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Does your fish finder help you catch salmon in the salt? If your fish finder was actually only able to show you the bottom, depth and maybe speed but couldn't show you any bait or larger fish how much worse do you think your performance in Puget Sound would be? My fish finder has always been bad--doesn't seem to work properly, shows bait sometimes but almost never bigger fish. (I've sought help, lots of help, done with that). Despite not ever seeing large fish, I seem to catch my fair share of salmon relative to folks who also fish semi-regularly. I strongly suspect that lousy fish finder/sticky sharp hook will result in as many fish as great fish finder/sorta sharp hook. What do you think?
 

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Not being able to find bait fish would be a huge liability, especially in fishing for Chinook. Not being able to "see" large fish is less of a problem. Depth is essential, bottom hardness, mud, sand, rock is very helpful as well.
 

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Indeed it does. I use mine to find bait. I find lots of fish and I notice that most of the time when you find lots of fish, blackmouth fishing, they don't bite. But find the bait and you have found the dinner table. I turn my fishfinder symbols off so I only see fish arches. Length of fisharches does not mean bigger fish. Thickness of the arch does. In the ocean I look for hogs and can find them with my Lowrance by doing this.
 

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Captainpuget said:
Not being able to find bait fish would be a huge liability, especially in fishing for Chinook. Not being able to "see" large fish is less of a problem. Depth is essential, bottom hardness, mud, sand, rock is very helpful as well.
I agree. I hardly ever "look" for fish on the screen. Bait balls yes,salmon no.
 

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I agree. I do see fish on the finder, but rarely use that for info. Finding bait makes me feel better and more confident but I usually am pretty sure that there are fish where I am fishing. I frequently fish the same places that I have caught fish before. My finder was out a couple of weeks ago and I tried to fish without one. Without knowing the depth I was completely lost. I usually fish Possession and Jeff Head. There are always fish there.
 

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A lot depends on the quality of the fishfinder and the quantity of the fish, but around here it is a great tool for finding structure and bait, to make sure you are fishing the humps, bumps and edges shown on your GPS and keeping your gear at the depth that it needs to be. Then the GPS for finding your way back to the things you see on your fishfinder. On my little boat I have a cheap fishfinder that gives me basic bottom info and shows bait fairly well but on the big boat I run there is a serious commerical grade fishfinder that clearly shows fish and allows me to make a reasonable assumption that the fish on the screen are kings, coho or the dreaded brown bombers.
 

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I agree with Icystraits, I don't need to see the fish or the bait as much as I need to see the structure and the depth, fish will hold in various places, where the bait usually holds also, taking time to get to know the bottom contour of where you are fishing, will help greatly when you know fish will hold here or there. my fishfinder sucks too :lol: so i have to depend on the holding patterns of salmon.
 

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Ok I will admit it, I shelled out the cash and went to salmon U. The most important information I got there was how to read and interpret what my elecronics are telling me. I would have to say that without someone telling me what my electronics were saying I would still be at the point where I just push buttons and think about my elecronics like toys instead of tools. At very minimum I personally need a depth reading off my fishfinder and my gps to give me an idea where the depth should change in order to catch blackmouth. For Coho and pinks I don't think I even need to turn my electronics on. Summer chinook off of possession I could probably get by with just my gps, allthough without my fishfinder I will just be guessing how deep to aim. Being able to find the bait, I believe makes it alot easier to find the fish. When the boatshow comes around I am deffinately going to be looking for any electronics seminars that they might be having. At first glance they seem to be boring which they are but when I get out on the water every little bit of information helps. Now I look at knowing how to use my electronics is just like knowing how to cut and rig a cutplug herring. If I just hack a herring in half and wrap the hood through it a couple times. I will probably occasionally catch a salmon. And you all know how effecive a properly rigged cutplug can be. Good luck out there.
 

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Plain and simple, you need to know your depth and bottom contour. Everything else is "fishing".

I do occasionally glance at my finder to look for bait balls and "higher concentrations" of fish marks (depending on the fishery). To me, several "fish marks" reletively close together would seem to signal a school of fish. But overall, I only use it for depth and bottom contour. Steep drop-offs are nice to know about wink: .
 

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Oldyoungguy said:
Ok I will admit it, I shelled out the cash and went to salmon U. The most important information I got there was how to read and interpret what my elecronics are telling me. I would have to say that without someone telling me what my electronics were saying I would still be at the point where I just push buttons and think about my elecronics like toys instead of tools.
Maybe I should sign up for a class too. I currently have a Garmin 188C and use that for my fishfinder. It's probably me but I'm not sure how reliable it is. I used the fish symbols until an experienced fishing partner started fine-tuning it without the symbols. He said with all those fish showing, it must be interference or something. He fine-tuned it so that you could see the downrigger balls. But with that set-up, I never see bait balls, arches or anything so as far as I'm concerned, it's pretty useless. That's why I'm considering getting a Lowrance because I've heard the fish finders are good at locating bait balls, they show the arches etc. Are there any Garmin users out there who like their fishfinder? Or don't like their fishfinder?
 

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I love my Garmins. I have a 400c (same specs as your 188) and a 100 Blue (which I paid $99.00 for). Both units show bait balls, fish arcs, and downrigger balls if they are in the cone. Believe it or not I like the cheaper unit better. It shows everything the color unit does and more. The white line feature shows bottom hardness and lets me determine if I’m over rocks or mud. I’d be lost without them.
 

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Absolutely, the fishfinder helps. I feel blind without it honestly. Yes, I do look for fish on it too.
 

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If you can get a friend or someone that is really savy to teach a thing here and there that is the best way. That and actually reading the instructions for your particular fishfinder. I know what you all think, I am the same way. "Instructions? What are those? I don't need any stinkin instructions.
 

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Of course it does, especially fishing unfamilair waters. I find the right environment and just apply my species overlay .....

Often times in the sound, after just marking an arch, the same arch hits the Tomic plug.
 

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Captainpuget said:
I love my Garmins. I have a 400c (same specs as your 188) and a 100 Blue (which I paid $99.00 for). Both units show bait balls, fish arcs, and downrigger balls if they are in the cone. Believe it or not I like the cheaper unit better. It shows everything the color unit does and more. The white line feature shows bottom hardness and lets me determine if I’m over rocks or mud. I’d be lost without them.
That's good to know Captainpuget. I guess either I don't know enough about it to set it up right or my transducer needs tweaking. I'll keep trying until I get it right rather than buying another unit. Tup:
 

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I like others use it alot for finding bait and reading bottom,not to mention with gps you can set trails for trolling by. I don,t know about other units but lowrance on their web site has a free operation download so you can learn and practice the operations and controls of the depthfinder and gps on your computer.
 
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with a depth sounder I have a better chance to follow the bottom contour and lose less DR balls , Generally It will help you from running over a shallow spot , And Black mouth are 90 to 120 usually ,SOOOOO Yes it helps
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Some helpful insights. Despite the fact that most people say finders help, an awful lot of them are saying they help because one can determine depth and bottom contour. I couldn't agree more--that is critical when blackmouth fishing. All things being equal, I also like to see bait on the finder because I feel like my odds are better. Even then though, I won't often drop down to bait while coho fishing if history strongly suggests the coho are much higher in the water column. And, I'm still not convinced that the fish arches or GPS are all that helpful for salt water salmon fishing. Regardles of whose boat I am in, I only see fish arches about 1 time in 6 within close proximity to the rod going off. I think the ratio would actually be 1 in 10 when fishing for coho. Perhaps my ignorance of the electronics will leave more fish for the rest of you.
 

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What do you guys think about the finders that diplay fish insteads of marks. I have no faith in the fish that I seem to be marking. Been in boats with the v marks and they seem to be more real then seeing a screen full of fish symbols. Seems like everytime we mark a lot we catch nothing then hook up when the screen is blank.

BP
 
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