How to Use a Fish Finder
Last Updated on March 11, 2022 by Bruce
A fish finder is a piece of fishing equipment that uses sonar to detect fish underwater. They are available in both portable and mounted versions, and can be used in fresh or saltwater. Fishfinders are an essential piece of gear for any fisherman and can help you catch more fish.
Do you love fishing but hate the guesswork?
A fish finder can take all of the guesswork out of finding fish. By understanding how to read the images created by a fish finder, you can locate and catch more fish than ever before.
With the help of a fish finder, you will be able to spend more time fishing and less time wandering around aimlessly. These devices are designed to help you catch more fish, and they work better than ever before.
What is a fish finder and what are its main components?
A fish finder is a piece of electronic equipment that uses imaging sonar functions to detect and pinpoint the location of fish underwater. They can be used in fresh or saltwater and can accurately show you where fish are located. The device may include a traditional keypad, but many newer models feature touchscreen controls for simpler access. Fish finders also come in both wired and wireless varieties.
- A transducer is the part of the fish finder that sends out sonar waves, then receives them when they bounce off of an object or fish. This part has to be installed below the water’s surface, so it must be attached to your boat with a device called a transom mount.
- The display unit is the part that transmits images to a small screen on your dashboard. The quality of these transmissions will vary based on water conditions and the part of the world you are fishing in, but most units can transmit clear images from as far as 800 feet away.
What types of fish finders are available?
You have a few choices when it comes to choosing the best fish finders. If you are looking to save a little money and don’t need all of the bells and whistles, a handheld model may be for you. These devices can easily fit in your pocket or on your belt so they are very portable.
If you plan to use your fish finder frequently and more than one person will be using it, you should consider a mounted unit. These can be attached to your boat or vehicle and most models include multiple displays so that more than one person can view the images at once.
How To Find Fish With a Fish Finder
- Keep your boat stable and don’t move abruptly. The sonar waves need some time to travel through the water, so you will receive accurate readings if the device can make them uninterruptedly.
- Fish are often seen as small dots on the display. This can help you learn how to identify different aquatic species, as you should be able to differentiate between a fish and other objects on the screen if you know what characteristics to look for.
- When you are fishing in freshwater, make sure the transducer is set to freshwater mode. If it is not, readings may become inaccurate and your sonar will detect objects that are not fish. If you are fishing in saltwater, remember to switch your transducer back to the right mode when you return to freshwater areas.
- Using sonar fish finders for kayaking is very similar to using them on a boat. It is important to consider the size of your vessel and choose a unit that easily fits in the water and does not add too much weight.
- When fishing, make sure you are very close to the surface of the water so the sonar waves can travel through it uninterruptedly. This will ensure you get accurate readings and see fish around your kayak.
- Most units come with a holder that can be easily attached to the deck of your kayak or boat, allowing you to keep the device within reach while fishing.
- Using sonar fish finders for ice fishing is similar to using them on other boats. It is important to consider the size of your hole in the ice and choose a unit that is not too heavy.
- The sound waves used by most fish finders can be blocked by ice, so make sure you are at least several inches away from it when using the device.
- To obtain accurate depth readings in deeper water, you may need to attach the transducer to afloat.
- The fish finder’s power cord should be long enough to allow you to comfortably sit near your hole in the ice, without risking any damage to the device when you lean back against it. When ordering a fish finder for ice fishing, make sure the model has a feature that allows you to easily change between fresh and saltwater modes.
With these user tips, you will be able to have incredibly easy and accurate readings when using a fish finder as freshwater or a saltwater angler.
How do I choose my fishfinder?
The first step is deciding whether you want a wired model, which requires you to run a wire from the transducer to the display unit, or a wireless model, which sends signals via radio waves. Once you know that, you can begin researching your options and take a look at some of the top-rated models on the market.
How does a fish finder work?
When you’re fishing, the best fish finder uses sonar technology to let you see what is happening beneath the surface of the water. The display unit sends out pulsed sonic signals through the water and then receives them when they bounce off objects or in locating fish. This process will create an image on your screen based on variations in the strength and direction of the returning waves.
Different fish finders work in different ways, depending on their capabilities and prices, but they all rely on sonar chirp technology. Fishfinder images are created by mapping variations in how sound reflects off of objects underwater.
- The more dense an object is, the stronger the sonar return will be.
- The more opaque it is to sound, the weaker the return will be.
Each unit is different so it’s important to become familiar with yours before heading out on your next fishing trip. For added accuracy, most units also include temperature sensors that can determine water temperature in addition to depth and location.
What are sonar readings?
The sonar image that you see on your fish finder is a combination of two readings:
- Echo strength – This reading tells you how opaque the object is to sound. If the sonar return is strong, that means the object has a lot of mass and therefore reflects sound well.
If the sonar return is weak, that means it doesn’t reflect sound well and maybe more transparent.
- Fish arches – This reading is used to identify whether the object is an animal or not, which you can tell by looking at the shape of the sonar return. A fish tends to appear with a very distinct V-shaped pattern, while most other underwater objects result in rounder shapes.
The number of fish arches that are displayed on your screen for each object indicates how many fish are present in the area.
What new features can I find on a sonar?
The main feature you will want to look for is GPS, which allows you to save locations, create waypoints, and mark areas that have produced particularly good results in the past. At the higher end of the price range, some fish finders also have mapping features that can help you to determine water depth, bottom composition, and structure.
How do I mount my fishfinder?
Fishfinders are designed to be mounted outside of your boat so they can transmit signals clearly through the water. There are a few different ways to mount a fishfinder, depending on the capabilities of your unit and existing equipment.
- The most common way is to use a flush-mount kit that mounts directly onto the transom of your boat, just below the waterline. This minimizes obstruction and makes it easier to adjust your sonar readings for maximum accuracy.
- You can also mount a fishfinder at eye level, whether you attach it to the windshield of your car or the dash of your boat. This will give you good visibility when driving but may limit how easily you can read small displays in low light.
How do I use my fishfinder?
The way that you use your sonar depends on what type of fish finder you have. For most units, however, the display unit will have several buttons or knobs that you can use to adjust your settings.
- Look for an LCD screen with a menu bar on the side. These menus will include options like Fish ID, Depth Hold, Sonar Power, Transducer Type Mode, Map, and more.
- If your unit is capable of GPS mapping, you may also have a map page that shows the area around your boat on a navigational grid. This can be used to accurately mark zones that are producing good results, then return to the same spot at the right time for another day of fishing.
How do I ensure the most accurate readings?
The best way to ensure that your fish finder is calibrated and capable of providing accurate results is to test it out at home. This can be done by performing a water test and making sure you understand how each reading should be interpreted for maximum effectiveness.
A fish finder and depth finders work with sonar by transmitting sound waves downwards towards the water surface, then measuring how long it takes for those waves to return with an echo. The inverter must sit in the water for this to work, so it may be advisable to place it on top of a small support platform that will keep the standard sonar module about an inch or two above the surface.
These guidelines can help you improve your fish finding skills and increase your understanding of what you are seeing in your unit. The most important thing is always to consult your user’s manual and familiarize yourself with the different options and controls.
Tips for choosing the right fish finder for you
Before you buy a fish finder, there are different features and capabilities you may want to look for:
- If you plan to travel around a lot, you may want to purchase a unit that has a built-in GPS. This will give you access to detailed charts so you can find your way in unfamiliar waters with ease.
- Some fish finders have side imaging as well as down imaging capabilities, giving you added perspective on what is happening under your boat. This can help you identify fish, but also any obstacles that may be in the way of good fishing spots.
- Before buying a fish finder, it is important to decide how much power and range you will need so you don’t overspend on features you won’t use.
Choosing the right transducer
Your fish finder is useless without a transducer that is capable of transferring data to your unit. While all units will come with the right connection for their display model, it is important to select the right type of sonar so you get the most accurate readings in deep or shallow waters.
- Dual-beam transducers are designed to provide more detailed information about the area around your boat. These can send and receive echoes through two amplified beams that show you two different images of the aquatic environment, describing bottom contours with clarity.
- Single beam transducers are useful for measuring depth in areas where there is a lot of vegetation or other underwater obstacles. They will send a single beam to create basic imaging of the area, but they are generally not as accurate or powerful as dual-beam transducers.
- Dual Spectrum CHIRP Sonar –This is a special type of live sonar that sends high-frequency pulses up to 200 kilohertz. This allows it to provide better detail without sacrificing too much power and can produce images with higher resolution.
A fish finder can be an extremely valuable tool when it comes to fishing. By understanding how to read the images created by a fish finder, you can locate and catch more fish than ever before. With the help of a fish finder, you will be able to spend more time fishing and less time wandering around aimlessly.
These devices are designed to help you catch more fish, and they work better than ever before. Make sure to take advantage of everything that a fish finder has to offer to make your next fishing trip a success!
Read our review Best Portable Fish Finder for the Money