Fishfinder Tips and Tricks

Learn secret tips and tricks from Aaron Martens that will help you find more fish!
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Aaron:             Good sonar, of course, is really important for me. I like the big units. I don't use four or five units like a lot of guys are doing now. I still use two, but I memorize the buttons really well. Most these graphs now they have memory buttons like the Hummingbirds and Lowrances. You can go into 10 pages with a button or two.


                        I think the guys that don't maybe they can't do that and that's why they have two graphs. I always make fun of them. Is your memory short because they have so many of them. There are a lot of guys that run five graphs. That's a power draw. I don't know how they do that because I run both my livewells a lot of times on manual, and I have lithium batteries. I don't know how they keep their batteries charged and keep them from dying. It's also a lot of noise.


                        A lot of them just keep one for map and then one for sonar. I've actually seen guys that use one and then they had the third one for side scanner and one for down scan and one for sonar and down scan. But I just kind of go through the pages. They don't show that stuff on TV, but I always have a hand up on the graph, and I'm always just pressing buttons back and forth pages and down scan.


                        I use my side scan a lot. Most of that's manual anyways, the width and stuff, so as it gets deeper I go to a slower speed. I do all that, and just try and keep that picture as clear as possible. I don't if you guys had the side scanners, but the deeper you go the slower you do your speed just like on the sonar. You get a sharper picture, and as you go shallower, you speed it up. If you go five feet or less, I go almost seven or eight, compared to 60 or 80 feet, I make it two or three on speed. That's with the sonar, too. Most of them are close to the same, sonar, down scan, the side scan.


                        That's what I mess with the most, and that's my most crucial tool in learning a new lake is the sonar. Phoenix, of course, I meant the Phoenix. The tool I have my most attention to is always that sonar unit. The graph itself, the map. Whenever I go somewhere on these new lakes and I'm running around, I always run a speed I can read my graph good at. I notice a lot of guys back East will wide open to an area, and they'll wide open to another area.


                        I'm one of the few guys that actually putts at 40-45, and I just watch my graph. I'm trying to see bait. I'm trying to see thermocline areas change. Sometimes you'll get rise or lower in the thermocline. You'll see all that at speed. I notice a lot of guys, they don't do that. Maybe it's because I'm trying to learn the lake myself. I graph on pad a lot. I'm sure Russ can do it.


                        When you rig your boat, there are also ways you can rig your side scanner under the water. When you're running I do that sometimes. The St. Lawrence, I haven't done it yet, but I usually put a bracket at the bottom of the boat so I'll have two brackets. I haven't had a use for it this year. You can actually put your side scan bracket in the water so when you're running 45 mph it shows up just like it does when you're going five mph.


Questioner:     Really [??].


Aaron:             Mm-hmm. That's how I learn new lakes. That how I learned New York, Buffalo, in three days. I've never been there before, and I get second in tournament. I learned it, and Edwin thought I got his way points off somebody's graph. He said, "You saw my wave points." I burned 20 gallons on a four-mile stretch. I didn't see your way points. I gridded it on pad. I couldn't go over 45, but I did 40. It showed me everything. Everything my graph would show me at idle, it showed me at speed, 30 mph.


                        You speed up your chart speed, and you work through your sensitivity a little bit, but it shows up just like you're idling at 30 mph. It shows the hills better. When you go over hills and drops, you're going faster so it's easier to read a steepness of the breaks. With your sonar you tell exactly how steep a break is. We're so used to it. Usually when you're running at speed, you see it drop off and you know that's a pretty steep break. When you're idling it kind of goes like that. You know what I mean? A side scan does the same thing as when you're running with the sonar. It shows the breaks really good. That way you can learn it quicker. You can follow those ridges like that. It's about 45 and it'll knock it up. I learned that pretty quick.


Questioner:     You going that fast how high do you have your chart speed set at?


Aaron:             The chart speed? Seven or eight. You can do six or seven, eight. You play with that thing, you'll get a nice clean image. You can still do it 140 feet out pretty good still see everything. I've done it three times. I learned Kentucky that way. Kentucky Lake the changes are so subtle on that lake as far as when you find a school of fish there's no rhyme or reason why the fish are there. It's crazy.


                        There have been a lot of times if you're idling you can't see changes, but if you run it you start to see why the fish are there. Maybe there's a slight depression like that. But it's so slight if you idle it you can't tell the difference. But I found on that lake when I started running it, I found a few schools. I found a ton more just because I could run them and find them. I use the sonar for that most of the time, but that side scanner...I mean you can see the...



Questioner:     You’re just taking it and putting it down deep in the water?


Aaron:             You just put a bracket instead of being up so when you come off  pad it's in the water. You put the bracket at the bottom so the bottom of the side scan...The side scan is actually under water when you're running. It's actually below the hull of your boat.


Questioner:     You mount it so it's actually below the hull...


Aaron:             Yeah, but as soon as you go fast, it'll knock up. But you can go 40 plus. You can go a little over 40 mph which is pretty fast and not knock it up. Do it nice and tight and get it on there. You know how the bracket works, the break-aways?


Questioner:     Yeah.


Aaron:             I graphed. I found out how fast I can go. By the end of the day, I open it up. I started going fast, fast, fast, and all of a sudden, I lost my signal. It was like 50 mph. I told a few guys about them, my friends, and they're all doing it now. It works really good.


                        As long as we're still talking about that, that's how I learn lakes, too. That's one of the things I do. I'm trying to think what else. I do watch the graph all the time, everywhere I go, even if it's deep. I'm always paying attention to the graph.


Questioner:     Do you get extra noise from having two?


Aaron:             I turn them off a lot of times when I'm worried about that. When I start fishing, I always turn my back graph off. I think Hummingbird put that switch on there because of me. I told them the next graphs that came out with had that option to where you can just press the power button to turn the graph off. I told them to do that, and then they did it. They don't sponsor me or anything.


                        I kept telling Hummingbird and Lowrance you need to make it quick where just a button or two to turn your sonar off. We used to have to go into pages and go down the sonar and turn it off. To turn it back on, you did the same stupid thing. I go back up there again and turn it on. Now it's one button. I always turn it off now since it's so easy. Whenever I go to the front, I always turn my back graph off. It's extra noise, and also they still get interference with each other a little bit.

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