Down Imaging vs Side Imaging Fish Finders – Complete Guide

If you are into fishing and have tried using a fish finder or ever thought of buying one, you must have come across the dilemma of down imaging or side imaging fish finders. There is a lot of confusion about this topic, mainly because of interchangeable gorgons used by the well-known fish finder brands. So, if like many other fishing enthusiasts, you also find yourself wondering what down imaging or side imaging fish finders are, what is the main difference between them and which one can meet your needs better, then read on as this article is going to answer all your questions.

For those of you who are not much familiar with the fish finders or the underlying technology, fish finders basically provide you with the life-like picture of the underwater world. Both side and down imaging fish finders mainly use high-frequency sonar waves, which result in clear images. Read on to understand how both works, their benefits, and the disadvantages of each of them.

Understanding Side Imaging and Down Imaging

Before we dig deeper into the topic, it’s better to first understand how both down imaging and side imaging work.

Side Imaging uses a razor-thin beam that penetrates deep into the water on both sides of the boat while covering across the bottom. Side imaging allows you to have more catch while in the shallow water. If you have a side imaging fish finder, you’ll be able to scan the water horizontally on both sides. It also enables you to see two sides from one place. However, you may not locate small fish when using this technique, especially when using them with trolling motors. It’s mostly used in shallow waters since that’s where it gives clear images of fish.

On the other hand, down imaging works vertically on the water. It allows you to identify images deep under the boat. One of the brands that offers down imaging is Humminbird. Check out the video below for a quick overview of Humminbird down imaging technology.

Pros and Cons of using Down Imaging or Side Imaging

After understanding how the two work, it’s wise to know the difference between them. To get this, we’ll look at both the pros and cons of both the technologies.

Pros of Using Down Imaging

  • Best suits deep water uses since it enables you to see fish hiding under the boat on a vertical level.
  • It gives quality images when you’re moving at high speed in the water. So, if you aim to cover a lot of water within a short time, down imaging is the best option. Because of that, you’ll also be able to see what exactly is under the water, like a rock, sunken boat, or ridge.
  • Down imaging is much cheaper than side imaging which means you can plan with it when working on a tight budget.

Cons of Down Imaging

  • Down imaging fish finders work with a single transducer, so you won’t get more information about what’s happening underwater. This means you can get low-quality photos with poor resolution.
  • Since it works vertically, you won’t see images horizontally or on the boat’s sides.
  • You might end up buying the wrong item since several cheaper down imaging models don’t give quality images.

Pros of Side Imaging

If you opt for a side imaging fish finder, you can scan more water since it works on both sides. Remember, side imaging has more than one transducer that allows you to see what’s happening on every side of the water.

With a side imaging fish finder, you can see both images at the sides and deep under the water. So, it works to your advantage as you’ll be able to have great focus getting a better catch. You will also know what’s happening around you on time, allowing you not to miss anything.

Side imaging works best in shallow waters giving better results as they don’t go deeper as down imaging scanners. This means you can use them in rivers, especially small ones, enabling you to scan through without going up and down on each side.

Cons of Side Imaging

Side imaging fish finders are expensive compared with the down imaging. But you can upgrade a down imaging fish finder by buying an extra sensor to make it a side imaging fish finder, thus saving some of the additional costs.

It doesn’t give high-quality images of what’s happening underneath the boat unless you’re fishing in shallow waters of 10 feet and below.

While using side imaging, you’ve got to travel at lower speeds as they need more time to give the quality image. This means you’ll spend more time in water although it can enable you to see something you’d never see at high speed.

Tip: Check out the following video for some quick installation advice for side imaging Transducer.

Which One Works Best Between the Two?

If you haven’t used any of the fish finder’s technologies, you’ll find it hard to choose the best for your fishing needs. But since each works best in different water bodies, it’s better to understand your fishing environment. Remember, all of them use high-frequency sonar to give accurate predictions. For down imaging, you’ll get detailed photos of the deep water with high frequency. With side imaging, you can only read the information on the sides of the boat.

So, if you want to look at the best between the two, it’s advisable to check on the kind of activity you’re to do. You should also consider your requirements, budget, preference, and the fish finder installation process. To make this easier, check on the features of the fish finder you require, then pick on the kind of sonar you want. But ensure you understand how to read your chosen fish finder to avoid buying what you’ll not use with ease. Don’t forget that each type of imaging best suits a certain kind of water body. For example, down imaging is good for scanning fish deep in freshwater, but side imaging gives clear images of certain sizes of fish.

What Makes Your Fishing Experience Successful?

It’s best to know what will make you have a bumper catch apart from understanding where to use either down imaging or side imaging. This includes learning to make fishing lures to attract more fish, reading a fish finder properly etc.

Following guides can be very helpful in making your overall fishing experience a success.

How to Install a Fish Finder: Complete Installation Guide

How to Use and Read a Fish Finder – Complete Guide for Beginners

What is Chirp Sonar – Chirp on Fish Finder

How to Make Fishing Lures Yourself at Home

How to Put a Line on Reel – Spooling a Spinning Rod

Final Thoughts

Several fish finders work best with either side imaging or down imaging. To identify the one that will work for you, check on both its advantages and disadvantages. You should also consider the type of water you’re going to fish in to avoid getting incorrect information. Also, know what you want to achieve with any of the techniques to avoid disappointments.

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