Forward Facing Technology - The New Generation!

man fishing using forward facing sonar on boat

Forward-facing sonar (FFS) is a technology used in fishing that provides anglers with a real-time view of the immediate vicinity surrounding their boat depending on the direction the sonar is facing. Unlike traditional sonar that shoots a beam under the boat, FFS transmits a sonar beam forward, offering a live video feed of fish, bait, and underwater structures.


Forward-facing sonar (FFS) unit: This is the key piece of equipment. It's a sonar system that mounts on your boat via a bow-mount trolling motor or pole mounted transducer, and transmits a sonar beam forward in real-time, giving you a live view of what's ahead underwater.

There are three major brands leading the charge in forward-facing fishing technology:


Garmin LiveScope Plus LVS34 - Livescope + LVS34 SystemGarmin LiveScope Sonar image showing fish near submerged structures.

Garmin LiveScope Plus LVS34 - Livescope + LVS34 System

The best of the best just got better with the Garmin LVS34 LiveScope Plus Live Scanning Sonar Transducer. It's the latest in LiveScope technology, offering improved resolution, reduced noise, clearer images, and better target separation. Now it's easier than ever to see structure, bait, and fish swimming around your boat in real time.

  • Garmin with their LiveScope system.
  • Lowrance with their ActiveTarget technology.
  • Humminbird with their MEGA Live Imaging.


Lowrance ActiveTarget 2 Live Sonarlowrance activetarget sonar

Lowrance ActiveTarget 2 Live Sonar

Lowrance ActiveTarget 2 Live Sonar gives you the highest-resolution, widest, and clearest live views of fish and structure to date. By watching fish respond to your lure in real time, you can make the quick adjustments that make the difference and help you catch more fish. Watch them interact with structure and responding to your lure, live, in real time.


Humminbird MEGA Live Imaging Transducerhumminbird mega live imaging sonar

Humminbird MEGA Live Imaging Transducer

See fish in real time with the Humminbird MEGA Live Imaging Transducer. MEGA Live Imaging provides the most impressive live sonar on the water, allowing you to watch fish and structure in real time, powered by the unmatched detail of MEGA Imaging. This patent-pending technology provides views out, down, and around your boat with absolute clarity, and even allows you to watch fish bite your lure.

Fishing rod and reel:

You'll need a setup appropriate for the type of fish you're targeting.

There isn't a specific fishing rod and reel combo designed exclusively for forward-facing sonar technology. However, some features are beneficial when choosing a combo to use with forward-facing sonar:

  • Rod: A longer rod, typically in the 7 foot range, will help you keep your lure farther away from the boat and out of the transducer's cone of view. Medium light to medium power rods are ideal for most freshwater fishing applications for both spinning & baitcast applications. It is also common when using a spinning rod and reel to use a lighter action spinning rod. Johnny Morris Signature Series Rods are ideal for the required action and sensitivity that is needed.
  • Reel: A spinning reel is easier to use, especially for beginners and with lighter lures. Baitcast reels offer good casting control but are not designed for lures under ¼ oz. Each reel has application depending on the lure selection. These reels will cover your baitcast or spinning reel needs.
  • Fishing Reels

    Bass Pro Shops Johnny Morris Signature Series Spinning Reel

    Bass Pro Shops Johnny Morris Signature Series Spinning Reel

    Our Bass Pro Shops Johnny Morris Signature Series Spinning Reel remains one of the best values we offer. This is our founder's go-to reel, built to win and built to last, and we think you'll agree that it's the finest reel you can fish at this price.

    Fishing Reels

    Bass Pro Shops Johnny Morris Signature Series Baitcast Reel

    Bass Pro Shops Johnny Morris Signature Series Baitcast Reel

    One of the best values in fishing-and now it's even better, completely reconfigured to make it smaller, more ergonomically fitted (translation: palmable) to your hand, and a full 15% lighter than before, yet still as rugged, dependable, and flat-out fun to fish as ever.

A guide to forward-facing sonar fishing techniques

Forward-facing sonar (FFS) has become a game-changer for anglers, offering a real-time view of what lies ahead underwater. Here's a breakdown to get you started with FFS fishing techniques:

Finding Fish:

  • Scanning: While moving forward at a moderate pace, use your trolling motor to sweep the FFS beam side-to-side, searching for fish, baitfish schools, and underwater structures like brush piles, ledges, and drop-offs.
  • Target Interpretation: Learn to recognize fish on the sonar screen. They'll typically appear as arches or streaks depending on their size, orientation, and distance from the transducer.
  • Following Fish: Once you locate fish, slow down and use the sonar to guide your lure presentations. You can even cast directly ahead of fish that are suspended or following your bait.

Targeting Specific Scenarios:

  • Brush Piles: FFS allows you to target individual fish roaming around brush piles instead of blindly casting into the structure.
  • Ledges and Drop-offs: Locate fish holding tight to the bottom on these underwater transitions. Cast your lure right up against the ledge and watch how the fish reacts on the sonar.
  • Suspended Fish: Target suspended fish, especially during periods of low activity. Cast directly on top of them and watch their reaction as the lure falls.

Choosing the Right Lures:

  • Straight tail minnows & Swimbaits: The realistic action of straight tail minnows and swimbaits are effective due to their versatility and how well they show up on the sonar, especially when fish are following your lure but hesitant to bite. A quick snap of the rod tip can sometimes trigger a strike.
  • Minnows

    Rapala CrushCity Customs Freeloader

    Rapala CrushCity Customs Freeloader

    Enhance your fishing lures with the versatile Rapala CrushCity Customs Freeloader, a soft-plastic bait that can be rigged in multiple ways and uses Smart Injection Technology to provide an optimal blend of color, flake, salt, and scent. This adaptable bait promises to deliver an irresistible action to tempt game fish.


    Bass Pro Shops Maxx Action Speed Shad

    Bass Pro Shops Maxx Action Speed Shad

    Our incredible Bass Pro Shops Maxx Action Speed Shad is made from 33% softer plastic than our standard Speed Shad, giving the oversized paddle tail even greater action in the water. For versatility and ease of rigging, we've included a hook slot at the top and the bottom. A ribbed body gives off extra vibrations to call in wary lunkers.

  • Jerkbaits: Jerkbaits can be effective for suspended fish. Use the sonar to position your lure, then impart a series of twitches followed by pauses to entice a bite.
  • Jerkbaits

    Bass Pro Shops XPS Staredown Suspending Jerkbait

    Bass Pro Shops XPS Staredown Jerkbaits

    The combination of lifelike action and stunningly realistic colors with highly detailed paint finishes scores strikes with ease. The erratic darting action imitates a frantic fleeing baitfish to perfection.

  • Jigheads: Jigheads come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and weights that can be used with straight tail minnows and swimbaits.
  • Jigheads

    Strike King Tour Grade Rage Jighead

    Strike King Tour Grade Rage Jighead

    This jighead keeps your bait perfectly horizontal in the water column to give it a more natural swimming action. It features an ultrasharp medium-wire hook for better hookups.


    YUM Forward Facing Sonar Jighead

    YUM Forward Facing Sonar Jighead

    Paired with your favorite minnow lure, the YUM Forward Facing Sonar Jighead excels at fooling suspended bass. The standard ball head with a vertical line tie gives your bait a linear presentation, while the #1 sickle hook increases your hook-up rate.

Additional Tips:

  • Master Casting Accuracy: With FFS, precise lure placement is crucial. Practice casting to stationary objects like buoys or bridge pilings to hone your accuracy.
  • Line Choice: Fluorocarbon line or braid with fluorocarbon leader is recommended for FFS fishing. Both have minimal stretch and lower visibility, allowing for better lure presentation and bite detection.
  • Patience and Experimentation: Like any fishing technique, success with FFS takes practice and experimentation. Learn to read the sonar and adapt your presentations based on fish behavior.

Remember, FFS is a powerful tool, but it shouldn't replace traditional fishing skills. Use it to locate fish and enhance your presentations, but don't rely solely on technology to make all on the water decisions.

Further Reading: Learn how to set up your live sonar with our guide to setting up live sonar.