Learning to Use Your Fish Finder

Learning to Use Your Fish Finder
Fish finders give anglers a televised view of the aquatic action under their boats. The units bounce sound waves (sonar) off the bottom of the lake, river or ocean back to a display monitor mounted on the boat. The monitor then interprets the information with coded displays and icons on screen. You can learn the basics of operating a fish finder by following these steps.


Difficulty: Moderate

Things You’ll Need:
  • Fish finder
  • Boat
Step 1
Switch on your fish finder and wait a moment until the screen automatically displays a depth reading.
Step 2
Study the screen to familiarize yourself with the different icons and display information. Compare what you see on the screen with the icons listed in your owner's manual until you begin to get a feel for what the monitor displays so you have a better understanding of what's happening under the boat. Pay particular attention to underwater structure, where you will most often find fish.
Step 3
Switch the monitor to manual so you can play with the controls and adjust the various settings.
Step 4
Turn the sensitivity knob to about 75 percent. This is a good setting for the beginner learning to use a fish finder because the unit will display enough information for the novice to use while fishing, but not so much data as to be hopelessly confusing.
Step 5
Increase the depth finder's sensitivity by turning up the knob if you are not receiving much information on screen. The problem with boosting the sensitivity above 90 percent is the fish finder will tend to display too much information. The sonar reading on an old, submerged tire might bounce back and be displayed as a 30-pound catfish sitting motionless on the bottom. Schooling baitfish might be misinterpreted as a giant bass with the sensitivity control turned up too high. Until you become familiar with the types of information your fish finder can display, keep the sensitivity knob at around 75 percent.
Step 6
Adjust the gain setting to narrow the field your fish finder will search. This allows you to concentrate your search on specific areas, rather than a huge swath of underwater real estate. The more narrow your focus, the faster you are likely to start fishing rather than looking for fish.
Step 7
Watch your monitor carefully for the appearance of shadows and jagged lines along the lower edge of the screen. These readings typically mean areas of underwater structure such as rocks, dead trees and weed beds. All are excellent hunting grounds for catching big fish.

Tips & Warnings

Take time to memorize the different icons that your monitor can display so you won't have to refer constantly to the instruction manual while you are trying to fish.
Learn how to use a fish finder while you are not engaged in piloting the boat. Anglers who are motoring along while concentrating on a fish finder monitor face risk running aground, striking an submerged object or colliding with another vessel.

Article Written By James Clark

James Clark began his career in 1985. He has written about electronics, appliance repair and outdoor topics for a variety of publications and websites. He has more than four years of experience in appliance and electrical repairs. Clark holds a bachelor's degree in political science.

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