How to find fish without a fish finder

13th June 2022 Elena Manighetti

How to find fish without a fish finder

Nowadays most boats have a fancy fish finder installed near the helm, so you can easily and quickly find a good fishing spot where to spend the day. 

Yet, men have been angling for thousands of years without using any form of technology. So you can still have a great session without using your electronics. Plus, it can be a lot more fun and enjoyable to do it, as you rely solely on your skills and luck - you can’t take any shortcuts. Looking for fish takes patience and knowledge.

In this article, we give you our top tips on how to find fish without a fish finder.

Research information about your target species

If it’s a specific fish you’re after, you need to find out how they behave, when they are active, on what they feed, and more. This kind of information is readily available online and can point you in the right direction. 

Evaluate the current conditions

Knowing how the weather has been behaving lately and understanding how the time of year affects different species will give you a great advantage. You will know what time of day is best to head out and where the fish will likely be. For example, in the summer it’s best if you head out in the early morning or late afternoon and you’ll know that fish tend to spend a lot of time in the shade.

How to find fish without a fish finder

Find drop offs

Fish often hang out by drop offs, so being able to locate one will help you find them. If you have a marine chart, study the contours to find a steep drop off. If you have a depth finder, keep an eye on it to find very deep drop offs. If you’re on an open boat and don’t have any tools whatsoever, look for a sudden change in the water colour - this indicates a change of depth. Once you’re at the drop off, drift above it with the engine in neutral or turn it off.

Look for heavy insect hatches and schools of bait fish

Insect hatches and schools of bait fish attract bigger fish naturally. If you hang out near either, chances are you will catch something good. This tactic needs patience, though. 

Find structures

Structures attract lots of fish, as they provide food and shelter for bait fish. They, in turn, attract predators. Think of docks, logs, lily pads, buoys, and more. Look for these on a map on land, marine chart on the water, or simply use your eyes. 

Watch for jumping fish

If you can boat at higher speeds, you might be able to scan the horizon for jumping fish and head in that direction. Bear in mind that this usually happens quite a way away from shore and the fish move fast, so you need to be able to follow them around for a while. Once you’re there, try trolling in front of the moving fish.

How to find fish without a fish finder

Fish in the same area for a while

To become a good angler, you need to go fishing often. Try to stick with the same area for a while. Map it out before moving on. There’s no substitute for experience and you can only get to know a place by fishing it multiple times. 

Ask the locals

Local anglers will know their area very well and can be a great source of knowledge. They won’t give out their secrets and tricks to a stranger, though. Take time to make friends with them first. If you’re visiting, head to a fishing shop and ask the owner for their top tips.


Download the Deckee app from the App Store or Google Play now. Check the marine weather forecast, look up fishing spots and anchorages, track your fishing trips and take notes, and more.

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