This is a review of the Humminbird 1198C sonar fish finder as well as information on what to look for when choosing a fish finder and some basic information on side imaging, down imaging and traditional broadband sonar for catfish.
I have talked a lot here in the past about fish finders (aka sonar or electronics) and every time I approach this subject it seems to be met with very mixed opinions. One group is out there looking for every single bit of information on this subject and wants to learn. The other group usually sends me emails that say something along the lines of “tell me how to catch catfish without buying expensive equipment”.
I fished for catfish for years without owning a fish finder, and then owned one for years and never really knew how to use it, but when I finally bought a higher end unit and really learned how to use it, it not only changed my approach to catfishing but also increased my success on the water. I have covered this in depth in the Blue Catfish Anglers #1 Tool article so I am not going to beat it to death here again.
I rely on sonar for fishing for all species of catfish but with some species more than others. If you are going to fish for blue catfish I feel that buying and learning how to use a fish finder is going to do more for your success on the water than anything else. I do rely on my sonar for fishing for channel catfish and flathead catfish as well, but with channel catfish I rely on “gut” much more than I do sonar. You have to know which areas to look in to actually find them but that is another story.
Now, I am not going to say it is impossible to catch blue catfish without a fish finder, but I will say it makes it much easier and much more productive as it allows you to eliminate areas not holding fish, instead of fishing blind.
My Switch From Lowrance to Humminbird
I want to cover my switch from Lowrance To Humminbird because I know I will get questions.
I have been using Lowrance Products for years and have been on their pro staff for the better part of 7 or 8 years and have always been a loyal supporter of their products. I had full intentions of staying with Lowrance products but some things changed and I made a switch to Humminbird. This change has absolutely no bearing on my opinion of their products and I still believe they have excellent products.
In the end, my decision to switch from Lowrance To Humminbird was after a LOT of research, a LOT of time on the water with friends testing both units and working with them, and some very lengthy conversations with both companies about their products and my long term goals both as an angler and with Learn To Catch Catfish.
In the end my switch from Lowrance to Humminbird was a business decision because I felt more comfortable with their product and where they where headed in combination with being able to work with them in a long term partnership from a business standpoint. I also really liked the fact that the Humminbird was a stand alone unit and did not require the installation of the external unit like the Lowrance LSS-1.
After a lot of thought, I made the switch from a Lowrance LCX-15MT to the Humminbird 1198c.
I had been putting off upgrading electronics for quite some time because I was comfortable with my Lowrance LCX-15MT and knew how to use it well, and it did what I needed, but it had really become outdated technology. I had a few friends upgrade to some of the newer fish finder technology and had been working with them to help them learn, and through this it became evident that I had to switch.
One of the major driving factors behind this upgrade as well as not having the ability to take screen shots and screen recordings, which I wanted for the website. I want to put together some training and materials on using fish finders for catfishing, what to do and how to use them and did not have the technology to do so. I also didn’t want to spend a bunch of time putting materials together to teach people how to use outdated technology.
I am pleased to say that I now have the ability to do everything I need with the new Humminbird 1198C and will be moving forward with some training and materials on this in the future.
The Humminbird 1198C Review
I have been running the Humminbird 1198C for a while now and am blown away with this fish finder and it’s functionality. I feel like I went from driving a VW Bug to driving a Ferrari with the change in technology. It is simply amazing how well it works and the world it has opened up when I am out on the water catfishing.
I have to admit, there was a bit of a learning curve getting used to it though, but it simply took a few days out on the water spending some time along to finally get it all sorted out and get a good understanding of the unit and it’s functionality.
The installation instructions included were clear and really the only area that I struggled with was deciding where to mount the transducer. I had read and heard so many differing opinions on this and the transducer installation will make or break how clear of an image you get with the Humminbird 1198C (or any fish finder for that matter). I talked to a lot of people about this and after talking to these people I was even more confused that I was when I started and finally ran over to see my good friend Don Boris at Boris Marine Electronics for some feedback on the transducer installation.
I also opted to install a poly mounting board to the boat for a couple of reasons. First, I was concerned I might have to move the transducer a couple of times to get the settings right and second, I had some feedback from other anglers that at times mounting directly to aluminum can cause some feedback on the Humminbird 1198C. The poly mounting board was a cheap investment so I went that route just to save some heartache.
Once the transducer was installed I went to the lake and tested the unit and it took me a number of attempts at adjusting the transducer angle to finally get it right so I was getting a good clear image from all the functions of the Humminbird 1198C.
Outside of the transducer installation and heartache I went through with trying to make sure I got that right, and getting the angle adjusted, installation was seamless. The actual process of installing the unit on the boat took less than 30 minutes, including removal of my old fish finder.
Bottom Line Humminbird 1198C Review:
I am totally blow away with the performance and features of this unit. The questions about transducer installation are common to all the down and side imaging units and no big deal at all. I can completely and totally recommend these units.
The Humminbird 1198C comes with a hefty price tag. I opted for the 1198 because I wanted the largest screen available which was important to me. Units with similar features are available at lesser price points but the limiting factor is there is a lot going on with this unit and bigger truly is better. The detail and images are much easier to see on a larger screen and also if you plan on running multiple views at one time (like traditional broadband sonar and down imaging at the same time).
Humminbird 1198c (a)
Some Notes On Screen Size
If you plan on breaking into this technology or buying any fish finder, there are some basics to consider. Specific to breaking into the world of down imaging and side imaging sonar units for catfish, you can get into this technology for a much lower price than the Humminbird 1198C by going with the smaller screen size and making a choice between some of the features in some instances.
Other models to consider include the Humminbird 998C, and 898C. If you are interested in Lowrance options check my article on Top Fish Finder Picks For 2011.
Humminbird 998c (a)
Humminbird 898c (a)
Humminbird 1198C Features
When I started posting images online of some of the screenshots from the Humminbird 1198C I started getting a lot of questions about this unit, and the images I was posting. If you have never seen it before or are not 100% familiar with what you are looking at it can be a little confusing at first but with a little time and explanation it becomes clear very quickly.
In this article I will give a quick overview of some of the features of the Humminbird 1198C including the GPS functionality, down imaging, side imaging and broadband sonar as part of this review of the Humminbird 1198C. In the future I will be producing a series of articles and videos going into further detail on the specific settings for each function and how to use them to actually put catfish in your boat.
With all of these features you have the option of running one view or multiple views on the screen at one time. For example you can have the side imaging, traditional broadband sonar and the down imaging all at one time on a screen but in doing so you limit your viewing area.
With all the images below you can click on the image to view the larger image.
**Note: It is important to note as you like at the images below that the settings on the down and side imaging have been adjusted. If you have looked at other images online you will see crystal clear detailed images which this unit is certainly capable of. I have my settings “tweaked” some and the images are not as clear as some other images you will find online. This modification in settings is done because it makes the fish really “pop” on screen and stand out when scanning for fish.
Traditional 2D Sonar and Down Imaging
The image below shows traditional 2D broadband sonar on the left and down imaging on the right.
The difference between traditional 2D broadband sonar and down imaging is you get amazing crystal clear detail on the down imaging that you wouldn’t necessarily see on the traditional broadband sonar. Traditional sonar on a fish finder left a lot to interpretation at times and the down imaging give you a level of detail that you wouldn’t traditionally see.
When you get into areas with trees, stickups, and other underwater structure this because immediately apparent comparing the broadband sonar to the down imaging.
The image below is an excellent example of the comparison of the variation in date received from traditional sonar and down imaging.
is there a place for both? Yes, absolutely. Traditional broadband sonar gives you a quick and easy way to scan structure in deeper water and quickly identify catfish holding on or around structure by identifying arches. The down imaging gives you the ability to look at this data in closer detail and really get a much more detailed view of what you are looking at. if you are in areas that have timber, trees or structure you can really hone this view and get a crystal clear picture of what is taking place in the water, and where the catfish are.
The most impressive portion of the down imaging for me thus far has been in two areas. First and foremost is finding schools of bait and determining where I should throw my cast net to catch bait quickly and easily, it has really changed a lot of my view of the water and made catching threadfin shad and gizzard shad much easier.
One of the most amazing features of the broadband sonar is the Humminbird SwitchFire Max Mode. The SwitchFire Max mode really makes the fish pop on the sonar making them easy to identify and gives a better view than I have ever seen on traditional broadband sonar. You can quickly and easily identify catfish.
The disadvantage of the broadband sonar and down imaging are that you have to be on top of the fish or structure to get an image so you have a limited viewing area. Because of this it also makes using down imaging and broadband impossible to use in shallow water.
What I Am Using Sidescan and Downscan for: Identifying bait and schools of shad, identifying fish holding on or around structure and cover, all in deeper water.
Bait Fish with Some Fish Mixed In (Not Catfish) On Broadband Sonar and Down Imaging
Cast Net Falling Through The Water. Look Closely You Can See The Lead Line On The Net.
Side Imaging Technology Is Amazing
When these units first came on the market I wasn’t sure about side imaging and was of the impression that the down imaging was the greatest part of these innovations. I am still of the opinion that the down imaging is amazing but I was way off base on the side imaging. It is absolutely amazing and opens up a tremendous amount of opportunities.
Side imaging technology is amazing. Again, there is a time and place for all of these technologies and despite what some people might tell you, I don’t think traditional sonar is going away anytime soon but side imaging is absolutely incredible.
With traditional sonar and down imaging you view what is directly below the boat in a small path, looking at a fraction of the water below you. Side imaging looks out to the left and right of the boat opening a whole new world of what is going on around you.
Before, with a traditional fish finder you were limited to using the fish finder for looking directly below the boat when searching for fish. With side imaging technology you can now search on boat sides of the boat as well and can scan shallow water.
The side imaging range can be adjusted over 300 feet from each side of the boat but you cannot reasonably identify fish with such a large viewing range so to get an ideal picture you need to be looking at 60 to 90 feet on either side of the boat. This however even at 60 to 90 feet is a huge improvement over just seeing directly below the boat.
In addition to being able to look on both sides of the catfish boat at an adjustable range, you also get the same crystal clear image (actually even clearer) and you can even identify fish on the side imaging and can easily differentiate catfish.
What I Am Using Side Scan For: Scanning large areas looking for bait and fish, identifying catfish holding on structure, scanning shallow water, identifying cover and structure.
The Cloudy Areas To The Left and Right Are Large Schools Of Bait. Verified With Cast Net.
Catfish In The Zoom Box. Verified With Rod and Reel.
Catfish (Shown In The Zoom Box). Verified With Rod and Reel.
Downed Timber That Has Claimed A LOT Of My Hooks Over The Years
GPS is an essential tool I use and for blue catfish I rely on it each and every single trip. I covered this in depth in a previous article on GPS Uses For Catfishing that you should check out to get a better idea of some of the uses for GPS and mapping and how they can increase the number of catfish you put in the boat.
If you have ever seen a GPS unit there is nothing really earth shattering here but there are a lot of new possibilities available with some of the innovations taking place with this technology. I will cover some more on this later in a video or podcast.
There are a couple of features that are very helpful (beyond what I have used in the past).
The first is the boat position (see bottom image) with a long arrow running off the front of the boat. This makes it much easier to determine if you are headed in the right direction when scanning structure with the graph.
The second is the ability to take screen shots, which places them on the map (see right of top image). These are waypoints I saved when I took a screen sheet. These are locations where I marked fish or structure that I wanted to reference later. This gives me the ability to go back later and pull up that image and see what I was looking at in that area.
Note: These images taken below are done in conjunction with the Navionics Hotmap Platinum mapping card.
What I am using GPS for: Identifying structure and scanning it for catfish (and bait), safe boat travel, saving “hot spots” and marking dangerous areas and boat lanes.
Product Link: Navionics Hotmaps Platinum (a)
Humminbird 1198C Review Summary
This review of the Humminbird 1198C is just a brief overview of some of the features and possibilities with this technology.
If your considering adding any side imaging or down imaging technology to your boat, don’t second guess it and I highly suggest the Humminbird 1198C based on my experience with it.
In the future, I will cover in depth information and tips and tricks on using the Humminbird 1198C and these technologies on the water so you can catch more catfish.