Which electronic system is better?


James Overstreet

I often get asked about the equipment I use and why.

Many anglers are interested in my electronics and are surprised to learn I use all three major brands – Lowrance, Humminbird and Garmin.

I’m not sponsored nor have an allegiance to any brand so I can do that. One of the advantages of not being sponsored is you can use whatever you want.

And I want to use the unit that performs best for me in specific applications.

All three brands are good and far superior to the choices we had a decade ago. A recreational angler can’t go wrong with any of them.

Having said that, I’ve been a Lowrance guy since I began fishing. I grew comfortable with the functions of Lowrance units and how they operated so I stuck with them for many years.

But over the past decade, new technologies in sonar and mapping came onto the scene and really changed the fishing game. Each brand has battled to come up with features to give it a competitive edge.

And, in my opinion, each brand has a superior feature that makes me want to use that brand to gather the best information available.

I often have five units on my boat; three in front and two at the console. At the bow, I have two 12-inch Lowrance HDS Live units to give me sonar images beneath the boat and out to the side. I also have Garmin Livescope for viewing straight ahead.

The Livescope is the real deal for viewing ahead of the boat. Now, I understand that the new Humminbird’s Mega 360 for scanning ahead and around the boat is pretty darn good, but I haven’t seen it in action but plan to do so.

I have to stay on top of technology because most of my fellow competitive anglers are doing the same. 

At the console I have a 12-inch Lowrance HDS Live unit for sonar and a 12-inch Humminbird Helix for mapping. Again, although there isn’t a great deal of difference between the sonar performance of the two brands, I prefer the Lowrance.

But when it comes to mapping, especially in some parts of the country, the Lakemaster Maps (compatible only with Humminbird) are tough to beat. I split my screen on the Humminbird with one side showing a broader area of the lake and the other screen zoomed in so that I can see details of the immediate area while I’m running down the lake. It’s not unusual to drive over a high spot or key structural change that I wouldn’t have noticed with the map zoomed out.

Of course, you don’t need such of an elaborate set-up for recreational fishing and all of the brands make quality, lesser-priced units. You may not need the more expensive larger screens, but as I get older I can’t see as well so the big screens keep more information visible to me.

So my recommendation is to assess your own fishing needs and buy the best unit or units you can afford that fit your needs best. Make no mistake about it – today’s advanced electronics will make you a better angler.

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