Pros: You see stuff on the bottom only a diver could see in clear water.
Cons: Price, These should come with RAM mounts.
Being a tournament bass fisherman, I am always looking for an advantage over other competitors. As tournament anglers we all do this, we search for the next best and secret lures, the longest casting and most durable reels, the most horsepower, fastest boats, most powerful trolling motors, and of course we have to have the best electronics. I upgrade my electronics every couple of years if not every year. We are now in the age when the biggest strides are being made with marine electronics such as advancements in GPS, Chartplotting, High Definition screens, Structure Scanning sonars, and more user friendly units. All of these advancements are attributes of Lowrance’s newHDS series including the HDS 7 unit.
I have been tournament fishing for over 20 years now and have used everything from Humminbird, Garmin, Eagle, and Lowrance. I must say we are in the golden age of marine electronics. I love it because things are happening so quickly and the advancements are not just big steps but rather leaps and bounds, it’s nice for me because I am up to date with the latest technology from Lowrance which leaves other competitors without the newest technology scratching their heads and lagging behind at the scales and leader-boards.
The HDS 7:
Lowrance has come out with 4 different units in their HDS line, the 5, 7, 8, and 10. The model number refers to the size of the unit in relation to screen size diagonally in inches. That being said, the HDS 7 is a 6.4 inch unit which is a little bit larger than the units we grew up with, most of them being a 5 or 6 inch unit on the old Humminbird’s and the Lowrance’s being around 5-7 inches.
The HDS 7 has an amazingly clear picture and is easy to use. It is much easier to use than the old Lowrance units. I know a lot of fishermen who stick with one company because they get used to the functions and buttons. I personally have had no problems with switching companies and find the benefits of a new and technologically advanced machine outweigh the slight annoyance with learning a new machine. But with the HDS unit it was incredibly easy to use and navigate through the machine. I was so excited when I got the unit I mounted it on the boat and headed for the lake without even opening the instruction manual, it’s still in the package.
Lowrance added more buttons to their HDS series, the HDS 7 has a fly wheel in the top right hand corner of the unit. It works great and is easy to use, I am not overly impressed with it but it is nice. I am more impressed with the different screens I can flip through when navigating the unit. Simply push the "page" button then you can fly through the options with the wheel. If you hold the page button it changes the on screen selection of the split or quad screen.
Why I bought a 7:
I went with an HDS 7 because it is compatible with the HDS 10 and doesn’t take up as much space on the bow. It also is about half of the price of the 10. So both size and economically speaking, the HDS 7 was a better fit for me rather than buying two 10's .
Technologically speaking, I went with Lowrance because it is a much more powerful unit than the Side Imaging units put out by competitor Humminbird. It is also light years ahead with screen clarity and is incredibly easy to use. It was a no brainer making the decision to buy the HDS series rather than the 97 series from Humminbird. Once I bought the HDS 10, the HDS 7 came naturally. I use the HDS 10 at the helm and the HDS 7 on the bow by the trolling motor. This is great because I have them interlinked through my Structure Scan and ethernet cables so I can do my charting and homework on the big motor from the back and easily see and fish my waypoints and spots on the front unit when competing. The HDS 7 is large enough to run on the back of the boat, it lacks some of the features of the HDS 10 such as the Quad Screen and Softkeys but other than that it puts out the same amount of power and can do the same thing with just a smaller screen. I can still split the screen and utilize the dual screen with the HDS 7. One of my favorite screens to split when I am charting is the Down Scan and the Structure Scan, it really gives me a clear picture of anything hard related to the bottom and a much better understanding of just what I am looking at on the bottom or sub surface.
The HDS 7 is a bit more practical regarding both price and size as compared to the HDS 10 by Lowrance. If you are in the market for a machine and can’t afford the big boy, I highly recommend a 7 if it is within your price range. I have also tried the 5 and I found the screen to be a tad too small for my liking. The 7 and 8 are just about right, the 10 almost being too big if that is possible. If you are looking at buying a 5, I would recommend saving up a little more money and buying the 7, it is perfect for up front on a boat and is large enough to run on the stern or at the helm.
Structure Scan/Down Scan:
Every serious angler knows that Humminbird came out with this technology first, and Lowrance just improved on it. They made improvements by giving the viewer a much clearer High Definition picture and by pumping out over triple the power which also gives the angler a better understanding and look at just what they are viewing. This kind of "borrowing" of technology between competitors in the marine electronic field has been going on for decades and will probably continue for decades ahead.
I explained how and why I use the Structure Scan in my HDS 10 review but will repeat it here: I fish tournaments on the East coast and most of our lakes are loaded with structure. The big fish pull out to deeper water when it gets hot or when they are done spawning. They set up on humps, edges, drop offs, logs, and boulders or rocks and pick off bait and get fatter. The biggest fish usually find the spots the fishermen don’t, where they are virtually unpressurised and can enjoy a life of leisure without a temporary lip piercing. I searched these lakes with a single and dual beam transducer machine for these types of spots, anomalies on the bottom. It might be a single boulder in 20 feet of water that comes up to 17, or a change in vegetation, but it took hours and hours to scan a lake driving in circles and following a map. So when the side imaging came out from Humminbird I naturally had to have it and it transformed the way I fish and pre-fish. When Lowrance came out with similar technology and advancements, well of course I had to have that and I have improved my game over the Side Imaging with the new Structure Scan.
Now, I cover a lake in a tenth of the time with much more detail and a better understanding of what I am fishing. An almost photograph of the image on the bottom. Its not a blurp anymore or a block of digits, its an actual image of the object showing the branches on a tree, the boards on a bridge, or rocks and boulders. It is basically an underwater panoramic view.
Ease of Use and Functions:
Like I mentioned earlier, the Lowrance HDS 7 is incredibly easy to use. You will recognize a lot of the buttons and functions from other units, they are basically the same. ZOUT stands for zoom out, ZIN stands for zoom in. I like having these functions available at my fingertip for getting a much closer look at scanned structure or for getting a further out look and getting my bearings on the map or when charting. If I wear the paint off of any buttons on this unit it will probably be one of these. The Exitbutton is standard on all units, kind of like the back button on your home pc or laptop. It clears screens, returns to previous settings and screens, and clears data. The Enter button is used for saving data, changing menu commands and can even be set up to be used as a shortcut for entering waypoints. The Pages button is another one I might try to wear out as I am constantly switching from screen to screen depending on what I am doing, fishing, searching, charting, etc. The other nice soft key or button on this unit is the WPT button. This stands for waypoint. I use this to mark edges, rocks, stream beds, logs, or anything else that I find and want to store in my electric memory.
Overall, I rate the ease of use and information available from this machine at a 10 out of 10. There are two different menu options for each page so it can be fully customized or it can be run right out of the box with the default settings. I personally like to run everything on custom settings and have used enough marine electronics to know exactly how I want it set up and what it can and can’t do.
This is where it gets a little bit crazy. Price is very dependant on the amount of accessories you buy with the unit. Basic unit with the more powerful 83/200 khz sonar, GPS, and Chartplotter will run about $1200. You can buy different sonars, different GPS modules, and different Navionics cards. I think you can even buy just the unit if you already have the sonar or transducer. Just the basics will run around $1000. I wouldn’t even think about buying this unit without buying the Structure Scan module. The SS basically makes the unit, it’s the butter on the bread, the icing on the cake..
Structure Scan Module