If you’ve never heard of either Insight Genesis or DrDepth then let me quickly explain what they are. Essentially they are both tools for creating your own charts based on recordings made with your combination fish finder/GPS. By extracting depth and bottom hardness information from these recordings charts can be made that can then be loaded on to your plotter giving you a much more accurate picture of the sea bottom. DrDepth was a program written to work worth with many different types of sounder but has since been bought by Humminbird, Insight Genesis is Lowrances own version of the same thing. I hope that all makes sense?
Dr Depth Technology
Software you install on your own PC converts your data and generates charts in multiple formats. There are 1000 and 1 settings that can be played with including features like overlaying side scan information over 3D depth maps. Enough to say it can get quite complicated but for the purpose of comparing it with Insight Genesis I just used the most basic features with next to no messing.
Insight Genesis Technology
A free bit of software that compresses and uploads your files to their online service which does all the map generation. These charts can be viewed online for free or for $99 you can get a yearly subscription to allow export back to your chart plotter. There are very few options and no configuration to be done, simply upload your sonar recordings and away you go.
How Accurate Are The Charts?
The images below show depth chart information generated from DrDepth and Insight Genesis. Now when you are creating your own charts you are obviously going to want to gather more data over time (especially if you are sea fishing). Both services have the ability to add more data, Insight Genesis has a really easy to use Merge function for creating charts from multiple recordings whilst DrDepth has the ability to add as many recordings as you like to the current chart. The only real difference being that DrDepth requires a 2 minute 1 off process to do tide adjustments whilst Insight Genesis claims to do all the adjustments automatically for you. Here are 3 charts of Craigs Rock of the west coast of the Isle of Man, I don’t think I’m giving too much away here as everybody and their dog fishes it!
The first image is the combined chart using DrDepth. 3 recordings over the space of 4 hours were made and this is what the finished chart looks like within the DrDepth program:-
Having thrown a GoPro camera down on to the rock itself I can tell you that this is VERY accurate! Even down to the 2 little peaks on the main rock.
The next image is an Insight Genesis chart using only the first recording, you can see it’s not a bad effort, not quite as detailed as DrDepth but not bad:-
However problems arise when you look at the combined chart from those same 3 recordings. The problem is that the last recording was made as the tide had fallen 5-6 feet. That run travelled from the bottom right to the top left as you look at the image and you can see that it has had the effect of dragging the seabed up. So much for the auto tide correct in Insight Genesis, I’ve written to them to try and get an answer on this. Comparing this to the original DrDpeth chart and from what I know the bottom is like there is a very clear winner – DrDepth.
Going Past Depth Information, What About Bottom Hardness?
Even with the best will in the world there are occasions where these types of program are not going to give you what you want in terms of depth information. One very common example of this is wrecks. Most wrecks fall into the category of either scattered wreckage or a very thin hull. To a fish finder this will often look like either a bumpy bottom or even a solid line hanging of the bottom (almost like a really big fish!), they are not picked up as the bottom signal so the depth measured isn’t from the top of the wreck. On a big steel wreck you will get the lovely boat shape sat clearly on the bottom but those are few and far between. To demonstrate this and to compare Insight Genesis and DrDepth I did a recording of a well known local wreck. Having filmed it I can tell you that there is a huge amount of wreckage that spreads approximately 200-250 feet on to a sandy bottom from the rocky shore. Some of the boat structure is in tact but not a lot of it. Here is the depth chart created with DrDepth:-
Any sign of a wreck there? Remember that this is a big wreck and it juts out from the shore which can clearly be seen by the very shallow water.
Here is the exact same recording on Insight Genesis:-
Again not much hope? It should be pretty clear that generating a depth chart isn’t going to help us fish this wreck. But what about the bottom hardness, wreckage on a sandy bottom should stand out, here is the DrDepth version:-
I’d say that is pretty clear? You’ve got the rocky shore and then the sandy bottom represented by the blue. Jutting out on to this you can see the area of much harder bottom as the brighter pink, red and even yellow where the main pieces of wreckage are. It is very easy to export this hardness information from DrDpeth either for use in their Android/Ipad app or even as countour lines for use in your plotter.
This is how Insight Genesis processes that exact same information:-
Anybody spot the wreckage? I can’t, I can’t even make out where the rock ends and the sand begins.
Insight Genesis vs DrDepth
For me there is a clear winner, the DrDepth program seems to not only give a better level of detail on the depth chart but their hardness/bottom composition agorithm is obviously way ahead of that offered from Insight Genesis. The strange thing is that Insight Genesis is from the people that make the sounders so you’d think that if anybody could accurately chart that information it would be them! The bad news is that DrDepth is no longer available to buy but if like me you already have it but are tempted by Inisght Genesis I would give it a miss. If on the other hand you weren’t lucky enough to buy DrDepth when it was available I’d go out of my way to try and find a copy from “somewhere” because for my money it is still producing the best user charts you can get.