Lowrance HDS-9 Live
A screenshot showing the ability of the Lowrance HDS-9 Live to sound bait and target fish in high resolution.

Lowrance HDS-9 Live overview

Selecting the appropriate electronics package is very important when starting out in a new boat. Lowrance HDS-9 Live

Having a unit that can do all that you want and all that you need it to do is key to your success. Lowrance HDS-9 Live

I’ve been asked on many occasions why I chose the Lowrance HDS-9 Live unit in my Bar Crusher, and hopefully this answers a few questions and will help when you’re trying to decide what unit to put on your boat. Lowrance HDS-9 Live

First, I wanted a reliable unit that was easy to use and easy to see in all types of conditions.

Most of the time, the appearance of your unit is not as it was when you saw it on the big display at a boat show or in a well-lit retailer showroom.

Quite often sea conditions have your unit covered in saltwater, dirty bait fingers or the glare of the sun, which makes it very hard to see.

In addition to that, many units are touchscreen only and of course, when you have dirty fingers, it doesn’t take long for the mess to dry all over the screen, making it incredibly hard to read.

This was a very valid consideration for me.

Lowrance HDS-9 Live
The rear view of the unit shows the plugs for the three-in-one and the 1kW transducers.

These problems have been reasonably addressed in this unit as the brightness and contrast can be adjusted to suit all conditions.

And on the front panel, I have the ability to use the rubberised buttons, which enables the screen to stay clean when I’m bait fishing, with full functionality and ease of use.
Alternatively, if I’m fishing freshwater, I can use the touchscreen, which saves time and has shortcuts to a lot of functions.

The menu system Lowrance has adopted is fairly direct and takes you to all of the main screen functions within one to two button presses or a couple of swipes of the screen.
Zoom, sensitivity, split screens and colour palettes are very easy to change.

Of course, having a good-looking screen is important and plenty of pixels make seeing fish so much easier, but to draw the fish up on the screen the system must first be able to process the information.

For the most part, the processor in this unit is incredibly powerful and its ability to draw up the soundings on the screen, zoom in on maps or multi-task functions seems to be incredibly seamless, with hardly any lag whatsoever.

The screen shows all the important details – including depth in feet, metres or fathoms, water temperature, speed over ground, battery voltage and, on top of that, it can also double as a set of gauges for your outboard motor through a network hub.

An important feature – that I specifically wanted on my vessel – is the ability to be able to use it in both shallow and deep water.

I wanted to run a 1kW transducer and didn’t want additional hardware, wiring or connections in the boat because the additional equipment and joins usually end up failing somewhere along the line.

Lowrance HDS-9 Live
The placement on the author’s Bar Crusher 535C shows the mount that Bar Crusher make specifically for the 1kW Airmar transducer.

The HDS-9 has its own 1kW output from the unit built in, so there is no need for additional hardware to enable the use of a 1kW transducer – it simply plugs into a second port on the back of the unit as per the photograph.

As well as that, it accommodates the three-in-one transducer – side scan, down scan and conventional CHIRP sonar – at the same time.

A second transducer can be plugged into its own port, which is conveniently colour coded to make it easier for the end user.

This enables two transducers to be plugged directly into the unit, which can be selected simply through the touchscreen.

This being the case, the three-in-one transducer is perfect for dams, rivers and bay fishing and reads incredibly well in depths of up to about 45m.

Both the side scan and down scan images are as clear as you could imagine on a unit of this price point.

The 1kW transducer I’m running is an Airmar TM185M medium CHIRP transducer.

I switch to it whenever I’m heading offshore because it has an unparalleled ability to read the bottom at speeds of up to 35 knots, which is as fast as my boat goes.

It also has the ability to mark fish in water over 0.5km deep, making it very handy for deep dropping and bottom fishing out on the reefs – remembering this is only a 5.5m boat and the need for anything more is questionable.

Lowrance HDS-9 Live
The Lowrance HDS-9 Live has the ability for screen mirroring to an iPad or tablet.

Being a 9” screen, it fits recessed into the dash of most vessels and comes with a rubber seal so that no water leaks behind it.

The unit also accommodates two micro secure digital slots – also called microSD slots – these can be used for mapping or alternatively recording soundings or taking screenshots.

The down-scanned images can be overlaid on the maps of where you’ve been travelling to make an incredibly detailed view of the seabed below.

The unit also has Wi-Fi built in and this enables you to carry an iPad or tablet, which connects easily and can be used as a second screen anywhere on the boat with all the touchscreen functionality of the main unit.

Both an iPad or tablet and the main unit will work together at the same time, meaning the person at the front of the boat can look at the main screen while the device is mobile and can be taken down the back near the bait board, so you can both see what’s going on underneath as you drift or fish the reef.

The Wi-Fi also enables any required updates to take place when you are within range of your home router.

It is all automatic and only takes a few minutes and this way you will have the most up-to-date functionality on your sounder at all times.

Finally, the unit has a very high level of water resistance and can be used either mounted on its own bracket or alternatively it can be recessed into the dash of your boat.

All the plugs have rubber seals to keep moisture out of the connections and it is very resilient to shock and heat.

Hopefully, I’ve covered everything, however I’m sure there’s much more to this unit that I’ve not discovered yet.

To find out more, contact Lowrance or your local dealer, who I’m sure will be more than happy to help.

About Ben Smith

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