How To:

Using Side Scan Technology To Find Fish

Author: Captain Mike Littlefield


I am currently using the Humminbird Helix Gen 2 10 inch MEGA units and Understanding a few simple concepts will help you grasp the detailed images of Humminbird Side Imaging and make you a master of the lake or sea bottom. Compare the screenshot and diagram to help visualize how Side Imaging works. We’ve included several call outs to explain what you’re seeing. Remember, Side Imaging is a history of what you’ve already passed by.

A- Boat Location  The position of your boat in relation to the on-screen image. The on-screen image is a history of what you have passed over. 

B- Water column The dark blue area shows structure, cover and activity between the surface and lake bottom. 

C- Bottom Profile Reveals depth and terrain directly beneath the path of your boat. 

D- Flat Terrain Neutral shades of blue represent flatter terrain. 

E- Descending Terrain Dark shades of blue represent descending terrain.

F- Rising Terrain Lighter shades of blue typically represent terrain rising from the bottom. Sometimes, very hard bottoms appear as a whiter shade. 

G- Fallen Log The shortened horizontal shadows indicate cover very close to the bottom of the lake. The angle of the shadow gives away the orientation of the log. H- Standing Timber Objects standing off the bottom directly below the boat will appear in the water column. Structure to the left or right of the boat will appear as a clearly defined bright shape with an adjacent, dark sonar "shadow." This shadow is not caused by light; rather it's the lack of sonar return because the object has already reflected the sonar energy. Generally, long shadows indicate the object is tall, and small shadows indicate something is short. It's important to note the shadow will often tell you more about the object than the primary sonar reflection.


Side Imaging reveals balls of bait that you can use when targeting where fish are feeding. Find the bait, you find the Bass feeding on them

Identifying Fish

A striped bass looks like a small, white  line. You Can actually see the shadow from the striped bass and A school of bass is far more obvious as pictured below. It may not seem like much but becomes easy to spot once you’ve learned to use your electronics properly.

Fishing Structure

Locating structure by using side scan is one of the best features we have onboard. we can locate objects out to 150 ft on either side that could be holding fish. This works perfect for black fishing in the fall when the tautog have moved into the rock piles.  The fish use structure for two reasons, as an ambush point to feed from and as a place of security. Find the structure , you find fish. 

My preferred gear is Custom Jigging rods by Crafty One Customs, Finnor Marquesas reels, and The bullbuster 50lb braid with a top shop of Bullbuster mono. 

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