How to read a sonar fishing finder [2022]

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In the past years, sonar has developed and evolved dramatically. Sonars can detect thousands of fish in a matter of seconds. But how do all these readings help you catch more fish? How can you tell if it’s a small bass or trout?

The answers to all these questions will depend on how well you know your sonar. In this article, I will give you some tips to improve your reading skills so that the next time you take the boat out, your chances of catching fish increase exponentially.

How to read a sonar fishing finder

“See the bottom
The sonar function is just one of many ways to see what’s on the bottom of the lake. It is not a replacement for looking at your depth finder or feeling the bottom as you fish. Use sonar in conjunction with these other skills.”

“It is that you can get all the information you need to make an informed decision about where to cast your line.
You should also know that sonar works under certain conditions, like water temperature and clarity, so it may be less effective during certain times of year.”

Fish arches

You’ll see arches develop as fish make their way toward the bottom of the screen. These are a very good indicator of the activity level of the baitfish, and they also provide information on the composition of the bottom.

Fish arches are most often seen over areas of deeper water; however, they are also capable of developing in shallower waters when schools of forage fish follow a school of baitfish. Fish arches are caused when large schools of forage fish swim in close proximity to one another.

Vertical lines and horizontal lines

The vertical lines are the fish. This can be confusing because you may think that the horizontal lines are fish, but they’re not. They’re actually the bottom or structure of your lake or ocean. Sometimes, there’s a little bit of overlap between the two.

Your sonar might show you both a vertical and a horizontal line at the same time. So goes the life of a fisherman. When this happens, just remember: fish swim up and down, and everything else swims side to side.

Know what the fish are doing

The next concept that you have to get your head around is that fish do not always congregate near the ocean floor. Fish are opportunistic animals that will follow their noses anyplace they may find food. They will do this regardless of the environment.

In your local lake, you might see a few bluegill on top of the water near an old dock or a small school of largemouth bass cruising through an area where weeds grow, but you’ll also find them swimming around in areas where there aren’t any weeds at all!

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you read a simple fish finder?

Simply locate a symbol on the screen, note the depth at which it is shown, and then cast! It’s really easy. You would cast there if your Fish-ID fish finder shows a big rock and you anticipate that a certain species would be present nearby.

What does hard bottom look like on sonar?

It will be thick and golden if you notice a hard bottom, such as gravel, chunk rock, or shell beds. A softer, muddier bottom may seem more transparent or deeper red or blue as you pass over it, in contrast.

Can you see fish on sonar?

Sonars are one of the most effective ways to look for fish since they can detect schools of fish all around the ship whereas Fish Finders can only detect echoes under the ship.

What do shrimp look like on a fish finder?

Small bait will appear as clouds either floating in the water column or just off the bottom (shrimp, sand eels, etc.). Arcs will appear as larger bait and fish, either suspended or slightly off the bottom (where they can be confused with rocks and structure).

What do rocks look like on a fish finder?

Rocks appear as a rough, bumpy bottom. The magnitude of the bumps varies with the size of the rocks. I utilize downscan to discover rocks and gauge their size, regular sonar (2D), side scan to locate boulders off to the side, and normal sonar (2D). Big rocks are seen as spikes on the DownScan.

Moving baits

“I’ve seen plenty of fish swimming along rocks and logs, or even right under my boat!
Fish are constantly moving up and down through the water column looking for food so they’re not just going to sit still when something good comes along.”

You’ve heard that bass enjoy moving baits because they believe it’s alive. Many species agree.Understanding how fish move in their habitat can help you find suitable sites to seek for schools or pods and allow you time before making another throw to modify your retrieve speed/depth if required(more on this later).

Sonar reading

“Sonar reading is a skill that might assist you in finding the sweet spot in your game.
It is by far the most effective method to develop one’s sonar reading talents to put up the effort to practice on a consistent basis.”

It is vital to have a thorough grasp of the kind of bottom you are fishing over in order to identify the types of fish that are likely to be lurking there. This may be accomplished by fishing over a variety of different bottoms.

Sonar reading practice to find your sweetspot

You may do this by paying close attention to the readings on your sonar and making mental notes on the depths and structure of the area around you as you explore. This will allow you to more accurately maneuver your vessel.

If you want to have a better understanding of your sonar, you need to spend more time looking at it. Because of this, you should take advantage of every opportunity you have to practice while you aren’t actively fishing.

Learn sonar to detect the bottom

“Gaining an understanding of how to read a sonar will allow you to locate the bottom, fish, and structure.
Sonar is the main device that we use in our search for fish, structure, and the bottom of the water. “

It is very necessary that you have a good understanding of how to correctly interpret your sonar in order to be able to examine the underwater contours in real time, which is something that sonar is what makes possible.

To find fish and structure

You will have a much better knowledge of how to interpret the information that is presented on a sonar fishing finder if you follow the procedures that are stated in the paragraphs that are to follow, which are as follows:

“Gain an understanding of the many types of settings that are accessible on your equipment.
Educate yourself on the meanings of the various settings and the connections between them.
Train yourself to read your screen when you’re out on the water.”


It is very necessary to have an understanding of how to read a sonar in order to have any chance of being successful while fishing. There is no other approach that is more successful than this one; yet, it is one that requires patience and expertise.

We hope that the next time you go out on your boat, you’ll be able to put what you’ve learned about reading a sonar screen into practice by using your depthfinder. This will allow you to keep reeling in larger fish.

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