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Forward Facing Sonar Basics

Nothing has changed the sport of fishing more over the past decade than Forward Facing Sonar. The ability for anglers to aim their sonar beam and receive real time information about fish locations, reactions and movement has literally changed the game of fishing. Love it, hate it or call it cheating Forward Facing Sonar is entrenched in fishing, having a basic understanding of how it works is important for any angler.

What is Forward Facing Sonar:

Introduced in 2018 by Garmin, Live Scope was the first of the modern Forward Facing Sonar (FFS) for recreational fisherman. Quickly followed by Lowrance Active Target and Humminbird Mega Live all three of the major fishing electronics manufactures offer a form of FFS. While there are subtle differences between manufactures the basic function of FFS is the same. FFS uses a narrow sonar beam that an angler can “point” in a specific direction and see what is below the water’s surface in real time. Much like traditional sonar FFS sends a “ping” from the transducer in the direction it is pointed. When the ping bounces off an object in the water it returns to the transducer and is interpreted by the computer in the sonar display and displayed as an image on the unit. Unlike traditional sonar the number of pings, the frequency of the sonar and the speed of the processor give the angler a real time easy to decipher image of exactly what is happening under the water.

How to use FFS

The first thing a new angler using FFS should do is make sure it is lined up and pointing in a determined direction. Most anglers mount their FFS transducer to their trolling motor but other options like Turrets or mounting poles can make it easier for beginning anglers to use and aim FFS. Regardless of mounting options it is critical to align your transducer with either the arrow on your trolling motor, pole or turret. The easiest way to improve your aim is to pull up about 50’ away from a no wake or other tethered buoy and find the cable with your transducer. Once the display is showing the cable as bright as possible, adjust the arrow or the transducer until they match up and the arrow points directly at the cable.

Once you have your sonar aimed correctly head to one of your favorite fishing spots, a cove, a dock or an area you are fairly familiar with. Drop your sonar in the lake and look around, get a feel for what things look like, look at standing timber, brush piles, docks and dock cables. You’ll also start to notice short vertical lines moving around on the screen, those are fish, bigger lines are bigger fish, smaller lines are smaller fish. If you’re a crappie fisherman go to your favorite brush pile or tree, you’ll be amazed how many crappie live on your favorite spot.

Fishing with FFS

The first question everyone asks when starting to use FFS is why can’t I see my bait? The next thing they realize is that their casting accuracy isn’t nearly as good as they thought it was. Two things to do; one, work on your casting accuracy, two don’t worry about it so much. Everyone wants to see a fish, cast to that fish and watch it eat their lure. Don’t get me wrong it’s very cool to see, but over time you’ll realize that’s not the most efficient use of FFS.

Best ways to use Forward facing Sonar while fishing:

Locating fish: You can quickly eliminate water, if you’re not seeing fish, there is no point in fishing that area.

Finding cover and structure: Locating and targeting cover is the biggest benefit when using FFS. You no longer have to search and random cast to find a piece of cover. Find the cover with your FFS and you can be a much more efficient angler hitting the cover with every cast.

Finding and following schools of bait: Bait fish show up very well on FFS. At times you can actually watch fish feeding on schools of bait. FFS makes it easy for you to see schools as far away as 100’ and you can easily follow them and stay with the fish.

Forward Facing Sonar is a great tool to help anglers find and catch more fish. There has been some discussion and comments online about the “evils” of FFS and how it will ruin fishing. In actuality whenever there are innovations or major leaps in technology there will always be people that feel it hurts and some that feel it helps. The truth is FFS is here to stay, and it is just another tool to help anglers find and catch more fish.

Eric Prey is the Owner / Operator of Focused Fishing Guide Service on Table Rock, Taneycomo and Bull Shoals lakes.

To book a trip or contact:

or call 417-860-4743


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