Best Fish Finders (2021): 10 Ultimate Models Using Advanced Sonar Technology Reviewed After Hands-On Testings (Buyer’s Guide Included)
- Simon Michel
Fishing might be hobbyists' favorite pastime and a source of revenue for avid fishermen. By using modern technology while fishing, you'll have rewarding experiences and value for time. A fish finder is a simple gadget that helps you track an individual as well as schools of fish, the bottom of the waterbody, and underwater debris. You need to choose the best fish finder according to your own fishing style before embarking on your next fishing expedition.
As an outdoor and fishing enthusiast, it's difficult to see through murky or clear water when tracking fish. In my opinion, manual tracking of water games are frustrating and can lead to long hours of exhaustion. Instead, I prefer high-quality fish-finding scanners that send underwater signals to pinpoint each fish's location. Apart from their locations, such a gadget might display underwater structures and habitats that certain fish species like to live in and feed in.
The use of technology and its data interpretation has impacted on my expeditions quite positively. So, you might also consider this if you love fishing. In this buyers' guide, I'll enumerate the specifications of each item that has made our top pick. You'll find all types of fish finders that are compatible with kayakers or handheld. Let's learn how to choose the fish finder that fits your fishing style and purpose. Also, our reviews will help you make a comparison of sonar-enabled fish-finders, and any model that fits your budget.
What You Will Get Here
- Best Fish Finder Comparison Chart (Updated 2021)
- Why Should You Trust Us?
- How Did We Pick These Products?
- Our Top 10 Best Fish Finder
- Our Top Choice: Garmin Striker 4 with Transducer
- Perfect for Beginners: Humminbird 410210-1 HELIX 5 CHIRP GPS G2
- Good Value for Money: Venterior VT-FF001
- Our Sonar Choice: Deeper Pro Smart
- Great for Ice Fishing: Deeper Pro+ Smart Sonar
- A List of 5 Other Products We Reviewed
- Other Notable Brands & Tested Models
- How Does a Fish Finder Help You Find Fish?
- Fishfinders - A Comprehensive Buying Guide
- Tips on Using Your Fish Finder
Best Fish Finder Comparison Chart (Updated 2021)
Garmin Striker 4 with TransducerRead Full Review
Humminbird 410210-1 Helix 5Read Full Review
Venterior VT-FF001Read Full Review
Deeper Pro SmartRead Full Review
Deeper Pro+ Smart SonarRead Full Review
HawkEye Fishtrax 1C Fish Finder with HD ColorRead Full Review
Garmin Striker 4cvRead Full Review
Humminbird 410190-1 Helix 5 Series Sonar G2 FishfinderRead Full Review
Lowrance HOOK2 5Read Full Review
Humminbird 409640-1 HELIX 5Read Full Review
Why Should You Trust Us?
You may find yourself in a confusing state when buying a fish finder for you for the first time. No worries! We had the same feeling when we were amateur anglers. But now we have a 5-year long experience of using and reviewing different fishing gear. So, you can count on us. We're confident that you will find all the information you need before buying a fish finder.
We have no affiliation with any brands. As no financial gain is involved, our reviews are 100% unbiased. We only review those products that comply with our selection standard. We consider the performance, user ratings, and features of the models when making the shortlist.
We review all the products after physical testing. So, you can trust our reviews. Here at Fisher Reel, we keep our authenticity intact.
How Did We Pick These Products?
We selected only 20 products among hundreds of different models from prominent brands. It took us almost two days to complete the online research thoroughly. We considered the important factors and made sure that all the picks were deserving to be tested physically.
This step is the toughest one. Here we run the extra mile to provide the readers with a complete buying guide. We along with our experienced volunteer team put these models to the test in practical conditions. After rigorous testing, we collated our findings with that of our volunteers to make the top 10 list.
Then, we consulted other industry experts in our area to make the list more credible. After considering their valuable comments we finalized the list. We hope these reviews will serve as a buying guide and help the readers make an educated decision when choosing the right model for their needs.
Our Top 10 Best Fish Finder
Wondering what is the best fish finder? It's a tough call. Choosing our top 10 devices required painstaking efforts. Our team of experts analyzed products that offer clear topography of underwater structures and layout of the seabed. Also, water resistance is an important factor because it's difficult not to have moisture and water splashing on fish finders.
So, choosing these devices with waterproof features is a wise move if you require durable products. Hopefully, you have learned some advice and are set to optimize your fishing game with great fish-finding tools.
The Striker 4 from Garmin comes with a very sensitive transducer, and options of 3.5-, 5- and 7". It's new CHIRP Traditional sonar transducer scans deep. Also, it allows you to reach your hot spots, docks, and save your favorite waypoints. Let's share other interesting features of this model.
STRIKER 4's Sonar history allows you to review favorite hot spots, waypoints, and routes. As you navigate to locations like brush piles, and docks, the built-in, high-sensitive GPS guides you. When you can't find your way back home, trust the GPS to bring you safely.
The CLEARVÜ SCANNING SONAR
This device has high-frequency sonar that gives impressive images. You'll view clear images of underwater structures, obstacles, and ecosystems, and fish. This high-end Garmin GPS model is easy to use. With dedicated buttons for every function, you can have ease of use while fishing and relaxing on the shore.
With the transducer suction cup attached to your boat's mount, you are ready to go! Its smooth scaling graphics allows users to switch between depth-range scales, and see tracked routes. While scanning for fish, every view on the LCD screen is enhanced with smooth scaling graphics. This STRIKER 4 GPS device tracks your waypoints (favorite fishing spots) and saves routes. Using the GPS is simple and you can share this data with family and when you fish in groups.
The CHIRP Sonar of STRIKER 4 operates its sonar transducer at 77/200 kHz. While using 1,600 W peak-to-peak power, the frequency signals reach depths of 1,600 feet (maximum depth) of feet freshwater, and saltwater is 750 feet. This handheld GPS device offers wider sonar arches when it finds fish.
- Display size: 1.9 x 2.9 inches
- Frequency: CHIRP 77/200 kHz transducers
- Weight 8.1 oz (230g)
- Brand: Garmin
We have all the right reasons to place it as the best fish finder on our list. It is a superbly built device with a sensitive transducer that packs a rechargeable Li-ion battery. Also, the battery pack is sealed and the Garmin suction cup transducer mount is a great addition. Sonar history is a great option. GPS provides spot-on performance. Being fully waterproof with IPX7 rating, the device offers good value for fishermen that need waterproof accessories.
This model has GPS and displays clear 2D sonar images of underwater formations and fish. You can view fish habitats, obstacles, and scan the depths of lakes. Here are the unique features of the Humminbird 410210-1 Helix 5.
It's a chartplotter as the built-in GPS has a chart plotting system that allows you to see your journey's route. Simply insert your coordinates if you lose your way after fishing all day. The Internal GPS Chart also comes with built-in Anima map cartography and Auto chart Live.
This 5 inch HD WVGA display comes with a clearer 5-inch HD WVGA color display. Unlike other regular models, you can view the LCD of Humminbird Helix 5 under sunlight because it's readable. This instrument also displays 2D sonar data in the full-color display mode.
Dual-Beam CHIRP PLUS Sonar
The Dual Beam sonar technology increases your fish-finding potential. It enhances the precision and accuracy of image data. From the built-in transducer, high-frequency signals spread as wide and narrow beams. They scan the underwater formations and fish activity in clear images.
Memory Card Slot
After saving your favorite fishing routes, and downloading maps, you can save the data on the built-in memory. You can attach a memory stick with more map software through the Micro SD slot. Also, track, save and share more information with groups, and friends.
- Product Dimension: 1.1 x 7.5 x 4.3 inches
- Powered Source: 500 watts
- Image Resolution: 800 x 480 pixels
- LCD Width: 5 inches Color WVGA Display
- Product Weight: 10.1 ounce
- Brand: Humminbird
GPS tracking and chart plotting features make fish finders unique, and the Humminbird HELIX 5 G2 has both. This HELIX 5 CHIRP GPS also comes with a built-in transducer, suction, and mount. This fish finding tool is great for buyers that need LCDs with clearer digital readouts.
The Venterior VT-FF001 is a portable handheld device with a black and white display. Its transducer sonar is single, 45-degree sensor beam angle. Apart from its grayscale display, the housing of this model is ergonomically impressive. The plastic grip at both sides is made from anti-slip materials. Let's find other attributes of this fishing accessory.
5-Inch Grayscale Display
The 5-inch grayscale is clear under sunlight and at night. You can view every icon, chart, and map like other traditional models. It offers clear edge grayscale (black and white) images, and you can adjust the brightness level with the soft keypads.
This product comes with basic features yet at a pocket-friendly price. It's designed for beginner anglers, novice fishermen, and dummies that need such devices to enhance their luck.
It has five-settings and one that allows you to set the size of fish. You could say 10-centimeter long fish, and the sensitive transducer will track fish at 328 feet in more shallow rivers. Also, you can view underwater spots with weeds, and rocks in grayscale.
Its black rough-spot grip has non-slip material that makes handling easy under rain or snow. This handy fish-finding device also has a small 4-inch display screen.
- Frequency: 45° sensor beam angle
- Connection Type: Battery
- Range: 3 to 328 feet
- Brand: Venterior VT-FF001
The Venterior VT-FF001 is a modest package for low budget buyers, beginner anglers, and outdoor enthusiasts. It has a grayscale screen that gives the representation of sizes and location of fish. What else is better than a fish finder that's readable under sunlight? The device can also differentiate between weeds, fish, sand, and rocks. It is safe to say that this is one of the best fish finders for the money.
Do you love lake or shore fishing on weekends? The Deeper PRO Smart is portable and designed for anglers to enjoy fishing by the dock or riverbank. Also, you can cast this fish-finding device with ease from boats. Its built-in GPS makes this fishing accessory a must-have. These are some unique features about the wireless Deeper PRO Smart Portable Sonar plus GPS device.
Waterproof and Durable
You can cast this device to 330ft while scanning a 15° narrow beam and monitoring depths of at least 260ft. This device is suitable for anglers that need castable fish finders with waterproof housing. For ice fishing, simply place the Deeper PRO in ice holes (10-inch wide) and track fish activity. Additionally, the housing of this Wi-Fi model is tough and durable.
The Deeper PRO doesn't have an LCD screen that displays GPS data, but this device has smart sonar with built-in GPS. It works with your mobile phone's LCD screen. Simply start by downloading the Deeper App and hop the device into ice holes, view the depth, and mark the spot. Some fish might produce eggs, and you can come back to catch them. It works great for crappies.
The dual beam sonar frequency operates at 90kHz and 290kHz for 55°-wide and 15°-narrow beams respectively. With the Deeper App, it's easy to create bathymetric maps, view fish location, hardness, and topography underwater. Avid anglers structure can use the Deeper PRO in hard to reach areas. Also, the Deeper PRO+ smart sonar can measure up to up to 4-feet thick ice holes.
You can obtain essential data of fish activity from the river bank and shoreline. Also, this Deeper PRO is active in low temperature fresh and saltwater of -4F°. It allows you to save maps, analyze your fish data with computers and tablets.
- Frequency: Dual Beam of 55°/90 kHz and 15°/290kHz for wide and narrow beams
- Range: 330ft (Cast) and Scans (260ft)
- Connection Type: Wi-Fi
- Operating Temperature: -4°F to 104°F
- Product Weight: 3.5oz
- Brand: Deeper PRO
Here's a GPS sounder that works with smartphones. It works with the Deeper App and allows you to view clear images on your phone with its dual beam sonar frequency. Apart from the built-in GPS, the Deeper PRO Smart Portable Sonar helps you monitor depth and fish activity. Buy this product if you're planning your next trip of ice fishing with any WiFi-enabled model.
As one of the most advanced options for ice fishing, the Deeper PRO+ Smart Sonar is portable and unique. It can see fish location in clear and murky water, and help you to save waypoints. Avid anglers and enthusiasts with intermediate skill will enjoy shore and ice fishing with this device. Here is why this fish finding device makes our top picks.
The Wi-Fi connectivity of the Deeper Pro Plus allows you to activate the 'Onshore GPS Mode.' Smartphone users can provide uninterrupted connection before sending saved, favorite fishing spots to friends.
The waterproof feature makes it a durable product. When submerged in ice holes, the full battery remains active for at least five hours without going off. Unlike regular models, when out of the water this shore and ice fishing device turns off automatically.
Management Platform Compatibility
All fishing maps and scans can be saved; or you can manage them with Lakebook, Deeper’s bathymetric platforms. Apart from waypoints, routes, Deeper App, temperature and depth of underwater topography functions are easy to use with this device.
Deeper Pro Plus uses GPS for shore and ice fishing. It also allows for creating bathymetric maps while fishing from the shore. With the USB cable and port, it's easy to transfer GPS data from phones to tablets and PCs.
- Item Weight: 3.5oz
- Frequency: Dual beam: 15° or 55°
- Connection Type: Battery, Wi-Fi
- The range of Cast and Scan depth: 260 and 330 ft
- Brand: Deeper PRO+
The Deeper Pro Plus is a top-notch item that deserves your attention. It's great for shore and ice fishing and creation of bathymetric maps. Apart from seeing fish locations on your phones, the Dual Beam frequency can show underwater structures. Simply download the Deeper App, and see underwater vegetation with a group of fish, and save favorite hot spots.
A List of 5 Other Products We Reviewed
For all those control freaks (in a good way) who like to have full control over your fishing expeditions, HawkEye has brought a new solution to your hunt searches with their impressive Fishtrax 1C fish finder. This is a super handy and effective device to serve you in your crazy tours in the waters.
This device is packed with ultimate fish finding features for opening up new opportunities for you. Just click on the power button and the color monitor will open up the world under water. You will be seeing the location of the fish, the contours of the water bed, water bed compositions, water temperature and depth.
The versatile transducer that comes with this is at the same time portable, floatable and boat mountable. It is powered by four AAA batteries that have enough juice to last the device for up to 30 hours.
The main device flaunts a water-proof housing setting a standard for portability and versatility. The high definition VirtuView TFTN display that houses three operating modes. Every unit has adaptive attaching kits for convenient use in all sorts of fishing environments including rivers, lakes, frozen water bodies, and jungle canals.
Every device is covered by a 2-year warranty policy by HawkEye.
- Weight: 10.2 OZ
- Dimensions: 6” x 3”x 2”
- Display: Dot Matrix VirtuView Icon
- Display type: Color
- Sonar: 200kHz, 14 degree Beam Angle (FishTrax Intelligent)
- Alarm: Yes
- SKU: FT1P
This is the next level device for upgrading your fishing game. Packed with lots of advanced features this smart device comes at a very logical price point. The display quality is pretty decent, but most importantly we were able to locate fish as deep as 40 feet with it. That’s a great achievement for a device priced under 400 bucks. We highly recommend this one, if you have the budget, you can get it without a second thought.
This is one of the first STRIKER models from Garmin with the ClearVü technology. Owners of the Garmin Striker 4cv enjoy its sturdy material. Let's discuss the features that make Garmin Striker 4cv unique.
Garmin CHIRP ClearVu
The Garmin CHIRP ClearVu is a built-in scanning sonar technology. With the sensitive Garmin transducer CHIRP (77/200 kHz) and CHIRP ClearVü (455/800 kHz), this device allows for tracking and saving of waypoints. Also, the CHIRP ClearVu sonar shows crisper fish arches that allow users to save favorite fish spots and docks, route, and underwater structures.
This lightweight (230 g) sounder is waterproof and can be used under the rain or during winter months. It stands at the level 7 in IPX waterproof rating and can scan maximum depths of 1,750 ft and 830 ft for freshwater and saltwater respectively.
The 300-Watt Garmin Striker 4cv comes with the built-in flasher. This feature tracks your boat speed and offers on-screen data. While using the transducer's sonar for vertical jigging and ice fishing, the color screen displays data in a clear flasher format.
Optional Display Sizes
There are three (3.5, 5 and 7 inches) display screen options for buyers of Garmin Striker 4cv. It's a great product for kayakers, and anglers. The Garmin Striker 4cv's transducer transmits frequencies and power at 300 Watts.
- Product Dimension : 3.6 x 1.6 x 5.9 inches
- Frequency: 455/800 kHz and 77/200 kHz
- Display resolution: 480 x 320 pixels
- Product Weight: 8.6 ounce
- Water rating: IPX7
- Brand: Garmin
The Garmin Striker 4cv is a rugged and durable device that is up for sale under 200 dollars. It's an ideal product for freshwater and saltwater anglers because of the maximum depth scan capacity. Also, this Garmin transducer is efficient. The transducer sonar is compatible with both CHIRP and CHIRP ClearVu technology.
Other Garmin models that you might like to check out: Panoptix LiveScope, STRIKER Plus 5cv, Fishfinder 140, Echo 200, Fishfinder 90, Fishfinder 120, Striker Plus 4, Echo 551DV, Echo 101, Echomap Plus 62CV, Fishfinder 160c, Fishfinder 160 Blue, Echo 501C, 300c, Echo 301c, Echo 151, 400c and Striker 5.
If you are searching for a fish finder device that houses a big color display with built-in Dual Beam Sonar that has enough power to reveal the bottom of the lakes and water bodies where you run your fishing expedition?
Well, maybe then you should get the 5-inch LED Helix 5 by Humminbird. It's a superior model that supports side imaging, and GPS. Unlike regular models, this device has a high-resolution backlit display that helps you navigate your route back home at night. Let's share the exciting features that make this Humminbird model unique.
Wide 5-inch Screen
This 2.6 lbs product comes with a conspicuous Escreen. With a generous width of 5-inch WVGA display, every on-screen detail looks bold. While fishing, you can read from the 5-inch screen under moderate sunlight.
Dual Beam PLUS Sonar
The Helix 5 series comes with Dual Beam PLUS Sonar that provides larger format display on its screen. Underwater scanning of favorite fishing spots and topography are functions of this Dual Beam PLUS Sonar technology. While fishing, you can enjoy using the built-in Humminbird ContourXD map to plan big fish.
As you float on your boat, the Humminbird AutoChart feature will help you create a live map of the water, we found the recording time (8 hours) very handy for this purpose.
Side Imaging Tool
With 4000-watts (PTP) power output, this marine electronic device makes an excellent depth finder. This unit supports side imaging while fishing with your inflatable boat.
- Weight: 2.6 lbs
- Dimension: 1.1″ x 7.5” x 4.3”
- Model No. : 410190-1
- Display: WVGA 5 inches
- Sonar: 2D
- Power: 4000 Watts (PTP)
This is a standard fishfinder system with all the cutting edge features. We don’t think GPS exclusion is a dealbreaker, you wouldn’t need a GPS in most cases. It shines in other features that are more relevant to effective fishing. If you have the budget, get it and you will not regret it.
The Lowrance HOOK2 GPS Combo is simply an excellent choice. It's unique for anglers because of the combination of DownScan sonar, SplitShot, sensitive transducer, and fish arch views. This fish-finding device comes with dual-view and a 5-inch LCD screen that you can read quite effortlessly. Let's share other amazing features with the Lowrance HOOK2 5 Combo.
Built-In GPS Map Plotter
It has a powerful sonar that works with its built-in GPS plotter. This model has preloaded, high-detail U.S. CMAP with more than 3,000 inland lake spots.
While searching for fish, you'll notice wider sonar cones indicating fish positions. Simply save your waypoints, favorite fishing spots, and measure depths with this device.
The CHIRP sonar works with its SplitShot transducer, and allows you to see the side and multiple views of underwater (DownScan sonar) structures. The 5-inch LCD unit is readable under sunlight without wearing sunglasses. However, more advanced Lowrance models might allow for viewing the 4-way split mode.
Ease of Use
Apart from the, it's sensitive transducer, the SplitShot 2-in-1 sonar LCD helps users enjoy much ease of use. It comes with auto-tuning sonar and the on-screen menu that's user-friendly like mobile phones. Simply turn ON and find fish. It has a memory card slot to save software and maps.
- Product Dimension: 9.02 x 4.41 x 7.24 inches
- Product Weight: 3.2 pounds
- Brand: Lowrance
This Lowrance HOOK2 is for anglers that look for the 'switch and fish' feature. Lowrance HOOK2 has auto-tuning sonar and preloaded CMAP map features. Also, the SplitShot (2-in-1) allows users to watch underwater images and fish. This model is affordable as the price ranges under 300 dollars. It makes it the best cheap fish finder on our list.
Other Lowrance models you might find interesting: FishHunter 3D, Elite 7 HDI, Elite 4X, Elite 7X Chirp, Elite 3X, Hook2 4x, Elite Ti 5, Elite 7 TI2 Active Imaging, Fishhunter Pro, Elite 3, Elite 5 HDI, Elite 4 HDI, Elite 4x Chirp, and Elite 4x HDI.
The Humminbird 409640-1 comes with Side-Imaging and GPS features that help enhance your chances of having favorite hotspots and view clear images. It's 5 inch HD WVGA display shows depth, speed, and navigation data. Here are the amazing features of Humminbird 409640-1.
Portable and Durable
This lightweight and portable device makes a great boat accessory for weekend getaways and day trips. It's a handy marine device that combines fish-finding and GPS function for all water adventures. This Humminbird HELIX 5 is ergonomically designed with shock-proof housing.
Since it comes with built-in GPS software, you can find your way back home from late-night fishing with ease. This HELIX 5 SI GPS model also has depth sounders, marine radios, and other cutting-edge applications.
Side Imaging Technology
While kayaking and fishing, the Humminbird HELIX 5's Side Imaging technology helps you see underwater structures clearly, and do the research. The Side Imaging feature in Hummingbird HELIX 5 allows users to see underwater topography and fish.
Dual-Beam CHIRP PLUS Sonar
Fishfinders with Dual Beam sonar waves offer more potential to users. Avid anglers don't like vain efforts while fishing, but the dual-frequency technique can boost efficiency. This feature makes it a must-have for bass boats.
- Product Dimension: 8.5 x 6 x 4 inches
- Product Weight: 7lbs
- Brand/Model: Humminbird 409640-1 HELIX 5
Being great for anglers, the Humminbird 409640-1 is user-friendly. You can import data, and downloaded maps from computers and phones to this device. It is the best fishfinder GPS combo under 1000. It also comes with much innovation that allows users to save and share favorite hot spots for fish.
Here are other popular Humminbird models that you might like: Helix 10, Piranhamax 4di, Helix 5 DI G2, Fishfinder 565, Helix 12 Mega SI G3N, Helix 5 GPS, Fishfinder 525, Helix 7 G2, Helix 9 SI, Helix 7 All Season, Piranhamax 170, Piranhamax 150, LCR Portable, Fishin Buddy 120, Fishfinder 535, Helix 9 G2N, Helix 12 G3N, Helix 12 Mega SI G2N, Piranhamax 197c DI, Helix 7 Ice G2 and Helix 7 SI GPS G2N.
Other Notable Brands & Tested Models
Let’s take this space to mention other reputable brands and their popular fish finder models:
Raymarine (known for Dragonfly 4 Pro, Dragonfly 5 Pro, Dragonfly 7), Lucky (known for Bait Boat), Fish and Depth, Bottom Line, West Marine, Dacawin-RC Toy (known for their RC bait boats), Reelsonar (known for iBobber), Eagle (known for Cuda 168, Cuda 128, Fisheasy), Navman, Furuno (known for FCV 295), Vexilar, FISHERMAN (known for Habit).
Other good models that we also tested:
- 01Eagle Cuda 300 Fishfinder
- 02LUCKY Handheld Portable Fish Finder
- 03MarCum Showdown 5.6 Digital Sonar System
- 04Humminbird Helix 7 Chirp SI/GPS G2
- 05Garmin Striker 7SV with transducer
- 06Humminbird 410150-1 PiranhaMAX 4
- 07Lowrance 000-11146-001 Elite-5 HDI Combo
- 08iBobber Smart Fish Finder for iOS & Android
- 09Lowrance 000-11448-001 Elite-3X
- 10HawkEye Fishtrax 1C: HD Color Virtuview Display
- 11Raymarine Dragonfly Pro
- 12Humminbird 409920-1 Helix 9
How Does a Fish Finder Help You Find Fish?
The fish finder is a digital tracker and transducer that sends sonar signals just like a fathometer. Like a fishing drone or an underwater camera, its job is to assist you in finding fish. It gives information on the fish location and underwater structures. This works equally well for kayak, canoe, regular boat, Jon boat, and pontoon boat. Many models can read your boat's traveling speed, and give details on your navigation. Generally, humans and animals generate electronic impulses that can be tracked by a sonar device.
As digital gadgets with sonar systems, fish finders work by using waves to detect those sound waves and impulses that have been reflected by a group of fish. Wave and sound are forms of energy that can be converted by the device. This data is displayed as digital and graphic images on the screen.
So, when in search of fish; you’ll see underwater organisms, obstacles, and bottom structures with a high degree of accuracy. Usually, these devices use different types of imaging and sonar technology. They all have their pros and cons; let’s see what’s unique to each imaging technique.
1. Side Imaging
Fishfinders that offer side-imaging displays emit beams to track your surrounding environment. Instead of seeing what's beneath your boat, this type of sonar gives wide views of water structures around you. However, your area of view is the radius that a side-imaging sonar can sense.
Most fish finders don't have side-imaging sonar technology but can work with side-imaging software. The need to position their sensors well might make it harder and more expensive to install the software on fish-finding devices.
2. Down Imaging
Fishfinders with down-imaging software are better than regular models of devices with sonar technology. However, sophisticated models come with down-imaging features.
Also, you view clear images of underwater fields of weed and fish with the zoom-in function. It's the down-imaging sonar technology that helps spot where the fish are swimming around. You can toggle between the regular and down-imaging systems with your device.
3. Standard Sonar
This is a simple gadget that comes with standard sonar technology. When sonar beams are transmitted to the sea's bottom, the reflective sound is received by the device. It's the standard sonar model that displays cones and arcs to indicate the location of fish.
However, the standard sonar is inexpensive but not very accurate. Most times, they give rough and inaccurate data of the sea's depth but work very well when finding fish.
Fishfinders - A Comprehensive Buying Guide
Now that we’ve gone through all the fantastic options in our elaborate fish finder reviews, let’s talk focus on the decisive factors behind making a buying choice. This is because so many different types of fish finders exist that your indecision might complicate this process. So, we can help you understand the basics of a finder so you can independently choose the best fish finder of your own.
- Stand Alone: Usually, the standalone type is not ergonomically enhanced. It has basic features of identifying the fish location and viable underwater spots around your boat. These types of fish locators don't come with preloaded maps or expensive features. They are designed for low-budget buyers, inshore fishing, and conservative fishermen.
- Combo: You can get accurate details of underwater fish by combining many features. With the combo type, you understand the speed, depth, temperature and suppressor settings. Also, a combo model allows users to view maps, and understand the interpretation of data.
- Network: Technology makes handheld fish-locating devices unique. So, fish finders with active network systems are more improved than standalone options. Usually, network-enabled models use GPS to display route, track and share waypoints. It's the GPS software that gives the exact direction to safety when you're lost at sea. Also, users can enjoy Wi-Fi, and the Bluetooth connectivity that enables downloading of maps, and synchronization with mobile phones.
- Frequencies: The frequency of your find locator determines what is seen underwater. Different frequencies for handheld models might vary between 50, to 200 kHz. However, those that come with modern transducers can send higher frequencies suitable for offshore fishing. Depending on the depth of water and frequency strength, you can view different sizes of fish and shapes of underwater structures. Also, the transducer with dual, single or multiple frequencies should display on-screen images and locations of fish around your boat.
2. Power & Wattage
Electrical power is the source that keeps such devices active. However, the wattage rating indicates how fast and far the transducer unit emits its frequencies. When processing data, the response time increases if it has more wattage.
Also, the screen of your fish locator will refresh faster if the device has a higher watt rating. Usually, a 100-W rated fish finder with a frequency of 50 kHz will scan 400 feet of depth. You'll need less wattage for shallow waters. So, your fishing style and purpose must align with the desired type of fish locator.
3. Design & Durability
It's unlikely that buyers will not check for fish finders with ergonomic features before payment. Generally, the aesthetic design of fishing accessories indicates the quality of the brand. Buyers also consider the functionality of fishing gadgets, and their ease of use before making informed decisions.
We always recommend considering durability as a vital factor. When looking for this instrument, check whether the keypad buttons, housing, and other units are sturdily designed. The thought of early replacement with a new gadget shows a lack of durability.
So, consider high-quality devices that can withstand the effects of saltwater or weather. Durability is a factor that can give more value for money.
There are more cons with traditional fish finders that come as a fixed unit. Usually, older versions of fish finders require a hardwire connection with your unit before using it in your motorized watercraft. This manual connection makes the ease of portability quite difficult.
Watercraft owners that operate in exact locations can mount the transducer either on the hull or stern. Portable fish finders use either a rechargeable battery unit or disposable AAA batteries. These types are either installed with transom mounts on a kayak or used as handheld devices.
Also, 'fly-in' and ice fishermen can cast the transducers of portable models into the water when ice-fishing. The transducer is always attached to the transom mount with its suction cup.
- Size: Generally, buyers have more challenges finding fish-finding devices with smaller screens. So, models with bigger sized screens give better and clearer picture quality. Numbers and tiny details like fish icons, echoes, sonar arches, and other data on the display screen are easier to notice with large screens.
- Screen resolution: With adequate color pixels, they can show greater details and sharper images. Ideally, buyers need fish-finding devices with screen resolutions of at least 240(v) x 160(h) pixels. Usually, fish finders with better resolutions are more expensive and attractive.
- Screen color: Their screens are clear when they display colored images, but you'll find brighter images with advanced models. Cheap models with glowing screens are better than old black and white versions if they allow you to see colored images under intense sunlight.
This type has a technical unit that transmits and receives sonar waves. Your fish radar is just an inactive tool without a transducer. As a sensitive, a range-finding unit, transducers also operate on frequencies and receive data.
Usually, transducers with wide, signal cone angles are suitable for small lakes, and the types with narrow, signal cone angles will fit the purpose of ocean fishermen. There are multi-purpose transducers that emit multiple beams. These types of transducers are designed to scan larger underwater areas and 3D display images.
Additionally, the side beam transducer includes areas around the sides of boats while searching for fish. When the transducer makes contact with water, it will either display data on the fishfinder or Smartphone's screen.
The Global Positioning System (GPS) uses satellites and navigation technology to pinpoint locations, and give coordinates of positions. This software can also help fishermen mark hot fishing spots (waypoints), track and share them with friends.
Usually, fish finders with GPS units have memory space that allows for large storage of data location. So, the GPS can help you trace your direction back home when you're lost at sea. However, you might not find many models with GPS capabilities.
Your data will be accurate while using highly sensitive devices. However, the accuracy of data increases when their cone angles are transmitted in shallow waters. Different cones can be displayed, and you’ll experience wider cone angles while fishing in deep water bodies.
Perhaps the price is the most important factor that determines your buying choice, aside from other accessories that might need to be in your boat's toolbox. Typically, the price tag for high-quality products ranges between $100 to over $1000. You can get the most premium model under 2000 bucks. If you don’t want to break the bank, there are decent models that are affordable for you. You can also buy a refurbished or discount fish finder if you are on a shoestring.
Tips on Using Your Fish Finder
Follow these tips to improve the chances of landing a bigger catch and impress all.
1. Read the Operational Manual
Carefully go through the operational manual before operating the device.
2. Set Up the Device
Mounting the fish finder is part of the setup process. Make sure you place it in the right spot of your boat. Most products come with suction/swivel transom mounts; trolling, or hull, mounts for your boat. Some fish finders have auto-sonar mode while others have manual modes. For the modern fish finder, switch 'ON' the device, make basic connections, and use the pre-program settings to scan water bodies. You can use a float tube mount if needed.
3. Sensitive Settings
The power output rating of a fish finder can affect sensitive functions. However, anglers can adjust the settings and watch values displayed on the screen. It's important for fishermen to get the right setting because unlike manual configurations, this will help locate fish automatically. While the auto-sonar is active, it's easy for you to see the depth measurement of underwater bodies. The depth cursor also indicates the distance from the boat to the fish.
4. Suppressor Setting
Switch 'OFF' the transducer's suppressor button to prevent interference with its sonar waves. It's the suppressor setting that helps your device reduce background noise while scanning your waypoints for fish activities.
Anglers need to know who makes the best fish finder and other fishing gear, what's happening underwater, and how they can get the big catch. So, the application of technology in fish finders helps to make fishing delightful, and adventurous. After considering the great features in our top 10 picks, I'll recommend the Humminbird 410210-1 Helix 5 model as the best fish finder for beginners. It offers clear images in 2D on its 5-inch HD WVGA color screen and comes with built-in GPS. The 5-inch LCD allows hobbyist fishermen, and beginners to understand how modern models work.
The Lowrance HOOK2 5 Combo is a higher-end model that supports SplitShot 2- or 3-view screen display options. Expert anglers will enjoy over 3,000 US inland lakes and preloaded maps. Regardless of preference, our experts advise buyers to consider their budget, fishing style, and type of water body before they pay for any fish finder.
We couldn't allot a spot for many famous manufacturers on our list. Our picks have superior features than most other brands like Furuno, Simrad, Outlife, and many more. So, it's quite obvious that we brought the best products for you to choose from.