Lowrance HDS PRO Review

There is no shortage of finder/plotter options in the current market, and it seems that technology considered cutting-edge a few years ago is now finding its way into mid-range models. Take the Lowrance HDS PRO as a prime example. Replacing the company’s HDS Live series, the HDS PRO brings with it a swag of new functions and improvements… and a higher price point. So, does it deliver the goods?

Sonar

With the HDS PRO, Lowrance has enhanced sonar capabilities in two key ways: new, high-definition Active Imaging HD; and new, higher-resolution ActiveTarget 2 Live Sonar. But what does that mean? Well, the standard Active Imaging HD delivers high-definition views of Lowrance CHIRP sonar, SideScan and DownScan imaging with a ‘standard’ transom-mounted transducer, while the ActiveTarget 2 Live Sonar allows anglers to see fish movement and lure action in real time and scout for structure and fish activity in front of your boat.

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The Medium and High CHIRP (83/200kHz) sonar frequencies work very effectively in shallow-mid water applications and the auto sonar settings are generally on point. 

To tap into this high-resolution live imaging, however, an ActiveTarget 2 Live Sonar transducer is required. This piece of kit doesn’t come standard with HDS PRO units and requires mounting on a trolling motor or customised pole (the ActiveTarget 2 Live Sonar transducer cannot be transom-mounted due to its angle requirements).

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Other features

Constructed with durability in mind, the HDS PRO’s display is scratch-resistant, and the unit is built to handle exposure to water, salt, and sunlight. There are multiple SD card slots, a fast quad-core processor, memory to store up to 3,000 waypoints and 100 routes, and the touchscreen is viewable at acute angles and through polarised lenses. The flush-mount design adds a sleek and professional look to the helm, and a range of sizes from 9-16” are available.

C-MAP charts come preloaded, and the C-MAP Genesis Live function allows real-time mapping. There’s also functionality for ActiveTarget sonar readings to be overlaid on the chart to enhance fishfinding precision. We opted to chuck in the C-MAP Reveal card into the card slot, offering shaded relief and impressive detail for many areas.

 

The C-MAP Reveal card offers shaded relief and impressive detail for many areas. 

In addition, the HDS PRO doesn't disappoint when it comes to connectivity. Wireless connectivity enables easy software updates and there’s NMEA 2000 compatibility allowing seamless integration with other vessel electronics. The HDS Pro units integrate with Ghost trolling motors and can be paired with other HDS PRO units.

Performance

Installation of an HDS PRO 9 on the latest Export NZ Fishing Competition Prize Boat – a side-console Extreme 1770 Enduro – provided a perfect excuse to hit the water for some testing. Paired with the Active Imaging HD transducer, we were able to assess its CHIRP sonar, SideScan and DownScan offerings, but we did not have the luxury of the ActiveTarget 2 Live Sonar module that requires trolling motor or pole mounting.

Despite its tech, the HDS PRO remains user-friendly. The menus are logically organised, and touchscreen/button responsiveness simplifies navigation through different settings. The high-resolution display ensures good viewing even in bright sunlight. As anticipated with the C-MAP charts, the mapping and charting capabilities are great. The live mapping feature also allows for real-time customisation, ensuring you have the most up-to-date information for your local fishing haunts.

A school of kingfish holding over a shipwreck – all clearly shown on the HDS PRO.  

The Medium and High CHIRP (83/200kHz) sonar frequencies work very effectively in shallow-mid water applications (just like its predecessor, the HDS Live), and the auto sonar settings are generally on point. I found the SideScan mode saved time when searching for bait schools, allowing me to mark and head to fish that traditional sonar beams would not be able to pick up. The transducer set-up worked well when the Prize Boat was up on the plane, with modest interference allowing the bottom and more prominent fish sign to be tracked at 20-30 knot cruise speeds.

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The Lowrance HDS PRO is a very user-friendly finder/plotter that excels in shallow water applications, making it the perfect companion for beginners and experts alike.

ActiveTarget 2 Live Sonar

• Reveal what’s happening under water in real time.

• Get the best picture every time with optimised image and stabilisation settings that deliver crisp and clear live-action views of fish and structure, even in rough conditions.

• Track fish and lure presentation with high-resolution views in front, below and around your boat, or use the Scout mode to see an ultra-wide, overhead view of structure and fish activity in front of your boat.

• See multiple views simultaneously with a second optional transducer on HDS PRO.

• Compatible with Lowrance HDS PRO, HDS LIVE, HDS Carbon and Elite FS.

• Includes trolling Motor Mounts, with Shaft Mounts for Forward, Down and Scout views, Motor Mount for forward and down, and a Motor Mount for Scout view.

You can check out the Lowrance HDS PRO range here.

- NZ Fishing News

 

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