LakeMaster Vs LakeMaster Plus Vs SmartStrike (What Are The Differences?)
UPDATED 13 MAY 2023
by Robert Ceran
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Humminbird LakeMaster maps provide some of the best lake maps currently available to anglers in North America.
The only problem with this is that you have to choose between 3 different LakeMaster chips, which each come with their own set of strengths and weaknesses.
For this article my team and I tested the LakeMaster vs LakeMaster Plus vs Smartstrike mapping chips and compared them side by side, so you can decide which one is right for you.
LakeMaster vs LakeMaster Plus vs SmartStrike compared side by side
The table above compares the key features that distinguish the LakeMaster, LakeMaster Plus, and SmartStrike chips that we tested.
Bottom line: Our testing revealed that while all 3 LakeMaster chips come with the same basic mapping data for over 10,000 lakes in the US and Canada, LakeMaster Plus in addition also provides satellite overlay functionality, while SmartStrike in addition also provides species search functionality for some of the lakes.
Now let’s compare all 3 LakeMaster chips directly with each other in full detail, and look at the distinct features each of them provides.
What is the difference between LakeMaster and LakeMaster Plus?
When we put them to the test, we found that the difference between LakeMaster and LakeMaster Plus is that the latter provides aerial satellite images of all lakes in addition to the lake maps, as well the ability to overlay the satellite images on top of the mapping data.
Apart from this difference, both of these LakeMaster chips have identical mapping data covering more than 10,000 lakes in North America (of which 2,200 are in high definition resolution).
During our testing, we found that the great thing about the aerial photographs provided by LakeMaster Plus is that they enable you to see additional details that are not visible on the lake maps, such as docks, creek beds, underwater rock piles, weed lines, etcetera.
Also, by overlaying the aerial images on top of the maps, our tests showed that you can get a much better understanding of lake topography than if you were using either feature on its own.
So if you’re currently comparing LakeMaster vs LakeMaster Plus, it’s well worth the extra dollars to get access to the satellite overlay functionality.
What is the difference between LakeMaster vs SmartStrike?
The difference between LakeMaster and Smartstrike is that the latter provides an additional feature called species search.
When we put it to the test, we found that this feature allows you to enter the name of the species that you want to target, as well as other relevant information, including time of year, time of day, temperature, and so on.
Based on the information that you enter into SmartStrike, it will then highlight the areas of the lake where you can expect to find the best opportunities to catch that particular fish species under those specific conditions.
Our testing showed that this functionality of SmartStrike is especially useful on large lakes that you don’t know very well, as it will help you to zoom in on the most promising fishing spots right away, without wasting time searching around the lake.
Apart from the species search feature, SmartStrike comes with the same mapping data as the standard LakeMaster chip, which covers over 10,000 lakes in North America (of which 2,200 are in HD resolution).
When comparing LakeMaster vs Smartstrike, keep in mind that the species search feature on SmartStrike is only available for lakes that have HD resolution mapping data, which corresponds to about 2,200 lakes out of the total 10,000 plus that are covered by LakeMaster chips.
So if your specific location is not covered in HD, there is no difference between the two options, and you’re just as well off with the regular LakeMaster chip.
What is the difference between LakeMaster Plus and SmartStrike?
While LakeMaster Plus comes with satellite images plus overlay functionality, SmartStrike comes with species search functionality, which enables you to quickly identify the best locations to target specific species.
This works by utilizing what we know about the biology of a specific fish species, and combines that with information on season, time of day, and so on, to pinpoint the ideal locations where that particular fish species is likely to be found at a specific time.
Apart from these two differences, our testing showed that both of these chips come with the same mapping data as the regular LakeMaster chip.
Unfortunately, it’s currently not possible to get a LakeMaster chip that combines all of the features of SmartStrike and LakeMaster Plus.
Now let’s take a closer look at the 3 LakeMaster chips, to get a better sense of what they each bring to the table.
LakeMaster is the basic Humminbird mapping chip that covers more than 10,000 lakes in the USA and Canada.
And while most of these lakes are covered with standard definition detail (with 3’ to 5’ contour lines), about 2,200 of them are covered with high definition detail (with 1’ contour lines).
When we put it to the test, we found that one the strengths of the LakeMaster chip is its ability to adjust for changes in water levels, which is extremely useful on reservoirs, as well as the ability to highlight specific depth ranges that you want to target.
- Highlight depth range
- Shallow water highlight
- Water level offset
LakeMaster Plus review
The LakeMaster Plus chip builds on the strengths of the regular LakeMaster chip, but in addition provides aerial satellite views of all the lakes, which can be overlaid on the mapping data.
The great thing about satellite images is that they show features that are not visible in the standard maps, including docks, creeks and shore landmarks, and even some underwater features, such as mud lines and brush piles in shallow water.
Our testing revealed that by combining this information with the contour line maps, you can get incredibly detailed information about the locations you’re fishing in, giving you an edge over standard mapping views.
- All the same features as LakeMaster
- Satellite images of all lakes
- Ability to overlay aerial photographs with mapping data
The SmartStrike chip provides a revolutionary new feature called species search, which uses AI to analyze all available data for you in order to identify the best locations to target specific fish species.
This feature works by utilizing what is known about the biology of specific fish species, and combines that with additional information about the season, weather, and so on, to pinpoint the ideal locations where that particular fish species is likely to be found at a specific time.
Our testing team found that the species search feature of SmartStrike is extremely useful when fishing on a large body of water for the first time, as it literally allows you to find fish holding locations within minutes, instead of wasting endless hours looking for the right spots.
- All the same features as LakeMaster
- Species search functionality helps to find fish quickly
- Advanced search filters to improve search results even more
What are the best lakemaps for Humminbird?
The best lakemaps for Humminbird are high definition maps on LakeMaster available for about 2,200 lakes in US and Canada.
When we put it to the test, we found that you can improve these lake maps even more by using them with LakeMaster Plus, which allows you to overlay the HD maps with satellite images, or by using them with SmartStrike, which allows you to identify the best locations for targeting specific species.
Does LakeMaster Plus have SmartStrike?
No, LakeMaster Plus does not have SmartStrike functionality. If you want to use the features of both chips, the only way to do this is to get a SmartStrike chip, and use it in parallel to your LakeMaster Plus chip.
Does SmartStrike have satellite overlay?
No, SmartStrike does not have satellite overlay, which is a feature only available on LakeMaster Plus.
Humminbird has not yet made a LakeMaster chip that combines both satellite overlay and species search functionality in one package.
Hopefully, they will do this soon, so you don’t have to worry about choosing between the two features.
Can LakeMaster chips be updated?
No, LakeMaster chips can’t be updated. This means that if Humminbird adds more lakes or more mapping details to your location, the only way to get access to this is by buying a new chip.
Because of this a popular strategy among many anglers is to sell their LakeMaster chip after one year, in order to replace it with a new one that is up to date.
Can you view LakeMaster maps online?
No, you can’t view LakeMaster maps online. However, you can view the list of lakes that are covered on the Humminbird website, and are able to see which lakes are mapped with SD resolution (3’ to 5’ contours), and which lakes are mapped with HD resolution (1’ to 3’ contours).
If a particular lake is covered with HD resolution, you can be sure that the LakeMaster map will provide top notch mapping information for your location, even without being able to view it online.
This concludes our review comparing LakeMaster vs LakeMaster Plus vs SmartStrike mapping chips.
Hopefully this will help you to decide which features you are looking for, and which one is best for you.
Methods and gear used for testing
For consistent testing results we tested all three mapping chips on the same lakes to compare them directly. We used each chip with a Lowrance HDS Pro 12 fish finder on a Ranger Z520R bass boat, and this allowed us to compare the mapping quality of all three softwares side by side in the same locations.