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Fish Finders Buyer's Guide
Fishing has been and will continue to be a sport based on your skill and knowledge. Fishermen use every advantage they have in order to land whatever they are after. If you've been looking at upping your advantage then you might want to look into fish finders. You might be accustomed to the fish finders of yester year and haven't looked into how new technologies have made it easier than ever to setup and use a fish finder.
What You Get with Sonar
This is where fish finders got started; using sonar fishermen were able to spot approximately where fish were below them. If you're looking for a more budget friendly option, or you want to ease into the world of fish finders then sonar is a great place to start. Sonar works by sending out an electronic signal in the form of a sound wave and receive it again through a transducer, this is then interpreted by the fish finder and displayed on an LCD screen. Some things to consider when looking at a fish finder are: wattage, type of transducer, screen resolution, frequencies and cone angles and beams.
When looking at wattage you'll want to know how many watts you need and how many you can afford to have. In general the more watts your fish finder has, the more powerful and efficient it will be. If you want to scan some deep depths then be sure to get as many watts as you can afford. Watts are measured as "peak to peak" and most fish finders should have at least 3000 watts.
Frequencies have a lot to do with cones and cone angles. As a basic rule of thumb the higher the frequency the better it will work in shallow water, while the lower the frequency the better it will work for deeper water. If you want more detail you'll need to use a higher frequency, in order to have a higher frequency at a lower depth you're going to need more watts.
Transducers are the units that send and receive the sonar signals. The signals head down into the water, bounce off of whatever is down there then come back. The data comes back and the unit interprets it to what you see on your screen. These are typically mounted to your boat through a transom mount, though other transducers can be mounted in various ways including thru-hull mount.
The higher resolution your screen is the more accurate detail you'll be able to see. If you really want to see what is down there then you'll want to have a nice large display with a high resolution. Color also comes into play as you'll be able to see more detail with a color display as opposed to black and white because of the extra definition that color can bring. Color screens are also easier to see as they are brighter. This means that on that cloudy day or early in the morning you'll be able to actually read the display.
Cone Angles and Beams
Fish finders offer a variety of different beam options, the standard is single beam while there are dual, triple, side and even quadruple beam options. Each beam option will cover more water and make the sonar more efficient. Each of these beams throws down a cone into the water at a specific angle. The cone angle refers to how wide of a beam you send, as you go deeper into the water the cone gets wider, when a cone gets wider it becomes less effective at showing detail. A twenty degree cone is a good place to start and will be decently versatile enough for most anglers getting into fish finders.
Why to Own a GPS Fish Finder
Fish finders come in two sorts these days: those with GPS and those without. Having a GPS enabled fish finder is a great way to understand depths, potential hazards, plot courses or create a trail of your boat's path. Having a GPS fish finder will give you some extra information about what you're in for and what you've been doing. Wouldn't it be nice to remember exactly which part of the lake you were in when you had a super successful day? A GPS fish finder will show you all the dips, bumps drops and channels that might be holding fish. I'm not saying that you need to have a GPS enabled fish finder, but think about it, does your car have GPS? Does your phone have GPS? You might not need those things, but once you've grown accustomed to having them around they sure are nice to have.
- Boating & ATV > Marine Electronics > Fish Finders