So, you just bought yourself a Forward-Facing Sonar unit and you’re wondering, “how do I get started with this?” One of the most used terms while using this incredible technology is “sharp shooting”. What is it, and what does it mean? Sharp shooting is exactly what it sounds like, using technology to find the fish, cast at the fish, and then, catch that fish. In this article I will walk you through some simple steps that will help you do exactly that with your new unit!

1.Mounting your transducer:

This is a critical first step into using your new FFS unit. Transducer placement needs to be effective and comfortable for the angler using it. You need to think about your fishing style and the bodies of water you fish. Do you fish in a lot of wind and waves? Do you spend a lot of time anchored? Do you like to drift and move around? What’s your budget? These are all important questions to ask yourself before committing to a placement on your rig.

Two of the most popular mounting locations are, directly to an electric bow mount and over the side of the boat with a pole. Both have positives and both have negatives, but you will find that one will be more comfortable for you depending on your fishing style. However, both locations will give you the opportunity to have success sharp shooting walleyes. Some fishermen will even have two set-ups on their rig in BOTH locations giving them the option of use while out on the water. Be sure to ask yourself those questions and then choose the best option for you and your set up.

(Mounting to the trolling motor will give you a complete “hands-free” option. This will allow you to hunt down walleyes using your bow mount while having a rod in your hand ready to cast at all times. While mounting the transducer to a pole over the side of the boat will give you the freedom to spot lock with your bow mount and still allow the transducer to be used effectively.) 

Attached Sonar

2.Play with your settings:

Once everything is mounted and ready to go, you need to be sure your settings are adjusted correctly so you can effectively break down water. Every body of water is different and your settings should and can be adjusted to different systems. Clear water, shallow water, deep water, muddy water, hard bottoms, soft bottoms, etc. All these factors can play a role in getting the best possible image back to your unit. Don’t be afraid to make minor adjustments to your settings once arriving at your fishing spots. Most units come ready to rock out of the box, but there are a few options that you can adjust to make your experience just a bit better.

While sharp shooting, you want to be sure you are getting the MOST information you can out of your transducer. This means, you may have to deal with a little bit of “noise” on your screen, and that’s OK! You want to be able to see fish and you also don’t want ANY lag from your unit trying to filter out un-wanted interference. Remember, you want to see your bait on the screen and rendering out too much information could prevent you from seeing that. Keep it simple and don’t make your unit work that hard and you’ll find it will be much more effective.

(Recommended START settings on Garmin: Color scheme, Amber. Noise reject, medium or low. TVG, medium or low. Ghost reject, low or off. Overall gain, 70-77%. Color gain, 72-78%. Color limit, default.) 

Setting up the sonar on screen

3.Precision casting

Making precise casts is a skill that can take some time to master but is at times necessary to get even active fish to bite. A lot of factors take place when casting at targets and ensuring they will see your presentation. Water clarity, fish behavior, type of presentation, and depth of water are all things to take into consideration while learning to sharp shoot. Landing directly on targets can sometimes be the difference between getting a bite and not getting a bite. But there are also times where landing directly on your target could be the wrong thing to do as your target gets “spooked”. This is learned very quickly once you have made a few casts for the day. Understand how those fish are reacting to your presentations and adjust right away to help ensure you’ll get the bites you’re looking for.

Take some time watching your unit while pitching a jig out in front of your transducer. (If you are struggling to see your jig, try bumping your color gain up a bit more) Watch your jig hit the top of the water and sink all the way to the bottom. Pay attention to the distance you cast at and try to remember that distance for your next cast. Practice choosing a distance (20 feet, 50 feet, 70 feet, etc.) and casting that distance till your bait is dropping right on the number you chose. You want to practice being accurate, that way when you see fish you can take one cast and be where you need to be. There will be times that you only have a few seconds to make the right cast before your target is gone, so making sure you are efficient and accurate will help you put more fish in the boat. 

4.Don’t get frustrated:

Learning this technique takes some time, just like any other! Forward-facing technology can make learning a lot more fun with the information it brings to us. But it can also be quite irritating to see fish that you can’t catch. Be sure that you aren’t rushing to make a cast when you see fish. It can be exciting, but remaining patient and making sure you can make an effective cast is key. Don’t forget about your cadence or presentation these two key factors are what puts everything together when sharp shooting fish. (SEE, CAST, CATCH) Don’t get discouraged when you don’t get the bite you want. This is still fishing, and you may need to change your game up to get those bites!

Taking the time to learn your electronics will make you a more effective angler. There are so many new opportunities to learn about the species you’re targeting with the evolution of electronics. Forward facing sonar is a game changer in the fishing industry and is changing the way many of us fish. Use it as a tool to help you become a better fisherman and remember with great power comes great responsibility. Catch and release is a great practice to help preserve a better fishery for tomorrow. Take only what you need, and not what you want! 


author:Cody Solberg

Cody Solberg

My name is Cody Solberg, a fishing enthusiast from Wisconsin that loves targeting anything that swims in the water. My passion for the sport has grown into an obsession and I want to share my experiences on the water with you! Join me on some exciting journeys throughout the Midwest and other remote bucket list destinations! 

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June 14, 2024 — Cody Solberg
Tags: Fishing tips

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