Here’s how to ensure your fishfinder will be in good working order

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Do a physical check of the installation. It’s important to look for cracks, chafing or breaks in the line since these problems can cause intermittent performance. When conducting your evaluation, pay close attention to the transducer cable.

Check a transom-mounted transducer for placement. It should be aligned with the water when it’s in the down position. Also, check that the kick-up mechanism is operating properly.

Check the inline fuse container. Approximately 60 percent of performance problems in older units can be traced to a buildup of oxidation where the fuse ends make contact with the container, says Luke Morris of Lowrance. If buildup exists, use a piece of Scotch Brite pad to scrub off the oxidation.

When prepping your boat for spring with a fresh coat of bottom paint, be sure to avoid covering your through-hull transducer. Special coatings for transducers are available.

Remember that the screen images you see are history. The only real-time “picture” is on the far right side of the screen, and on the Ascope if your unit is equipped with that feature.

Re-read the manual while using the simulator. There is a ton of information that you may have overlooked last year or don’t remember. When you’re finished, be sure to deactivate the simulator.

If you want to buy a new fishfinder this season, don’t be confused by the output power ratings. There are two specifications: Root Mean Square (RMS) and Peak-to-Peak (PtP). One is not more powerful than the other; it’s just the way power ratings are measured and reported. RMS is a lower figure than PtP by a factor of eight. To get RMS, divide PtP by eight; to get PtP, multiply RMS by eight. It seems that freshwater fishermen understand PtP, while saltwater anglers deal in RMS.

When selecting a working frequency in a dual frequency model, remember that 200 kHz is designed for shallower water to 600 feet, while 50 kHz penetrates deeper, especially in saltwater. Higher frequencies provide better resolution and target separation, while the lower range can “see” fish in deeper waters, although resolution and target separation suffer somewhat.

When “reading” the screen, remember that all targets are not located directly under the transducer at the depth specified on the display. A fish reported at 12 feet could actually beat only nine feet. It all depends on the fish’s position within the 360-degree cone of energy generated by the transducer. In this case, if the fish is directly under the transducer, it’s probably 12 feet down. If the fish is at the outer edge of the cone, it could be in nine feet of water.

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