Winter Fishing with Ice Fishing Sonar – All You Need to Know
Ice Fishing Sonar
Ice fishing sonar takes a lot of the guessing out of ice fishing and makes the experience more fun. This is as true for beginners as it is for experienced anglers. If you’re looking for a way to fish efficiently and make the most of your time on the ice, using a fish finder with sonar technology can be a big help in finding a fish target.
One of the most important things you can do once you invest in ice fishing sonar is to discover how easy it is to use the tool. It’s easy enough to leave things set the way they were you when you got the sonar, but to really make the most of it, you’ll want to customize your settings. The original settings are great for the first few times you use sonar, but once you get the hang of the basics, you’ll want to really dive into it and get to know the device.
Here are a few of the most common questions people have about using ice fishing sonar and a few tips for making the most of your tool.
How deep should I lower the ice fishing sonar?
Most experienced anglers will tell you to put the bottom of the sonar’s transducer just below the ice right smack in the center of your ice hole. This will give you the best reading and ensures that the jig falls into the cone angle that forms. But this isn’t the only option to get an accurate depth finder reading. Some people like to slide the transducer from side to side without muddying the reading you get. If you go too deepinto the ice hole, you’ll end up with a fish tangled in the cord. As you experiment, you’ll learn to get a feeling for what positioning and depth gives you the best reading.
Should I worry about how deep I ice fish?
You might think depth is one of the most important factors when it comes to using a sonar fish finder, but this isn’t always the case. Most of the time, with a sonar unit, you’ll view your bait and fish targetrelative to the bottom. This means you can move between deep and shallow water. Regardless of how deep you go, you’re going to get a reading and be able to work from that.
What if I don’t see my jig after I’ve dropped it?
There are a few reasons you might not see your jig on the ice fishing sonar reading after you’ve dropped it. In most cases, it will be because you’re dealing with incorrect depth range. It might also be because of a low gain setting or because you’ve set the transducer too far from the side of the hole and it’s not pointing straight toward the bottom. Your best bet is to fiddle with positioning and see if you can pick it up as you make adjustments.
What setting should I use?
How high you should set your sonar is based on avoiding picking up unwanted signals. The way to get the reading you need is to turn it up and turn it down until you seethe jig just barely appearing solid and just shy of beginning to fade. If you set your sonar too high you’ll get signals from all over the water column, but if it’s too low, you won’t be able to see it or know if it’s near a fish. It might take some tweaking to find just the right happy medium.
How come the jig doesn’t show up until I’m at least a few feet beneath the transducer?
Right beneath the transducer is the smallest part of the cone. If you want to get a reading there, you’ll need to locate it directly in the small area. The further you drop beneath the transducer the greater the likelihood your bait will fall within the angle of the cone. Again, it might take a bit of jiggling around and adjusting to get everything placed as you want it.
Why am I unable to lower my bait beneath the bottom?
Here’s how sonar works: you need to imagine the footprint made by the sonar cone and think about where it’s hitting the bottom. Chances are almost guaranteed the bed of the body of water is not perfectly flat, so this means the “edge” of your cone is unlikely to be even. One part might be 10 feet and another 12 feet. If there’s a steep break, you’ll see an even greater difference here. You can adjust to this by switching to a narrower beam if you’re in a steep slope to get a better reading. It’s also possible to zoom into the bottom, so you’ll get the best sightline in the area where you’re fishing.
Should I use zoom? When?
Yes, zoom comes in handy in a variety of situations and every angler should try it out. Keep in mind, when using a sonar unit, zoom doesn’t just magnify an area. It enhances the sonar’s ability to send, receive, and display what you’re dealing with. You’ll get plenty of detail, even if you are going to a deeper water depth. Running your sonar on zoom no matter whether you’re deep or shallow improves your odds of success.
What can I do to become an expert with ice fishing sonar?
Practice. That’s the simplest and best answer. The more you use it, the more proficient you’ll become and the more comfortable you’ll feel fishing with it. It’s usually not something that’s going to make perfect sense right out of the gate. You’ll learn nuances of fishing with sonar little by little and over time, you’re really going to see improvement with your fishing expeditions. You’ll also get to know what information is most beneficial to you and how you like to use the settings on your particular sonar device. It offers a really personalized way of fishing and can help you improve your game by quite a bit. If you haven’t tried sonar yet or you’ve been reluctant to play around with your device, now is the time.
Source of featured image: canva.com