Best Fish Finder 2017 – Ultimate Guide and 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.
- 1 Top Best Fish Finders Comparison Chart - 2017
- 2 Recommended Top 10 Best Fish Finder Reviews
- 2.1 1. Garmin Striker 4 Bbuilt-in GPS Fish Finder
- 2.2 2. Humminbird HELIX 9 DI GPS Fishfinder
- 2.3 3. Garmin Striker 5DV Fish Finder
- 2.4 4. Lowrance Hook-3X Sonar W/ 83/200 XDCR
- 2.5 5. Raymarine Dragonfly 5 Pro
- 2.6 6. Lowrance HDS-9 Gen2 Touch Insight Display
- 2.7 7. Deeper Smart Portable 3.0
- 2.8 8. Humminbird HELIX 5 DI
- 2.9 9. Deeper Smart Sonar Pro+
- 2.10 10. Vexilar SP200 T Box
- 3 How to Choose the Right Fish Finder
- 4 Advantage of a Fish Finder
- 5 Using Your Fish Finder: Best Practices
- 6 How Does a Fish Finder Work?
- 7 What is a Good Price for a Fish Finder?
- 8 Final Verdict
Top Best Fish Finders Comparison Chart - 2017
Garmin Striker 4 Bbuilt-in GPS Fish Finder
Humminbird HELIX 9 DI GPS Fishfinder
Garmin Striker 5DV
Lowrance Hook-3X Sonar
Raymarine Dragonfly 5 Pro
Lowrance HDS-9 Gen2 Touch Insight Display
Deeper Smart 3.0
Recommended Top 10 Best Fish Finder Reviews
When compared to other finders, this screen is relatively small, but it still gets the job done. Since it’s in full color and has high contrast, you can still see everything quite clearly. The only downside is that you have to switch between menus, which can be a problem if you are trying to find fish and mark your location. Overall, it’s not necessarily a deal breaker, but it may be enough to warrant a larger screen. Fortunately, the Striker can come in bigger sizes if you want to upgrade.
Garmin made a name for itself in car navigation systems, so it makes sense that it would also be king of maps out on the water. What’s great about this finder is that you can mark your hot spots so that returning to them is even simpler. Whether you’re out on the open water or a river, you can track your progress quite easily.
As we mentioned, the strength of a fish finder is in how well it can locate the fish, which is why you need a high-quality transducer. CHIRP technology is one of the best you can find, and it provides a 200-watt RMS signal that can reach down to 1,600 feet in fresh water and 750 feet in salt water. Overall, you can find plenty of fish with this device.
- 3.5-inch color screen
- GPS built in
- CHIRP fishfinder
- Easy to use control panel
- Mark and return to hot spots
- 200-watt RMS transmitter
- 1600-watt peak to peak
- Speedometer on screen
- Shows water temperature
- Max depth of 1600 ft fresh water, 750 ft saltwater
- In rare cases, the unit may shut off unexpectedly
- GPS location may have slight trouble on open water
Unlike the Garmin above, this fish finder is built for those who want to see everything at once. With nine-inches of screen real estate, this is almost more like a tablet than a regular finder, making it a valuable addition to any boat. Best of all, the control panel is intuitive and enables you to work faster.
Dual Beam PLUS Sonar
While many fish finders point directly underneath your boat, higher end units like this one will sweep to the sides as well. Considering that you are casting out from the ship rather than dangling lines beneath it, side sweeping is much more valuable as it allows you to find fish wherever you are, rather than finding them, moving the boat, and then trying to catch them.
Internal GPS System
These days, if your finder doesn’t have GPS Combo, then you need to upgrade. Not only does it make it easier to pinpoint your location when you’re out on the open water, but it will help you mark hot zones so that you can return for a big haul next time.
- Extra large 9-inch screen
- Backlit for easier viewing
- Easy to use control panel
- Built-in GPS system
- Dual sweep sonar
- Side and down views
- Gimbal or in dash mount for convenience
- Easy to upgrade software
- Programmable to your needs
- 4000-watt power output
- Does not come with 360-degree transducer
- May have to download maps to get full GPS capabilities
If you want to upgrade your system from the Striker model above, then you need to get this 5DV model from Garmin. Not only does it have a larger screen, but it has more of everything you need to find your fish quickly and efficiently. Best of all, having more real estate means that you can do split screen with both the GPS and the transducer. This will allow you to plot hot spots even easier than before. Best of all, you can share this information with other Strikers, so your buddies can get in on the action.
This unit uses the same high-quality technology as the one above, but this time it’s even more powerful. It produces up to 500 watts of RMS signal and can reach depths of 2,300 feet in fresh water and 1,100 feet in salt water. Overall, this is a much better system for deep sea fishermen.
Although fish finders are built to be on the water, some models are relatively fragile and can get damaged easily. Thankfully, the Striker 5DV has a more rugged covering so that it can be bounced around a little bit (and get wet) without damaging the internal components.
- Durable construction
- Full-color five-inch screen
- Mark hot spots on GPS
- 500-watt RMS signal
- Ultra scroll system
- High-definition optics
- Includes GT20 transducer with Downvu sonar
- CHIRP system for better results
- Max depth 2,300 ft fresh, 1,100 ft saltwater
- Share maps with other Striker units
- Displays speed and water temp
- Split screen option for both finder and GPS
- Adjustable mounting bracket
- Cables are relatively short; may need to buy longer ones
- May not come with all charts for GPS
3-inch LED Screen
If you don’t need something that high-tech, then this finder from Lowrance might be a better option. This is a cost-effective finder that provides excellent readouts on rivers and lakes, but it may not work well for deep sea fishing. The three-inch screen has high contrast color readouts and displays all of the information you need, minus any GPS mapping. Overall, if you aren’t in the market for anything too fancy but you want something that’s reliable, this is a great option.
Advanced Signal Processing
One of the best things about this finder is that it comes with sophisticated software that boosts the signal automatically. This means that you don’t have to fiddle with the controls as much to get a clear picture. Instead, you can focus your attention on fishing.
The transducer that comes with this finder produces both 83 and 200 kHz signals so that you can see better in shallow and deeper waters. It’s easy to switch back and forth, and the clarity is great in either case.
- Durable construction
- 3-inch LED color screen
- High contrast imaging
- Easy to use controls
- Dual frequency transducer
- Advanced signal processing for a clearer image
- 83-200 kHz sonar imaging
- Quick-release mounting bracket
- Waterproof housing
- Screen may be too small for some users
- Wiring may be too short for some setups
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.
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.
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.
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.
- Fast power up
- Bright and clear screen
- Attached mount is removable
- Instructions are easy to read
- Compatible with a Smartphone
- Data cable is long
- Screen is slightly polarized
9-Inch Touch Screen
For those who want the ultimate in fish finding technology, we have the Lowrance HDS-9. Not only do you get a large screen, but it’s touch activated for even more convenience. It’s so wide that you can chart two maps at once, and it’s all high-definition which allows you to create 3D models of the bottom of any lake or river in real time. Overall, this is as good as it gets.
Cartography with Maps and Navionics
The charting technology on this finder is incredible, which is why it has such a high price tag. You can find your location on the map and then scan the whole area and produce a high-quality, high-definition 3D reading. Finding fish has never been easier.
Four Channel Sonar Technology
The reason that you can develop such comprehensive scans of the bottom is that the transducer uses four separate channels. This means that you get much more than most other finders, making this the ultimate fishing accessory.
- Durable construction
- Extra large 9-inch touch screen
- Easy to navigate menu options
- Comes with GPS and navionics
- Four channel sonar for better viewing
- High definition color imaging
- Adjustable mounting bracket
- Dual option mapping
- More expensive than other models
- Menu buttons can be too small and unresponsive at times
- Transducer cord may be too short for some boats
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.
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.
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.
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.
- It’s perfect for everyday fishing
- It’s portable
- Works with Smartphones
- Long battery life
- It’s versatile
- It is heavy
- Technical support isn't very good
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.
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.
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.
- Everything included
- Won’t overheat in the sun
- The tilt is adjustable
- Easy to customize
- Perfect for beginners
- Hardware is difficult to install
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.
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.
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.
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.
- Works via Bluetooth
- Works in fresh and saltwater
- Profiles the bottom well
- It is easy to use
- Reads in murky water
- Not ideal for shallow water (less than 3 feet)
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.
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.
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.
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.
- It’s easy to install
- Provides a lot of information
- Smartphone compatible
- It’s easy to read
- Perfect for plotting charts
- Doesn't move off the mount
- Takes a while to turn on
How to Choose the Right Fish Finder
There are many factors to consider before buying a best fish finder. Following these steps will provide you the information you need to find the best fish finder for you.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- You want to consider the transducer material, cone angles, and beams for your finder
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.
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.
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 right 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.
Overall, if you want to get the best fish finder, then our top pick has to be either the Humminbird Helix 9 or the Lowrance HDS-9. We love the large screens and comprehensive functions that you get with both devices, as well as the rugged dependability. If you want to save money, though, the Garmin Striker 4 will be your next best bet as it comes with high-performance results, even with a smaller screen.