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How Does a Fish Finder Work

Posted by jennymolin on April 11th, 2020

A fish finder is an electronic device that fishermen use to detect fish underwater. It is not a new device. Most anglers are familiar with fish finders. A few of them even own one. However, since the technology behind a fish finder is a bit complicated, many fishers do not know how the device works. In this article, we will explain how a fish finder works? Learning how the tool works will help you to using your fish finder accurately and catching more fish.  

Configuration of a fish finder

Fish finders consist of two main components. These two are the transducer part and the display part. These two components work together to relay information about the topography below the water surface and the fish in the area.


The transducer is a transmitter that sends out electrical pulses or pings through the water. These pulses reach fish and other underwater objects and reflect back to the transducer. The transducer receives this information and relays it to the display or head unit. The head unit then estimates the size and depth of any objects below the water surface.

If the head component of a fish finder is the brain of the device, the transducer is then the eyes and ears of the device.

Transducers work by converting electricity into sound waves by using tiny crystals. These crystals are called piezoelectric crystals. They come in different sizes and shapes.  Depending on their shapes and sizes, they vibrate at different frequencies.

Higher frequencies form a narrower and detailed search area while lower frequencies form a less detailed but wider search area. Commercially available fish finders make recreational fishing a great experience. These fish finders come with multiple frequencies ranging from 20kHz(low) to 50 kHz(high)

A few high-end transducers feature CHIRP (Compressed High-Intensity Radiated Pulse) systems which are capable of transmitting both high and low frequencies. As a result, these transducers receive far more information and feed into the brain unit of the fish finders for data processing. These fish finders provide more detailed information about the aquatic environment beneath the fishing boat. 

These transducers were originally developed for military use and were quite expensive. Incorporating them into the fish finders will skyrocketing the price of the devices. However, recently, manufacturers found innovative ways to make high-end fish finders with every price range. 

Transducers are mounted with kayaks in a variety of ways.


The display of the fish finder is called the head unit of the device. It houses the software and hardware, interprets data received from the transducer and displays the processed data.

Screen sizes vary from model to model starting from compact 3 inches to full HD 16 inches models with four-panel split screens.  Models with large screens are expensive and pack with more features while smaller screen models are ideal for smaller watercraft.

Screen resolution is an important feature of a fish finder. Inexpensive models have low screen resolution and do not provide as much detail information as high-end expensive models.

How do fish finder works

There is a transducer placed on the ship. It sends signals as sound waves through the water. This signal is reflected back and recorded by the transducer. The transducer then transfers the recorded data to the head or display component of the device.

In order to make sure that the signals received from the transducer are not false, the head unit processes data differently and displays it differently. For example, the screen of the fish finder displays data that is reflected from fish differently than when the sound wave is reflected from stone, corals or other objects. 

The display screen shows the presence of fish underwater using symbols in the form of a fish. This display changes with the speed of the fishing boat. However, the display of the fish is not fake. The device that is the fish finder can correctly detect the fish and make the angler aware.

Different models of fish finder

There are different models of fish finders available in the market. The most popular models are humminbird fishfinder, lowrance fishfinder, the eagle fishfinder, garmin fishfinder, and furuno fishfinder. Whatever the model you choose, each of the models can ensure the presence of fish underwater.  Among these models, the lowrance fishfinder is very important. It is because this model is specially designed for locating fish in icy and cold areas.  The price of fish finders also varies from model to model. 


A fish finder is a great tool that will change your fishing experience overnight. Using the device to locate the spot on a waterbody to find the shoal is an exciting and enjoyable experience.

Also See: Fish Finders, Fish Finder, Head Unit, Fish Underwater, Transducer, Models, Fish

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