October 02, 2007 at 6:45pm
I've used Lowrance LMS 160 and Humminbird 797 SI, and for saltwater, for finding fish, I believe one of the newer color Lowrance combos would be the best. I'd shoot the transducer through the hull if at all possible, it minimizes the effects of waves and turbulence on the signal.
The Humminbird is really great for locating bottom structure, and might be good for big fish around rigs, but so far it hasn't helped locating fish in saltwater bays. It had helped me find deep water structure much better than standard depthfinder, but fish are hard to interpret on it, and the bright sunlight performance of the sideimaging screen is not the greatest. I think that it will evolve into the best one after a few years of improvements, but right now I'd go with the Lowrance. I have seen fish on both units and caught them, so it's a matter of learning to tune it properly for the conditions and learning to interpret what you are seeing. The color screen is much easier to see with my aging eyes.
Neither unit tells you what kind of fish you are looking at, so that's another thing you have to interpret by how they are schooled up. You can throw a jig or a spoon overboard and watch it come up if you put it under the transducer's cone of signal.