Last Updated on October 15, 2020

Best Fish Finder 2020 – Unbiased Reviews & Buyers Guide

Hottest Picks

How We Found the Best Fish Finders
Experts Interviewed
Fish Finders Tested
HOW WE DECIDED

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

97

Models Considered

80

Hours Researched

4

Experts Interviewed

274

Consumers Consulted

Are you in the market for new fish finders?

After extensive testing we have decided that the Deeper Smart Sonar CHIRP has out performed the Deeper Smart Sonar Pro+ to be the best castable fish finder so this list has been updated.

Want to increase your fishing haul? Here we have reviewed various products to give you the best fish finders available on the market

The invention of the fish finder is certainly a technological blessing for all anglers, giving us the ability to quickly and accurately locate the target fish, catch more fish, and turns the overall fishing experience into an enjoyable one.

To help you in researching for the best fish locator options, here we have reviewed the best models available and make our top fish finder choices.

BEST OF THE BEST

Raymarine Axiom 7
BEST FOR THE PRICE

Humminbird HELIX 7 CHIRP

Garmin Striker Plus 4 with Dual Beam Transducer

Garmin echoMAP CHIRP 94sv

Humminbird HELIX 5 G2 Fish Finder
BOTTOM LINE

The main highlight of the Raymarine Axiom 7 is the inclusion of Raymarine’s RealVision 3D sonar feature, giving you a very accurate, 3D presentation of what’s below your vessel.

The transducer also offers traditional CHIRP, down imaging, and side imaging besides the RealVision 3D sonar, giving you utmost versatility and accuracy.

This is the newest model from Humminbird (3rd generation), while the Helix 5 we’ve discussed above is from the 2nd generation. As a result, this is significantly more expensive, but also offers some new technologies and features.

This is probably the best fish finder you can find for the price. It offers dual beam technology and military-grade construction and it is manufactured by one of the leading names in marine electronics. It may not be the best looking, but it certainly worth it! 

Another one from Garmin, but from the echoMAP product line, which is Garmin’s brand for chartplotter-fish finder combo, so we can expect more GPS and charting features compared to the Garmin Striker series.

The EchoMax 94sv offers a 9” WVGA screen with 800×480 resolution, ensuring a sharp, crisp display with a large screen.

Humminbird is certainly one of the biggest names in fishing industry, and the Helix 5 is it’s more affordable entry, with the high-end Humminbird Solix starts from $2,000.

PROS
  • 4-in-1 transducer with RealVision 3D, traditional CHIRP, CHIRP sidevision and CHIRP downvision
  • Quad-core processor, fast and smooth real-time performance
  • Multi-touch, 7” high resolution screen
  • Lighthouse 3 OS
  • Connectivity with your smartphone (iOS and Android)
  • Very versatile with down imaging, side imaging, and two modes of CHIRP
  • Impressive 7” wide screen with high resolution display
  • MicroSD slot for extra memory
  • Integrated GPS, compatibility with Navionics and LakeMaster
  • Mounting hardware included
  • Can reach up to 1,500 feet in depth
  • Ethernet networking available to access various technologies from Humminbird
  • Portable and easy to use
  • Sunlight-readable display
  • Large Memory storage
  • Maps out paths very precisely
  • Quickdraw Contours
  • GPS speed- IPX7 waterproof
  • High resolution (800×480) 9” WVGA screen
  • Advanced charting features
  • Internal 5Hz GPS
  • Easy mounting, the cable ports are included on the mount
  • Impressive 3-in-1 sonar functionalities
  • Integrated GPS
  • 500W power
  • Optimal for as deep as 2500 feet
  • Supports 50/83/200/455/800 kHz, very versatile
  • High quality 5” screen
  • Mount included, very easy to install
  • NMEA support
CONS
  • Expensive 
  • Screen can glare during direct sunlight
  • Expensive
  • No Wi-Fi connectivity
  • Doesn’t come with a cover
  • No NEMA port
  • Relatively expensive
  • LakeVu lake mapping sold separately
  • Not battery operated
  • Relatively expensive compared to Garmin Striker 4 CV

2020's Best Fish Finders

  • Garmin Striker Plus 4 with Dual-Beam transducer – Best Budget Fish Finder
  • Garmin echoMAP CHIRP 94sv Fish Finder
  • Humminbird HELIX 5 G2 Fish Finder
  • Humminbird HELIX 7 CHIRP Mega DI GPS G3 – Best Fish Finder Runner Up
  • Lowrance Hook2 5 TripleShot Fish Finder
  • Humminbird PiranhaMAX 4
  • Deep Smart Sonar CHIRP – Best Castable Fish Finder
  • Humminbird Solix 10 Mega SI+ G2
  • Raymarine Axiom 7 – Best Fish Finder Overall
  • Joylog Smart Fish Finder
  • Garmin STRIKER Plus 7sv
  • Raymarine Dragonfly 7 Pro
  • DEEPER Smart PRO Sonar Fish Finder

BEST OF THE BEST

Garmin Striker Plus 4 with Dual Beam Transducer

BOTTOM LINE

This is probably the best fish finder you can find for the price. It offers dual beam technology and military-grade construction and it is manufactured by one of the leading names in marine electronics. It may not be the best looking, but it certainly worth it! Whether it is detecting target species or mapping the path to your best fishing spot, the images are in high resolution, clear and easy to read.

SUMMARY

With Quickdraw Contour Mapping software and integrated GPS,this is one of the best portable fish finders available. All of these features can be seen from the 4.3-inch color display that has excellent visibility even in direct sunlight.

Key Highlights

  • Screen: 4.3″ diagonal display
  • Marks Waypoints- Built in GPS
  • Ultrascroll®
  • Splitscreen mode


Conclusion

This is a portable, high-quality image and easy to use fish finder. It’s built in GPS is highly accurate and can also be used offshore. A very easy to use and money worth device.

PROS
  • Portable and easy to use
  • Sunlight-readable display
  • Large Memory storage
  • Maps out paths very precisely
  • Quickdraw Contours
CONS
  • Doesn’t come with a cover
  • No NEMA port

BEST FOR THE PRICE

Garmin echoMAP CHIRP 94sv Fish Finder

BOTTOM LINE

The more experienced anglers may prefer this product due to the demand for high definition picture for a better fishing experience as the Fishtrax 1C incorporates full color.

This is performed by the use of VirtuView TFTN Display which has the following three modes: Fish finder, Data and Ice-Mode digital flasher which you won’t find on many low cost devices.

SUMMARY

Being a chartplotter, the EchoMAP 94sv is preloaded with Bluechart G2 mapping chart, covering the coastal US with 5,000 waypoints, and you can add your own maps via microSD.

For the finder functionality, the EchoMAP 94sv offers a transducer capable of CHIRP, ClearVü, SideVü—Garmin’s advanced side imaging feature—. So, you get very clear imaging of what’s below and to the sides of your vessel.


Key Highlights


Big 9” High Resolution Screen
If you want bigger screen that can display advanced charting and fish finding information, this is for you.

3-In-1 Transducer: Dual-Beam CHIRP, ClearVü,SideVü

Very versatile with 3 different scanning methods, high-quality down imaging and side imaging 

Advanced Chartplotter features

Supports AIS, DSC, and ActiveCaptain-compatible. Preloaded Bluechart G2 charting.


Conclusion

Great if you want a big screen and want the advanced chartplotting GPS features.

PROS
  • High resolution (800×480) 9” WVGA screen
  • Advanced charting features
  • Internal 5Hz GPS
  • Easy mounting, the cable ports are included on the mount
  • Impressive 3-in-1 sonar functionalities
CONS
  • Relatively expensive
  • LakeVu lake mapping sold separately

Humminbird HELIX 5 G2 Fish Finder

BOTTOM LINE

Humminbird is certainly one of the biggest names in fishing industry, and the Helix 5 is it’s more affordable entry, with the high-end Humminbird Solix starts from $2,000.

However, even the Helix 5, that costs just a tenth of that, offers a really nice set of features from the CHIRP digital sonar, 5” high-resolution (800×400 pixels) display, SwitchFire sonar for more versatility, and more.

SUMMARY

The Humminbird HELIX 5 G2 Fish Finder comes with a built-in GPS, allowing features like AutoChard Live—creating real-time maps of your prime fishing spots— access to Humminbird LakeMaster maps database, and integration with Navionics (more maps!).

 

Key Highlights


500 Watt Power

Very powerful for its size and price, ensuring optimal sensitivity and clarity at all times.

5-Inch Color WVGA Display

Very beautiful display that is optimal even on bright sun conditions, and still offers a portable size.

CHIRP DualBeam Plus

Latest, most sophisticated sonar technology. Ensuring very sharp and clear images from the bottom of your vessel. 

Conclusion
Affordable option from Humminbird, ensuring reliability and quality. Very beautiful wide-screen 5” screen with great set of features.

PROS
  • Integrated GPS
  • 500W power
  • Optimal for as deep as 2500 feet
  • Supports 50/83/200/455/800 kHz, very versatile
  • High quality 5” screen
  • Mount included, very easy to install
  • NMEA support
CONS
  • Not battery operated
  • Relatively expensive compared to Garmin Striker 4 CV

Humminbird HELIX 7 CHIRP Mega DI GPS G3

BOTTOM LINE

Bigger and better. Another one from Humminbird, and as the name suggests, Helix 7 features a 7” widescreen TFT display with 800×480 resolution.

This is also the newest model from Humminbird (3rd generation), while the Helix 5 we’ve discussed above is from the 2nd generation. As a result, this is significantly more expensive, but also offers some new technologies and features.

SUMMARY

The Helix 7 Gen 3 features both side imaging and down imaging with CHIRP sonar. Also, there are two modes of CHIRP: wide mode for maximum coverage on shallow waters, and narrow mode for more clarity and depth. In short, a very versatile unit.

 

Key Highlights

Mega Side Imaging

Crystal-clear viewing of up to 125 feet from either side of your vessel.

Mega Down Imaging

Extreme clarity of up to 125 feet below your boat.

Dual Spectrum CHIRP

Can utilize CHIRP both in narrow cone and wide cone for maximum versatility.

Conclusion
Great option if you are willing to spend more for quality, definitely worth the money.

PROS
  • Very versatile with down imaging, side imaging, and two modes of CHIRP
  • Impressive 7” wide screen with high resolution display
  • MicroSD slot for extra memory
  • Integrated GPS, compatibility with Navionics and LakeMaster
  • Mounting hardware included
  • Can reach up to 1,500 feet in depth
  • Ethernet networking available to access various technologies from Humminbird
CONS
  • Expensive
  • No Wi-Fi connectivity

Lowrance Hook2 5 TripleShot Fish Finder

BOTTOM LINE

Lowrance is also a very big name in the world of marine fishing and especially fish finders, and the Hook2 5 offers several unique features compared to its competitors.

One of the biggest highlights of Lowrence products is its ease of use, the transducer can be mounted in a variety of different ways, and Hook2 display’s user interface is very intuitive.

SUMMARY

The transducer included is named TripleShot for its 3-in-1 sonar capabilities: downscan, sidescan, and CHIRP. The Hook2 CHIRP is also special, offering a very wide sonar angle, doubling the cone angle of its competitors.

 

Key Highlights


TripleShot Transducer

Capable of DownScan (down imaging), SideScan (side imaging) and very wide CHIRP.

Preloaded High-Detail US Inland Maps

Including 4,000 lakes with 1-foot contour. 

Easy Setup and Intuitive

Very intuitive user interface for easy setup, versatile transducer that can be transom or through-hull mounted.

Conclusion
This option offers ease of use over all the rest as it has many functions that are easy to use and a great buy for intuitive anglers.

PROS
  • Relatively affordable for its features
  • High resolution SolarMax 5” display
  • Autotuning sonar, with wide cone CHIRP
  • Down imaging and side imaging capabilities
  • Great GPS integration with built-in mapping
CONS
  • Cover sold separately
  • Can’t view down imaging in split-screen

Humminbird PiranhaMAX 4​

BOTTOM LINE

PiranhaMAX is the entry-level line from Humminbird, featuring a smaller 4.3” screen. As an affordable option, comparison to Garmin Striker 4 is unavoidable, and there are several key differences between the two.

The PiranhaMax4 display is slightly bigger at 4.3” opposed to Striker 4’s 3.5”, but the screen resolution is slightly lower at only’ 272×480 pixels.

SUMMARY

Key Highlights

 

Affordability

Slightly more affordable than Garmin Striker 4 with a bigger screen.

Reliability

Doesn’t offer advanced technologies and features, but very reliable with at traditional dual-band sonar.

Conclusion
The most affordable on this list, but in most cases, Garmin Striker 4 is better.

PROS
  • Very affordable, the cheapest on this list
  • Decent dual-band transducer than can cover up to 60 feet in depth
  • Easy to use keypad interface
CONS
  • No CHIRP technology
  • Down imaging transducer sold separately
  • No GPS

Deep Smart Sonar CHIRP - Best Castable Fish Finder

BOTTOM LINE

Deeper is a relatively smaller name compared to Garmin, Lowrence and Humminbird, but the Smart Sonar CHIRP is an updated product offering several features.

The Smart Sonar Chirp, for instance, is a wireless fish finder. So, you don’t get a display unit here, but the floating transducer can connect with your smartphone over a wireless connection.

SUMMARY

For a castable fish finder, the transducer is great with 3 Frequency CHIRP –     Narrow CHIRP 675 kHz (cone angle 7°), 
Medium CHIRP 290 kHz (cone angle 16°), 
Wide CHIRP 100 kHz (cone angle 47°). 
This will allow accurate scanning for up to 330 feet in depth.

 

Key Highlights

 

Castable Wireless

Connect to your smartphone via Wi-Fi connection for up to 330 feet (100 meters)

3 Operating Modes

Standard, Ice fishing, Boat

15 Scans Per Second

Accurate reading with 15 scans per second and variable target separation

Conclusion
Excellent option if you are looking for a wireless castaway fish finder.

PROS
  • Relatively affordable
  • Wireless castaway design, perfect for land-based fishing, kayak, and ice fishing
  • Compatible with iOS and Android devices
  • Long battery life, can last 6 hours of continuous usage
  • 3 Frequency CHIRP
  • Quick charging time (75 minutes)
CONS
  • No Built-in GPS
  • No dedicated display unit

Humminbird Solix 10 Mega SI+ G2

BOTTOM LINE

Solix is Humminbird’s line of premium fish finders, andthe Solix 10 features a 10.1” 1280×800 HD multitouch screen, giving you a premium, very high-quality display.

Solis 10 also offers MEGA down imaging+ and MEGA side imaging +, 20 % improvements over already excellent imaging from the Helix series, and that’s saying a lot.

SUMMARY

The transducer of this durable and compact fish finder can cover a wide range of frequencies from 28kHz up to 800kHz. A premium product with state-of-the-art features.


Key Highlights


MEGA Down Imaging+ and MEGA Side Imaging+

Clear, lifelike images from up to 200 feet below your vessel and 200 ft from either side of your vessel

High-Quality 10.1” Display

Very high resolution 1280×800 pixels 10.1” display with cross-touch and multi-touch functionalities.

Wide Frequency Range

Full Mode (28-75 kHz), Narrow Mode (75-155 kHz), Optional Deepwater (28-250 kHz), Wide Mode (130-250 kHz).

Conclusion
Excellent premium option if you want more clarity in downscan and sidescan functions.

PROS
  • Very high-quality 10.1” display with 1280×800 pixels resolution
  • MEGA Down imaging+ and Side Imaging+, 20% improvements over standard Humminbird imaging
  • Excellent transducer with dual-spectrum chirp
  • Can reach 1200 feet in depth
CONS
  • Expensive premium product

Raymarine Axiom 7

BOTTOM LINE

The main highlight of the Raymarine Axiom 7 is the inclusion of Raymarine’s RealVision 3D sonar feature, giving you a very accurate, 3D presentation of what’s below your vessel.

The transducer also offers traditional CHIRP, down imaging, and side imaging besides the RealVision 3D sonar, giving you utmost versatility and accuracy.

Very powerful 7” display unit with quad-core processor and Raymarine’s very intuitive Lighthouse 3 OS.

SUMMARY

The Raymarine Axiom 7 is one of the most exciting products on this list. It is sure to please even those with knack for ultimate sophistication when it comes to fish finders. With a solid design and materials, this product is sure to last long and help you find those fish swimming underneath.

 

Key Highlights

Realvision 3D

See what’s below your boat in lifelike 3D presentation.

Powerful Display Unit

High-resolution display with quad core processor and Lighthouse 3 user-friendly OS.

CHIRP, DownVision, SideVision, RealVision 3D

4-in-1, versatile and powerful transducer for just about any applications.

Conclusion
Great high-end option, the RealVision 3D sonar is a major treat.

PROS
  • 4-in-1 transducer with RealVision 3D, traditional CHIRP, CHIRP sidevision and CHIRP downvision
  • Quad-core processor, fast and smooth real-time performance
  • Multi-touch, 7” high resolution screen
  • Lighthouse 3 OS
  • Connectivity with your smartphone (iOS and Android)
CONS
  • Expensive 
  • Screen can glare during direct sunlight

Joylog Smart Fish Finder

BOTTOM LINE

Another wireless, castable fish finder to directly compete with Deeper Smart Sonar PRO+.

For starters, it is more affordable than Smart Sonar PRO+, so it can be a major consideration if you are looking for a castaway finder on a budget.

SUMMARY

Very light at just 0.51 lbs, and can detect as deep as 131 feet. 

Comes with an easy to use, iOS and Android app, but the overall features are pretty basic with just a single beam transducer.

 

Key Highlights

 

Affordable Castaway Option

Very affordable, with very decent features.

Lightweight and Portable

Very lightweight at just 0.51 lbs and only 2.6 inch in diameter, a great portable option and a reliable back-up if you have an existing fish finder.

Conclusion
The greatest aspects of the Joylog are its affordability and portability. A great option for beginners or as a back-up.

PROS
  • Affordable
  • Lightweight and small diameter, very portable
  • Can communicate with your smartphone for up to 164 feet in range
  • 131 feet maximum detection
CONS
  • Limited battery power 
  • Single cone, with only 30 degree detection angle

Garmin STRIKER Plus 7sv

BOTTOM LINE

This fishfinder has a bright 7” display and built-in GPS features Garmin Quickdraw™ Contours map drawing software, which can store up to 2 million acres of content with 1’ contours. The Quickdraw Contours mapping software will create HD fishing maps of the places you’ve been. Garmin CHIRP traditional sonar provides crystal-clear images with remarkable target separation.

SUMMARY

With this sublime device you can get photographic images of what is passing below and beside your boat with CHIRP ClearVü and CHIRP SideVü scanning sonars. The built-in Wi-Fi can be used to pair with the ActiveCaptain app for smart notifications, access to Quickdraw Contours Community data and many more.

 

Key Highlights

  • Garmin Quickdraw Contours
  • ActiveCaptain App
  • Clear Scanning Sonar Images

 

Conclusion
The STRIKER Plus 7sv fishfinder gives a clear image of what is below even on the brightest days and the large screen gives you a better view of what’s below. It is simple to navigate to whatever feature you need, and it makes you ready for anything on the water.

PROS
  • Can store memory on SD cards
  • Easy to transfer waypoints and tracks
  • Very accurate 
  • Simple to set up- Excellent system- Unit is responsive and easy to use
CONS
  • Doesn’t come with GPS maps
  • Can’t add GPS maps via a SDcard
  • No manual

RayMarine Dragonfly Pro

BOTTOM LINE

The Dragonfly Pro employs true wide Spectrum CHIRP Technology where the sonar signals transmitted into the water will allow Dragonfly to interpret more detail, target more fish and image structure with exceptional clarity. CHIRP DownVision has underwater view with incredibly clear sonar images that surpass ordinary imaging sonars with superior deep water performance to 600ft (180M) and reliable high speed bottom tracking.

SUMMARY

This fish finder has a built in GPS and comes with c-map essentials by jeppesen for charts. It also features built in Wi-Fi that allows anglers to stream Dragonfly sonar data right to their smartphone or tablet with Raymarine Wi-Fish mobile app. Dragonfly is engineered with optical bonding LCD display technology that delivers brighter colors and has sharper contrast. The display is also guaranteed to never fog up.

 

Key Highlights

 

  • High-definition, LCD color
  • 600 ft DownVision; 900 ft CHIRP Sonar
  • 800 x 480 WVGA

 

Conclusion

This fish finder will change your underwater view and help you catch more fish with the wide-spectrum CHIRP DownVision technology. You will easily identify fish and underwater objects with very clear photo-like sonar images. The Dragonfly all-weather, high-definition color LCD display will look sharp from every angle.

PROS
  • Easy to use
  • Excellent screen brightness, clear display
  • Chirp transducer included
  •  Reliable high speed bottom tracking
  • Optical bonding LCD display technology- Clear photo like sonar images
  •  
CONS
  • Short cable, not the best for big boats
  • No instruction manual
  • Product Requires the micro SD card

DEEPER Smart PRO Sonar Fish Finder

BOTTOM LINE

The Deeper Pro+ Smart sonar is a wireless, versatile and castable fish finder with built-in GPS. Its unique versatility makes it suitable for trolling from a kayak or boat, casting from the shore or using as an ice flasher for winter fishing. Displayed on your smartphone, you will be able to see the locations of the fish, their size and the depth of the spot. It will also show you the temperature of the water and depth, but as well show you the underwater structure, bottom contour and vegetation. This will level up the game and will allow you to fish more strategically.

SUMMARY

The Deeper Pro+ Smart sonar is a wireless, versatile and cartable fish finder with built-in GPS. Its unique versatility makes it suitable for trolling from a kayak or boat, casting from the shore or using as an ice flasher for winter fishing. Displayed on your smartphone, you will be able to see the locations of the fish, their size and the depth of the spot. It will also show you the temperature of the water and depth, but as well show you the underwater structure, bottom contour and vegetation. This will level up the game and will allow you to fish more strategically. This sonar is so compact that it will fit in the palm of your hand. It is the best fish finder under $200 that casts further and scans deeper. It’s dual beam scanning is suitable both for shallow and deep waters. It is able to generate its own Wi-Fi signal so you can connect it to your smartphone. The built in GPS allows you to create bathymetric maps form the shore and enjoy your free access to Lake Book, Deeper’s bathymetric management platform where you can analyze, retrieve, save and share all your scans and maps. Knowing all the waters, you will spend more time catching and less time searching. 

Key Highlights

  • 1 Lithium Metal batteries required (included) 
  • GPS onshore mapping
  • Casting range of 330ft and scans as down as 260ft
  • Uses Wi-Fi, not Bluetooth, to connect to your smartphone
  • Sends 15 scans per second and has target separation of just 1“

Conclusion
This is an exceptional fish finder that will give you instant depth and water temperature readings. It helps you discover if the bottom is hard or soft, with gravel or silt. Also, if you’ve baited an area, you can monitor if the fish are staying there or moving elsewhere.

PROS
  • Highest SPEC castable sonar
  • ​Inbuilt GPS
  • Rock solid connectivity
  • Incredible data
  • Good at mapping the lake bed
CONS
  • Battery doesn’t last very long
  • Connection problems at times

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Fish Finder Reviews

Garmin Striker Plus 4 with Dual Beam Transducer

Bottom Line

This is probably the best fish finder you can find for the price. It offers dual beam technology and military-grade construction and it is manufactured by one of the leading names in marine electronics. It may not be the best looking, but it certainly worth it! Whether it is detecting target species or mapping the path to your best fishing spot, the images are in high resolution, clear and easy to read.

  • Portable and easy to use
  • Sunlight-readable display
  • Large Memory storage
  • Maps out paths very precisely
  • Quickdraw Contours
  • Doesn’t come with a cover
  • No NEMA port
Summary

With Quickdraw Contour Mapping software and integrated GPS,this is one of the best portable fish finders available. All of these features can be seen from the 4.3-inch color display that has excellent visibility even in direct sunlight.

Key Highlights

  • Screen: 4.3″ diagonal display
  • Marks Waypoints- Built in GPS
  • Ultrascroll®
  • Splitscreen mode


Conclusion

This is a portable, high-quality image and easy to use fish finder. It’s built in GPS is highly accurate and can also be used offshore. A very easy to use and money worth device.

Garmin echoMAP CHIRP 94sv Fish Finder

Best for the Price

Bottom Line

Another one from Garmin, but from the echoMAP product line, which is Garmin’s brand for chartplotter-fish finder combo, so we can expect more GPS and charting features compared to the Garmin Striker series. The EchoMax 94sv offers a 9” WVGA screen with 800x480 resolution, ensuring a sharp, crisp display with a large screen.

  • High resolution (800×480) 9” WVGA screen
  • Advanced charting features
  • Internal 5Hz GPS
  • Easy mounting, the cable ports are included on the mount
  • Impressive 3-in-1 sonar functionalities
  • Relatively expensive
  • LakeVu lake mapping sold separately
Summary

Being a chartplotter, the EchoMAP 94sv is preloaded with Bluechart G2 mapping chart, covering the coastal US with 5,000 waypoints, and you can add your own maps via microSD.

For the finder functionality, the EchoMAP 94sv offers a transducer capable of CHIRP, ClearVü, SideVü—Garmin’s advanced side imaging feature—. So, you get very clear imaging of what’s below and to the sides of your vessel.

Key Highlights


Big 9” High Resolution Screen
If you want bigger screen that can display advanced charting and fish finding information, this is for you.

3-In-1 Transducer: Dual-Beam CHIRP, ClearVü,SideVü

Very versatile with 3 different scanning methods, high-quality down imaging and side imaging 

Advanced Chartplotter features

Supports AIS, DSC, and ActiveCaptain-compatible. Preloaded Bluechart G2 charting.


Conclusion

Great if you want a big screen and want the advanced chartplotting GPS features. To be consider one of the best fish finder GPS combo

Humminbird HELIX 5 G2 Fish Finder

Bottom Line

Humminbird is certainly one of the biggest names in fishing industry, and the Helix 5 is it’s more affordable entry, with the high-end Humminbird Solix starts from $2,000. However, even the Helix 5, that costs just a tenth of that, offers a really nice set of features from the CHIRP digital sonar, 5” high-resolution (800x400 pixels) display, SwitchFire sonar for more versatility, and more.

  •  Integrated GPS
  • 500W power
  • Optimal for as deep as 2500 feet
  • Supports 50/83/200/455/800 kHz, very versatile
  • High quality 5” screen
  • Mount included, very easy to install
  • NMEA support
  • Not battery operated
  • Relatively expensive compared to Garmin Striker 4 CV
Summary

The Humminbird HELIX 5 G2 Fish Finder comes with a built-in GPS, allowing features like AutoChard Live—creating real-time maps of your prime fishing spots— access to Humminbird LakeMaster maps database, and integration with Navionics (more maps!).

Key Highlights


500 Watt Power

Very powerful for its size and price, ensuring optimal sensitivity and clarity at all times.

5-Inch Color WVGA Display

Very beautiful display that is optimal even on bright sun conditions, and still offers a portable size.

CHIRP DualBeam Plus

Latest, most sophisticated sonar technology. Ensuring very sharp and clear images from the bottom of your vessel. 

 

Conclusion
Affordable option from Humminbird, ensuring reliability and quality. Very beautiful wide-screen 5” screen with great set of features.

Humminbird HELIX 7 CHIRP Mega DI GPS G3 - Best Fish Finder Runner Up

Bottom Line

Bigger and better. Another one from Humminbird, and as the name suggests, Helix 7 features a 7” widescreen TFT display with 800x480 resolution. This is also the newest model from Humminbird (3rd generation), while the Helix 5 we’ve discussed above is from the 2nd generation. As a result, this is significantly more expensive, but also offers some new technologies and features.

  • Very versatile with down imaging, side imaging, and two modes of CHIRP
  • Impressive 7” wide screen with high resolution display
  • MicroSD slot for extra memory
  • Integrated GPS, compatibility with Navionics and LakeMaster
  • Mounting hardware included
  • Can reach up to 1,500 feet in depth
  • Ethernet networking available to access various technologies from Humminbird
  • Expensive
  • No Wi-Fi connectivity
Summary

The Helix 7 Gen 3 features both side imaging and down imaging with CHIRP sonar. Also, there are two modes of CHIRP: wide mode for maximum coverage on shallow waters, and narrow mode for more clarity and depth. In short, a very versatile unit.

Key Highlights

Mega Side Imaging

Crystal-clear viewing of up to 125 feet from either side of your vessel.

Mega Down Imaging

Extreme clarity of up to 125 feet below your boat.

Dual Spectrum CHIRP

Can utilize CHIRP both in narrow cone and wide cone for maximum versatility.

 

Conclusion
Great option if you are willing to spend more for quality, definitely worth the money. Other Humminbird Fish Finder Reviews can be found here.

Lowrance Hook2 5 TripleShot Fish Finder

Bottom Line

Lowrance is also a very big name in the world of marine fishing and especially fish finders, and the Hook2 5 offers several unique features compared to its competitors. One of the biggest highlights of Lowrence products is its ease of use, the transducer can be mounted in a variety of different ways, and Hook2 display’s user interface is very intuitive.

  • Relatively affordable for its features
  • High resolution SolarMax 5” display
  • Autotuning sonar, with wide cone CHIRP
  • Down imaging and side imaging capabilities
  • Great GPS integration with built-in mapping
  • Cover sold separately
  • Can’t view down imaging in split-screen
Summary

The transducer included is named TripleShot for its 3-in-1 sonar capabilities: downscan, sidescan, and CHIRP. The Hook2 CHIRP is also special, offering a very wide sonar angle, doubling the cone angle of its competitors.

Key Highlight


TripleShot Transducer

Capable of DownScan (down imaging), SideScan (side imaging) and very wide CHIRP.

Preloaded High-Detail US Inland Maps

Including 4,000 lakes with 1-foot contour. 

Easy Setup and Intuitive

Very intuitive user interface for easy setup, versatile transducer that can be transom or through-hull mounted.

 

Conclusion
This option offers ease of use over all the rest as it has many functions that are easy to use and a great buy for intuitive anglers.

Humminbird PiranhaMAX 4​

Bottom Line

PiranhaMAX is the entry-level line from Humminbird, featuring a smaller 4.3” screen. As an affordable option, comparison to Garmin Striker 4 is unavoidable, and there are several key differences between the two. The PiranhaMax4 display is slightly bigger at 4.3” opposed to Striker 4’s 3.5”, but the screen resolution is slightly lower at only’ 272x480 pixels.

  • Very affordable, the cheapest on this list
  • Decent dual-band transducer than can cover up to 60 feet in depth
  • Easy to use keypad interface
  • No CHIRP technology
  • Down imaging transducer sold separately
  • No GPS
Summary

Key Highlights

Affordability

Slightly more affordable than Garmin Striker 4 with a bigger screen.

Reliability

Doesn’t offer advanced technologies and features, but very reliable with at traditional dual-band sonar.

Conclusion
The most affordable on this list, but in most cases, Garmin Striker 4 is better.

Deep Smart Sonar CHIRP - Best Castable Fish Finder

Bottom Line

Deeper is a relatively smaller name compared to Garmin, Lowrence and Humminbird, but the Smart Sonar CHIRP is an updated product offering several features. The Smart Sonar Chirp, for instance, is a wireless fish finder. So, you don’t get a display unit here, but the floating transducer can connect with your smartphone over a wireless connection.

  • Relatively affordable
  • Wireless castaway design, perfect for land-based fishing, kayak, and ice fishing fish finder
  • Compatible with iOS and Android devices
  • Long battery life, can last 6 hours of continuous usage
  • 3 Frequency CHIRP
  • Quick charging time (75 minutes)
  • No Built-in GPS
  • No dedicated display unit
Summary

For a castable fish finder, the transducer is great with 3 Frequency CHIRP –     Narrow CHIRP 675 kHz (cone angle 7°), 
Medium CHIRP 290 kHz (cone angle 16°), 
Wide CHIRP 100 kHz (cone angle 47°). 
This will allow accurate scanning for up to 330 feet in depth.

Key Highlights

Castable Wireless

Connect to your smartphone via Wi-Fi connection for up to 330 feet (100 meters)

3 Operating Modes

Standard, Ice fishing, Boat

15 Scans Per Second

Accurate reading with 15 scans per second and variable target separation

 

Conclusion
Excellent option if you are looking for a wireless castaway fish finder.

Humminbird Solix 10 Mega SI+ G2

Bottom Line

Solix is Humminbird’s line of premium fish finders, andthe Solix 10 features a 10.1” 1280x800 HD multitouch screen, giving you a premium, very high-quality display. Solis 10 also offers MEGA down imaging+ and MEGA side imaging +, 20 % improvements over already excellent imaging from the Helix series, and that’s saying a lot.

  • Very high-quality 10.1” display with 1280×800 pixels resolution
  • MEGA Down imaging+ and Side Imaging+, 20% improvements over standard Humminbird imaging
  • Excellent transducer with dual-spectrum chirp
  • Can reach 1200 feet in depth
  • Expensive premium product
Summary

The transducer of this durable and compact fish finder can cover a wide range of frequencies from 28kHz up to 800kHz. A premium product with state-of-the-art features.


Key Highlights


MEGA Down Imaging+ and MEGA Side Imaging+

Clear, lifelike images from up to 200 feet below your vessel and 200 ft from either side of your vessel

High-Quality 10.1” Display

Very high resolution 1280×800 pixels 10.1” display with cross-touch and multi-touch functionalities.

Wide Frequency Range

Full Mode (28-75 kHz), Narrow Mode (75-155 kHz), Optional Deepwater (28-250 kHz), Wide Mode (130-250 kHz).

 

Conclusion
Excellent premium option if you want more clarity in downscan and sidescan functions.

Raymarine Axiom 7

Best of the Best

Bottom Line

The main highlight of the Raymarine Axiom 7 is the inclusion of Raymarine’s RealVision 3D sonar feature, giving you a very accurate, 3D presentation of what’s below your vessel. The transducer also offers traditional CHIRP, down imaging, and side imaging besides the RealVision 3D sonar, giving you utmost versatility and accuracy. Very powerful 7” display unit with quad-core processor and Raymarine’s very intuitive Lighthouse 3 OS.

  • 4-in-1 transducer with RealVision 3D, traditional CHIRP, CHIRP sidevision and CHIRP downvision
  • Quad-core processor, fast and smooth real-time performance
  • Multi-touch, 7” high resolution screen
  • Lighthouse 3 OS
  • Connectivity with your smartphone (iOS and Android)
  • Expensive 
  • Screen can glare during direct sunlight
Summary

The Raymarine Axiom 7 is one of the most exciting products on this list. It is sure to please even those with knack for ultimate sophistication when it comes to fish finders. With a solid design and materials, this product is sure to last long and help you find those fish swimming underneath.

 

Key Highlights

 

Realvision 3D

See what’s below your boat in lifelike 3D presentation.

Powerful Display Unit

High-resolution display with quad core processor and Lighthouse 3 user-friendly OS.

CHIRP, DownVision, SideVision, RealVision 3D

4-in-1, versatile and powerful transducer for just about any applications.

 

Conclusion
Great high-end option, the RealVision 3D sonar is a major treat.

Joylog Smart Fish Finder

Bottom Line

Another wireless, castabl fish finder to directly compete with Deeper Smart Sonar PRO+. For starters, it is more affordable than Smart Sonar PRO+, so it can be a major consideration if you are looking for a castaway finder on a budget.

  • Affordable
  • Lightweight and small diameter, very portable
  • Can communicate with your smartphone for up to 164 feet in range
  • 131 feet maximum detection
  • Limited battery power 
  • Single cone, with only 30 degree detection angle
Summary

Very light at just 0.51 lbs, and can detect as deep as 131 feet. 

Comes with an easy to use, iOS and Android app, but the overall features are pretty basic with just a single beam transducer.

 

Key Highlights

 

Affordable Castaway Option

Very affordable, with very decent features.

Lightweight and Portable

Very lightweight at just 0.51 lbs and only 2.6 inch in diameter, a great portable option and a reliable back-up if you have an existing fish finder.

 

Conclusion
The greatest aspects of the Joylog are its affordability and portability. A great option for beginners or as a back-up.

Garmin STRIKER Plus 7sv

Bottom Line

This fishfinder has a bright 7” display and built-in GPS features Garmin Quickdraw™ Contours map drawing software, which can store up to 2 million acres of content with 1’ contours. The Quickdraw Contours mapping software will create HD fishing maps of the places you’ve been. Garmin CHIRP traditional sonar provides crystal-clear images with remarkable target separation.

  • Can store memory on SD cards
  • Easy to transfer waypoints and tracks
  • Very accurate 
  • Simple to set up- Excellent system- Unit is responsive and easy to use
  • Doesn’t come with GPS maps
  • Can’t add GPS maps via a SDcard
  • No manual
Summary

With this sublime device you can get photographic images of what is passing below and beside your boat with CHIRP ClearVü and CHIRP SideVü scanning sonars. The built-in Wi-Fi can be used to pair with the ActiveCaptain app for smart notifications, access to Quickdraw Contours Community data and many more.

 

Key Highlights

 

  • Garmin Quickdraw Contours
  • ActiveCaptain App
  • Clear Scanning Sonar Images

 

Conclusion
The STRIKER Plus 7sv fishfinder gives a clear image of what is below even on the brightest days and the large screen gives you a better view of what’s below. It is simple to navigate to whatever feature you need, and it makes you ready for anything on the water.

  • GPS Fishfinder

RayMarine Dragonfly Pro

Bottom Line

The Dragonfly Pro employs true wide Spectrum CHIRP Technology where the sonar signals transmitted into the water will allow Dragonfly to interpret more detail, target more fish and image structure with exceptional clarity. CHIRP DownVision has underwater view with incredibly clear sonar images that surpass ordinary imaging sonars with superior deep water performance to 600ft (180M) and reliable high speed bottom tracking.

  • Easy to use
  • Excellent screen brightness, clear display
  • Chirp transducer included
  •  Reliable high speed bottom tracking
  • Optical bonding LCD display technology- Clear photo like sonar images
  • Short cable, not the best for big boats
  • No instruction manual
  • Product Requires the micro SD card
Summary

This fish finder has a built in GPS and comes with c-map essentials by jeppesen for charts. It also features built in Wi-Fi that allows anglers to stream Dragonfly sonar data right to their smartphone or tablet with Raymarine Wi-Fish mobile app. Dragonfly is engineered with optical bonding LCD display technology that delivers brighter colors and has sharper contrast. The display is also guaranteed to never fog up.

 

Key Highlights

  • High-definition, LCD color
  • 600 ft DownVision; 900 ft CHIRP Sonar
  • 800 x 480 WVGA

 

Conclusion

This fish finder will change your underwater view and help you catch more fish with the wide-spectrum CHIRP DownVision technology. You will easily identify fish and underwater objects with very clear photo-like sonar images. The Dragonfly all-weather, high-definition color LCD display will look sharp from every angle.

DEEPER Smart PRO Sonar Fish Finder

Bottom Line

The Deeper Pro+ Smart sonar is a wireless, versatile and castable fish finder with built-in GPS. Its unique versatility makes it suitable for trolling from a kayak or boat, casting from the shore or using as an ice flasher for winter fishing. Displayed on your smartphone, you will be able to see the locations of the fish, their size and the depth of the spot. It will also show you the temperature of the water and depth, but as well show you the underwater structure, bottom contour and vegetation. This will level up the game and will allow you to fish more strategically.

  • Highest SPEC castable sonar
  • ​Inbuilt GPS
  • Rock solid connectivity
  • Incredible data
  • Good at mapping the lake bed
  • Battery doesn’t last very long
  • Connection problems at times
Summary

The Deeper Pro+ Smart sonar is a wireless, versatile and cartable fish finder with built-in GPS. Its unique versatility makes it suitable for trolling from a kayak or boat, casting from the shore or using as an ice flasher for winter fishing. Displayed on your smartphone, you will be able to see the locations of the fish, their size and the depth of the spot. It will also show you the temperature of the water and depth, but as well show you the underwater structure, bottom contour and vegetation. This will level up the game and will allow you to fish more strategically. This sonar is so compact that it will fit in the palm of your hand. It is the best fish finder under $200 that casts further and scans deeper which also makes it a strong contender for the best sonar fish finder also. It’s dual beam scanning is suitable both for shallow and deep waters. It is able to generate its own Wi-Fi signal so you can connect it to your smartphone. The built in GPS allows you to create bathymetric maps form the shore and enjoy your free access to Lake Book, Deeper’s bathymetric management platform where you can analyze, retrieve, save and share all your scans and maps. Knowing all the waters, you will spend more time catching and less time searching. 

 

Key Highlights

  • 1 Lithium Metal batteries required (included) 
  • GPS onshore mapping
  • Casting range of 330ft and scans as down as 260ft
  • Uses Wi-Fi, not Bluetooth, to connect to your smartphone
  • Sends 15 scans per second and has target separation of just 1“

Conclusion
This is an exceptional fish finder that will give you instant depth and water temperature readings. It helps you discover if the bottom is hard or soft, with gravel or silt. Also, if you’ve baited an area, you can monitor if the fish are staying there or moving elsewhere.

How A Fish Finder Operates

A fish finder, as the name implies, has just one core feature to locate the fish automatically, enhancing your fishing experience by allowing you to catch more fish.

They typically consists of two different parts: the display screen and the transducer. Due to its relatively simple configuration, fish finders are in most cases, very easy to use even for absolute beginners. 

The display screen—or display unit—can be mounted onto the boat or can be a portable unit you carry around. The purpose of the display unit is fairly obvious: to display the information you need.

For instance, it will display how far down the fish is located, where it is located, and how deep the water below you is. 

The second part of a fish finder is a transducer, with two main functionalities: emits high-frequency sound wave by converting electrical energy into sound energy, and receives back the reflection of the sound wave before converting it back into electrical data. The transducer operates using a sonar technique to propagate the location of the fish (and the bottom of the water), and deliver the data to the display unit. 

As you can see, the process is relatively simple. So, not only it is relatively easy to use, the simplicity will also minimize the risks of technical issues. 

A fish finder is ideal for any fishers using any kinds of boats, large or small. Also, it is useful to get a better insight of the surrounding water, so it can be useful, for example, for kayaking so you can easily know when you are nearing any logs or rocks.

Different Types of Fish Finders

Although there are many different fish finder products available on the market, we can generally divide them into three types based on its functions.

You can choose between these three types according to your fishing style and needs:

Mountable Fish Finder

This type consists of mountable transducer and display unit. Depending on their mounting types (will be discussed below), the fish finder might be attached temporarily or permanently to the boat. This is a great choice if you are an angler that owns your own boat or can rent the same boat regularly.

Portable (Handheld) Fish Finder

With this type, you get a small display unit (4” or below) and a portable transducer with temporary mounts. Typically this type operates on (rechargeable) battery. Great choice if you rent your boats.

Wireless Fish Finder

A relatively new type of fish finder, consisting of a floating, wireless transducer that can transmit data to your smartphone via mobile data or wifi. Popular with land-based fishers.Enter your text here…

What Is a Good Price For a Fish Finder?

Answering this question can be fairly difficult since there are a lot of factors that should be considered, depending on your needs, fishing style, location of your fishing spots, and so on.

Fish finders can be as affordable as under $200, while truly high-end models can cost above $1,000.

First, consider the location of your fishing spot and what type of fish you are going to catch. Based on those, consult our Important Considerations section below and determine what features you will need for your purpose. In most cases, you’d want to look for the most affordable model that offers all (at least most) the features you need.

In general, however, expect to spend at least $300 and under $500 for a decent fish finder. You can certainly opt for more expensive products according to your budget, but spending above $1,000 is usually overkill. So, your ideal range should be between $300 and $1,000 to get the best fishfinder for you.

Important Considerations When Choosing a Fish Finder

Transducer

Transducer is an essential element of any fish finder, and in a nutshell, is an electrical device that converts energy from one form to another.

A microphone—converting our voice into electrical energy—, is technically a transducer. In the case of fish finders, the transducer converts electrical energy into sonar waves, and vice versa.

The transducer emits sound waves and receives the returning echoes, this is the principle of sonar for locating objects underwater. The transducer will then send the converted data to the central display unit so we can read the data.

As this is the core functionality of a fish finder, we can see how a transducer is really important.

There are three main factors when considering a transducer: mount type (which will also dictate material), cone angle, and frequency.

Transducer Cone Angle

Cone angle refers to the width of the sound wave emitted into the water for your boat, for sonar detection purpose.

The wider the cone, the larger the area that is covered. It’s important to understand that the deeper the sound wave goes down, the lower the intensity projected back to the transducer—so, less accuracy and can produce image distortions—.

The wider the cone at a lower depth, the better if you want to fish in shallow waters. However, if you want to fish commercially in deep waters, you will need a transducer with narrow cone angle but high frequency (more on frequency later).

Transducers can come with cone angles ranging from a mere 9 degrees to more than 60 degrees. However, most fish finders tend to offer a cone angle between 16 and 20 degrees. A 20 degree cone angle is a decent choice for most fishing needs.

Some also offers multiple beams. Dual and triple beams transducers will cover more areas in lower depth, so it’s a better choice if you fish in shallow water. However, they can be significantly more expensive.

Transducer Frequency

Frequency here refers to the frequency of the sound wave emitted by the transducer. The higher the frequency, the wider the cone angle. However, higher frequency will produce a shorter soundwave, so it won’t be able to reach deep areas.

Transducers usually come in 50, 83, 192, or 200 kHz sound frequencies, although some really high-end fish finders can reach 400 kHz or more.

In general, if you want to fish in mainly shallow waters, higher frequencies (192 or 200 kHz) are better, but lower frequencies (50 kHz) are better for deep waters.

Some units can switch back and forth between high and low frequencies, so this might be your best bet if you are looking for versatility.

Also, there are models that operate on both types of frequencies (dual-frequency) and even multiple frequencies. Typically these models with dual or multiple frequencies will also involve a larger display unit so you can view readings from each frequency in a split-screen.

CHIRP Sonar and CHIRP Transducers

CHIRP, stands for Compressed High-Intensity Radiated Pulse, is the latest, most sophisticated sonar technology available today.

Standard sonar sends 1 frequency at a time. So, if you want two different frequencies, you will need two different transducers.

CHIRP sonar, on the other hand, emits sweeping frequencies from low to high continuously, and the transducer with CHIRP scanning capability will then interpret the different reflected frequencies individually. As a result, CHIRP sonar produces a much clearer image with a higher resolution.

Newer models offer CHIRP sonar capabilities. While they are relatively expensive, know that you’re in for a treat with a CHIRP transducer.

Display Unit

If the transducer is about how well the fish finder unit can locate the fishes, the display unit is about how well it can show you the information—the user experience—.

In many cases, how we choose a display is similar to choosing an underwater fishing camera, although it’s also important to consider some technical factors like how well it presents the data (i.e. with colorful charts, easy to read graphics, etc.).

Here are some important factors when considering a display:

Screen Resolution

Screen resolution ultimately refers to how many pixels a screen will display. The more pixels, the more details and the smoother you’ll see the displayed images.

You should, at the bare minimum, look for at least 240×160 pixels resolution (keep in mind, this is fairly low-res). In newer models—including the ones we have reviewed above—, higher resolutions or even HD resolutions are quite common and affordable.

Scanning/Imaging Methods

There are two different scanning, or imaging modes performed by different fish finders: downscan (or down imaging) and sidescan (side imaging).

Side imaging sonar works by using two beams—positioned on each side of your vessel— pointed slightly upwards.

side imaging fish finder allows us to scan a wider area of water and to see schools in great detail as we pass. However, the downside of side scan sonar is that it won’t produce effective imaging in deep waters, as it won’t cover too much area below your boat.

This is where a down imaging sonar comes in.

Down imaging sonar utilizes a single transducer that emits a thin, but powerful sound wave directly below your boat. Thus, a downscan fish finder is usually the better bet for monitoring bait schools in deep water.

Down imaging can offer very detailed view of what’s beneath your boat, and so is generally a better choice if you like stationary fishing.

Side imaging, on the other hand, is better when you are scanning for shallow diving fish.

Portable VS Mounted

Portable models are generally more affordable—due to their smaller size—, and so they are often portrayed as just that, an affordable alternative to a “real”, bigger, mounted fish finder.

However, it can’t be further from the truth. There are portable fish finders that offer really advanced transducers and really high screen resolutions, and on the other hand, there are many affordable mounted/fixed models with large screens.

It’s true, however, that in general a portable fish finder that is comparable (in price) to a fixed fish finder will offer less overall quality.

So, when comparing the two, it’s best to focus on the main issue that is portability. If you, for example, rent different boats all the time, prefer smaller boats, or wanted to use the fish finder for kayaking, then a portable finder is a better choice.

On the other hand, if you want more advanced technology for the same budget, a fixed/mounted finder is a better bet. Fixed models are also usually more stable and reliable, so it’s a better choice for boats with higher speeds. Also, they are generally more consistent and you wouldn’t need to re-tweak the settings all the time.

GPS Integration

 

We are all familiar with the GPS technology nowadays, and many models also offer GPS/Chartplotter feature, which can provide various benefits:

  • Navionics and Charting: GPS can provide an easier time to navigate your way to prime fishing grounds or to find your way back to dry land. Some of the GPS fish models offer the ability to customize your charts, which can be useful so you can navigate to the right fishing spot every time.
  • Water Temperature: You might encounter fishing spots where cold and warm waters meet, and a GPS feature will help you navigate between water temperatures. You can, for example, track your next catch based on whether it’s a cold water or warm water species.
  • Location Saving: You can save different locations like different prime fishing spots, dangerous areas, and so on. So you can navigate to these locations accurately.
  • Depth Finder: GPS models offer both mapping and charting features, so you can get a more accurate reading of the land in a way that isn’t possible with a standard fish finder. You can get a better insight about the bottom of the water, and can easily decipher the depth readings.

Even if you’ve already familiar with a standard fish finder, using a GPS—or Chartplotter—fish finder will be a little bit different. Here are some tips you can use to make the most of your GPS feature:

  1. Buoys: Buoys are used to mark different water depths and shipping lanes on water. A GPS feature can help you track the position of these buoys without needing to plot them by yourself.
  2. Contour Lines: These lines are designed to show you the topography below the water. Knowing the accurate position of hills and valleys beneath your vessels can be beneficial, since certain fish tend to swim only in specific depths. This can result in significant increase of your haul.
  3. Shipwrecks: Some GPS units can effectively highlight shipwrecks locations on the map. This can be useful since fish tend to swim around shipwrecks, and can also protect your boat from potential dangers when exploring around.
  4. Seabed: Some fish species tend to hang out at specific depths, and a GPS tracking will offer a more accurate reading of the seabed’s layout. This will provide you with a better chance to increase your haul by offering a more optimal positioning.

Water Resistance

If you are going to use the fish finder on an open vessel, then water resistance is going to be an important factor.

Check JIS or IPX ratings, which are usually listed on the product’s specifications. An IPX rating of 4 (IPX4) means the device is fairly safe from splashing water, but it won’t be sufficient if, for example, you are on a kayak.

An IPX rating of IPX5 or IPX6 means the finder can resist fairly high pressure of water jets, and IPX7 will mean you can safely submerge the unit up to 10 feet deep of water, for as long as 30 minutes.

Lastly, IPX8-rated products can stay underwater for an extended period of time.

FAQ’s About Fish Finders

What is a fish finder?

A fish finder is a fishing device that utilizes sonar technique to propagate fish location underwater.

A fish finder emits high-frequency sound waves and “catch” the reflection of the sound wave to determine the depth of the water. When the sound wave hits a fish or any other objects underwater, the echo will return sooner, signalling that an object is located above the bottom of the water.

 

What Is GPS Feature In a Fish Finder?

Some fish finder models offer GPS integration, and the model is often categorized as a chartplotter fish finder.

The GPS integration will allow us to mainly view our location on a map, but will also add extra features like the ability to save different locations, more accurate charting of the bottom of water, and so on. Most fish finder models today offer GPS integration, and it is a great additional feature for safety and functional purposes.

 

What Are The Different Types of Fish Finders?

We can differentiate different fish finder models based on several different factors:

  • Based on portability: Mounted/fixed type, portable/handheld type, and wireless type
  • Based on scanning method: Down imaging/downscan and side imaging/sidescan
  • Based on frequency: low-frequency (50 and 83kHz) and high-frequency (120, 200kHz and above), will also determine cone angle

Also, there are various new technologies being introduced each and every year to improve fish finders’ accuracy. Quite recently, technologies like livescan and 3d scan are introduced to improve upon downscan and sidescan methods, giving us an even more accurate results.

 

How Do I Read The Fish Finder?

You might want to check out our step by step guide here for more complete information.

Generally, here are the important things to consider:

  • The hard bottom in most models is displayed as a blue line with yellow above it, and the area above it to the surface level won’t display any color.
  • Any objects suspended from the bottom might or might not be a fish, pay attention for arches, a strong sign that it’s a fish.
  • A ball shape is usually a bait ball, so when there are larger objects around the ball, these are usually predatory fish.

What Frequencies Are Common For Fish Finders?

Fish finder transducers can operate at various ultrasonic frequencies from 50kHz to above 200kHz, some can reach above 400kHz. The higher the frequency, the more detailed the results. However, the higher the frequency, the less depth it can cover.

 

Are Fish Finders Waterproof?

Most transducers are waterproof, but the majority of the display unit are not waterproof. In most applications, there’s no need for the display unit for water resistance, but there are various waterproof units available. They can be useful, for example,if you are kayaking or fishing on an open vessel.

Check the water resistance (IPX) rating of your display unit, and keep non waterproof unit away from water at all costs.

 

How Can I Install The Fish Finder?

Portable fish finders won’t require any physical installation, just software calibrations and adjustments.

For mounted/fixed units, at least the transducer must be mounted on the boat, and the process will depend on the mount type:

  • Transom mount: the transducer is mounted at the transom, at the rear of the boat just below water.
  • Through-hull mount: you will need to drill a hole in your hull—if necessary—to screw the transducer to your boat’s hull. The transducer is permanently placed inside the hull of the boat.
  • In-hull mount: the easiest to install, as we simply place the transducer anywhere inside the ship, pointing to the hull.

Can We Use Fish Finder on a Kayak?

Yes, and it’s actually pretty common, since a fish finder can also locate various hazards like rocks and logs, which will aid the safety of your kayaking.

We can mount the transducer either within the hull, over the side (using a bracket), or through the scupper holes. Generally a portable, smaller display unit is more preferable due to the limited space on a kayak.

 

What Is The Best Brand To Choose?

A tough question, but the most popular brands available today include—but are not limited to— Lowrance, Garmin, Humminbird, Deeper, and Furuno. Different brands offer different features that might suit a certain fishing style over the others. Generally, however, Humminbird, Lowrance, and Garmin offer the widest range of choices. Full reviews found below:

 

 

Conclusion

A fish finder is a fisherman’s best friend, an affordable solution to improve your haul.

While there are many different types and sets of features available, the best way to make your choice is to first figure out your needs: your fishing style, your fishing location, and ultimately, your budget.

In this best fish finder article the products we have reviewed above, as well as the buying guide, should help you in making a better informed decision to purchase the perfect fish finder for you.

We like to share product recommendations with you and hope you like them! Just to make you aware FishingLab may collect a small share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page.

I love to write for readers with a genuine interest in enjoying the fishing. Hence, I started this blog to provide you guides so that you can have a better and more pleasant fishing experience.
James Williams
Staff | FishingLab

We like to share product recommendations with you and hope you like them! Just to make you aware FishingLab may collect a small share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page.