I remember what it was like before I bought my first fish finder. It wasn’t uncommon for me to sit around for hours on a lake that was filled with feisty fish. I’d blindly cast my lures all over the place, but the majority of my casts were fruitless.
Once I got my first fish finder, that all changed. It wasn’t a great unit. It didn’t have photo-realistic sonar or anything like that. However, just having that basic sonar unit increased my fishing efficiency ten-fold.
If you’re experiencing some of those same issues, you might want to take a look at my Lowrance Hook 3x review.
Things To Consider
Fish finders are necessary parts of any angler’s kit, but there are a lot of different types of fish finders out there, and if you’re not careful, you can get something that doesn’t suit your style of fishing.
Here are a few things to keep in mind.
Do not rush out to buy a fish finder that costs several hundred dollars if you just learned how to cast your rod. That’s entirely pointless.
The more expensive models are great if you’re an advanced fishermen. They give you all of the information that you could possibly need to locate and catch fish. However, they’re very complex. A beginner can easily get confused by the vast array of features and buttons that expensive fish finders have.
If you’re a beginner, try to stick to a small and portable unit that just has the features you need to find fish. Most of them cost around $100, and they’re not too much of an investment if you decide that you need something else when you learn a little more about fishing.
The Water You Fish In
Different fish finders behave differently in certain types of water. Depending on what you buy, you might be able to scan all the way to the bottom of your local lake in the summer, but you might not be able to scan half of the water column in the winter. Temperature affects fish finders quite a bit.
The salinity of the water you’re fishing in is also a big factor. Some are designed to work better in saltwater environments, and some are designed to work better in freshwater environments.
Your Preferred Style Of Fishing
Are you the type of fisherman who likes to bounce rubber worms along the banks, or are you the type of fisherman who enjoys to sink whole bluegill rigs to the bottom of the lake to catch catfish? You should figure that out quickly. A lot of fish finders are designed to excel at one or the other, but they usually don’t excel at both.
Lowrance Hook 3x: An Overview
The Hook 3x is designed with new fishermen in mind. It’s not too fancy, but it’ll handle most fishing situations with ease, and it doesn’t take long to get used to it.
It’s not designed to be an elite fisherman’s best friend. It pretty much tells you where fish are, what the water temperature is, and what depth you should fish at. That’s everything that a beginner or casual fisherman needs to know without overwhelming them with more advanced information.
With that being said, it can also function as a great backup option if you are an elite fisherman, and it works at higher speeds than most other fish finders. So, if you want something to use while you’re speeding around the lake, you can use the Hook 3x for that, and then switch over to your more advanced fish finder once you slow down.
Features Of The Hook 3x
Now, you know who and what the Hook 3x is best for, but now it’s time to talk about the features that come with it. For a basic unit, it actually has some relatively advanced features. So, let’s dig in, and let’s find out what this bad boy can do.
The display on the Hook 3x is fairly decent. The screen itself is lit up to make it more visible in low-light or bright conditions, and it has a pretty high resolution. However, the information displayed is mostly made up of low-resolution heat maps. Those are fine for figuring out what’s going on beneath you, but they’re not as easy to read as photo-realistic images. Fish are also automatically separated to make it easier for you to see what you’re looking at.
The Hook 3x has two different sonar frequencies that you can switch between at will. I love this feature. There have been a lot of situations where my fish finder’s frequency couldn’t quite distinguish two fish from another, or it couldn’t see something because its sonar frequency was experiencing interference from something else in the area. If I had a different frequency to choose from, I would have been able to solve those issues.
The signal processing feature on the Hook 3x automatically adjusts the system’s sonar returns to make it easier to read them. With other sonar systems, you have to manually flip through different settings pretty frequently as you move around the lake.
This automatic system isn’t perfect, but it makes it a lot easier for beginners to use it without having to fuss with settings nonstop. Experienced fishermen will probably prefer to change their own settings. You can do a lot more with your fish finder once you learn how to do that.
Do you get tired of driving your boat at 15 miles per hour to keep your fish finder from freaking out? I certainly do. Luckily, the Hook 3x can properly scan the water even if you’re moving at 75 miles per hour.
More advanced fish finders have problems doing that because they have to collect and process so much information. So, this is a feature that actually benefits from the Hook 3x’s simplicity.
Water temperature is probably one of the biggest factors in whether or not fish will actually bite. The Hook 3x has a built-in thermometer that keeps you up to date on the water’s temperature. You can use it to determine whether it’s even worth fishing on a given day, or you can use it to know when you have to adjust your approach to actually catch something.
The thermometer works via signals that it bounces off of the water. So, it’ll work regardless of where you mount it on your boat.
After scouring the internet to see what other anglers think about the Hook 3x, I noticed that the vast majority of users love this thing due to its reliability and easy installation process.
Most Hook 3x users have used it on their aluminum boats and other small fishing vessels. Its compact size and versatile mounting system makes it perfect for that application.
The best part is that most people haven’t had a problem with its display. I mentioned in my review that the display is fairly old-fashioned, and it can be hard to look at if you’re used to the photo-realistic displays that are often found on high-end fish finders. Luckily, that hasn’t been a problem for other anglers, and if you haven’t spent years using high-end fish finders, you should enjoy the display just as much as they do.
Alternatives to the Lowrance Hook 3x
The Hook 3x isn’t going to appeal to everyone. It’s true that it’s a great option for new fishermen, but it’s always good to have a few alternatives to look at. Here are three that I think will work just as well as the Hook 3x.
#1 Garmin Striker 4
The Striker 4 is similar to the Hook 3x, and it’s also a good option for beginners. However, the Striker 4 has a couple of upgraded features if you’re looking for something a little better.
First, the Striker 4 has CHIRP sonar instead of the traditional sonar system that the Hook 3x uses. That allows it to provide more information than the Hook 3x, and its sonar returns look a lot better. It also benefits from a more advanced map system, and it’s easier to mount and dismount.
If you’re interested, you can check out the Striker 4 at this link.
#2 Lucky Handheld
LUCKY Handheld is probably the cheapest unit you’re going to find. It costs less than $40, and it’s not a bad option for beginners. I will say that all of the Lucky’s features are a little more basic than what you get with the Hook 3x, but they’re still good enough to help you learn how to use a fish finder without spending a lot of money.
LUCKY doesn’t really outshine the Hook 3x in any categories besides its versatility and price. LUCKY is a portable fish finder, and it’s designed to be carried around while you fish. It’s also a lot cheaper than the Hook 3x. Other than that, all of its features are pretty basic, and I only recommend it to newer fishermen.
You can take a closer look at the Lucky Handheld here
#3 Humminbird Helix 5
If the Hook 3x is too simplistic for you, and you think you can handle a little more complexity, you can’t go wrong with the Helix 5. It’s another compact fish finder that is easy for beginners to use, but it’s far more advanced.
First, the sonar returns are much higher quality on the Helix 5, and the screen is a bit larger. It also has a map system that is much more useful than the one on the Hook 3x. However, you’ll have to spend almost twice as much to get your hands on the Helix 5. So, consider your budget before you decide to buy it over the Hook 3x.
If you want to try the Helix 5 out for yourself, you can find it here.
The Hook 3x isn’t the best fish finder on the market, but as you can tell from my Lowrance Hook 3x review, it’s the perfect option for a beginner. It’ll point the fish out to you, scan the water’s temperature, and work regardless of what speeds you travel at. It’ll also automatically adjust its own settings, and that makes it even easier for beginners to use.
If you’re interested in picking up the Hook 3x to experience how much a high-quality fish finder can affect your fishing, you can click here.