Feature-packed and highly anticipated, we had a chance to put one of Garmin’s premier ice fishing bundles to the test — the Pantoptix LiveScope Plus. This unit gives you nearly real-time imaging of fish and structures below the ice, along with a plethora of features and technology to increase your odds of finding and landing more fish through that icy portal. At a pretty premium price that can be tough to stomach, we were giddy to get it on the water and judge its worth.
So, does the sticker shock subside when the features are put to the test?
In short: The Garmin Panoptix LiveScope ($3,250) takes ice fishing technology to another level. Whether fishing a well-known lake or going to a brand-new body of water, you can be confident that you’ll spot fish and increase your chances of landing them. The thing is packed with tons of bells and whistles, yet is simple to operate right out of the box — something everyone can appreciate.
- Long battery life (lithium-ion)
- Easy to set up and get fishing right away
- Locating fish is quick and simple
- Logical and comprehensive interface
- The portable carrying case is a nice touch
- Expensive, at over $3,000 you have to put hours in on the ice to justify the expense
- Not super mobile; there's a tradeoff for the technology and big screen, which can be cumbersome to “run and gun” on the ice
- The transducer and mount are large enough that fishing from the same hole can be tough
Garmin Panoptix LiveScope Plus Review
While there’s a boatload of technology and information about how the sonar pings work underwater, what most anglers really want to know is how the unit will help them spot more fish under the ice. The Garmin Panoptix LiveScope is made to provide a constant feed from real-time scanning sonar pings, meaning that you get detailed views of fish, their movement, and structure below the ice without any delays. If the fish are large enough, you can even see their fins and the way they turn toward or away from your bait.
The Garmin LiveScope Plus system changed my ice fishing in two major ways. First, it makes locating fish significantly easier. I find myself drilling fewer holes and setting up shop much quicker than I did with a traditional transducer setup.
Second, once set up, the LiveScope provides incredible real-time feedback so you can tell immediately what’s making the fish respond and decide how to adjust your presentation. It isn’t a matter of if I find fish, but when I find fish.
LiveScope Forward and Down
Not enough can be said about the value of the “LiveScope Forward” feature on this unit. Stated simply, you drop the LiveScope Plus transducer into the first hole you drill and put it in “forward” mode. At that point, the unit is providing imaging of what is out in front of you or wherever you are facing the sonar.
The best part? The sonar provides detailed imaging with 200 feet of range. You can drill one single hole and get a clear 360-degree view of everything around you for 200 feet. This makes sighting schools of fish, finding structure, and generally narrowing in on your setup spot a breeze. Once you zero in on the honey hole, you change to “LiveScope Down,” and you get a beautiful image of everything below you.
Once you’ve found your spot, the LiveScope shines again with its downward imaging. The sonar shows live sonar images of what’s happening below the ice. The imaging is so clear you can watch how the fish respond to your jig. You can see the fish turning away from your jig in real-time and adjust your presentation for the next.
I had read plenty about this ice fishing kit, but it is remarkable to experience it in person. The information provided in real-time is invaluable and aids in figuring out what’s going to produce more bites. The latest kit from Garmin has “improved sonar clarity, transducer sensitivity, and target separation.”
While I can’t speak to previous models, I can speak to the clear imaging. There are very, very little noise or sonar artifacts on screen. My jig stands out, and it’s easy to see larger fish within the school to target.
The Garmin LiveScope Plus kit has a large, 9-inch ECHOMAP UHD 93sv combo touchscreen display. Easily lock in on fish, mark hot spots, or change settings on the fly. It even works well with touchscreen-compatible gloves, in my experience. The unit comes preloaded with LakeVü g3 maps that are integrated with Garmin and Navionics data, so you can connect your Navionics accounts to share information.
One of my favorite features is the option to create custom pages that combine the LiveScope Plus sonar, flasher, map, or other options on your display. With the user-friendly interface, you can set favorites to quickly snap between views, change colors, update gain and zoom, and so much more. For how much technology is packed into this unit, Garmin has done an exceptional job of making the user interface and experience very straightforward and simple to use.
While it’s a relatively pedestrian feature, I also love how easy it is to adjust the colors of your display. I like to adjust it based on whether I’m fishing in daylight, darkness, in a shelter, with a glowing-red heater close by, etc. With just a few taps on the touchscreen, you can select a number of colors and other display options.
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Garmin LiveScope Panoptix Plus: Conclusion
Is the Garmin LiveScope Plus worth it? The short answer is yes. If you’re an avid ice angler and want to find more fish, more often … you won’t be disappointed. You’ll find more fish while drilling fewer holes. And, while it comes at a price, you can rest assured that it will make your fish-finding experience simpler and more successful.
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