Delivers Top End Performance at a Fraction of the Cost
Over this past weekend I upgraded my test boat sonar to the Lowrance Elite 7x Fishfinder. I’ve tried many units over the last several years including sonar from Lowrance, Humminbird, Garmin, and Raymarine. I’ve always liked the functionality of Lowrance products, but to be honest their customer service has been very poor in all my experiences with them. From what I heard from other fisherman their new products are exceptional and they have completely overhauled their customer service system as well as providing a 2 year limited warranty which doubles the previous 1 year warranties that they used to give. I was willing to give them another shot.
Larger 7″ Display Provides Superior Clarity and Readability
Anyways, onto the review. All of my previous units on the test boat have been 5″ screen models or higher end models which most fisherman can’t afford. Unfortunately, the newer HD models made by Humminbird (800 series) and Lowrance (HDS Series) can be very expensive and unless you put serious time on the water may not be worth the price. This larger HD screen with the moderate price is what attracted me to the Elite-7x. When I first got the fishfinder installed, I was pleasantly surprised with the quality of the screen. I’ve had many models that can be tough to see in direct sunlight or when wearing polarized sunglasses, but those issues aren’t evident with the Elite-7x. Overall the screen is the same quality as top end models made by leading manufacturers, but there was one thing I was disappointed in. The fishfinder didn’t come with the standard white cover for the screen. It’s hard to complain with the great value, but at least let me know so that I could buy one separately. I plan on ordering a standard cover along with the clear screen covers that most smartphones are currently using. I figure this will help keep the screen from smudging and help prolong the life of the display unit. Here is a picture I took from my phone a few weeks ago after installing it. I was fishing about 6 miles offshore for some Salmon and Steelhead on Lake Michigan, and it performed flawlessly marking bait, gamefish, you name it.
Transducer Options and Capabilities
The heart of a fish finder is the transducer and this unit performs extremely well under all conditions. Depending on the type of fishing that you do most, you should take this into account when picking a transducer. The Down Imaging feature is certainly innovative technology, but I think it still needs some tweaking to be effective in deeper water. If you routinely fish waters that are 60′ or less, you will get the most benefits of the HD down imaging and it will help you catch more fish without a doubt. If you troll deep waters of 100’+ routinely, you might want to think twice about upgrading to the HD transducer. You would be better off using the standard 83/200 khz skimmer transducer or even better the 50/200 khz skimmer transducer. I had a previous 50/200khz transducer laying around and since this transducer gives off the most RMS power of any model, I decided to call Lowrance and ask if this would be compatible with the new Elite 7x. They were very quick to answer my question and it is indeed compatible.
The install was extremely easy, but I have installed dozens before so I have a pretty good idea of mounting/installation procedures. Both the power and the transducer cables are compatible with most older models making re-routing cables unnecessary if you previously owned a Lowrance product. The unit worked great in both 50kz and 200khz. The only real complaint I have is that the 50khz transducer is recognized as 83khz even though it really isn’t. This doesn’t effect the sonar reading at all, but it can be confusing when first installing the product. I was able to mark bait, gamefish, and even my downrigger cables when trolling at 3.1 MPH. I was also able to get a good picture at speeds up to 27MPH. I’m not claiming that you can mark bait at this speed, but it clearly marked the bottom and gave you great idea of the topography on the bottom of the lake at depths up to 120 feet deep.
One of the nicest features is the ability to scroll back and look at previous readings from earlier in the trip. This can really let you target in at a certain depth and observe what column of the water you should be targeting. The navigation was extremely easy to follow and after playing around with the unit for few minutes I was able to get exactly what I was looking for. I still feel that I need to spend some more time dialing in the unit, but it’s tough to do when you’re catching fish 🙂 The more you get to know the settings of the unit, the better it will perform under various conditions.
Recommendations and Opinion
Overall, I’m very happy with my purchase and would recommend this unit to fisherman looking for high performance and a large screen at a fraction of the cost. There is no doubt that the units with a price tag over $1000+ will provide a marginally better reading, but this unit provides all of those features for $100’s less. The only real complaint I have with this unit is the down-imaging in deep water. Like I mentioned earlier, if you are routinely fishing depths over 100′ think about just using a regular skimmer transducer (50/200 or 83/200) for much better performance and decreased costs. However, the down-imaging can provide superior reading at shallower depths and really can increase your catch rate. The best selling point of the unit is the high quality screen and overall ease of use for a much more reasonable price. Once you decide on the proper transducer, you won’t be disappointed.