The Electronic Angler/ Part Three "Setting up your fish finder"

Part Three "Setting up your fish finder"

When you take your new unit out of the box, install it then power it up for the first time it can become very clear that with all the menu options and choices that you start second guess buying that high end unit. But don't get too upset as help is here.

First things first, Your unit probably has steps in the setup (when you first power it up) to make everything automated by just answering a few questions. By using these settings you will get decent results and can learn to adjust it as you use it. Some of these settings you will want to keep and others you will learn to fine tune as you try different things to get a better representation of what is actually under you. I want to discuss some of these settings to help you understand better what they are and how tweaking them will help you tremendously.

Depth stetting- Leave in auto, this will allow your screen to be automatically adjusted so that no matter how the depth changes you screen will always show from the surface to the bottom.

Sensitivity or Power- Depending on which type of unit you have the base line setting should be somewhere around 75%. On the Lowrance units you can adjust in a percentage of -/+. If your screen has too much noise on it then decrease this setting. Be careful to not to entirely clear your screen of noise because it will decrease the sensitivity of the unit and you will not see all fish returns. Note: you may have to adjust this setting every time you visit different waters as the conditions of the water will react differently with your unit.

Frequency- If you are using a traditional sonar and fishing fresh water and your max depth is less than 300 feet you will want to use the 200 htz setting. If fishing water deeper than 300 feet then 83 or 50 htz will be used. If you have one of the new CHIRP units then refer to this Link for these settings. Note: If fishing with a buddy and both of you are using a fish finder, you may want to switch frequencies so that you are not cross talking on the two units. This will cause a bunch of vertical lines on your unit. This will be minimal if you are on different frequencies.

Screen/ ping rate or speed- Use this setting to adjust your ping or screen speed. This will affect what you see in different situations. The most common setting is max or fastest. This will show fish movement in the water column well and works well if moving fast. If you want to see more detail of bottom structure you may want to slow this setting down some. This is especially true when using a combo unit with down scan and moving very little, the slower the speed of refresh rate the less there will be blurring of the same return under you, ie trees and such. When your kayak is stationary, the arched returns you get are fish that have moved into and back out of you beam. The fish that remain under you beam will show up as a horizontal line, If the fish remains under your yak and is changing depth you will see this line begin to rise and fall. The easiest way to understand this and how you will be seeing it, is take a rod and drop a heavy jig over the side and lower it until you see it on your fish finder screen. Then raise and lower the jig in the water column, see how it moves on your screen. This will help you tremendously in understanding what you are seeing on your screen and if that target is still under you or gone.

Fish Symbols-  Do yourself a favor and leave this feature off. It is very limited in the info it gives and you will never learn to read a fish finder as long as this feature is turned on. I am convinced that most of the returns that show up on your screen using this feature are false returns, and will drive you nuts trying to catch fish that are not really there.

These are the only settings I recommend using at first. As you tinker with your unit (usually when the fish are not being too cooperative) You will begin to understand your unit more and what you are seeing on the screen.

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