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What book do you recommend on depth finders and were can it be purchased?


Dear K:
If you do a Google search for Allan Tarvid, you should find a list of his books on them, as well as a zillion magazine articles. He is the most knowledgeable person in the industry. I believe the magazine articles will provide you all the data you will need.

The following is a good short summary article I came across. I do not know the author.

"Depth finders are nothing more than onboard computers that analyze the data that is being transmitted to it from the transducer. This data is transmitted at a very high rate of speed, and displays what is under your boat. I'm not good with all the technical jumbo - I understand it for the most part, but I believe in keeping things a simple as I can.

First thing - and most important - know where the location of your transducer is on your boat. That is your starting point. As you pass over structure you will then know the location of objects that are on your screen. Since I fish the Ohio River, I have to know how much rope that I anchor with so that I don't anchor behind a piece of structure. I want to fish or place my baits in front of structure for flatheads. I don't use my depth finder to hunt for fish, though sometimes I get lucky and will find some. Mainly I use it to pinpoint structure that I know Flatheads like to inhabit.

Flatheads use deep water as a resting place during the day and venture out to the shallows at night to feed, but that does not mean you have to fish for them in shallow water all the time. I like to start in deep water when it is early in the evening, because I like to have offerings waiting for them as they start to roam.

I use my depth finder to find these locations. If they have structure, like a tree in them or a ledge, then you're on a hot spot! For the most part, a flathead - when he is hungry - moves right up on bait, live or cut. They don't waste any time. That is one of the reasons that I move around a lot. I target active fish, and thirty minutes is plenty of time for them to find an offering.

So let's talk about our depth finders. There are many different kinds, brands, and a range of prices. All have about one or more of the following features:

Sensitivity: Allows you to see from the transducer to the bottom. You can adjust this in the manual mode. If it is set too high it will clutter the screen with all kinds of signals (some that are undesirable). Too low and you may miss something that is on or near the bottom. I run mine in the manual mode with about a 65% range so that it shows some clutter at the top but gives me a nice crisp, clear picture of the bottom. If you run your unit in the automatic mode then it will self adjust to always give you a solid bottom signal?

Arches: Arches on a screen are something I see very few of. To display a perfect arch, like the ones you see in the store where they sell electronics, you have to run directly over that fish and conditions have to be perfect. I have only seen it a few times. I see a lot of half and quarter arches. If you are anchored down and a fish passes through your transducer range they will appear as flat, long horizontal lines on the screen. Air bubbles look like angled broken lines on a screen and are constantly changing. On my Lowrance, I run two modes at the same time. I have the LCD and Fastrak mode, which lets me see what is directly under the boat and acts like a flasher.

Chart Speed: The rate of the echoes that appear on the screen. Another thing that is important - the faster that you run it the more information you will get, and if you are running wide open on the river you want that information as you're passing over it - not after.

Grayline: Allows you to distinguish between a strong and a weak signal, or a soft or hard bottom. As an example; a muddy bottom will show up as a narrow, thin, or no Grayline due to the signal being absorbed, but a rocky bottom throws the signal back fast resulting in a thick or wide Grayline. I also use this feature if I run over a deep hole and I'm marking fish. Flatheads have no scales and they're soft. When I see a large object on or near the bottom; If it's a flathead the Grayline will show it as a thin hump light gray in color or mass. If it's a rock or boulder it will be thick, dark gray in color. This can also be used to target other fish like largemouth, walleye, channel cats, and so forth. Scaled fish will be thick or wide due to the reflection from their scales.

Zoom Mode: Allows you to get down and really look at "what is that thing?" on or near the bottom. I use it when I run over a school of shad to see if there are any fish buried inside that school feeding on them.

Range: Allows you to see any amount of depth that you pick from the top to the bottom of the range. The biggest thing with electronics is to read your manual, understand and learn all that can be learned, and spend as much time on the water as you can to hone your skills. If you have the opportunity to know somebody that is really good at reading and interpreting depth finder signals, spend some time with that person, ask questions, and pick their brain. It will help you when you're out there, and one of the biggest things you must do is to trust your electronics. If they tell you something is there - believe it."

Good luck,
Jim P

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