Lowrance Elite TI2 – the ideal fishfinder for boats and kayaks alike
Every single year during the off-season and into the early spring, online forums and facebook groups are absolutely flooded with anglers looking for recommendations. What rod should I get? What reel? What’s the best braided line? The list goes on and on. For the majority of those questions, the answers can be very subjective. No one rod or reel fits perfectly for every angler in every region for every type of fishing.
One question that I see all the time is a little easier for me to answer… What’s the best fish finder? I can’t even count how many times in the past few months I’ve commented online with a cookie-cutter answer… the Lowrance Elite TI2!
In my opinion, the Lowrance Elite TI2 combines everything the average angler could need or want into one fairly priced, easy to use package. For the average boat owner, the Elite TI2 is jam-packed with all the features of more expensive units. For kayak anglers, the Elite TI2 has everything you could need and you’ll never kick yourself for getting a cheap unit missing key features.
Yes, Lowrance and some other companies sell higher-end units with even more bells and whistles. But unless you’re a professional tournament angler that relies on their equipment to make a paycheck, many of those bells and whistles will go unused.
Touchscreen – The Elite TI2 units are touchscreen but also have a few buttons on the right side of the panel. I’ve found over the years that I prefer this type of setup to a fully touchscreen model. Yes, the touchscreen is great to be able to move the chart around, back-track the sonar, and most importantly select menu options. However, when bouncing around on the water, or in the middle of the night, I often reach for the buttons first. I find it much easier to zoom in and out, drop a waypoint, and adjust the brightness with just the buttons instead of the touchscreen.
Sonar, Downscan, and Sidescan – Yes, the Elite TI2 has all of those! Not only does the TI2 have traditional 2D Sonar, it also has Sidescan and Downscan imaging. All three are very easy to use, easy to read, and easy to adjust for your fishing style and body of water. Switching between color palattes is just a couple clicks from the main screen and fine tuning sensitivity will give you an excellent clear image. (Keep in mind, you can select a few different transducers for the Elite TI2 – not all of them will perform the same functions. To have Sonar, Downscan, and Sidescan features, you must have the 3-in-1 Tranduscer)
Charts and Mapping – One of the simple mistakes I see kayak anglers make when buying a unit is trying to save money by picking a model that doesn’t have charts. “But I’ll always be kayaking an area that I know, and I’ll never be that far from land” they say. Well in my opinion the Chart is THE MOST IMPORTANT part of my fishfinder screen. I’ve been out kayaking less than 1/4 mile from the beach when a thick fog rolled in super quickly. If it weren’t for my Lowrance and the charts, I’m not sure I would have made it home that night. The fog was so thick I couldn’t see the other kayaker I was fishing with! But additionally, the Charts give you a representation of where you are in relation to points, inlets, jetties, channels, and (depending on your body of water) the approximate depth. With the touchscreen of the Elite TI2, you can easily tap the screen to see the distance between you and whatever point you select. You can also use the contour lines to hone in on your fishing efforts without the need to head to each spot and check the depth with your sonar.
When I’m out at night kayaking for big striped bass, my chart is absolutely the most important part of my unit. I’m not looking at the sidescan very much, and I’m not paying much attention to the sonar at all. When I’m fishing relatively shallow water (8-15′ deep), I’m casting plugs, soft plastics, and live eels at rip lines, boulders, and shallow points. If I see a fish mark on my sonar, it’s already too late because I’ve either spooked that fish already or I’m too close to make an effective cast. I’m almost exclusively watching my location on the chart in comparison to my trail, waypoints, and contour lines. Sure, seeing fish or bait on the sonar gives me an idea that fish are in a certain area – but very rarely am I going to catch a large striped bass that I saw mark on my screen.
Bells and Whistles – In addition to the basic features I’ve already described, the Lowrance Elite TI2 is capable of much, much more. Without going into crazy detail on each and every feature, here are the highlights…
- FishReveal™ – a very cool software add-on over the past few years that helps you interpret what you’re seeing on the Sonar and Downscan Imaging. Basically, the software reads the information for you and highlights readings that it determines to be fish – as opposed to noise, structure, or debris
- Control of Powerpole anchors and some trolling motor models (may require additional components)
- Bluetooth for connecting your smartphone and getting notifications right on the Lowrance screen
- Wireless networking for connecting to other units or to your home WiFi making software updates quick and super easy
- Engine Support – with the proper hardware, you can use your Elite TI2 to monitor your fuel level and consumption
Yes, the Lowrance HDS Live has faster processing hardware and a slightly brighter, clearer screen (as well as a few more cool features). But do you really need all that on your boat (or kayak)?
Yes, the Hook2 & Hook Reveal units are a little more affordable, but you’ll be sacrificing some of the killer features in the Elite TI2. Are you going to kick yourself in a few months for not spending a little more money the first time around?
Personally at this time I own three Hobie kayaks and fish year-round as much as I’m allowed. I launch and fish all around the New England lakes, ponds, and rivers as well as Long Island Sound from Stratford to Stonington. Depending on the time of year, I also travel north to Lake Champlain, east to Rhode Island and Buzzards Bay, southwest to Jamaica Bay, and occasionally further to Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Maryland. I am a gear snob that is always looking for the best gear I can find without spending a fortune unnecessarily.
Every single time I see someone looking for a fish finder recommendation, my answer is Lowrance Elite TI2!