How to Read a Humminbird Fish Finder

By Wade Johnson

How to Read a Humminbird Fish FinderFishfinders by Hummingbird are quite a popular type of fish finder that helps fishermen and other anglers, and boaters to identify what is beneath the water. This fish finder is capable of showing the bottom of the river, reservoir, or lake, as well as water creatures, structures, and vegetation that are in the lake.

So you are with your brand new fish finder on your boat and you are excited as anything to try out your new fish-catching device. You turned it on and got confused with wavy lines and dots scattered all over the fish finder screen. Well, In order to understand the world of fish finder devices, first you need to know what exactly a fishfinder is and how it works.

Fishfinders are also considered sounders, they shoot out acoustic waves into the water, and measure their strength and speed when the waves return. They are a type of sonar tool which are designed to find a school of fish.

Advanced fish finders have integrated marine radar, GPS navigation, and compasses. The readings are depicted as “echoes” on the screen. So this is how it works, the most and slowest echoes need to be the bottom, and everything that comes in between is either fish or objects.

Learn how to read a Humminbird fishfinder with ease

You start by pressing the “on” button to power up your device. Then, have a look at the readings shown on the digital screen. It sometimes depends on the style and model of fish finder you have, these might be water temperature level, depth, and boat speed readings. Keep in mind that these readings are the result of a transducer that sends out finder signals from the water to the device.

If you study the bottom of the screen and specifically the line that crosses it, you will see a thick and a thin line. The dark thick line represents a tough bottom, while a thin light line tells that the bottom is soft.

Now consider looking above the line that represents the bottom. Lines that extend up from the bottom usually are of submerged wood, hard structure, rocks, or underwater vegetation. Further, Plentiful lines in close proximity to each other show the density of the rocks, wood, or greenery and other objects.

Note that on some designs, the icons may represent fish. It would be better to make notes of where these objects are in the water column. Plus, many fish finders have this problem in that they don’t have the capability to decipher the difference between fish and other objects.

Depth and water temperature

Most Humminbird fishfinders show current water depth in one corner, and the water temperature right below it. If you look down one side of the screen, you will see ascending numbers from top to bottom. These numbers help identify the depth of a particular object or fish.

Becoming an expert in reading a Humminbird fish finder screen to identify fish is one thing, but you could have the opportunity to catch a lot more fish if you just simply combine this information with knowledge. Observing the depth at which fish like to hang out in and the temperature they like can also be a great help. Having a depth finder aboard your boat is best for finding drop-offs and honey holes.

Identify the water bottom

Now have a look at the line that represents the water’s bottom on the screen. A Humminbird fishfinder device uses the strength of the return signal to inform you about whether the bottom is hard or soft. As discussed earlier a thick, dark line shows that the bottom is hard, whereas a thinner line represents a softer or muddy bottom.

It is beneficial to know the difference between the two, as these lines help you track certain species of fish attracted to different bottoms according to the season. For instance, you would probably find bass warming up and hunting crayfish around rocks especially during the pre-spawn.

During the spring, you can also find them hunting bluegill in soft bottoms. Plus, the bottom substrate provides you ease by giving tips on what kinds of lures are appropriate to use there.

Understand underwater structures

If you see right above the bottom line, you would be able to see lines that extend straight upwards from the bottom. The activity that you see on your screen, if it seems attached to the bottom, it is usually considered a good indicator of underwater structure.

As you might already know that identifying structures like this is just perfect for finding fish that more likely hang around in sunken trees, vegetation, or any other thing that might be down there.

Fish ID technology

Humminbird models have fish ID technology that helps in showing a fish icon where the device detects the fish location. Well, according to some anglers, one can actually learn a lot more by reading fish arches instead. Surprisingly, even keen anglers will have this function available but might never have used it.

When a fish goes underneath your boat through your transducer’s beam, an arch appears on the screen. The problem is that some people make the mistake of thinking long arches equal big fish

Also keep in mind that the screen just shows you the time, so a long arch tells that the fish was in your beam for longer. Whereas a shorter arch usually represents a more quickly moving fish.

If you are looking forward to targeting the biggest fish, you should look out for the thickest arch. Modern Humminbird fishfinders have colour screens that help make the difference more visible.

Wade Johnson
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