Best Sonar Technology for 2023
Chances are, if you bought a Polar Kraft, you’re serious about fishing. Armoring your boat with electronics that best suit your fishing style is paramount. Underspend and you might be disappointed, overspend, and you may have bells and whistles you never learn to use.
Anglers have their choice of traditional 2D sonar, down-imaging, side-imaging, and live-sonar, which is also known as forward-facing sonar.
All have their place on your console.
Your old school 2D sonar packs a punch for the money and does a great job in deep water and when complimented with GPS; it’s a good start, especially if you are going to purchase two units (maybe one entry level and one more advanced).
If you want to go to the next level, then down-imaging should be considered as it really helps a person separate objects on the bottom. Sure, a 2D model will indicate if you have a hard or soft bottom, but down-imaging can show the branches on the sunken tree and a walleye or bass sitting in it.
That’s cool stuff.
Side-imaging is a great option if you fish shallow water and target fish that you don’t want to drive over, and possibly spook (think - a school of panfish on a shallow flat) or if you want to side-scan a deep weedline, so you can see points and cuts where gamefish might be lurking to ambush baitfish.
Walleye anglers will utilize this technology to decide the planer board set so they know their baits are being presented in exactly the right zone adjacent to cover, like a reef, for instance. Bass and muskie anglers may use it to scan boulders and rock piles, mark the spots, and come back and fish them later so they can stay a cast away from them and remain in stealth-mode.
Live sonar, like Garmin Panoptix, Humminbird MEGA Live Imaging, or Lowrance ActiveTarget allows you to literally see fish swimming under or in front of the boat and watch them react to your bait. Various transducer brackets are made so a person can “turn” their transducers towards their casting area or scan around the boat to find where they want to cast. This has been so effective that the Professional Musky Tournament Trail outlawed them in 2022 because a team was having so much success with the technology the tournament organizers felt it was unfair.
The technology is ideal for going after suspended fish over deep water and ice anglers love the tool because it saves a ton of time drilling holes. Many people will take side-facing sonars off their boats in the winter for just such a use. Muskie anglers in the fall have been known to soak a sucker while casting and they can see when an interested muskie eyes up the sucker. The way the muskie reacts can help an angler decide if they should move the sucker around try and trigger a strike.
Whatever technology you decide to buy- it’s recommended you spend as much as you can and make sure you can upgrade by simply adding a new transducer instead of having to start from scratch.