Educational Articles » humminbird

Understanding the lake bottom with sonar and Aqua-Vu Posted on March 02, 2017

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

Review of boat rigging Posted on January 30, 2017

 

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
  • Radar
  • Radio

 

  • 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Understanding weeds, bait and fish with sonar and Aqua-Vu Posted on January 24, 2017

Watch the short video to get an understanding why weeds are important for fishing.

Watch Video

Humminbird down imaging

Side Imaging, Aqua-Vu and Boulders Posted on December 13, 2016

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.

Humminbird side imaging boulders

 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

 Aqua-Vu video

Lost Fish, How To Find Them With Sonar Posted on December 13, 2016

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.

Understanding Humminbird/Lowrance Sonar Auto-Sensitivity Posted on August 12, 2016

Understanding bottom hardness is vital to understanding and catching walleyes.

Sometimes it is easy like this image with the hard bottom on the left.

Humminbird bottom hardness

I use Auto-sensitivity on my Humminbird and Lowrance models almost always. It works so well we never notice when it adjusts. Auto-Sensitivity mainly adjusts for depth. We need a higher sensitivity in deeper water since the sound that returns as you go deeper becomes weaker. A manual setting of sensitivity for 10 feet to get the optimal image would not show fish at 100 feet and this is where Auto-Sensitivity shines.

I’ll use examples from this summer when there were a lot of microorganisms in the water so you see a funny screen to help understand what is happening when the auto-sensitivity is working.

The first image shows rapid depth changes at a speed of 30 mph. Notice the clutter clears when I go shallow (green arrows).

Lowrance Auto-Sensitivity

The next image shows the suspended clutter change as I go up the slope. At the same time as the clutter changes, the bottom changes (green arrow). The Auto-Sensitivity has decreased the sensitivity at a certain depth.  It is important to understand this when you are trying to determine bottom hardness as walleyes are often found by finding hard bottom.

Humminbird Auto-Sensitivity

 

The 3rd image shows what appears to be harder bottom on the right side of the image but this is caused mainly by the Auto-Sensitivity increasing the sensitivity as I go deeper (green arrow).

Harder bottom has a wider bottom band and stronger colors like the yellow. It is easily to fooled by this image and think there is a transition from soft to hard bottom which walleyes often prefer.

Lowrance Auto-Sensitivity

Auto-Sensitivity is a great feature but understanding its limitations is important for hunting hard bottom which can result in you greasing the pan for walleye more often.

 

AutoChart Live tutorial Posted on August 12, 2016

This is the Autochart Live Chart Live chapter from the new Doctor Sonar Helix training DVD to released in a few months. Once you use Autochart Live you will be hooked!

Watch Video

AutoChart Live

 

by Bruce Samson under humminbird humminbird GPS

Side Scan Fish Posted on August 02, 2016

Finding fish with side imaging is difficult for most anglers since we don’t have enough screens on the boat. We tend to select map, sonar and Down Imaging and forget about the side imaging, but finding fish is easy if you have the right conditions. One of the problems we run into is that a rocky bottom reflects so much of the sonar it’s bright and fish show up as bright areas which means there is little contrast and they are easily hidden, while softer bottoms show up darker so fish really show up in this image.

Notice all the fish on the right on the first image.

I usually leave my unit on 455 kHz since you get much more range than with 800 kHz.

The next image shows larger fish in the red circle and smaller fish in the green circles. Notice the depth is 3.7 ft.

But don’t be fooled by logs on the bottom left over from the timber logging industry.

Yellow arrows are pointing out the logs.

The red circles are around fish which show up as white dots.

Lowrance StructureScan

The next image has more fish that are longer.  Here we need to remember the length of the fish is dependent on boat speed.  The faster the boat travels the fewer sonar pings that are going to cover the fish so their length will show up shorter.

Another good way for identifying fish is the shadow the fish cast, the farther away the shadow is from the fish the higher in the water column the fish is located.

The red and black circles show fish and shadows. The fish nearer the center are harder to see since the bottom is brighter nearer the center so the shadow becomes helpful in identifying the fish.

Lowrance Structurescan

Learn Sonar Session 16 Posted on July 27, 2016

Interpreting sonar, down imaging and side imaging is very difficult. I have 3 great images to use as examples for teaching interpretation of sonar.

The left side imaging is showing the drop-off as dark (yellow arrows point to the drop-off on the map and side image). Bright is the strongest return and black is none. Since sound goes in a straight line the drop-off is dark.

The red circle is showing fish on the shallow side and I think they are about where the red arrow is pointing on the map. I would mark a waypoint on the side image and cast to the fish since they are shallow. Notice the boat is in 2.9 feet.

The next image shows the drop-off as dark (red circle) and fish are suspended near the drop (yellow arrow). Fish show up well on side imaging since they show up as bright on the dark background. Hard bottom is also bright which makes fish difficult to see on bright background.

This is an amazingly clear image of boulders (green arrow) next to trees (yellow arrow) that slid from the bank into the river.

The red arrow shows a fish in the trees and the white arrow shows a small drop-off.

 

Down Imaging and 2D sonar for Understanding Sonar Posted on June 30, 2016

Don’t miss supper, get better at sonar and fish where there are fish. Use the splitscreen sonar and down imaging and compare the two and you will become an expert.

Down imaging has a narrow wide cone and the 2D sonar has a round cone so they view targets differently and comparing the two makes interpreting sonar much easier.

This image is showing trees and the 2D sonar on the left is difficult to interpret but the down imaging shows the trees well.

Humminbird down imaging

This image shows fish on the side of a boulder but the down imaging shows 2 fish and I get much more excited seeing two fish than one.

Humminbird down imaging

This image shows 2 bait balls in weeds (yellow and green arrows) that the 2D sonar looks like weeds.

Humminbird ONIX

This image looks like stacked fish because of the arches but it is a common when you have posts or trees.

Lowrance DownScan

On this image the bait ball and the larger fish near it are missed with 2d sonar.

Lowrance DownScan

I see images like these everyday on the water since I usually run down imaging with 2d sonar. If you miss a fish on sonar you may miss supper.

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