Have you ever wondered mate, How some anglers return from fishing with a handful, while some others return with none but a fish or two? Which group would you want to be in?
Yes, skill is involved in it, but let me tell you, mate, there are more involved but just skills. A quality fish finder, such as the Lowrance fish finders, can drastically change the outcome. Here’s how to read a Lowrance fish finder.
I know both luck and skill play big roles in the overall outcome of a day worth of fishing. But there are ways to ‘improve’ your luck and increase your yield.
Lowrance Fish finder is one of such items. I mean, you may not be able to literally see your luck, you will be able to see the fishes. Why am I suggesting Lowrance? Let’s find out.
Before I get to that, let’s talk about what a fish finder is. If you already know about it, skip this section.
Table Of Content
What Is A Fish Finder?
A fish finder is an electrical device that helps an angler to locate the fishes underwater by the mean of echo-sounding. They are usually small in size and easy to install and use.
After installation, the part that is going to be visible and you will be interacting with is the display part of the fish finder. The transducer will be outside.
Why Use A Fish Finder?
I talked about it briefly previously. Simply speaking, a fish finder will help you to find out whether the location you are in, has fishes or not. If the answer happens to be a no, you can move to a new location.
This saves time. I mean, without a fish finder, you wouldn’t be able to know that for sure, and likely be wasting more and more time.
Besides the fishes, a fish finder can be useful in other ways. For example, most of the fish finders are now equipped with GPS. This allows them to pinpoint your location and save checkpoints.
Many Lowrance fish finder models are able to create and save maps. Some models will allow you to even download premade maps with high resolution and extra details. This will help in navigating as well as visiting the same position multiple times.
How Does A Fish Finder Work?
The basics of a fish finder are pretty simple and interesting. Interesting to me at least. Although understanding the science bit is sort of complicated, but I’ll try my best to simplify it.
- Structure Of A Fish Finder
There are two main parts of a fish finder: the display part and the transducer. The brain of the device, the processor is placed inside the display section. The transducer is attached on the outside of the boat, below the water level. A cable connects the transducer with the processor.
- Work Cycle
Any general fish finder work in cycles, basically repeating the same set of tasks after a certain amount of time delay. At the beginning of a work cycle, the processor sends an electrical signal to the transducer via the cable, ordering the transducer to pulse.
After receiving the trigger pulse from the processor, the transducer makes a sound pulse, that is then released into the water.
Because of the structure of a transducer, the sound is usually focused on a particular direction, mostly downward. Anyway, the sound pulses then travel toward the bottom of the water and hit either the seabed or some other floating objects.
Either way, the object/seabed will reflect the sound pulse, and thus an echo will be generated. The echo then travels back to the surface of the water and gets picked up by the transducer.
Once the transducer receives the echos, it creates an electrical signal mirroring the echo. A strong echo will create a strong signal. The cord again carries the signals back to the processor.
There are two factors to understand here, the delay between the sent sound pulse and the received echo, and the second one is, the strength of the echo.
The further an object is, the more time the echo will take to arrive. But the more important part is that a bigger object will create a bigger echo.
How To Read A Lowrance Fish Finder?
Reading a Lowrance finder is pretty easy. It is pretty close to an average fish finder in terms of complicacy and simplicity. However, I will cover them with details here.
On the first look at the screen, it’s totally normal if things don’t make any sense. It happens to everyone. You can’t complain though, I mean, can you really complain? The device scans a 3D area, compresses it down into a 1D representation.
Wait, isn’t the display image a 2D? Yes, it is. Then how is the image 1D? I’m glad you asked.
How Is The Display Image Created?
The image displayed on the screen is not a fixed image, nor is it a real-time video. A more accurate way of describing it is like a photo gallery.
In every work cycle, the fish finders create a new image, which is as tall as the display but merely a few pixels wide. Every time a new one of these is created, the previous ones are pushed to the left, and the latest one is added on the very right.
Thus, throughout the width of the display, there are many such strips of an image displayed, while the one on the right is the newest, and the oldest one is on the left.
Let me ask you a question, what happens when one such image reaches the very left edge, and yet another needs to be added?
The oldest one gets removed and deleted to make room for a new one, unless… you have a Lowrance. Many Lowrance fish finder models have a trackback option, which is like a temporary memory for tracking back the images of an area that you scanned, without needing to go back and re-scan.
Read The Manual
It is always a good idea to give the manual a good reading. You know, the book is there because you’ll need it. I can’t describe all the little nuts and cronies about all the models here.
Neither can you hope to find out all the ins and outs of your model from a youtube video, if you can find your model that is. So, give the book a good reading.
With that said, I’ll still cover the common signs and their meaning, that will hopefully be found in all the models across the board.
What To Expect From The Screen?
First and foremost, you will always see two continuous horizontal lines, one at the very bottom of the screen, another at the very top. In between the lines, there will be quite a few apparently random arches, lines, and blurred blobs. These signs are found everywhere.
The Continuous Horizontal Lines
The one on the very bottom represents the seabed. The curves, ups, and downs are more or less the actual structure of it. This line is easiest to identify since it is the thickest and most obvious mark on the screen.
The top one represents the surface of the water and the surface clutter. Surface clutter is like a dead zone, where the sonar beams get too distracted. Another reason for being a dead zone is that it is too close to the transducer, thus basically unreadable. Either way, no objects in this zone will be registered.
On your journey, this type of marking will be the most common and also most wanted marks. The arches are made when a subnautical object crosses the scanning zone of the transducer. Usually, they are fishes. It could also be any random junk or other creatures.
The Blurred Blobs
From time to time, you’ll come across a patch of ‘mess’ on your screen, genuinely close to the ground level, but not exclusively. This happens when there are a lot of small objects jam-packed together, and every piece makes an image of it.
But they are so close together, they are virtually one big body. This blob is a school of baitfish most of the time but could also be a bush or something of the same structure.
Different Colors And Their Meaning
On many fish finders, you’ll see a colorful display. By default, you’ll notice blue, yellow, and red colors (you can change the color scheme on most Lowrance fish finders). Blue represents the water. The red and yellow color represents any object that generates an echo.
It’s uncommon to see yellow on its own without red around. The reason being, the red color represents a weaker echo, while the yellow color means a strong echo. Any big object can create a strong echo, while the edge of the object creates a weaker echo.
How To Guess The Fish Size?
When you look at the display, take note of 3 points. This section is important.
Point 0, if there is an arch, there might be a fish. Not all the arch means fish, and no arch means no fish (unless it is hiding very close to the ground, thus virtually invisible. Superpowers?)
Point 1, how thick the arch is. The thicker an arch is, the bigger the object(hopefully fish) is. This is by far the most reliable way to estimate the size of a fish before catching it.
Point 2, what color the arch is. Do you remember, yellow means stronger echo, made by a bigger object? Yes, you get the idea.
Point 3, By the time you see the arch, the fish is most like slightly behind you; at the same time, it could either be slightly on your left or right. Remember, the fish finders scan a 3D area and squash everything in a narrow strip of an image?
So, the fish is nearby in the general area. Also, the more on the left side of the screen where the arch is, the more it is behind you since your boat is moving.
The Invisible Fishes
Sometimes, if there are any fish in an area inside the scanning zone, they might still not show up, especially when they are very close to the ground. If the time difference between the echo of the fish and the ground is too small, the fish finder will likely consider the fish as a part of the ground and show it as a bump on the ground.
The Fish Icon
Some Lowrance models have a feature, which, if enabled, tries to identify the echo received and displays a fish icon over the arch, that it identified as a fish. This sounds pretty neat.
But it is not always reliable. Sometimes, this feature marks other objects as fish. Objects like bushes and trees are often mistaken as either a school of fish or a bunch of sperate fishes. A nice feature to have but use at own risk.
Why Should You Use A Lowrance Fish Finder?
Fish finders are a helpful device as long as they behave the way they are supposed to. I mean, you don’t want to be the guy who visits the store every month, do you?
That’s not fun at all. So better to make sure to get a quality device. You can instead spend that time fishing as a normal person does.
Now, there are reasons why Lowrance is ahead of other brands. The basics are the same for nearly all the fish finders. What makes the difference is, how much a specific fish finder can utilize.
No fish finders are made of alien tech. Lowrance fish finders are great because they are designed with the customers’ needs into consideration.
- A Powerful Processor
Lowrance fish finders usually include a powerful processor. No, not more powerful than your PC, but they are stronger than most other fish finders. Many models of the Lowrance fish finders utilize the cutting-edge CHIRP technology.
Many models offer features like down scan, side scan, structure scan, which help better mapping the area.
- Advanced 3D Structure View
Lowrance offers an advanced 3D structure view, which literally displays a 3D image of the surrounding, which is unparalleled. Mind you; we are talking about a fish finder, not a computer, so don’t expect something like full HD stuff. But Lowrance does a fantastic job of processing and displaying objects in real-time.
- Trackback And Insight Genesis
Other incredible stuff includes Lowrance trackback and Insight genesis. Lowrance insight genesis is a semi-free, semi-paid service, where you can get outstanding info of most water bodies, including their precise depth and the shape of the seabed.
The trackback is like a temporary memory Lowrance includes in many of their models, just to keep the reading of the water body a little longer, that you can take a look back, which is pretty unique.
Overall, Lowrance fish finders are quite incredible. You see, not one single reason can make something special, it’s the combination of many smaller advantages.
All those, coupled with the high-quality hardware makes a product, you’ll not only like, but you’ll also fall in love with. And that’s about it.