Short video on how to use the 3D StructureScan and how to adjust the features and settings.
Author Kirt Hedquist Doctor Sonar Pro Staff
The orange dots are fish, the blue triangle is the area of the water column viewed by the sonar. The brown is the bottom of the lake.
I was mowing the grass doing some scouting you can see some bait fish probably suspended where I started my pass. red circle
To the left of the boat is dropping off to deeper water and shallow to the right (notice how the blue triangle slopes down)
Also note more bait fish just to the right (green circle)
Covering about 360’ in width off to the left and behind the boat you can see a transition to harder bottom as its getting deeper. Red circle
Some fish below and behind the boat the cluster on the left and below maybe some turbulence. Green circle on fish
To the right its getting shallower with a little hump to the right and below the boat. Orange circle
Some fish and baitfish suspended in the water column dropping off to deeper water to the left of the boat. drop-off red circle
The edge of some rocks or rock ridge to the right of the boat. Green circle
Showing some fish and baitfish in the water column deeper to the left getting shallow to the right Red circle on fish, green circle on shallow area
A large amount of bait fish (red circle) and a ridge or rock pile (green circle)
Lots of Smelt in this lake, fish are well fed
More of the same lots bait, a transition from soft to hard with a ridge or rock ridge to the right (red circle)
Shallow water on the left and a drop off to the right
I produced this short video using sonar, down imaging and an Aqua-Vu to show you how I interpret sonar.
Click on image to view video
The first 2 discussions will be my pro staff reviews and the last discussion will be Doctor Sonar's suggestions for interpretation and settings.
Mark O'Neill review
Kirt Hedquist review
Doctor Sonar 3D StructureScan training
It’s that time of the year, many are getting a new boat with electronics or are outfitting an existing boat with new electronics. Here are some things to think about when looking at purchasing new electronics. Use this as a checklist to help you make a educated decision.
And a few install tips are also thrown in.
- What is your budget?
- Prices range from 100.00 up to the sky is the limit.
- Get the biggest screen you can afford. A common comment at shows is “I wish I would purchased a bigger sonar screen when I bought my boat last year”. Many dealers will throw in 3” screen and you think oh boy a sonar and GPS! After you become experienced with the boat that 3” screen will not cut it. 7” screen size minimum size IMHO.
- What kind of boat?
- Tiller or console? This can affect what units will be right for your situation and you may save some money.
- How much room or clearance do you have to mount a unit?
- If you have a walk thru windshield you may not be able to fit a 12” screen like a tiller or side console.
- What do you have currently on your boat?
- Maybe you can repurpose this to another location or 2nd unit to serve as the GPS/Map screen or a bow unit.
- The 2 networking systems are-
- Ethernet (High speed data transfer, sharing screens, maps, waypoint management)
- NMEA 2000 (Data transfer, monitoring engine data, GPS modules, trolling motor control)
- Not all sonars have these capabilities.
- Do you own a Smart Phone or Flip Phone? The old keypad sonar technologies are similar to operating a Flip Phone! Try a touch screen sonar like the Elite Ti and Gen units and you will note how fast they are to navigate around the screen and menus. You will be amazed! And yes Lowrance work cold or wet unlike a smart phone. Go find a flip phone and try and text someone you will be looking for your smartphone right away. And the prices on the touch screen units such as the Elite Ti starting at 499.00 and up.
- Do you plan on networking to another sonar now or in the future?
- If you plan on just having a single unit now and forever why spend the extra money on units that have the networking capabilities? Example Lowrance Elite Ti without networking –vs.- HDS Gen units with networking capabilities or some Humminbird Helix Gen 1 models vs. the Gen 2 models.
- If you are buying a tiller and never plan on networking to another unit get a unit like the Elite Ti, Hook or Gen 1 Helix without Ethernet and you can spend the extra money saved for a bigger screen
- If have a console boat and plan on networking to another unit on the bow or in the future get a unit such as the Helix Gen 2 series or HDS with Ethernet so you can hook to another Gen unit and share data back and forth. Why waste the money on a non-networkable unit now then only to add another unit to the bow later and lose out on the networking bonuses.
- Do some research on how the networking works.
- Is the unit mounted in such away that the built in GPS module will be obstructed from the sky and satellite’s?
- You may need an external antenna to get a signal.
- If you fish slow or like to cast a heading sensor like the Lowrance Point-1 or Humminbird AS GPS HS will greatly assist in boat control and fishing by always showing which way the front of the boat is facing.
- The internal GPS antennas are excellent but do show which way the boat is facing until you start moving forward.
- Look at incorporating the latest sonar technologies such as-
- DownScan/Down Imaging
- SideScan/Side Imaging
- Chirp Sonar
- Bowmount trolling motor control? Many types of sonar can control a trolling motor and steer the boat with an autopilot feature or route programmed into the sonar. Anchor mode/Spot Lock saves your back or your partner will thank you for not having to pull an anchor.
- Do you troll with the main motor or kicker? Add an autopilot feature that will steer your boat while you fish. It will keep your boat on a course while you are reeling in and netting fish or deploying lines.
- If you are unsure about installing a system utilize reputable installer. It will make your time on the water much more enjoyable when it all works correctly.
- Getting the transducer at the correct placement can be a trial and error task to get a good signal at high speed.
- Use a plastic transducer board to mount transducers. It’s easier to drill more holes in the board than your boat if you make a transducer location mistake.
- Make sure to add a mapping card with more details. Units come with base mapping and it’s just that 3’ to 6’ contours or just a lake outline. Cards from companies like Navionics, Lowrance and LakeMaster give 1’ contours on many lakes that will enhance your fishing experience and save your lower unit from a date with a rock.
- Don’t use wimpy sonar mounts! Bigger is better that 9” sonar mounted on a 1” ball mount will be slapping against the dash on the first big wave!
- Many of the new outboards can be connected to sonars and get engine data right on the sonar screen. Doing away with expensive and antiquated dash mounted gauges.
- More and more units can do live mapping on the screen. Lowrance recently incorporated Navionics SonarChart Live into the Elite Ti, Gen 3 and Carbon units, Humminbird Helix models have AutoChart Live, and Garmin has Quickdraw. You can make your own map of bodies of water with no maps or poor mapping.
- Batteries don’t skimp here! Get the biggest starting battery you can or a second house battery for electronics they draw a fair amount of power and stranded on the lake with a dead battery is a bummer.
- A good house battery is the Optima D31M. Doc and his pro staff mark O’Neill and Kirt Hedquist use them because bigger is better.
- And also use Optima D31M for the trolling motor batteries.
- Go to com and follow Doctor Sonar on Facebook and read the tutorial articles on understanding sonar.
Watch the short video to get an understanding why weeds are important for fishing.
Side imaging produces nice images of how boulders really look like and I use it to find key spots that I miss with 2D and down imaging sonar.
This image is a boulder reef. On this image the biggest boulders are next to smooth bottom. this also means there is probably a dropoff next to the boulders. Walleyes like transitions, big boulders and dropoffs so I have 3 key ingredients to start my hunt for groceries for my famous fish tacos. I don't see any fish but fish are difficult to see in boulders since they also show up as white.
This link will show an Aqua-Vu video of the transition. watching it confirms it is a good spot and helps understand the side imaging
Ever wonder what to do when you are slowly moving jig or rig fishing and lose the fish on sonar?
I had these fish near weeds located with down sonar (2D and down imaging).
If they disappear I look at the side imaging on a different screen to see if they are left or right. Like this image.
I place the cursor on the fish on the side imaging and create a waypoint and then move the boat to the fish before they move too far. It is easy, once you catch a few fish this way you add it to your fishing tools.
Sorry, but it doesn’t work well. We can only make educated guesses.
I was looking for walleyes in the fall and noticed these nice fish at the depth I fish plus they were close to the bottom which is typical for walleyes.
But you bass anglers should read this tutorial so you can catch more fish.
I used small minnows and didn’t get bit so I up-sized to giant chubs (7 inches) and bass anglers know how much smallmouth love big minnows and I got bit. My Go Pro works well for selfies.
I decided to put down the camera to see if any walleye were mixed in and nope, just lots of bass. So, I smoked them and released them so someone else can have the same pleasure.
Watch Video of the fish
I often get asked how I find "fishy" spots. This screenshot shows many starting spots for smallmouth or walleye since they both love rocks.
The big boulder (yellow circle) is too far from the other rocks, if it was closer it would be my #1 pick since the biggest walleye and bass often prefer the largest boulder.
1st choice is the red circle with scattered boulders near lots of rock.
2nd is the green circle for the same reason.
3rd is the black circle since it is a point.