I recently bought a Minn Kota Ultrex 112 / 36 volt trolling motor for my boat. Man talk about a game changer in my fishing experiences! Not only does it utilize the “Spot Lock” feature and the “Auto Pilot” feature it has changed the way I now mark and fish my waypoints while on the water.
Since I started doing “Recordings” with my Humminbird SI units several years ago, I now almost only mark structure that I’ve found on the lake bottom. This could be stumps, points, sunken treetops, old sunken boats or anything else I’ve found that could or does hold fish. I fish for both bass and crappie so marking sunken treetops really helps with my crappie fishing.
What I now do it view my recording on my home laptop from my last fishing trip to see if I have found anything that I need to take a better look at or to mark and fish. Take a look at the video below and you’ll see that I’m using the “ReefMaster Sonar Viewer” software that I’ve blogged about several time on this blog site. I do recommend that you spent the $49 dollars on this software and learn to use it. It will make a difference in how you view and use your Side Imaging.
Now that you have watched the video on how I mark my waypoints and my anchor spots here is an image of how I go to my waypoints. As you can see in the image there is a “Green” and a “Purple” heading line on the map screen. The “Green” line is from the internal “Course Up” heading from the Humminbird unit. And the “Purple” heading line is from the Humminbird AS GPS HS GPS Receiver (Precision GPS/WAAS receiver with Heading Sensor provides fast position fixes accurate within 2.5 meters or 8.2 feet. Provides more accurate position fixes than the industry standard GPS.) which is an electronic heading compass. This compass sensor will cost you around $200 but in my opinion it is worth the extra expense.
To go to my waypoint that I want
to fish I just line up the “Purple” line with the “AnchorTop” waypoint and the “TreeTop”
waypoint and when I get to the “AnchorTop” waypoint the treetop is straight in
front of the nose of the boat at either 40 or 50 feet. Hit your “Spot Lock” on
the Ultrex and make you cast to the treetop. I also use the “Casting Rings” on
all my waypoints so that I can make my cast to the waypoint from different
angles is I want to.
As for fishing the waypoints I try to get the best angle on the structure as I can to get the best coverage for my cast. Here is an example of what I mean by this. Let’s look at all four angles in the image. At waypoint number “1” this is the best angle to fish the top as I am making my cast across the top and have a wide target area to cast to. At waypoint number “2” this is also a great angle to fish this top from in the way of coverage and the lest likely as to get hung-up in the top as you are bringing your lure through the top with the limbs. Waypoint number “3” would be the same s waypoint number “1” and the wind would determine if I wanted to fish this one instead of waypoint number “1”. The last one waypoint number “4” would be the worst one to fish as you would be pulling your lures through the limbs and the most likely to snag or hang-up your lures.
I hope you find this blog useful
and the software and this tip will help you become a better fisherman and how
to get the most out of your sonar units to catch fish. After all that is the reason,
we spend the big bucks for these units.
I love to do recordings with my Humminbird Onix Touch 10SI and my Helix 12 Gen2 SI. I’ll spend hours sometimes just riding around and scanning the lake bottoms. Then when I get home I’ll review these recording with either ReefMaster Sonar Viewer or DeepViewVF software on my laptop or desktop computers. With these two programs I can really see much more detail from the recordings than I could with my onboard sonar units on my boat. The reason being is that with my laptop and a 17″ screen with the resolution set to 1600 x 900dpi the images are much better in detail than the 1280 x 800dpi on the Helix 12 or the 1024 x 768dpi on the Onix unit. So with the higher pixel count on the home computers this translates into a higher detailed image. I’ll see things on the computer that I never saw on the onboard units while on the lake.
Here is an example I pulled off the internet to show you the difference in pixel counts. As you can see the more pixels the clearer and more detailed the images will be. (Note: you will not get this extreme high detail as in the top image).
In the images below I’ll post a bunch of boats I have found on my local lakes. So if you really want to take your side imaging and down imaging to the next level then I recommend that you learn how to scan, record and then view on your home computers. There is a few blogs on my site about this subject. Spend the time learning nd playing with the software and see what you can find on your local waters.
I hope you enjoyed looking at the images above and hope you learn to use your units and recordings from these examples.
I have both a Humminbird Onix 10 SI Touch and a Helix 12 Gen 2 Mega Scan on my boat. While on the lake the other day doing a little scanning, I decided to compare the two of them to see which had the best image. I personally think my Onix has the better image, well at least after many software updates that Humminbird released. My Onix had a good image until one of the earlier update releases but after I did the update the images were horrible on my Onix. Finally, after about four or five updates and trips back to Humminbird I finally got the images correct and I will not update my Onix again! By the way my version of software on my Humminbird Onix is 3.230 and the software version on my Humminbird Helix 12 Gen2 is 2.110.
Anyway, back to the comparison of the two units. The images I recorded and the images below are from the two units with both the side image and the down image views. The recording were converted in the Reef Master software (search for a blog I did on this software to find out more information) and then I did a screen capture of both the unit recordings.
The first image posted below is from my Onix unit and the second image is from my Helix 12 Gen2 Mega Scan. One note is that when I run my Onix I use the 455 kHz setting for the side image and the 800 kHz setting for my down image views. On my Helix I used the highest Mega scan setting which was 1150 kHz to 1250 kHz. Take a look at the images below and I’ll let you decide which unit has the clearer images.
While I was on Google Earth recently I ran across a couple of old house foundations that are now submerged by a local lake. I made a trip to the lake and did a Side Scan of the two foundations. As you can see from the following images it records as realistic as possible. So you be the judge, does it record what is actually there?
When scanning the lake bottom with your Side Image unit regardless of what brand or model you have to get the best images requires the correct angle you scan from. In the images below I have images of a side scan with a Humminbird unit at different angles to show you what I mean.
In the image above the boat is on the right side of my boat and I’m heading up river. And as you see that I almost ran over the top of the boat by looking at the top left corner of the boat with my boat.
In the image above you can see that I took my boat over the very top of the sunken boat with part of the boat on the right and the left sides of the scan. By the way can you see the Bluegill beds in the sunken boat.
In the above image you can see I got the correct angle of the sunken boat and you can see the entire boat and the details of the boat.
Look at the above image and you can see I got the angle wrong.
Here I have the boat and chart speed wrong for the best scanning image.
Now in this image you can see it all came together with the correct boat speed, correct chart speed and the correct angle. I’m on the inside shallow side of the boat scanning up river at a slight angle to the boat to get the best scan of the boat.
So the next time you are on your lake and spot something, try scanning it from different angle and speeds to get the very best image of what you are looking at. This all takes time on the water with your unitsand playing with the settings.
In this video I did from a recent trip to the lake with my Humminbird Onix 10 SI, I was scanning the lake for Eel Grass. I’ll explain to you what Eel Grass looks like and what to look for when scanning the lake bottom for it.
In an earlier blog I wrote about needing Side image to get the most out of your Down Image scanning. In this blog I’ll show you an example when you needed Down Image to find the structure that is hard to see with the Side Imaging transducer. In this scan I am using my Humminbird Onix 10 Touch SI/DI unit. Then as usual I convert the recordings using ReefMaster Sonar Viewer software. In this blog I will only be posting three images and you can see why you still need both your Side Imaging and down Imaging transducer at the same time in most cases.
In most instances I use only my Side Imaging while scanning for structure and I use my Down Imaging to try and locate fish whether it’s bass, crappie, white bass or any other species of fish i might be after on that trip. When I’m scanning for structure with my Side Image I usually have my unit scanning out to 100 feet on each side. If I’m looking for fish with my Side Image and Down Image together I set the Side image range to either 50 or 60 feet. On my Side image I use the 455 kHz and on the Down Image I set it up to use the 800 kHz settings. This will usually give me the clearest images i have found on my units.
The color palette will be a matter of personal preference. On my Onix for example before all the software updates I liked to use the “Green” palette but with the last software update I find myself using the #2 “Amber” palette the most. On my 360 transducer in shallow water I like the “Gray” palette the best. As usual you will have the continually make changes on the fly with your “Sensitivity” and your “Contrast” setting during the scanning process.
Okay now for my first image from a recent scan I did on the water. I,n the image below you can see a lot of stuff in the water, there are lots of schools of bait-fish. You can see some larger fish near the bottom which could be catfish or Asian Carp. You can the edge on the old creek channel bank on the right side of the image. You can see some larger fish up in the water column under the bait-fish which could be bass, stripe or crappie. You can see what looks to be a tree limb on the lower left of the image and possibly a brush top almost in the center of the screen.
Now in the next image I am using the Down Image transducer to run the exact as area, as a matter of fact I was running both the Side Image and the Down Image at the same time to get this scan. But you can now see what I missed with just the Side Image transducer.
Wow, now what do you see in the Down Image scan? You can now clearly see the three big man-made brush tops someone dropped in the lake! You can still see the bait-fish and a few fish but not everything you saw in the Side Image scan image.
And finally in this last image I’l show you them side by side and see what you can and can’t see if you were only running one without the other.
Remember I was running both at the same time over the exact same area and I would have missed the three big brush tops without having them both on at the same time. So you can clearly see you need to run both at the same time to get the most out of your units. This is one reason you need the larger units like the 10″ or 12″ for the largest screen area you can see at once. I also run a Helix 12 SI Mega but most of the time I only use it for mapping as i find my Onix unit gives me the clearest image of the both of them.
I hope you get a little more understanding out of your expense tools you have added to you boat.
Do you want to get the most out of your GPS units and
managing all your way points as I do? If you have thousands of way points and
have a hard time keeping them organized then you should take a look at
downloading a software program which is free by the way called “SASPlanet” or type in this link in
your browser where you can download the software. (http://www.sasgis.org/download/)
As of this blog the latest version released is 181221 but
they are continually releasing newer version but this is the one that I
personally use. Notice at the top of the web page that you will need to change
the translation from Russian to English. In the second red oval in the photo is
the link to download the software. By way you do NOT have to provide any
personal information to download the software.
From the download link just download and make sure you know
your download files location which is usually the “Download” folder on your
After you have downloaded the software you will need to
un-compress the file as it is in “.zip” format which should already be on your
computer. If not you should be able to find it on the web with a browser search
Now that you have downloaded and installed the software let
me show you how helpful it will be to you. When you first launch the software
program a screen should pop up similar to this one, if not just move your mouse
around and zoom in or out to your area or lake you fish.
In the photo below I have zoomed in and selected a lake at
random which I’ll use in this blog, at the present time I do not know where or
what lake this is. But as this is only an example you can simply zoom in on
your lake that you fish or want information about. Now we need to make a few
adjustments in the setting of the software.
When you zoom in on the map you should get a view like the
one below. But we need to change it since we want to use it for our GPS way
Now let’s make the necessary adjustments to may the software
do what we want to use it for. How we do this is to make a change in the type
of map we want to use. On the Menu bar you should see the option to change the
map as shown in the photo below. From the drop-down maps options you want to
select “Marine maps”, then select “Navionics Marine Charts” do not select
Now as you can see in the photo below the background as well
as the water has now changed to a map with depth contour lines. NOTE: The
depths are shown as “Meters” and not “Feet” in another blog I’ll show you how
to change the meters to feet settings.
Now if you Zoom in on the map you can see the contour lines
for the lake and areas of the lake you want to explore.
Now let’s play around with the map and create a few way
points by just looking at the map of the lake as we move around it. Okay let’s
say we see a spot we would like to create a way point on, then do the following
as in the photo below.
You can place your mouse cursor over say a point, hump, flat
and anywhere you want a way point. Select “Add Placemark” And once you do the
following menu box will pop up allowing you to make some adjustments to the waypoint
you will create.
Under the “Category” I rename this to the Lake or area of
the lake I want the way points on. Next under “Name” give the waypoint a name
up to eleven letters or numbers. (Any more than eleven you will get an error
message when you try to convert them in Humminbird PC). Under the “Geographic
Coordinates” you can make changes if necessary. In a few paragraph’s I’ll show
you how to change the coordinates types that we normally will use in our units.
Next under the “Descriptions” box you can write notes applying to the waypoints.
On the “Text color” option I select “Red” as it shows up better on the map
background. After you make these changes hit the “OK” button.
After you hit “OK” the next box that will pop up will be the
“Placement Manager” menu. Here you will see the Category and list of waypoints
you created. But you will have the option to Import your current way points or
share them from or with your buddies.
Okay let’s say we have way points that we want to “Edit”
your way points. Select the Way point from the list and we can make those edits,
lake name, way point name, coordinates and notes as we notes above.
Here you see I make the edits I wanted for this waypoint. Note: These are fictious way points as I have never fished Broken Bow and the notes are for example only.
Next I’ll show you how to change the coordinates to the type we normally use. Across the top Menu bar select “Settings” then “Options”.
From the Menu taps select “View” and the select the
drop-down options on the way point coordinates types.
Select the one I have the arrow on or “WS deg.min.” This
option will add an extra number on the last number for example “1234” just
change the “4” to a “0” so it will look like “1230”.
After you have finished editing or creating your waypoints
you now have the option to export them to a “GPX” file which you can convert
them to any “GPS” coordinates you need. You can convert them in Humminbird PC
to work in your Helix, Onyx or Solix units. You can convert them to use in
Lowrance or Garmin units with GPS Babel for example. You export them by selecting the “Category”
name the press your Right Mouse button. The Export Placemarks menu will pop up.
The program will try to save them as a “.kmz” format but you
need to select the drop-down menu and select “.gpx” instead.
Now let me show you how to “Import” your current waypoints you
may already have. If they are on your unit or units you will need to get them
on an SD card and then copy them to your computer. If they are from Helix,
Garmin or Lowrance units you can convert them to “GPX” format with Humminbird
PC. From the “Operations” Menu select “Open” and then you will be prompted for
the waypoint file location which could be the SD card if they are in “GPX”
Select the waypoint file and select “Open” to import them
into the program.
Note if you already have the “Placemark Manager” open you
can “Import” them by selecting the “Import” button at the bottom right on the
When you select the “Open” then the file you will get the following
menu options in the photo below. Here you can rename the waypoint file to
anything you want. For an example let’s say you have two units on your boat and
have waypoints on both of them that are not linked. Save one file as say “Rear
Unit” and the other one as “Bow Unit”. That way you know which waypoints are on
which unit. You can compare the waypoints on both units and add or delete the
ones that are duplicates, bad ones, old ones or anything else you might want to
do with them. One thing I do is change the “Icons” for each file so I know
which file is on which unit. When finished with your “Edits” select “Start” on
After you make your edits and select “Start” the next screen
will look like this now just select “Yes” to import the waypoints.
Now to see the waypoints you imported you must select the “Placemark
Manager”. In the top menu bar select it, the one in the red circle in the photo
Now we can view our waypoints by placing a “Check” mark in
the “Categories” waypoint list.
Now you can see all your waypoints on the map.
Hope you found this helpful and hope this helps you manage
all your waypoints.
I seen a post on Facebook the
other day about “Do You Really Use Your Depth Finder To Help You Catch Fish”? That
is a really good question, as I have seen a buddy that I fished with that had a
new Garmin Depth Finder on his boat but never turned it on while we were
fishing. In his case I think it was all about having the “Newest Thing” on his
boat. It’s the same as having Power Poles® on your boat but never put them
down. If you’re going to pay out the money for the newest technology then you
need to take the time to learn to use them. I personally have six units on my
boat but actually only use three or four of them at a time. Two of the units
were small in-dash depth finders that came with the boat.
One thing I had a hard time
understanding when I first got my first depth finder an old “Super Sixty”
flasher that I used to catch a lot of fish watching it. I could watch my jigging
spoon go up and down as I lifted and lowered my rod and see the fish signals
come to the spoon while watching the flasher. Now that we have the choices of
Side Imaging, Down Imaging and Sonar all in the same units they have really
become a big help in catching fish whether it be bass, crappie, bluegill or
As we ride around the lake or
body of water you are fishing looking at things that pop up on the screen and
wonder what they are. To learn this, we must both spend the time on the water
learning our units and to actually know what they are that we’re looking for.
Here is a screen shot of something on the bottom that my boat passed over. One
what is it and second where is it in relation to the boat and where do I need
to make my cast to make contact with the structure?
Okay take a look at the photo
above and see if you can tell, first what is it, and second where is it and
third where do I cast to so I can try and catch any fish that may be located in
the structure. Just by looking at the photo above, I first thought it was
directly under the boat which in this case part of it is but most is not. If it
is under the boat where under the boat is it located? I would in the past make
a cast straight behind the boat to try and make contact with the structure.
Sometimes I would make contact with the structure but most of the time I did
not. The one way we can tell that part of the structure is partially under the
boat is the red coloring in the screen shot in the brush top. This red color tells
me that the strongest signals are in the very center of the sonar cone. Take a
look at the photo below to get a better understanding of what this means.
Now let’s take a look at the same
piece of structure with our Down Image unit and see if we can see what it is
and where it is.
Okay we can tell that it looks to
be a brush top someone placed in the lake and there looks to be one fish on the
right side of the brush top on the right at the edge of the screen. By looking
at the fish and the shape it could possibly be a crappie as it is tall as it is
long. But this is only a guess and we have no way of knowing unless we actually
catch the fish.
Okay so now we know it is
possibly a brush top but where is it. Well again since I thought I drove over
the structure you’d think it is behind the boat. But again, it could be but
also could not be under and behind the boat.
Now let’s see what the structure
actually is and where it is in relationship to the boat. We can determine all
this by using our Side Image unit. Not only will it tell us what it is but
where it is located and where we need to make our cast to try and catch that
fish that we are after.
Okay from the side image view we
can tell that it is actually a brush top under the boat and also a bucket with
what looks to be canes by seeing the shadows of the canes. And last a huge
stump to the right of the boat about 20 feet to the right of the boat. By the
way can you find the fish in this screen shot? Hint look for the shadows they
give the fish away.
In this last screen shot I did with third party software available to you the angler you can see the location of the structure.
So, to get the best out of your new or current units you
have to use the tools you have and learn to use them to help you catch more
fish. After all this is the reason, we spent the hundreds of dollars if not
thousands of dollars on the “Newest Thing” for our boats.
region in a thermally
stratified body of water which separates warmer surface water from cold deep
water and in which temperature decreases rapidly with depth.
The thermocline is formed on lakes with little to no current flow that allows the mixing of the top and bottom layers of the lake waters. Since cold air and water is heavier that warm or hot air or water the heavier sinks and the warmer rises. In the following three images you can clear see the thermocline. Summer and early fall is the times that the thermocline is most prevalent with the high air temperatures this time of the year.
Why knowing where the thermocline is important to you as a fisherman? Simple it will define the maximum depth you need to be fishing. The thermocline is void of life giving oxygen so the fish you are seeking can not live in the thermocline. During the summer and early fall, adjust your unit to see the thermocline. Scan the area you are planning to fish and look for the top of the thermocline. Let’s say the top is at 27 feet as in the images in this blog. Then the maximum depth you need to fish is no deeper that 27 feet. Look for a or drop-off, shell mound or hump that is shallower than 27 feet and fish there if you see fish on them with your down image units.
the thermocline is easy with the new Side Image and Down Image sonar units, in
my case I use the Humminbird Onix 10 SI and the Helix 12 Gen2 Mega Scan. You
will need to learn to adjust the sensitivity and contrast settings. You can
find settings on this blog just do a search in the search bar. There are a lot
of YouTube videos on how to tune your units.
Hope you find this blog helpful in understanding the thermocline in your fishing.