Garmin Live Scope, Love it or Hate it…..


Since the creation of forward-facing sonar there has been a sharp division of opinions. On one side, you have the traditionalist that feels LiveScope is a form of cheating if you can see the fish. On the other side, you have the technologically inclined that are always chasing the latest and greatest game-changing technology. In this article, I am going to give my views after a solid year of use on the ice, open water, and in competition. 

Forward facing sonar, commonly known as LiveScope was first released by Garmin, just a few years back. Almost immediately after release, videos started appearing on the web the battle began, or should I say crying stirring the love or hate relationship. Personally, I am always chasing the latest and greatest technology, because, well, why not? After seeing the videos released online, I knew this was a must have for me. I have been a tournament angler my entire life and I want whatever is going to help me stay in the top of the field. Being able to see a fish swim across my screen and watch how it reacts around bait and other fish, is pretty awesome.

On the other side, the most common argument I hear is that using LiveScope is a form of cheating, causing lakes to become fished out. Just because you can see the fish, does not mean you can catch it. For those of you already using a forward-facing sonar, you know exactly what I mean. Yes, I felt it was a must have for me, but did I get it immediately, no.  Why not? I have three kids and a wife and $1,500 is a lot of money. I thought for sure if I waited a year or so the price would come down, maybe find a used one, but I was wrong.  This technology is so hot right now the demand for it has not slowed sales. Garmin started with only one assembly line and within less than a year, they were up to three, dedicated specifically to the production of LiveScope. As a result of the demand, the price hasn’t decreased. Almost one year ago today, I finally purchased my Garmin LiveScope. 


I first used my LiveScope setup on the ice, and after listening to Debbie Downers saying it will fish out a lake, I was pretty excited to give it a run for its money and fish out a lake. That didn’t happen. First time out, I didn’t catch a single fish, and my battery went dead about 3 hours into fishing. Needless to say, I wasn’t too happy. I was beyond confused with the system and upset with my batteries dumping (I’ll save that for another article).

Why wasn’t I catching every single fish in the lake like I was told I would? I couldn’t quit now, I had to justify spending $1,500 and get to know this system more intimately. I spent the remainder of the ice season trying to figure the darn thing out and it took me until the WPA Hardwater Lake Wilhelm event in February to really get it dialed in. For the first time, I was on a lake with a significate fish population and could see fish darn near everywhere. I finally played with the settings forward view, down view, and perspective mode to figure out what was best for me. I was even still trying to use the 2D puck transducer when I was sitting and bouncing back and forth between everything. It was only then that I finally started catching fish, but I was spending so much time adjusting the settings that my friends were catching more fish than I was using their older systems.

Once I  realized the forward view setting was the setting for me,  I was able to zoom out 100’ and find brush or see giant slab chilling in open water, and then sit down and zoom in to just a few feet, and do a two finger pinch of the screen (just like a cell phone) and zoom right in on my jig. This is also when I finally started saving time instead of wasting time.  Less time playing with settings equals more time finding and catching fish. 


Fast forward to open water season. Again started playing around with settings and trying to figure out if I wanted my LiveScope mounted on my trolling motor or on one of those fancy poles I kept seeing advertised everywhere. Don’t get me wrong, those fancy poles all have a time and a place. Believe it or not, Dan (my tournament partner) and I actually ran two LiveScope system in my boat at one boat this season, one of which mounted on a fancy pole, lol.  I bounced back and forth on mounting options and ended up going with directly mounting the transducer onto my trolling motor, and here’s why.  If you haven’t figured out already I am all about finding the most efficient way of doing something and saving time. In tournament fishing, this means more casts and which equals more fish. Mounting my LiveScope on my transducer kept my hands on my rod, reel, and lines at all times and not having to worry about reaching down to adjust the transducer on a pole. Again, I am a tournament angler, saving every second helps. I have heard several people say they like having their transducer mounted on a pole off of the trolling motor because they like utilizing their spotlock. I agree, you can’t really use your LiveScope to it’s fullest potential when the trolling motor is spinning all over the place trying to hold the boat in place while on spot lock. I find that I just don’t use my spot lock that much during tournaments. That’s just me, and I’m ok with that. 

Is it worth it?

So the $1,500 question, is it worth it? ABSOLUTLY 100%, yes. I know that’s a lot of money, and it sucks, I get it. What it has done for me and Dan this past open water season made it worth every penny. It took me a long time to really understand the settings and getting it dialed in, but after getting that figured out, I have been able to save a ridiculous amount of time playing with settings and more time catching fish. As I mentioned before, I am married and have three little kids, so my time is precious. I do not get to spend hours or days on water before events, I get hours if I am lucky and maybe a half day on a weekend. LiveScope has helped me scan water fast looking for fish and brush. I can now pull up to a cove, shoreline, creek channel, ect. and scan around quickly to see what is going on. Sometimes I find fish suspended, other times I find fish hanging in stumps or over brush. I can now pull right up on those fish, that brush, that stump, and attempt to catch those fish.  LiveScope has helped me save a ridiculous amount of time and without out there is no way we would have had as successful season as we had.  Pre LiveScope, I would have spent countless hours hunting brush and even after fishing with my 2D sonar or maybe even with my side imaging, it was difficult pinpointing a cast or finding the brush or a stump without running over potentially ruining a spot by spooking fish. Now I can pull up to a spot, know exactly where a target is, and cast to it. Not only can I pin point a spot, I can also see if there are fish holding on it and move on if necessary. 

Still not sold on the idea of LiveScope, or have questions? I can’t give away all my secrets, but I would be more than glad to help you with questions you have about your set up, to better utilize your time on the water, or I can even help you order your first system.

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