How to Use a Fish Finder

Last Updated on May 25, 2021 by Bruce

How to Use a Fish Finder

Although the name fish finder implies that it will indeed find the fish in the water for you to drop your bait on, this is not what makes fish finders so great. Fish finders allow you to analyze what is below the water and look for key elements that will hold or attract fish.
The first key element in using your fish finder properly is to make sure it does not use fish symbols. You want to see what the fish finder is seeing. If the fish finder is in “fish symbol” mode, it will just show anything that is above the bottom and below the top of the water like a fish symbol. Even if it is an air bubble; a piece of floating vegetation, or that branch sticking off of the bottom.
The majority of sports fish are predators, they eat other fish. This is one thing a fish finder excels at. A ball of baitfish will have a high probability that other larger fish are around this cluster of smaller fish looking to eat them. This is something very important to key in on when using your fishfinder. Look for what looks like clouds or irregularly shaped objects suspended in the water.
The bottom composition and cover are very easy to interpret with a fish finder. The cover can be weeds, rocks, wood, and other similar objects. When the bottom contour changes drastically such as a large number of irregular bumps may mean a rock pile or wood. Vegetation growing on the bottom may look long and thin like blades of grass. Fish usually relate to the structure so you can bet there should be a fish around even if it does not show up on the fish finder. You can also tell if the bottom is hard or soft. A soft bottom will show as a very thick line on the screen, and a hard bottom will be much thinner. The softer the bottom is the farther the sonar can penetrate into it.

How To Find Fish With a Fish Finder

When you first connect a fish finder it will be showing all types of lines and shapes. Now the skill that is going to pay off is to interpret what these shapes and lines mean. We are going to go over some basics.

Bottom Composition
What the bottom is made of will help determine what types of baits, or what kind of fish might be around. Generally, the softer the bottom is, the thicker the bottom will appear to be on the fish finder. The harder the bottom the thinner it will appear. Sonor can penetrate farther into softer objects than it can when they are denser.

The structure will appear as sudden changes on the bottom. Jagged edges may indicate rocks or wood. Fish relate to structure so hone in on these types of readings. Grass or vegetation will be long and stringy and may even look like a randomly shaped object with perforations in it.

One of the most exciting things to find on the fish finder is the fish themselves. Fish will usually have an arch look if you are moving over them. You can also make assumptions that certain smaller objects near the structure are fish holding. Use your best judgement and deductive reasonings to see the fish. Baitfish usually school together in a ball shape. Look for clouds or a mass floating in the middle of the water column.