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I think a more appropriate question is "Who DOESN'T use a fish finder when lake fishing?" (from a boat, anyway). I like to hear the stories of how folks use various ground landmarks to line themselves up on a lake to pinpoint their favorite spot. These days it seems like you are at a disadvantage by not having one, however, there are some pretty competent folks that want to stay away from electronics and it's always interesting to hear their perspectives.

However, I agree with all the other comments about FF's being indispensible for finding structure, especially on new lakes. When you integrate it with a GPS (or have a separate GPS unit), it becomes even more useful as you can return to the same spots and they can even help you get back to the dock as it starts to get dark and you've lost your bearings (been there ;)). Of course, the price then rises dramatically. I would recommend the Lowrance fish finder tutorial to give you a good background:

http://www.lowrance.com/Tutorials/Sonar/sonar_tutorial_01.asp

I have never had any luck looking for fish at higher speeds, however. They say this is related to proper transducer positioning, ping speed and perhaps other settings. I would be interested to hear from the people who can see fish schools at >20 mph and how they do it.
 

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roadkill said:
anyone have first hand knowledge of the reel pricy units in the $1000 range?
are they worth it?
In my opinion my mid price LMS-332 does everything the bigger more expensive units do. Some of my friends have the 104 and 111 (10" screen). Nice, bigger, a little more resolution, but the same info. Color is great, - kinda like black and white TV vs color TV.
 

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TAL0362 said:
roadkill said:
anyone have first hand knowledge of the reel pricy units in the $1000 range?
are they worth it?
In my opinion my mid price LMS-332 does everything the bigger more expensive units do.   Some of my friends have the 104 and 111 (10" screen).  Nice, bigger, a little more resolution, but the same info.  Color is great, - kinda like black and white TV vs color TV.
is that lms-332 color?
 

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The 332C is the next addition for my boat.  The old Lowrance went south on me.  The color is so
much easier to see in bright sunlight versus the units without color.
Was going to get the 2006 334c unit but have learned that they are not the best choice when
mounting on the dash with a windshield surrounding the sonar.  The internal GPS antenna does
not work well in that situation.  The Lowrance site even says that they are for open area mounting.
 

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Knowing the depth, water temp, structure, and knowing where the fish are holding will give you the upper hand. Don't leave home without it! My friends and I use one man pontoon boats with electric motors .They use the fishin' buddy, and I have a portable humming bird. I find that the fishin buddy is much less accurate. The humming bird works well if you can find a good spot to mount the transducer.
 

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How effective would it be to mount one on a pontoon or bellyboat? will it only detect fish below your position or can you direct it forward? i fish fairly shallow waters from a pontoon, but would be more interested in fish activity to my sides and front...

i was contemplating mounting a belly boat type model on my pontton...but dont know if it would be effective or just a waste of money...and i dont know much about such equipment.

Ken let me play with his sonar once...i spent more time looking at my jig under his boat than actually fishing...so i dont know if its a good idea if i got one or not, id spend all of my time screwing around instead of trying to catch fish.... ;)
 

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Another thing to remember (and we found out a few times last summer), a fishfinder will show you fish on the screen where you are at, but.............that sure doesn't mean those fish are biting.
Also, what about the "fish camera". You mount a screen type thing on the boat and a camera type thing is in the water. It's actually a live picture that shows you the fish under the boat. I seen this thing in a magazine was sort of stunned at how it looked. And, it wasn't cheap either.
Cody (cowboyfisherman)
 

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Using the Hot Spots and Enhanced Lake Maps (free) it covers most of the waters I fish.  There are a few lakes that dont have all the detail but I believe the combination of Hot Spots and Enhanced gives the most coverage.

You need to list out the lakes you fish and want to fish and see which map company has the most coverage. I had to buy two chips from Hot Spots, the West and South chips but the way they divide the country forced me to do this. I'd like to see them have a registration fee that gives the boater the ability to download a set number of maps. That way you could build a chip that has exactly what you need. As an example, I need the south chip for NM, TX and NE but I will never fish the Florida lakes with my boat and electonics.
 

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Rottal said:
How effective would it be to mount one on a pontoon or bellyboat?  will it only detect fish below your position or can you direct it forward?  i fish fairly shallow waters from a pontoon, but would be more interested in fish activity to my sides and front...

i was contemplating mounting a belly boat type model on my pontton...but dont know if it would be effective or just a waste of money...and i dont know much about such equipment.

Ken let me play with his sonar once...i spent more time looking at my jig under his boat than actually fishing...so i dont know if its a good idea if i got one or not, id spend all of my time screwing around instead of trying to catch fish....   ;)
I have a Fishing Buddy 2250 (predates the II and III series) that I used to use on my U-boat II and now use on my FishCat 8 pontoon boat.  I use it on  almost all of my trips, except those where I know that I'm going to be fishing cover I can locate visually.  It is a must if I'm trying to locate structure offshore or if I'm targeting suspended fish or pelagic fish like trout, kokanee and wipers (I use it to both look for fish and track my downrigger ball when fishing for kokanee).  It also comes in handy for finding those subtle changes in depth that can indicate good fishing spots...one one pond (ex-gravel pit) I frequent, there's a small ridge, only about 4' wide, that runs for about 30'.  It only sticks up a foot or so above the surrounding area, but because it is different, it holds largemouths consistently.  Without a finder, I'd have never known it was there!

Here's another example of how they can be useful.  There are a couple of ponds in Fort Collins with a number of submerged brushpiles.  If you just walked up to the pond and scanned it, you'd never find them, because they are now 3 - 4 feet below the surface.  You might get lucky by kicking one with your fins (that's how I found shallow structure in my pre-fish finder days...and I still get the willies when I kick and object I assume is "structure", circle back, and can't find it again.  With a fish finder, you can set up a simple search pattern and quickly locate the piles.  Why would you want to do this?  Well, on a good day, there's at least one bass per pile, and one of my best CO bass (22") came off one of these brush piles.  Again, without a finder, finding these brushpiles is hard work (you could do it with a Carolina rig or a deep-diving crankbait).

What else?  I like the side-finder feature of the Fishing Buddy series.  I set mine so that it scans the away from the pontoon so that I can locate fish that are ahead, or behind of me.  This works particularly well for trout, because they spend a lot of time in open water.  I used to have one of the holsters that fits on your float tube, but it didn't work well on the pontoon.  I ended up making my own mounting bracket out of PVC, because I found that the included boat mounting bracket vibrated too much when I was trolling, and you want the transducer solidly fixed to get accurate depth readings.

Hope this helps...
 

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That helps...the Fishing Buddy series of fish finders was in fact one of the ones i was considering...if it has a side finder feature then thats the one i think ill get. As i said i was interested in being able to see if any fish were moving to my front and sides instead of directly below me...i plan on mainly using it for looking for schools of wipers in shallower water at Union...
 
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kirbydog said:
I do, I do.  Honestly, I'd be lost without mine.  It would be like fishing blind.  Got one on the console and one on the bow mounted trolling motor.  Even if all you look at is how deep you are and basic bottom contour, it makes a hugh difference.
I'm with you, kirbydog. On all counts.
 

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Don In Denver said:
kirbydog said:
I do, I do.  Honestly, I'd be lost without mine.  It would be like fishing blind.  Got one on the console and one on the bow mounted trolling motor.  Even if all you look at is how deep you are and basic bottom contour, it makes a hugh difference.
I'm with you, kirbydog.  On all counts.
That makes sense....as of now the only way i have determining water depth and bottom contour is with the soles of my feet when i wade...which isnt the preferred method. I think ill try out the sonar idea on my pontoon.
 
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