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Lowrance HDS

I had high hopes for my Lowrance HDS chartplotter fishfinder. Unfortunately, Lowrance and Navionics seem intent on marketing products that are simply not ready for use.

I live in Alaska and fish the south central area, Kenai Peninsula, Cook Inlet, North Gulf Coast, and Prince William Sound.

I’ll start with the charts first. The Lowrance Base map is crude compared to others I’ve used. The depth numbers are tiny and nearly impossible to read, especially when underway. The numbers are north oriented only, which means if you are using “Course Up” and heading south, you better be able to read upside down or sideways. There are no contour lines in any of the charts.

I found lots of mapping errors up here in Alaska waters. Where land should be you have sea, where sea should be you have land. Be very careful when using this in the fog. It also does not show submerged or awash rocks as well as my older Garmin chartplotter.

The Insight chart is worse and absolutely useless in Alaska. It is so highly pixelated detail is unreadable.

Now for the very spendy Navionics charts. I found it buggy and not ready for public consumption. When I can get the data to display on my Lowrance HDS chartplotter, which takes multiple reboots and other fiddling, it too is north oriented. Again you better learn to read upside down or sideways. It suffers from the same tiny little fonts too.

The sonar seems to be pretty decent but I have yet to get anything close to the little fish arches they advertise on the screen regardless of depth. I can see the fish and structure pretty well and even saw jigs descending to the bottom and on the way up during my retrieve.

There are lots of other little quirks with this unit and I could write volumes about them. I am trying to educate potential buyers about this product and issues I noticed.

Bottomline: Sonar is good. Software and charts not so good.

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