Lowrance HDS-9 Gen3 Insight
One of the top-shelf fish finder / chartplotter combos sold by Lowrance at the moment is the HDS-9 Gen3. This unit is quite indeed one of the most inclusive models, offering a wide array of sonar, navigation and various other functions for a superior user experience. From CHIRP and StructureScan sonar to advanced charts and mapping features and options, this unit can indeed maximize your situational awareness on the water, and considerably improve your fishing.
Before proceeding with the thorough description of each main feature of this unit, there’s a clarification to be made, though. The HDS-9 Gen3 does come in different bundles, with various transducers, or without any transducer. What needs to be clear, is that this post refers to the HDS-9 Gen3 model number 000-11793-001, which includes the 83/200 and LSS-2 transducers.
Technical Details and Specifications
- Screen: 9″ diagonal, 16:9, 800H x 480V pixel matrix, WVGA color TFT, with LED backlight and touchscreen technology
- Sonar: CHIRP and StructureScan HD
- Depth Capability: 750 ft (229 m) for 2D Broadband Sounder, 300 ft. (92 m) for StructureScan
- Frequency and Coverage:
- 200 kHz (22°) / 83 kHz (52°) for standard 2d sonar
- 455 / 800 kHz for StructureScan, 600 ft (183 m) coverage from side to side
- Power Output: 500 Watts (RMS)
- Power Input: 10-17 VDC
- GPS: 10Hz Internal GPS Antenna
- Maps: Insight USA
- Trails, Routes, Waypoints:100 (10,000 pts each); 200; 5,000
Sonar functions and capabilities
To begin with, the HDS-9 Gen3 has built-in CHIRP and StructureScan sonar technologies. In other words, the head unit is already capable of these types of sonar and you do not have to invest in any additional sonar hub. Also, this unit comes with the transducers which work with this types of sonar, the HST-WSBL for 83/200 kHz and the LSS-2 for StructureScan.
HST WSBL Transducer
LSS-2 StructureScan Transducer
The 2D broadband sonar uses CHIRP technology in order to offer much clearer, decluttered results, which don’t lose as many targets as regular 2D sonar when you filter out noise. Differently put, CHIRP offers greater sensitivity and detects more fish. The CHIRP sonar uses the 83/200 kHz transducer, which operates via conical sonar beams. The 83 kHz beam has an angle of 52°, and it’s best to use for higher depth, while the 200 kHz beam has a narrower angle, of 22°, best used for lower depths, and for sharper views.
There is an aspect to be clarified here though, regarding the CHIRP, 2D broadband sonar. Even though CHIRP technology is functional with the 83/200 kHz transducer, with this transducer you won’t get the full potential and power of the CHIRP technology. That’s because the 83/200 transducer is not a dedicated CHIRP transducer. In order to benefit from the full CHIRP power of the unit, the TM150M transducer is a much better choice. But nonetheless, your unit will use CHIRP with the supplied 83/200 transducer as well.
When it comes to the StructureScan sonar technology, this is also backed up by the LSS-2 (HD) transducer, which is capable of SideScan and DownScan and using dual frequency of 455 kHz for a wider coverage, and 800 kHz for superior clarity. StructureScan uses fan-shaped, thin beams for both DownScan and SideScan. It’s capable of depths up to 300 ft. (92 m). SideScan offers a coverage of 600 ft (163 m) from side to side, while DownScan scans the water column under the boat. Both sonar views offer crystal clear imaging, close to the clarity of a photo.
HDS9 Gen3 SideScan View
DownScan and SideScan views can be observed simultaneously in split screen, and so can be viewed the 2D sonar along with any view from the StructureScan. On top of that, via the DownScan Overlay, the DownScan imaging can be blended with the CHIRP 2D, for a different, target-focused observation.
HDS9 Gen3 DownScan View
Along with the aforementioned sonar capabilities, the HDS-9 Gen3 offers several other sonar-related functions that required to be mentioned. First of all, the 83/200 kHz transducer has a built-in temperature probe, which enables the unit to display the water temperature in the upper water column. Also, it makes available the Temperature Graph function, which is pretty good to have if you’re looking for specific currents or want to benefit from a clear picture of the water temperature variation, along your track.
The TrackBack function is also included with this unit, function that allows you to record sonar. With this particular feature, you have the possibility to quickly review key spots or certain spots that you’ve just missed. This way you can even save fuel as you won’t have to turn your boat around and scan a certain spot one more time. It can basically save you from unnecessary hassle. Recorded sonar can be saved within the internal memory of the unit, or on an external memory card.
Fish ID Sonar View
Fish ID, Split Zoom, Bottom Lock or Ice Flasher are several other sonar-related available features on this unit. Split Zoom gives you the possibility to magnify a certain portion from the sonar and view it in split-screen of the regular view. Bottom Lock is a function that keeps close to the bottom, providing you with a better view of the target close to the bottom, great to use if you’re looking for bottom feeders. Fish ID is a feature that assigns various icons to sonar returns considered as fish. In other words, fish arches will be shown as fish symbols. And lastly, the Ice Flasher is a circular, abstract sonar view, which some anglers find more suitable for down dropping and ice fishing.
First of all, the HDS-9 Gen3 has a 10 Hz, internal GPS antenna, which provides pretty accurate trails and lock, and smooth chart performance. It also supports WAAS / EGNOS and MSAS corrections. The unit features waypoint, route and trail functions, being able to store up to 5,000 waypoints, 200 routes and 100 tracks, in a breadcrumb manner, 10,000 trailpoints for each trail.
There’s a function that allows you to turn trails into routes, and re-use them as you like. Of course, all waypoints, routes, and trails can be stored on an external memory card as well, for backup or sharing.
As the name of the unit suggests, it comes with the preloaded Insight USA chars. These cover in pretty decent detail, the Inland and Coastal waters. There are multiple map views available, such as 2D and 3D, and also the possibility to view two charts simultaneously, or one in split screen with one of the sonar applications.
The StructureMap function allows you to use recorded StructureScan HD logs, and overlay them with maps, in order to maximize situational awareness. This function gives you the possibility to actually pin to your map the bottom structure of any location or trail you follow. Also, via the Insight Genesis application, you can make your own, personalized maps, or use maps that are shared within the Insight Genesis Social Map community.
Head unit functions and features
As the name of the unit suggests, it has a 9″ diagonal screen. With a pixel matrix of 800 x 480 and a 16:9 aspect ratio WVGA color TFT, the HDS-9 Gen3 offers brilliant color images with high clarity on all types of sonar. The screen is also LED backlit, featuring excellent readability even in direct sunlight. It comes with both button and touchscreen navigation. Even though some anglers may say touchscreen is a bad idea on a fish finder, as sunscreen or bait will quickly get on the screen, it’s still a good idea for when you want to type in the name for a waypoint or route, for example. But then again, for users who don’t want to use this unit via the touchscreen, keypad navigation is possible.
This unit features NMEA 0183 and NMEA 2000 ports, which makes it quite versatile when it comes to connectivity. It has dual ethernet networking port. And on top of that, it has two microSD card slots, for data backup and maps. This gives you the possibility to use a data card and a charts card simultaneously, without continuously interchanging cards.
But maybe one best aspects regarding the HDS-9 Gen3 is its wireless connectivity, via the Lowrance GoFree App. This particular function allows you to control your unit via a smartphone or tablet.
Along with the consistent array of features included with this unit, the Lowrance HDS-9 Gen3 Touch Insight still leaves room for various upgrades. When it comes to sonar, as I mentioned above, you can use a more performant transducer for the CHIRP 2D sonar. It can also use a 50/200 kHz transducer for higher depths. Along with that, this unit is SpotlightScan ready, and with the apposite transducer, you can benefit from 360°, crystal clear images, similar to SideScan.
For navigation upgrades, this unit is compatible with an extensive selection of charts, such as Insight HD, Insight PRO, Navionics, C-MAP MAX-N+, and many more. Along with these, due to its plug-and-play compatibility, this Lowrance unit can work with various other navigation modules such as Broadband Radar, SonicHub Audio, Class B AIS, or MotorGuide or Outboard Pilot.
To such a complete unit is kind of difficult to find any cons. But there are a few. Therefore, if so far we’ve reviewed the best aspects about it, here are the cons.
First of all, it’s quite an advanced unit, and for some users, it might be a steep learning curve to it.
As we’ve mentioned before, even though the CHIRP 2D sonar works with the supplied 2D transducer, the maximum CHIRP potential can only be obtained with a dedicated CHIRP transducer.
Lastly, if you’re going to use an AIS module, you’ll see that the icons are pretty rudimentary compared to some existant smartphone apps. However, AIS still provides a lot of info about the other vessels in the vicinity of your current location.
The Lowrance HDS-9 Gen3 Insight is clearly one of the most complete fishfinder / chartplotter combos that you can get at the moment. It also comes with an excellent price / quality ratio. It’s not exactly a cheap unit but does offer just about anything an angler would expect from such a unit. Top notch sonar technologies, fast and accurate GPS, excellent charts, wireless connectivity and quite some room for various upgrades. It’s a unit that will serve you well for many years, an investment that you won’t regret.