Garmin ECHOMAP Ultra 105 vs. Lowrance HDS LIVE 9

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    Posted: 19 Jul 2020 at 4:16pm
PeteBarton View Drop Down

Joined: 19 Jul 2020
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Kia ora

I’m looking for some advice/insights/on water experience with these two chartplotter/fishfinder combos:

Garmin ECHOMAP Ultra 105sv with GT54UHD-TM Transducer - $2,999

Lowrance HDS LIVE 9 with Active Imaging 3-in-1 Transducer $4,299

I’ve done heaps of research on these two units (including this forum) however I’m struggling to find commentary on real world use (versus polished marketing material).

My application is on-shore fishing (snapper, Trev, KW etc) in a stabi 1550 fisher at depths of between 20m to 150m mostly around Makara/Mana/Kapiti coast with summer trips to Ohope/Whaktane.

I’m leaning towards Garmin given price point for similar functionality between these manufacturers / units (and potential upgrade to Panoptix LiveScope further down the road).

However whilst Garmin holds good ground on GPS positioning and apps like Active Captain I’m feeling cautious about their ClearVu sonar. I’ve read that whilst Garmin’s high-def SideVu is exceptional, their ClearVu is a let down (described as a huge dead-spot under the boat) given Lowrance holds the IP on this tech (active imaging / structure scan ?).

What’s people’s experience with these units and associated transducers? I’m interested in hearing about both traditional CHIRP sonars and newer higher-definition scanning tech.

My research shows me that Lowrance has been around a lot longer and they therefore hold a number of patents on scanning/imaging technology. Are these units / transducers the industry standard? Is Lowrance chirp tech poles ahead of Garmins? What about high-def scanning?

I’m also keen to explore the on water differences and benefits of Garmin/Navionics maps versus Lowrance C-maps.

I’m trying to strike a balance of good navigation/chartplotting with sound fish identification / structure identification / target separation functionality.

So what do people think? Who’s using a Garmin Ultra (or UHD) with the GT 54 or Lowrance HDS Live Series on the water and what’s your feedback on both sonar and chartplotting/mapping tech.

Also keen to hear general commentary on Garmin and Lowrance brands.

Thanks in advance!

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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote OuttaHere Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Jul 2020 at 10:29am
OuttaHere View Drop Down

Joined: 05 Oct 2015
Location: NZ
Status: Offline
Points: 2702
That price seems quite high for the HDS-9 Live. MarineDeals has it for $3699 with that transducer.

We're running 2x HDS-7 Carbon on our 1550. Not a huge difference from the Live, other than some of the fancy Structurescan type functionality, which I find to be of very limited use, in the same fishery as you (mostly west coast, fishing out of Mana). I have used the *scan stuff about 3 times total. IMO it's a freshwater fishing feature, where you're running slowly up a lake or river edge on an electric trolling motor looking for submerged trees and such. I don't know that Garmin's offering is any better.

We have the Totalscan skimmer (functionally equivalent to the Active Imaging one for traditional sonar) and found it gives acceptable fishfinding performance out to about 80m, but recently added a TM185M and... wow. Ridiculous improvement. I can see a 200g jig in >100m of water.

Here's a screenshot that demonstrates the difference quite clearly - TM185M on left screen, Totalscan on the right. This is down at Verns, the fish being marked are Tarakihi.

If we did it all again, I would have bought the sounders with no transducer and immediately gone to the TM185M, or TM275LH if you want to do more deepwater stuff. We got a second bracket welded to the transom to accomodate the second transducer, and honestly unless you really really want the *scan stuff I would just run the one big transducer. The only tiny downside is the transducer ticks quite audibly.

Outside of all of that, we use CMap Genesis, where the chart is updated from the sonar, and it is a truly wonderful thing if you're fishing reefy structures like Hunters or Verns. I believe the Garmin is capable of similar functionality these days; if it isn't that would be a deal-breaker for me. The GPS performance is perfectly adequate; my understanding is that these units (regardless of brand) routinely outperform the stated GPS accuracy, especially when you have clear skies and you're getting a good signal from multiple satellites.

I have only had limited use of Garmin gear; from that experience I found the shallow-water sonar performance was adequate and the menu system was arguably better than Lowrance's, but I can't really comment beyond that.

The major downside of the Garmin is it's only 600W output, where the Lowrance does a true 1KW. If you want to get the most out of a big transducer, the Lowrance is the obvious option.

Whatever unit you go with, I strongly suggest enquiring about getting the unit without a transducer (or just flicking the transducer on Trademe if the economics work out) and going straight to a TM185M.
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