Best Fish Finder 2017 – Ultimate Guide and Reviews

Best Fish Finder - Guide & Reviews

Imagine you’re out on a lake, and you haven't caught any fish. You’ve gotten the best fishing rod, the best bait offered in the nearby town, and you’re in a prime location. For some reason, the fish have decided to go into hiding. You look into the water, only to find the water is too murky to see into. You don’t know if the fish are out towards the middle of the lake or hiding in the reefs near the shore. While you can’t see the fish, you know they’re sitting there. That’s why you should invest in the best fish finder, a simple gadget that will help you find out where the fish are hiding.

If you’ve never used a fish finder, you’re missing out. They can locate and track the fish for the location where you are. They scan under the waves and pinpoint where each fish is in proportion to your location. They can tell the temperature of the water, and how deep it is in certain spots. This fish finder guide and review will talk about the best fish finders available on the market. When you’re reeling the biggest fish in the pond, you’ll be thrilled you had a fish finder to help you out.

Best Fish Finders Comparison Chart - 2017

Image

Product Name

GPS

Beam

Display Size

Editor Rating

Price

Humminbird 698ci HD SI Combo Best Fish Finder

Humminbird 698ci HD SI 

Yes

Dual

5′′

Garmin echo 100 Fish Finder Best Fish Finder

Garmin echo 100 

No

Single

4′′

Deeper Smart Portable Fish Finder 3.0

Deeper Smart 3.0

Yes

Dual

Phone Display

Raymarine Dragonfly 5 Pro

Raymarine Dragonfly 5 Pro

Yes

Dual

5′′

Lowrance ELITE 4X HDI Fishfinder

Lowrance ELITE 4X HDI

No

Dual

4.3′′

Deeper Smart Sonar Pro+

Deeper Smart Pro+

Yse

Dual

Phone Display

Garmin Striker 4DV

Garmin Striker 4DV

Yes

Dual

3.5′′

Lowrance Elite 7 CHIRP Gold

Lowrance Elite 7 CHIRP

Yes

Dual

7"

Humminbird HELIX 5 DI Fishfinder

Humminbird HELIX 5 DI

No

Dual

5"

Vexilar SP200 T Box

Vexilar SP200 T Box

Yes

Dual

Phone Display

How to Choose the Right Fish Finder

There are many factors to consider before buying a fish locator. Following these steps will provide you the information you need to find the best fish finder for you.

Frequencies

  • When you’re looking for a fish locator, the frequency range is important to understand which is the best one for you. There are three types of frequencies, including dual, single, and multiple frequencies. They come in 50, 83, 192, or 200 kHz.
  • Higher frequencies, such as 192 or 200, are ideal for fishing in shallow water. Lower frequencies, such as 50 or 83, are perfect for deep water fishing. To find the right fish finder for you, knowing what area you’re planning on using it in will lead to more catches. Remember that the higher the frequency, the more detail you’ll have on the screen.

Power

  • Wattage is the how the finder is powered. The more wattage you have on the fish finder, the faster the response time will be. If you have more wattage, you can see deeper into the water and find the fish. Fishing in shallow water requires less wattage for better it is to see the surrounding area.
  • When you combine the frequency range and the wattage, you can get a clear picture of what it looks like under the surface. A good way to measure this is to remember that at 50 kHz with every 100 watts of power, you can read up to 400 feet deep. When you’re using 240 kHz at 100 watts of power, you’ll have readings up to 100 feet.

Screen Resolution

  • Just like with TV’s and computer screens, you want a high resolution to see everything. You want a fish locator that has a screen resolution of at least 240 x 160 pixels for sight. If you find that this is too blocky, and cannot tell the differences on the screen, you can opt for a higher resolution screen.
  • When you combine the resolution with the size of the screen, you’ll see more in a clearer picture. You should budget for the best screen you can get for your main fish finder. For a backup, you can settle for a smaller screen, since you won’t use it all the time.

Screen Color

  • While the old black and white screens are becoming obsolete, they can still be practical and useful. Depending on your budget, you may need to settle for a black and white finder. They are good for those who have never had a finder before, or want one as a backup.
  • Colored screens are the new standard, and they are much more reliable than their black and white counterparts. They’re easier to read in the sun and make it easy to see what’s going on around you. If you can manage it, a glowing screen will be more helpful than the black and white screen.

Transducers

  • The transducer is what makes the finder capable of finding fish. They emit and receive the sonar waves that let you know if there are fish and other objects nearby. When it receives the data, it sends it to the main unit and switches it to the screen. Without a transducer, your finder becomes a fancy screen that doesn’t display any data.
  • While every fish locator does come with a transducer, you may want to invest in an after-market transducer. They can receive data faster, read more of the area, and work better than what comes with the box. You can start fishing right away with one, but you want to make sure you have a transducer that works for you.

Other Considerations

  • You want to consider the transducer material, cone angles, and beams for your finder

Recommended Top 10 Best Fish Finder Reviews

1. Humminbird 698ci HD SI Combo Fish Finder

VGA Display

This finder features a 5-inch VGA display for a clear and bright picture. You can see your location and the depths of the water. Its bright screen is easy enough to read under bright sunlight. You can tell how fast you’re going and where the fish are hiding.

Dual Beam

The 698ci allows you to get the information you need to fish in deep and shallow water. It uses 50-200 kHz frequencies to give you the information you need. It’s ideal for those who want to try out different types of fishing.

Internal GPS

The internal GPS provides your location and speed when you’re driving your boat. It’s ideal for those who want to make sure they don’t scare the fish away. You can also see the temperature of the water, allowing you to narrow your search for the biggest fish.

Programmable

The finder is programmable for you to set it to your preferences. No matter if you’re fishing in the deep or shallow water, you can change it easily. It’s the best way to find the best fishing spot for you. The fish locator is easy to program for your preferences.

Pros

  • Color display is bright
  • Easy to install
  • The unit has an expanded memory card
  • The color is in high resolution
  • Sonar provides great information

Cons

  • Fish icons aren’t displayed
  • Side imaging isn’t great over six mph

2. Garmin echo 100 Fish Finder

Compact

The echo 100 is compact, allowing you to save more space when it’s installed on your boat. The mount has a quick-release that allows you to take it off and on to another boat. You can use the fish finder for any journey you want to go on.

Target Tracking

The echo 100 uses an HD-ID target tracking technology. This allows you to see everything in high definition. You won’t have any misreading’s when you’re using the echo 100 in a debris filled area. It has an enhanced separation and uses a grayscale for every object.

Ideal for Freshwater

If you’re planning on going fishing in a freshwater lake, then Garmin echo 100 for you. It can reach down to depths of 600 ft. You can make out anything when you combine the depth with the target tracking system. It works quickly to keep you posted on everything nearby.  

Easy Installation

The echo 100 is easy to install and comes with everything you need. It has the quick-release tilt mount to install on any boat. You can tilt the fish locator to help you see everything, even in direct sunlight. It’s ideal for those who want to use different boats for fishing.

Pros

  • Includes notes for kayakers
  • Easy to use
  • The LCD screen is easy to read
  • Includes DC voltage information
  • Displays fish individually

Cons

  • No color display
  • Displays information slowly

3. Deeper Smart Portable 3.0

Smartphone Compatible

The unit will work with an Android or Apple smartphone with the proper app. It’s ideal for those who don’t have a boat. You can make sure the device is programmed to your phone, and get the readings straight to your hands. It’s ideal for testing new waters.

Bluetooth

The device connects to the smartphone via Bluetooth, allowing you to get readings quickly and accurately. It is portable so that you can take it anywhere you want to fish. The rechargeable battery ensures you always have a reading while you’re fishing.

Versatile

This Deeper Smart Portable 3.0 can go places other finders can’t. No matter if you’re fishing off a dock, shore, bridge, or a kayak fishing, you can always get a reading. It’s the right fish finder for a fisherman that wants to explore different fishing holes around the world.

Dual Beam

The fish locator will work in deep or shallow water. It has frequencies between 90-290 kHz, allowing you to find the best fish in any water. The battery life can last up to 6 hours on a full charge. It’s ideal for the all-day fisherman that wants to bring home the biggest fish.

Pros

  • It’s perfect for everyday fishing
  • It’s portable
  • Works with Smartphones
  • Long battery life
  • It’s versatile

Cons

  • It is heavy
  • Technical support isn't very good

4. Raymarine Dragonfly 5 Pro

HD Display

The fish finder features a 5-inch display to help you locate the fish. It has a LED backlight that makes it easy to read in the bright sunlight. It is optically bonded for sharp colors that pop. The wide viewing angles allow you to see more around you.

Dual-Channel

The dual-channel sonar provides a wide spectrum of everything around the area. It uses a CHIRP DownVision sonar that produces photo-like images for clear pictures. The second CHIRP sonar focuses in on fish, providing you the information you need.

Sonar Streaming

The Dragonfly 5 Pro allows you to stream your sonar data to your phone live and in the moment. You can download the Raymarine Wi-Fish mobile app to track all the information. It allows you to rewind, save, and share your catch with your friends and family. You can upload your favorite pics right away.

Mounting Ball

The mounting ball is removable, allowing you to take it on another boat if you’d like. It is compatible with aftermarket ball and socket mounting systems, allowing you to customize your mounting options. The Dragonfly 5 Pro does include storage for 3000 waypoints and 15 tracks.

Pros

  • Fast power up
  • Bright and clear screen
  • Attached mount is removable
  • Instructions are easy to read
  • Compatible with a Smartphone

Cons

  • Data cable is long
  • Screen is slightly polarized

5. Lowrance ELITE 4X HDI

Transom Mount

The ELITE 4X includes a transom mount for easy installation on the boat. It allows you to hook it up where you want to put it, and you can move it to another area of the boat. The transducer runs between 83/200 kHz, allowing you to fish in deep or shallow waters.

Color LCD

The finder includes a 4.3-inch color LCD to help you distinguish where you are, and how deep the water goes. If you’re fishing in open water, you can see where the fish are hiding. It works perfectly in shallow water to let you know what’s underneath.

LED Backlight

The LED backlight allows you to navigate the fish finder. You can scroll through the menus and settings to get them in the right place. You can change the settings while you’re looking at the screen in broad daylight. It’s ideal for those who want to spend a day fishing.

Advanced Signal Processing

The Advanced Signal Processing (ASP) is perfect for those who are just starting out with a fish finder. It doesn’t require you to adjust the settings manually. It automatically detects the fish and nearby objects without you needing to mess with anything.

Pros

  • It is easy to install
  • Easy to program
  • Excellent price for the unit
  • Works perfectly during the day and night

Cons

  • Some units may not be in perfect condition
  • Need to purchase a separate transducer for better results

6. Deeper Smart Sonar Pro+

Wi-Fi Connection

The Deeper Smart Sonar Pro + can connect to Wi-Fi, allowing you to get the most updated maps. You can use the Wi-Fi to pinpoint your favorite spots. It’s an excellent addition for a portable fish finder you want for any type of fishing. You can upload your fresh catches straight to the internet.

GPS Mode

The onshore GPS mode allows you to track your movements, and create the best fishing experience. You’ll be able to get the most updated maps right away, making it easier to fish. It’s ideal for those who want to get a better idea of the surrounding area.

Operation

The Deeper Smart Sonar Pro + does work in fresh and salt water, making it ideal for any fisherman. You can rely on the dual frequency to get it working in any environment. It’s ideal for those that want to try shallow waters one day, and deeper waters another time.

Battery

The battery is rechargeable, making it easy to ensure it’s ready to go when you are. It has a 5.5-hour life without being charged, allowing you to spend more time fishing. It doesn’t require the device to be plugged in all the time, enabling you to take it anywhere you want to go.

Pros

  • Works via Bluetooth
  • Works in fresh and saltwater
  • Profiles the bottom well
  • It is easy to use
  • Reads in murky water

Cons

  • Not ideal for shallow water (less than 3 feet)

7. Garmin Striker 4DV

Rugged Design

The durability of Striker 4DV is unquestioned. It has a rugged outdoor look that compliments any fisherman. It can withstand the harshest environments you go through. It will perform in wet or sunny weather, and won’t let you down when you need it most.

GPS

The GPS is built into the unit. You can mark every spot you go to, which helps you narrow down your favorite fishing spots. When the GPS is turned on, you can monitor your speed when you’re cruising. It’s ideal for those who want to go to different spots and find a new fish using fish finder GPS combo.

Map

The waypoint map allows you to track your position and record which spots are best for fishing. You can view different locations before you set out to find the perfect fishing area. The sonar data is recordable in the classic flasher format. It allows you to fish in ice or for vertical jigging.

CHIRP Sonar

The CHIRP sonar provides you with the details you need to find the perfect fishing spot. It sends out continuous frequencies that range from low to high. It can create crisper fish arches with better target separation to help you distinguish between different fish. It works continuously while you’re driving around.

Pros

  • Easy to install
  • GPS is an excellent addition
  • Records your favorite fishing spots
  • Shows amazing details
  • Split screen mode for more information

Cons

  • May be difficult to read in the bright sun
  • Manual doesn’t have a lot of information

8. Lowrance Elite 7 CHIRP Gold

Large Screen

The large screen displays everything you need to see under the waves. It is a 7-inch widescreen LCD screen with a bright and very visible information display. You can see fish and any obstacles lurking in the path of your boat. The display is in full color, allowing you to see everything clearly.

Cartography

The Elite 7 CHIRP Gold includes a Navionics Gold Cartography. It maps out the areas under the water, so you have an idea of what’s underneath. You can easily distinguish between the fish and any corals in the water. You’ll have a clear view of everything near your boat.

Broadband

The locator uses a broadband CHIRP sonar that can read all the areas nearby. The HD down imaging sonar provides information for anything the sonar picks up. It has a wide range, and quick reports help you determine your course.

GPS

The GPS built-into the fish finder helps you navigate the water. No matter if you’re in open water, a lake, or going through a river, the GPS will give you an idea of where you are. It’s ideal for those who want to go fishing in a place they’ve never been to and enhances the fishing experience.

Pros

  • The GPS is spot on
  •  It’s reasonably priced
  • It operates smoothly
  • Chartplotter program available
  • The graphics are incredible

Cons

  • The support could be improved
  • Some may have a programming glitch
  • No screen cover included

9. Humminbird HELIX 5 DI

Color display

The HELIX 5 DI features a color display that makes it easy to distinguish between fish and debris. You can see more with this fish finder than other ones. It’s easy to read in the bright sunlight. You can search different areas to find the most fish.

Down Imaging Sonar

You can see further down with this fish finder. It operates at different depths to give you a clear picture of the area under the waves. It has 400 watts of PTP power output to make it one of the most powerful fish locators available. It can down image up to 350 feet.

Dual Beam

The dual beam allows the user to adjust the finder to their settings. Whether you’re fishing in the deep or shallow water, this fishfinder will work well. It’s ideal for those who want to enhance their fishing experience and bring home the biggest catch.

Temperature Display

The temperature display provides you the information you need to go fishing in the right spots. If you find yourself in warm water, you can adjust your boat to find the cooler spots where fish can be. It’s the best way to prepare for a successful fishing outing.

Pros

  • Everything included
  • Won’t overheat in the sun
  • The tilt is adjustable
  • Easy to customize
  • Perfect for beginners

Cons

  • Hardware is difficult to install

10. Vexilar SP200 T Box

Permanent Mount

The mount included with the finder allows you to install it permanently onto your boat. It’s idea for those who love fishing on a boat and dislike carrying around the fish finder. You won’t have to worry about misplacing the fish finder in a drawer or losing it overboard.

Smartphone Compatible

There is an app available to help you keep track of your movements. You will receive all the important sonar information you need to help you fish. It’s perfect for those who want to get the most out of their fishing experience.

Works Worldwide

The Vexilar SP200 T Box can work anywhere in the world. It uses a patented Wi-Fi technology to submit all your information to the app. You can then get the information from your Smartphone to enhance your fishing experience. It’s the perfect fish finder for the traveling fisherman.

Audible Alarms

When you’re within reach of a fish, the audible alarms will sound off. This is perfect for ensuring you can snag the fish. The depth indicator lets you know how far down the fish are from your position. You can adjust your line to make you reel it in when you’re ready.

Pros

  • It’s easy to install
  • Provides a lot of information
  • Smartphone compatible
  • It’s easy to read
  • Perfect for plotting charts

Cons

  • Doesn't move off the mount
  • Takes a while to turn on

Advantage of a Fish Finder

There are many benefits to using the fish finder for you. They work at any depth, provide you the information you need to catch fish and help map out your area. If you’re fishing at a new lake for the first time, using the perfect fish finder for you can immensely help you out. You can find the perfect route for finding the fish and spend less time wondering where they are. All the information they display allows you to concentrate on an area, instead of hopelessly floating along the water. Fish locators make fishing look easy, and you know when you have the perfect one for you.

When you have the right fish finder for you, you will notice the differences between fishing with and without one. Even if you’ve been fishing in the same place for 20 years, and have had some luck, knowing what’s under the water can help you. Not only will you catch more fish, but you can also avoid dangerous reefs and barriers hidden in shallow waters. Not only are you hauling in more fish, but you’re also safer when you know what is lurking underneath the waves. It’s a practical device you know you’ll need for any type of fishing.

Using Your Fish Finder: Best Practices

Once you get your fish finder, you may wonder what you need to do to make sure it works correctly. This step-by-step guide will help you get setup and ready to use the finder.

Check the Manual

To understand how your fish finder works, you want to consult the manual. You can read the terms, and how to program the finder. While you may not enjoy reading the technical babble, it is a good way to familiarize yourself.

Mounting the Fish Finder

You want to put the finder in the best spot on your boat. There are a few different types of mounts you can use. You can choose from a transom, trolling, hull, or portable mount for your boat. Depending on your wants and needs, you can choose the right mount.

Setting up the Fish Finder

You want to turn the fish finder on. It will be set in automatic mode already, with the pre-program settings already on. You can switch it to a manual mode at any time to customized the finder. When you first turn it on, you can leave it in the automatic mode. You then want to drive on the water in automatic mode to get an idea of what it’s seeing.

Adjusting the Settings

The first setting you want to understand is the sensitivity. This adjusts the power of the fish finder, allowing you to see more details. When the power is lower, the quality on display is lowered. You can toy around with the fish finder to find the right setting.

Adjusting the Fish ID Setting

When the fish finder is on the automatic setting, it will identify fish automatically. It’s ideal for those who are trying to figure out their fish finder, but once you adjust to it, you can turn it off. You can see the fish arches, which will give you a better view of what's going on underneath the waves.

Using Auto Depth

If you’ve never used sonar before, you want to keep the auto depth turned on. It automatically tracks the floor of the water, making it easier to see how far down it is. When you become more experienced, you can adjust the setting. The auto depth feature can be adjusted to hide the first few feet underneath, and above the true bottom. It’s useful for setting your sights on the fish you want to catch.

Depth Cursor

The depth cursor is a line that goes across the screen. This line will let you know how far down the fish are, which makes it easy to determine where to put your bait. It will move up and down on the screen, making it easy to find the fish.

Suppressor Setting

The suppressor setting is perfect for blocking out the background noise you’ll experience while you’re waypoints . This setting is normally automatic if the transducer is installed correctly, but you can adjust it for your benefit. You don’t want to keep the suppressor on all the time because it can block out the sonar.

How Does a Fish Finder Work?

Fish finders are an excellent tool that can enhance the fishing experience, and allow you to catch more fish. There are typically only two parts to a fish finder, making it easy for everyone to use. They have a screen or display that fits onto your boat and gives you the information you need to catch more fish. They will display how far down the fish are, and how deep the water is. A fish locator uses a transducer, which takes recordings of the area near the boat using sonar. The sonar bounces off fish, rocks, coral, and other objects under the water.

When the sonar comes back to the transducer, this information is relayed to the display screen. It’s a basic computer showing raw data of what lies underneath the surface of the water. It is easy to read and understand display that will help you find where the fish are swimming. They’re ideal for anyone who wants to get a better idea of the surrounding area under the water. Even if you use it for kayaking, it’s good to know whether you’re near any rocks or logs. You can avoid accidents and map out the water for other adventures if you’d like.

What is a Good Price for a Fish Finder?

There are a lot of factors that go into finding a best fish finder for the right price. Depending on the type of fishing you’re doing will factor into the price tag. There are some that are under $200, while others can run up to over $1000. You should consider where you’re fishing, what type of fish you want to catch, and what features you’ll need.

If you’re on a budget, you don’t want to spend too much money on a fish finder. Some of the finders are ones that do everything you want them to do, and won’t break the bank. If you’re looking for the ideal price for a fish finder, you may want to consider spending at least $300, but no more than $800. Unless you can afford some of the more expensive fish finders, your range should be between $300-600.

Final Verdict

A fish finder is an excellent tool you can use to help you find a fish. They’re great because of what information they can show, and how they work. They are simple machines that can make fishing a more enjoyable outing. If you’re thinking about getting a fish finder, the Deeper Smart Portable 3.0 is the perfect fish finder. It is compact, easy to use, and smartphone compatible.

You can get all the sonar readings right on your phone. If you don’t own a boat, the fish finder is the one you want. It works like many of the other finders, but it attaches right to the line. Even though it may not always be connected to your phone, you can adjust the settings. You can take it all over the world, and get a reading on the area near the shore. It’s perfect for those who may suffer from seasickness when they’re on a boat.

James
 

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