Humminbird Mega 360 Vs Garmin LiveScope (Key Differences Explained)
UPDATED 10 MAY 2023
by Robert Ceran
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Are you thinking about getting Mega 360 or LiveScope for your boat?
While both LiveScope and Mega 360 are ground breaking sonar technologies that have helped millions of anglers put more fish in the boat, you’re probably wondering, what are their differences and which one is better for you?
For this article we tested Mega 360 and LiveScope transducers side by side, and will discuss the results of our testing. We’ll also cover their key strengths and main differences, so you can decide which of these sonars is right for you.
Humminbird Mega 360 vs LiveScope: which is better?
While Humminbird Mega 360 and Garmin LiveScope have some similarities, they are fundamentally different sonar technologies, and our testing showed that each comes with different strengths and weaknesses.
While Mega 360 imaging allows you to get a highly accurate structure scan 360 degrees all the way around your boat, it is not a live sonar.
Garmin LiveScope, on the other hand, is a great live sonar that lets you follow fish and your lure in real time, but it only covers 135 degrees of water in front of you, instead of 360 degrees.
Given their differences and complimentary strengths, our testing showed that the best option is actually to use both LiveScope and Mega 360 imaging together on your boat.
However, if you’re in a situation where you have to choose only one of them, I’ll walk you through their respective pros and cons in full detail, so you can choose the right one for your purposes.
Garmin LiveScope vs Humminbird Mega 360 – key specs compared
|Garmin LiveScope System
|Humminbird Mega 360
|530 - 1100 kHz
|Trolling motor or pole mount
|Trolling motor or pole mount
The table above compares the key specs of Mega 360 vs LiveScope.
Now let’s dive deeper into the differences between these two sonar technologies revealed by our testing, and compare their strengths and weaknesses in more detail.
LiveScope perspective mode vs Mega 360 imaging – similarities and differences
While LiveScope was originally designed as a forward and downward facing sonar, the introduction of a perspective mount by Garmin now allows you to rotate the LiveScope transducer onto its side, which enables you to scan a broad area in front of the transducer, similar to the Mega 360 transducer.
Our testing showed that both LiveScope perspective mode and Mega 360 imaging are ideal for fishing in shallow water, as they help you to view a large area close to your boat. However, there are also two key differences between LiveScope perspective mode and Mega 360 imaging.
When we put it to the test, LiveScope perspective mode allowed us to view an area of 135 degrees in front of the transducer, while Mega 360 imaging allowed us to view a full 360 degrees, which is all the way around the boat, and thus has a bigger coverage.
On the other hand, LiveScope is a live sonar that allows you to see fish as they move around in real time, and it can even show you your lure or bait in the water, revealing how the fish react to your lure.
Is Humminbird Mega 360 a live sonar?
No, Humminbird Mega 360 is not a live sonar, and provides historical sonar data that is refreshed 1 to 6 times per minute.
During testing, we found that increasing the refresh rate of Mega 360 to its maximum rate can help to track moving objects such as fish, but this is not recommended as it also decreases the image quality a lot.
This is because the refresh rate is connected to the speed of rotation of the Mega 360 transducer inside its pod. A higher rotation speed results in faster refresh rate, but also in lower object resolution.
While testing, we found that a Mega 360 refresh rate of 2 to 3 times per minute generates high quality images, while still keeping you up to date with important changes, such as a school of fish moving into the area around your boat.
So it’s important to see Mega 360 for what it is: a high quality structure scanning sonar that enables you to get extremely detailed views of underwater structure in a 360 degree radius around your boat.
However, since Mega 360 is not a live sonar, you can’t use it to follow your lure, or the movements of fish in real time.
If you’re currently thinking about getting 360 imaging for your boat, check out our list of Humminbird 360 compatible units.
Does Humminbird have anything like LiveScope?
Yes, Humminbird released Mega Live in early 2021, which is a live sonar similar to LiveScope. Just like LiveScope, it can be used either as a forward and downward facing sonar, or it can be turned onto its side (which is called scout mode for Mega 360).
Similar to perspective mode, scout mode allows you to cover a wide area of 120 degrees in front of your boat.
However, our tests showed that the quality of the live sonar imaging produced by Mega Live is not quite as good as that of Garmin LiveScope, which is currently still the best live sonar on the market.
For a detailed comparison of these two live sonars, check out our article comparing Humminbird Mega Live vs Garmin LiveScope.
Does Garmin have 360 imaging?
No, Garmin currently doesn’t make their own version of 360 imaging, and while it is expected that they are planning to release their own 360 imaging sonar, Humminbird is currently the only company that provides a 360 imaging sonar.
So if you want to stick to just one fish finder brand on your boat, and want to include both live sonar and 360 imaging, Humminbird is the only brand that provides both of these.
This means you have the option of running a 100% Humminbird setup on your boat that covers all types of sonar, including 2D sonar, side imaging, down imaging, 360 imaging, and live sonar.
If you’re using a Lowrance Ghost trolling motor on your boat, you may also be interested in our article on how good is Lowrance Ghost 360?
Can you run Mega 360 and LiveScope together?
Yes, you can definitely run both Mega 360 and LiveScope together on your boat, and this is a great way to take advantage of the strengths of both types of sonar at the same time.
Our test revealed that the best way to do this is by slowly idling around while using the Mega 360 to identify promising underwater structures, such as tree stumps, laydowns, brush piles, etc..
In many cases you’ll be able to see fish holding close to the structure on your Mega 360 screen, which then makes it worthwhile investigating more closely with LiveScope in forward and downward facing mode.
When you see fish on your LiveScope, you can then target them with very specific casts, and observe their reaction to your lure on the LiveScope.
During testing we found that this is a killer combination bringing together the key strength of Mega 360 (the ability to provide highly accurate structure scans), with the key strength of LiveScope (the ability to watch fish in real time as you target them).
Not surprisingly, due to the power of this combination, professional bass anglers like John Crews have both LiveScope and Mega 360 transducers mounted on their trolling motor at the same time.
Gear and methods used for testing
For consistent testing results, we tested both transducers reviewed above on a Ranger Z520R bass boat. We mounted the LiveScope transducer on a MotorGuide Xi5 trolling motor, and the Mega 360 transducer on the pole mount provided by Humminbird. To make sure we could compare their performance under similar conditions, we tested both transducers on the same day on Lake Tarpon. We performed testing by imaging schools of panfish and largemouth bass relating to structure in 3 to 18 feet of water.