Depth - Fish Finders

Where And How To Mount Electronics For Best Results

Many people have asked me where the best places to mount depth finder transducers are.
Is it better to mount the console unit's transducer on the transom, outside the hull, or tuck it in the bilge area and shoot the beam through the hull? Do they put one on the trolling motor with a "puck" style sender or the traditional "bullet"style that comes with the unit? What can one do if there is a lot of electronic feedback from the engine and other grounds entering the unit and distorting the display? Lastly, I am often asked if it is better to let a boat dealer install the electronics rather than doing it themselves.

As far as the last question, here is my advice. If you have never installed a depth finder before, expect it to take up to three hours and there is no guarantee your installation will provide a clear, interference-free signal. A reputable dealer/service shop can do a single installation in an hour or less and usually gets it right the first time, and there is normally no charge for a return visit.

I have always had or have mounted my depth finders as follows;

A LCD unit on the bow with the transducer on the bottom of the trolling motor and a console mounted LCD with a transducer on the transom, outside the hull. Properly installed, this set up will give you years of trouble-free operation and if repairs become necessary - at least everything is accessible.

A puck style transducer is preferable for the trolling motor application, as its slim size will rarely contact the bottom or other underwater obstructions. The standard, bullet style transducers are multi-purpose, will fit the trolling motor with a hose clamp and special bracket and do just fine, though they do tend to come in contact with the bottom more often. Thankfully, the design is of a breakaway style, so the transducers bend back before breaking most of the time.

Electronic feedback from the outboard, trolling motor and other electrical elements of the boat is just about inevitable in some form. The best set ups, though, will have only minor disturbances that occur infrequently. To ensure this problem doesn't interfere with your operations make sure your transducer line(s) do not run directly next to any ignition or main electrical lines. In-line fuses help to eliminate still more interference. I have even known some anglers with chronic interference problems to encase their transducer and power lines with hose/pipe insulation as a last resort.

I personally do not use through-the-hull transducers for my LCD units. I like the unimpeded power I receive from outside-the-hull mounts, and properly installed, these units will read even at high speeds. Some boats, I have heard, will not take a transom-mounted transducer due to hull design. So be sure and check with your dealer which mounting is right for your rig.

Lastly, I recommend using a swivel or gimbel mounting device when attaching your depth finders to the boat. I have used the swiveling, detachable mounts for years. They allow viewing from many anglers and a quick release for storage during non-use of the rig.

Once the baitfish move into the backs of the creeks, you really don't need a depth finder, because your eyes and ears will find the fish. You might see them on the screen briefly, but most should be on the surface milling about.

My last bit of advice on the use of depth finders.

Buy a good Unit, learn to trust them. Don't chalk up what you are seeing as simply incomprehensible clutter. Study the screen, conditions and lake bottom and more than likely, you will be able to understand what the unit is trying to tell you - there's fish, and lot's of them down there, dummy.

What's next in fishing electronics?

  • Weather radar and instant forecasts appearing instantly on screen?
  • 3-D effect to more easily visualize the haunts of fish?
  • A device that matches the underwater sounds of feeding fish so as to attract fish under an angler's boat?
    Electronic Fish Callers ?

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By Ben Sanders Charter Striper Guide Lake Ouachita
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