Every hunter wants to know where the fuzz sits… No, this story is a little different – it’s about fishermen! Every fisherman wants to know where to fish and a special device called an echo sounder can help.
Depending on how and where exactly you fish (from the shore or from a boat, in deep lakes or shallow), you will need to choose a suitable sounder. Naturally, you don’t want to give away too much money – there’s no point in buying “fancy” electronics to catch a couple of pikeperch. But you should not go cheap either, otherwise the sonar will hinder rather than help to conduct a successful fishing session.
Basically, echosounders are divided into portable and stationary.
Portable models are ideal for those who fish from shore – they are lightweight and have no extra features that are only useful on the water. But there are also handheld models that are good for fishing from a boat – it all depends on the capabilities of the device.
Stationary ones are usually designed to be installed on a boat or other vessel. They often have a large feature set, large size, large screens and easy operation.
There are also models that attach to wrists, rods and so on. They are not very popular and are rarely produced as they are inferior to conventional stationary and portable echo sounders.
Hull Protection from Moisture
Since all echosounders are designed for use on or near water, the vast majority of their housings are protected against moisture. There are, however, several ingress protection categories and it’s better to choose models that have an IPX7 rating.
The transducer is the key component of the echo sounder. It emits and receives ultrasonic signals which are then converted into an image and allow you to search for fish in the water. Mostly transducer is sold together with the sonar, but sometimes it is suggested to buy it separately (mainly if it is a professional device).
If the sonar is portable, its transducer is usually located on water surface – it is a stuffed with electronics float. But stationary echo sounders mainly use transducer mounted on the boat transom. There are also universal transducer, which can be used in both ways.
An important characteristic of a transducer is the number of beams it emits. The more of them, the more area will be scanned by the sonar and the more information about fish and bottom topography will be provided. If you buy a sounder for use on shore, in most cases one beam will be enough. On a boat, it is better to use models with two or even four beams.
Another important point is the maximum scanning depth. The deeper it is, the worse the quality of information received by the device will be, and at maximum depth the information will simply stop coming. Be sure to estimate the depth of the places where you are going to fish in order to pick up an echo sounder that can cope with its task. For our country is relevant maximum depth scanning in fresh water, but if you are going to go out and fish at sea, you must look at the maximum depth scanning in salt water.
The water temperature information from the sensor built into the echo sounder is useful on two levels. First, fish behaviour depends on temperature, as experienced fishermen probably know. Secondly, many echo sounders cannot be used in too cold water.
If you’re using the sonar on a boat or other craft, a built-in or attached speed sensor will allow you to adjust course and reduce or increase speed to suit the angler’s needs.
GPS module .
The built-in GPS turns a conventional sounder into a chart plotter. It helps you plot routes, remember fish spots, which ones to avoid and more. If you’re really serious about catching fish, you can’t do without it.
Some echo sounders allow to go from flat bottom image to three dimensional one. In many cases such display is more clear and convenient, but models with 3D capabilities are rare and expensive. In addition, many experienced fishermen consider this to be an unnecessary extravagance.
Connecting a computer or flash drive/flash card
Connecting your computer or flash drive/flash card means you can upgrade firmware or download new charts, if it’s a chartplotter. Useful feature for those who fish a lot and for a long time.
Some models are equipped with a video input, which allows you to connect a separate video camera, shooting the bottom. Some echo sounders have video outputs that allow the image to be displayed on an external screen (larger and more convenient).