This blog provides an in-depth review of how to get the most from your Garmin LiveScope units.  It includes:

  • Recommended units
  • What settings to use for best viewing and performance?
  • Related equipment
  • What to look for on the water?

Technology is driving the world today with top companies like Apple and Amazon continuously innovating.  Rapid changing technology is now the new normal. Advancements in sonar technology have always helped in progressing the sport of bass fishing allowing anglers to unlock the secrets that lie beneath the surface of their favorite fisheries. Just a few years ago, screen were very simple and showed limited details.

 Garmin Sonar

In recent years, the advent of forward-facing sonar has taken that progression to a new level with numerous tournaments being won by utilizing the technology.  Garmin Panoptix LiveScope has taken the lead as the frontrunner in the forward-facing sonar market and is showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon.  The Garmin LiveScope technology particularly shines during the colder months of the year when bass migrate to deeper water, often suspending around schools of baitfish.

Recommended Units

We recommend the Garmin Echomap Ultra Series. If you only plan on using it for just LiveScope you can get a 102sv or 122sv. If you choose to go with the 102sv or the 122sv keep in mind that they do not have built in mapping or come with a transducer. You might ask if the 102 or 122 have the same sonar capabilities, the answer is they do they just do not come with the transducer for SideVu, Clearvu or traditional sonar.  If you do plan to use it for more than just LiveScope we would suggest using the Garmin Echomap Ultra 106sv or the 126sv. If you are wondering what Garmin LiveScope to purchase, we suggest purchasing the GLS 10 box with the LVS 32 transducer.  These units are also designed to link with the Garmin Force Trolling Motor. When you link your Garmin force to these units it will allow you to route it to waypoints, follow tracks and much more. Also being that the Garmin force is a brushless motor this then causes less noise or interference to come from your trolling motor to your LiveScope screen which then results in a clearer picture.  Below is a list of several good options that Garmin offers that can also run Garmin LiveScop3.

  • Garmin Echomap Ultra 106SV
  • Garmin Echomap Ultra 102SV
  • Garmin Echomap Ultra 122SV
  • Garmin Echomap Ultra 126SV
  • Garmin Echomap 93sv
  • Garmin GPSMAP 8610xsv
  • Garmin GPSMAP 8612xsv
  • Garmin GPSMAP 942xsv
  • Garmin GPSMAP 1242xsv

Mounting, Rigging and Electrical Needs

As far as mounting your LiveScope on your trolling motor there are two options. You can use the traditional LiveScope bracket which comes in the box with LiveScope or you can use the Perspective mount. The Perspective Mode Mount item number is (010-12970-00), if you choose this option it will allow you to have a live forward 150-degree sonar along with still being able to use what LiveScope was traditionally designed to do. 

There are lots of good mounts in the industry that will allow you so many different options when viewing your LiveScope equiped unit.  What is really boils do to is what you want. If you currently have another graph on you boat and want your units to be in a stacked position, we recommend the Dek-It Stacker Mount. If you already have a unit and do not want to bother with moving it or maybe it is flush mounted check out the Ram Mount D-111U.

Ram mount with Garmin.

Here is a list of things you want to make sure you have when installing your new Garmin Unit along with LiveScope.  

  1. Electrical tape. It is highly recommended to be using electrical tape over zip ties when attaching you LiveScope cable to the shaft of your trolling motor. If you use zip ties, you run the risk of potentially damaging the integrity of the LiveScope transducer cable which can impact screen performance or cause your transducer to stop working completely.
  2. Wiring kit with connectors and wire crimpers.
  3. Miscellaneous screws and bolts. You will need bolts to mount the graph to the bracket also we would recommend if possible, to bolt your mounts thru to the boat.
  4. Cordless drill and drill bits in a range of sizes. It may be necessary to drill a hole or expand a current hole when running your power and transducer cables.

Power to the bow. If you do not currently have a power supply to the bow of you boat. You will need to run a power wire from your cranking battery directly to the bow of the boat. Garmin recommends using 10-gauge wire.

Electronics Settings 

The settings of your LiveScope are very key in the performance and usability of your unit.

  1. It is important to adjust your settings with the different depth ranges that you are fishing.  This will make your LiveScope perform greater and show greater detail for objects on your screen.  For example, if you are fishing in 30ft of water or less don’t have your depth range set at 80ft.  Adjust it up to 30ft or 40ft.
  2. The most important settings to use are gain, TVG, Noise Reject. If you will adjust these accordingly you will be able to see things better at a distance based on the depth you are fishing. If you choose not to adjust them at least set your graph up to start where you have gain on auto high, TVG on low and noise reject turned off. If there still is too much clutter in the screen turn your noise reject to low. 
  3. We would recommend the following settings when your boat is in more than 30ft of water. Set your gain on either auto high or somewhere around 73%. We would then suggest having noise reject on low or off and TVG off. Please note that which brand of trolling motor you are running may create the need for you to adjust these recommendations slightly. These suggestions are the best settings for a Garmin Force Trolling motor. When using Livescope with other brands of trolling motors you may need to set TVG on low and Noise reject on low. 

How to Adjust your Gain 

  1. When  you have your LiveScope screen up and active Click the Menu button in the bottom of the screen. If you are running a non-touch screen unit you should also be able to just press your menu button with the LiveScope screen active.
  2. The LiveScope Forward Menu shown in the above photo will appear once you have selected the Menu key. You will then see the Gain Option.
  3. Once the gain menu appears you can choose to adjust gain manually with the dial or select an Auto setting.

If you choose to run an auto gain setting, set it to run auto high. Run an auto setting when you are fishing multiple depths.

If you want to run a manual gain, run it somewhere between 71% up to 77%. Run these settings when you are deeper than 30ft.

How to Adjust TVG and Noise Reject

You may ask how to find TVG on your LiveScope menu. Below is a step-by-step process with images included.

  1. When you have your LiveScope screen up and active “Click” the Menu button in the bottom of the screen. If you are running a non-touch screen unit you should also be able to just press your menu button with the LiveScope screen active.
  2. Once you press menu, the LiveScope Forward Menu will appear (shown in the image below. Press or Select Sonar Setup.
  3. Once you press sonar setup the Sonar Setup Menu will appear (shown in the image below).
  4. With the Sonar Setup Menu on the screen, you “press” or select the TVG Option if you want to adjust TVG Select Noise Reject. This will then allow you to adjust your TVG or Noise Reject as needed, depending on your pervious selection (shown in the image below.)

If you have TVG or noise reject on at any level, you will start to hide things in the screen. There will likely be a ghost tree in your screen with these 2 settings off, but you will not hide anything that is in the region of the “ghost tree”.  Below is an image of what we are calling the “ghost tree”. This can at times make you think that there is much more clutter on your screen but when you get out deeper than 30 ft the ghost tree will fade away. Below is a picture of the “ghost tree” that will appear when you are in shallower water (35ft of water or less). We have noticed with the TVG off and Noise reject off, once you get in depths greater than 40ft, the ghost tree tends to fade away.

Ghost Tree Image between 30 and 40 ft

Depth Change with no ghost tree

Distance Settings

 A lot of people want to have their distance only set out 50 or so feet when using LiveScope. We would strongly encourage to run your distance setting out to 100ft. The reason for this is a lot of times when fishing for bass, they can be very skittish of the boat especially in deep, clear water lakes. You may not be able to always see your bait out at 100ft, but we can assure you will be able to identify fish at that  distance. There are a lot of times that these fish will be the easiest ones to catch because you will be able to make accurate casts to fish that do not realize you’re there.

Tips for Seeing Your lure

We all want to be able to see our lures on LiveScope and sometimes it can be tricky to see them. The first recommendation is to make sure that your trolling motor arrow is inline with where your LiveScope is pointing. The second suggestion, we would recommend is taking a large lure such as an alabama rig and to start casting it into the view of LiveScope. While doing this make it a point to try to cast it a certain distance and get your eye to recognize it once it hits the water on your screen. Once you figure out gauging the distance, it will make it a lot easier for you to recognize where your bait is on the screen. Many anglers don’t realize that 25 to 30 feet is not very far from you. Many times the reason people are not seeing their bait is simply because they are not looking at the right place on the screen.  They are either looking too far or to the left or right. 

What to Look For

Deepwater fishing has always been a staple across the country as bass inhabit their deep-water wintertime haunts.   With Garmin LiveScope you can really unlock the secrets of how deep-water bass position themselves in and around structure, cover, and baitfish. When you are in-search mode it is important to make sure your idling looking for these massive schools of bait. Keep in mind you need to make sure that you are using your equipment to its full potential. With Garmin units we have found that SideVu and ClearVu tend to work the best at 3mph to 5mph. This is also the same with LiveScope when you have it mounted on the rear transom of your boat. Something else to look for at any time of the year is birds. Seagulls and loons normally are a dead giveaway to where large populations of baitfish are at. So never be afraid to look for birds at any time of the year including winter.

Where to Look

Starting in the middle sections of the creeks by idling with your SideVu sonar is where we recommend starting your search for both bass and bait. While idling try to find the biggest bait balls that the area has to offer. A lot of times we are looking for a bait ball that is minimum 50 feet long by around 10 feet tall to offer you some perspective.

Equipment/Tackle Suggestions

There are several options to use when targeting the wintertime fish relating to schools of bait. Keep in mind when you are fishing for these fish that they are feeding, so if they are not biting your bait try something else. The first application that we would suggest trying is a spoon. A spoon is a proven deep water lure that will catch deep fish around shad day in and day out. We would also suggest trying a Damiki rig with something like a 4-inch Big Bite Baits Jerk Minnow. Pairing that 4-inch Big Bite Baits Jerk Minnow with the new Big Bite Baits TruX Swimmer Head in a 3/8oz is an awesome combination.  The last lure would be an underspin or horse head with either a Big Bite Baits Jerk Minnow or Big Bite Baits Pro Swimmer.  There are several other lures that someone could use when chasing these deep fish such as a Rapala Jiggin Rap, a Manns Little George or even a drop shot with a minnow imitation on it. When using any of these applications line size and rate of fall in very important. With the Damiki style rig it is recommended equipment to use a 12lb braid with a 6lb to 8lb fluorocarbon leader and a medium-to-medium heavy spinning rod. The braid can be very important as well. We have found that the Sunline Xplasma Asegai is one of the best braids to use. It features a patented technology called Plasma Rise,  which reduces line twisting and water absorption. When it is super cold outside in the winter months this will prevent your braid from freezing as quickly. There are a number of rod choices that will work.  We suggest the Denali Lithium Series Drop Shot spinning rod and the Denali Lithium Series Shakey Head rods make great options for these applications. When it comes to a spoon, underspin, jiggin rap, or Little George we would recommend using a 12lb fluorocarbon such as Sunline Assassin FC because of the Plasma Rise technology this will help with line twist. As far as a rod we would recommend something that is 7ft to 7ft 2in. Our favorite rod for these applications is the Denali Kovert 7ft 2in medium heavy. Something else to keep in mind when chasing these deep fish is the rate of fall on your lure. On fish that are not deeper than 30ft something that is 3/8oz will allow you to get to the fish in plenty of time and still be falling fast enough to cause a reaction. When you start reaching out to 50ft or deeper that is when you need to consider a heavier application. Big Bite Baits now makes their TRUX head all the way up to a 1oz. These heavier sized heads and spoons allow you to get down to the fish sooner than later. There are a lot of times with LiveScope that you will see one down 70 to 80 feet deep and you cannot get your bait to it fast enough, so having a jig head or another lure on that is heavier enough to get to the fish in time makes a huge difference in your catch rate. 

Specific Electronics Being Used 

Equipment list

2 Echomap Ultra 126sv at console

Paired with GT30TM for side vu and ClearVu

GT8 for traditional sonar (the GT8 and GT 30 plug into unit with Y cable)

LiveScope LVS 32 on transom for searching while idling

2 Echomap Ultra 126sv at bow 

Paired with Garmin Force Trolling motor and GT56 Transducer for ClearVu, SideVu and traditional. 

LiveScope LVS 32 


Schools of Shad

We suggest looking for the biggest bait balls you can find. Typically, small schools of shad will only hold a few fish, however if you can find that mega schools of shad you will often find a mega school of bass. It is key to be patient and keep looking, trust your electronics and do not just settle for a small pod of bait. Try to find the absolute biggest ball of bait in the part of the lake that you are targeting.  Typically, once you find the depth at which the bait is set up you will be able to find bait at that depth across the lake. 

Identifying Different Species and How They Setup 

One of the coolest features of Garmin LiveScope is being able to see how the different species of fish act around the schools of bait. From what we have seen the smallmouth and the spotted bass tend to hang out around the edges of the bait balls. The spots tend to like to run in the balls of bait then come out. A school of largemouth tend to act completely different, however. The largemouth tend to stay in a pack and form something that we call the “tiger eye”. We have seen up to 20 or more largemouth in one of these “tiger eye” formations at once.  The trick is getting your bait in the eye quick enough to make one bite.  These pictures below show two examples of “tiger eyes” with largemouth bass sitting in the dark circles in the school of shad.  Both of these “tiger eyes” had a dozen or more of quality largemouth in them.