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There are so many imaging options and all the terminology can leave your head spinning. One of the most common comparisons I get asked is the difference between Humminbird 360 vs Mega 360 imaging.
The difference is really just better quality imaging due to a higher frequency transducer. It creates a better image which allows you to see more detailed structure, vegetation, and fish.
Without going too far into detail, the goal of this guide is to help you understand why you would choose one over the other and in what scenarios would you stick with the old Humminbird 360. Let’s get into it.
What is Humminbird 360?
Humminbird released their 360-degree imaging technology in 2012. For about six years, it was the industry standard in fish finding sonar. It was the first sonar of its kind to allow you to see a complete 360 degree image of everything around your boat.
Typically, fish finders provide either down or side imaging. Down imaging helps you see everything beneath the boat while side imaging helps you see everything on the sides of your boat in both directions.
Humminbird 360 took this to a whole new level only requiring one transducer to provide you with both types of imaging. It limits blind spots and helps ensure that you can see everything that is happening around the boat.
As for its limitations, at the time, we didn’t realize it because it was the best money could buy. As time goes on and we see more and more fish finding technology coming out, the 360 imaging falls behind.
The transducer used a 455 kHz frequency which produced a 360-degree image but the resolution was very low quality at best. Everything seemingly “melted together” on the screen so it was hard to tell the difference between structure, vegetation, and fish.
If you take a look at the image above, you’ll see more of what I’m talking about. It’s nearly impossible to make out much of what you’re seeing because everything’s so blurry and fuzzy.
Again, at the time, this was awesome technology and we were perfectly happy to have it.
What is Humminbird Mega 360?
In comes Mega 360 in 2018. This fish finding sonar uses a 1200 kHz wavelength which is much higher than its predecessor. The result is a higher quality image and more detail in what you see.
You can now see underwater images in great detail allowing you to notice subtle differences such as changes in structure, vegetation, brush piles, stumps, and other sunken treasures. The Mega 360 imaging also works a lot better in shallow water.
At depths of less than 100 feet, you will see a resolution that meets the current standard in imaging technology.
Here is an image very similar to the previous Humminbird 360 sonar. Look at the difference in resolution and crispness. You can actually see the trees and the texture of the bottom. The quality is unmatched and to this day is still some of the best that manufacturers can offer.
Connecting Your Fish Finders
Another significant 360 vs mega 360 difference is the way you connect your fish finder. The traditional Humminbird 360 transducer connects to your unit via ethernet cable and the more modern transducers have their own cable to connect to the unit.
This is extremely important to understand because your new Mega 360 transducer may not be compatible with an older generation fish finder.
Also, keep in mind that Humminbird has discontinued the traditional 360 imaging transducer so you can’t buy it anymore. If you have an old fish finder you’ll want to make sure it’s compatible with the new Mega 360 transducer.
Here is a list of Humminbird 360 compatible units:
- Apex 13
- Apex 16
- Apex 19
- Solix 10
- Solix 12
- Solix 15
- Helix 8
- Helix 9
- Helix 10
- Helix 12
- Helix 15
As for mounting, most of the units you purchase online mount to your trolling motor using the Minn Kota Ultrex kit. This is likely due to some cooperative sponsorship but there are plenty of ways to rig it to mount to whatever trolling motor you use.
Advantages of Choosing Humminbird Mega 360 Imaging
By this point, you should realize that the Mega 360 is well worth it. The transducer is the industry standard in fish finding technology and it’s compatible with some of the most popular units like the Humminbird Helix 10.
Let’s take a look at some of its best features.
Coverage refers to the amount of area that your fish finder will cover. Some fish finders have a large range while others don’t. The Mega 360 offers 360-degree imaging up to 150 feet in any direction making it one of the best on the market today.
This means that you’ll see everything including structure, brush, fish, and vegetation for 150 feet on all sides of the boat.
For those who aren’t tech-savvy, upgrading to a newer fish finder transducer is a little intimidating. The best thing about the Mega 360 is that it doesn’t require much besides a new installation.
Your unit will still be the same on-screen so you can use the same fish finder as long as it’s from one of the compatible models mentioned above.
I’m a fan of the fact that you can actually reduce the 360 imaging to 90 or 180 degrees if you don’t need to see on all sides of the boat. This will increase the refresh rate meaning you’ll get a more live view at what’s going on beneath you.
In fact, pro angler Chris Zaldain uses Mega 360 imaging and he weighed in during an interview with The Bass University. He said,
“I use Humminbird 360 with MEGA Imaging…Basically, MEGA 360 is an underwater radar. So it’s a high-frequency sonar pinging that happens 360 degrees all around the boat…When you box that fish offshore, you hop up to the front of the boat, and the wind may have moved the bow, but just by looking down at your screen you know its exact angle so there’s no wasted cast. It shows every detail in every direction…No one else has this 360 degrees technology.”– Pro Angler Chris Zaldain
Mega 360 vs Garmin Livescope
Garmin Livescope is really the only competing technology that can stack up against Mega 360. The elephant in the room is the fact that the Livescope is actually live sonar. This means that there is no refreshing and the Garmin fish finder provides you with the image live as you’re moving around the water.
The downside is that it’s not a 360-degree image like the Mega 360. You can only use it for down or side imaging.
That said, Garmin Livescope does have something called “perspective mode” which requires you to purchase a different mount. This helps combine both down and side imaging at the same time but the range is limited to 20 feet.
Humminbird also has something called Mega Live which is their version of the Livescope but the image quality suffers and most anglers wouldn’t recommend it.
As for price, they’re about the same. The price can fluctuate so it could be different when you read this but the price difference between the two is $100 or less.
What more can you say? Comparing the Humminbird 360 vs Mega 360 is like comparing Chicago to New York style pizza. Don’t come after me Chicago natives but NY style pizza cannot be topped!
Anyway, you can’t get the original Humminbird transducer anymore unless you find an independent seller in your local area. I wasn’t even able to find them on eBay.
If we’re thinking forward, I’d suggest you get the Mega 360 because this technology will be around for a while and it’s the best that money can buy.
Click here to see current prices on Mega 360 imaging from Humminbird.