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Is Forward Facing Sonar the Real Deal? Let's Talk Electronics Ep. 3

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The electronics discussion continues between Pete, Nick, and Joe and this episode is about the hotly-debated topic, sonar. With the recent introduction of forward-facing sonar to the industry, anglers are divided on whether it's the best invention since sliced bread, or if it's ruining the sport. The Omnia guys have their own thoughts that can help you make a decision for yourself!

(00:00) welcome back to another discussion here at Omnia fishing about our dive into Marine Electronics thank you to Aaron teal and Brian Bengston and the folks over at In Tune Marine for sharing some of their expertise with us a Robbie Storrar as well and and our own Bob Downey Bassmaster Elite Series Angler this segment is going to be about Imaging and sonar I'm going to kick it over to Nick to start out because Nick just rigged his boat out with all new Lowrance Electronics what was it about Lowrance that made you choose them for your
(00:41) Imaging and sonar uh capabilities like Aaron teal said you know more overall I think overall is the good way to describe Lowrance I think overall you could say they have the best of this or that and a lot of people would say they've got the best 2D Imaging and I would agree with that but I think their Side Imaging is also right up there with any other company their Side Imaging in particular they run a little bit different frequency than say the hummingbird but what you're going to get with Lowrance is a little bit more
(01:13) customizability with filtering the the picture in front of you so what we run what I run a lot of times with the Side Imaging on Lowrance is the 455. the range you get with 455 is incredible and if you're able to adjust the contrast and the settings you picture it it's like a camera filter you know you're adjusting it to your eyes to give you that best picture and you're able to do that with that touch screen very quick and easily on the Fly and you're able to look out 150 feet you know on each side of the boat and really
(01:50) have really good range with the Lowrance but you can also bring it into that 60 80 foot at either 455 or 800 kilohertz and get that extremely good you know detail to really see what you're fishing I really like what Aaron had to say about the lower frequencies that Lowrance has to offer I thought that was very interesting that something that maybe the other manufacturers didn't have yeah or didn't um excel in but why I chose it it was just like he said all in one they do they're great at everything not the bottom maybe
(02:25) not the top in specific categories but all in all good yeah I've I've always heard the same thing if I as far as just uh across the board that they're they're forward-facing sonars been proven we've seen it in tournament wins and all that stuff to be a real player and uh they're they're other Imaging and they've always been known for my days even my first boat my first Electronics I had Lowrance has always had really really high level 2D sonar as well when it comes to Imaging with hummingbird uh you know
(03:01) Robbie store gave us a lot of good Insight a handful of years ago Humminbird came out with their dual Spectrum chirp sonar okay so this is their this is the best sonar that they've ever come out with I would say it's on par or better than any sonar in the industry the reason behind that is because it has it has unparalleled Target separation for one so for example when it comes to 2D sonar there's many people that use it in like a vertical fishing application whether that's ice fishing or whether
(03:36) that's you know drop shotting vertically jigging for walleyes people are dropping a bait right down uh and they're watching it on their 2D screen and it's allowing that dual Spectrum chirp sonars allowing them to get better Target separation with even the smallest of baits and it's allowing them to see fish that are hugging the bottom extremely tightly and it's giving them even better fish definition like true fish arches I can speak for myself and say when I said I wouldn't get rid of my Helix unit in
(04:05) the previous segments we've talked about this it's not just because of the ease of use the user interface that we discussed in our other segments but I've gained the utmost confidence in my ability to understand my Side Imaging I think the mega Imaging from Humminbird is fantastic when it comes to Side Imaging and I know Joe's a huge proponent of 360.
(04:28) Joe and I are extremely Avid 360 users when it comes to bass fishing and the reasoning behind it is we both believe it's a it's probably one of the most Superior casting tools on the market and what I mean by that is so 360 is a tool derived from Side Imaging but the 360 transducer mean need excuse me it needs no man-made movement in order to give you a picture the reason behind that is the transducer once it is in the water is spinning itself automatically but for me the Side Imaging at my wheel has become one of my
(05:06) confidence ways to practice or learn a new body of water fun fishing or competitively fishing Side Imaging to me is is a key key feature that I can't see myself getting rid of anytime soon but I will kick it over to Joe because I can speak from experience having competed against Joe, Joe is very in tune with the Imaging features of Humminbird so yeah I got to sit down with Robbie we talked over some of the finer points of Humminbird's 2D sonar and side imaging technology and from that discussion I really kind of it really kind of firmed
(05:40) for me you know what I already know and believe with their 2D chirp sonar they're going to get some of the best Target separation for any time or using a regular 2D sonar but where it really shines is that Mega Imaging and with mega plus Side Imaging Mega plus has Superior range as well which has really helped us maybe potentially stay off the structure a little bit better yet still see that spot or that fish holding you know piece of cover or even a school of fish or a big ball of bait that otherwise has helped us find fish so
(06:10) we're not driving directly over those fish to see them we're you know several you know maybe we're 100 plus feet away from them but we're still seeing those little Shadows that show us a school of bass we're seeing the little white grains of sand hummingbird really bore the ones who brought Side Imaging as a whole to the market to begin with they were the first of the major brands that had it really that was reliable and useful and it's only gotten better every step along the way and it's at a point
(06:36) now where you know fishing tournaments getting ready for tournaments are getting sometimes like certain times of the year mid-summer on when the fish are offshore if I'm even fishing a new Lake I won't make a cast until I see something that I like and you know that could be a half hour driving around but if a half hour driving around results in an hour of catching quality fish it's worth it yeah so for me having the best Clarity inside Imaging is key and you're going to see everything from sizes of
(07:02) rocks and bottom composition changes weed beds and sometimes actually individual fish which is key I got a spark off now the meat and potatoes of this whole conversation to me anyway when it comes to Imaging is the Hot Topic in all all of the fishing industry and that's forward-facing sonar live scope from Garmin to me they similar to hummingbirds kind of uh assault on the industry with with mega Imaging with Side Imaging and 360 Imaging uh that forward-facing sonar I haven't seen a change in angular
(07:35) behavior in a long long time if not ever uh probably not ever as we've seen with the change of tactics that was brought forward by Garmin with the forward-facing sonar technology so I tried one of those I I actually have had the opportunity to see all three and fish with all three uh just with friends and and uh competitors and people that I've gotten to know throughout the years in the fishing industry uh and I chose the Garmin one I I you know I I'll I'll go on a limb and say for me anyway it
(08:08) was the easiest to use it was the easiest to see my targets with and all that they were the first right so from that point you look at people down south I mean there might be a guy you know I've I've seen them that have like a 500 boat but they have life scope out like it's insane I mean crappie fishing is what started this whole Trend which is now just flooded into mosque walleye bass you name it and with that it's a good kind of segue to to talk about how people are incorporating different brands on their boats
(08:40) um I would say it's definitely not just tournament guys that are getting live scope it's it's it's it's probably more people that are not fishing tournaments wow but if you fish tournaments you better have it yeah I was leaning towards maybe trying the the active Target and I know Lowrance actually even has a new uh updated active Target as well perspective mode we're learning with Ford facing sonar is a is a valuable tool it's gaining uh some steam with amongst tournament Anglers and just recreational Anglers
(09:11) too of being able to see the structure and fish swimming around it's a narrower picture you're not getting that 360 degree view but you are getting a very detailed picture and I think they're improving on those Technologies now I know for you getting active Target did you find yourself using it also to look for structure or was it just strictly staring at fish that you were targeting that was exactly what I was going to say like I said I just want to have one brand yeah I could have gotten 360 and
(09:41) maybe um some sort of live but I wanted it to be all in one with my active Target I'm looking for weed lines I'm looking for fish as well and it's just more fun yeah I that's why I wanted it was more fun but it's still a very useful tool that's active Target one now Aaron teal at InTune Marine had some really cool things to say about active Target too pretty excited about it so I would say active Target is is pretty top-notch when it comes to looking forward in that forward-looking slice but one thing that
(10:15) they were a little bit behind on is that perspective mode and um you know I got to be honest that Garmin came out and that perspective mode changed how you can fish that shallow range in that 15 foot or less Zone almost you know giving you pretty much live 360 in a half pizza slice in front of the boat so Lowrance with that active Target too they're really improving upon that perspective mode which I think is really going to improve how you fish shallow water how you approach shallow water and I think if it's as detailed as I hope it's going to
(10:52) be fishing a shallow tree you're going to know which branch that that bass is sitting on so and now with active Target 2 you can even have two of them in perspective mode for almost a 360. it's a probably like the 270 range so you can really look all around the boat without having to move the trolling Motorhead a whole lot yeah which is which is crazy and if if you're a guy who can afford something like that it's almost like cheating probably yeah so do you find yourself though at all like as you've driven around maybe
(11:26) mapped out an area or chosen an area the lake you want to fish have you found yourself using your active Target to pick apart some structure when you're not even seeing any fish or or have are you one of those Anglers now that we've heard from a lot of Anglers if they don't see the fish they just move on and keep going I'm trying my best not to become that if I see a steep break while I'm panning I'm gonna I'm gonna fish it if I see a giant rock I'm gonna fish it I'm not always just looking for
(11:56) um looking for fish I've had some of my biggest fish catches last year not even seen it but see in the structure so it's to me it's still super important to pick apart those places that you would think are fishy yeah well if if you're hearing what I'm hearing from between these two I do think we're seeing an argument to be had for having both that 360 Imaging and forward-facing sonar capabilities if you're a competitive Angler Nick had a great point though I don't want to just gloss over when you said
(12:27) that you're out there to have fun and that's kind of something that's changed me a lot recently Joe can speak to this and the other guys here at Omnia I've really missed a lot of the fun fishing trips I used to take and just having a good time on the water I've been fishing with my wife a lot more lately and trying new bodies of water and to Me Maybe the expense of having absolutely everything or the competitive nature of me sliding back a little bit where I just want to go out and have a good time
(12:54) and fish and I'm finding myself having a little bit more fun uh just kind of going out there and seeing what that Lakes got to offer me for the day as far as fish that are right in front of me so I've been having fun just basically focusing on that forward-facing sonar and uh and zipping around and covering water throughout the day versus really picking apart breaking down structure like I think you kind of have to do if you're going to be a competitive tournament Angler uh I mean with the circuits that we fished the Denny's I'm
(13:22) Minnetonka it's so competitive I mean and the fish out there they're so pressured like you could look at your Ford facing sonar all day long and we've all done it you could pull up on a deep reef and there's there's bass down there and they look big and they see your bait you know they're looking at it but they're not biting it's like to me that is that is the biggest distraction especially in a tournament scenario I like to eliminate those distractions so like one thing I found with with the the
(13:46) slight learning curve to using forward-facing Sonar the Trap that I had to avoid was was just constantly looking at it constantly trying to see my bait constantly trying to see Fish it's to me it's really just an accessory tool in addition to already everything else in your boat your mapping Your Side Imaging everything else that's getting you keyed in on those areas where the fish are and that forward-facing sonar is just kind of helping you identify you know maybe one day the school is on the tip of the
(14:11) point but then on the tournament day they've shifted down the edge well that forward facing sonar you can tell that you know without that you know you might have just thought oh they're gone you don't know where they are yeah yeah no it makes total sense I mean you we've all heard the jokes about like uh they call it uh scope neck where you see people hunched over and their head bent down all day long because they're just staring at that live scope all day long and that's certainly uh something we're
(14:36) seeing happen all over the country and if you look at the major tournament Trails the surprises uh to me anyway where we're seeing bodies of water that uh that that shouldn't be being dominated by forward-facing sonar because of the seasonality or whatever but there's people that have become experts at staring at those things and identifying uh you know fish that are willing to bite because to Joe's Point uh I think the biggest weakness I have is an angler a lot of people have had with it is they're fishing for fish that
(15:06) aren't they're not going to catch they're fishing for fish that uh just won't bite and and the real experts with forward-facing sonar have learned how to eliminate a school of fish real quickly that hey these fish are inactive I'm not gonna be able to get them to bite I'm moving on and going to find something else to go fish so uh I I think you're gonna see uh obviously this these Technologies expand over time and get uh even better uh at as controversial as that is a lot of people are saying it's
(15:35) gone one step too far with forward-facing sonar uh I don't think that's going to stop Anglers from doing everything they can to to be more efficient on the water I think we're going to see more Technologies but for me where I found myself and I have to ask both you two what's your limit at this point of what you're going to have on the front of your boat this year as far as Imaging and sonar capabilities for me I'm stopping at having forward-facing sonar and Side Imaging obviously traditional 2D sonar that
(16:05) comes without saying we are going to have that but I'm going to use those two tools this year and stop myself at that not only because of budget constraints but just also for my just uh my own headspace when I'm out on the water I don't want to overdo it anymore I kind of want to just get out there and see how effective I can be with just those two tools but how about you I like you I'm just gonna stick with the active Target one it's good enough for me I would think about adding maybe that
(16:33) ghost 360 nose cone so I could get some of the benefits Joe's talking about if I had not a butt if I didn't have a budget I'd be getting a couple of active Target twos pairing them together getting that 270 range of scout mode yeah but that's not in the picture so I got you I get you how about you what are you gonna do um with me I'm you know like everyone I'm using that at the dash my 2D for navigation mostly with GPS and then Side Imaging to break down spots and find where I want to drop away point and turn
(17:06) around and start fishing and once I do that I'll have my mega 360 and mega live I think it's key to have both the mega 360 is your cover awareness it's showing you all the way around your boat at all times you don't have to pan around to see where the weed line is it's all there at all times there's it's on autopilot and then the mega live is what like I said before you know it's it's key for finding where the bait's located is the bait sitting high in the water column where it's down in the weeds more
(17:31) down by the bottom and then finding the fish you know if you caught fish in practice there you know it's a good spot those fish odds are they didn't go far are yeah but and using your Meg or forward-facing sonar you can kind of identify you know maybe they're more inactive down the bottom or they've shifted down the edge more it's going to kind of give you those keys to have a better day on the water and catch more fish when you know they're there how they react to certain baits exactly how
(17:55) they're not reacting yep 100 yep so once again I think we get to the part in this discussion we've had now when we've talked about user interface uh in a previous episode of this we also talked about navigation and GPS it comes down to even now that we're talking about Imaging and sonar uh you could not be brand loyal and kind of jump around and kind of get some key features from each of the manufacturers and have the best of everybody there I think Nick touched on it really well that Lowrance kind of does great are
(18:30) good at everything you know maybe not the king of of forward-facing sonar or Side Imaging or any of those things but they do really good at all of them so it allowed him to have one package once one uh brand one boat Network to steal the line from what uh what what Joe's using here the one vote network from hummingbird Minn Kota being able to have all those features and we know hummingbirds uh really really really prevalent when it comes to the Imaging quality of a Side Imaging and the 360 and even Mega down Imaging as well I
(19:06) didn't really touch on that that much I did use that a lot last year myself actually I should have touched on that a little bit more but and then you got someone like me that's really looking at maybe branching out and having a couple different brands on my boat in the future here and going with that garment I I do still feel like I'm gonna have to keep my uh my my Helix for that Side Imaging because I'm so proficient with it already and and and then going with that garment for that forward-facing
(19:34) sonar so we'd like to hear from you guys always feel free to reach out to us here at Omnia fishing and let us know if you got questions if you're going to go with one brand or you want to know what our opinions are and the features uh that they all offer and we want to thank again uh the guys that are into Marine Bob Downey and Rob store for helping us out as we are all ourselves learning about Marine Electronics foreign