Although fish finding units are user-friendly yet they require some basic knowledge and help to setup and configure before initiation. There isn’t rocket science behind this, you just need to learn a few tricks and tips to set up fish finders, down scanning, side scanning, structure scan and furthermore particular sonars for particular fish finding units.

For beginners, I would like to tell you about side scanning sonar. Side-scan sonar is usually referred as an alternative term in fish finders such as bottom classification sonar, sidescan sonar, side-scan sonar, side-imaging sonar. It is one of the classes of sonar framework utilized to effectively make a picture of substantial ranges of the ocean bottom.

Steps-By-Steps to Setting up Side Scanning

The two most important things to consider for improving and setting up your side scanning readout or structure scanning (side scanning & down scanning) are the following:

  1. Setting the range and sensitivity(gain)
  2. Adjusting the Contrast.

For further clarification and better understanding, I’m currently taking Lowrance HDS-12 Gen2 Touch as an example and will tell you how you can modify these two things in this unit.

1. Setting the Range and Sensitivity (gain)

In Lowrance HDS-12 Gen2 Touch, for setting the manual range:

  • You need to turn off the auto-range feature and make sure you properly turned it off.
  • Adjusting the depth range depends upon the depth of the water. Adjust the range twice the depth of the water. It can be done in all fish finders. If you’re in 30 ft. of water then adjust your range to 70 ft. i.e. twice the depth.
  • You can also set the range thrice the depth; however it depends upon depth and different fish finders’ functionalities.
  • You also need to readjust the range of fish finders in side scanning or structure scanning to your desired depths. The narrow range will make objects look bigger and clearer.

On account of setting the manual sensitivity (gain):

  • You need to turn off default setting of the auto sensitivity of a Lowrance HDS-12 Gen2 Touch.
  • To view the faint structure/echo of second bottom, adjust the feature of sensitivity, manually. If you’re approximately at the depth of 30ft. then you’ll see this echo/structure at 60ft.
  • At this stage, sensitivity (gain) is set properly for Lowrance HDS-12 Gen2 Touch. In case of not adjusting the sensitivity feature properly, you won’t find anything in-between the bottom and your boat.
  • If you’re fishing in more shallow or deeper water, you need to adjust your sensitivity according to it.
  • After adjusting the sensitivity (gain) manually, you can also apply any filters which you have turned off before adjusting the gain manually in order to compare the difference of both readings and adjustments.

2. Adjusting the Contrast

The second important thing to look for side scanning setup and improvements is adjusting the contrast. Generally in Lowrance HDS-12 Gen2 Touch, we are given the options of setting the contrast either manually or automatically simultaneously.

The auto-contrast option is usually set by the particular manufacturer of Lowrance HDS-12 Gen2 Touch unit:

  • The default setting is set after a lot of research and beta testing to determine best possible contrast settings.
  • Auto-contrast features work fine as per fish finders claim because you don’t need to go deeply through the unit – which is what, every fish finder wants.
  • Auto contrast option is usually set in between high contrast range and low contrast range i.e. neither too high nor too low.

In case if you’re interested in setting your own values of contrast or manual contrast then you need to turn off the auto-contrast feature:

  • Different fish finders have different screen displays but usually in touch screen fish finding units like Lowrance HDS-12 Gen2 Touch, contrast can be modified by a single touch.
  • If you scroll up you’ll see brighter contrast
  • If you scroll down you’ll see darker contrast,
  • It helps to identify the difference of the sight with dark or light shadows of objects beneath your boat.

Other Fish Finders

I hope you’ve understood the idea of setting the side scanning on your fish finder. As aforesaid, I took an example of Lowrance HDS-12 Gen2 Touch because it covers all the options of other fish finders as well. So if you learnt how to adjust the contrast and range of that unit then most possibly you can do it on other fish finders as well.

1. Setting the range and sensitivity (gain)

Similar is the case for setting the range and sensitivity (gain) in other fish finders. In order to set the range and sensitivity gain, two things are important to consider doesn’t matter which fish finder you’re using:

  • Depth range of water
  • Your range from depth of water

2. Adjusting the contrast

In other fish finders, you’ll get the similar options of adjusting the contrast manually or auto-contrast depending upon the interface of that unit but principle will remain the same in all fish finding units. Side scanning can be done in same way as we did with Lowrance HDS-12 Gen2 Touch.

These are some core elements to be considered while setting up and configuring side scanning in fish finders. Settings and adjustments are dependent on the interface of the fish finding units provided by the manufacturer, but I believe if you’re passionate fisher then you can easily learn these tips and tricks of setting the side scan and structure scan.