Knowing how to interpret side imaging sonar opens doors for anglers, inshore or not. Learn how to unlock this powerful tool.
Interpret Side Imaging Sonar
There have been many game-changing innovations for inshore anglers, like the Power Pole shallow water anchor and Minn Kota’s Ulterra trolling motor.
However, there is another one that goes largely unnoticed and, as a result, is hardly used by inshore anglers.
That innovation is known as side imaging sonar and it’s over ten years old!
Why is it such a big deal?
Because it does two things:
- More accurately shows us what’s underwater
- Covers a wider area
Take a look at the graphic below.
The yellow cone represents conventional “2D” sonar and it’s plain to see that it doesn’t detect much.
In fact, it’s missing the crab trap to the left and the school of speckled trout to the right.
But side imaging sonar scans up to 360 feet to each side of the boat, which is depicted by the green band stretching across the entire graphic.
The crab trap and speckled trout cannot escape detection!
When side imaging is rendered on your graph (or fish finder or whatever you call it) it looks like this:
Do you know exactly what’s represented in this picture?
It can be difficult to make heads or tails of what’s going on, so let’s break it down!
Breaking it Down “Barney Style”
I labeled the picture to identify what’s what for you.
This is where the most recent sonar image is.
It is what just passed under the transducer.
This is the most distant sonar history, whatever was scanned roughly a minute or so ago.
This marks the shoreline on the left (or port) side of the boat.
NOTE: I am intentionally zoomed out to show this.
Shoreline on the right (or starboard) side of the boat.
The surface of the water.
The seafloor directly underneath the boat.
The black space between the surface (represented by “E”) and the bottom (indicated by “F”) is the depth directly underneath your boat.
That’s why it appears black.
The deeper the water, the wider the black band in the middle of the screen.
The vertical lines spreading from the center of the screen indicate horizontal distance to the left and right of the boat.
You can see them marking to 10, 20 and 30 feet, all the way to the 41 feet my side imaging range is set to.
So you can interpret side imaging sonar now. :)
However, just to be sure, I’ve folded the image to give a better idea how you should visualize side images in your mind.
The middle crease is the water’s surface, with the two bottom creases being where the bottom is directly under the boat.
What you see to the left and right of the middle crease represents everything to the left and right of the boat.
Pretty simple, huh?
Want to learn more?
Then check out these seminars:
Sonar is a great tool, especially side imaging, and it’s something I go into detail about inside LAFB Elite.
Knowing how to interpret side imaging sonar enables inshore anglers to unlock fishing opportunities they otherwise wouldn’t have.
If any of this is still confusing, or if you feel there is a better way I can explain it, then please say so in the comments below.
Tight lines, y’all!