I get questions almost every single day from anglers that aren’t getting good images from their fish finders. They see screenshots posted online and don’t understand why they’re not getting the same or similar images when they’re running the exact same model fish finder.
I’ve found with Humminbird units when anglers are not getting the peak performance from their fish finder it’s almost always an installation or settings issue and is rarely an actual hardware issue. I’m currently running the Humminbird Solix 15 and Minn Kota Ulterra on my SeaArk ProCat 240but these steps apply to any fish finder regarding of brand or model and are the basic troubleshooting steps to follow that will resolve the vast majority of issues.
I’m breaking these troubleshooting tips into two basic categories, imaging-interference issues and power cycle issues. If you following my fish finder installation tips then you shouldn’t experience any of these issues.
Imaging and Interference Issues
If you’re having fish finder image issues, not getting good images or getting interference on the screen then these are the basic steps to follow in troubleshooting these issues.
Before I get too far into the details of these troubleshooting steps I want to cover a basic and often overlooked troubleshooting step. If you know someone locally that’s running the same model fish finder and has good images you can test run your fish finder head unit on their boat and immediately eliminate interference and install issues. If you take your Solix 10 and place it on another boat that runs a Solix 10 and have great images then you can immediately confirm it’s an installation issue and dig into the troubleshooting steps below.
Have The Latest Updates Installed
While this is technically not an imaging or interference step, it’s basic troubleshooting 101.
Make sure you’re running the most recent software version for your fish finder and you’re keeping this software up to date. Running the most recent operating system will assure the most trouble free performance. If you’re running a network with additional fish finders, i-Pilot Link, Minn Kota Talons or other accessories make sure everything is up to date.
If you’re running a Bluetooth compatible fish finder you can install updates through the FishSmart, I-Pilot and I-Pilot link apps. If you’re not running a bluetooth compatible unit then go download updates and install them via an SD card.
Before installing updates always restore the fish finder to the default settings.
Restore the fish finder unit to default settings. Its not uncommon for anglers to adjust settings and cause issues. The Humminbird Helix and Solid units will provided great images straight out of the box so restore to default and verify you’ve not created an issue in the settings.
It’s not uncommon for anglers to make bad connections or even damage wiring or terminals in the process. Check the connections and pins on the wires and make sure there’s no damage on the Humminbird unit or to the wires. Check for broken or damaged pins and make sure there’s no dust or debris in the connections. In addition, when you’re making the connections assure you’re plugging them in or screwing them in completly and making a good connection.
Maintain Good Clean Power
One very common problem is electrical interference and more often than not this is created by wiring shortcuts, improper wiring or bad connections.
There’s several fundamentals when it comes to wiring and “good clean power”.
Separate and Loop
Power wires running against each other are a common source of interference, especially trolling motor wires. Keep the fish finder and wires away from other wire when possible. Ideally the fish finder wire is run on the opposite side of the boat away from the trolling motor power wires.
When you’ve got excess wiring don’t bundle it up in a tight bundle and bind it up. Leave it loose or roll it up loosely in a large (and loose) coil. Tightly bundled wires and cables are a common interference source.
Direct to Battery.
This means your power wire should run directly from your fish finder to your battery with an inline fuse in place. Fish finders are often installed with the power run through switches at console or other “shortcuts” versus running direct to battery. Switch panels at the console are one of the most common causes of electrical interference and in my opinion should be avoided at all costs. Run the wire direct from the Humminbird power wire to the battery.
Correct Wire Gauge, Type and Connections
I’ve seen everything from automotive wiring to household wiring used and you should only be install with marine grade wiring that’s the correct gauge based on your model fish finder and the length of the run from the fish finder to the battery. I use this Ancor Duplex Tinned Marine Grade Wiring and have never had any issues.
To determine the correct gauge for your installation look in the install manual. You’ll find a chart where Humminbird outlines the correct gauge wiring based on the unit you’re installing and the length of the install run. The further the unit is from the power source (again, the battery) the heavier the wire will need to be. Larger fish finder units (larger screens) also require more power.
Solder and Heat Shrink Connections
Crimps and twist on connectors cause all sorts of issues and will not only create interference issues but power cycle issues as well. Boats bounce, shake and vibrate and these connections don’t hold up. Install the right way and ditch those plastic connections by either soldering and heat shrinking the wire connections or using solder seal connectors. The solder seal connectors work great if you’re not skilled in soldering manually and are major step above the twist on connectors.
Divide and Conquer
Modern fishing boats are often running multiple electronics and have a large number of wires on the power posts at the battery. A common source of interference is often having too many wires “pancaked” on the threaded battery terminal posts and the main posts often go unused. The simple solution is to install these battery terminal clamps on the main posts and run the fish finder on these clamps. I’ve helped numerous anglers with installs where this alone resolved their issues.
Check Motor Fuses
If you’ve exhausted all resources and still have interference on the screen it’s a good idea to check the fuses inside the trolling motor just to be sure there’s no issues there. It’s not a common issue but ot does happen from tiem to time and is another simple step in the troubleshooting basics.
Verify Transducer Install and Level
The transducer should be free from obstructions left and right and leveled both left to right and front to back. Look at your install and make sure there’s not floatation pods, jack plates or other items interfering with your images.
Make sure the transducer is leveled left to right on install and once installed follow these transducer leveling instructions to level the transducer from front to back.
In addition, if your install is on an aluminum boat, make sure you have a poly mounting board between the transducer and boat. This alone will often eliminate interference. As a side note, always make sure you use 3M 5200 on any screws when drilling into the transom.
Last but not least, on a flat transom it’s not uncommon to have to trim the motor up to get a clear image one side. If the transducer is mounted right of the motor and the left side is dark in side imaging trim the motor up and see if it clears. The alternative to trimming the motor up is to run two side imaging transducers on a splitter with one left side and one right side.
Finally, remember that ideal images will come from scanning for fish at speeds between 1 and 4 miles per hour. These are the speeds that best determine whether you’re getting good images with the chart speed equal to the boat speed.
Power Cycle Issues
Power cycle issues are another very common problem that usually surfaces in two areas. First is when you’re running across the water and the boat is bouncing the fish finder shuts down or restarts. Second is when you’re cranking the outboard motor the fish finder shuts down.
Resolving these issues goes back to assuring you have good clean power and the correct install. If you’re experiencing these issues then here’s the steps to follow.
1. Verify the battery is good. A failing will cause these issues.
2. Clean battery terminals. Dirty battery terminals or connectors often cause these issues.
3. Make sure your fish finder is wired direct to battery.
4. Solder or solder shrink all connections.
5. Make sure you’re using the correct gauge and style of wire.
My experience with these issues has been that most often is sloppy installation, meaning the power is run through a console, the wire connections aren’t soldered and covered with heat shrink tubing or the big one, an incorrect type or gauge wire was used for installation.
If you’re even one size too small on the wire gauge that’s enough to cause voltage drops and result in fish finder power cycle issues.
Easy Fish Finder Trouble Shooting
Again, my experience has been with Humminbird units that the vast majority of issues anglers experience are directly related to settings or installation.
If you’ll follow these basic troubleshooting steps it should resolve the majority of issues. If you’ve followed all of these troubleshooting steps then your next step should be to contact Humminbird support for further troubleshooting.
If you’d like one on one hands on training on the water on how to get better images from your Humminbird fish finder and how to interpret what you’re seeing on the screen so you can catch more fish head over to my North Texas Catfish Guide Service and submit a booking request.