|  First Published: November 2006

It’s hard to imagine owning a fishing boat and not a sounder these days. Of course, having a sounder is no help if you don’t know how to read it properly.

I’ve used several sounders over the years and was extremely happy with the Lowrance X87 unit I purchased for my 4.8 Galeforce centre console. As far as sounders went it was extremely user friendly, clear as a bell and very accurate – it met all my needs.

When we upgraded to the larger 5.5m Galey and started marlin fishing off the Gold Coast we realised that we needed something bigger and better, as well as a GPS. We bought a Lowrance LMS330 Fish Finder/Mapping GPS.

The LMS330 is as simple to use as the X87, except that it has the added GPS function. Options include full sonar chart, full map, plotting to a way point or a mix of functions; plus any overlay data required such as water temperature, ground speed in selected units, time of day and much more.

EASY to adapt

As a newcomer to the colour sounder scene I had to learn hoe to read the unit so I headed across to the northern end of Peel Island and took a good hard look at the screen. I found that the harder the bottom, the stronger the colour (in this case red). Bait schools appeared as red patches, often with the arches of fish easy to identify next to the bait mass.

Using this information we identified what we were seeing off the Gold Coast as little bits of reef. Bait in this deep water often showed as ‘red tomatoes’ while Somerset Dam was filled with huge red masses that looked like watermelons. Sometimes in Somerset there would be a red mass with big fat lines moving through them, which meant bass were feeding on boney bream.

I mainly flyfish in Moreton Bay but I also like to chase snapper with plastics and I use the LMS330 find isolated large fish often out from a main area of reef.

In the freshwater the Lowrance has been a real winner. Feeding schools of bass are easy to pick up, and one look at the screen tells me if there are enough fish around to make a cast worthwhile.

I guess the real bonus, in the dams, is the fact that the accuracy of the sounder has seen us reaching ever further down to hook bass on fly tackle.

I also like being able to change my sounder from imperial to metric units depending on where I am fishing.

Going deeper

When I first started flyfishing I thought that 10m was as deep as I could go if I wanted to hook a bass on fly in Somerset Dam. These days we fish double that depth and land fish just as easily as those in the shallow water. This also applies to fish suspended over drop-off areas where the old river descends near the dam wall. Find ‘em and catch ‘em seems to be way it happens.

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