Depth Finder Mount on 2016 Yamaha VX Deluxe WaveRunner

Thank you to my big brother, Nick for helping me with this project! See a photo of us at the bottom of this post.

Article written from first hand experience of WaveRunner owner, and reviewed and edited by marine mechanic.

 

What You’ll Need to Get Started

Raymarine Dragonfly 4 Pro  – or a fish finder of your choice

J-B Weld 8272 MarineWeld Marine Epoxy – 2 oz.

RAM Mount Marine Electronics Mount. 

Blue Sea Systems Waterproof In-Line ATO/ATC Fuse Holder

Black Electrical Tape

 

 

Why we wanted a depth finder

Recently, my husband and I decided we wanted to have a depth finder on our WaveRunner. We thought it would be exciting to know depth when we are in open water. But, after we suddenly ran aground in a lagoon (normally around 2-3 foot deep), we thought it would be useful to prevent further dangerous moments. After weeks of research, I landed on the Dragonfly 4 Pro! In this blog post, I will tell you a little bit about the Dragonfly, and provide complete instructions for mounting it on a personal water craft (PWC) like a WaveRunner, Sea-Doo or Kayak. 

part0

Why Dragonfly?

The Raymarine Dragonfly 4 Pro has a 4” touch screen color display GPS/Sonar, Dual CHIRP sonar, Wi-Fi and more. All these features were more than we could ask for!  In addition to finding depth, we can view fish and the landscape of the ocean floor in different ways. My favorite view is heat vision, because it gives a more colorful picture of the marine life below. But my husband’s favorite part is having a GPS to help us navigate our cruise. We also love that it shows us depth so we don’t venture into areas that are too shallow.

dragonfly-4-front-fishfinder

View the Raymarine Dragonfly 4 Pro  on Amazon

 

Why We Chose the In Hull Transducer Mount

There is an extreme deficit of information online for installing depth finders on jet skis which became my motivation for writing this blog post. Thankfully, my big brother Nick is a semi-pro bass fisher and a self taught marine mechanic. He’s picked up knowledge from 10+ years of owning competitive boats and outfitting them all with fish finders and transducers. He installed our depth finder and advised on this article. 

Many articles only discuss two primary positions for mounting the transducer: 1. Transom Mount (pictured left below)- attached on the external end of the WaveRunner next to the foot step and 2. Through Hull (pictured right below) – Inserted into a hole in the bottom of the watercraft so that it is flush with the external fiberglass. 

 

 

We immediately knew the Transom Mount would not work for us, because we often beach our WaveRunner and cruise through low tide waters. We felt this position was too great of a risk of ruining the transducer. 

We heavily considered the Through Hull mount, but we had two reservations with this method. First, to go this route, you really need a brass transducer which does not come stock. It has to be ordered separately and is an additional $300. Furthermore, the labor required to install this way was quoted to us at $500. Second, we were really nervous about cutting a hole in the bottom of the ski, and we didn’t know of anyone we could trust enough to do that.

Unable to make a decision, I reached out to my bother, Nick. Honestly, I don’t know why I didn’t contact him first!

Nick told me that as long as our ski is fiberglass, we could glue the transducer in the bottom of the hull. I was surprised he recommended that because all articles online indicate that you will lose considerable performance with an in hull mount. Nick said that he glues all his transducers in the hull, and the performance decline is minimal because the fiberglass is so thin. He also mentioned that the fiberglass on our ski may be even thinner than a boat! The thin material makes the in hull adhesive mount quite suitable for personal water craft like a WaveRunner, Sea-Doo, or Kayak.

In Hull Transducer Installation 

Once we agreed on an in hull mount, we decided to glue the transducer directly below the driver’s seat. There was a nice space there with no existing parts mounted that seemed to be perfect for the transducer. This placed it far away enough from the motor jet that it’s signal wouldn’t be disrupted by the vibration of the engine. Here is a photo of the transducer after it was installed:

 

 

We used J-B Weld 8272 MarineWeld Marine Epoxy – 2 oz. and pointed the thin end towards the front of the jet ski while aiming the bulb end toward the back. When using marine epoxy the inside of the jet ski has to be completely dry. We had to tilt it back on the trailer to get some water out from a previous wash. After you set the transducer the epoxy has to dry for 6 hours. If it moves or gets wet, the transducer will not adhere appropriately.

Epoxy

Marine Epoxy used to adhere the transducer to the inside of the hull

View J-B Weld 8272 MarineWeld Marine Epoxy – 2 oz. on Amazon

 

Routing the transducer and power cables

Our approach to mounting the cables was to be as minimally invasive as possible. To accomplish this, we made use of the pre-existing structure of the WaveRunner steering column.

First, we removed the plastic panels around the steering column using an allen wrench. This revealed the structure of the steering column. As shown in the photo below, the structure includes a rubber boot (water tight hole through the hull) and the main steering mount plastic.  We needed to get the cables routed through the rubber boot and then up through the plastic of the main steering mount.

There were already cables run through the rubber boot to the steering column, but there was plenty of room for the small depth finder cables. We had to stretch the rubber but we were able to push the depth finder cables through the boot as well. Because of this rubber boot, we were able to avoid drilling into the hull.

Rubber boot and main steering mount plastic

Rubber boot and main steering mount plastic

Next, we needed to get the cables through the main steering mount plastic. So, we drilled a small hole through the plastic directly under the speedometer cluster in the far left corner. Note: Speedometer may need to be lifted to drill this hole. 

Drilling a hole through the main steering mount plastic

Drilling hole through the main steering mount plastic

Cables routed through hole in main steering mount plastic

Cables routed through hole in main steering mount plastic

Once we drilled this hole, we were able to route the cables through the main plastic of the steering column. However, we needed to clamp the speedometer cluster panel back down and still have room for the cables. So, we used the drill to route a small groove in the speedometer cluster’s plastic cover. This allows the speedometer cluster to clamp back into place without putting pressure on the cables. (See photos below).

Example of speedometer plastic panel clamp

Example of speedometer panel clamp lifted

Groove cut into the speedometer plastic panel/cover

Groove routed into the speedometer cluster’s plastic panel/cover

We ran the cables through the groove in the speedometer cluster’s plastic panel and clamped it back into place securely. When we finished, the depth finder cables were easily accessible at the steering column.

This approach makes the modification unnoticeable and compliments the design of the steering column.

Mounting the display

The Dragonfly 4 Pro comes with a display mount, but Nick suggested an aftermarket mount called the RAM Mount Marine Electronics Mount. The Ram Mount has a much smaller base which made it easier for us to find a better position for the depth finder on the WaveRunner. Moreover, the Ram Mount is designed to handle normal vibrations of the vessel and rough water conditions so that the display is always clear and stable for the operator. Plus it’s very reasonably priced! I don’t recommend proceeding with mounting your depth finder without having this mount.

Ram Mount B Size 1

Ram Mount B Size 1″ Composite FishFinder Mount.

View RAM Mount Marine Electronics Mount on Amazon

 

The Ram Mount required two small holes. We placed it on the left side because my husband is left handed. Thanks to the WaveRunner Design, this did not impact any water tight areas.

Dragonfly 4 Pro Mounted on Ram Mount

Dragonfly 4 Pro Mounted on Ram Mount

Routing power

The depth finder has its own power lines that are supposed to connect to the Jet Ski battery; however, these were only about 18 inches long. We needed extension lines (red and black) to help the power lines reach the battery. We took the red wire and spliced it with additional red wire and did the same with the black wire sealing these splices with electrical tape. So now, the end of the wire, could reach the battery.

We added a Blue Sea Systems Waterproof In-Line ATO/ATC Fuse Holder to the red wire. This ensures that if there were a power surge the depth finder would shut off.

Spliced wires and fuze attached

Spliced wires and fuze attached

View Blue Sea Systems Waterproof In-Line ATO/ATC Fuse Holder on Amazon

 

To connect the black and red wires to the battery, we removed the bolts holding down the circle clamps. There were existing cables running to the battery that power the Jet Ski displays. We lifted those and inserted the depthfinder power cables under them. We replaced the original power cables and then screwed the bolts back on.

Wires routed to battery

Wires routed to battery

Final results

After we were finished, we re-attached all the plastic paneling on the steering column. We took the WaveRunner out the next day and played with our new toy! It works great!

Transducer mount: We don’t think we miss out on any performance from the in hull mount. It works really well at speeds up to 15 mph, we have a perfect view of the ocean floor and our depth. The GPS works at high speeds and slow speeds.

Cable routing: We are really happy with the placement of the cables. We are pleased that we could use the existing “rubber boot” to get the cables through the hull without drilling. The Yamaha steering column was easy to work with as well.

Mount positon: it is in the perfect spot and the RAM Mount is performing like a champ! We have no fear of knocking it off and we maintain clear visibility through the vessel’s vibrations and rough waters.

IMG_4699

Thanks Nick!

Me and Nick!
Me and Nick!

22 Comments

  1. Such a great question, Bob. I think I need to add this to the post. The Dragonfly is IPX6 and IPX7 rated so it can withstand weather, jet stream and short periods of being under water. It is gripped so tightly by the RAM Mount and wired into the hull that we are never worried about it falling off and becoming submerged.

    I considered the Garmin Striker 4 (around $150 at the time) and the Garmin Striker 7 (around $400 at the time). There seemed to be a big gap in the price range of those products. The Garmin Striker 4, in my humble opinion, was too narrow of a screen for what we wanted. The Garmin Striker 7 was a little too expensive and the reviews on different websites were not as high as the RayMarine. While I typically would trust Garmin over any brand any day, for this particular purchase, their bottom price point didn’t meet my quality needs and their top price point was out of my price range and had lower reviews.

    Also, the Dragonfly had a couple of more tech savvy features that intrigued me. It is compatible with a smart phone app, so you can record what’s happening on your screen and review it on your phone later. It also costs of CHIRP DOWN Vision. The website says, “CHIRP DownVision™ will change your underwater view with incredibly clear, photo-like sonar images. Dragonfly’s CHIRP DownVision™ surpasses ordinary imaging sonars with superior deep water performance to 600ft (180m) and reliable high speed bottom tracking.” My experience with the CHIRP Down Vision has been very cool so far. We can see very detailed depictions of things under our ski.

    I would still trust a Garmin, Lawrence or similar brand for this purpose and mount. I may add to this post recommending some I would consider purchasing in the future.

    Reply

  2. Great article, I’ve been looking for some instructions like this. You said it works well up to 15 mph. Do you loose bottom above this speed? Do you think its due to placement of transducer that far forward that once it’s up on plane the water contact is inconsistent?

    Reply

  3. I enjoyed reading this article because I have been thinking about doint this on my 2017 VX ski but have been unsure of the transducer to get. I noticed a link to all your devices used except for the transducer, could you supply a model number or a link to the transducer that was used. Thanks

    Reply

  4. Hi thanks for the great article!
    Just a question on why you faced the transducer the way you did? I feel like It should be the other way like it would be on the transom?
    I think I will do with in-hull like you have.

    Thanks a lot 🙂
    Chris

    Reply

  5. Hiya just a quick question. Why was the transducer faced the way it was? Isn’t it the opposite to what it would be on the transom?
    Just wondering as I am looking to do in-hull as well.
    Thanks for your time 🙂
    Chris

    Reply

    1. Hi Chris!

      I don’t think it is the opposite. Maybe it’s just the way the photo is turned.

      Anyway, the transducer has a cable that runs to the GPS unit which is fixed on the steering column. The transducer is turned in the direction that points the butt of the cable towards its destination (steering column) so that there are no bends or extra pressure on the cable.

      Hope this helps!

      Reply

  6. Thanks for the article, probably the best i have come across to help demistify fish finders for jet skis. I based in New Zealand Zealand and looking at identical setup but just need to check the transducer you used. Yours appears to be the transom mounted version but you have mounted inhull. Are you able to confirm the transducer model number please.

    Reply

    1. Hi Stu! The transducer is the same transducer that came with the dragonfly 4 pro.

      Yes, it is transom and yes we did mount it in Hull. That was the big secret. We decided to cheat the system and do it this way. It works really well at low speed and when I’m stopped.

      It does not work well at high speeds. My total investment was $400. Super happy with the product.

      Reply

  7. Hey, quick question: does the downfinder feature actually work well, up the the 15 mph you mention? Or is it just the sonar (fish and depth) that work up to 15? Or did that work at any speed?
    Thanks!

    Reply

  8. Hi- this post seems to be getting a lot of attetion and for good reason! Well done. I do have a question for you though. I have a waverunner too, but am having a hard time imagining where exactly you mounted the transducer. Is it under the seat but toward the back near the pump (behind the motor)? Is it near the battery? Thank you

    Reply

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