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View Full Version : Best fishfinder in the $500 (or less) range?



jcg
05-15-2005, 11:40 AM
I currently have a Lowrance X47 and am looking to upgrade. I've seen ads for the Hummingbird X47 with 3D technology, Raymarine DS400 with HDFI and am wondering if it's just marketing hype or if these things work? Also heard that the Lowrance X-135 is a very good unit, so I figured I'd check here to get some other opinions.

jcg

sashimi_express
05-15-2005, 06:30 PM
;D Have you looked at the color units. Yeah I know they are expensive but for the price range you are looking for you may be surprised. I just bought a new Lowrance x102 color unit 480x480 pixels 2400 watts with speed and temp from Cabela's shipped to my door with free freight charges.$ 539.99 even cheaper if you don't need the speed. $499.99. You get the best of both worlds, a Lowrance unit ,color display and under or around $500.00. just my .02 ;D

jcg
05-15-2005, 06:45 PM
I looked at the Lowrance website and it's difficult to tell the main differences between some of their units. I see the x102 is color, but is that really the only difference between it and the x125? The x135 seems to have a bit more power than the x125, but again is that the only difference? I'll be using the unit on lakes/reseviors so I don't need anything that goes beyound a coulpe hundred feet in depth.

jcg


;D Have you looked at the color units. Yeah I know they are expensive but for the price range you are looking for you may be surprised. I just bought a new Lowrance x102 color unit 480x480 pixels 2400 watts with speed and temp from Cabela's shipped to my door with free freight charges.$ 539.99 even cheaper if you don't need the speed. $499.99. You get the best of both worlds, a Lowrance unit ,color display and under or around $500.00. just my .02 *;D

Salmonster
05-17-2005, 12:09 PM
JCG look at your PM.

jcg
05-19-2005, 06:44 AM
So any comments on the other fishfinder (hummingbird 3d, raymarine)? Or the lowrance x125 vs x135?

jcg

basil
05-19-2005, 09:30 AM
Color is over rated. It helps over black and white, but actually chromatic is better for seeing detail than color.
I'd prioritize my list of important features like this:

Ease of use - if you can't figure out how to adjust and change things you lose lots of function.

Biggest screen - small screens lose more detail than color by cramming details too close together.

Dual freguency - with practice switching between 50 and 200 hrtz can help you figure more things out.

Power - the more power the deeper it works

Color - Makes it slightly easier to identify different bottoms and signal strength, but you can still see all this in black and white and grey.

At this price transducers are pretty much the same. If you go up to the high end, the transducer becomes the most important thing to spend your money on.

Also I'd stay with the companies that also make high end equipment. This is a sort of bias, but they ought to know more about building fishfinders.

After saying this, your going to be like most of us and only use the fish finder to spot schools of fish, reefs, and depth. From what I've seen a hundred dollar one works as good as a color 500 dollar one for this. The one advantage is you can see the larger color screen better when you leave the helm.

jcg
05-25-2005, 03:37 PM
Well the one feature that has me intrigued is the 3d mode of the hummingbird matrix 3d. It does seem to make figuring out what the bottom and structure look like easier, but I was hoping more people would chime in with some opinions.

jcg

drstressor
05-25-2005, 03:46 PM
The Matrix series is the bang for the buck leader as far as technology goes. I have an older Hummingbird Wide Paramount that has a Tri-beam transducer that works very well. It lets you know which side of the boat the fish are on. I've not seen the 3D versions in action yet, but I'm very interested. It's my understanding that what you see is a processed signal so you need to have the Fish ID on in order to spot fish in 3D mode.

basil
05-26-2005, 11:02 AM
Here's a report I found on the web. Couldn't find who did the report but they did reviews on all the brands. One more thing, if you have to use the fish ID feature that shows little fishes, you are losing lots of detail and not seeing everything. So, it sounds like you know what side of the boat they are on but you won't see all the fish.

This was also fitted to our Fastliner.
The big feature of this set was 3 cones sent down to the bottom which indicated which side of the boat the fish were on ( Port, Starboard or underneath).
This was better at tracking down the bottom to about 50M and had a power output of about 1400 watts.
A very useful feature was the zoom split screen and the bayonet mounting which meant it was very easy to remove from the boat for storage at home.
The down side was screen definition was not that great as it had 128 & 128 pixel so not wonderful but adequate. Final quibble was sensitivity of the set to power fluctuations caused by dodgy wiring.
So overall reasonable set which looked more impressive than what it actually was.

sunracer1957
05-26-2005, 11:38 AM
I have an LMS480 Lowrance, this also has GPS and runs 499.00 at the following link,, I love it lots of bells and whistles,, check it out

http://www.marinegeneral.com/acatalog/Fixed_Mount_GPS___Combos.html

HighSierra_Drifter
05-26-2005, 02:32 PM
His price is $499 without the transducer...$549.99 with transducer. My buddy Dave has the LMS480 with transducer for $507.99. He also has the LMS480 Dual Frequency with transducer for $554.25. Hard to beat Dave's Marine Electronics and I hate seeing fellow Sniffers wasting hard earned $ ;)

Drifter

jcg
05-26-2005, 03:10 PM
Which fishfinder is this report on? The Hummingbird Matrix 47 3D says it has 640x320 pixels, and the other ones I mentioned are all at least 480x480 I believe. So not sure what the one below is? Do you have the website or URL for the review?

jcg


Here's a report I found on the web. Couldn't find who did the report but they did reviews on all the brands. One more thing, if you have to use the fish ID feature that shows little fishes, you are losing lots of detail and not seeing everything. So, it sounds like you know what side of the boat they are on but you won't see all the fish.

This was also fitted to our Fastliner.
The big feature of this set was 3 cones sent down to the bottom which indicated which side of the boat the fish were on ( Port, Starboard or underneath).
This was better at tracking down the bottom to about 50M and had a power output of about 1400 watts.
A very useful feature was the zoom split screen and the bayonet mounting which meant it was very easy to remove from the boat for storage at home.
The down side was screen definition was not that great as it had 128 & 128 pixel so not wonderful but adequate. Final quibble was sensitivity of the set to power fluctuations caused by dodgy wiring.
So overall reasonable set which looked more impressive than what it actually was.

jcg
05-26-2005, 03:14 PM
So what's the main difference between the LMS480 and the X125 (or X135). I looked at the Lowrance website and both have the same resolution, so is it mainly the addition of GPS on the LMS480?

jcg


I have an LMS480 Lowrance, this also has GPS and runs 499.00 at the following link,, I love it lots of bells and whistles,, check it out

http://www.marinegeneral.com/acatalog/Fixed_Mount_GPS___Combos.html

dirtydan
05-26-2005, 03:15 PM
One more thing, if you have to use the fish ID feature that shows little fishes, you are losing lots of detail and not seeing everything.

FWIW - I've got the Marix 17. If the Fish ID is on - you still see the arches - the fish symbol appears above the arch. i've turned it on a few times to compare - and sometimes the ID marks something that does not present an arch as a fish . . . and sometimes does not mark what looks to be a good arch as a fish. I prefer to leave it off - because it looks like I'm back in grade school playing Space Invaders with those Fish ID symbols marching across the screen.

I think the 3D version of the Humminbird requires Fish ID on when in 3D. The thing I would like to see is what appears on the screen if, for example, a log floats beneath the boat - or a school of baitfish.

Anyway - everyone's got an opinion and not many people are going to agree that your $150 FF is nearly as good as their $500 - so take all opinions with a grain of salt.

I picked my FF up for about $140 - West Marine did a price match from the internet. Hooked it up - powered it up - works fine.

Here's a couple pics I took of my FF with the Fish ID on - you can make up your own mind as to what it shows - taken out by Decker Island - in January I think. I was anchored - and this came across the screen - had my camera out so I snapped a quick couple of pics.

http://www.frontiernet.net/~danielkelly/Finder2.jpg
http://www.frontiernet.net/~danielkelly/Finder1.jpg

Find something you're happy with and can live with - spend the rest on beer and gas.

-DD

sunracer1957
05-27-2005, 11:09 AM
jcg ,,yes its the addition of the GPS and if your doing any Ocean or Tahoe or say Pyramid Lake fishing the GPS feature is worth its weight in gold.. also with GPS if you go over a big bait pod you can mark it and go right back to that spot later,, I think GPS is a must have but thats just me..

Don
05-29-2005, 06:55 PM
I have the Lowrance x125 and am very happy with it,But I am not A high tech fisherman either. It is very user friendly.I have had mine almost a year now,And if I can understand it enyone can. ;) Not sure ,But I though I saw them for $299.99 at the Fishermans Warehouse on sale day Sat.
Don

Mickey_Thomas
05-29-2005, 07:14 PM
I like my GPS and fish finder on separate screens, when you split the screen you seem to lose something of both screens. On my new boat I ordered a X-135 Lorance, lots of pixels and as Doc has said before, unless you fish mainly in the ocean color is overated, at least he told me that ??? get the most mega pixels you can for the money....

basil
05-31-2005, 10:16 AM
Someone asked about the difference in a log floating under your boat and a fish as shown in a fishfinder.

The deal is your fishfinder bounces signals off of stuff to Identify fish. Since fish are the same density as water the signal actually passes right through them. The signal really bounces off of air in the fish. So what your fishfinders screen shows under your boat is air. Reading the screen is a mixture of art and experience.

The signal you see on your screen does not always indicate the fishes size compared to other signals. Different species have different ways of creating air. Salmon for instance gulp air to control their ability to stay at certain depths and don't always show up on fish finders. Rockfish have air bladders that adjust the amount of air they need to stay at different depths and show up pretty good.

Now we come to the next problem. Fish have different amounts of air at different depths. So that big fish signal you see at ten feet can actually be a smaller fish than the little fish signal you see at 40 feet.

But wait there's more! If the fish is sideways to your signal it will show up smaller. But then who says it's a fish, it can be anything that holds air, bubbles, certain types of seaweed, jelly fish and who knows. But chances are it's not a log, because if a log had air in it it would still be floating.

Currently, there are companies working at developing fishfinders that have additional software that can sort out all the variables and tell you what kind of fish it sees and how many. Maybe we'll see them in a few years, maybe in a few more years they will be cheap enough we can afford them.

on_fish
05-31-2005, 09:26 PM
I've got the Lowarance X-136 df. If your useing downriggers I'd deffinatly get dual frec. Split the screens and see what both riggers are doing! ;D Part with the cash and get color if you can wing it.

SturgeonVirgin
06-01-2005, 05:52 AM
I posted this review back in April I am pretty happy with the unit so far. Some say color is the only way to go, its up to you.
After a lot of shopping decided to get a 3D fishfinder. I fish a lot for stripers cats and sturgeon and wanted to have the ability to read as wide an area as possible when fishing to identify ledges, dropoffs, and of course fish. I looked at a lot of different models and decided that for what I wanted there is only one out there, the humminbird Matrix 47. List price is $499.99, I found it online for $449.00 with free shipping. Installation is pretty simple, it took about an hour or so of pulling the old unit and cables out and putting in the new one. Directions are very easy to follow, all the parts you need are supplied, so it went pretty quick. Transducer is pretty good size compared to most as it has (6) elements inside there.

Operation; The front panel is layed out simply with only 5 or 6 buttons. Manual for the unit is around 60 pages long. There are a number of display modes available in addition to the 3D view, and it does require some explanation. After a quick read, I got on the water and tried it out. Some of the things I noticed during that time.

Display is very good, 640(!)x320 pixels, nice and sharp. The 3D view can be rotated to show different angles, and this is a handy function to have. Fish are shown in the 3D view as fish symbols, with different shading to indicate where in the cone area they were detected. After trying to turn this function off, I realized it cannot be done. The other views in the display are customizable, to allow you to add or delete information such as speed, temp, barometric pressure, trip log, and voltage There are 6 views in total, each one can have its own settings for that view, so there is a lot of flexibility.

So how does the 3D work? Well, the jury is still out on that. The view of the bottom is very good, and it will show you the terrain, contours and differences in the bottom. I still have not been able to tell if it can plot above ground structure, such as trees, stumps, rock piles and the like. The fish ID function cannot be turned off in the 3D view, which is not acceptable. I called humminbird about this and was told that the unit was set up this way because the display would be completely garbled looking at raw sonar returns due to the large amount of information coming in. I feel this is BS, but there is no way around it at this point. So far what I have done is use the 3D to find locations of interest, then switch to a 2D view with fish id turned off, so I can see the raw returns. This can be done in all the other view screens, so at any time I can actually see what is down there. I am still looking for the correlation between the views to see how they match each other, so far not too bad. With 640x320 pixels, the 2D views are very clear and easy to read, it is easy to zoom in and see what I need to.

So is it a real tool or a gimmick? It is a tool, but the inability to look at raw returns is a major drawback. I have no faith in fish ID functions; they are always getting fooled. I do not buy the rationale that the display would be too garbled to read, the unit has enough power to plot and display, so I think that it could be done. Perhaps humminbird should take it back to the software shop and rewrite the algorithms for processing to allow it to be done. It does what it says it will, namely plot the contours. It does this very well.

Pros and Cons:

Pros:
Nice layout, easy to install.
The mounting bracket has a quick release feature that is nice to have.
Excellent display, lots of pixels.
Custom views to add or delete information on the screen.
3D to see the contours.
Free barometric pressure sensor included as a promotion for 2005.
Speed and temp sensor included standard.
Ability to add a GPS module.


Cons:
3D function shows only in fish ID mode.
Navigating the screens takes some getting used.
GPS module does not feature a mapping function.

Overall rating; 8.5/10

jcg
06-01-2005, 06:00 AM
Thanks for the nice review. In regards to the statement below what does the 3D view look like when you go over a submerged tree? How about when you are going over weed beds? Does it just show the actual bottom under the cover in these situations?

jcg

[quote author=Mr T link=board=boats_motors;num=1116186009;start=15#19 date=06/01/05 at 06:52:03] I still have not been able to tell if it can plot above ground structure, such as trees, stumps, rock piles and the like.

basil
06-01-2005, 09:11 AM
[quote author=jcg link=board=boats_motors;num=1116186009;start=15#20 date=06/01/05 at 07:00:36]Thanks for the nice review. In regards to the statement below what does the 3D view look like when you go over a submerged tree? How about when you are going over weed beds? Does it just show the actual bottom under the cover in these situations?

Anything that falls to the bottom is denser than water and should show up. About weeds, that's a tough question. A fish finder will definitly show kelp because it has a big air pocket, but other weeds can be so thick and when you see them diving they don't appear to float much but stay up in the current, so not much air, I would say they would look like a muddy bottom which fish finders can detect. So, yes you can tell, but you will have figure it out by seeing if there is hard bottom around it, meaning rocky.

As for logs, it will depend on the quality of your fish finder what you see. It could look like a sharp raise in the bottom. You don't see logs in the ocean all that much and I haven't used a fish finder on a lake. In fresh water the fishfinder will be more sensitive so you might get a better read.

tdekens
06-01-2005, 03:24 PM
The X135 and the X136DF Lowrances are the same except that the 136DF is dual frequency and comes with temp and speed for free. www.overtons.com just had them for $299. I just bought one. Eagle are the same as Lowrance except just their lower end. You can go to Lowrances website and download any of their fishfinders on their website. Well a program that makes your computer work just like it so you can test it out. Dual frequency is better for downriggers and deep water. I made the switch from Humminbird to Lowrance. Humminbirds have a better transducer mount thats for sure. I personally miss my old Platinum ID. Find the model you really like and price check it. Froogle is a really good spot for that as well as others. If you want to see a Lowrance X136DF i can show ya. But again you can download the Lowrances on their website to play with them. See ya on the river, 2Shakes

jcg
06-01-2005, 05:23 PM
My question about the submerged trees and weeds is specifically for 3D view on the hummingbird. If you look at their website (see link below) the 3D view looks like a topographical map, so I think the way they do this is totally different than how they generate the 2D view (so weeds and trees may look completely different in this view). The question can hopefully be answered by someone that has this specific fishfinder (Mr T?), and has used it quite a bit under these conditions.

http://www.humminbird.com/products.asp?ID=492

jcg

SturgeonVirgin
06-01-2005, 06:54 PM
My question about the submerged trees and weeds is specifically for 3D view on the hummingbird. If you look at their website (see link below) the 3D view looks like a topographical map, so I think the way they do this is totally different than how they generate the 2D view (so weeds and trees may look completely different in this view). The question can hopefully be answered by someone that has this specific fishfinder (Mr T?), and has used it quite a bit under these conditions.

http://www.humminbird.com/products.asp?ID=492

jcg

jcg, wich I had a better answer on the weeds issue, but so far I have not come across any weeds while fishing. As far as trees, it gives a representation of the tree, but it is kind of a cross between what ya might see on a topo map versus regular 2D. I only know this cause about a month ago up around Verona Iwacked a tree prety good with the prop, and right before it hit I thought to myself, "self that looks kinda tree like...." THUMP.

southernilcowboy
06-13-2005, 05:08 AM
I just got the Matrix 47 3D over the weekend. I havent tried it out yet. The boat goes in the shop today for some maintance but hopefully next week I will get a chance to play with it. I fish in areas with logs and weeds so I will be able to let you guys know. I will see if I cant get some pics of the screen to.

RonM
09-06-2005, 02:43 PM
Thanks to those of you that had input on this thread. I was doing a search to see what I could find and this hit the spot. I was trying to decide between the Lowrance X125/136 or the Humminbird Matrix 27/37, this thread helped a lot. They all have their pros and cons but I may lean toward the Humminbird so I can add GPS later. I currently have an Impulse 2801 that is giving me problems. Since Impulse is no longer around there's no place to send it for repairs and it may need to be replaced. I do have a Eagle TriFinder2 that came with the aluminum boat I picked up but I don't care for it much.

Ron

kstone44
09-07-2005, 10:35 PM
The more I learn to use it the more I like my LMS 480DF. Thats on the boat and on my float tube I have a Humming bird 400tx with temp and speed. If I ever can get this float tube up on plane I'll put that puppy to work ;D ;D

RonM
09-08-2005, 06:59 AM
I researched the X126DF and the X136DF, the dual freq models including the 480DF use a 200/50kHz transducer. The 50kHz cone is used to map the bottom structure and the 200kHz cone is used to map the fish within the zone. On the DF models the 200kHz cone is only a 12-degree cone which will be great for deep water but for inland lakes I would think that would be a small beam. The single freq 200kHz transducers are a 20-degree cone which should give you a wider beam in shallower waters. There is one on-line site that did not recommend the DF models for inland waters. Does anyone know the pros and cons of the DF models with the 12-degree 200kHz cone vs the single freq 200kHz 20-degree cone. Maybe I'm just reading too much out of the information.