By now, most anglers have at least seen video clips of, if not actually viewed, Garmin PanOptix LiveScope sonar returns.
This technology is truly amazing to watch and, in skilled hands, increases angler efficiency.
The major difference between LiveScope and non-LiveScope sonar technology is the way the sensed data is portrayed on the sonar unit’s screen.
On non-LiveScope units, an entire column of pixels (for 2D and down-imaging) or an entire row of pixels (for side-imaging) is printed at one time, then remains unchanged over the entire duration of time it takes for that row or column of data to march off the screen. Thus, the only real-time data displayed is found at the extreme right of the screen (for 2D and down-imaging) or the extreme top of the screen (for side-imaging).
With LiveScope, every single pixel on the entire screen refreshes many times per second, hence the image takes on a video-like quality resembling a sonogram.
My first LiveScope experience came while using a GPSMAP 1042xsv Touch unit on loan to me from Garmin shortly after the technology was introduced at the 2018 ICAST show in Florida while I awaited manufacture and delivery of a larger GPSMAP 1242xsv.
Because I focus primarily on white bass and hybrid striped bass, many of my applications are vertical.
Because I can easily track my vertical presentations in real time, as well as see fish response to it, I can be more efficient with my presentations.
For example, if fish are actively feeding and moving about a few feet off the bottom, instead of rhythmically jigging, I can hold my bait on bottom when no fish show directly beneath me, then choose the exact moment to raise the bait off the bottom up to passing fish as I see a school pass from left to right or right to left on the screen.
All of this has been possible since the summer of 2018. In March of this year, Garmin put a new spin on this same LiveScope technology.
Initially, LiveScope covered an elliptically shaped area of bottom. A sonar cone approximately 150-degrees from front to rear of the transducer and approximately 20 degrees from side to side of the transducer created this sensed area.
A downward viewing mode split this 150 degrees roughly in half, viewing from directly downward, out 75 degrees to both the front and rear. Forward viewing mode splits this 150 degrees such that approximately 70 percent of the coverage was aimed forward, with the balance aimed rearward.
Now, by simply modifying the transducer bracket, LiveScope is able to be rotated 90 degrees, thus viewing outward in a horizontal plane to see around the boat, not just beneath the boat.
This transducer is intended to be mounted on the shaft of a trolling motor, but as discussed in a separate article on the matter in this column, a separately deployable, steerable pole is preferred so the transducer may be aimed at a desired target at any angle, and not be limited to the direction the trolling motor is pointing.
This new mode using the same LiveScope transducer is called Perspective Mode.
In Perspective Mode, the 150-degree coverage fans out from 75 degrees to the left of center, to 75 degrees to the right of center, with center being the direction the tranducer is aimed. The 20-degree coverage includes from the lake bottom upward. I installed the modified bracket and did the necessary software update to enable Perspective Mode just last week.
As with downward mode and forward mode, ongoing experimentation and experience will generate new, useful applications for this new horizontally oriented mode.
I immediately noticed that sensing into a slope provided better imagery than did sensing downslope, as is the case with side-imaging.
I also noted that use in under 15 feet of water provided better quality images than those collected in water deeper than that. Garmin literature indicates that Perspective Mode is able to sense down to 50 feet.
As a practical matter, even if an angler upgraded to the Perspective Mode transducer bracket but never used Perspective Mode, he or she would still benefit in at least two ways.
First, the new bracket does not make use of a beveled attachment surface where the transducer housing contacts the bracket. Formerly, there was a manufactured, beveled surface intended to aim the sonar beam away from the propeller shaft housing of the trolling motor, so LiveScope would sense presentations better on whichever side of the trolling motor the transducer was mounted on. This is no longer the case, so, that change is a welcomed one.
Additionally, there is a set of decals included with the new transducer bracket. Markings on the decal correspond with witness marks on the bracket which positively indicate the mode the transducer is set to: Forward Mode, Downward Mode or Perspective Mode.
As before, the user must manually grasp the transducer to change from mode to mode.
In my on-the-water sonar training classes, I witnessed numerous students who came to their sessions with their transducers mounted backward and/or with their sonar unit set to a mode other than the mode the tranducer was in.
The software update automatically senses the transducer’s orientation and selects the correct mode for the user.
The suggested retail price on this transducer bracket is right around $100, and the software update is free.