Side Imaging vs. Down Imaging Fish Finder – Key Differences Explained

Fishfinders are every fisherman’s newest gadget in their fishing adventures. These devices have become dependable to that extent that every professional seaman simply can’t go fishing without them. It’s not as if we can’t fish without these devices, but they make life so much easier. Why would you rely on your five senses to determine where your fish is at any moment?

Fishfinders make your hobby a lot easier and more enjoyable. But using a fishfinder presents so many options regarding which model you’ll use or which technique for fishfinding you’ll use. Every experienced fisherman stays updated on the recent development in this type of technology. But not everyone knows the difference between side imaging and down imaging.

Both actions allow you to accurately locate the fish in your pond, lake, river or even at sea. But which method of fishfinding is better and generally more efficient at providing with important data? To find all about this two modes on these devices all you need to do is keep reading.

Side Imaging


Side imaging is a sonar technique that renders the picture with much higher resolution than the previous models. This enables the user to clearly see the water bellow and locate the fish with ease.

The most important thing about side imaging is that it operates at above 500 kHz. The transducers of previous models operated at 80 through 200 kHz max. This new sonar device makes fishfinding a lot easier. So what are the advantages of side imaging?
fish finder connected to a phone via app

Clear-Scaling Advantage

With side imaging and increased sonar depth, you can easily spot not only fish but also any obstacle like tree branches, rocks and debris stuck at the bottom. With shallow waters, you know what to expect as you can’t bump into a log or larger tree branch with your dinghy or boat.

Using a fishfinder in shallow water has taught you to operate in small ponds and lakes. However, if you never tried using it in these waters, here’s a neat how-to guide that will show you exactly how it’s done.

With deep lakes, rivers, and sea, you don’t know what to expect at the bottom; this is why using a device that reads and provides with precise data is essential. The option of side imaging allows you choose the environment in which you’re fishing. And this is one of them most important things when fishing at sea, larger ponds or rivers.

Easier to Navigate

The ease of use is another important feature of this option that’s available on new fishfinder models. Because it gives a clear 2d picture of what’s going on down there, you can easily navigate to a better spot that will allow you to catch a bigger game. This is what using these devices is all about.

With side imaging at your disposal, you’ll become efficient at finding fish and thus greatly improve your fishing adventure. For example, if you’re in a larger boat, you don’t want to waste time trying your luck at just about any spot, right? By utilizing this sonar technique, you’ll be able to get in and out of tight river banks with ease.

Down Imaging


Down imaging allows a user to get a clearer picture of the object itself, but not its exact location. This means that every time you go for a fishing adventure on your boat, you better know your spot. If provides with a precise 2D image of the bottom from a bird’s eye perspective.

This is great if you just want to relax, unwind and set up a couple of fishing rods. But you still want to find out about the actual advantages of down imaging, right?

 down imaging example


One thing is for sure, buying a fishfinder with down imaging sonar mode will save you more than a couple of dollars in comparison to buying a device with side imaging mode. This mode allows you to search the depth of any river, pond or lake with the same sonar frequency as a side imaging mode uses.

The only difference is that it is much more affordable than the other device. So if you have a perfect spot, and know how to get there, you should use down imaging devices.

Precise Object- size Related Data

With this mode at your disposal, you’ll be provided with precise data regarding objects height and width. So it’s a great thing to have when traversing through risky waters. Scratching the bottom of your boat can be devastating to your adventurous spirit. Especially if you can’t fix it right there, on the spot. And we’ve all been there. So if you want to avoid all this, use a down imaging device.

Wondering how it works? If you aren’t acquainted with the newest down imaging sonar mode, you can find answers to all your questions about it here. Hummingbird is one of the leading fishfinder brands, so if anyone has accurate information about newest sonar modes, it’s them.

Easy to Use

Finally, we come to the matter of usability. How difficult was it for you to learn how to use a regular fishfinder? It wasn’t exactly piece of cake now was it?

fishin with fish finder

Companies that brought these models to us take much pride in their products. Therefore they want you to be able to use it with ease. So if you want a simple device that allows you to have accurate data about the underwater objects, using a down imaging device with providing with just that. There nothing complicated about switching it on and monitoring for large objects that can obstruct your path. With a clear scale insight on what’s going on down there, you can easily traverse through any river or pond no matter how shallow the waters are.


If you’re looking for a highest rated fishfinder - a high-tech device that will cost you a considerable amount of money, by all means, buy a fishfinder device with a side imaging mode. However, if you run on a much tighter budget, and at the same time don’t want to get a brain aneurysm while figuring out how to use a device, then buying a fishfinder with a down imaging sonar mode is the best choice you’ll make.

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