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How to Read a Fish Finder

Last Updated on July 26, 2022 by Donnell Henderson

With a modern fish finder, you can see what’s happening underwater through sound waves. The device will show where there are congregations or schools of certain species and know better than anyone else on your Boat whether their bait is working correctly about the location where different types live (like bass). Modern fish finders work by sending sound waves underwater and reading the echoes that return to our ears. The more bounce backs, the brighter or closer an object is located concerning water depth, etcetera – it can make finding critters easier. However, not all fishermen understand this technology, so some companies should do their customers a favor by providing instruction manuals on how best to use these devices.

Understanding Fish Finders

If you’re new to the world of fish finders, it can be overwhelming to figure out what kind will work best for your needs. When selecting a unit, many things need consideration, including size and weight considerations. Then comes the process of correct installation of a traditional sonar. This step is rather complex as it’s not very easy to place it correctly, and every fish finder has different requirements and features that need to be seen at the installation time, like its display screen and transducer.

how to read a fish finder

Not only this but once these hurdles of installation and selecting the suitable model for yourself have been overcome, don’t assume everything else involved with using these innovative fish finders would come naturally. After all, even experienced anglers sometimes struggle with reading displays and don’t know how to use the chosen best fish finder in its true meaning and fuller functions.

Understanding fish finders is a bit tricky, but not for the enthusiasts who figure out very soon with some noticing what fish look like on a fish finder, what other objects and species look like on the screen, and what they are underwater.

If you are looking for a guide to understand how your newly bought fish finder works or how to use a fish finder works, then don’t worry. You’ve landed at the right place, and figure out very soon how it works.

Here’s How to Read a Fish Finder Properly

Fish finders work by sending out sonar waves that bounce off of objects in water and return to a fish finder, giving it its ability to locate the sea floor. The transducer reads all this data and converts it into visual representation such as thick colored lines or arches on maps that show depths at various points around your location. Also, you can tell where there might be fish by looking at the fish finder display for their presence near shorelines.

Identifying Fish

You might not always know what kind of fish you’re looking at. But with this new technology, it’s easy. If you have a fish finder with GPS just input your location or place your transducer and turn on GPS, and the system will show all sorts of information. This can be about whatever is down there, including how many inches deep the fishes are or the temperature in Fahrenheit/ Celsius.

The most important thing you need to know is how to identify fish on the fishing line with a hand-held device, and two types can be seen.

1. Fish Icons

Knowing how deep the fish is and what size it may be can make all of your days. The Fish-ID technology allows you to convert sonar waves into images, making this process much easier for users. They even include different sizes so that no matter where we go fishing in our boat or on foot with a rod & reel, there will always come some relief when looking at these incredible screens. Additionally, the user-friendly options of fish icons on the screen ask for no additional knowledge as they are the same as the fishes.

The downside? There isn’t one perfect option out there – each model has its pros and cons, which sometimes means things work beautifully while, other times, they are not quite as easily usable.

2. Fish Arches

Knowing how to use an arch-based fish finder is essential for identifying small and large fishes. The arch fish finder will indicate everything in the water, including rocks or pieces of underwater grass-but you’ll eventually learn what makes them different from each other when they’re all indicated by arches.

Fish arches are more accurate, and once you learn how to differentiate between different types of underwater grasses or rocks in the water–you’ll be able to spot any small creatures that may swim past. The larger the arches on this device mean it will show up as something bigger than what’s there. But just remember: You can always tell whether anything is considered food by looking at its size compared with other objects around them before deciding whether pull triggers or not.


The depth finder is a common feature in most modern-day fish finders. It senses the water below your vessel and can tell you what type or how deep it goes before giving an estimate for statistics on that particular area’s inhabitants – usually either inch (in) or meters(m). The depth is necessary to figure out as you will have to determine the length of the cord and the area. It’s usually visible on the top or bottom of the screen and connects with the fish finder head unit.

The accuracy will depend largely upon which model of device one purchases — do check out our recommended fish finders. However, all should have fairly clear readings with acceptable range so as not to give inaccurate information because there was not enough fidelity placed into measuring these distances precisely.

Water Temperature

Any fisherman worth his salt knows there’s more to fishing than just dropping a line in the water and waiting for a fish to bite. To be successful, you need to have a good understanding of the aquatic environment and the habits of the fish you’re trying to catch. One way to gain this knowledge is by using a depth finder, an electronic device that uses sonar to measure the depth of the water and the temperature of the water column. By knowing the water temperature on most fish finders, you can start to get an idea of what kind of fish might be in the area. For example, warm-water species like bass and big fish are more active in warmer months, while cold-water species like trout are more active in cooler months.

Additionally, if you want to know what fish look like on a fish finder and different species of fish, then you can look for the temperatures you are in as they prefer different water temperatures, so by finding the thermocline and looking temperature reading on your depth finder, you can get a better idea of what kinds of fish might be in the area. From there, it’s just a matter of finding the right spot and putting your lure or bait in front of them. So next time you’re out on the lake or river, don’t forget to take along your depth finder and use it to your advantage.


When you’re out on the lake fishing, you may want to try your luck in areas with vegetation. Just like logs, your fish finder will show a spotter return or vertical lines on the screen when you bump into areas with plants. This is because the roots of the plants help to hold the fish in place, and the dense network of blades helps deflect wind and water. In addition, the vegetation helps slow down the flow of rainwater, giving the fish a chance to absorb the water before it runs off. As a result, casting in areas with vegetation can be a great way to catch fish.


The speed sensor is a feature on most fish finder displays that shows you how fast you move. It’s similar to a speedometer and can be very useful for anglers and fishermen. By using and appreciating all the features that fish finders provide, you can become a better angler and fisherman. Knowing all the little things is important, so make sure to pay attention to detail when you first purchase a fish finder.

In addition, speed sensors can help Boat safely by giving you an accurate reading of your speed. This is especially important when trolling for fish arch on a fish finder, as you must maintain a certain speed to be effective.

Speed sensors can also help you find fish by showing you areas with high or low activity. High activity usually indicates good fishing conditions, so knowing where the high activity areas are can help you locate fish more easily. Speed sensors are just one of the many features that fish finders offer, so make sure to familiarize yourself with all of the features before heading out on your next fishing trip. With a little practice, you’ll be using your fish finder like a pro in no time.

Identifying Colors

While looking at your fish finder mounted, you may notice that the screen is either in color, black and white, or grayscale. The screen’s color is closely related to how strong the echoes return to the transducer. For example, if the echo is strong, then the color on the screen will be darker. If the echo is weaker, then the color will be lighter. It is important to note that density and hardness are both factors in echo return strength.

The seabed, or bottom of the body of water, is typically the darkest object on the screen. The bottom may appear as a thick, bold line or a thin, light line. If it is a light line, it likely indicates a softer ground material, such as clay. In contrast, if the bottom of imaging fish finders appears as a thick, bold line, it likely indicates a harder ground material, such as rock. By understanding how to interpret the colors on your fish finder screen, you will better understand what type of objects are in front of your Boat.

Echo Return Strength

A fish finder can be a valuable tool for locating potential fishing spots when you’re out on the open water if you know the fish finder basics. However, reading the echo return strength on a fish finder can take some practice. The echo return strength is measured in decibels (dB), indicating how strong the signal from your transducer is when it bounces back off of an object. Generally speaking, a strong signal is indicative of a large object, while a weak signal is indicative of a small object.

In addition, the signal’s color can also provide information about the object’s composition. For example, a red signal is typically indicative of a solid object, while a green signal typically indicates vegetation. With a little practice, you’ll be able to quickly interpret the echo return strength on your fish finder and use it to locate potential fishing spots.


Whether you’re an experienced angler or just starting, a fish finder can help you locate fish and figure out where they’re biting. But what do all those squiggly lines on the screen mean? Depressions, or “dips” in the bottom contour, can be key places to fish, as they often indicate areas where fish congregate. Here’s how to spot them on your fish finder:

  • First, look for a break in the continuity of the bottom contour. This will usually appear as a sudden change in slopes, such as a sharp drop-off or an undercut bank.
  • Next, look for a depression that is deeper than the surrounding area. A dark area usually indicates this on the screen.
  • Finally, look for depressions that are surrounded by baitfish. These are often good places to fish, as the baitfish attract predators looking for an easy meal.

By following these tips and identifying the areas, you’ll be able to quickly identify depressions on your fish finder and start catching more fish.

Types of Points

A fish finder is a tool that uses sonar to detect fish in the water. It works by sending out sound waves and then measuring how long it takes for the waves to bounce back. The returning sound waves are then converted into electrical signals displayed on the fish finder’s screen. The location of the fish is determined by the time it takes for the sound waves to return. Fish finders can be very helpful for fishermen, as they can give them an idea of where the fish concern their Boat. However, interpreting the points on a fish finder’s screen can be tricky. Here are some tips on how to read points on a fish finder:

  • Look for lines or arches: The first thing you should look for when interpreting points on a fish finder is lines or arches. These lines or arches represent the edge of the fish’s body. The longer the line or arch, the larger the fish.
  • Look for dots: Dots on a fish finder’s screen represent small baitfish or other small organisms in the water. They will usually be clustered together, as baitfish tend to school together.
  • Look for blips: By looking at the pattern of blips, anglers can get an idea of where the fish are and what type of bottom they are swimming over. Fish finders can be very helpful in finding fish, but it is important to remember that they do not always give accurate information. There may be times when the bottom is too hard for the sonar waves to penetrate or when schools of baitfish confuse the readings. For this reason, it is always best to use a fish finder as one tool in your arsenal rather than relying on it completely.

Bottom Ground Type

When you are out fishing, it can be difficult to know what type of fish you will catch. However, if you have a fish finder, you can get an idea of the bottom type and hardness, giving you a better chance of catching the fish you want. The hardest part can be reading the hardness scale on the fish finder.

The numbers on the hardness scale range from 1 to 10, with one being the softest and ten being the hardest. The bottom type is determined by the pressure required to compress the sediment. For example, sand requires less pressure than clay. The hardness of the bottom is also affected by the amount of organic matter present. A higher percentage of organic matter usually indicates a softer bottom.

Once you know how to read the bottom types of hardness, you can use this information to select the best bait and fishing spot for your desired fish. With a little practice, you can find the perfect spot for any type of fish.

Final Thoughts

Buying a fish finder has become a necessity for professional fishermen. However, understanding how to use a fish finder and how to read a fish finder is crucial to benefit from it. The first thing you need to do is figure out what the different parts of the screen represent. The top half of the screen is usually where you’ll see the water depth, while the bottom half is where you’ll see the return from the transducer. The returns are usually shown as either dots or flashes, and each dot or flash represents a fish. The bigger the dot or flash, the bigger the fish.

Next, take a look at the color palette on your fish finder. Different brands will use different colors, but red indicates deep water, while green indicates shallower water. Blue is usually used to show intermediate depths. Finally, pay attention to the contour lines on the screen. These lines indicate changes in-depth, and they can help you identify potential.

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