The Lowrance Elite 3X fishfinder is one of the least expensive fishfinders available, there will be a lot of kayak fishermen who are looking for a basic, low cost fishfinder and the kayak fishermen who do not need a $500 fishfinder might be interested in the Elite 3X. The low price and color screen will be tempting, but there are a few things to consider.
By far, the biggest problem we had with the Elite 3X was not the fishfinder itself, but with the terrible Lowrance customer service. We emailed Lowrance at least a half dozen times asking for technical information about the Elite 3X, as well as the Elite 4X and 5X, but not a single email was answered. A company that does not respond to pre-sales inquiries is likely not going to respond to warranty or support requests either, so we got the least expensive model in case there were problems. No response by email, so we called the Navico(the corporation that owns Lorwance) call center a number of times both before and after buying the Elite 3X. The information they gave was useless, nearly always incorrect and they never miss a chance to try and up sell you on a more expensive fishfinder or accessory.
As far as the fishfinder itself, it is a nice looking, small fishfinder and the color screen is attractive, but it’s what’s inside that counts. We did a side by side, on the water comparison with two brand new Lowrance Elite 3X fishfinders and a ten year old Eagle CUDA 168. Lowrance(Navico) purchased Eagle and the Eagle line of products was absorbed into the Lowrance catalog. Overall, we felt the CUDA 168 was more accurate than the two Elite 3X fishfinders. That’s with the CUDA 168 transducer shooting through the hull and the Elite 3X transducer in the water. Both the Elite 3X and CUDA 168 are 200 kHz devices(the Elite 3X is 83/200 kHz) and use a Lowrance HST-WSU transducer. A very important point about the Elite 3X fishfinder is that the transducer that comes with the unit cannot be used to shoot through the hull of a kayak or boat, the Elite 3X transducer must be in the water or the fishfinder will not work.
Since we are doing an in-hull installation and the transducer that came with the fishfinder won’t work, what options do we have? The cheapest solution is a Lowrance Scupper Hole Transducer Mount. That leaves the transducer sticking out the bottom of the kayak. Since we kayak in an area with a lot of rocks, that’s out. Or, according to Lowrance Technical Support which has yet to give us correct information, we need to buy a different transducer, which costs just about as much as the fishfinder. Then, there’s the option we chose; to return the Elite 3X and try something else.
We were concerned about the Elite 3X’s ability to shoot through the kayak hull, that’s a big reason why we tried to contact Lowrance before we bought it. Before the sale, Lowrance phone representatives(we called twice on two different days), told us that the Elite 3X would, in fact, shoot through the hull of the kayak. What they didn’t tell us is that we needed to buy an additional $80 transducer to do it. We wasted a lot of time for no reason other than Lowrance being more concerned with getting us to buy a more expensive fishfinder than providing the basic information we required.
If you want an inexpensive, low power fishfinder and can mount the transducer in the water, the Lowrance Elite 3X is an option. Just hope you don’t have problems.