Fish finders are gadgets that are meant to identify fish under water. They do this by changing electrical pulses into acoustic energy or sound waves. The most vital part besides the computing element is the transducer, the sonar unit of your fish finder.
How a fish finder transducer works
It sends signals thru-hull or being fixed to the propeller hub or even cast out with a floatable fish finder. However, they all work the same and send signals into the water and then scour the many frequencies to pinpoint the location of the fish.
You won’t see people dangle their rods and line and take it all by chance. Serious anglers read the raw data of everything happening underneath the water’s surface. (Learn About Fishing Essentials)
In most cases, you will find high-quality fish finder transducers that offer you a better chance of understanding what the sonar signal means. Therefore, getting a fish finder with a suitable transducer can be vital.
In our guide, you can learn more about sonar and how it helps you look into greater depths and have a far better chance of catching fish than leaving everything up to chance.
Does a Fish Finder Transducer Work Out of Water?
Since your transducer can’t send or receive sonar signals in the air, you can’t use a fish finder out of the water. , unless they are submerged in water, the transducer will not work.
Transducers configured to work through certain solid substances will work, although these must be connected to the water. Such devices can, for example, send and receive sound signals through your fiberglass boat hull.
The other scenario is modern fish finders have a transducer that can fire its sonar waves through the ice.
Even then, in both scenarios, you need to ensure there is no air between the transducer and the hull surface or ice, as this effectively disables the narrow sonar beam from reaching into the water. (Find the Best Fish Finder)
Fish finders use sonar technology to detect items underwater and stand for SOund NAvigation. The technology uses sound signals to send and receive raw data from the water’s depths.
We see a fish finder work with an ice fishing transducer can work, yet a flasher with one of these transducers is recommended.
Do Fish Finders Actually Work?
A fish finder is a powerful tool to reveal fish and structure in deeper water. A fish finder can also inform you if you are entering shallower waters where your line could snag. You can use these for many types of fish and scenarios, yet many anglers make mistakes when purchasing one.
Here are the mistakes often made and lead anglers to purchase the wrong fish finder. The list here is far from a fish finders for dummies list of mistakes, yet they are often overlooked. You want the right equipment, and knowing the fish finder basics can make all your angling trips more successful.
Never Buy a Fish Finder Without GPS
New anglers may be overwhelmed by the number of features and options available when purchasing a new fish finder: Specifications, power wattage, does it use Chirp sonar, what is the screen size, and the number of pixels might be overwhelming. Is there a transducer included, and can data be shared on social media?
You’ll discover which features you require and which you don’t. Built-in GPS is one of the most crucial features.
You may not associate GPS as a requirement if you are on a lake and your vehicle isn’t far away. However, you can quickly lose your bearings when on a lake or a river that all looks the same. It should be standards for every boater or kayak angler to use fishfinders with GPS.
You can get home quicker by retracing your steps or set the destination where you started.
GPS coordinates come in handy in emergencies. Besides this, a fish finder GPS combo can enable you to make maps. You can now save these, and next time you go fishing, you can punch in the GPS coordinates and head off to the same spot as the last time. (Read Deep Sea Fishing Tips for Beginners)
Buying a Portable Fish Finder Based on Cost
A portable fish finder can be very enticing when browsing fish finders. You will see these can be significantly cheaper than advanced models with massive screens and a host of other features. Cheaper models can appeal yet basing your choice on this alone might lead to inconvenience and an increase in overall cost down the line.
Here are additional details on a portable fish finder:
You can mount these quickly and suitable if you rent boats, go ice fishing, fish from the shore, or if you even wade into the rivers for a spot of fly-fishing. With these, you often get a multi-use transducer you throw in the water. You can also fasten these transducers into the bottom of your fishing kayak.
One Size Doesn’t Fit All
Chirp sonar technology is great and is making its way into more fish finders. However, there isn’t one fish finder that suits every angler. Many factors play a role in which fish finder is right.
You should never think one fishfinder is suitable as every other angler is purchasing the same one. Every type of fish finder has its own advantages, and you need to match these to your fishing style.
Which Way Does a Transducer Read?
However, you can find that this is one mistake you could have in the list of mistakes anglers make. Choosing the wrong transducer type can ruin your fishing expeditions.
Down Scan and Side Scan are the two ways a fish finder works to send out its sonar. The key difference is Down Scan sends signals straight beneath you, and Side Scan sends a fan-like sonar cone angled signal to the boat’s sides.
Down Scan uses the sonar waves to let you spot a single fish in a school or if it is close to weed beds, brush piles, stumps, or bottom structure underwater.
It is also accurate as a down scan increases readability in water forty feet deep or more. However, if you are in shallow waters, the sound wave can be too strong and cause the sonar data to be unreadable.
Side Scan fixes this issue by side imaging as this allows you to see outward with the sonar cone rather than down.
When fitting, you need to ensure your transducer is parallel to the waterline when it is mounted. In addition, you need to fit your transducer as close as possible to the boat’s center.
If you use a trolling motor or boat motor, your transducer needs mounting on the starboard side, should your propeller move clockwise when your boat moves through the water.
If you mount your transducer inside your kayak and mount it to fire the electrical signals from inside the hull, it doesn’t matter on the orientation. If mounting your transducer outside, the smaller and rounded end should face toward your kayak front.
With side imaging, you can find sonar returns up to a distance of 100 feet in each direction outward; however, to be certain, you can define smaller objects, and if your transducer is fitted in hull, it is best to take readings up to 90 feet to maintain consistency. (Read our Kayak Fishing Tips)
Higher frequency transducers have a short wavelength and send many wave cycles each second. You can see many details, yet only used as a shallow depth imaging sonar.
Lower frequency transducers used in imaging sonar have longer waves yet at a slower rate of waves per second. You will find lower frequencies don’t deliver the best signal quality, and it displays fewer details.
Yet, with this, it possesses more energy, and the sound waves can reach further. The imaging sonar can let you know when you have a hard bottom or soft bottom beneath your boat. High frequencies can’t offer this and are used for shallower readings closer to the surface.
How Far Should a Transducer Be in the Water?
Once you learn how to read a fish finder and start understanding fish finder images, things are much easier for your entire fishing trip.
You quickly spot the bottom consistency and where to bait fish without a second glance. However, all this fails if you don’t have your transducer situated in the right position in the water.
For them to work, fish finders are supposed to be in the water, yet if the transducer is inside your kayak, how does the fishing sonar work?
The transducer has to be even with the bottom of your boat or a little under the bottom. Or it has to be on the leading edge of the transom as it could end up too high if your boat tilts out of the water.
Here are the basics of how fish finders work. Most fish finders will be sold as a fish finder GPS combo, so you get a fish-finder head unit, GPS receiver, and the important transducer. Some kits need you to purchase certain things separately, so be aware when you decide.
Transducer elements can be traditional 2D sonar or CHIRP sonar and the down and side imaging we have seen. In 2D, once you are moving from a hard bottom to murky waters, the yellow-blue returns will fade to an orange color.
Besides, Larger fish will have a solid color as big fish have solid mass to return strong signal quality.
Because in-hull transducers may broadcast sonar through the hull, they don’t need direct contact with water. They can be pasted to the hull’s inside. You can also get a thru-hull with fairing. However, the fairing block can slow your kayak as you paddle.
The most popular method of transducer mounting is transom-mount, which uses an adjustable bracket affixed to the outside of the hull, typically near the back end of the boat or kayak. The transducer is inserted into the water with this type of mount.
Some transducers can be mounted to the side of a trolling motor or put into the propeller hub, allowing them to be inserted into the water as well.