The biggest question in the world of fish finders has to be “Which brand is better? Lowrance or Humminbird?”
Unfortunately, the Lowrance-Humminbird debate is like the Chevy-Ford debate. There’s really no one choice, and it’s very much dependent on personal preference.
If you scour some of the forum discussions on this topic, you’ll see people that are big Humminbird fans and people that are big Lowrance fans.
You’ll also see the occasional person who has both, and is pretty happy with both units!
Customer service really depends on your luck. Both Lowrance and Humminbird have good and bad service reps, and the chances of getting a bad unit are equal with both brands.
However, there are certain advantages to each brand which I’ll go through here. I won’t be able to tell you which brand is better, but hopefully I’ll give you a better idea of what brand to choose according to your needs.
Advantages of Lowrance:
Very good small units:
Lowrance has a very wide range of offerings, from larger professional units to smaller weekend-angler units. The Lowrance Hook series, which is a new release, ranges from units that have 3.5 inch screens all the way up to 9 inch screens.
The 3.5 inch models are awesome for the price. For less than $200, you can get a really decent fish finder. Some of the smaller Hook models such as the Lowrance Hook-3X DSI have DownScan imaging for under $150 – something that was unthinkable a few years ago.
Finally, the mid-size Hook 5 comes in many different models, from a very basic fish finder/chartplotter, to one with DownScan imaging, or one with an advanced Navionics+ mapping package. You can still find the Hook 5 at under $500, which is a decent price considering the amount of bang you get for your buck.
Disadvantages of Lowrance:
Technology comes at a cost:
As good as the small 3 and 4 inch units are, the 5-9 inch units just don’t have that much technology in them as other manufacturers.
In larger models, you’re basically paying for just the screen size and nothing else, because the other benefits like 3D SONAR and a good mapping package/GPS can already be found in smaller models.
Then you’ll have to decide whether you can rationalize paying a few hundred dollars more for just a larger screen size.
Don’t get me wrong – a bigger screen size can be very advantageous – you can see a lot, lot more in a bigger screen, especially if you are looking at SONAR readings tens of feet deep. The level of detail you can see on a higher resolution screen will be higher, no doubt.
However, some people may not be able to justify shelling out that much extra cash for a few inches in screen size.
Advantages of Humminbird
Humminbird clearly outperforms Lowrance when it comes to innovation. Humminbird were the first to come out with 360 degree SONAR and Side Imaging, too.
While not all of their products were a hit(like the 360 SONAR), it shows that Humminbird is willing to take greater risks to try and bring the next best product to market.
I feel they’ve really achieved that with their Side Imaging technology. A couple of years ago, when they first introduced it, it was only available on high-end $1000 models. Even so, at that time, SideScan was only available on Lowrance HDS multi-function displays, and that too with their StructureScan module, so you were looking to spend over $1500 if you wanted Side Scan SONAR with Lowrance.
Fast forward to now and Side Imaging by Humminbird is more wallet-friendly than ever. Models like the Helix-5 SI are available for less than $500 and deliver crisp, clean side imaging SONAR readings.
Disadvantages of Humminbird
Budget starts higher:
While Lowrance offers really inexpensive-but-good small fish finders, Humminbird’s smaller offerings are very limited and don’t have quite the punch that the Lowrance units.
The Humminbird budget units are called the PiranhaMax series, and if your budget is less than $200, go the the established Lowrance series rather than the PiranhaMax series.
There used to be lots of PiranhaMax models, but Humminbird seems to be cutting down on those series, so they probably weren’t doing so well.
Alternatives to both
Humminbird and Lowrance may be the Chevy and Ford of the fishing industry, but there are other brands that have really decent fish finders – except we don’t really hear about them much because most of the sponsorships belong to those two!
The Raymarine Dragonfly series is an awesome but lesser-known fish finder. It packs a lot of technology into a small package, and is incredibly easy to use – there are just three buttons that let you control the whole thing. The ease of use is like that of an iPhone – there’s just one button!
The Dragonfly has really high-resolution 2D and 3D SONAR using CHIRP technology, and an accurate GPS chip which can be used with optional mapping packages for a really all-in-one unit.
Available in 4 inch, 5 inch, and 7 inch models, there seems to be a Dragonfly for every budget.
Link below is for 4 inch.Check prices and ratings
Another fish finder brand that may not be as well known but is super high quality is Garmin. Garmin is usually known for GPS and maps, so we don’t really think “fish finding” when we hear Garmin.
Perhaps that’s the reason for Raymarine being lesser known, too – they make radars, radios, and other marine electronics first, then fish finders second.
Coming back to Garmin, their fish finders – such as the Striker series – are solid, well-built, and have astounding picture quality. In fact, many people that use Garmin don’t ever go back!Check prices and ratings
So as you can tell, there’s really no clear winner in the fish finder battle, but if you are really torn between the two giants Lowrance and Humminbird, why not try something totally new – a Garmin or Raymarine!