How to Install a Fish Finder: Complete Installation Guide

You’ll have an easy time locating and catching fish in any water body with a fish finder. You’ll also have an insight on how and where to fish since it shows you the type of fish and their location. For a successful trip on the water, you need to know how to read and install a fishfinder. But It’s never easy installing a fish finder if you’re a first-timer. So, if you’re buying your fish finder for the first time, it’s advisable to know its purpose and set and install it. Read this informative article and understand the right fishfinder installation method that will give you the best results.

Tools for Fish Finder Installation

For you to effectively install your fish finder, you’ll require the right tools and materials. Before settling on the tools, you need to consider things like the availability of power wires and how the transom looks. With this information, you’ll also know the installation process you’re going to use and the length you need to install the fishfinder. Doing this will reduce your trips to the hardware and time.

Some of the things you’ll require include;

  • A fish tape for running the power cables from the unit to the power source of the cranking battery. The fish tape is a flexible thin steel that you can push and pull below the gunnel.
  • Masking tape to protect the gel coat from damages.
  • Cordless drill with bits for making holes that are necessary when installing the fishfinder.
  • Cable ties and wraps to clean up the work you’ve done as they ensure there are no loose hanging wires.
  • Electric tape for preventing moisture from your work area. But you can also use a shrink tube for this purpose.
  • Heat gun for shrinking shrink tubes over the connections. When using this tool, be cautious and don’t point it near the gel coat since it’ll discolor and melt it.
  • Inline fuse holder to protect the unit from damage by spikes.
  • Wire crimper to strip spliced connections.
  • Stainless steel screws of the right sizes to protect you from all elements. Choose long screws that will enable you to work under the boat with ease.
  • You will also need gloves and sealant.
  • Transom saver block for installing the transducer.
  • Unit mounts might be part of the accessories in the kit from your manufacturer.

Tips to Use When You Want to Install a Fishfinder

Learn how to install Garmin fishfinder for it to work effectively after the installation. To be successful in installing a hummingbird fish finder or installing Lowrance fishfinder, do the following;

  1. Register the fishfinder on the manufacturer’s website

After buying your fishfinder and removing it from its packaging, register it with the manufacturer’s website. But ensure they’ve got a valid email address that they will contact you through. Doing this will also enable you to activate your warranty so that if there’s a problem with the equipment, you’ll have an easy time reaching them.

  • Make the software of your fishfinder up to date

Since sonar fishfinders use advanced technology and are computerized, you need to update their software system. Remember there are regular changes in electronics, with the updates helping the fish finder work better and be compatible with other products. Just like your phone or computer ask you to update different software, so will the fish finder. You will not only update the software after purchasing it, but that’s something you’ve got to do constantly to enable the fishfinder to work well. Each type of fishfinder has instructions on how to update various software. Since you did register on their website, you’ll get emails on how to do this and more about the software.

To do the updates, you’ll need a blank SD card, and the process won’t take much of your time. Download the software to the blank SD card, then insert it on the fishfinder, switch it on and start the process. To be safe, download your settings and GPS to a different SD card and store them there. Also, ensure you restore the fishfinder to factory default settings. With the updated software, you’ll get clear images and enhance your performance.

  • Ensure there’s a steady, clean power supply with no interference

To enable your fishfinder to work well, ensure it has a constant power supply from a clean source. Also, have a fuse between the power source and the device to protect it from damage. You can do this using different methods, which vary according to the power source you’re using. But you can use a waterproof inline fuse which is the easiest way that requires direct wiring to the battery.

You should also have a clean power source to avoid interference that comes from various sources. For example, if you’re using a 12V trolling motor, don’t share the power source for the fish finder and sonar unit. Note that a trolling motor wiring that’s next to the fish finders power supply has shortcomings.

To know when your fishfinder has issues check when you switch it on if the image on the screen changes. This comes about because of a lack of a clean power source, although various issues can lead to it. To solve the interference issue, install a ferrite ring that includes several trolling motors. But you can buy them separately online.  You can also install a choke to troubleshoot the interference.

Remember, the current sonar units need a lot of power supply. When you don’t have a constant and steady power supply for your unit, it’ll result in trolling motor interference and other issues.

  • Mount the transducer board

Installing transducers is crucial for any fishfinder, especially if you’re using the down or side imaging techniques. If you’ve got a fiberglass hull, install the transducer on the transom. But don’t make the mistake of installing a transom mount transducer without a transducer mounting board.

  • Check on the position and angle of the transducer

To get the best performance from your fishfinder, check on the installation location and the angle of the transducer. With it, you’ll get quality images, arches, and clear pictures. To achieve this, ensure;

  • The transducer is next to the centerline of the boat’s engine.
  • Let the transom be where it can see either side of the boat from the outboard motors.
  • The transducer should also be in regular contact with water.

Check out the quick video for Side Imaging Transducer Installation

How to Install A Fish Finder?

To install your fish finder, follow the below procedure;

  • Install the binnacle mount. To mount your fish finder, check on the best fixing location that will allow you to get the right viewing angle. Put it next to the center of the helm between your waist and shoulder, where you can work without straining. This place should also allow you to turn with ease without damaging the windshield or compass. Check below and behind the helm station to ensure there are no obstructions and enough space for passing bolts and wires.
  • Then run the power leads through the unit. You may need to shorten or lengthen the power leads according to the length of wires you’ve got. If you’re extending them, ensure you use the right color coding and boat cable with the gauge recommended by the manufacturer. If you’re doing wire to wire connection, use barrel connectors and protect it with a shrink tube.
  • After that, put the transducer in the right place either on the transom or below the boats trolling motor. If you want to install it on a trolling motor, attach it with a metal clamp which is the easiest method. If you have a water vessel with a fiberglass body, learn how to install a fish finder on a fiberglass boat on the transducer.

If you’ve got smaller units, install them on the transom but the larger one best suit the jack plate. Ensure there are no speed or temperature sensors that will interfere with the transducer. To prevent your transducer from damage, install a transducer shield. Also, avoid installing a fish finder transducer next to the welded joints in an aluminum boat, as it will interfere with the image quality.

You can also place the transducer on the trolling motor. If you don’t know how to fix the transducer, check on the Hummingbird fish finder installation manual for more information. But ensure the place you’ve selected for holding the transducer is 1/8 or ¼ inch under the transom.

  • After settling for the right location, mark holes that you’ll use to assemble the mounting brackets. Remember missing any of the steps will give wrong results that can cause blame games between you and the manufacturer.   
  • Put the paper templates on the spots you choose, then attach them using a drill bit. The mounting should fit in the holes perfectly.
  • The next step you should do is to fill the holes using silicone. Place the mounting bracket to fit well in the holes, then attach them with a screw.
  • Apply sealant both in and outside the unit to make it hold well.
  • Run the wires either in the transom or above it. Ensure you secure the cables after every 18 or 17 inches. Then connect the wires to the main power source using the fuse given by the manufacturer.
  • When you’re through with the installation, don’t connect the edges.

After fixing the fish finder, you’ll have wires passing through the transom to the location of your fishfinder. You’ll also have the cables connecting the power source and fishfinder plus an installed fish finder. Doing this is not hard, but you’ve got to ensure you don’t skip a step. Give the sealant enough time to hold up and enjoy locating fish resulting in a good catch.

Other Fish Finder Installation Locations

Installing your fish finder at the bow

For a successful Bow mount fish finder installation, you need to check if there’s adequate space near the trolling motor. You should also consider the fish finder installation cost, especially if you’re to add more accessory mounts. You can flush mount or install a fish finder at the tip of the bow, but it makes the device be at a fixed angle that’s far from your eyes.

For gimbal mount, it raises the unit giving you a perfect view. You can adjust your viewing angle accordingly before fixing the bracket.

You’ll need a bracket that bridges the trolling motor pedals to make a bridge mount. This is the best fish finder mounting option as it takes the least space and enables the locator screen to be in the right location.

Installing the fish finder at the console

You can also learn how to install a fish finder at the center console either in the dash.  To mount the fish finder in the dash, you’ll require a bigger space which is hard to get in bass boats. You can also do a gimbal mount which is a metal bracket that has adjustable knobs. It can fit in smaller spaces on the dashboard, allowing you to fix the unit up in a place that you’ll see the screen over the steering wheel. A gimbal-mounted fish finder is strong, making it withstand the raging waters, but it’s in a fixed position.

If you want a flexible fish finder mounted at the console, opt for 3rd party or RAM mount. You can place it anywhere in your fishing vessel as long as it’s a flat surface for bolting the base. However, the rubber balls can fall when under heavy forces.

Final Thoughts

 You should know how to do boat fish finder installation so that you’ll be able to install or reinstall it where necessary. Doing this will also help you reduce costs since you’ll not pay a third party for the services. To install a fish finder with ease, understand the tips and procedure to avoid making errors. Also, ensure the location and angle you’ll choose are the best to get correct results, making your fishing successful. 

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