The new Elite-5 HDI by Lowrance set to release in late September, is a step up from the older Elite-5 series that Lowrance offered. The older Elite series were available in two basic options: the regular Elite-5, which was traditional 2D SONAR(83/200 kHz) and the DownScan version called Elite-5 DSI, which had 3D SONAR(455/800 kHz).
The HDI is a combination of both technologies into one compact package. HDI, which stands for Hybrid Dual Imaging, is Lowrance’s answer to Humminbird’s mid-range models that offer 4 frequency fish finding. Until now, if you were a Lowrance fan, there was no way to see both 2D and 3D SONAR unless a) you had two separate fish finders or b) you had an HDS with StructureScan – which would break the bank for most leisure anglers, starting out at $1000.
Lowrance has also made the Elite-5 HDI available in many different configurations letting you choose between 50/200 kHz if you are a saltwater angler, or 83/200 kHz if you are a freshwater angler, as well as an added option for Navionics Gold charts.
The screen is also a higher resolution display, so SONAR readings will be crisper and clearer than ever before. Maps will also pop out at you from the screen!
One issue that some anglers may have is that they may find the 5 inch screen to be a little squished. If that’s the case, then the Elite-5’s bigger brother the Elite-7 HDI may be a better option to consider.
What’s really special about the new HDI model is that it combines all 4 frequencies into just one transducer, saving you a lot of space on your transom or hull, depending on where you prefer to mount it.
The standard HDI model comes with a transom mount transducer in the box, and for the more hard-core anglers among us, Lowrance also offers this new four-frequency transducer as a bronze thru-hull model.
The only concern that comes to mind here is whether or not any SONAR quality will be compromised or not because of the smaller transducer. Think about it – the same casing that used to house crystals for two frequencies now houses crystals for four!
Humminbird does make Down Imaging models that have three frequencies in one transducer, and most people who use those seem to be happy with the performance, so it remains to be seen how good Lowrance’s engineering is.
If anyone has tried the Lowrance Elite-7 HDI and is satisfied with what they saw, things are looking good for the Elite-5 HDI.
How it compares to similarly priced models
A notable model in the same range as the Elite-5 HDI is the 597ci HD DI by Humminbird. The 597ci has only three frequencies: 200/455/800 kHz, and has Humminbird’s UniMap charts pre-installed. Both models have 5 inch screens.
For roughly the same price, the Lowrance unit is offering 4 frequencies, as well as Navionics Gold charts, which by itself retails for over $100. If charting is an important feature for you, the HDI is a no-brainer.
Navionics Gold charts are the golden standard in nautical charting. It can cover an entire continent and still zoom all the way down to one meter. Gold charts show everything standard paper charts do, as well as:
• Tides & currents
• Port plans
• User-selectable safety depth contour
• Marine services with phone numbers
• Marsh areas
How it will improve your fishing
Even the most expensive fish finder isn’t worth anything unless it improves your game, right? With the Elite-5 HDI, there is a lot of potential because it can aggregate so much data onto just one screen. You can split the screen into three parts, showing charts, broadband(2D) SONAR and DownScan(3D) SONAR, letting you compare all three to get the best reading possible.
The biggest advantage of this is that the best way to improve your fishing is to do more and more of it! So the more you use all this data together and the more you fish, the better you will get. That’s how many anglers are able to literally “smell” fish from the water!
Some are so attuned to reading echo returns that they can even tell what species of fish there is just by looking at the blob it produces on the screen. This isn’t a 6th sense, but something you can develop with practice and trial.
With a powerful unit like the Elite-5 HDI at your disposal, you can combine knowing where you are on the lake/river, the type of broadband echo you are getting, and exactly what the bottom and structure looks like into making a decision on where to cast and how deep to cast.
By Shabbir – aka the Fish Finder Guy
find him over at his website, FishFinderSource.com