Getting to Know Transducers: Where Do You Mount One on a Pontoon Boat?

When it comes to fishing, you have plenty of boating options out there to give you better access to the water. However, depending on where you set up shop, it may not be easy to tell where the fish and other obstacles are from the surface. Fish finding systems are critical for maritime fishers, and the transducer is what makes these devices work.

To get the best results from a transducer, though, you need to put it in an optimal position on your boat, no matter the type. Each category of vessels has the best locations for this equipment, and pontoon boats are no exception. The layouts of these ships make them an excellent choice for a day of tossing your line into the water, new boat prices and all.

So then what's the perfect union of a pontoon boat and transducer setup? That's what we're here to discuss.

What Is a Transducer?

If you've never looked into fish finding systems, you may not be wholly familiar with what they do and how they work. Overall, these pieces of equipment have two parts: the display and the transducer. The screen gives you a visual representation of where you'll find fish, hazards, and just about anything else in the water your boat can come across.

The transducer is the part of the fish finder that actually does the finding, and it does it through sonar. Transducers are responsible for taking power, converting it into sound, interpreting the sonar response, and then translating it into the visuals you get on the display, which you then interpret. In other words, a fish finder won't work without this piece of equipment in top shape.

While fish finders have the purpose of locating fish to make more accurate casting achievable, they can also serve as a system to determine whenever non-visible hazards may be in the water. This ability is possible because, while the sonar system can detect fish, it doesn't discriminate what it picks up signals for, and thus shows off anything that causes the sound to return to the transducer.

Types of Transducers

While all transducers work through this level of science, you'll find that not all are the same. Fishfinders can come in different configurations that connect to your boat in different ways:

  • Thru-hull. A thru-hull transducer will connect to your ship by having holes drilled into the hull. These models work best on flat surfaces, though you can construct a rig to help them sit in the proper position. They're popular options for inboard engine models.
  • Shoot-thru-hull. These types of transducers work with fiberglass hulls, and they can accurately read and interpret signals through the hull structure. They stay mounted inside the hull, which protects them from damage and allows them to operate well at high speeds—making them a good fit for a power boat. On the downside, they aren't as accurate as some other types of transducers.
  • Portable mount. With a compact size, these transducers only use a suction cup to stick to the hull. This construction makes it easy to store and swap between boats if necessary, plus you do't need to do any drilling into your ship to attach it.
  • Transom mount. As the name suggests, these transducers connect to the transom, rather than the hull. Because of this layout, they do create some drag when trying to sail at high speeds. Their advantages include their depth range, sensitivity, and ability to adapt to almost any hull design without issue.

Various fish finders exist, ranging in capabilities to locating things in the water to rapid-updating models that can even differentiate the breeds of sea life nearby. Consider your options to pick one that fits your needs. But no matter how much a fish finder costs, the transducer is one-hundred percent necessary—and it needs mounting in the right place to do its job.

Where to Mount a Transducer on a Pontoon Boat

Once you have your fishfinder and its transducer picked out and in hand, you can start determining where to place your equipment. Most pontoon boat owners will put their monitors on the console, giving them easy access and visuals while searching for the perfect fishing spot. Knowing where your fish finder will be is essential since you want your transducer near.

If there's too much distance between the transducer and the monitor, you run the risk of there being electrical interference or having too weak of a signal to do any good. Additionally, you want to have enough cord length to connect everything without hassle. That means you should mount your transducer on the same side of your monitor: usually on the starboard side.

Of course, knowing which direction you're aiming for isn't enough; you need to pick an appropriate spot on the ship for mounting. Thankfully, the design of pontoon boats makes it simple. You can install your transducer under the pontoon in a location that's close to your console.

On the back of pontoon tubes are brackets that are an excellent location for transducers to stay near the monitor. You'll be able to drill holes into the bracket and use those to connect the washer, nut, and bolt that will hold your transducer in place. The key is to take it slow and make sure you don't pop the pontoon tube while you do this process.

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Installing a Fishfinder

Overall, the process of installing your fishfinder starts with picking out the best place for your transducer. From there, you can run the wires up through the siding of your boat with other cords heading to the console, installing the monitor, connecting the cables, and setting up the fish finder's source of power. Both your boat's battery and fuse box are potential options. Also note that you will need to drill holes in your console to run wires through, which may impact its value if you want to sell your boat later.

Once you've mounted everything, finished your electrical work, and reassembled your vessel, your pontoon boat is ready to take advantage of its new transducer and set sail for your latest fishing endeavor!

Tips and Tricks for Handling a Transducer

Consider these tips when working with your transducer.

Protect Your Wires

When connecting any new piece of technology to your boat, you want to keep everything electric as secure as possible. You don't want some water to slip into where it doesn't belong and potentially fry your transducer. You can purchase flex loom to put around your wires to help prevent the possibility of something going wrong. Plus this protection will help your cords last longer all around.

Use Stainless Steel Screws

Even if your transducer is secure when you first put it on, there's still the chance that something could bump into it. While this could potentially upset your signal, it also puts you at risk for having your transducer sink in the water. Regular maintenance will let you see when you need to tighten your screws on the mounting, but using appropriate hardware also helps.

Stainless steel screws, bolts, etc. are a necessity when mounting your transducer. This material is more resilient against forming rust, and it should keep your transducer in place as long as you want it hooked to your pontoon boat. Double-check all hardware, as non-rust resistant materials can appear the same as stainless steel at a glance.

Consider a Second Battery

Connecting your transducer to your pontoon boat's battery tends to be the most comfortable option when trying to connect to a power source. However, the more tech you have connected to your battery, the more power it will cycle through, and it may have a hard time running your fish finder at the same time as starting the engine or playing the radio (or whatever else you've decked your boat out with).

You can circumvent this issue by installing a second battery in your boat and wiring all the accessories to it, leaving the original battery responsible for starting and running the engine. Pay attention to the size of your battery as well, as this can affect performance.

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