My Tech Gear: Capt. Bill Platt

A pro angler reveals his top electronics choices.
Bill Platt describes his favorite electronics
Courtesy Capt. Bill Platt Capt. Bill Platt fishes tournaments throughout the Gulf of Mexico and along the southeast U.S. coast.

Capt. Bill Platt owns Custom Marine Electronics, a dealership near Galveston, Texas. He spent more than 30 years on the water as a charter-boat captain and tournament fisherman. He recently won the King Master Orange Beach (Alabama), fishing out of his Texas home port.

The key electronics Platt runs aboard his SeaHunter Tournament 39 with triple Yamaha 425 XTOs include:

GPSMap 8616

Garmin’s GPSMap 8616 chart plotter serves as the central interface for Platt’s arsenal. The unit’s 16-inch full HD IPS touchscreen is “big enough to see while you’re running in the open seas,” Platt says. The display delivers a wide viewing angle while remaining visible even in direct sunlight or while wearing polarized sunglasses. The easy-to-read screen allows users to view GPS, transducer, imaging and system data while also giving them control over integrated autopilot functions. MSRP: $5,499.99

GXM 54

For Platt, being able to watch the weather offshore is crucial. His GXM 54 satellite antenna utilizes SiriusXM Weather and Nexrad. The data this antenna downloads provides accurate and detailed weather information along with fishing insights and—added bonus—more than 150 SiriusXM satellite radio channels. MSRP: $799.99; SiriusXM data plans start at $14.99 per month

Collection of FLIR and Garmin electronics
Courtesy FLIR (top right) and Garmin Platt prefers Garmin electronics like the GPSMap 8616 (center) and the GSD 26 (bottom left).

GSD 26 Chirp Module/Airmar CM599LHW

In conjunction with an Airmar CM599LHW pocket-mounted transducer, Platt says the GSD 26 sounder is a must-have for spotting fish “from swordfish to snapper.” The chirp-sonar module, or black box, mounts below the console and transmits a sweeping range of frequencies, providing superior resolution and target separation compared with single-frequency sonar. The module’s dual-channel capability takes full advantage of the Airmar’s high- and low-frequency wide-beam outputs, allowing it to achieve a maximum depth of 10,000 feet while still retaining high resolution in shallow waters. GSD 26 MSRP: $1,999.99; Airmar CM599LHW MSRP: $3,899.99

FLIR M364C

Platt says the FLIR M364C night-vision camera takes a lot of the strain and uncertainty out of nighttime navigation. The gyrostabilized device compiles imaging data from its low-light HD camera and thermal-imaging sensor to send a smooth, high-resolution video feed straight to the MFD. With FLIR’s proprietary Color Thermal Vision, the camera can help users identify channel markers and pick out details that the human eye can’t see. The M364C can also improve situational awareness during the day thanks to its 30X optical zoom. MSRP: $21,995

inReach Explorer+

The inReach Explorer+ is a handheld GPS and satellite communicator rolled into one. Platt says he always wants to be able to communicate with people onshore while he’s offshore. Along with offering maps, GPS location and weather information, an inReach also allows users to exchange text messages and emails from almost anywhere over the global Iridium satellite network. In case of an emergency, the inReach can send an SOS to Garmin’s 24/7 International Emergency Response Coordination Center. MSRP: $449.99. Annual plans start at $11.95 per month

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