A depth finder (also called a fish finder) is a valuable resource to the avid fisherman. It is a small, electronic device which is able to calculate the distance between the underside of the vessel and the floor of the body of water. It is also able to detect objects (such as fish) using sonar waves. Side-imaging finders give the user a side view of the space under the water, in addition to the standard view from above. Users should educate themselves on the pros and cons of side-imaging depth finders to decide if these instruments might prove beneficial.
Side-imaging models provide a clearer and more detailed color picture of objects in the water and the floor of the water than traditional fish finders.
Con: Necessity of Movement
If the vessel is stationary the sonar beams will not be able to produce an accurate picture of any object. The beams need to be in movement, around an object to create a picture.
Pro: Ease of Accuracy
Side-imaging models contain a user-friendly point-and-click feature that allows you to mark the position and statistics of objects that peak your interest so you can come back to them later.
Side-imaging depth finders are significantly more costly than traditional fish finders. As of 2009 they run between $1,000-$2,800, while traditional models range between $99 and $700.
Side imaging models allow you to see a much broader range underneath your vessel on all sides (180 degrees), in contrast to only seeing what is directly under the boat (20 degrees- 60 degrees.)
Con: Translation of Information
Some new users of side imaging find it difficult to adjust to the view. With the side view of what is underwater, it can be difficult to initially orient yourself to where you and the boat are in contrast to the object