Fishing is fun, right? Wrong, mate. It sure is when you return with a bounty. But you’ll abandon fishing in no time if you don’t return with your hands full.
There are certain upgrades you can get your hands on to improve your fishing experience, like a fish finder. It’s hard to beat a Garmin fish finder in quality. In this article, we’ll talk about how to read a Garmin fish finder.
Fishing itself is a popular sport that is well adorned throughout the whole world except the parts that don’t have access to the water, like deserts. Those aside, fishing is genuinely fun.
A fish finder is completely useless unless you know how to read and utilize it. There are thousands of models available in the market.
While nearly all the models work nearly in the same principle, it is still convenient to continue the discussion with a specific model/series in mind.
We’ll talk about how to read a Garmin striker fish finder.
Why Garmin striker?
Two reasons. Firstly, this series is extremely utilized and takes advantage of modern technologies much better than many others, and secondly, this is my personal favorite one.
What Is A Fish Finder?
Before diving in headfirst, I want to take some time to discuss what is a fish finder and how it works. That’s because that information has a lot to do on how the device is interpreted.
A fish finder is an electrical device that is mounted on water-vehicles to scan and identify subnautical objects by means of producing ultrasound pulses and reading the echo each object makes.
Despite the name, a fish finder can also be efficient at locating underwater objects and structures, identifying depth, temperature, and much more.
There are two main parts of a fish finder, the first one being the display, and the other one is the transducer. You must have the basic knowledge about the transducer and how to read pictures on a fish finder?
The transducer is mounted on the outside of the boat, submerged under the water level, and the display is mounted on the bridge.
A cord physically connects the transducer with the display. The display also includes the processor, which is like the brain of the machine.
How Does A Fish Finder Work?
As I mentioned before, there is a processor unit integrated inside the display unit. This part is the brain of the device.
At the beginning of the work cycle of a fish finder, the processor transmits an electrical pulse to the transducer, commanding it to emit a short pulse. The command reaches the transducer, and the transducer ticks.
By tick, I mean, literally a tick. Some transducers are not ultrasonic, and you can hear the tick. But on most transducers, you cannot.
Anyway, since the transducer is submerged, the sound pulse is released into the water. The pulse is mostly focused downward (sideways or angled in some cases).
The pulse then travels through the water until something reflects it, or it becomes too weak.
When the sound pulse hits an object, the object creates an echo wave. The echo travels back to the surface, and when it reaches the boat, the transducer picks it up and converts it back to an electrical signal for the processor to process.
The processor analyzes the signals and converts them into an image in a way so that it’s easy to represent and also easy to read.
At least as easy as it can be when you compress a 3D space into a thin straight strip of an image. At last, the graphical output is printed on display for the user.
How To Read A Garmin Fish Finder
Reading a Garmin fish finder display is sort of tricky for a newcomer just as any other fish finder. All the things on display seem like a big mess.
I know the feeling when you first look at it. From our previous discussion, we went through how the ‘mess’ is generated. Now, we’ll go through how to decode it.
How To Read The Display
This bit is the tricky bit. Honestly, regardless of how utilized, or modern the fish finder is, this is a limitation, that all the fish finders will have to live with. There’s no way around it.
There’s nothing personal about any model or series of Garmin here. Anyway, let’s go through how to decipher the jumbles on the screen. There are a few types of markings, commonly displayed.
- The Water Surface
The water surface is the top layer of the display. Mind you; it is not ‘actually’ the water surface. Remember that the transducer is positioned underwater?
In addition, the sound pulses are focused downwards. There is no way you’ll get the reading of the actual surface. The transducer level is as good as it’s going to be.
- The Surface Clutter
Near the surface of the water, there is a layer of debris/junk particles that may or may not create an echo, depending on their size. Genuinely, they are situated so close to the transducer, that not always can the transducer pick them up.
Even if they do, they often ignore stuff so close and simply put them in the surface clutter. This layer is effectively a dead zone.
- The Seabed
The seabed is the bottom bits of the display. It’s easy to identify. There’s not much to talk about. Basically, the very bottom continuous curved line represents the seabed.
The depth of the ocean is measured from the surface to the seabed. Everything else (fish, or other structures, like rock or trees) is situated in between.
- The Curves
The curves/arches are one of the most common occurring marks in a regular situation. They can mean a variety of things. When the curves are floating a good distance away from both the surface and the seabed, they usually (but not necessarily) represent a big fish.
When there are a bunch of smaller/thinner curves clustered together, genuinely near the seabed, it is safe to say that they are baitfish. But sometimes bait fishes can also occur as a big blurry mess and not individual arches.
Another type of curve that is necessary to understand is the ones that represent rocks or sub-nautical vegetations.
They tend to be bigger and thicker arches and always nearly adjacent to the bottom. They are much bigger than the ones representing the fishes. You’ll get a better idea over time.
- How To Estimate The Size Of A Fish
It is a common sector, where many people make mistakes. Understandably so, since we are accustomed to the idea that longer is related to bigger. But it is not the case here. On a fish finder display, a thicker line means a bigger fish. A longer line simply means that the fish has been on the radar for a longer time.
Do you remember, from our childhood? When we flashed a torchlight in a dark room and focused it outward through a window, it didn’t illuminate the room.
But my question is when we held a matchstick and a paper in front of the light-rays, which object enlightened the room better? Of course, that paper, because it is a bigger object and thus reflects better.
What? You didn’t do such things in childhood? Well, I guess not everyone is as weird as me.
Anyway, you get the point. Surprisingly, in the same principle, a bigger object under the water generates more echo. The way fish finders work is the more echo it receives, the thicker the image of that object is.
Thus, make your guess on the size of a fish, depending on the thickness of the arches, not its length.
How To Set Up The Display As You Want
Being able to read what’s on display will surely get your job done. But it’ll be so, as long as you can see what you want to see, or rather need to see. To aid you in this; there are a few options in the Garmin fish finders. You can choose between quite a few display options and color schemes.
There are quite a few buttons beside the display that you can use to easily navigate the setting and preferences options.
I have picked up Garmin striker 5cv for my discussion here. Other models will vary here and there, but overall, things will be comparable for the most part.
On a Garmin striker 5cv, you’ll see 11 buttons on the right side of the display. Right at the top, there are “zoom-out” and “zoom in” button. Below them is the “back” button.
Underneath the ‘back’ button, is your usual arrow keys, followed by the “enter” button on the right. Beneath the arrow keys is the “settings” button. Right at the bottom row, is the “waypoint” button, and the “power” button.
There are quite a few display options to display the content that might suit your needs. Besides the traditional screen, you can switch to ClearView mode or map mode, or put them side by side.
Map mode keeps tracks of your position, location, and details you might want to add. Clearview mode is somewhat easier to observe, but it’s more of a preference.
How does the device keep tracks of your position, you ask?
It has GPS integrated. Map also adds visible waypoints such as rocks, trees, and other stuff. Speaking of waypoints, you can add custom waypoints in the map for further customization.
On the topic of customization, there’s a lot you can do. Setting frequency is just the beginning. You can adjust the cone angle, CHIRP on or off, gain sensitivity, custom height adjustment, and much more.
Overall, Garmin fish finders are not like out-of-the-world technology. They also use pretty much the same technology, what makes the difference is how better you can optimize the technology. CHIRP is one of the modern technologies.
Garmin fish finder is my personal favorite because Garmin devices are not only simple and user friendly but also customizable. It’s a onetime buy, and you better make sure that you get the most out of it. Besides, it’s frustrating to realize that the device you invested in does not have the caliber to cut your needs.