermal images from your compatible FLIR M300, 400 or 500-series camera on your Axiom LightHouse 3 display.

· Yamaha Command Link Engine Display – Yamaha’s official, certified display on Axiom.

· Fishfinder Pinch-to-Zoom and Swipe to Range Shift

· Radar sector blanking – Create “no transmit” zones in your radar to protect crew or sensitive devices.

Raymarine Axiom Pro 12 with software updates
Courtesy Raymarine In the settings menu on this Raymarine Axiom Pro 12, the Update Software button is prominent.

Q: What’s the easiest process for downloading and updating your software, and how much does it cost?

A: Raymarine emails customers who have registered their products when new features are available. Anglers can also use the check-online menu on the display anytime. Then, the easiest way to update is to use Axiom’s onboard Wi-Fi to connect to the internet. Simply link your Axiom to a nearby Wi-Fi Hotspot or your mobile phone.  On Axiom, open the settings menu and choose “update software.” Axiom will update not only itself, but all of your other Raymarine gear it detects on the network — other MFDs, autopilot components, radar scanners, sonar black boxes, transducers, GPS sensors, AIS transceivers, SiriusXM receivers, instrument displays, VHF radios and more. If they need an update, Axiom will notify you, download the latest, and install it. In the event you don’t have internet access at your dock, you can download the latest update on, transfer it to a microSD card and plug it into Axiom. Updates are free.

Q: What advice would you share with readers on how often and why they should update?

A: At the very least, boaters should check at the start of their boating season to see if there is anything new. Our updates always have new features and capabilities, so that alone is normally reason to upgrade. Additionally, we do fix bugs and do other optimizations to keep the MFD and its sensors running fast and smooth. Some great examples of features added via software update include:

  • Augmented Reality
  • AIS and Radar danger area predictions.
  • Axiom UAV app integration with the DJI Mavic series drones
Simrad MFD with update push notification
Courtesy Simrad Anglers receive push notifications on their Simrad MFDs when new software is available.


Q: How often do you offer software updates?

A: Simrad’s goal is to produce software updates once a quarter for its displays. This is not always the case, but that is the general rule of thumb.

Q: What are some of the most recent features you’ve added?

A: In a June software release, Simrad added new features such as support for Fish Mapping data from SiriusXM, C-Map Embark passage planner sync, NMEA 2000 update capability for Mercury VesselView Link, Naviop performance improvements, and accessory control of Lowrance Ghost freshwater trolling motor and Rhodan trolling motors.

Searching for Simrad software update
Courtesy Simrad Anglers can easily check for updates on their Simrad MFDs whenever they are connected to Wi-Fi aboard.

Q: What’s the easiest process for downloading and updating your software, and how much does it cost?

A: The majority of displays are WiFi capable and that is by far the easiest way to update software. To make things easier, push notifications are sent to the MFD to let boaters know that an update is available. The updates are free.

Q: What advice would you share with readers on how often and why they should update?

A: Aside from the obvious being the updates often deliver advanced functionality to benefit boaters and anglers, the other critical reason is that the majority of tech support calls are the result of someone not running the latest software. It is important to know that the software updates are not always just for the MFD. Many times, the software is actually updating a connected device like a sonar module or a radar or an AIS. 


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