Forward facing sonar has become a hot topic nationwide, with its role in securing victories in recent national tournaments. When used effectively, this technology provides valuable insights into the underwater world directly below and in front of your boat. As an avid user of Lowrance Active Target, I have discovered that some of my previous theories were confirmed, while others were proved utterly wrong. It’s important to note that the three modes of forward facing sonar each possess distinct characteristics and should be used strategically. Drawing from my extensive experience of over 500 days on the water in the past two years using Lowrance Active Target, I present my observations below.

Forward Mode

The most commonly used mode in Forward Facing Sonar is forward. Forward mode is great for scanning deep water as well as shallow water. Adjusting the transducer slightly up will be beneficial in shallow water. In deeper water, the manufacturers recommended setting is usually adequate, but can be tweaked a bit depending on the boat. This mode allows anglers to track their baits, determine where structure is to cast at, and spot fish swimming in real time!

Scout Mode (Perspective)

An underutilized mode is Scout. On Garmin this mode is called perspective. In this mode you can see the big picture with less details. Scout allows you to see bait schools move around, search large areas for suspended fish, and is also good in really shallow water for schooling fish. In forward mode, you are seeing a sliver of the area while in scout you will see the whole scenario. Again as with Forward mode, your transducer should be angled a little upward in shallow water. It also should be just below the surface of the water for best results.

Down Mode

Down Mode shows fish and structure under the boat in a smaller area than forward but has greater detail. This Mode is great when fishing a known brush pile or anytime you may want a little more detail while fishing vertically. Most anglers utilize down mode for ice fishing.

What are Some Advantages in Forward Facing Sonar?

The biggest advantage in Forward Facing Sonar is how quick you can determine if fish are using an area as well as there activity level. Many days fish will be cruising and actively feeding along corridors if bait is present. Other times they will be laying in wait in submerged trees or possibly swimming in and around them. This is where it excels. Forward Facing Sonar will take the guesswork out of your favorite brush piles. You will know the fish are there and if no fish are present you should keep moving and scanning. Traditional 2 D sonar has its limits and it is improved with downscan technology, but is still no comparison to Forward Facing Sonar. Schooling fish such as crappie and striped bass in open water are much easier to target when you can see them and actually see the direction they are traveling.

Tackle Evolution

Lures to target fish while utilizing Forward Facing Sonar are evolving to make them more visible and efficient. There will be more baits available in the future as more companies are beginning to capitalize on the new technology of Forward Facing Sonar. The Berkley Krej and the Berkley Power switch are optimized for Forward Facing Sonar and are beginning to show up in retailers such as Cabelas.


Forward Facing Sonar is changing the way we fish. In general the technology is the same from competing manufacturers each with their own little twist to make it their own. Forward Facing Sonar has definitely made fishing easier for new and younger tournament anglers. As a guide being on the water over 250 days a year, I felt it was in my customers best interest to purchase, learn. and utilize this technology. It comes with a price tag both financial and also time on the water learning how to utilize the technology. In my case it was well worth the investment!

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