Lowrance Hook-3X is a budget-friendly fish finder with a dual-frequency DownScan sonar, High-Speed Skimmer transducer, and very useful sonar features. Read more about it in this comprehensive review.
Lowrance is a major brand primarily associated with high-quality sonar and GPS receivers designed for the general public. Founded way back in 1957 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, it merged with Simrad Yachting in 2006 to form a new company called Navico. Therefore, Lowrance is now officially a subsidiary of Navico.
Lowrance is famous for its HDS and extra performance modules, including StructureScan with DownScan and SideScan, 4G radar, Sonic Hub Audio, NAIL Collision Avoidance, and Sirius LWX-1 Weather, which are currently distributed in over 100 countries worldwide.
One of the best things about Lowrance fish finders is that you immediately know the purpose of every product series, so whether you are a casual fisher or a regular tournament participant, you will have no problems identifying the right Lowrance device for you.
Lowrance fish finders usually come with a transducer, but there are some exceptions like HDS-12 Gen3 (no transducer) and HDS-7 Gen3 (2 transducers). Default transducers generally do not cover lower frequencies even if the main unit is capable of supporting them, so you have to purchase an additional upgrade in most cases if you want to hit, let’s say, 50 kHz.
When it comes to displays, Lowrance units go up to 16” (HDS Live Series) and they are all equipped with sophisticated SolarMax displays that allow for perfect observation even in direct sunlight. Most of the devices also come with adjustable backlight options so you do not have to worry about readability levels at night.
All units except Lowrance Elite-7 feature an IP-X7 waterproof rating, which means they can withstand heavy rain and water splashes without any potential damage. They can even be immersed in 3.3ft of water for up to 30 minutes. The devices have not been tested against outside solids like dust or dirt.
Lowrance Fish Finders Series
Lowrance offers the following series of fish finders:
Hook – The Hook Series is known for its “radical approach to the basics.” In other words, it is a series of fish finders specifically designed for casual, weekend anglers but with improved processors and target separation. The units also come with CHIRP and DownScan capabilities and some of them (Hook-5 and Hook-7, for example) feature GPS antennas as well. Since they are envisioned as casual fish finders, the Hook units come with rudimentary map packages but are compatible with some of the premium options you can buy separately. The Hook Series fish finders are very popular choices for smaller fishing vessels like canoes and kayaks. Finally, they are a solid option for ice fishing as well.
HDS LIVE – HDS LIVE fish finders are designed for professional fishing circuits and they come with faster processors, sleeker design, support for numerous modern fish-finding technologies, and integrated HDS navigation tools. The units include built-in CHIRP sonars, StructureScan 3D with Active Imaging and LiveSight, and a real-time sonar. HDS LIVE 12 and 16 also come with quad-core processors (instead of dual-core in models 7 and 9), programmable keys, and a 6-panel split-screen feature. These devices usually come without a transducer since the company wants to allow you to choose one according to your own personal fishing style.
Elite – The Elite Series fish finders were made as a balance between Hook and HDS LIVE, which means they are not exactly designed for ultra-casual fishers but for “avid weekend anglers,” as the company puts it. The display sizes range from 7” to 12”, which makes them ideal for any type of fishing vessels, apart from the smallest kayaks and canoes. Depending on the model, you will either have 2D + CHIRP or 2D + CHIRP + StructureScan capabilities at your disposal. The units themselves are capable of hitting even low CHIRP frequencies, but the provided transducers usually do not support them.
Lowrance Fish Finders Buyer’s Guide
The company provides some basic guidelines regarding the intended usage of its fish finders, but in order to help you choose the best model, we will now take a look at their advantages and shortcomings when it comes to specific fishing styles and techniques, different types of fishing vessels, overall depth capability, and navigation features.
These are our recommendations based on your preferred fishing style:
Angling with a rod – To determine the best Lowrance fish finder for your needs, you have to take into account various factors, including whether you prefer fishing from the shore or actually have a fishing vessel at your disposal, whether you are an owner or rely on rentals, and more. However, if we are to use the broadest of criteria, we would recommend either going with Lowrance Hook-7 for absolute beginners and/or casual anglers and Elite-7 Ti for more serious fishing aficionados.
Line fishing (droplining, jigging, handlining, slabbing, longlining, trotlining) – Line fishing is a term that in essence refers to angling without a rod, so our previous recommendations apply to this fishing style as well.
Trolling – When it comes to trolling, we recommend going with Elite-7 Ti for non-professional fishers since its CHIRP and StructureScan capabilities provide you with an excellent overview of the bottom and associated underwater structures as well as potential fish targets. On the other hand, you can never go wrong with one of the HDS units if your budget allows it.
Ice fishing – For ice fishing, we recommend using one of the Hook devices, preferably Hook-7 that comes with ASP that also works with DownScan.
Casual/professional fishing – As we already indicated, the Hook Series is specifically designed for casual fishers while HDS LIVE caters to the needs of professional anglers that participate in fishing tournaments.
The Type Of Your Vessel
The fishing vessel at your disposal will greatly influence your choice of fish finders. If you are an owner, you can simply look for the best option for your boat. However, if you rely on rentals, you will probably be better off with a more mobile unit that can be installed and uncoupled at a moment’s notice. With that in mind, here are our recommendations:
Kayaks, canoes, small boats – Since you are looking for smaller, more portable devices, anything with a large display is not a fitting option. In other words, you should probably not go over 5”, but you may go for a 7” unit if the main housing is not overly bulky. Our recommendations here include Lowrance Hook-3x and Hook-5.
Medium-to-large boats – When the overall size of a fish finder is not a limiting factor, you can choose anything from Hook-7 to HDS-12 Gen3, which is designed with the needs of professional anglers in minds.
The overall depth of your favorite fishing spot will determine your choice of fish finding units. That being said, here are the best models for different depths:
Inland fishing – The best option for casual fishers is Lowrance Hook-3X with its modest reach of 300ft. Hook-5 can reach up to 1,000ft with the provided transducer and 300ft with DownScan. Advanced users can opt for HDS-12 Gen 3 that reaches up to 750ft.
Off-shore fishing – For serious off-shore expeditions, we recommend going with Lowrance Elite-7 CHIRP that can reach up to 3,000ft with an upgraded transducer.
As already stated, Lowrance fish finders are split into different groups, which makes it much easier to identify the best unit for your personal needs. The company provides its users with a wide variety of high-quality fish finders with GPS and chartplotting functionalities, from basic units for casual fishers to professional top-tier devices made for tournament participants.
As with all other companies, the provided transducers are not always capable of supporting the features of the main unit, but you can always opt for an upgrade or purchase just the main unit if you already have a transducer.
In conclusion, Lowrance fish finders will provide you with adequate functionality regardless of your fishing vessel/style, favorite fishing spot and conditions, and all other relevant factors.
Lowrance HDS-12 Gen3 is a hi-tech fish finder/chartplotter combo designed for professional fishers who already have a high-quality transducer installed in their vessel or want to purchase one separately.
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Lowrance Hook 7 is an excellent fish finder with a 2D CHIRP sonar and DownScan, a quick and precise GPS system, numerous sonar functions, and basic maps that have to be upgraded for more details.
Lowrance HDS-7 Gen3 with Insight US coastal and inland GPS maps is one of the top fish finder/chartplotter combos primarily designed for professional tournament fishing with top-tier technologies and features.
One of the best fish finder/chartplotter combos in its price range, Lowrance Elite-7 CHIRP is equipped with a CHIRP sonar with DownScan, an internal 16-channel GPS, and a powerful transom transducer.
Lowrance Elite-7 Ti is a fish finder/GPS combo launched back in 2016 that comes with its own TotalScan transducer, features all modern connectivity options, and is compatible with all major custom charts.