Effectively using a Fish Finder: 5 Must-Know Tips

Fishfinders are useful when you’re trying to maximize the efficiency of your fishing trip. They use echolocation to locate fish so that you know where to cast your line at. Some fish finders can even tell you the size and shape of the fish, which can be useful if you’re trying to locate a particular type of fish. 

Using a fish finder effectively, however, requires more effort than turning on the machine and heading out. Fishfinders these days have many features, such as GPS, onboard memory, and colored screens. The technology is great, but it can also be overwhelming. Here are five tips for anglers that are just beginning to use a fish finder. 

Get the right type 

When you go to pick out a fish finder, you’re going to discover that there are many types of makes and models out there. Before you start worrying about the features your fish finder has, make sure that you choose the right type. 

There are two main types of fish finders. Down scan fish finders scan below your boat. Side scan fish finders scan to the sides of your boat. Think about the type of fishing you do. Down imaging is typically best for if you’re fishing vertically in deep water. If you’re fishing in shallow water or areas with heavy weed lines, it is better to use side imaging. 

Once you decide the type of fish finder you need, you can begin thinking about other features such as GPS. Check out this list of fish finders from Focus Fishing to learn more about what various features are available. 

Eliminate spots

Fishfinders not only help you find locations where fish are, but they also help you eliminate spots. As you’re scanning various locations in the body of water, you’ll notice which areas have no fish. Or if you’ve been fishing in a particular area for a while, you’ll notice when all the fish have moved on. Fishfinders that identify the size of fish can also help you determine if the fish is worth casting a line for. Eventually, you’ll be able to identify what areas are a waste of your time. If you repeatedly fish at the same location, you’ll start to realize what areas you should always avoid. 

Check all hiding spots

Scanning wide areas can help you determine where the fish are congregating. As you move from location to location, always use your scanner to see if there are any fish nearby. Start making note of areas that seem to have a high amount of fish. It is also common for fish to move around throughout the day. Make note of any patterns you see developing. This can help you quickly find fish on future trips. 

Study underwater charts

Most large bodies of water have underwater charts available online. Some fishing areas will also have charts available online through local agencies. Knowing how to read these charts can help give you an overview of the area before you even begin fishing there. Some maps may even note underwater structures that could be hiding locations for fish. 

Once you’ve identified a particular area on a map, you can then use your fish finder to further explore the area. Take your time while exploring. For example, if you’re exploring a ledge, go over the area multiple times from multiple angles. This could help you discover further hiding spots, such as an underwater cave. 

Practice as much as possible

Practice makes perfect! If you find yourself frustrated after only using your fish finder a time or two, don’t give up. The best way to get used to your new tool is to visit a familiar location where you already know that there are schools of fish. Practice scanning the area to locate the fish and get used to how they’re appearing on the screen. After you’ve found fish, take the time to learn how to figure out what depth they’re at. This is a necessary skill to learn because it can help you figure out the best way to cast your line when catching future fish. 

Once you get used to finding and catching fish in familiar areas, start branching out and applying your skills in new locations. 


If used correctly, fish finders are useful bits of technology that will help you catch more fish. Instead of waiting for the fish to come to you, you can go to them, cast your line, and wait for them to bite!