September 16, 2021

By John Crews


It has taken me a full season on the Elite Series to evaluate and learn about all the available electronics on one boat. That is right. I ran Lowrance, Humminbird, and Garmin on my Bass Cat in 2021. I have previously discussed the decision to leave behind my long time Lowrance sponsorship and run everything. Now, I have enough experience to give a good summary of using them all.


The last 3 tournaments are where I really started to understand all these electronics and they really made a difference. I had 2 good events and basically one bad day that sunk my 3rd event. Let’s talk about each tournament.


Guntersville was a 21st place finish. I caught the bulk of my weight in the event offshore with a deep crankbait, the SPRO Little John DD. When fishing the ledges on legendary Lake Guntersville, you feel like it is a needle in a haystack situation. The Lake Master mapping is great to get you in the right areas. The Mega 360 was awesome for giving me a read on where the stumps and rock were. The Garmin LiveScope could actually show me where the bait, white bass, and groups of bass were sitting. That did not mean you were going to catch them but I did look around for where the action was. There is no doubt having all the technology on my boat helped my finish there.


Lake Champlain was a place a bombed last year. I thought I was going to go up there and video game fish to catch smallmouth on a drop shot but that deal was not really happening. I fished more shallow rock and grass with power techniques. The LiveScope really helped me make precise casts to the drop off or isolated rocks. It was not as much about seeing the fish but efficiency. The Lake Master mapping is also by far the best I have seen for that lake. All the electronics helped me again.


The St Lawrence River was a different deal. I did not make the 80 mile run to Lake Ontario because I was already locked into the Bassmaster Classic and was determined to figure out the river. I got bit on just a handful of deeper places out in the river. The 360 is great for seeing isolated rocks and grass while you drift. That was a big help. Again, the Lake Master is the best mapping there so that helped too. I did not rely on the LiveScope to see the bass where I caught most of my bass.


The biggest advantage of all electronics is that they make me more efficient. On the northern lakes, there are a bunch of drum that swim around the same places as the smallmouth. Looking for bass on LiveScope is tougher unless you get deeper offshore. I feel like the LiveScope advantage is 60% seeing the cover and 40% or less for seeing the bass. It is not exactly what some people think. I was able to see bass following my bait and how they reacted to it. I never got hung up on any fish I could see and not catch. If they did not react to my baits, I moved on quickly. I loved having all of the best electronics on my boat.


Yes, I am planning to run all 3 again next year. I developed a system on how I use them all and I am going to keep it rolling. Nothing has come along to make me change that. Lowrance has good mapping, great 2D sonar, very good side scan, and the best waypoint management system. Humminbird has the Lake Master mapping, very good Side Imaging, and must have Mega 360. Garmin was the first to have Live sonar and their LiveScope is what I can use best. I did not say it is the best because I have limited experience with Active Target and Mega Live. All 3 live sonars will push each other to all get better and better. That is good for us anglers.