This is a place to highlight some of the frequently asked questions with Lowrance units.
Mapping Chips: With Johnson Outdoors acquiring Lakemaster in 2011 from 2012 onwards no new lakemaster chips are being developed for Lowrance Units. If you have one of these prior lakemaster chips they will still work in Lowrance units BUT if you update your SW version on the Lowrance unit to version 4.0 or later it is messing up the mapping data. The chip still functions, contour lines appear correct, but the depth values on those lines are way off essentially making them useless.
So what chips can we use for those of us with Lowrance units? Lowrance makes multiple different mapping chips, but the ones that I have had the best luck with in the Upper Midwest (mostly Minnesota and part of Canada) is the Lowrance Lake Insight Pro. There is an “HD” version of this chip which the only difference I can tell is this one has shaded relief while the Pro chip does not. Shaded relief is nice for larger displays or when zoomed out, but if you zoom in or have a smaller display (under 7″) it really isn’t all that useful and even gets disabled when you zoom way in.
Map detail of these chips from what I can tell identical to the Lakemaster Chip I had for Minnesota (2012 version). I have compared them side by side while on the water on lakes throughout the state and have not noticed any differences. The one bonus of the Lowrance chips is that you also get Lake of the Woods and Rainy River on this one chip where with Lakemaster that was an additional chip to set you back more money.
Navionics also offers multiple mapping options. They have a nice web application that you can go on to actually look at the detail that is on the chips before you actually purchase one so you know what you are getting.
I have found the Navionics chips to be not quite as good in MN waters as the Lakemaster/Lowrance chips for the most part. Some bodies of water they are worse, some they are better, but the Lowrance/Lakemaster chips tend to be closer to what I actually see on the water.
Networking your Lowrance Units together:
Very high level because some folks get confused by networking and do not realize how easy it is (or hard it can be) to get a lot of benefit.
Ethernet Networking: simple plug and play with an Ethernet cable between two units. Super simple to use and will allow you to share sonar between units (if you only had one transducer but wanted to display sonar on another unit), waypoints – if you create a waypoint on one, it will automatically appear on the other. Very nice feature.
NMEA: Much more involved networking for adding in engine diagnostics, radar, and a whole host of other plug ins. Requires a powered backbone, t-connectors, short extension cables, and terminators.
This is a brief list for starters, but anyone feel free to add things along the way. I know I have learned so much from other people and will add more here when I have time, but I thought it would be good to at least get a start.
I think it would also be helpful to share settings, palettes (HDS units), or other preferences for folks to try out. I know since I began using StructureScan this year I was helped tremendously by others who told me some of their preferred settings. Probably saved me hours of frustration.