Fishing in the Third Dimension (3D Structure Scan)

Technology in fishing has advanced in many areas from reels to terminal tackle, but the electronics we use are giving us information we have only dreamed of in the past. Dale Ward takes us into the present with 3D Structure Scan.

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For years fishermen have enjoyed a steady stream of technological advancements that have enhanced our view beneath the surface, while improving our understanding of fish location and behaviour.  The tech world of fishing keeps evolving into new and exciting products that aid us to become better anglers and there is no doubt that these products are tools that we utilize in our fashion, and 3D structure scan from Lowrance adds yet another approach to honing our skills, adding another element to our tackle.

Structure Scan HD has been available to anglers for quite a few years now and the technology it brings forth excelled over anything of its time, it really gave anglers a deeper insight to what was below the water’s surface in a high-definition almost picture like quality that allows anglers to get a far better image of structure and surrounding fish. 3D structure scan uses the same fundamentals as the Structure Scan HD but as it allows the user to pan right down below the transducers line to either scan the bottom sea bed from a downwards facing angles or actually in line to the waters floor in three dimensional form as opposed to the earlier StructureScan HD where it was only seen in two dimensional viewing.

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When using StructureScan 3D out on the water you also have the option to use the old previous HD version which offers multiple viewing options, including enhanced DownScan Imaging and StructureScan HD side scan options as well a the new technology with the third dimensional scanning. Having these new Virtual point-of-view angles really are eye-openers, but the system’s scan track pan-tilt-rotate control further increases perspective. “It allows you to rotate the boat on-screen for a 360-degree view of what your sonar is trying to show you, this is when the technology is fully utilized to its capabilities to become a far better angler. Using the 3D scan to run along edges you can quickly locate the waters floor decent, this new technology allows the angler to get a full visual on the cone angles as it is shown on the screen behind the little boat icon which is called the “Leading Edge”. This tool reveals exactly where your sonar beams are sounding therefore highlights the drop-offs and holes on the sea bed far easier as you can see in screenshots that the cone angles descend down a lot further either on the right or left side depending which side the drop off is, as the transducers scans making it easily to see it is a decent in the ocean floor. This is a game changer for lure fishermen who rely on the drop off areas for predatory species that sit and suspend in the water on the decent awaiting for the tide to move the bait in strike distances.

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For example, Vertical Depth Enhancement highlights vertical declines and critical contour changes, while SelectScan automatically shades fish-holding cover and suspended targets in the water column in unmistakable contrasting colours additional functions make it easier to see cover, suspended fish and even small but extremely important structural features such as tiny rock piles and inside turns. The unit scans a considerable slice of water, too, considering the side-scanning sonar covers a 600-foot swathe in one pass. This is a great asset when searching for fish in open water, particularly on large lakes and rivers.

There are many benefits to 3D side scan, and yes, there is a learning curve likewise to most aspects of our fishing world. But I will touch on the high points, with fish that feed in the water column and then those that feed on structure. Take for instance wild Australian Bass that hold in structure in our rivers, now there might be river banks for miles and who is to know which part of the river banks hold fish, there is sometimes not enough time to plug your lures into all of these snags along the banks edge with the hope of a Bass holding to strike your offering. In idle we use 3D side-scanning to get a first hand insight to a Bass suspending in the structure in the most detailed form so there can be no mistake that it is definitely the target species and therefore we can then sneak up so unobtrusive and efficient. If I see Bass under one log, I can then set up a quiet approach to catch them, rather than tipping them off to my ­presence by idling in close to look around.

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I use the 3D technology to make passes along the pilings looking not only for bait, which might tell me which pilings the fish might gather around, but also the target species themselves. Once I discover where they’re stationed, I’ll back off, get into position, and fish that school. This tactic applies to bridge fishing ­anywhere, for just about any species like Mulloway, Bream and Pelagic fish.

3D Side-scanning is a big benefit when fishing reefs and wrecks too. You get to see the entire layout of the reef, areas of activity, and the precise zones that hold fish. 3D Side-scanning sonar is exactly that: a view directly off both sides of your vessel in a three dimensional view. Viewing the swath of water around your boat is a powerful tool. I’ve discovered bait concentrations that were not visible at the surface; ­significant debris, large rocks and boulders, shelves, and other fish-holding structure.

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And as described, we’ve located the fish themselves. Without a doubt, it is worth its weight in gold inshore, in inlets and passes, canals and rivers, channels, around docks and bridges, Waypoints can be saved; plus, there’s also the ability to measure the size of objects because there is no longer any second guesses. Although traditional sonar reveals the ­bottom, bait and fish, but it has no life like imagery provided by ­3D side-scanning technology, but traditional sonar is invaluable in many applications especially in waters beyond the capabilities of StructureScan, where the high frequencies of Downscan and ­Down-Imaging run out of steam, but it is no doubt that the technology the 3D sonar brings anglers is far from comparable to any other technology available on the market.

I think all fishermen want to become a better angler and I always say that “Utilizing your electronics will assist you to catch more fish” and its a fact. I think many anglers either don’t believe what they see on their sounders or they don’t believe what they see could be fish so they don’t trust it…. This piece will take away all your guess work that’s for sure!

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