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With all the different Sonar options which do you think is the best ?  I would think SideImage ,Ive always wanted one just to High for me .

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3d structure scan B)

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There are really many different answers to your question. If your main goal is to see directly underneath you and get an idea what the fish are doing and see some structure basic 2D sonar is a great option. Also depends on what you're fishing out of. If you have a bass boat your electronics will greatly differ than that of someone fishing out of a kayak. In my opinion basic 2D sonar with GPS are the two most important features available. In the case you do have a bass boat typically most guys run two units. Side imaging is an excellent tool to have at the console because it really allows you to locate pieces of structure that are going to hold fish. In my opinion anything more than down imaging on the trolling motor is a waste. I know some guys that try to run side imaging on the trolling motor but it's very difficult because every time you turn your TM you change the direction your transducer is shooting the frequency. For a guy on a budget the best option is Sonar/GPS or going with DI/GPS.  

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L bought the lowrance Elite  5 with  down scan and  GPS . I couldnt be more happy with it . Its less than 200 dollars . II'm totally amazed that a unit this good can be bought at this price .

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I'm not trying to talk you into spending a ton of money on a side image. I don't have one but rather I have a Lowrance elite 5 HDI (down scan) at the console and an elite 7 at the TM. In all honesty in the two years that I have been using them I'm still not using anywhere near the potiential that they offer. As much as I want a side image I think that if I had one I would be fumbling around and wasting a lot of time trying to figure it out.

Although I have both traditional 2D and downscan, I spend most of the time using the 2D view.

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1 hour ago, thomas15 said:

I'm not trying to talk you into spending a ton of money on a side image. I don't have one but rather I have a Lowrance elite 5 HDI (down scan) at the console and an elite 7 at the TM. In all honesty in the two years that I have been using them I'm still not using anywhere near the potiential that they offer. As much as I want a side image I think that if I had one I would be fumbling around and wasting a lot of time trying to figure it out.

Although I have both traditional 2D and downscan, I spend most of the time using the 2D view.

I usually use them side by side . Like you I can tell more with the 2d because thats what I'm use to . But I compare the two and get more competent with the downscan on each outing . I was marking the heck out of shad and white bass two weeks back .

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Humminbird Side Imaging first and Humminbird 360 Imaging second, 2D sonar third but only for the FishID function.

Those are my primary search and fishing tools.

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Honestly the 2 most important tools I have are GPS with Lakemaster chip and traditional sonar. Although side imaging has helped me find things much quicker.

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humminbird. Easy to use and great customer service should you ever have questions. 

My Helix 9SI has paid for itself with a few awesome trips.

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I have a Lowrance Elite Ti 7 on my kayak. It is a little overkill, but I've found random crap that one would never find 100 feet off one side. Refrigerators, boats, a sunk bridge. All unmarked that would just look like a hump if you got right over it. I had one of my best days this last summer fishing a pinnacle I ran over. I swear I have made runs up the river all my life and never noticed that before. Once I marked it it was easy to fish and I caught fish till it got dark. 

Get what you can afford, but if you dont mind spending a bit more, and a couple days on the water just playing with downscan, you will greatly increase your fish catching! Beat the bank beaters and learn to fish a little deeper and out of most comfort zones! It's tons of fun too! 

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I love my Humminbird. The normal down imaging is great for marking fish and bottom composition. The structure scan is great for identifying rocks and grass and how it's laying. The side scan just gives me lots more info, if I'm seeing grass under the boat I can click over and see if it's just a patch or part of a bigger weed bed.

If you can spring for it having a unit that can give you more info will always be a benefit imo. All the brands have some really sweet stuff. If you have a minn Kota  or a motorguide it could be nice to match your unit to hummingbird or lowrance to have even more cool stuff you can do. 

 

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On 9/29/2016 at 2:27 PM, Wayne P. said:

Humminbird Side Imaging first and Humminbird 360 Imaging second, 2D sonar third but only for the FishID function.

Those are my primary search and fishing tools.

That's where I've landed.

As I noted on another topc, Garmin Panoptix has me looking though.  It potentially combines the forward looking ability of Humminird 360° with fish ID out in front of the boat.

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I bought one of the Humminbird 987C-SI units when they came out. Back then it was tough paying $1600.oo for that unit. But will say it allowed me to find structure to fish. That without the unit, I would have never found. This is from someone that had fished Pickwick Lake and below the dam for 40 years. Back in the spring I upgraded to a Helix 10 SI. This is by far a better unit and cost less then the first one. Side scan is so much better. But being able to make your own detailed lake maps. priceless for sure.

I have used the SI to find fish and  catch a limit in an hour. Buddy of mine I took out and showed how good the units worked. Took   1st place that weekend with his unit. That he only had 2 days. The next weekend he won  second, next weekend he got 1st again. All because of the SI unit. 

This is of crappie, but was on a lake I had never fished on. And within 15 minutes my wife and I were catching fish like crazy. We caught over 100+ in 3 hours from that spot.

crappiebeachlake007.jpg

See a creek channel in a way you have never seen one.

watershedlakes024.jpg

 

Baitfish and you can see the fish feeding on these.

pickwicklake007redo.jpg

Here's the same baitfish with the fish forcing them into a ball.

pickwicklake006.jpg

 

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I run Lowrance, but they are all very good. At the console, I run charts, downscan and side scan. No 2D. On the bow, charts and 2D.

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I would love to drop a plug here and tell you to go get a Lowrance hds 12, and break your bank on top of the line gear but I'm not going to do that. Is there a ( best ) sonar unit to get? Yes. Is that unit best for you? Probably not. so with that being said you have to decide what you need. What you can afford, and if you're going to use it enough to justify the purchase. The owner of the dealership I fish for has a Z-21 That is decked out. almost like my z-20. but when you look at his electronics he has the bare minimum. Depth, standard 2d sonar, water temp, and GPS. That is truly all the average tournament fisherman is going to need. you should be able to compete at the local level and even higher with just that. Now my boat on the other hand has 3 lowrance hds 12's and I know how to read them very well. But since I dropped back to local trails 2 years ago the need for staring at my screens half the day has gone away. To shorten the post up, what I am trying to say is don't go out and spend a load of money on a unit you really don't need. If you're cashing checks at tournaments and think that a good side scan can put you in 1st place instead of 4th then go get it. But if you are finishing 45th out of 50 boats, then don't think that your depth finder is your problem. Hope this helped a little. Good fishing and God Bless.

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I fished all season with with a GPS, 2D in the cockpit and a CHIRP/DI unit on the bow. I did upgrade to a better Navionic's Chart, purchased another HDS unit and in the process of linking all my HDS units (3) together as so I can run different screens as well as have the Navionics and side imaging on the bow to compliment my Elite 7 (use for DSI/CHIRP ONLY) .  But botom line, THESE ARE ALL TOOLS.  Just having them doesn't catch you more fish if you don't use them.  There are units available today under $1000 that offer all of the above and adding a Navionic's chip increases their effectiveness.  A mechanic isn't very good if he doesn't have the proper tools of the trade.  Depending on what kind of angler you want to be, IE weekend fun fisherman, club angler, serious tournament angler......well then I would look into the tools that will propel you to the level you wish to aspire to.  But I have found just like fishing rods, you're better off buying something in the middle price range then at the lower end because as you become better you'll want to upgrade your electronics which will have you spending more money in the long run when you tried to go less expensive.

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My take on electronics is I want to catch just as many and just as large as any high level tournament angler. Actually more since I don't have time constraints or limits involved with tournament fishing. My time on the water is not less valuable than any touring pro or fishing guide. There is no higher level than my quest to catch fish.

I want the tools to show me where they are, why they are there and if they seem to be catchable. Doesn't make any bite though. That's my part.

I also want to know where they are not so I don't try to do any catching where there is no catching possible.

There are low end, mid range, and high end sonar models that do most all the sonar technologies available.

Get the most within your budget that has the technologies you will take the time to learn how to use. There are four major brands that have the side looking imaging, the down looking imaging, traditional 2D sonar, GPS with and without mapping. There are no bad choices, just some do a little better than the others for some functions.

Garmin, Lowrance, Raymarine, Humminbird

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5 minutes ago, Wayne P. said:

My take on electronics is I want to catch just as many and just as large as any high level tournament angler. Actually more since I don't have time constraints or limits involved with tournament fishing. My time on the water is not less valuable than any touring pro or fishing guide. There is no higher level than my quest to catch fish.

I want the tools to show me where they are, why they are there and if they seem to be catchable. Doesn't make any bite though. That's my part.

I also want to know where they are not so I don't try to do any catching where there is no catching possible.

There are low end, mid range, and high end sonar models that do most all the sonar technologies available.

Get the most within your budget that has the technologies you will take the time to learn how to use. There are four major brands that have the side looking imaging, the down looking imaging, traditional 2D sonar, GPS with and without mapping. There are no bad choices, just some do a little better than the others for some functions.

Garmin, Lowrance, Raymarine, Humminbird

Very nice post Wayne, was trying to put mine in a way to cover it all, but yours did a great job.  Best response to the OP's question.

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