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Fish Finder Frequently Asked Questions Volume 3

Questions about fish finders? Send an email to questions@notjustfishing.com

Questions:
My name is Steve and I am a sportsman. That means I trust other sportsman, and take a man for his word. Just because I'm a sportsman, doesn't mean I understand as much as my kids do on the computer. Which brings me to my question.

I keep a small 18 foot boat on the island of Elethura in the Bahamas. I want to purchase a fish finder. My friends on the island tell me that I need to accurately read down to at least 1000 feet. I want a nice unit that will last. That is easy to install, and more importantly, easy to understand.

It would be best if it sells with a video, as I learn best when someone shows me how. I liked the Humminbird 997 SI, but it's a little steep for my pocketbook.
Should I wait, should I buy? What is the best bang for the buck?
I have a hand held gps, should I purchase a fishfinder with a chartplotter?
I would really appreciate your honest advice. I looked at your website, and you guys look like your straight shooters.
Steve W

Answer:
My first thoughts about your problem.
Ask yourself how much fishing do you do?
Two weeks per year. Not much, but it goes to show that none of us have time to waste on the water.

What type of fishing do you do? Deep or shallow water?
Most of my fishing is from 150 to 250 feet deep. I don't need a portable unit, but if it is portable, so much the better. I mentioned 1000 feet because we are looking for underwater islands that may be in 1000 feet, but that may be misleading. We fish a wall that drops from 150 feet to over 1000.
However, I look for underwater islands that raise up from that depth and big fish hang in those areas suspended from 100 to 300 feet.


Do you actually catch fish at 1000 feet?
I am not a saltwater fisherman so my knowledge is limited. A fish finder is just a tool that helps you save a lot of wasted time. The rest is up to you. Your looking to find fish so your wanting to know their habits, their cycles, when do they become agressive or placent, eating habits, breeding. Their supply of food sources. You will have to do some research, books, magazines, talk to the locals.
If your looking to read down to a 1000 feet, it sounds like you want to be able to read the bottom, which is good because the fish finder will tell you not only about structure but also the consistency of the bottom, mud, sand, clay, vegetation.

The bottom in this area will be reef, and ridges. Reefs can be 50 feet high, and it would be nice to get something that could see baitfish schools. Ease of use is a big consideration. I would like to spend under $1000.00 USD.

There are a lot of good fish finders out there, Humminbird, Lowrance, Furuno, Eagle. A couple of things I look for is the warranty and service package. If it breaks down, I want to be able to get it repaired fast and back in the boat. So, I guess my recommendation before you purchase.

Focus on exactly what you want to accomplish with the fish finder, gps unit. I think that fishing saltwater you might need side sonar or side imaging. Agreed!
You'll need a fish finder with high wattage at least 500 Watts RMS not peak to peak to cut thru dense water.
You'll need the GPS to mark the waypoints, not so much that you caught fish but for the structure, shoals, saddles, wrecks, vegetation, etc.
You'll need to know exactly how much money you want to spend or what the wife will allow you :-) This is information on the Humminbird 997 -->Humminbird 997 Manual

What do you think of that unit?
You'll need Adobe acrobat reader. --> Humminbird 987 Manual
Since you have a hand held you might want to stay with that manufacturer if you like what you've got for compatibility and accessories although if it is NMEA, you can interlink.
Normally I would agree with you on that point, but the handheld was a cheap gift, and I don't want to limit myself because my wife found an $80.00 GPS at Walmart.

I guess when the restaurant business all say location location location, in this case, I stress ease of use or getting something that offers a video to learn from. It's not mandatory, but I'm pretty stupid when it comes to figuring out a lot of these features. Thanks again for your help!
Sincerely, Steve W

More Fish Finder Questions: Questions about Side Imaging Sonar