Lowrance HOOK² 7 Fish Finder Review
Looking for an affordable, feature-dense fish finder/GPS plotter? The HOOK² 7 might be for you. This unit offers a reasonably big, high-definition screen, CHIRP sonar, and the option to include DownScan and SideScan Imaging. The interface was made with simplicity in mind, and its auto-tuning feature means you have to spend less time pushing buttons. That means more time spent actually fishing!
The unit isn’t without its problems, however. We’re going to break down all of the pros and cons of this device, and then we’ll get into the nitty gritty of what it can do.
We will say this right away, though: this may be the best Kayak fish finder/GPS plotter you can get for the price.
-Easy to use/set up
-High-Precision Internal GPS
-Easy-to-adjust Gimbal Mount
-No networking options
-Limited range of frequencies
-Only wide angle CHIRP
Technical Specifications and Details
Display and Interface
Let’s start with the screen. It’s good - we’ve always been fans of the SolarMax series. You can use it in all kinds of conditions - foggy, sunny, or even at night. It’s bright and easy-to-read. At 7”, it’s not the biggest screen out there, but it’s more than enough for one or two anglers to be able to glean information at a glance.
One of the biggest advantages of this model is the split screen. The 7” is enough for you to have your map, DownScan, SideScan, and CHIRP all on-screen at the same time. You can adjust which views you have on your split screen, and the size of each view, so it’s highly customizable.
This split screen is one of the reasons we love this model for the price. With four different views (called “panels” in Lowrance’s jargon) on-screen at the same time, many amateur and hobbyist anglers won’t need another fish finder or GPS onboard.
There are a variety of ways you can customize your display. You can change the color palettes - perfect for people with color vision deficiency or folks who just want to change the aesthetics of the display a bit. You can also change how the symbols are used to show fish, and the colorline on your sonar. And, of course, you can zoom in and out with the touch of a button.
Oh, and flasher lovers? You can change the CHIRP sonar view so that it displays like a flasher instead of a chart. Great for if you decide to take this unit out ice fishing.
Now that we’ve had a chance to talk about the display, let’s look at the controls.
The interface on the Hook 7 is touchpad only. We like touchpad/touchscreen combos, but as soon as you throw a touchscreen on a fish finder/GPS plotter, the price skyrockets. We appreciate the decision to keep things touchpad only to lower costs.
The front controls are simple enough - arrows, a menu button, an exit button, zoom in/out buttons, and a cursor/waypoint button, as well as Home page and Power on/off buttons. You can customize your Home page with the split screens we described above, and the menus are simple enough to navigate.
Lowrance put in work to make sure that everything is nicely configured out of the box - there’s a video setup guide, and the unit is more or less plug and play. The feature-rich nature of the unit means that there are a lot of menus you can navigate. Don’t let that scare you - the unit is usable right out of the box, and you can tweak settings as you adjust to it.
Now we get to talk about sonar - and it’s going to be a little more interesting than our regular sonar conversations. There are a lot of anglers who love the sonar on this unit - and a lot of anglers who hate it. But before we get into all that, let’s talk about CHIRP.
For those who don’t know, CHIRP stands for Compressed High-Intensity Radiated Pulse. It’s basically a better way for transducers to send and receive frequencies. Instead of sending out a single frequency at, say, 175 kHz like traditional sonar would do, CHIRP sonar sends out a wave of frequencies varying from, for example, 150-200 kHz. This variation in frequencies allows the transducer to more accurately interpret the shape and size of objects. It also gives better target separation.
Both the SplitShot and TripleShot transducers come with CHIRP sonar. It’s 200 kHz CHIRP - which actually means it sends out a range of frequencies between 130 and 210 kHz. Their CHIRP sonar is also wide-angle, which Lowrance claims “delivers double the CHIRP sonar coverage of most fish finders”.
That may be true. There can, however, be too much of a good thing.
There are anglers who have complained that the can’t-be-switched-off wide-angle sonar causes problems. Narrow angles are useful. They’re handy when you’re fishing steep breaks. They’re useful when you don’t want to see all the fish around - just those that are directly below you. And they’re useful when you’re adjusting the position of your transducer, to make sure it’s set up correctly.
So while these transducers may provide the widest CHIRP coverage out there, that feature is both a bane and a boon.
One last note on sonar. There’s an ice fishing mode that adjusts how signals are interpreted to optimize the unit for - well, ice fishing! Just another feature that makes this unit a great all-in-one device for budget-conscious hobbyists.
If you’re an angler who hasn’t tried Imaging yet - try it. It’s good stuff. The Imaging on the HOOK² isn’t the best in the industry - there are some fish finders that give you frequencies in the MHz to do your imaging with.
There’s a rule when it comes to sonar frequencies - the higher the frequency, the less distance you’ll cover, but the sharper and more accurate the image you’ll get. That’s the case here. If you get the SplitShot transducer, you can DownScan at 455 or 800 kHz. You’ll get a clearer image of what’s happening below your boat at 800, but you’ll be able to see further down at 455.
If you go for the TripleShot transducer, you get the same DownScan features as the SplitShot, but you’ll also be able to SideScan at 455 or 800 kHz.
Imaging is extraordinarily helpful for both pre-fishing bodies of water and for finding fish. You’ll be able to clearly see structure all around your boat, making it easier to spot where fish might be hiding. You’ll even be able to see the fish themselves.
Most anglers find it easier to set up using Imaging, and then do their actual fishing using traditional sonar, but your preferences may vary. That’s one of the nice things about this device - with three different ways to locate fish, you can pick your poison (or, as the French would say, your poisson).
Now that we’ve had some time to talk about the fish finding capabilities of the HOOK², let’s talk about the mapping.
There are two different styles of mapping on the HOOK². The first is the GPS plotter, which is only available on the versions of the device that don’t come with any maps. These devices are known as HOOK² X 7 devices.
We’re glad the mapless versions have a GPS plotter - it makes it easier to navigate, and it allows you to create waypoints, routes, and trails, the same as you would if you had a map.
The problem is that the GPS plotter is more or less featureless - it’s not going to tell you when land masses are popping up, or the depth of the water you’re in. It tells you your GPS coordinates, where north is, and your boat’s orientation - not much else.
That’s why we recommend getting a model that comes with a map. You can always buy new maps for the unit, and the US/Can Nav+ map pack comes with a wide variety of different charts. These charts have land masses, water depth (with 5 meter intervals for contouring), and can even display tide information.
Best of all, SonarChart Live is enabled on the units that come with mapping. SonarChart allows you to create your own charts, using your transducer’s sonar to provide more accurate depth contouring. You can even share your charts with Navionics to improve their charts for other anglers.
As you can probably tell, we love sharing information about angling and technology, so we love SonarChart Live. If you’re as adventurous as we are, you’ll probably love it too. You’re literally charting uncharted depths!
Whether you get the GPS plotter or chart mode, you can overlay structure you’ve found with your SideScan and DownScan with your map. And, of course, you can navigate using waypoints, routes, and trails.
There’s really not a lot to say when it comes to networking. This unit doesn’t have it. It’s all sneakernet. That means you’ll have to remove your SD card, put on your sneakers, walk to the nearest computer, and insert your SD card into the computer if you want to transfer data.
This unit is pretty inexpensive. Networking features costs a lot of money. These are the kinds of trade-offs you’re making when you buy a unit that’s this feature-dense for this little money.
At the end of all of our reviews, we like to talk about at least one feature that stands out on the unit we’re talking about. Something that sets it apart from the competition. In the case of the HOOK², that feature is auto-tuning sonar.
Auto-tuning sonar is what makes the HOOK² a truly plug-and-play device. The unit will automatically determine not only the depth of water you’re in, but how sensitive the unit should be. This means that it actively detects and calibrates for noise that would do nothing but clutter up your screen.
You can, of course, manually set sensitivity and depth. The range of options the unit gives you is pretty remarkable - you can manually set both top and bottom depth ranges when you’re trying to fish only a certain part of the water column. You can fine tune the sensitivity, too.
The great thing about the unit is most anglers don’t even know that manual adjustments are an option, because they never need to adjust. The auto-tuned sonar features are really well made - hats off to Lowrance.
The HOOK² is a fantastic fish finder - for the cost. We wish it had networking. We wish it had a touchscreen. We have some problems with the transducer.
The thing is, we’re lucky. We’ve had the chance to play with some pretty pricey toys. When you compare this thing to the HDS Live Series, the HDS Live is going to come out on top.
But the HDS Live 7 costs well over $1000, while the HOOK² 7 costs well under $1000.
If you’ve never used a fish finder/GPS plotter before, and you want to try one out, but you’re not willing to invest a lot of money, the HOOK² is an absolutely fantastic unit. You get to plot charts. You get 4 views on screen at once. You get Imaging. You get CHIRP.
In other words, you’re getting most of the killer features from much higher price models - all at an affordable price. That makes the HOOK² a great buy.