We recently recorded an episode of the Great Lakes Fishing Podcast featuring Trevor Sumption from Fish Hawk Electronics. We discussed the new Fish Hawk Electronics Lithium Series and tried to answer all of the questions received since the announcement of the new product was announced in late November. You can see the conversation on YouTube by clicking here or continue reading to see a transcription of the interview.
Chris Larsen: Where did the idea for the new Fish Hawk Lithium Series come from?
Trevor Sumption: Well, we saw that there was technology out there that we could use that could help address what we thought were the weak points of the previous product, of the X4 product. So if you're aligned even further, you know, you go back to the 840 probes, and then the X4 probes came out. The X4 probes came out because we were able to do things better than what we were able to do with the 840 probes. We ran that 840 program for twenty-five years. So we knew what the weaknesses were just like we know what the weaknesses were in the X4 Probe, which we had out for over a dozen years.
So when we saw the technology coming down the road, we've all got wireless charging in our phones. We use it every day, and that is just a perfect application that kind of addressed what we saw as the biggest weakness of the X4 probes, which was batteries. Everybody knows that oil and water don't mix. Well, batteries and water aren’t much better. So by the time we're maintaining batteries and trying to keep those dry and the issues that go along with that. This technology, the rechargeable technology with the wireless charging technology, just seemed like a natural fit for the product.
Chris Larsen: And putting that all together, going to the lithium battery, the built-in battery, it takes away a lot of the weaknesses of the other product. But what else came about? What other advantages do you have with the new Fish Hawk Lithium Series that you didn't have in the previous product?
Trevor Sumption: The first one that everybody notices, of course, is the size. You look at that in relation to my hand. It's about forty percent smaller than the X4 probes are. So it's a lot smaller. The actual design of the case makes it slip through the water better. It's more efficient in the water. This also makes it work better if you're going at really low trolling speeds. Especially, people that are fishing for walleyes or kokanee where you're not fishing as fast as you would for king salmon.
There are a few other things that we built in. There are two little pins on the back. The temperature sensor and that's also what turns it on. On the X4, those pins came out the front of the probe. So, you know, you're pulling the probe up and it's rough and you hit the side of the boat or you hit the swim platform. Those could be damaged. So by moving those to the back, it takes that out of it. So, again, these are just little things that we built into the lithium probes. It's based on experience and it's based on the feedback that customers gave us over the course of a decade.
Chris Larsen: We’re getting a lot of questions about charging the probe. How long does it take? How long does the charge last?
Trevor Sumption: So the charge lasts at least fifty hours. And what that is that's actual fishing hours. That's not total. That's fifty fishing hours in the water. So in a lot of cases in field testing, we got far more than that. That's from a full battery. It's got a really long actual runtime on there.As far as your charging time goes, if your battery was absolutely stone dead, you're gonna go from zero to a hundred in about two hours. And in a pinch, you can get more than a day's worth of fishing just by charging for twenty minutes. So the battery consumption is very low. It's a very efficient circuit. We are really happy with how the charging performance came out in the final product.
Chris Larsen: The other thing we’re hearing is people wanna know about the replaceability. Now, obviously, this is a completely sealed system with a lithium battery. However, the life cycle of the lithium battery within the unit is a long time.
Trevor Sumption: It is. Once we put the electronics, which includes the battery and the charging coil in there, once we do that, we fill that whole cavity with epoxy. There's no way to get it out of there. There's no replacing the battery or anything like that.
But with the battery and the the smart charging circuit that's built in there, you've got literally thousands of charge cycles before you would ever notice battery degradation And in fact, you probably wouldn't notice battery degradation just based on your run times. So you've got five thousand charges. And in reality, it's probably more than that. The total life span of the battery is very, very good.
And I just don't expect that to be an issue for anyone. If I used this thing for five thousand cycles, I'd be ecstatic because that means I'm doing a lot of fishing. I really don't think it's a realistic scenario that people are gonna wear out the battery.
Chris Larsen: Like the old system, we've got three different systems. We have the Ultra. We have the Pro. We have the Multi. What are the differences between those and how do they correspond with the old lineup?
Trevor Sumption: Yeah. Let's start with the flagship which which is the Ultra. So the Ultra is going to give you is going to give you your surface temp, your surface speed. And then it's going to give you probe temp, probe speed, and probe depth. So the Ultra is the replacement for the X4D Bluetooth. The Ultra also has Bluetooth functionality in it. So that's the direct replacement for the X4D system.
The Pro system is the replacement for the X4, and that's gonna give you your surface temp, surface speed, probe temp, and probe speed. So that's the Pro. And then the Multi. We're offering the Multi in two flavors. But the Multi is what's replacing the X2. And the X2 is less known to a lot of people. The X2 is the portable one.
The X2 has the Slipducer so you don’t have to use it with a downrigger and you don’t have to mount anything permanently on the boat. So that was the X2. We’re offering the new Multi with that slippducer. So again, a totally portable system. And we call it the Multi because a lot of anglers that have multi-species boats will use it. Maybe you're jigging for walleyes one day and trolling for salmon the next day. That's what the Multi is good for, and that's why we named it that.
But the second configuration that we’re offering the Multi in is a transom mount transducer. Because there are applications where that's a benefit to you. Where you're gonna put on a downrigger for using the probe. There is no better way to use the probe than with the downrigger. So even though we say you don't have to use the downrigger, all that being said, a downrigger is very, very convenient for using a probe. So enough people were doing that that we offer the Multi with the transom mount options. So you're able to select on that one whether you're getting the slipducer for a truly portable unit or with a transom mount transducer for a more permanent installation.
Chris Larsen: The most frequently asked question we get is, does this work with the old system?
Trevor Sumption: Yes. And that's a big design factor for us in a lot of the things we do. And really anything that we've done since 2009, this product included, and that's backward compatibility or simply this product works with the other products that are out there in the field. So you don't have to put a new transducer on. You don't have to put a new display on. Everything works together as a kit still. While we would love to sell everyone a brand new system and put a new display on… there are advantages to the new display as well. We can talk about that. But while we would love to do that, we recognize maybe that's not the best fit for everyone. So what that means is you can buy a Lithium Series Probe and use it with your X4 system or your X4D or whatever you have. It will even work with an 840 for that matter, there are still a few of those out there alive and kicking.
So the Lithium Series Probe is backward compatible or, works with everything that's in the field right now. As do the display and the transducer. The transducer and the power cords are the same. This is unlike a lot of marine electronics companies. I know it annoys me. Every time you get a new depth finder, you gotta put a new transducer on. I don't like mounting transducers anymore than anybody else does.
So we try to make that as simple as possible. We utilize as many of the parts and pieces that people already own. We try to do that and maybe that's not the best business decision, but I am sure people appreciate it.
Chris Larsen: Alright. So backwards compatibility. It works with the old system. We've been talking a lot about the probe, but we also updated the display. Let's talk about that.
Trevor Sumption: We based the new display on the X2 display, which we introduced a couple of years ago. We really liked the performance, the fit, the finish, and the look of the X2 display. So we took that same design theory and we just blew it up. We made it bigger. So what we liked about that display was the fact that we're using a glass over design. So this is actually a glass face on it versus a plastic face.
The glass face covers that opening and there's a great big gasket on there. So it really does a good job of waterproofing the face. Along with that, it uses pillpad keys. So there's actually a keyboard versus the membrane switch that we used on the X4 Series stuff. We like the feel of that and it does very well over time.
Those keyboards last a long, long time. The size of the digits stayed the same. So there's a lot of similarities there. The actual screen itself is gonna look pretty much the same in there. But if somebody's asking the question, why do I want the new display? It's going to be more durable over time. It's going to look better for a longer period of time because of that glass face. It's very scratch-resistant and very durable. It's something that you can put on the boat and you know that it's gonna be really solid for for a long time.
It also, and this is something some guys care about and some people don't, it matches current marine electronics. It matches it better. So it looks better with what's on your helm. Maybe you've got Garmin on there or Lowrance or Humminbird or whatever fishfinders or multifunction displays you have on there. The Fishhawk displays look similar to that and they coordinate a little bit better.
Chris Larsen: And does the display have a low battery warning on it? So people have an idea when that probe is running down.
Trevor Sumption: Yes. So the Ultras and the Pro will give you a low battery prompt on screen. So if the probe battery is draining down, it will say low battery on the screen. Telling you that it's time to charge the probe. The other thing we noticed in field testing, after a lot of hours on the water this summer, is your probe will be working great and all of a sudden, it starts to drop out for a second. That's kind of a hint you might wanna charge as well. But for the most part, the probe is designed where it's all or nothing. It's got a very flat power curve. So it's gonna act like any other lithium power tool.
It's like you're using your screwdriver and it works. It works. It works. All of a sudden, it's just dead where it needs to be recharged. The probe is very much the same way. It kind of follows that same power curve.
Chris Larsen: Let's talk a little bit about that testing Trevor. I know we had it out in the field for quite some time. We had several charter captains and serious trolling anglers using it. Tell us about that testing.
Trevor Sumption: We did. We actually started this project really early in 2019, and it took quite a bit longer than what we had anticipated just based on all the stuff that was going on with the supply chain and the availability of microchips. It really took about an extra year because we had to redesign it a couple of times based on the fact that the chips that we were building into the spec just simply weren't available and we didn't know if they would ever be available again. So it added some time to that process.
But throughout the whole duration, we field tested this product more than we field tested any other product at least since I've been around. So we've had this thing out for a long time. We had hand-built prototypes in the field during the summer of 2022.
We had what I would call production grade stuff in the summer of 2023. So late this last summer we had about we had about thirty people out there using the probes and we picked people specifically based on how much they're on the water. So a lot of it ended up being captains because they're fishing every day. But also Average Joe's that get to fish a lot. And that was the whole thing, let's just put as many hours on these things as possible. Let’s find out if there is something that we're not seeing, find out what the weaknesses are, and get feedback from them.
So when we did finally make the announcement, I can say I’m really confident in what we're putting out there, what we're boxing up and shipping right now. It's been a long process and it's and it's not always fun, but we did we really did put it through the wringer, the best we could.
Chris Larsen: So one of the questions that we get a lot is latency. That's something that people wanna know about. It was important when we made this product that it worked with the old stuff and was reverse compatible but with that came a few limitations. That's one of them. Do you wanna talk about that a little bit?
Trevor Sumption: Latency, I would call that refresh rate. Right? It is what I would call it. So you can say it's latency or delay or whatever. But I would call it your refresh rate. So, yes, you're right. So in order to make it backward compatible, it needs to it needs to use the same protocol that the other products did, and that's what it does. One thing I think that's kinda important to point out there as far as your refresh rate goes is, some of that is built in on purpose.
And what I mean by that is if you’re going with real-time and you're up and down waves, you're never settling in on a number. Right? So that's where we take the mean over a twenty-second period and that mean(average) number, that's what we're actually putting on the display. So that gives you a number that you can actually key and target and get back to it and that goes back to the whole thing where we don't care what the number is. It could be two, it could be two hundred.
All I wanna know is where I caught fish. So, you know, part of that refresh rate, part of it is the amount of data that we're sending. But then the other part of it is taking that average and then and giving us a number that that we can work with, you know, to get back to what's actually producing bites.
Chris Larsen: The mean is really important there because you're sitting there and you're watching real-time as you're hitting waves the numbers would be going up and down, and you'd be sitting on the throttle going back and forth. It would drive you mad if you were getting it like that.
Trevor Sumption: Right. Yeah. So that's a lot a lot of that's by design and because we've seen what it looks like when you don't do that. Right? And it's not very fishing-friendly because you're always dinking with it. And one thing to point out in that too is, like, as far as that goes, this is no different than what we've been doing since the 1970s. So this theory of operation and the way we do it, it's pretty tried and true and we feel pretty good about it. We feel very good about it. This is a formula for repeatability and something that that helps people catch fish.
Chris Larsen: I think we covered pretty much everything that people have asked us since releasing the product. Is there something that you came into today that you wanted to talk about that I didn't ask you about?
Trevor Sumption: I wanted to keep it short and sweet and to answer the questions people had. But I just really want to thank everybody out there for all their input over the years because ultimately that input is what led to this product. And we're super happy that we can deliver on that.
Chris Larsen: Speaking of delivery, are all the units available on the website right now?
Trevor Sumption: We're building stuff every day and putting stuff up. So, yes, there's certainly a good representation of it. And that was the other thing we did when we did this product launch. We didn't wanna introduce the product that you had to wait six months for.We wanted to introduce the product when it was ready to go And like I said, we're building them now, so they're gonna be ready to go. So as people are rigging boats this winter, it feels to me like we're gonna have a short winter. I hope I didn't just jinx that. But I think the product will be ready when you're readying boats.
Chris Larsen: When could people expect to see them at their stores?
Trevor Sumption: We are shipping daily. We've already had dealers placed in orders so I think you'll see him showing up on store shelves here very shortly as well.
Chris Larsen: He is Trevor Sumption from Fishhawk Electronics. You can find out more about the new Lithium Series on the website. It's FishhawkElectronics.com.