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JamesUSCG

Fishfinders: Really beneficial?

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Morning,

I'm curious about the actual effectiveness of fishfinders.

I mean, you watch the water, the shoreline, actually even see fish themselves sometimes, but it seems to me that mostly you learn to know where fish tend to be and fish those spots to cover the water and locate that first bite and then work it. But for the more experienced than I, is there a real, measurable benefit to having a fishfinder? I can certainly see that you could avoid wasting enormous amounts of time in places that look great but don't have any fish within miles, but is that an accurate expectation, or is this the Bait Monkey's cousin, the Expensive Electronics Monkey talking to me?...

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Most helpful in locating structure, particularly in deep water.

This is where the bigger bass live. ;)

8-)  

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A fishfinder is for more than just "seeing" and spottting fish. In fact I have to say that is one of the least important benifits of a fish finder. One of the main purposes is to spot the things you can not see under the water such as structure, points or breaks. If you have the right equiptment you can also locate weedlines and see how high they are.

This is the real benefit of the electronic devices. Do you know how deep the water you are covering is? Can you tell if there is a hump or mound under there? Or are you able to follow the breakline without being able to see it to fish it.

Remember the original fishfinders just gave you water depth. With that information a fisherman was able to find structures underwater that never could have been seen otherwise.

Today with maps and gps in the finders you can do such amazing things to help you locate the fish.

As far as its effectiveness, that is not as important as the person's effectiveness at reading it and interpreting the information.

Vic

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Thank you.

Actually tried something interesting out yesterday. We bought one of those Humminbird Smartcast jobbies that you tie on like a lure and toss it out to where you want to check depth/temp/fish. Transponder looks like a little green submarine.

But I'm conflicted over the thing, so far.

First, it seems somewhat useful. Considering what most people pay for fish/depth finders, $80 plus tax seems pretty decent. And we used it on Castaic yesterday and it, I think, was useful.  I say "I think" because it seemed pretty consistent about readings and most of the info was more or less observationally verifyable, plus, it caused me to abandon an area that looked 'perfect' but which registered absolutely no fish and we went to an area where we hauled in two nice ones. "I think" it helped me make the decision to do that, and if it wasn't just a random thing based on false readings, it paid off.

But it's not very durable. At least I don't think so. It failed after about an hour in the water and 30-40 casts, but the storem took it back so I'm going to give it another try. Worst-case, I return it again. I have to say though, if it works out, it's pretty dang convenient to eyeball a patch of water, decide it looks pretty, and toss the bouy 50 feet straight to it without moving the boat and get instand depth, temp, contour. The display leaves a lot to be desired, though. It's about the size of most of the avatars on this forum, and very low rez. But as was said, it's how you use the basic info, maybe not the super-detail of the screen. Heck, my cell-phone has WAY more detail. Then again, it cost WAY more. I sure like being able to carry both the transponder and the display in my shirt pocket, though.

I'm kinda looking at the Garmin 140, too. Think I could make that more or less portable with some minor modifications.

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The answer to your question is yes. You obviously can't see into the water, and the ability to do so is vastly beneficial. Think about sending a camera to the bottom of the lake and looking around. With the recent implication of these camera systems it is actually possible, but for the majority of us, we need to use our sonars as the image from that camera. And if you stare at that screen for long enough, that's exactly what it will start to look like. If I'm just trying to locate fish say when I'm prefishing a tournament, I can pull up and look down to see whats there. If I graph fish, I can mentally jot down those conditions and search for them elsewhere. If I catch a fish on a location, I will do the same. Even if you're fishing shore cover, that fish chose the location its in for a particular reason. Many times I find it has to do with what is offshore a little from the cover.

You can access a wealth of information from a sonar unit. At first, it looks like a line going across the screen and thats the depth contour and thats it. Couldn't be further from the truth. Water temperature is one of the main factors that dictates my fishing. Most, if not all, fishfinders have a temperature readout. Not to mention the data you can interpret from the seemingly plain line on the screen. Bottom composition, structure, bait, and obviously spotting fish themselves. If you buy one you're going to wonder how you got along without it.

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Thank you.

Actually tried something interesting out yesterday. We bought one of those Humminbird Smartcast jobbies that you tie on like a lure and toss it out to where you want to check depth/temp/fish. Transponder looks like a little green submarine.

But I'm conflicted over the thing, so far.

I have used units like you described.  They are fun especially for the kids I take fishing.  A few things to keep in mind though, when you throw the "submarine" the splash can spook away fish.  So your best readings will come after you let it settle a while or when your retrieving it.  Also you cant tell what kind of fish it is.  It can be a catfish or a turtle.  It will still register as a fish.  

A unit like that you are best using it to get water temp and water depth.  You can locate some weeds on it to if you have the settings right.

Again I had fun with those things.  And it did help me when I used it to bypass an area that looked "fishy" but wasnt.  

From what it sounds like your needs are, you wont need to purchase a 500$ system or anything.  But I would use the one that you have to its maximum potential like searching out cover or drop points.

Vic

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Yes they are very helpful for finding bottom structure. I recently moved to a new area and started fishing some electric only lakes and without my depth finder I never would have found the huge hump in the middle of this lake that fish hold on. The hump goes from about 20ft to 14ft in a very short distance.

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Thanks so much.  Yep, I definitely would love one of those $2000 jobbies with GPS (btw, anybody know where I can get an inexpensive handheld GPS?), color display, etc., but it looks like the basics are pretty much the same technology, and can increase the fun factor.

And it's all about the fun factor.  Especially for my 14 y.o. bait monkey.

(Funny: bait monkey, McDonald's cheeseburger monkey, expensive athletic shoes monkey all seem top be the same guy. Hmmm.)

Thanks very much for the input. Really helps out.

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BPS sells one called the Fishin Buddy.  It has a bracket that clamps down over the side of the boat and then the fish finder slides into the bracket.  The graphics are nothing great, but it does give you an idea of what the bottom looks like and where the cover is.

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