The Best Fishfinders Under $500 For 2014

Finding a new sonar unit that fits your budget is no easy task.  Most of the new models that have come out this year include a price tag well over $700.  It’s just simply not necessary to pay that much for a quality sonar unit that offers the same performance.  The marine electronics manufacturers promote their higher priced models as if they are superior, but you are really just paying for extra bells and whistles that don’t offer the best value.  We know how difficult and how important a decision for purchasing your next fishfinder is.  For this reason, we put together a quick guide of the best fishfinders available for under $500.  For this price, you can get a unit that has all the features you want, but you are usually limited by screen size.  We feel that these units offer a superior value compared to the higher priced models.  Unfortunately, the major manufacturers usually jump up the price on units with a display over 5″.  The 3 units that I feel offer the best value and are the best fishfinders under $500 are the Lowrance Elite-5X HDI, the Garmin Echo 551DV, and the Humminbird 678c HD/DI.

Lowrance Elite-5X HDI

This unit delivers big time performance into a small compact unit.  This particular model doesn’t include the chartplotter, but it’s hard to beat this price for a quality screen with both a dual frequncy transducer that also includes HD Down Imaging.  One of the nice features is that the what Lowrance calls Hybrid Dual Imaging.  The two different sonar settings (Broadband Sonar and DownScan) can be viewed separately or overlayed on top of another all on the same screen.  The resolution is 480×480 and the screensize is 5″.  If you have an older Lowrance model, you will happy to find out that same power connector will work with the model which makes upgrading very convenient.  This unit is a great value at a $499 price tag.

Garmin Echo 551DV w/ DownVü

This unit is strikingly similar to the Lowrance Elite-5x, but with a Garmin twist.  The Screen is the same size at 5″ but boasts a slightly higher resolution at 640×480 and it provides a very nice crisp image that can be easily seen day or night.  I would consider this to be the most easilly readible screen of the 3 models I have chosen for this list.  It may not be a huge difference, but it’s important enough to include in the review.  The 551DV offers 2 different frequency sonars which includes the base dual frequency and also the DownVu HD Imaging.  The Down Imaging on Garmin units is very comparable to those of both Lowrance and Humminbird.  Essentially, it gives you a much more clear and detailed version of the bottom compared to traditional dual frequency readings.  Many anglers are loyal fans of Garmin and it’s easy to see why.  They offer reliability, great customer service, and an overall long lasting product.  If you like Garmin products, you won’t be disappointed with this model.

Humminbird 678c HD DI

This is the newest model reviewed in this comparison, but that doesn’t necessarily make it the best value.  Much like the other 2 models, this unit offers both regular Dual Beam sonar along with Down Imaging.  The screen resolution matches the Garmin Echo 551Dv at 640×480 and a 5″ display.  Humminbird has been making increasing better units over the years and this helps keep them right on that path.  This unit offers the full performance of much higher priced items at a great value making it the perfect fit for a wide variety of boat sizes.  Humminbird units are now the most reliable on the market and you know that you are getting a unit of high quality backed by an improved manufacturer warranty.  The only complaint that I have with this model is that if you are fishing deep water (100 ft +) regularly, you will need to purchase a more expensive version of the model that includes 50khz.  Overall it’s a great unit for the price and will deliver everything you need from a 5″ sonar unit.

 

New 2014 Humminbird Products

New Humminbird Products For 2014

Now that spring is getting close, the major fishing electronics manufacturers are introducing upgrades and new models to ready anglers.  While it’s impossible for me to give an honest review of these products considering some lines haven’t been brought to market yet, I would like to give you a preview of what will be available.  Buying a model the first year gives you an advantage because it’s going to have more bells and whistles, but they usually come at a larger price and an unproven product.  That being said, the overall quality of fishfinders has increased over the past 3-5 years, and I would expect a reliable unit from the major players in the industry especially Humminbird.

I just spent a few hours browsing Humminbird’s main website and talking to a few trusted captains sponsored by Humminbird, and I was very impressed with their new products for 2014.  Many anglers and charter captains have switched to larger screen Humminbird units over the past 2 years in the Great Lakes and I expect the trend to continue with quality products and better customer service than Lowrance.

What New Technology Did Humminbird Introduce?

Cross Touch

With the advancement in screen technologies, Humminbird figured that they needed to keep pace and have introduced “Cross-Touch” which is really just a fancy word for touchscreen.  You will now have the convenience of a touch screen to navigate through your display pages and a digital keyboard to name and enter waypoints easier among other things.  Humminbird will keep the regular type-pad for those who prefer it and also for rough weather where the touch screen may become difficult to use.  A very cool feature and this will come standard on their new ONIX and ION series electronics.

SmartStrike

Another very cool technology Humminbird has introduced is the SmartStrike Map Cards.  The cards come with a software package by LakeMaster and can help you pinpoint areas based on location you know catch fish or find new areas using the included algorithm.  It can help you find fish by entering lake conditions, time of year, etc. and it will give a few new areas to try.  I will definitely be keeping my eyes on this product.  It is available for their new ONIX and ION series electronics.

What New Models Is Humminbird Introducing in 2014?

Onix Series – The ONIX series is Humminbird’s latest model.  If offers all of their new features in either a 8.4″ screen or 10.4″ screen.  Obviously, the main selling point for the both the new ONIX series is the new and improved display.  In addition to this new display, the ONIX models also use 360 imaging, down imaging, and trifuel (access to multiple chart software).

Ion Series – The ION series of Humminbird electronics is their top tier line and they call it their “blue water” line.  Essentially it is their best and most expensive models that integrate all of the best features Humminbird has to offer.  Once again, the main selling point is the new and improved user display.  The Ion series offers all the same features that their new ONIX has but it also larger and higher resolution screens along with Ethernet based expandable networking and a built in web browser.  The web browser allows you to access the internet, monitor weather conditions, and everything in-between.  The networking expandability allows you to add radar, autopilot, remote cameras, and more if you like even more angling technology seamlessly integrated with your system.

Raymarine DragonFly Review

If you are looking for an ideal tool which you can use to improve your fishing success even within unfamiliar waters, the Raymarine Dragonfly is something you might want to consider getting. Combining the features of a GPS device and a fish finder, this gadget can make all the difference between a successful fishing trip and a failed one. Packed with a ton of useful features, you would think that this fish finder would cost over a thousand bucks. But no, priced at just over $700 by most sellers, it’s very affordable considering its quality and the features it contains. Anglers will appreciate its revolutionary sonar feature. An angler can take a good look at areas where fish may be hiding by using the gadget’s DownVision technology. This feature basically delivers clear and crisp images on the device’s 5.7-inch screen. Additionally, the gadget’s GPS capabilities are of the highest quality. It’s fairly fast in picking up signals and it can connect to a huge library of information about inland and coastal waters in the U.S.

What New Technology Does The Raymarine DragonFly Offer?

716F-0R3TIL._SL1500_Dragonfly has also introduced a new technology called CHIRP on its system. What this technology does is allow anglers to make use of a range of frequencies all at the same time. This is a huge improvement considering the fact that most fish finders only make use of single or double frequencies. Now being referred to as the future of sonar fish finders, the CHIRP is an acronym for Compressed High Intensity Radar Pulse.  The fish finder’s screen is also something that’s worth noting. It’s a bit larger than the traditional size and it features a high resolution level. Even with the sun directly hitting the screen, you can still clearly see the images on it.

How Does DragonFly Match-Up Against The Competition?

People often compare the Dragonfly with devices from the Lowrance HDS Series. They all have similar functions and they can be bought within the same price bracket. However, the Dragonfly has an edge when it comes to the screen size. The Dragonfly has 5.7-inch screen compared to the 5-inch screen that its competitors have. Fish finders in the Garmin series are slightly better when it comes to GPS capabilities bu the general consensus is that the Raymarine remains to be the better option when it comes to performance.

Considering its price point, the Dragonfly Raymarine is as good as they come. It’s without a doubt one of the best fish finders with GPS capabilities in the market today. This is not to mention the fact that it has one of the biggest screen sizes at 5.7 inches. It’s a fish finder model that has a price tag lower than most of its high-end competitors. This lower price shouldn’t trick you into thinking that the gadget fails when it comes to its fish finding core. It works very well making it the preferred device among thousands of anglers. In short, the Dragonfly Raymarine has everything you need for better and more successful fishing trips. It gives you your money’s worth. So the ultimate question is “Is it worth your investment?” The answer to that would be “absolutely yes”.

The Best 5-inch Fishfinders For 2014

Looking For The Best 5″ Fishfinder Available in 2014?

Let’s be honest, screen size is one of the most important aspects when selecting a fishfinder.  The most versatile size screen on the market is 5″.  Anything smaller and you sacrifice major viewing areas.  Anything larger and you are paying nearly double the price.  For this reason, all of the major manufacturers including Humminbird, Lowrance, and Garmin make their most popular models in the 5 inch size.  The newer class of fishfinders utilize this space better than ever before.  Both Humminbird and Lowrance model offer pretty much the same features as their larger screen cousins including their respective version of side imaging and down imaging.  Most models now also include the capability to add a GPS receiver or has one built internally into the unit.  Choosing the right fishfinder can be tough, but here is our guide to the best fishfinder models available in that 5″inch screen class.

raymarine-dragonfly#1 Raymarine Dragonfly Fishfinder Sonar GPS With Navionics Gold

Out of all the entrants to the 5 inch market the Raymarine Dragonfly really is in a class of it’s own.  I’ve always preferred Raymarine electronics based on their durability and performance, but it usually comes with a hefty price tag.  The 5.7″ screen delivers the power of a much larger unit into a smaller screen and really makes this an affordable unit.  The Clear Pulse CHIRP sonar uses both a traditional sonar along with Raymarine’s version of “down imaging”.  The resolution is very good at 640 X 480 and it honestly looks better than most HD models from Lowrance or Humminbird.  As with all top quality units, installation is key and if you do it right the first time, it will give you a much higher performance.  This paticular model includes the Navionics Gold chip which is the Gold Standard when it comes to fishing and giving you detailed contour depths.  If you’re looking for a sonar gps combo that delivers outstanding overall performance without the price of larger screened models….give the new Raymarine Dragonfly models a try.

Lowrance HDS-5 Gen2#2 Lowrance HDS-5

The top of the line entry  from Lowrance is HDS-5 in the 5 inch fishfinder market.  The reason that Humminbird got the top spot is due to the high resolution screen that the 798ci has.  That being said, the HDS-5 boasts all the bells and whistles Lowrance has to offer.  The display has a 480 x 480 pixel screen, which is plenty for a 5 inch fishfinder screen.  The screen is plenty clear and has a high enough resolution for great sonar and GPS mapping images.  A nice feature is the built in GPS that saves from mounting an external unit.  The HDS-5 is NMEA 2000 compatible, which allows the fishfinder to act as an auto pilot.  Personally I have one that controls my boat and all I can say is I wish I would have bought an auto pilot right away.  The sonar is solid and offers structure scan which is a great side and down imaging product which produces top of the line sonar images.     Overall the HDS 5 is a great fishfinder GPS combo, but with addition of all the Lowrance options and accessories the HDS 5 is a close second in the 5 inch fishfinder market.

41g+A+aktjL#3 Humminbird 598ci HD SI Combo Fishfinder

Another great fishfinder in the 5 inch size class is the 598ci HD SI, which boasts side imaging.  There are many of the options available on the 700, 800, 900, and 1,100 series fishfinder by Hummminbird.  The screen resolution is upgraded to the 640 by 640 display which does a great job showing high resolution sonar pictures.  The GPS is built in and also has some pre loaded mapping software.  The 598ci SI is compatible with about any type of mapping software out there and really shows off the unit by using 3D mapping views in HD of what is above and below the water as you drive through you favorite home port.  The side view on the 598 is the 455kHz signal, which isn’t the 800 the higher end models use.  However the 455 kHz does a nice job showing great sonar images of what is underneath your boat.  Overall the top of the line 500 series model gives fisherman the chance to have all the great features that the top of the line models have for a faction of the cost.

humminbird-597ci#4 Humminbird 597ci HD DI Fishfinder

The screen on the 597 uses 640 x 640 pixels which give great sonar and GPS images in crystal clear HD.  The addition of down imaging gives great views of what is directly underneath the boat.  When fishing brush piles the down imaging really excels since you have a clear sonar image of the brush you are fishing.  For bass or gamefish fishermen a trolling motor mount for the transducer can help you find and stay on top of fish in the open water.  One of my favorite tactics involves deepwater drop offs with schools of bait fish.  In order to target these spots is where down imaging comes in, by reading sonar images you can pickout individual fish  and schools.  Running a deep diving crankbait in that situation almost always gets me a bite!

71PKGslauTL._SL1000_#5 Humminbird 571 Portable Fishfinder

The 571 is an extremely versatile fishfinder and works for ice fishing or fishing from a boat.  The screen is 640 x 320 pixels which is enough to give nice pictures of the down imaging.  A great feature is that with the carrying case testing and checking holes while ice fishing is fast and easy .  By eliminating water that isn’t holding fish allows you to cover more ground, which is sometimes what it takes to get on the fish.  Overall the combination of a great screen and sonar with having a portable fishfinder is why the 571 made the top 5.

How Does Lowrance Structure Scan Work?

When you’re fishing, you can waste a lot of time looking for perfect fish hiding spots. In order to take all the guesswork out of finding the perfect spot, there is a unit called a ‘fishfinder’ that uses sonar to bounce back images of what is behind and in front of your boat. By using a fishfinder or ‘sounder’ in tandem with typical fishing skills, you can increase your success and bring in more fish with every trip out to the lake or ocean.

Lowrance has created a revolutionary HDS sonar scanning system. A typical sonar module sends a three dimensional signal out frm the boat’s tranducer, but it receives an image that is reported in only two dimensions on the fishfinder display. This way, you can identify potential fish and locations where fish may be hiding. You can use this to see up to 250 feet around the boat, making fishing much more productive as you find areas where fish are more likely to be hiding.
Lowrance has developed a revolutionary add-on to their Lowrance HDS sonar systems that makes typical sonar seem obsolete. It plugs in directly to your Ethernet port and gives you a three dimensinal view of your surroundings, including 480 feet of clear, comprehensive viewing coverage.

Lowrence StructureScan has been designed to give anglers the best view of the water around or under their boat. It’s meant to be as close to photographic as possible, with precise depth and distance displays to take the questions out of sonar. With StructureScan, items underneath and around your boat look just as they should; trees and piles of stones beneath your boat look just as they would normally. That takes the guesswork out of avoiding potential obstacles that could catch your line or your boat, as well as finding potential fish-rich areas.

StructureScan technology also offers DownScan and SideScan Imaging, allowing you to see even below your boat. It prevents you from wasting valuable time looking for fish by showing their forms and shadows on the screen. It also allows you to see the area below your boat in crisp, clear, well-defined images.  TrackBack is another feature that is part of StructureScan. It actively records at all times and saves the recordings directly. This means that you can scroll through past sonar scans to see common fish hiding places or to use them as a guide to find your way back to your starting point. By avoiding areas without fish, you don’t have to waste gas and time finding great fishing spots.
You can use the StructureScan separately, if you would prefer, or you can attach it to your existing Lowrance HDS. That allows you to receive split or full-screen options to get the best view of the water below and around you. By using StructureScan in tandem with TrackBack, DownScan, and SideScan, you can get a truly 360 degree view of the water around your boat, avoiding obstacles and finding the best fishing areas. The StructureScan unit is an incredibly user-friendly unit meant to make fishing easier and more enjoyable for everyone.

What You Probably Didn’t Know About Down Imaging Sonar

Fishing is among the best experiences on the planet. Whether you engage yourself in this activity for fun of sport, or even as a job opportunity, you realize that you need a way to locate where the fish specifically are. Every fisherman, therefore, has to find a way through which to locate where there are either schools of fish, reefs, weed or even bridge pylons under the bought because if you go out fishing and you don’t have a way to locate where fish is in plenty, then it is very likely that you end up catching a limited number of fish and waste too much of your time. A quality fishfinder starts at roughly $500, but it will surely pay for itself since you reduce wasting much of your time fishing and you increase the number of the fish you get altogether.

The use of fishfinders is one of the most developed practices in fishing. A fishfinder is basically an instrument, usually termed as a sounder, that detects reflected pulses (sound energy known as SONAR) in the water and helps locate fish. In the case of the most modern fishfinders, which also have the zoom functionality, the reflected sound waves can be used to determine measurement of the object and therefore aids the fisherman in interpreting the information on the graphical display, more accurately.

There are a variety of fishfinders in the market, but the most common include both down and side imaging. Better and better ways of locating fish are being invented each day, but let us focus a little bit more on down image sonar.
So what is down imaging sonar? This is a fish-locating practice that entails the use of high-frequency sonar beams that are emitted in ultra-thin slices and meant to produce comprehensive and detailed images of what is under the boat. Note that down imaging users, just like the side imaging user, have to choose between 455 or 800khz in the settings menu so that they can get the most favorable resolution for them. The high-resolution pictures that are produced by down imaging sonar are what help anglers locate any object that the boat passes directly over. This is made possible by the use of high-frequency waves that are reflected by the object beneath the boat.

Some of the Advantages of Using Down-Imaging

1. Speed. Questioning the speed of the down imaging is very important since if the speed were very slow, let’s say half the speed of the boat, then it is very possible that very few fish or no fish will be caught at all since the images that will be displayed on the graphical screen will be something of the past. Down imaging, usually abbreviated as DI, spots impressive speeds of around 45mph. This is very necessary to the operator since it spots fish that the boat is passing directly over. One good example of a fishfinder is 2D, which is very impressive on speed, probably the reason why it is a favorite amongst most people but, DI is also very fast and unlike the traditional 2D, its images are top notch making it very reliable.

2. Unlike side imaging which gives a “fly-over” kind of images, down imaging sonar gives high quality images that seem like they had been taken from the sea bed.

Unlike side imaging that provides a 180 degrees coverage, down imaging is purely dependent on the selection its user makes. For instance, the humminbird users have three settings to choose from: “Narrow”, which covers approximately a third of the depth, “Medium”, on the other hand, covers an area that is equal to the depth while “Wide” covers 1.5 of the depth.

All the above three settings are dependent on what the user needs to do at that moment. If, for instance, he/she wants to pinpoint a specific area for cover, then “Narrow” is the most recommended. On the other hand, if the operator needs to search a larger area, then either the “Medium” and the “Wide” are simply the best.  There are weaknesses with the use of DI. The fact that fish may be shown as dashes or dots may make it very hard for the fisherman to carry out efficient fishing. It is therefore advisable then, to use two or more technologies hand in hand. The reason is because these technologies do not offer the same things. In most case, one reveals what the other is unable to show. Using them together means that you gather more information at once.

What is a Thru-Hull Sonar?

thru hullFinding fish through modern technology is a groundbreaking step in the sport. Using sonar to help find game fish and schools of bait fish allows anglers to target areas that hold larger amounts of fish.  These items are popularly known as fish finders and are much needed and appreciated by fishermen of all kinds. Among the best choices to choose from, Thru-Hull sonars take the lead. What is a Thru-Hull Sonar? This question will be answered in the following pointers.
Thru-Hull sonars and their origins.
First of all, sonar stands for Sound Navigation and Ranging and its main function is to measure distances. Modern equipment usually has a screen where the fisherman can see what lies below the boat like the bottom, structures, vegetation and of course fish. The electronic equipment was originally created to be used on submarines and nowadays they can be found in a wide array of sizes with a variety features. Since the hull is the lowest part of a ship which is usually partially submerged and below the water line then the Thru-Hull sonar is an electronic fish finder installed in this specific part of a boat or ship. It is also interesting to know that Thru hull means Hole Through Bottom. There are many benefits to be gained from this particular type of electronic devices and most of them will be mentioned next.
Thru-Hull sonars and their many benefits.
After answering the question about What is a Thru-Hull Sonar? It is of the utmost importance to understand the many benefits they provide since they are a popular option among beginners and experts alike. A subset of these benefits will be provided next:
– The device does not pick up riggers and other unusable information thereby allowing the user to focus on what’s really important and saving a considerable amount of time.
– When the boat increases its speed it does not receive air across it. This is critical for certain types of fishing activities and a favorite feature among most knowledgeable users since other types of sonars lose signal over 30 knots.
– They are more sensitive. Besides eliminating unusable noise they are also more precise and this is important in most situations where fish are not abundant.
– By design, these sonars are not affected by frequency shifts in outgoing signal caused by the hull.
– They are recommended as the best by most experts since they are suited not only to most environments, speed and weather but are also suited to be installed on a wide range of boats.

One important point is that to install a thru hull sonar requires a hole in the bottom of the boat.  That being said we recommend a professional installation.  The price to have the sonar installed by a pro is worth it, since safety is a main factor.  The performance of a thru hull compared to a transom mount aren’t comparable, since the thru hull is mounted in a perfect location free of any interference.

Ninety five percent of all fish live in just five percent of the water. By knowing this fact the obvious benefit of answering the question of What is a Thru-Hull Sonar? Has even more meaning. It goes without saying that adjusting and tuning these types of sonars is a real pleasure since they are usually made with the best quality. Since sensitivity is also known as power the user has an exact view of what is going below the boat and this is of course considered as priceless since the more power the device has the more the user will be able to see. By understanding the origins and benefits of these types of sonars a complete answer has been given to the question What is a Thru-Hull Sonar? At the end of the day the most important part is how incredibly useful it is in the pursuit of catching more fish in a smarter way.

Some Interesting Tips On Using Your Underwater Camera While Ice Fishing

fish tvAn underwater camera is a must have equipment for anyone attempting to go for an ice fishing expedition. Many people assume that these cameras are very expensive, nothing could be farther from the truth; every winter fisherman can get a camera that fits his or her budget.

Using underwater cameras for ice fishing can greatly improve a fisherman’s success rate. Which is mainly because a fishing camera allows you to see and monitor the exact surrounding and environment you are fishing in; saving you lots of time and money in the process as you can easily leave a spot that doesn’t show any potential. To make your experience with an underwater camera worthwhile and successful, there are a few tips that will come in handy, these include;

Read the manual

Many people tend to ignore this basic requirement. Make a point of going through every page, even if you have used a similar camera, remember that brands do differ. It is also recommended that you try out the camera in your bathroom or in another water body before actually going ice fishing with it.

Use the camera to scout your fishing hole

perchAn underwater camera is a wonderful scout in itself. Choose an appropriate site which you feel may fetch you some fish and place the camera at least two (2) inches under the surface of the water. Allow the water surface to settle by waiting for at least two minutes after immersing the camera. You can then go ahead to look for tell tale signs of fish around the area, even though you may not see fish at that moment in time, the camera will help you check on other signs that may point towards the presence or absence of fish, the type of fish available and the depths at which they are positioned. Signs to look for may be green seaweeds, rocks and pebbles, any present cavities etc.

Use your Camera to monitor your fishing hole

Once you have scouted for a fishing hole and drilled it, the camera can be used to monitor how the fish is reacting to your bait and help you improve your chances of catching some fish. You should measure at least some 2 feet away (depends on the specs of your camera and the type of fish you are targeting) and drill a much smaller hole that can allow your camera to fit through.

The camera should be put at the same depth as your bait and should be placed facing the dropped bait. Through the camera, you will be able to see if your targeted fish is reacting favorably to the jig movement. This allows you to effectively control the bait, or change it if necessary. It is important to hide the camera from the fish as they are naturally quite shy, to succeed in doing this, the camera should be dropped vertically.

Last winter we tried out one and got a school of 9 fish swimming around, which is pretty cool to watch.  We also had a close up of a big pike, looking at out minnows.  Both Cabelas and Fish TV make some nice underwater cameras.  Another option is using a Go Pro camera with a float.  When fishing shallow water, you can use the camera at the surface to observe and record images .

Get the right specifications

Depending on where you intend to use the underwater cameras for ice fishing, it is important that you get a camera with the correct specifications. If you will hover between freshwater and salty water bodies make sure you get a camera that can be calibrated accordingly, get a camera that can give you long hours of service before requiring a recharge. The display screen should also give you vivid clear pictures irrespective of the weather.

Dot Matrix Sonar for Ice Fishing

The Dot Matrix Sonar Fish Finder has a thermometer and an alarm and it is specially designed for fishing enthusiasts and fishermen. It is also designed to search the location of fish, bottom contour and depth of water. Unlike other traditional fish finders, the professional Dot matrix sonar fish finder is equipped with an adjustable dot matrix LCD screen that can easily detect and zoom at specific depth of fish. Moreover, the device has other advanced features including; an adjustable sonar sensitivity setting, water temperature measurement, depth alarm and audible fish. The amazing device can be effectively used in rivers, lakes, ocean and icy water. It can also be used for ice fishing. The sonar feature is capable of detecting a school of fish in any given area. Moreover, it can be mounted in various ways including; boat hull, poles, floats and ice pieces.

Sonar Technology

dot matrixThe Dot matrix sonar fish finder features sonar technology that is usually based on sound propagation in order to define and locate structure, composition and bottom contour by using the transducer. The time interval between the transmission of a single sound wave signal emitted by the transducer and reception of the specific object is also measured. This in turn helps to determine the distance of the object. The sonar fish finder also uses the received signal to interpret the size, composition and location of the detected object.  The sonar is also used for ice fishing.

The Dot matrix sonar fish finder has various features including; a large adjustable matrix LCD screen that has a LED back light, adjustable sonar sensitivity settings, determines the depth and location of fish, used on both salt and fresh water, used as a depth sounder and fish finder, displays water temperature, displays bottom contour in the sea, resists grass interference when used in the lake and zooms at a specified depth. The device also has other minor features including; a clear fish icon, battery strength indicator, selectable between feet and meter readings, sonar for ice fishing, removable float, 200 kHz sonar type frequency and a water resistant design. The The Dot matrix sonar fish finder can be mounted using various methods including; fixing it to the boat hull, using the float located on the cable to mount the sonar in the water, fixing it on a firm pole and pushing it to a desirable position in the water and cutting a hole on the surface of the ice and placing the sonar under water.

The Dot matrix sonar fish finder has various specifications including; an FSTN LCD display size of 128 x 64 Dot Matrix, round transducer sensor that has a 7.5 meter cable and a 45 degree beam angle, -20 �C to 70 �C operating temperature, 4.92′ x 2.91′ x 1.18′ inch size and 160 g item weight without including the sensor and batteries. The device has a single set that includes; 1 x Round Sonar Sensor for ice fishing, 1 x Professional Fish Finder, 1 x Stainless Bolt1 x Neck Strap, sonar for ice fishing, 1 x instruction manual1 x Stainless Wing Nut and Color retail box package.

In terms of price and effectiveness the dot matrix delivers on both, regardless of where you are using the sonar.

How Flasher Sonar Works

flasherFor a long time now, the flasher sonar has been quite a popular item among ice anglers. This particular type of sonar unit is used to reveal objects within the water through a circular screen. For a beginner, the flasher sonar can seem to be rather complicated, even for some seasoned anglers it not always easy to use the unit to its full potential.

The best and most effective way to use the flasher sonar is to first understand how it works. The following are the steps and processes of how the flasher sonar works.

Dropping the transducer

Once this device is plugged into an turned on, it is then dropped into the ice hole. In case you have an older model of the transducer, it important that you ensure the device sits on the ice in such a way that it is either at or underneath the edge. This is because, if one fails to do so, the signal that bounces off the ice might create a clear picture. In addition, new models of the device tend to give way better readings.  The picture is of a Vexilar flasher, which is one of the top sellers in the flasher market place.  They make rugged and ice fishing specific flashers meant for cold weather.

Setting the Range

Depending on the kind of flashers one is using, one can get readings between various ranges of water depth levels. In case you have done some research in regards to mapping out the area using Smartphone, GPS or sonar unit, then it will be a bit easier to approximate how deep you are fishing. In order to attain the best reading, the bottom depth has to be set where the following deepest range setting is, in accordance to its actual depth. Lest say the depth is 25 feet, then the bottom depth should be set at 30 feet.

Adjusting the gain

Basically the gain refers to level of power that the transducer can give out. The device is responsible for the sonar signal that travels through the transducer all the way down to the bottom of the lake then back up again. The amount of gain required depends on the depth of the water. One has to start by tuning or setting the gain until there is some significant interference. From here, one has to gradually ease up on the tuning till the screen begins to clear. This is what will provide the gain together with the best indication of anything that could be in the water.

Zooming in

When it comes to the flasher sonar’s resolution, for a good resolution, one has to focus on specific areas. The zoom found on each flasher works somehow differently, so it is best that before using the flasher you read the instructions carefully.  Zooming isn’t always necessary, since an unmagnified view will give readings from the bottom to the surface.

Jigging

The other thing with the flasher sonar is that, when you drop the lure down into the whole, there has to be clear visibility on the screen. A bar is what will represent the lure. The general idea is make the bar appear as thin as it can possibly be. This is done through fine tuning the gain. The reason this is done is for one to be distinguish the movements that appear on the screen. Any line that appears in between the bottom depth and the ice is most likely to be the fish.