What is Side Imaging On a Fish Finder? Is Side Imaging Worth?

What Is Side Imaging On A Fish Finder

The key to understanding What is Side Imaging On a Fish Finder is your confidence through which you interpret and read the returns on your fish finder’s screen. In the past few years technology has taken leaps and bounds and now we have fish finders with the best technologies, and it does not stop here, it gets better and better.

In today’s fish finders are equipped with technologies, options, diverse screen sizes, and multiple features. Given that, fish anglers can now choose from multiple options depending upon their need.

Talking about the technologies, one of the essential development in the industry of fish finders is “Side imaging.” Side imaging is a great development and it allows the anglers to have somewhat a 360-degree view of the boat, that is one can see on either side of the boat up to four hundred feet.

It’s a piece of great and valuable equipment that aids in finding fish structures and identifying fish’s location. However, fish finders that are equipped with side imaging technology are somewhat more expensive than the classic traditional sonar units.

What Is Side Imaging On A Fish Finder

However, given its benefits side imaging is worth the expense and is a one-time investment for the long run. It is extremely effective, beneficial and allows you to scan larger areas in no time. With this, you can easily locate and identify key spots, structures, covers, baitfish, and as well as the fish you are targeting in a specific area.

As compared to the traditional fish finders, which only allow you to see what’s underneath your boat, side imaging allows you to look both on right and left sides of the boat covering more area and providing more visibility.

What Is Side Imaging On A Fish Finder?

For any beginner, this is one of the most frequently asked questions. Side imaging does not work the same way as in traditional fish finders. This technology is an ultra-fine beam that is capable of scanning up to four hundred feet horizontally on both sides of your boat i.e. left and right.

On the fish finder’s screen, you can view a graph projecting the view of both sides of the boat up to eight hundred feet. Hence, side imaging does not only give you a marvelous view of what is underneath but also provides more coverage. Ultimately the process of locating and identifying the fish gets easier and more comfortable.

I as an angler come across multiple options when it comes to fish finders, like 2D traditional fish finders, down imaging, side imaging, the famous Humminbird 360 along several others. Each of these technologies serves different purposes and helps us to find and locate fish in a better way. Most of the anglers which technology would be the best to invest in? And are they even worth investing OR does a technology aligns with my fishing style and falls under my budget?

Also Read: What Does A School Of Crappie Look Like On A Fish Finder?

I think for most of the anglers side imaging works great. Like all other anglers, I have also asked myself several times if side imaging is worth the shot or my money.

In my opinion, if you are a full-time angler and it is your profession, also if you own a boat or a kayak then a fish finder with side imaging is worthy of your money and effort.

It is obvious that one takes time to get oneself comfortable with the equipment, but with time and practice anyone can get the hang of it. In the long run, the same expensive equipment will return your backloads.

But, even though it is extremely beneficial fish finders with side imaging may not be for everyone. Let’s further discuss the pros, cons, and the cost it takes to buy fish finders with side imaging so you can have a better idea if it’s the right fit for you.

Pros of the Side Imaging:

Before investing in any technology it is essential to understand what benefits it is going to deliver you. Following are the pros of fish finders with side imaging:

  • It horizontally scans the water on each side of the boat up to four hundred feet.
  • Aids in providing more coverage, visibility, as well as finding fish structures.
  • Gives a better view and picture on the screen.
  • It’s very easy to identify and understand the structure.
  • Fish finders with side imaging also come up with down imaging features, so two-in-one.

Cons of the fish finder with side imaging:

  • Obviously, it is more expensive given the features.
  • It does not provide a very high-quality image of anything present directly under your boat.
  • It works well with slow-moving boats with speeds of 3-5 meters per hour.

Fish finders with side imaging cost:

Let’s look at some examples of fish finders with side imaging and the ones without side imaging and compare their prices. According to my research, following are the costs of fish finders with side imaging v/s those with only down imaging.

Brand name of the sounder Only Down Imaging Side imaging + Down Imaging
Humminbird Helix 5 G2 $350.99 $500.99
Humminbird Helix 7 $550 $700.99
Humminbird Helix 12 $2099.92 $2499.9

How Important Is Side Imaging On A Fishfinder?

The above data will aid you in making a decision, what brands fall under your budget and either you should go for the side imaging or not.

Side imaging has become an inevitable technology in the past few years because of its unmatchable accuracy and it makes the whole process a lot easier. Side imaging is all about details. It provides you with an unmatchable 180 degrees view, with a side-to-side vision providing you greater coverage. Now you can see what is present to the left and right side of your boat in addition to what’s underneath.

The side imaging fish finders produce an instant thin beam that perfectly scans the left and right sides of your boat up to four hundred feet with maximum coverage of eight hundred feet. The returns of the side imaging fishfinder are also easy to interpret and understand.

The returns it captures for each slice are combined with the immediate images to provide you with a user-friendly image of a bottom view of the lake/pond/river. It also comes up with a zoom feature that you can use to magnify any details to get a broader perspective. You can also mark the structure or cover on the screen with GPS features that accurately take you to the location of your target.

Which Is Better Side Imaging Or Down Imaging?

For many anglers it is a tough decision, to decide what to invest in, side imaging fish finder or the down imaging. However, it majorly depends on where you are fishing, and what type of species you are looking for. Both have their own perks and disadvantages, and one has to decide accordingly.

If you are a professional angler and are someone who spends a lot of time in the water then side imaging is for you. Because it will reduce a lot of time and effort which would you spend roaming in the waters otherwise.

Side imaging provides you with a 180 degree view of your boat. That means you are free to look either on the right or left side of your boat. Hence, it provides you with more coverage and you can cove more spaces in no time. It also comes with several other features like zoom and GPS which makes it further better. However, it is expensive and does not provide you returns with high-definition images.

Down imaging, on the other hand, is the technology most common in traditional fish finders. Down imaging does not provide you an overall view of your boat, instead, it provides you with the information of what is traveling right beneath your boat. With this technology, you can get high-quality images that make it easy to identify the species of the sea bottom.

You can also estimate the water depth, fish location, and about the sea bed. However, with down imaging you can’t have 180 degrees view of your boat, thereby it takes a lot of time to cover major areas of the waterbodies. One should also know What Do Fish Look Like on a Fish Finder?

Is Side Imaging Really Worth It?

In my opinion, given its features and benefits its totally worth a shot. Why? Because investing in a fish finder with side imaging you will get the benefits of both (side plus down).

In addition to this, if you want to become a professional angler or you are already a one then it’s a must for you to have better coverage and view with side imaging. Moreover, side imaging allows you to scan the water on both sides i.e. left and right horizontally.

So you can rapidly scan huge waterbodies because you can look at two places simultaneously. Also, as compared to down imaging, fish finders with side imaging also work effectively in deeper waters.

They are capable of showing you detailed returns of bottom-up to 150 feet. Not only this, but they can also scan an area up to 408 wide to target the suspending baitfish, and it does not matter how deep.

How Far Does Side Imaging Work?

It majorly depends on the fish finder and how well technology is established. However, for most of the fish finders, side imaging provides you with a one hundred and eight degree horizontal view of the left and right side of your boat.

The laser thin beam of side imaging is capable of instant scanning. It can scan 400 to the left and right providing the maximum coverage.

If we talk about the range, the side imaging can scan about 240 feet on each side. However, if you want good returns that are easy to understand, it’s better to keep your range within 150 to 200 feet.

But combined with the same range on the other side you can scan up to three to four hundred feet with side imaging at once.

It’s not wrong to say that fish finders with side imaging are the most powerful ones if you aim for targeting fish in huge water bodies and great depths. You can easily miss the structures that are present either on the right or left side of your boat with the traditional fishfinders.


To conclude, it’s better to invest some additional bucks in a fish finder equipped with side imaging as it provides greater coverage and better visibility. The identification of the fish species and its location also gets easy with side imaging. For professional anglers, I would say it’s a very good investment in the long-term if they want to build their future in this industry. With side imaging you may come across a new learning curve which may seem different and tough at the beginning but once you get the hang of it. It’s gonna pay you back!!

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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