Do Fish Finders Work in Shallow Water?

Do Fish Finders Work In Shallow Water

The success of fish finders relies on the high-frequency transducers, this is because such high frequencies efficiently locate the target and ensure a more accurate location of the fish. But, do fish finders work in shallow water? Let’s find out.

In addition, high-frequency fish finders and sonar guarantee you an effective and high-definition display on the screen which further helps the angler to easily interpret the images on screen that minimizes the risk of vague or false readings.

Let me clear out one thing: the success of the angler to catch fish in shallow water depends more on the experience and the skill of the angler rather than the fish finder.

One should know how to interpret and apply the signals sent to your screen by a fish finder transducer, and then apply your best casting and throwing either in the shallow water or deep water to efficiently catch the fish. Therefore, you need to understand the proper working of a fish finder.

Do Fish Finders Work In Shallow Water?

The working of your fish finder in shallow water depends mainly on two aspects:

  1. What type of fish finder are you using?
  2. How shallow or deep is the water?

On the other hand, frequency is also a major aspect when it comes to the working of a fish finder in shallow waters. Besides that, there are also a few factors that affect fishing in shallow waters. Let’s talk about these below:

Do Fish Finders Work In Shallow Water

What Should Be The Right Frequency?

There is one general rule that works effectively with fish detection and fish finders and that is; Higher the frequencies, better the image will be. On the other hand, if one opts for low frequencies in shallow waters the effort would go in vain because low frequencies penetrate deeply into the water.

But, for shallow water fish detection, depth penetration is not what one should go for. That explains you must have a fish finder with a high-frequency transducer that can emit frequencies of 200kHz and more. The experience would be more enhanced if you use high-frequency fish finders.

Adjust The Depth Settings Of Your Fish Finder:

If you have a high-quality fish finder that one should be investing in anyways, must have an auto depth finding feature. In most of the fish finders the depth finding is usually set up to default number of feet; let’s say 30 ft.

However, if you are fishing in a water body that is more shallow than 30 ft you can manually adjust the depth of the water column via the auto depth finding feature. This feature helps in proper detection of the bottom and hence you can fish more effectively.

Shallow Water And Noise:

While fishing in shallow waters, one of the most frustrating aspects is the noise that comes with it. Why? Because in shallow waters there are a lot of structures present at the bottom, and they may be very close to the transducer. So, the signals from the transducer and the structures bounce back very often creating a lot of noise.

With so much noise it becomes hardly impossible to effectively interpret the images on the screen of the fish finder or sonar readouts. That is why sonar companies have come up with various tools to reduce the noise for such situations in particular.

In most cases, the fish finder automatically reduces the noise via built-in features however, if that is not the case with you, you can also adjust noise reduction settings manually in order to get better readings.

In shallow waters, it is quite hard to detect smaller fishes and they hardly show up on the screen but big fishes do show up and that’s what we look for anyways.

How Shallow Water Affects Fish Finder’s Imaging?

Well to your amazement both side imaging and down imaging works perfectly with shallow water fishing. However, side imaging works perfectly depending on how shallow or murky the water is in which you are fishing. The estimation of the bottom is generally done manually and mostly you don’t need a fish finder in such situations.

However, if you do not have a certain estimate about the bottom, and want to get a better look you can go for down imaging with a fish finder which works best in such cases.

The technology imaging relies heavily on high frequencies. Again the more the frequency the better the imaging would be. You can also look for fish finders that work efficiently in shallow waters. Always go for high-energy/frequency transducers.

What Frequency Is Best For Shallow Water?

Fishfinders work perfectly well in the shallow waters, however, one has to make sure that the frequency of the sonar or fishfinder must be high enough. For a fish finder to work efficiently in shallow water the recommended frequencies are 200kHz, 455kHz, and 800kHz.

Does Side Imaging Work In Shallow Water?

Well! The good news is yes! Side imaging works efficiently in shallow water, and it does not matter how shallow or murky the water is. To your amazement, even when the water is two feet deep the fish finder will still work.

Your fish finder will work efficiently in deep water too. As long as your fish finder can efficiently detect the water bottom, you are fine. For deep freshwater fishing up to the water column of 300 ft, you can easily go for your fish finder and it will do the job.

Also, water clarity has no effect on the imaging of the fish finder, both side and down imaging. That is because the sonar or fish finder is not affected by the color of the water. On the other hand, dirty water which contains visible particles and sediments can somehow affect your side and down imaging.

How Do You Use A Fish Finder In Shallow Water?

For a remarkable fishing experience in shallow water one first needs to invest in a good fish finder model and then set it properly. Now, coming to the point, how to use or read it under the shallow water? The science lies in understanding the shapes.

Fishfinders work on sonar technology that in turn works on echolocation, that is what you acknowledge on your screen are objects that reflect back these sound waves. To interpret the shapes on the screen you have to do a little memorization. Remember:

  1. Curves mean living objects
  2. Flat lines represent inanimate objects

Yes! It’s that simple. Underwater microorganisms like algae or sea plants like seaweed do not fully reflect the sound waves. On the basis of their unique shape, other living organisms like fish are big enough to resist the path of the sound wave, and hence they change the direction of the sound waves emitted by the transducer.

That is why you do not observe them as flat lines on the screen but in the form of curves and otherwise asymmetrical objects.

You can clearly observe the underwater activity both in deep and shallow waters. So as soon as you acknowledge a collection of curved lines on the screen, that means you have spotted a school of fish, and now will be the right time to pull out your fishing rod. If you want to catch school of crappies then you should know about What Does A School Of Crappie Look Like?

Why Your Fish Finder Is Not Performing Optimally in Shallow Water?

Most of the time anglers face difficulty while fishing in shallow waters, saying that their fish finders are not working the way they should be working. It can be due to these reasons:

Inappropriate Model: It is vital to know that fish finders that work in shallow waters are not the same as we use for deep-sea or lake fish finding. That is because shallow-water fish finders are meant to be the ones with higher frequencies, and others with low frequencies won’t provide you with the results or readings.

Low Quality: As there are a lot of products available in the market, it is very likely that anglers end up buying a fish finder with low quality. Yeah, I am talking about on-sale devices and devices at the discount. When it comes to fish finders you should never compromise on quality because it is a one-time investment. If you want to spend quality time while fishing you must be willing to invest good money in it too.

Old Is Not Always Gold: Just because a fish finder is old and has been used effectively in past times does not mean it will perform the same for you. In the case of the fish finders, the older the device the less it is reliable. Like all other technical devices, one must update and invest in fish finders from time to time.

Wrong Configuration: Most of the people when working in shallow water opt for the wrong configuration which makes their experience bad. As many anglers are beginners and they usually go for the default setting, which is not appropriate for shallow water fishing. In this way, the angler limits the device’s ability because it requires different settings in different conditions. The settings consist of color adjustments, auto depth detection, transducer selection, and adjustments for the sensitivity. If the settings are wrong you won’t get the readings.

You’re A Noob: Lack of knowledge is sometimes the key aspect why you can’t use your fish finder in shallow waters. For instance, if you do not know about the transducer, or do not know how to interpret the screen images you won’t get the best out of it. Therefore, you first need to educate yourself on the topic before diving into it professionally.


So, we now know that fish finders work efficiently in shallow waters if you have the fish finder with the right frequency. In addition to this, the angler must also educate himself to read the fish finder’s screen properly so that he can efficiently interpret the images for a better catch rate. The frequency range of your fish finder should be more than 200 kHz to 800 kHz for efficient shallow water fishing.
Happy Fishing!!

Ricki Cooper

I have been fishing for 11 years. I believe in the famous saying "If fishing is interfering with your business, give up your business".

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