Fishing & Boating News

Fishing In The Third Dimension

StructureScan 3D offers sonar perspective like never before

by: Dan Johnson,

Photo by courtesy Lowrance
Photo by courtesy Lowrance
(Aug 17, 2015 - Tulsa, OK)

Sonar has been opening anglers' eyes to the underwater world ever since Lowrance first made waves with its iconic "little green box" back in 1957.

In the years since, fishermen have enjoyed a steady stream of technological advancements that have enhanced our view beneath the surface, while improving our understanding of fish location and behavior.

But veteran fishing guides and decorated touring pros Scott and Marty Glorvigen say even landmark gains in color returns, LCD displays, side-scanning and target separation are dwarfed by the latest development on the sonar scene, the arrival of Lowrance's new StructureScan 3D.

The unique imaging system quickly scans the underwater landscape to create high-resolution, extra-wide, 180-degree three-dimensional views, which are viewed on a Lowrance HDS Gen3 display in conjunction with a SideScan 3D Skimmer transducer and StructureScan 3D module.

StructureScan 3D (right) with GPS mapping.

"Being able to see fish, structure and cover in this manner answers critical questions even veteran anglers have when interpreting sonar returns," says Scott. "Namely, what am I seeing, how far is it off bottom, and where is it in relation to the boat?"

The latter gain is perhaps the biggest victory of all. "Seeing a 3-D view of exactly where fish and structure are relative to your position boosts situational awareness through the roof, and makes it infinitely easier to place your boat and baits accordingly," Marty explains.

StructureScan 3D offers multiple viewing options, including enhanced DownScan Imaging and StructureScan HD options.
StructureScan 3D images can be incorporated with a variety of sonar and mapping windows.

Virtual point-of-view angles are eye-openers, but the system's ScanTrack pan-tilt-rotate control further increases perspective. "It allows you to rotate the boat on-screen for a 360-degree view of what your sonar is trying to show you," says Scott.

"Plus, additional functions make it easier to see cover, suspended fish and even small but extremely important structural features such as tiny rock piles and inside turns," he adds.

For example, Vertical Depth Enhancement highlights vertical drops and critical contour changes, while SelectScan automatically shades fish-holding cover and suspended targets in the water column in unmistakable contrasting colors.

"As a bonus, StructureScan 3D's Leading Edge scanning reference also reveals exactly where your sonar beams are sounding," says Marty.

The unit scans a considerable slice of water, too, considering the side-scanning sonar covers a 600-foot swathe in one pass. "This is a great asset when searching for fish in open water, particularly on large lakes," he adds. "It dramatically reduces your search times, whether you're looking for suspended smallmouth bass or roaming schools of walleyes."

StructureScan 3D module and SideScan 3D Skimmer transducer.

Collectively, the new system speeds the scouting process and engenders proper boat positioning once fish are found.

For example, the Glorvigens recently put StructureScan 3D through its paces on a large natural lake in north-central Minnesota.

"We worked our way down a classic breakline, using side-imaging sonar to scan the structure without ever driving over it," Marty begins, noting that keeping their distance was key to avoiding spooking skittish fish in the lake's gin-clear waters.

"Both fish and intricate structural details were easy to see," he says. "To save their location for future reference, we simply put the cursor over them and dropped a waypoint."

The Glorvigens' first reconnaissance run revealed a school of walleyes hugging a sweet spot on the drop, which was great information. But a trio of scouting passes disclosed something even more valuable.

"We could tell without a doubt which direction the fish were migrating along the structure, and that they were gradually headed into deeper water," Scott reports. "This made it easy to plan our trolling passes and position baits to intercept the school of walleyes, without spooking them with the boat."

While such high-tech recon may sound like science fiction, StructureScan 3D makes it a reality. Due to hit the shelves this December, the new system promises to be an extremely useful tool for helping enterprising anglers better understand the underwater world and catch more fish in the process.

Photo by courtesy Lowrance