Hummingbird Fish Finders – Side Imaging Vs Down Imaging

Have you ever thought of taking your fishing experience to the next level? Well, I’m not saying to participate to professional tournaments, but just to do something to always be one step ahead other fishermen or even one step ahead of fish. The best solution for that is one of the best models of Hummingbird Fish Finders.

Anyway, not many fishermen are aware of all the possibilities that Hummingbird Fish Finders can unlock. They have many questions related to them. So, in this article, I’m going to try to answer a few common questions that people generally ask about these fish finder GPS units, especially about the Side Imaging and Down Imaging features.

What is Side Imaging?

Side Imaging is a feature that some of the top-class Hummingbird Fish Finders have. The Side Imaging sonar casts a thin beam, up to 240 ft on each side of your boat, taking a quick snapshot of all the shapes underneath the boat. This snapshot is added to the images taken before and after, and a clear, photo-like image of the bottom, structures and fish will appear on your screen. Although the images look almost like photos, it’s important to know that you won’t deal with any kind of underwater camera, but with a high frequency sonar which “feels” every shape that’s on each side of your boat, on a distance up to 240 ft.

What is Down Imaging?

Similar to the Side Imaging, Down Imaging is also provided by a high-frequency sonar. However, in this case your fish finder will display images of what’s exactly under your boat. The sonar beam will be cast directly under your boat, showing all the structures, ditches, bumps, fish, trees that you pass over. The images provided by the Down Imaging system are a bit tricky, though. On the first look on an image you won’t understand exactly the distance between the certain objects, or how far away they are from you. But after you’ll take your Down Imaging Hummingbird Fish Finder for 2-3 fishing trips, you’ll get used to this feature and understand perfectly everything that will show up on your screen.

What’s Best – Side Imaging or Down Imaging?

First of all not all the Hummingbird Fish Finders have both these features, only the high-end ones. In fact you either have both on your unit, only Down Imaging, or none and in this case you’ll have to rely on the returns of the SwitchFire system. So, if you’re on a budget, you can either aim for a smaller Humminbird fish finding unit like 798ci HD SI Combo which has both these features, or for a unit that doesn’t have Side Imaging at all.

Side Imaging is best to use if you’re scanning for a new fishing spot. Since it allows you to see an up to 480 ft surface from the left to the right of your boat, it’s an excellent feature that Hummingbird Fish Finders can provide you with, for the inspection of a lake or any waters that are new to you.

If you already have one or two fishing spots as your targets for your fishing expedition, and you basically know a few things about those particular spots, Down Imaging might be a better choice, if you want to place your boat on an exact location, over a certain ditch, wreck, sunken trees or over the big ones that you certainly want to catch.

What’s the Depth Reliability of Down Imaging and Side Imaging of Hummingbird Fish Finders?

Depending on the model of fish finder you’re looking at, better or lower quality returns. Anyway, in general, Side Imaging has a good reliability on waters up to 150ft deep. Down Imaging on models like 788ci HD DI Combo is reliable for depths up to 250ft.

If you’re going to fish in waters deeper than that, you will have to rely on the returns of the DualBeam/SwitchFire sonar, which has a depth penetration of up to 1500 ft.

Apart from Side Imaging and Down Imaging, Hummingbird Fish Finders will provide you with many other options. For example, they are great tools for chartplotting and trackplotting, you can store waypoints (which basically are the home addresses of fish) and routes in their memory database, some of the models have a built-in map package, and most Hummingbird Fish Finders have incorporated GPS. To be honest, I kinda feel lost without mine nowadays.

So, do you want to take your fishing to a superior level? To catch at least a big one on each fishing trip?