(Editor's note: Alan McGuckin of Dynamic Sponsorships submitted this feature.)
Team Toyota’s Terry “Big Show” Scroggins believes that in order to stay competitive after two decades as a pro, having a professor’s level of knowledge regarding forward-facing sonar is imperative. So, he’s been utilizing dozens of crappie fishing trips on his home waters of the St. Johns River to dial in his understanding of of FFS.
“When forward facing sonar first came out, I didn’t pay a lot of attention to it," he said. "Early on, I’d say only about 30 percent of the pros were using it, and it was mostly when we went to northern smallmouth fisheries. Now, it’s a player in every region of the country. Whether you’re scanning cypress trees in 4 feet of water in South Carolina or throwing a dropshot 30 feet deep in New York … you’d better be using it."
Recent crappie fishing trips have taught him three valuable forward-facing sonar lessons he shares to help all FFS users be more efficient.
> Set the range to 25 feet when you’re around fish – Rather than leave the transducer’s beam to range out 100 feet all the time, or even closer at 50 feet, Scroggins has learned that when he knows he’s around fish to reduce the range down to 25 feet, which in turn provides a far more detailed look at how the fish are behaving and reacting to his lure.
“When I set the range at 25 feet, not only can I see exactly where my tiny little 1/32-ounce crappie jig is in relation to the fish or brushpile, but I can also literally see their tail fins moving and tell whether they’re swimming toward my jig or away from it,” he said.
> Choose your screen’s color schemes carefully – All brands of modern-day sonar units offer anglers their choice of various color shades on the screen. However, the color that one person’s eyes see best may differ from their fishing buddy’s. So, try various shades until you’re confident you’re seeing the most detail.
“I like the black emerald color scheme a ton. It’s probably my favorite most days. But I also like midnight blue and orange crawfish. It all depends on your individual vision, clouds versus sun, and even the shade of lens in your sunglasses. So utilize the color pallet that shows the most detail for your eyes, based on all those factors."
> Turn your other sonar units off – One of the many peculiar observances Scroggins has made amid his in-depth study of FFS is the manner in which too many transducer signals making a “pinging” or “clicking” noise under the water spooks fish.
“There’s no doubt in my mind, when you’ve got two, three or four sonar units all turned on at the same time, all that pinging noise from the transducers spooks fish. I’ve watched it happen. So, when I’m working on catching a school of them, I turn all the sonar off except for the one unit I’m looking at,” says Scroggins.
So, whether you’re still considering adopting forward-facing sonar or simply trying to learn how to use it better, surely Scroggins’ detailed observances while crappie fishing will lead you to catching more bass too, just as it has for him in recent months.