THESE DAYS, SHOPPING FOR A NEW FISHFINDER is almost as complex as trying to understand a super computer. Maybe that’s because compared to the fishfinders we were using just a few decades ago, today’s units are super computers. What was once a few blinking lights on a dial has evolved to become an accurate
screen-viewed image that’s tack-sharp in detail, and in some cases, able to
portray what lies as far as 10,000 feet below your boat’s keel. If you’re having
trouble sorting it out, don’t feel bad. The introduction of multiple new fishfinding technologies
in a few short years has left the savviest sonar sharpies among us feeling as confused as a fish
struggling against an invisible line. It’s time to spread out the options at hand – standard sonar,
imager/scanners, side-finders, and CHIRP – and make understanding fishfinders easy again.
STandard Sonar Common fishfinders, which became popular in the ‘80s and ruled
the ‘90s, utilized one or two beams in the neighborhood of 200 and/or 50 kHz to ping
through the water column, and displayed the results on an LCD screen. Color became
Today’s advancing technology gives you lots of amazing choices
when it comes to how you’ll find those fish By Lenny rudow
74 | Boatu.S. Magazine APRIL | MAY 2014
a popular option, and today all but the
most basic fishfinders utilize color screens.
“Hotter” colors such as red indicate stronger returns, and “cooler” colors such as
yellow or green indicate weaker returns. You
can get a color machine with a small screen
for a few hundred dollars these days, and a
high-end unit with a large screen for a couple of thousand. For all-around use in varying circumstances, these fishfinders rule.
There’s a reason the 200-kHz beam became
a standard, and that reason is versatility. If
you have one boat that gets used on the
lake, the river, the bay, and the ocean, this
kind of flexibility is exactly what you need.
ProS: The standard 200-kHz beam offers
fair detail with good depth penetration, and
the lower-frequency beam gives you the ability to extend range (at the cost of detail, of
course). Differentiating fish from structure is
relatively easy, and large fish create hot-red
PRACTICAL BOATER | ELECTRONICS IN DEPTH
you to spot the
weight for your
letting you drop
it to the same
depth as the
fish more easily.
Are you confused about
how the different types
of fishfinders work?
For more of what’s new
in the world of electronics from the Miami boat
show, (see page 70).