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How to Read a Fish Finder Screen Effectively for Beginners and Professionals

If you are looking out for a detailed instruction of how to read a fish finder, then you have found the right content. If you’re still looking out how to find the best fish finder for your kayaking, we also have the best information and what to consider before buying one - we recommend you check it out. But if you already have one, then we have carefully laid out some steps to helping you read and use your fish finder effectively.

A bad fishing experience can either be caused by lack of fishing skills or absence of right tools. If you find it difficult locating the best spot of big fishes, then you sure need the right tool to help you achieve this. Luckily there is a solution. Fish finders have really made its way to becoming popular among kayaking enthusiasts. Now you have your fish finder, but it’s not certainly going to tell you how and where to navigate for the great catch. You need to really master how to read a fish finder effectively.

If you have never used a fish finder, you are going to be confused and frustrated seeing some ugly waves and lines all over the screen. I know what’s going to go through your mind; “I just wasted my hard earned money”. Well you didn’t. Fish finder will require some skills to really learn how to interpret these waves and curves.

Fish finders work with a transducer. They send out sound waves and receives echoes when it hits obstacles under the water. These speeds, rate, distance and strengths are measured and then interpreted on the screen of your fish finder as echoes. These signals are displayed as thick colored lines on the screen at different depths which represents the position of the fishes based on where it appears on the screen. It’s that simple.

There are different types and model of fish finder and we understand that there may have slight differences reading them since they have different features. We are going to use some of the commonly used fish finder in the market. You should know how to read a fish finder after sincerely reading through our content.

how to read a fish finder screen

Above is the screen display of the Humminbird PiranhaMax 190c which is a beginner’s fish finder.

You will observe two readings on the top left of the screen, they represent the current depth view and the temperature of the water at that depth (an important features as it helps predicts where to spot out some species of fishes since some species prefers warm water while other survives better in cooler water).

These features are common to most modern fish finder, however, some fish finder doesn’t have this feature if the transducer don’t have the sensor to read temperature. As you move on the water, this reading changes from right to left. What you are seeing to the right is the most recent reading.

Another feature common to some fish finder is the speed sensor that displays the speed at which you are moving. Being able to read and interpret these features is what makes you a great and professional angler.

How to Read a Fish Finder Using the Color and Echo Return Strength

Fish finder comes either in color or black and white. Whatever type you have, you should be able to interpret it. We have established the fact that the transducer receives echo signals which is interpreted on the screen. Essentially, the stronger the echo signals, the darker or stronger color displayed.

Consider the screen above, you will notice two different layers - a thick red wave line which represents the bottom or seabed of the water or whatever body of water you are.

Following immediately after the thick red line is an area of green portion which represents a soft area like clay. When echoes hits a hard surface, it returns as a strong signal and the reverse is the case when it hits a soft area. A very hard bottom will have just a single thick line and nothing below it.

Basically, most fish finder represent the SONAR waves it receives from the transducer as lines and arches as we have seen for the Humminbird PiranhaMax 190c. But some latest technology developed have been able to convert these information into a more visual interface on the screen. So you could have some fish finder that displays real fish on the screen and even in sizes. There are easy to use and understand, but the downside is that they are not as accurate as using the traditional transducer.

How to Read Arch Fish Finders

There are also some type of fish finder that represent the data it receives from the transducer as arch and lines and its left for the angler to interpret it – this is the reason why having a knowledge of how to read a fish finder becomes an advantage.

How to read a fish finder

When it receives a reflected sonar waves, from a moving object, it displays it as an arch. Since fish and other moving organisms’ moves in water, a fish will definitely be represented as an arch while other stationary objects will be represented as a line.

Essentially, the bigger the arch, the bigger the fish in view. Objects like plants and rocks may be a bit challenging to differentiate, but arch fish finders is simply one of the best and accurate fish finder you can ever use.

Fish finders are actually a must have kayaking equipment if you want to catch the biggest fish in no time. Reading a fish finder isn’t actually difficult.

You can find some video resources with detailed tutorials on how to read a fish finder online depending on the brand and model you settle for. You may find it difficult within your first few weeks of using one, but with constant practice, you will soon become a pro with accuracy. Before buying one, you should also consider the type and your budget.

There are also some fish finder that features a chartplotter and also a GPS that works without internet connectivity. With such features, you can never have a dull moment throughout your fishing activities.


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