Humminbird vs Lowrance: Who Makes The Better Fish Finder?
In the battle of fish finder supremacy, there are two brands that seem to overtake the rest. We’re comparing Humminbird vs Lowrance in this review because these are the two manufacturers with the most products of the highest quality and the most relevant reputation in the market.
I’ve likely reviewed at least 25 fish finders by this point and many of them have been either Humminbird or Lowrance so I’m interested to see how they look side-by-side. Let’s get right into it!
Humminbird vs Lowrance
Let’s do a side-by-side comparison of Humminbird versus Lowrance so you can see how the two stack up. The best way to do this is by comparing them right up against each other so you can determine which brand offers more bang for the buck.
We’ll start with company history and reputation. If you read any of my reviews you know that I stay loyal and true to brands when it comes to fishing gear. I don’t believe these rules should apply in everything but there’s a lot of experience and knowledge that goes into manufacturing fishing gear, technology, and accessories. I think it’s best left to the most experienced brands like Humminbird, Lowrance, Garmin, Simrad, and Raymarine.
The company started in 1971 in a garage in Alabama. Right off the bat, they were a hit because they represented a lot of the grassroots and hometown history that we struggle to find in today’s society.
Humminbird led the way with technological advances by being the first manufacturer to develop a waterproof depth sounder and 360-degree sonar technology. Their product line has since grown to include tremendous products like down and side imaging fish finders, huge HD displays, and new technology that continues to make fishing easier and more pleasurable.
Even after all that, they’ve still managed to maintain a reputation of family values and homegrown roots. Their customer service team has an excellent reputation, they stand by their products, and represent their warranties when something goes wrong.
Lowrance got its start in 1957 and they’ve maintained a rightful leadership in marine electronics ever since. They have a large assortment of fish finders and sonar with many products possessing new technology like structure scanning, down scanning, and side-scanning.
In 2008, they were the first company ever to introduce a split-screen HD multifunction setting on their fish finders. Now you can have both side and down scanning on the screen in HD clarity which is something the world had never seen before.
Lowrance was also one of the first manufacturers to bring CHIRP sonar into the market. It’s clear that Lowrance has led the competition in new technology but I struggle when I read reviews about how they treat their customers. I find many instances where the company doesn’t stand by their products, won’t honor warranties, and even gives their customers a hard time on the support line.
The number of features a fish finder offers is important because it helps you determine if you’re getting enough for your money. While many of the features are a little extra and we could certainly fish without them; if you’re dropping a decent amount of money on something you want to make sure it provides enough to make it worth it.
This company is known for packing a lot of features into all their products. You can start at the bottom with a basic CHIRP sonar and travel all the way up to a down scan, side imaging, dual display combo, GPS unit, with the works.
Some of their more high-end models also offer a variety of ways for you to connect. Many anglers prefer wired connections while others want something that connects via Bluetooth. That’s up to you but I recommend using a wired connection if you can because it’s more reliable. If you need a portable fish finder, wireless is the only way to go.
One thing I notice right away about Lowrance is the number of cheap fish finders they offer. I don’t say this in a bad way, I say it in a good way. They offer a large assortment of smaller and more affordable fish finders which I think is important.
Much of the time we get too caught up in how many features our products have that we neglect to realize that they only need to do one thing. They need to tell us where the fish are so we can have an easier time catching them.
When you have a fish finder that’s loaded with a ton of features, all you’re doing is creating new things that can break down and cause problems.
That said, Lowrance offers plenty of features as well including down scanning and something they call “StructureScan.” This is a fancy way of saying they have sidescan.
Number of Products
The number of products offered by a manufacturer is important for a few reasons. You want to be able to find something that caters to your needs and if the company doesn’t offer a lot of variations of a single product, your chances of getting what you want go down. Keep in mind preferences, taste, and fishing style as well.
Humminbird has continued to push forward over the years while it seems like Lowrance is nearing retirement. At one time, Lowrance was the biggest on the market but Humminbird has definitely surpassed them in terms of the number of products.
Something else I really like about Humminbird is that they don’t reinvent the wheel. They take products they have that are already selling and they modify them slightly, add a few new features, and send them back out into the market.
That tells me two things. One, people already like that product so there’s no need to change much. Two, the product is performing well because they don’t feel the need to completely discontinue production on it. Some of the models you’ll see in the market are the Helix 5, Helix 9, Helix 10, Solix, ICE, C-Map and PiranhaMAX.
Lowrance offers three major product lines. They have the Hook, Elite, and HDS Live. The Lowrance Hook is their most popular model among recreational anglers and you’ll find a few variations within as well.
Personally, I don’t dislike the Lowrance model, I’m just not as impressed by it. I feel that it lacks definition, the quality feels cheaper, and the price is actually more expensive in many cases.
We only have so much money to spend and the last thing we want to do is spend it on a product that might not even help us catch any fish. We’d be better off spending it on lessons! Anyway, the price range of a fish finder is important because you want to get the most bang for your buck and not waste money on something that is going to consistently underwhelm you.
As with most products from competitors, they specifically match the prices pretty evenly to prevent the price from becoming a deciding factor. This means I have to dive a little deeper to find the value versus the price. If we look at Lowrance vs Humminbird we’ll see that Humminbird products consistently outrank Lowrance in terms of reviews and reputation.
The average score of a Humminbird fish finder is near 4.5 out of 5 while Lowrance ranks considerably lower.
Another thing I noticed is that Humminbird seems to offer better features in lower-priced fish finders.
For example, the Humminbird Helix 7 offers three types of sonar technology for roughly $750 while you’ll have to pay nearly $1,000 to get that same technology from Lowrance.
It’s not all bad and I’m not by any means saying you should count this manufacturer out. They do a lot of great things and they keep many of their fish finders at price ranges that Humminbird cannot match.
For example, the Lowrance HOOK Reveal 5 uses SplitShot sonar technology and comes with mapping for a price that beats Humminbird and exceeds them in reputation. The key is to pick and choose which products are their high-performers and which ones you might want to avoid.
Ease of Use
Ease of use is obviously important because we’re not all the most tech-savvy and you shouldn’t need a college degree to operate a fish finder. As technology continues to advance, they’re making the units more and more difficult to operate and fewer people are able to keep up. As I’ve previously mentioned, you don’t need the latest and greatest features to find fish but you do need to know how to use the fish finder.
I think Humminbird does a nice job of providing variety in terms of the units they offer. Some are easy to use while others are a bit more difficult but you’ll have to choose a basic model if you want something without all the bells and whistles. Of course, as you increase in features you make the unit more complicated and ultimately will find something that you don’t know how to use.
Where I think Humminbird succeeds is with their customer service. Everything you read about this company praises their customer support helpline and how they’re so helpful in answering questions and handling inquiries. That’s an important consideration.
As with Humminbird, Lowrance also does a nice job of providing product variations to keep things simple for people. What I like about these products is the number of units offered with push buttons rather than a touchscreen. I don’t think anyone wants to use a touchscreen when your fingers are all grimy and fishy and the regular buttons are easier to use.
The area where Lowrance fails is with their customer service. As you read about this company you realize that many of their complaints stem from the customer support people experience when they call in for help.
GPS and mapping are features that are becoming more essential as fish-finding technology advances. In this fish finder comparison, we want to see who offers better GPS, Humminbird, or Lowrance?
This company offers both GPS and chart plotter on many of their fish finders. A variety of the units come with preloaded maps of lakes so you can map where you’ve been and where you’d like to go again as you make your way around the lake.
It looks like you’ll have to pay around $300 or more to get a fish finder with GPS and mapping in it. That’s not too bad and right around where we’d expect. As for the technology itself, as you could’ve guessed, it’s state of the art.
You can track your location, drop dots on the map of places you’d like to revisit, monitor your speed to help with trolling, and a variety of other things. It seems like it’s functional, easy to use, and doesn’t break down that often either.
Lowrance also offers GPS and mapping technology on their fish finders. For this, you’ll have to pay around the same price as the Humminbird. Most of their GPS units will run you around $300 but I’m a bit disappointed by the mapping on their units.
They use a blank white screen that requires you to input your own design and shape of the lake and you can draw it up that way. This is the same as using a paint feature on your phone and it doesn’t really help that much.
To get real mapping, you need to upgrade to a more expensive model which then puts the pricing comparison in Humminbird’s favor.
Lowrance Side Imaging vs Humminbird Side Imaging
This comparison comes up a lot and it’s rather subjective to the individual unit but I’ll try and clarify this as much as possible. If I had to pick Humminbird or Lowrance I would pick Humminbird for a few different reasons.
First, Humminbird premium units use a lot less power which results in your either sucking less life out of your battery or using fewer batteries.
I also find that Humminbird offers a lot more features built into their side imaging compared to Lowrance. You get the fastest refresh rate on the market, ethernet sharing, a dedicated DI, variable bandwidth, and a “made in the USA” stamp that you can carry with pride.
Overall, Lowrance structure scan vs Humminbird side imaging isn’t really much of a debate. Humminbird produces a better product and I think it’s because they’re actively looking for new technology and ways to develop their products. Lowrance could be headed for the hills.
Advantages of Lowrance
- A large variety of affordable units
- Long company history
- High-quality imaging
Disadvantages of Lowrance
- Poor customer service
- Expensive premium options
- Sub-par side imaging
Advantages of Humminbird
- Made in the USA
- Great customer service
- More affordable mid-range units
- Great side scan
Disadvantages of Humminbird
- More expensive low-grade options
As you can see, I’m impressed by Humminbird, and doing a side-by-side comparison was a great way to realize that their products exceed expectations. That said, there are plenty of reasons to love Lowrance and we still think they put out a vast assortment of quality units. Each company has its own set of pros and cons.
Best Options From Each Brand
This fish finder features a seven-inch LCD screen with a color TFT display. IT comes with down imaging up to 125 feet with Dual Spectrum CHIRP to ensure you get a consistent flow of images that aren’t choppy or reduced quality.
It comes with two different display modes which is nice because you don’t have to have the screen all cluttered up with things you don’t want. You can show water depth, temperature, and turbulence on one screen and then flip back over to the real-time image to zero in on your target. It comes with a micro SD card slot to hold all your data as well.
This unit also comes with Humminbird’s proprietary GPS and mapping technology. It features all the hardware, mounting, and transducer items you’ll need to get it mounted and on the water. You can use this premium fish finder in both freshwater and saltwater.
This model is a perfect example of something I said about Lowrance. Their products are great but they come at a premium price if you expect to get anything good. That’s definitely the case with the HOOK2.
The fish finder is amazing. It features some of the best mapping technology I’ve ever seen, it has inland maps installed, it’s easy to use, it covers more distance and range with the sonar, and you can mount the transducer almost anywhere and it will pick it up. It’s also relatively portable making it a decent kayak fish finder.
Best of all, it comes with a Tripleshot transducer which provides you with downscan navionics, sidescan, and CHIRP sonar so you get everything you need perfectly packaged up into a nice little fish finder. The only problem I have is the small screen. I wish they had a larger screen size available.
Humminbird Helix 5
This is an older version of the Helix 7 and it comes in around half of the price as well. I have a big problem with the product page that the link above takes you to because it contains all the features that you can get with a Humminbird when this one only contains CHIRP sonar. From the description and images, you would think that this has down imaging, mapping, and more – but it doesn’t.
The good news is, it’s extremely accurate, simple to use, and an ideal choice for many. The Humminbird Helix 5 vs Lowrance Elite 5 HDI is a solid comparison here because these two contain a lot of the same features. But, as I’ve mentioned, some Lowrance models are hard to find and that’s the case for that one.
Lowrance HOOK Reveal 5
This fish finder packs a big punch because it comes with a SplitShot transducer. It seems like Lowrance likes to come up with cute names for everything but it basically means that it offers both CHIRP and down imaging sonar. The TripleShot that I featured above is the same thing but it also adds side imaging to the equation.
Plus, for a relatively affordable price, you also get inland mapping with 4,000+ maps, GPS plotting, and autotuning sonar so you get more control over your image.
One thing that Lowrance seems to do right with most of their fish finders is sectioning off portions of the screen so you can watch multiple things at once. It would be nice to have a bigger screen though. I like the fact that you can keep track of your travel, down imaging, and CHIRP sonar at the same time. This increases your chances of finding something faster.
Humminbird Helix 8 G3N
This is one of Humminbird’s premium offerings and it comes with a variety of different settings that you tweak and play with as you learn about them. This one specifically only comes with dual beam spectrum chirp which I think is simpler and easier to operate but you can add down and side imaging to it as well if that’s your game.
As with most Humminbird technology, you also get the GPS location and built-in base map so you can map your location, chart waypoints, and create custom contour maps based on where you’ve been and where you’re going.
Lowrance HDS-7 Gen 3
Here is the cream of the crop for Lowrance fish finders. If you’re looking for the best Lowrance fish finder, you’ve found it. This is the third-generation unit that offers down scanning, side-scanning, and CHIRP Fish ID technology. You get everything you could ask for in this unit, it’s highly accurate, has a fast refresh rate, and comes with all the features packed into a single transducer that you’ll mount on the transom near the trolling motor.
In addition to great sonar technology, it also comes with inland mapping, chart plotting, and GPS technology. The fish finder comes with everything you could ever want but keep in mind that comes at a premium price.
By this point, you should firmly understand the Humminbird vs Lowrance comparison. Throughout the article, we’ve broken down their line of products, features, price points, and company history. Only you can decide which one is right for you but they’re both industry leaders so you’ll likely be just fine choosing either company. Good luck!