OK folks, my review of the Lowrance Structure Scan system on an HDS 7 can finally begin! I installed the transducer a week ago, then ran into a tiny bit of trouble upgrading my software. Turns out the problem was (as usual) me… I had a file on the SD card I used to upload the upgrade, and the card must be 100-percent blank when you begin the process.
First, the install: it’s an east job. Just run the transducer wire and drill two holes for the mount. I put mine on the starboard hull of a cat which already has a 1-KW Airmar on it and had no trouble finding room for it. Virtually every other transom on the water will have a lot more space then this one, so regardless of what kind of boat you have, finding a spot for it should be no problem. You’ll also need to mount the unit’s brain box in a protected area (they say it’s waterproof, but why risk it?), run a power wire to it, and run an ethernet cable to the HDS unit. Warning: if you have Sirius weather on your boat, it’s already on that ethernet port. You’ll need to get an expansion box to link them, or plan on swapping the plugs over and over again (a real pain in the butt – get the expansion module.) That’s it – done deal.
Sunday I fired the Structure Scan up, and began poking around with it. Here are some of the basic lessons I learned, which I haven’t seen in the instruction manual or any of the printed material out there:
1. The main limiting factor for how far you can look out to the sides is depth. In 8 feet of water, I was looking 30 feet off to either side. In 15 of water, it jumped out to 60 feet. Once it went over 20 deep I could see about 90 out, and in deeper water it quickly hit the 150 per side maximum.
2. At least right out of the box and set to auto mode, it takes a serious ping for fish to show up. Several times I saw scattered bait on the sonar, but not on the Structure Scan screen. Some fidgeting with the settings could change this, of course, but I haven’t had the chance to thoroughly play with it yet.
3. Structure sensitivity is awesome. Something as thin as a piling shows up clear as a bell, and when I went under a bridge I could literally see the corrugated shape of the metal bulkhead.
If you’re interested in the Structure Scan, stay tuned… I’ll be using it as much as possible for the next several months, and will fill in the blanks as I learn more.