BassWestUSA - March/April, 2011, Page 52

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of Doug Vahrenberg

Split screen showing down imaging versus 2D sonar. Fish, represented as arches, typically show up more clearly on the 2D screen, while down imaging reveals details about sh-holding cover. Note: Lowrance’s down imaging sonar is marketed as “Down Scan”.

country – many in 1 foot increments – it’s such a huge time saver to literally turn the unit on, mark a waypoint on an area of structure I want to sh and drive the boat right to it. Before this technology, if I didn’t know exactly where an underwater spot was located, I could eat a lot of time idling back and forth in an attempt to pinpoint that structure.” Once located, Dobyns will likely make a pass across the structure with his sonar to determine the presence of bait, cover and sh. Dobyns recalls a perfect case study of the power of tech- nology from a recent trip to a shery he’d never seen before. He marvels at the sim- plicity of nding a likely underwater hump via his map screen, driving to that location and hefting bass over the gunwales in a matter of a few minutes. Hand in hand with mapping data, Dobyns relies heavily upon his chartplot- ter’s GPS. “On some of the huge western reservoirs like Mead, there are literally hundreds of coves that all look the same. Getting back to the same cove or pocket the next day can be a real challenge with- out the ability to mark a waypoint on the GPS to get me right back to the exact loca- tion time and again.” Brett Hite is another strong advocate of GPS and the Navionics software, imple- menting the technology in unison before even approaching the water. As he ex- plains, “My tournament preparation begins at home with a Navionics mapping appli- cation for my iPad. It has the same level of detail as the chip in my Humminbird unit, so I can nd areas of interest and mark waypoints before I even get to the water. This data can be transferred over to my Humminbird unit so I can go directly to the exact locations I found at home. Once there, I can image the structure and de- termine pretty quickly if it’s worth shing.”

Humminbird and Lowrance each offer multiple sonar/ chartplotter combo units capable of GPS/mapping data, down imaging, side imaging and traditional 2D sonar. For specifi c sonar settings by manufacturer, you can fi nd further information on multiple user- specifi c websites. To get you started, check out the following resources:

» Doug Vahrenberg hosts a Humminbird Side Imaging users group on Yahoo, which provides tutorials and various sonar screen shots at http://groups. sideimaging

» Don Iovino’s custom settings for Lowrance electronics can be found on his website:

Photo courtesy of Doug Vahrenberg

A large school of sh is revealed using side imaging sonar. Capable of imaging up to 240’ from each side of the boat, side imaging sonar is capable of exposing large amounts of water in a single pass.



Gary Dobyns, a highly successful west coast tournament pro and owner of Dobyns Rods, can’t live without his GPS/Navionics mapping software. Referencing the com- mon theme of maximizing his shing time, he explains the bene ts of this technology in his approach to shing: “With the map chips available for most every lake in the



Though experts differ in their opinions on which sonar technology they prefer, all formulate a game plan integrating sonar with GPS and mapping software. Individu- ally, each technology can be a tremendous asset to any angler’s search for bass – but when these electronics are harnessed to- gether and used in concert, shermen are empowered like never before. As Missouri pro Doug Vahrenberg summarizes, “Mod- ern technology is such a tremendous time saver whether you are a tournament an- gler or not. Unfortunately, it just won’t open the bass’ mouths and make them eat!” So the fun and challenge of catching sh may not be made any easier, yet you can save time getting there. BWU


March/April 2011