Side Imaging Fish Finders – Simple Beginners Guide

Hummingbird made the first side imaging fish finder in 2005. The benefits of using hummingbird side-scan saw many anglers opt for it. Currently, most brands have side viewing sonar in any size of fish finder globally. But how does side imaging fish finder work? Which is the best side imaging fish finder, and how do you use it? Here’s a guide on how to read side imaging fish finder and much more.

How Side Scan Fish Finders Works

If you have a side imaging fish finder, you’ll have a bumper harvest as it makes identifying objects underwater easy. This sonar device technology includes a certain transducer that you should fix outside the boat’s transom. Side imaging fish finders have improved features that enable you to get quality images of objects underwater and identify more fish. Side scan fish finders use two sonar beams, each on the sides of the boat.

Each beam is in a right-angle direction of the path of the boat. The two sonar beams cover around 300 feet of water surface.

Most of the side-scan sonars work with two frequencies of either 800kHz or 455kHz. With these fish finders, you’re able to see below the side of the boat between 240 and 440 feet underwater.

Since side imaging fish finders are robust, light, mud, or darkness doesn’t affect them. If you have the best side imaging fish finder, you’ll see objects like rocks, vegetation, and a school of baitfish. Note that you can use a side-scan in both fresh and salty water. Also, you can use it in deep or shallow water.

Benefits of Using Side Imaging Fish Finders

With a side scan fish finder, you can scan the water faster since they use two beams that help you look at both sides of the boat. So, you can cover the same area with it, just like down scan units.

It allows you to have a better perspective, unlike with down imaging resulting in quality images of the objects underwater.

Side imaging fish finder works best in shallow water fishing.

How to Read Side Imaging Fish Finder?

You may get challenges reading side scan fish finders, especially if you’re unsure what you’re looking at. You might also find it hard interpreting the messages displaying on the fish finder’s screen. Read on and understand how to read and interpret the figures on the screen. You should know that the way you can read the Humminbird side imaging fish finder is the same as reading the Garmin side scan. So, you won’t have difficulties using any brand after learning how to use side imaging on any fish finder.

If you see darkness on your screen, that’s a sign of the water column below your boat. This means if you identify a school of fish on the sides of the screen, it’s a sign that fish is below your boat. The lighter parts on the far left and right represent the bottom below and both sides of your boat.

The numbers at the top and the bottom parts of the screen represent water depth. The water depth measurements are in feet.

The bottom surface reading appears as a line between the top and the lower part of the screen. For example, if you’re going at a slower speed, you’ll see the objects behind you on the screen.

Interpreting the data on your side, scan fish finder

Analyzing the information on your screen is never easy, especially for a beginner. Here’s an explanation of the things you’ll see on your screen.

If you see black space between the upper and lower part of the screen, that’s the water depth. Deepwater shows a broad dark line in the middle of the screen.

Range indicators appear as vertical lines spreading from the middle of the screen. It’s the horizontal distance to the left and right of the boat. The range shows readings as either 20, 30, or 10 feet.

Tips on using a side-scan fish finder

  • Install your side scan fish finder in the right way and location. If you don’t do this, you’ll get inaccurate data frustrating your fishing efforts. Do this by ensuring the transducer is in the right place to get clear, quality images. You can mount it on the transom, under the jack plate, on the side of the jack plate, or under the step.
  • While installing the transducer, make sure you use clean and robust power to the unit. Doing this will help you get noise-free imaging. It’s best to run the power wires directly on the battery and seal all the ends of the connections. But don’t forget about the GPS location while fixing the transducer.
  • Also, avoid interfering with the fish finders setting and use it on default settings to understand what you see underwater. After understanding that well, you can try adjusting the settings like sensitivity and contrast, speed, or range. Run the side imaging while using between 3 and 6 mph to get the best results. The range should also be between 75 and 100 feet to get finer details on the first scan.
  • Be keen on the sonar readings since it’s the most helpful tool you’ll need to optimize and learn your side scan fish finder. To achieve this, try experimenting with the settings like sensitivity, sharpness, contrast, and speed.
  • You should also make good use of the range function. A wider range will give you more data on the screen. But a narrow range will result in more data on more pixels.
  • You should also make good use of 455kHz and 800kHz. With 455kHz, your fish finder will cover a wider area, while 800kHz will give you clear images.
  • Try experimenting with various color pellets to understand how it works best.  Different objects will look different on every color palette.
  • Concentrate on the side you have more interest in. you can do this by setting the unit into full-screen side imaging so that you’re able to see the left or right side only.

Best Side Imaging Fish Finder

Several fish finder brands are using side-scan technology. One of them is the hummingbird side scan fish finders. In this category, you can opt for hummingbird 410120-helix 10 chirps mega Si GPS G2N.

The best Garmin side scan fish finder is like the Garmin echo map plus 73SV with CV52HW-TM Transducer, 010-01897-01.

For the Lowrance side imaging fish finder, the best model is like the Lowrance hook2 9-9-inch with triple shot transducer and US inland lake maps installed.

Final Thoughts

Using side imaging fish finders helps you scan more water. It also allows you to identify more objects at the sides of the boat. With either Lowrance or Humminbird side scan, you’ll get more catch making your trip in water successful.

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