I get asked all the time about side scan systems, and people often want to know if they really need to invest the time and money in adding it to their fishing boat. Here’s the truth: of course you don’t need it! You don’t “need” a fishfinder of any sort, you don’t “need” a chart plotter, and heck you don’t “need” a boat to catch fish. But if you have all these things, you will catch more of them. And that goes for side scan, too.
Look at the top half of the above picture. The light icon on the chart plotter view is a lighthouse surrounded by rocks, which is often a good fishing spot. I’ve probably casted at it 1000 times, and the fish are commonly tight to the structure. On this particular day the anglers on my boat and I cast to the rocks a few times and caught one or two fish, but there wasn’t a whole lot going on. Then I happened to glance down at the LCD screen.
Now, look at the lower half of the picture, the side scan screen. See those marks off to the starboard side? After spotting them we tried casting in that direction, and had a triple hook-up. I can’t say how many fish we caught in total, but for the next 20 minutes or so we enjoyed nonstop action. And if side scan wasn’t on the boat, we never would have even tried casting out there into the middle of nowhere.
I’ve had the Humminbird Apex system on my boat since last October, and it has truly changed the way I fish. (I did have side scan previously, but it was an older generation system that didn’t pick up fish nearly as well). Did I catch fish before I got it? Of course! Could I catch fish tomorrow without it? Absolutely! But, would I catch as many…? Heck no.