It’s great that you’re taking the time to know and confirm where to mount a transducer on a boat. With its ability to measure depth, speed, and underwater debris, it remains a key piece in ensuring proper nautical navigation and safety.
To answer the main question, first and foremost, it’s best to follow the instructions from the transducer’s manual. Generally, it should be mounted on a flat surface, mainly on transom, where it won’t be subjected to turbulence that interferes with its ability to send and receive signals.
Another common transducer mounting location is on the trolling motor shaft.
Table of Contents
- The Best Places to Mount Ultimately Depend on the Transducer Type
- Different Types of Transducers Based on Imaging Capabilities
- The Best Transducer Mounting Height
- How to Mount a Transducer
- Frequently Asked Questions
The Best Places to Mount Ultimately Depend on the Transducer Type
The transom is by far the most popular mounting location, with the trolling motor coming in second place. However, this is because most people who own a pontoon boat or an aluminum boat for fishing love the no-nonsense, zero-hassle installation and maintenance process involved in transom-mount transducers.
I can say the same when people are installing transducers on jon boat. It’s easy because brands like Garmin give you templates that you can use as a guide on where to position the transom and drill the holes. You can even punch out holes in them for easier mounting.
Still, we can’t deny the variety in the different types of transducers available, which readily reveal where they’re supposed to be mounted.
1. Through-hull transducer
While “through-hull” readily suggests installing through a hole in the hull, there’s still a possibility to mount a transducer without drilling because it’s designed to be that way.
If you do buy one that requires a big hole being drilled, expect the installation process to be more complex than the other types listed here. This is why it’s often installed in larger vessels like yachts.
Where to mount: Near the hull’s centerline or aft midship, while minding the angles recommended by the manufacturer.
2. In-hull transducer
As its name readily suggests, it’s installed inside the hull, usually with the help of a specialized adhesive for optimal bonding. It’s not that common, since it’s only suitable for a fiberglass boat. Nonetheless, I can’t deny that once properly mounted, you can expect top-notch readings with its help.
Where to mount: Near the hull’s centerline toward the aft’s edge, away from cables.
3. Trolling motor transducer
Trolling motors are typically found on front of boat or at the stern, and they will typically be a LiveScope or MEGA Live one. Trolling motor transducers may be mounted on the motors themselves, often before or after the skeg.
Where to mount: The trolling motor’s shaft is a typical mounting position. You may also rely on brackets to get the job done.
4. Transom transducer
Obviously, any transducer that can be mounted on the transom or the back of the boat falls under this type. As said above, they work best for smaller vessels.
Where to mount: Any spot on the transom where it won’t be affected by turbulence. It won’t hurt to steer clear of water locales known to create more of them. Anticipate components that might hit it such as the prop.
5. Portable transducer
Humminbird is known for producing these temporary imaging solutions whose positions you can easily adjust, allowing you to transfer them from one boat to another.
Where to mount: A portable transducer mount can be attached to the transom. It’s worth getting because, for one, this transducer can be removed at any time, is relatively durable, and has great adjustable lengths.
Different Types of Transducers Based on Imaging Capabilities
A lot of these transducers, regardless of their different functionalities and design, are mounted on the transom, trolling motor shaft, or in the hull.
1. 3 in 1 transducer
This is a type of transducer that combines a downscan and sidescan imaging sensor plus a CHIRP sonar or a traditional sonar for optimal and more thorough navigational information. Lowrance is a well-known manufacturer.
2. Side scan transducer
This is a transducer that’s limited to just identifying fish and objects along the sides of the waterway. With this capability, you’ll be able to check wider areas, even with full velocity. It’s usually mounted with the help of a bracket on the transom.
3. DownScan transducer
This type is designed to provide better imaging of what’s below your vessel. Any debris or living thing underneath can be detected, which makes it a superb fish finder or wreck finder option, besides conducting more thorough surveys of the underwater area.
4. LiveScope transducer
Another Garmin invention, LiveScope simply means you’ll be able to get a real-time overview of what’s below or surrounding your boat at present. It’s often mounted on the trolling motor pole, but transom mounts will do, too.
The Best Transducer Mounting Height
I can’t repeat this enough: the best mounting height will be one that’s recommended by the manufacturer for your specific transducer product. That’s the only way for you to get an exact figure.
For example, Garmin suggests you mount their SideVu sonar a minimum of 15 inches from the prop. Some boats are okay with placing the product 12 inches to the side of the centerline.
Most installation manuals call for transom transducers to be positioned so that the bottom part sits slightly below the boat’s underside (1/32 to 1/16 inch lower). But, in the end, you should always refer to optimal height suggestions specifically shared in the manual.
How to Mount a Transducer
Here is how to do a transom mount on a watercraft like a jon boat.
1. Take note of the height and positioning recommendations.
Be sure to follow the exact distance from the transducer to the propeller when planning where to mount it.
Some brands may say you need to mount as close to the transom’s centerline as possible, while others may suggest you get it as far to the starboard side as possible. Be mindful of the positions that will minimize turbulence the most.
2. Position the mount then start drilling holes.
If the manufacturer provides a template or guide, don’t hesitate to use that. You can punch holes where you’re supposed to drive screws in. The brand will also tell you how you’re supposed to position or use the template properly in general, so be sure to follow that.
With the template in place using some masking tape, start drilling holes. Once done, you can remove the template.
If you don’t like to drill holes in your boat, feel free to use a strong adhesive like GOOP or MarineTex epoxy instead. I’ve had setups that worked with it, but I always think screws hold up best.
3. Screw in the mount and the transducer.
It should be self-explanatory and easy once you get the height and positioning right. Just be sure to keep the mount as level as possible when you’re screwing it in place.
Afterward, you can now mount the transducer and then secure it. Adjust how the transducer is angled based on what obstacles and possible turbulence you’re anticipating.
Lastly, use a marine sealant or silicone on both sides of the screws to prevent leaks.
4. Transducer mounting tips
- How you mount the transducer may heighten or dampen its risk of being struck by rocks, other vessels, etc.
- As much as possible, the transducer’s signal should not intersect with the keel, hull, shaft, or any other projections.
- If possible, it should not be directly parallel to the prop.
- Outboard-driven vessels normally get proper transducer placement benefits by having their transducers installed near the engine if you’re installing a thru-hull.
- Take heed of the inherent disadvantage when considering a trolling motor mount setup. After all, you may end up only being able to use the transducer if the trolling motor is also deployed.
- When choosing transducer mounts for boats, make sure they fit your vessel type as much as possible. For example, if you’re installing a transducer on kayaks, there are mounting arms purposely designed to make setup easy and to accommodate the boat’s design.
- Feel free to use a dedicated mounting plate if you don’t like the adhesive or drilling holes route.
I got plenty of golden insights from this video when making the right adjustments during installation. I highly recommend you watch it, too:
How to Optimize Transducer Placement on Your Boat During Installation
Frequently Asked Questions
How close can transducers be mounted?
You don’t have to worry too much about how close can transducers be mounted. Side-by-side mounting works just fine for most. Try to aim for a setup where one doesn’t use the same frequency as the other.
Can I mount the transducer too low?
No, this will likely result in more turbulence, which could greatly affect the imaging’s overall quality. It could also cause the transducer to protrude too much, making it more prone to being struck by rocks and other objects.
Strike a balance based on the tips above and what the manufacturer recommends.
Which side of the boat to mount the transducer?
The starboard side of the transom. This results in less turbulence and optimal performance. Plus, the prop has no chance of striking it.
Overall, we can sum up the answer to “Where to mount a transducer on a boat?” with the following points:
- Make sure to position it in such a way that it won’t be affected by turbulence, struck by other components, and will work optimally based on its type.
- Normally, the best mounting location for transom transducers is on the transom’s starboard side, with a distance of 12 to 15 inches from the prop.
- Remember the tips on how to mount above to minimize adjustments and issues.
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