How to Interpret Depth & Fish Finders

How to Interpret Depth & Fish Finders
Depth finders and fish finders refer to the same thing: electronics that show fishermen things such as fish in the water column and the depth and contour of the bottom of the body of water on which they are fishing. For many anglers, fish finders are a necessary part of the fishing experience, helping them to be more successful at catching fish, or at least at understanding the world in which fish live.


Difficulty: Moderate

How to Interpret Depth and Fish Finders

Step 1
Turn on the unit and begin driving your boat around the body of water.
Step 2
Find a place where the depth goes from shallow to deep. This is called a drop-off and is shown on a fish finder as a line that angles upward or downward, depending on whether you are driving up or down the drop-off.
Step 3
Follow the drop-off so you remain at a consistent depth. If the line on your fish finder suddenly angles downward (indicating deeper water), you have come to an inside turn in the drop-off. If the line angles upward and, as you keep driving, angles downward again, you have driven over a point.
Step 4
Look at the line on the screen of the fish finder that denotes the bottom of the lake. If the line is thick and dark, it signifies a hard bottom. A thin or broken line indicates a soft bottom.
Step 5
Check the screen for fish- or boomerang-shaped objects. These are fish in the water column.
Step 6
Search for rocks or other items on the bottom. These often will show up on the screen as objects that appear to be part of the bottom. While rocks show up as solid, dark objects, vegetation, for example, shows up as thin lines that extend off the bottom.

Tips & Warnings

While fish finders show representations of fish, keep in mind these could be other objects floating in the water column. Also, the fish representations might be small or large depending on the size of the fish, but the size can be skewed, too. As a result, it is a good idea not to pay a whole lot of attention to the size of fish on the screen.

Article Written By Larry Anderson

Larry Anderson has been a freelance writer since 2000. He has covered a wide variety of topics, from golf and baseball to hunting and fishing. His work has appeared in numerous print and online publications, including "Fargo Forum" newspaper. Anderson holds a Bachelor of Arts in print journalism from Concordia College.

Don't Miss a Thing!

All our latest outdoor content delivered to your inbox once a week.



We promise to keep your email address safe and secure.