Lowrance Charts New Waters

Lowrance launches its innovative StructureMap technology with its new HDS Gen2 units. Jim Harnwell reports.

Fisho recently sampled Lowrance’s innovative new StructureMap feature – a program that allows you to view and record bottom images overlaid onto a map.

This technology is unique to Lowrance’s new HDS Gen2 series of sounders, which should now be available at your local marine electronics dealer.

Lowrance released its StructureScan, a combination of SideScan and DownScan technology, back in 2009. This technology allowed users to view picture-like images below the surface in intricate detail. The StructureScan technology was available as a black box together with Lowrance’s HDS units.

StructureMap, the next step in Lowrance’s imaging technology, uses StructureScan side and bottom imaging technology to allow you to create a full picture of the terrain you’re fishing. Linking the StructureScan images to chart displays allows you to find and record fish-holding habitat. The HDS Gen2 units allow you to record up to nine minutes of data via internal memory. Using a removable SD card significantly enhances your ability to store info and also save it to your home computer for future reference and analysis.

On-water demonstrations by Lowrance’s Nick Hamilton-Smith revealed that StructureMap would be useful when sounding out new areas – for example, you can assess likely spots via your charts and then “draw” a picture of how surface topography links in with underwater structure with StructureMap while out on the water. This would be particularly useful when fishing uncharted areas as you can basically create your own maps.

The StructureMap feature works best at fairly slow speeds – about 3-4 knots produced the best images during our demo – and is limited to waters up to about 50-70m. Anglers fishing large impoundments, rivers and inshore reefs will find StructureMap to be of most interest I can see it being very useful when checking out bommies and shoals in search of snapper. Accurately pin-pointing the ledges and drop-offs in relation to contours and reef areas on a decent chart (StructureMap works with Lowrance’s built-in charts as well as Navionics products) would be really useful, especially as you can use the BackTrack feature to mark waypoints and more closely analyse sonar data.

I can see really serious anglers using StructureMap to do some pretty interesting DIY marine cartography on their home computers, perhaps also using online sites such as Google Earth?

StructureMap is standard on all of Lowrance’s HDS Gen2 units, comprising five, seven, eight and 10-inch models. The optional StructureScan side imaging module and transducer are required to operate StructureMap.

The addition of StructureMap is the main feature of the new HDS Gen2 units, which supersede the current HDS series.

The HDS Gen2 units feature all the same features as the original units, including the capability of full integration with radar, entertainment systems and so on. StructureMap will be available across the entire range of HDS Gen2 units from 5-inch up to 12-inch. One of the benefits of StructureMap is that because its operation requires significant computing grunt, HDS Gen2 units come with significantly more processing power than the previous models. This results in marked increase in speed and efficiency. The new HDS Gen2 units we tested boasted screen performance rivalling that of high-end sounders like Simrad’s NSE series. So even if you didn’t want to use StructureMap, the HDS Gen2 units will give you top shelf performance without the top shelf price point. This is well worth considering as the Gen2 units will retail at exactly the same price point as the now superseded HDS models. You definitely get more bang for your buck!

Check out full details of HDS Gen2 and StructureMap at lowrance.com.au. A video filmed by Fisho’s Scott Thomas showing how StructureMap works can be found at www.fishingworld.com.au.

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