Three brands of electronics — final review

It’s taken me a full season fishing the Bassmaster Elite Series to evaluate and learn about all the available electronics on one boat. I ran Lowrance, Humminbird and Garmin on my Bass Cat in 2021. 

I’ve previously discussed the decision to leave behind my longtime Lowrance sponsorship and run everything. Now, I have enough experience to give everyone a good summary of what it’s like using all of them in the real world of bass fishing. 

The last three tournaments are where I really started to understand all these electronics. They really made a difference. I had two good events and basically one bad day that sunk my third event. 

Let’s talk about each tournament in some detail. 

Guntersville was a 21st-place finish. I caught the bulk of my weight in that event offshore with a deep crankbait, the SPRO Little John DD. When fishing the ledges on legendary Lake Guntersville, you feel like it’s a needle in a haystack situation. 

The Humminbird Lake Master mapping is great to get you in the right areas. The Mega 360 feature was awesome. It gave me a read on where the stumps and rock were. The Garmin Panoptix LiveScope showed me exactly where the bait, white bass and groups of bass were sitting. That didn’t mean I always caught them, but at least I was fishing in the right places. There’s no doubt that having all that technology on my boat helped my finish. 

Lake Champlain was a place I bombed last year. I thought I was going to go up there and video game fish catching smallmouth on a drop shot but that deal was not happening. I fished shallow rock and grass with power techniques. The Panoptix LiveScope really helped me make precise casts to the drops and isolated rocks. It wasn’t as much about seeing the fish as it was about efficiency. The Lake Master mapping is by far the best I have seen for Lake Champlain. All the electronics, used together, helped me here too. 

The St Lawrence River was a completely different deal. I didn’t make the 80-mile run to Lake Ontario because I was already locked into the 2022 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Huk. I was determined to figure out the river. 

I got bit on just a handful of deeper places out in the river. The Mega 360 is great for seeing isolated rocks and grass while you drift. That was a big help. Again, the Lake Master maps were the deal. They’re the best. I didn’t rely on the Panoptix LiveScope to see the bass where I caught most of mine. 

The biggest advantage of electronics — any make — is that they make you more efficient. On the northern lakes, there are a bunch of drum that swim around the same places as the smallmouth. Looking for bass on Panoptix LiveScope is tough unless you get deep offshore. I feel like its advantage is 60% seeing cover and 40% or less seeing bass. That’s not what some anglers think it shows. 

I was, however, able to see bass following my bait and how they reacted to it. I never got hung up on any fish I could see and not catch. If they didn’t react to my baits, I moved on quickly.

I’m planning to run all three again next year. I developed a system on how I use them all, and I’m going to keep it rolling. Nothing has come along to make me change that. Lowrance has good mapping, great 2D sonar, very good side scan and the best waypoint management system. Humminbird has the Lake Master mapping, very good Side Imaging as well as must-have Mega 360. Garmin was the first to have Live sonar and their LiveScope is what I can use the best. 

I did not say it is the best because I have limited experience with Lowrance Active Target and Humminbird Mega Live. All three live sonars will push each other to get better and better. That’ll be good for all anglers, professional and recreational alike.

Not everyone can buy all three makes of electronics. It’s pretty much a matter of what you need and what you’re comfortable using. If you have questions, feel free to post them in the comments section. I’ll do my best to answer all of them.