|Z-Man: When did you first start using forward facing sonar (FFS) for your walleye fishing?|
Dylan: I got my first unit—a Lowrance Active Target—about two years ago. If I’m up casting from the front deck of my boat, I’m using FFS one hundred percent of the time. The more I use it, the more I learn about fish and their real-world response to my lure. It’s pretty addictive. (laughs).
Z-Man: Tell us about your on-water learning curve with FFS.
Dylan: For me, it didn’t take long—maybe two or three outings—before I started figuring things out relative to fish species ID and seeing my lure on screen. These units are pretty intuitive and easy to use, especially once you see what a walleye looks like on screen and then confirm its size once the fish is in the boat. A walleye or a bass tends to paint a pretty solid image. But a carp or a muskie, for example, can look a little grainy on the screen. Walleyes generally (though not always) move within a foot or two of bottom. They typically move and react to your lure just a little slower than a bass, for example.
Z-Man: What settings do you prefer for FFS fishing?
Dylan: If I’m out hunting fish on open flats, I’ll set the unit to scan out to 100 feet from the boat. Crank the sensitivity or gain (Lowrance calls it contrast) up to +10, especially for places like Lake Erie—or anywhere fish spook easily. If I’m around rock or stumps or vegetation, I’ll dial back to 4 or 5, and if I’m working smaller structures, I reduce range to about 60-feet. If I’m in giant boulders or trees or weeds, I might go with 40-feet—to zoom in and get a more accurate picture, especially to separate fish from objects or bottom.
I find that a good high contrast color palette, such as Lowrance’s number 6, a dark amber hue, really helps fish and your lure stick out on screen.
One other thing I started doing this year is running a dedicated battery just for powering my Active Target. A 12-volt 23-amp Dakota Lithium is connected directly to the unit, so I can run all day without draining other batteries.