Garmin LiveScope Plus System

LIVE sonar is the latest development in electronic fish finding technology and can potentially change the way we fish. It’s so effective, some anglers have even suggested a ban on its use in competitions!

Most of the major marine electronics manufacturers have this technology and improved features are being released regularly. Like it or not, live sonar is here to stay!

What is Live Sonar?

Live sonar gives anglers real-time images of fish, structure, and even your lure or bait similar to that of an ultrasound. You can see realistic streamed ??? of fish moving to the point of being able to identify the size and species and defined structure and even target an individual fish and observe it strike the lure presented to it. Traditional sonar shows a historic image of a fish, as does side and down scan technology. As a comparison, live sonar is more like live streamed video, while conventional sonar is more of a static image and not live.

The dedicated live sonar transducer is designed to continuously scan and unlike traditional sonar, can forward scan in addition to down scan and scan ahead in a horizontal plane by adjusting the orientation of the transducer into preset positions. The transducer is either attached via by a special mounting system to a bow mounted electric motor or an aftermarket transducer pole (see fact box) that allows you to easily direct the sonar beam by a handle and retract it when not in use. It also eliminates the problem of the beam being redirected every time the electric motor changes direction.

A MFD (multi functional display) screen is typically mounted on the bow of the boat where the angler is also positioned to monitor the screen, adjust the beam direction by the pole and make best use of the forward scanning mode through casting to targeted fish. It’s similar playing an interactive video game – something Gen Z & Millennial anglers should be familiar with.

Live sonar systems were originally developed for US freshwater impoundment use and most have an effective range of 40-60m. Garmin has recently released the LiveScope XR expanding its range to 100m+ in salt water and 150m+ in fresh water.

The GARMIN LiveScope Plus System

GARMIN is a pioneer of live sonar releasing the Panoptix LiveScope system in 2018. The system has been refined and improved with the latest LiveScope Plus system as fitted to my 4.6m side console tinnie.

The system includes a LiveScope GLS 10 Sonar Black Box, Panoptix LVS34 Transducer (plus mounts & cables) and is currently compatible with most GARMIN GPSMAP and ECHOMAP units. I have the live scope system networked through two GARMIN ECHOMAP Ultra units (10” mounted on the console and 12” in the bow) and can stream live vision on both sounders simultaneously allowing me to review scanned fish with the angler fishing on the bow.

Forward, Down and Perspective modes are easily engaged by adjusting the orientation of the transducer on the pole and selecting the mode through the sounder menu – I use forward mode 80% of the time. A built-in stabilisation system keeps the sonar footage steady even when conditions are rough and the transducer is moving with the boat. The factory settings provide sharp images and good definition and I was recently able to successfully target trevally on LiveScope in my local river. There are seven different colour pallets to choose from and micro adjustments to gain, range and colour saturation is intuitive. As my experience using the system is still in its infancy, there is scope to incrementally adjust settings to facilitate clearer images and more defined target separation to achieve more hook-ups with less casts.

Live Sonar is a powerful system and there is no question that it assists anglers to catch more fish with less effort. However, it is polarising technology and there are detractors who believe it creates an unfair advantage to those who have it. The current pricing may be prohibitive for some anglers but as with all technology, pricing will inevitably come down over time. When this happens, I am confident live sonar systems will be a mandatory piece of electronic equipment on the majority of dedicated anglers’ boats.

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