Pros: Too many to list here, check review.
Cons: Another $600 out of pocket.
There are basically two big names in marine electronics for competitive bass fishermen, Humminbird and Lowrance. For decades these two companies have controlled the market with their incredible innovations and ability to provide bass tournament and recreational anglers with that added technological edge providing a sub surface view to the anglers. Humminbird first came out with their Side Imaging technology a few years back which revolutionized the way tournament anglers searched for structure and read the bottom. No longer did you have to be a genius to read and understand the pictures coming back from the sounder or sonar of the archaic models. The guess work was left behind after the Side Imaging technology came out. Fishermen were able to see things never seen before on the bottom of the lake. They virtually had the fish eye view.
Humminbird left Lowrance in the dust with this product beating them to market and controlling most of the marine electronics market share. In the long going battle and competition between the two companies, many technological breakthroughs have been "borrowed". Once borrowed, the technology is slightly changed making it legal for the other company to sell and market the same basic technology. In most cases the borrowing company improves upon the technology making it their own and Lowrance is no exception to this basic rule.
There are times in business and competition when it pays to be the first and then there are times when it pays to improve upon the first and become the best. Right now, Lowrance is the latter, they have greatly improved upon the Side Imaging technology and are the best. A serious tournament angler cannot afford to be without the best. Wether a weekend angler or a professional fishing for a living, we look for every advantage we can get and the electronics field is where we are provided the biggest differences between the haves and have nots. Sure, everyone has the quality rods and reels, incredible fishing line, and their preference in lures, but not everyone has the latest technology and the latest and greatest is the Structure Scan by Lowrance.
--------What is it? What does it do? --------
The Structure Scan module (LSS1) is simply an add on module for HDS units by Lowrance. Now that’s just the simple description, it gets much more technical than that. The best way to understand the technology is to compare it to the basic technology of sonars and sounders. A sonar unit sends an electronic pulse away from a transducer and records when it returns. It calculates the time it took for the pulse to return and translates that into depth. The original and older sonar units sent out a pulse per second. With more power and technological advancements we have units that now send out hundreds of pulses per second. A fish finder works by reading an anomaly in the pulses it reads. If it continually reads 10 foot, 10 foot, 10 foot, then a 3 foot, then back to 10 foot, 10 foot, it will show whatever it read at the three foot range as either a piece of structure or a fish. This is just a basic description of how a sonar unit works which will help better understand how the Structure Scan works.
The old technology allowed the user to see what was directly under the transducer. Technological advancements came by way of quicker pulses, sharper screens, wider sonar beams, slightly more powerful units, color displays, discerning views of the pulse anomalies. These were all big advancing steps in sonar and "fish finder" technology. The latest advancement cannot even be considered a "step", it’s more like Superman’s leap into flying, flight included.
Structure Scan gives the fisherman a panoramic view of the bottom. It looks 250 feet to the right and left and has the exclusive Downscan. This isn’t your Grandpappy’s single beam fish finder unit. This is the real deal. The Structure Scan unit pumps out an incredible amount of power and has lightning fast pulses coupled with a computer that can process the information and translate it into a clear crisp view on the Lowrance HDS units. Not only does it take out all the guess work of what the screen is showing you, but now you can look left, right and down with a 60 degree beam. With the previous technology you would scan some kind of structure, take a brush pile for instance, and it would show up as a large blurb protruding from the bottom. You really had to know your electronics and be dialed in just right to be able to tell it was a brush pile. Not anymore, with the Structure Scan module you can see every branch and twig and easily be able to decipher just what it is you are looking at, no more guessing. This isn’t just for brush piles, I have no problem being able to find underwater weed lines, trees either flat on the bottom or protruding off the bottom towards the surface, rocks, boulders, ledge, schools of bait and many more things, it is truly amazing. I know exactly what the bottom is for composition, wether it is mud, gravel, sand, rock, weeds, or whatever it is. This makes a huge difference when applying the information to fishing. Just finding that one spot of bottom that differs from the surrounding area, such as a shell bed, can make a huge difference in the outcome of a tournament.
I guess what amazes me the most about the Structure Scan is the amount of detail it shows and the ability it gives me to cover some serious water in a small amount of time. I can remember the days when I would have to cover nearly every square foot of a lake watching my single pulse sonar systems for changes in depths and trying to figure out just what it was. Pre-fishing took weeks if not years to accumulate the required data. Now I turn my Structure Scan unit on and head out on the lake driving in huge circles or wide grid lines and cover big water in a short time with an absolutely clear picture of the bottom.
The Structure Scan module is a networking box as well as a searching tool. Ethernet cables can connect separate units together and share information between the two. This is important for structure fishermen like myself. I use one HDS unit on the back and scan the bottom for structure and weedlines. I make most of my marks and waypoints from the stern when driving around and searching, basically doing my homework. However I need to know where those waypoints are when applying the information during a tournament and rather than turn around and look at the unit on a swivel, I have networked my bow HDS unit through the Structure Scan module and the information is shared. I can sneak up or position myself with the electric motor on the waypoints I have created on the back unit since the tow are networked together.
The nice part about mounting this unit is it doesn’t need to be seen. Although it is waterproof, it should never be fully submerged. Most of these units will be bought for bass fishing and will be mounted on bass boats. I recommend mounting it inside of one of the storage hatches either on the sidewall or upside down on the hatch door itself. This should keep it out of the weather and direct sunlight. It is incredibly easy to mount, just four screws or bolts depending on where you mount it, one in each corner. The wires are all color coded and only fit in their select port. It is very easy to mount you should not have a problem mounting it. I was in such a rush to try it out and mount it even in my haste I had no problems, its pretty foolproof.
--------Hooking it up --------
Just like mounting the black box, connecting and hooking up the unit is incredibly easy as well. Included with the black box is a power cable and ethernet cable. The power cable has the plug on one end which fits into the black box and raw wires on the other end. Lowrance also supplies a fuse link which I highly recommend installing somewhere in the power supply line. I crimped on butt connectors to the raw positive and negative lines and extended them to my battery where I crimped on terminal connectors. I think they produce them with raw ends so the fishermen can add on the required length needed for the installation, the fuse link, and an on/off switch.
The ethernet cable has the proper connectors on each end. If you are only using one unit with the structure scan and are not networking two or three units, plug the ethernet cable into the first port or the number one port on the black box and connect the other end to the unit being used. If you are networking simply plug each unit into the ethernet cable ports. Up to three units can be networked through one Structure Scan module.
The only other thing to hook up is the transducer. This is also color coded and has the proper plug manufactured into the end of the transducer wire. Plug it in, tighten the screw in part of the plug and you are good to go, it is that easy.
I highly recommend installing a rocker switch or any on/off switch somewhere on the power supply line. When the structure scan is being used it draws an incredible amount of power from the battery because it is putting out an incredible amount of power into the scan. Running the structure scan all day will drain even the best batteries when an alternator is not being utilized or the big motor running. Most of the time I am scanning for structure I am behind the wheel running the big motor. However, when I am done scanning for structure I still want to use my HDS units so I simply shut the Structure Scan, LSS1, off by flipping the rocker switch and I am on a regular battery draw from the color units.
The LSS1 is compatible with 4 different HDS units made by Lowrance. In descending order they are the HDS 10, HDS 8, HDS 7, and HDS 5. The numbers pertain to the size of the screen and the size of the unit. The 8 and 10 have several features the 5 and 7 lack such as quad screen, soft keys and more. The 7 and 5 are a much more affordable way to get the Structure Scan technology. This unit is not compatible with any other units or products. It is made for the HDS units and does not come with them, it must be purchased separately.
--------What's Included? --------
Included with the module are the mounting screws, one ethernet cable, a power cable and the heart of the unit, the Structure Scan transducer and mounting kit.
--------Super Cool Features--------
There are several features that this unit is capable of which really impress me. The clarity of the scans are amazing. I have no problems deciphering just what is on the bottom or in the water table when using the scan. This is due to the amount of power the LSS1 puts out. It runs at 30,000 watts when scanning. Humminbird’s tops out at around 9,000. This is a huge difference when in deep water or when viewing a piece of structure or bottom at any depth.
Quad screen is another feature that is awesome. The HDS 8 and HDS 10 both have the capability to look at 4 screens at once, while the HDS 5 and HDS 7 can both be split only once for a dual screen view. Without the LSS1 I guess there would be no reason to see four screens. I split them in this fashion, a downscan, a left/right scan, a regular sonar, and the GPS map, it is awesome and provides me with all the information I need and prevents me from flipping through screens or changing settings.
The networking capabilities of the LSS1 are pretty cool too. This isn’t new technology but none the less it is sweet. I do most of my homework at the stern behind the steering wheel when I am moving and looking for fish/structure but I do most of my "work" from the front on the trolling motor while fishing. The rear unit sends the information via the LSS1 module to the front HDS unit so I can put it to practical use.
Another thing I love about this module and HDS units is how fast I can go while scanning the bottom. I have had no problem running the Structure Scan at 30 miles per hour. This is quite a step ahead of Humminbird’s Side Imaging which I could run from 2-5 miles per hour. Anything over 5 or so with the SI gave me a blurred out and dark screen. That is because the Humminbird wasn’t pumping out enough power and fast pulses like the Lowrance does. I would say the optimal high speed range for scanning with the Lowrance is around 15-20 miles per hour.
You can see 250 feet side to side. This is dependant on how deep and the speed being traveled. In normal conditions over 20 feet of water traveling 10-15 miles per hour I can see 200 feet side to side easily on the screen and pick out rocks and trees or structure. It is pretty ridiculous and hard to believe until you see it for yourself, very cool.
The Downscan works at 55 miles per hour. The Downscan can also be overlaid on top of the regular sonar screen which helps show exactly what you are looking at. The Downscan feature was probably the thing I was most impressed with at first when comparing it to the Humminbird Side Imaging. The scan itself is very wide and very powerful. I like to get a different vantage on the things I pick up on the side scans and I look at them with the Downscan.
This has been holding pretty true to $600. It is a large pill to swallow after purchasing an HDS unit or two ranging from $700-$2,200 each, depending on size and add-ons, but this is absolutely necessary to get the most from the HDS units. I have been able to find them at all of the large fishing/hunting/outdoor stores that sell Lowrance electronics. Cabela’s and Bass Pro Shops carry them in store and they can be found most anywhere on the internet. There shouldn’t be any problems finding an LSS1.