How to Use a Depth Finder

How to Use a Depth Finder
For some fishermen, depth finders are a necessity. Other anglers enjoy the information that depth finders give them, such as water depth and bottom contours, but do not consider their use an important part of their fishing experience. Whatever their view of them, most fishermen would agree that depth finders are a useful tool in the hunt for fish. While depth finders do not necessarily mean fish will be caught, they do give anglers useful information that can be used to develop a plan for catching fish.


Difficulty: Moderate

Things You’ll Need:
  • Depth finder
  • Boat
Step 1
Turn the unit on by pressing the power button. Note the digital depth reading in one of the corners (its location varies by model).
Step 2
Drive the boat toward the middle of the body of water you are on.
Step 3
Look at the screen of the depth finder and locate the line that extends across the screen. This is the bottom. When the line angles upward, it means the water is getting shallower, and when it angles downward, the water is getting deeper. A thick, dark line means the bottom is hard while a thin, light line signifies a soft bottom.
Step 4
Note what is above the line that signifies the bottom. If a line begins on the bottom and extends up, it could be vegetation, submerged timber or other cover that potentially could hold fish. If the lines are dark, the cover likely is thick or dense.
Step 5
Scan the entire screen of your depth finder. Objects that are above the bottom, but not attached to it, could be fish. Or, they might be items floating in the water column. It is likely you will notice the items are identified by different-sized icons; the larger the icon, the larger the fish or other object.
Step 6
Search for areas where fish are likely to congregate, such as drop-offs or the edges of humps and reefs. All of these will be signified by a bottom line that slants downward. Look for fish icons and make note how they are positioned relative to the drop-off or edge, which will tell you the location and position of the fish.

Tips & Warnings

For most anglers in most fishing situations, the automatic mode on a depth finder works best.

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.

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