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Help in choosing new locator/GPS

9/1/14 @ 12:15 PM
User since 10/25/09
I have two old school, very basic locators on my boat. I would like to upgrade the one on the console. I fish strictly smaller inland lakes and do not do Great Lakes or Winnebago.

I would like a locator or possibly locator/GPS combo that is as user friendly as possible. I would spend up to $500 including any accessories. I am at a point of total confusion with all of the different models, options and maps available. Due to my lack of technical knowledge, the less I have to do like adding after market maps, etc., the better.

A little info, rather than, "Go with a Garmin" or "Don't buy Humminbird" would be appreciated. Thanks in advance for any help.

In addition, anybody have specific thoughts on the Lowrance Elite 5 HDI?

11/6/18 @ 10:53 PM
Tim Zwieg
User since 1/10/12

Bone-Fish is spot on with his review below

11/5/18 @ 5:53 PM
MEMBER since 11/3/16

I cant advise which to use. I use humminbird due to success with them and not with the Ray Marine I purchased. I hear people love Ray Marine, but I got burned by them once with the Dragonfly product. Whatever you do, do not buy a Dragonfly. (discontinued anyway I believe)

Connectivity / Compatibility to my minnkota also drives my humminbird choice

Things to consider:

GPs color mapping is a must. It makes getting back to your honey holes so easy i would never go without it again.

Map card is a must. They are all similar enough for popular inland lakes so dont overthink it. Remote lakes... well I cant speak to that but I hear there isnt great coverage for those by anyone. Also, using the generic maps that are included with any model are useless in my opinion. 

To actually see fish you only need sonar. Chirp is nice, but surface clutter isnt an issue unless you are in shallow water and in shallow water a locator is hardly any use. (i.e. the cone is too small and doesnt cover any area)

Down imaging is hardly used to find fish, it is used for finding/verifying structure. You can find fish with down imaging but it is significantly easier with sonar. You can however get clarity of your sonar returns once over the structure to clarify what is or is not fish. I never use down imaging any longer as I have side imaging which gives my pretty good structure feedback. I used it on rare occasions but wouldn't miss it if it were gone as long as I had side imaging.

Side imaging. Great to see fish off to the side. BUT, it takes practice to recognize fish unless they are a school of fish or larger fish such as carp, large walleye or pike/musky. For example. I took a 16 inch smallie on my line and ran it past my side imaging back and forth directly under my boat and 10 feet down, while the boat was not moving. On a 9 inch screen it was a noticeable white fleck. As in if it was 70 feet to my left or right, it would still be noticeable but only as a very small fleck with a correspond "imaging shadow" on the lake bottom a certain distance away (the distance of the shadow tells you the height in the water column). 

Touchscreen. Again not necessary. However, here is where it wins. If you are running multiple screens and moving quickly over water to find fish (not on plain but moving quickly) those fish will arrive on screen and quickly scroll off screen (depending on depth and speed of course). If you run a split screen and use the map as one part of the split screen and one of the imaging options as the other, its great to have a touchscreen to be quick on the draw and select the most advantageous screen for marking the fish. For example I run a map, side imaging, and sonar all at the same time. If I am not directly watching my locator and already have my screen "selected" that  I want to mark with, it takes too long to click buttons to get to the correct split screen and then move the cursor up/down/left/right to select the fish, or structure you want to swing back around for. Its my only regret is not buying a touchscreen.

11/5/18 @ 1:30 PM
User since 11/5/18

If you were just looking for maps / GPS, echoMap is a fantastic choice. If you're looking to do some fishing as well, the Raymarine Axiom ( is a great choice, excellent fish finding abilities. 

3/8/17 @ 7:37 AM
User since 12/16/13

The new elite ti have SI but I don't think you can network the transducers so if you have 2 units you may need 2 si transducers. Also you would need a map chip for each unit maybe not a concern now but maybe one going forward 

3/7/17 @ 9:33 PM
User since 9/27/01


Just DI as far as I know.

3/6/17 @ 10:06 PM
User since 11/3/03

Wallybeav, those are the older non-chirp models from last year. I did an entire night of research on the Garmins and I'm still not sure if chirp is needed when you're fishing in less than 50 fow. The big thing about chirp is it uses a spectrum of frequencies and not just a single say 50 or 200. All that suface clutter is eliminated with chirp also. Check out YouTube vids on chirp in general or Garmins. The Garmin booth at the Madison Expo clogged, I got a big catalog, and some answers to questions. If you network/link the units they share waypoints, tracks and routes. The network is just 2 wires from 1 unit to another.

Bugle, do the Elite units do SI or just DI? I know they are between the Hook and HDS.

3/6/17 @ 6:47 PM
User since 11/6/08

The Garmin Echomap 73SV on sale now at BassPro $499.99

3/6/17 @ 6:02 PM
User since 9/27/01

Cabelas was closing out the Lowrance Elite 7 Chirps last summer for about half price.  Those are a GPS/sonar combo units with wide screens.  It came bundled with a Lakemaster chip and a sun cover for under $400.  Don't know if they are still running that deal but since the touchscreen units came out, I've seen great deals on the "older" technology models.

The Lakemaster chip sucks for Green Bay and Lake Michigan but is great for all inland waters which would suit your needs.

3/6/17 @ 3:16 PM
User since 11/3/03

Lol jbird. Saw that same post on another site. In fact I was on the gpsstore site prior to your posts, but thanks. I was going to order a 9sv and 7sv Saturday, till my hot water heater decided to start leaking. 

3/6/17 @ 11:45 AM
User since 1/24/05

I just picked up the Garmin EchoMap 73 SV with Chirp for $650 at

I was originally looking at the Lowwrance Elite-7Ti. Only thing mising with the EchoMap is the touch screen. Not a deal killer for the price I got.

No taxes and Free shipping. Cabela's price was $750 plus about $45 for taxes with free shipping. I had a $20 off coupon code. But neither Cabela's or Bass Pro Shops could beat this price. 

Garmin EchoMAP-CHIRP-73sv-with-Transducer

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