Two of the biggest names in the fishing industry when it comes to electronics are Garmin and Lowrance. Both of these companies have been around for decades and it’s clear that they are among the leaders in the industry. Garmin and Lowrance both have a very loyal following from anglers who have used them successfully over the years, but with so many new innovations in the electronics field, it makes sense for serious anglers to reassess each brand and determine whether they would be better off choosing one over the other.
In this article, we will cover some of the advantages and disadvantages of both Garmin vs Lowrance when it comes to their latest lineup of fish finders. We will also break down which brand is better in terms of features, user friendliness, pricing, and other variables that you’ll want to know before purchasing your next fish finder.
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Lowrance is one of the oldest names in the fishing industry when it comes to electronics. Established in 1957, this brand has been at the forefront of marine technology since its inception. The company produced some of the best sonar fish finders for many years and has more recently adapted to include such capabilities as side imaging technology, known as StructureScan and down imaging that’s referred to as DownScan.
One thing you can be certain of when it comes to Lowrance is that the screen size is usually never an issue. Lowrance fish finders have long been known for having bigger screens than their competitors and professional anglers generally prefer them for that reason.
Some of Lowrance’s most popular models include:
Garmin was founded in 1989 and was once known more for its line of GPS devices that were initially sold to the U.S. Army and used in a number of different high-level combat aircraft and vehicles. The brand was able to easily make the shift over to creating fish finders and anglers today are likely well-aware that their GPS technology and mapping are second-to-none in the fishing industry.
Garmin doesn’t have quite the expansive lineup that Lowrance or other brands offer, but the few products they do feature are of exceptional quality. In recent years, Garmin devices have come a long way in terms of screen resolution and the features that each device offers.
Some of Garmin’s most popular models include:
- Garmin Striker
- Garmin Echomap
When comparing the products made by both Lowrance and Garmin, it’s easy to see why so many anglers prefer these brands. When we examine some of the specific areas of concern and the characteristics that anglers often look for in a good quality fish finder, we can differentiate between the two and help you determine which one is better based on your personal needs.
One of the most obvious areas of concern that anglers have in relation to their fish finder is its display. Having plenty of amazing features and tracking capabilities is great, but can be virtually useless if you can’t easily see these items on the screen.
Garmin’s Striker series features smaller screens that range from 3.5” up to 7” in the largest versions. These small screens are very handy for kayak anglers, but can seem very small when fishing out of a full-size boat. The brand does make a few high-end fish finders that offer large 7” screens and a range of impressive features.
Lowrance actually gets the nod when it comes to the overall screen brightness and clarity. The brand uses WVGA coloring, as well as a much brighter overall display through the use of LCD lighting. Comparing the two side-by-side shows that Lowrance screens are clearly better and can be more easily viewed in bright sunlight and even night time.
Having a wide range of features is great as long as you’re able to easily understand and use them. We compare both Garmin vs Lowrance in terms of how easy each type of device is for the average angler to use.
Garmin fish finders are relatively easy to understand. The buttons are clearly-marked and it usually doesn’t take very long after setup to get the hang of what each function does and how it should be used.
Lowrance is also very user friendly and is another brand that offers models that are all mostly plug and go, which means you can probably learn how to use it in a few minutes at the boat ramp instead of having to sit and watch several tutorial videos.
It’s hard to name a favorite in this category, so we will declare this a tie.
One of the biggest areas of interest when purchasing a new fish finder is finding out what kinds of features it offers. Both Garmin and Lowrance work very hard to create better and more useful features each year with newer lineups, so it’s hard to select a favorite in this area as well.
Garmin doesn’t have the same amount of different models that Lowrance offers. However, the few models that Garmin does offer are packed with useful features. The smaller model Garmin fish finders are generally equipped with CHIRP sonar and ClearVu, which is a type of down imaging technology that isn’t quite as sensitive as some other down scan technology in the premium models. The larger Garmin fish finders are also equipped with CHIRP sonar, as well as a more sensitive down imaging capability, as well as side imaging that helps anglers gain a better sense of what’s under their boat in one glance.
Lowrance offers a huge number of different models that are all packed with features. The screens on a Lowrance device can vary from 4” to 16” in the largest model and all are capable of being read more easily than Garmin in terms of screen clarity. Lowrance fish finders are all equipped with CHIRP sonar and down scan technology, with the more expensive models also offering side scan sonar as well. What truly sets Lowrance apart from Garmin in terms of features is the touch-screen display.
Newer models of fish finders are mostly all expected to be equipped with Bluetooth connectivity that anglers can use to pair with their phone or other device to use as an extension of their fish finder when they’re on the water. This is a huge convenience that allows you to plot your course and perform a number of other tasks from your phone instead of having to get up and move to your boat’s cockpit to make adjustments.
Lowrance fish finders all feature very smooth Bluetooth and wireless connectivity. You won’t have to struggle with data transfers like you probably have done with older models on other brands. When comparing the two, however, it is Garmin that seems to have the edge when it comes to wireless connectivity and Bluetooth capability.
When it comes to selecting one over the other, it’s hard to name a favorite between Garmin vs Lowrance fish finders. Based on our research and experience with both products, you can generally count on Garmin to have better GPS capability and more detailed mapping features while Lowrance is much better in terms of on-screen clarity and touchscreen interface.
The final answer to which one is truly better than the other should be answered by each individual angler after they assess what is most important to them in terms of performance and capabilities on the water. Both Garmin and Lowrance fish finders are excellent brands and you can’t go wrong with either one.