Simrad and Lowrance are some of the biggest names in the sonar/GPS fish finder industry today.
In many ways, these two brand names, which are made by the same company, are very similar but have their own perspective niches in design and capabilities.
In this article, we will take a look at what makes these two brands different and which one might be a better pick for certain anglers.
Popular Simrad and Lowrance Models
Simrad vs Lowrance: Reputation
Simrad units overall get pretty decent reviews and have a reputation that is up to par when compared to other brand name units. While not seeming to be nearly as popular as other brands such as Lowrance, Humminbird, and Garmin.
There’s a reason that you don’t see too many boats fishing inland waters with Simrad units, and this is because Simrad tailors their units more towards commercial and saltwater fishermen.
This means that the units are much more technical and less user-friendly to casual or recreational anglers. Due to the needs of commercial fishermen, the price of certain Simrad units can also run very high.
Lowrance, on the other hand, has a very high reputation among the recreational and tournament fishing crowd. It’s easy to use, gives anglers a plethora of features and options, and comes with all an angler could ever really ask for.
Features like Chartplotting, GPS, down scan, and side scan, all with crystal clear high definition display at a lower cost, really sway the recreational angling communities to purchase their products at comparatively lower prices than the Simrad.
With that being said, Simrad is still a good option for recreational anglers if they so choose that it fits them best.
As mentioned earlier, Simrad is tailored more towards big-water fishing, whether commercial or charter fishing. With that in mind, the features of the Simrad like reflect this.
The networking features of the Simrad sonars are what really set them apart from other brands, with the ability to add a Broadband 3G, Broadband 4G, or Halo Pulse Compression radar system to let you confidently travel far and wide while keeping constant tabs on real-time weather situations such as storms or when navigating in poor visibility conditions.
The radar can also pick up flocks of feeding birds and can actually help you find fish by following the birds.
Other features of Simrad fishing units are close to the same as Lowrance and use some of the same internal components; the down imaging quality is essentially the same, having crisp, accurate, and clear readings. And the GPS features C-MAP for easy routing and is NMEA 2000 compatible.
Seeing how Lowrance is tailored to recreational anglers more so than Simrad, it lacks some of the high-tech radar and navigation features required when fishing far out from the land on the open seas.
While the GPS used in Lowrance units is still more than capable of aiding any angler in fishing situations, with the ability to waypoint specific spots, chart and map waters, and having the ability to use cards like Navionics to illuminate the contours and depths of a particular body of water or in some cases all major and popular waterways in a particular state or province.
The Down Imaging and Side Imaging quality is essentially the same between the two names and gives a sharp and clear picture of what’s below.
Simrad vs Lowrance: Technology Innovations
Simrad is one of the leaders in integrating radar networks and broadband into their sonar units.
Along with the radar capabilities, the GPS system comes with several options in terms of navigation when it comes to fishing far offshore, with chartplotting capabilities to get you to multiple locations in the shortest amount of time.
And some models, like many recreational models, also have side scans, down scans, and structure scans, which allow you to view structures in 3D.
Lowrance has some of the most detailed and sharp imaging in the sonar industry, allowing you to see structure in fine detail, from individual branches to individual fish in a school.
This technology really helps anglers figure out what’s going on below the surface compared to the older units of years past that showed blobs with very little detail.
Like Simrad and other brands, Side scan, down scan, and GPS are included in most modern units as well. Some Lowrance units also have their amazing FishReveal technology; this tech minimizes weaker sonar returns and boosts solid returns to give crystal clear separation for fish in schools with incredibly great detail.
And last but not least, another capability that can be included or sold in certain units is the LiveSight technology.
LiveSight Sonar gives anglers the ability to track a lure or fish movements in real-time with a wider coverage area and at greater distances. Allowing you to fine-tune any presentation or pinpoint a specific fish or school of fish.
Simrad vs Lowrance: Mapping System
Simrad is capable of running multiple different map software. C-MAP is one such mapping software that offers the user ultra-high resolution bathymetric images in incredible detail.
C-MAP is also available in a continental shelf range for going way out there. Along with the standard C-MAP showing structures like bottom makeup and reefs like never before.
Navionics Maps and Cards for specific areas and NV Charts, more specifically suited to leisure crafts and professionals, are also available.
The Mapping on the Lowrance line of units mainly consists of different C-MAP packages depending on the state, province, or region you live in.
Along with C-MAP, you can also purchase the Navionics SD card of maps for your region separately for incredibly detailed bathymetric mapping of your favorite bodies of water.
Simrad vs Lowrance: User Interface
Simrad’s Interface is complex compared to units more suited to recreational anglers.
This is due to being designed for professionals who are out far from lands, such as commercial fishermen and deep sea charter fishermen for example.
This can cause the casual user to get lost in the plethora of settings and features available if they don’t have a solid understanding of the systems.
Lowrance is much more straightforward with its interface. Giving you a simple menu and options to choose from in terms of switching from GPS to Down imaging, for example.
You can also easily switch your sonar and GPS settings quickly and easily. And you can also have up to 4 split screens to see multiple sonar and GPS readings simultaneously.
So Who Wins?
In our book for recreational fishing, even on a professional, serious level such as guiding or tournament fishing, Lowrance takes the cake.
It’s really hard to beat a simple layout and user-friendly setups. When you’re on the water, time is precious, and you don’t want to spend it trying to get through to customer service because you can easily figure out how to change a setting.
The exception that I will throw in on the Simrad is that if you are fishing the deep blue sea, you might be more suited to the Simrad units, but for the majority of anglers on the water, Lowrance is the clear pick.
The Hook Reveal is Lowrance’s entry-level range sonar unit. Even though it is considered an entry-level unit, it’s still packed with features.
With the Triple Shot model, you get conventional sonar, structure downscan, and side imaging. The split shot models have conventional sonar and downscan but lack the side imaging sonar feature.
This model also has Lowrance’s FishReveal technology, which applies the colored fish arches to the downscan images.
This is a game changer for units in this price range and arguably is most important in these entry-level models.
The FishReveal technology helps entry-level angers identify fish signatures on sonar easier when downscan would give a more subtle image that entry-level users might miss.
The Elite Ti2 series line is for the avid anglers who want the most out of a unit without spending the money on the top-priced units, such as anglers that fish up to multiple times a week and are focused on success.
It’s a professional-grade fish finder for a mid-range price and offers some great features and value.
The Elite Ti2 is a significant step up from the Hook Reveal series as it offers touch-screen technology and wifi connectivity, allowing you to connect to your phone, share waypoints with others and link up with multiple units without the need for cables.
The Elite Ti2 uses Lowrance’s Active Imaging transducer to produce high-definition and crystal-clear sonar images.
The HDS is Lowrance’s professional grade line with a touchscreen, Active Imaging transducer, the highest level of wireless and wired connectivity, and great performance.
It also offers Lowrance’s LiveSight technology – which offers a real-time view of the water and structure below, including real-time fish movement. It even allows you to view your presentations, your lure depth, fish reactions to it, and more so that you can adjust accordingly.
It’s another valuable tool for your fishing arsenal that helps set Lowrance apart from the competition.
The Cruise is an entry-level unit from Simrad. It’s the most user-friendly unit in their lineup, and the GPS unit is contained within it.
The unit features down scan sonar and can run a split screen with multiple options for viewing.
The Go series is the mid-tier offering from Simrad and has several features.
The Unit is compatible with NMEA 2000 networking, has a touchscreen, a built-in GPS receiver, features side imaging and down imaging, and has echo sounding and radar capabilities.
The NSS is one of Simrad's top units in both features and price, with the ability to do everything from giving you real-time weather radar to playing your favorite music.
All networking capabilities are available, as are chartplotting software and all sonar features like side and down imaging, as well as the amazing structure scan 3D and active imaging.
This is a very complex unit that is built for professional commercial and deep-water fishermen.