Peter WilkinsAuthor: Peter Wilkins
Last Updated: December, 2019

Want to catch more fish? We check out the best fish finders on the market in 2019

One of the ways to get an advantage on our finned friends is through the use of a fish finder. To save you some time researching all the best units, we’ve reviewed the top fish and depth finders on the market.

As the saying goes, a bad days fishing is better than a good days working (no idea who said it but it sounds right in my book), so imagine how good it would be if you could catch fish every time you went fishing! Bloody awesome right!!

Anyway, let’s get straight into our fish finder comparison and reviews. In our opinion, the best fish finders for 2019 are:

  1. Lowrance HOOK2 Fish Finder/Depth Finder
  2. Humminbird HELIX 5 SI/GPS Combo – Runner-up
  3. Garmin Striker Plus 4 with Dual-beam – Best portable fish finder
  4. Deeper Pro Wireless Fish Finder
  5. Lowrance FishHunter PRO – Best Wireless fish finder
  6. Garmin ECHOMAP Plus 73cv
  7. Garmin ECHOMAP Plus 43cv
  8. Raymarine Element 7 HV
  9. Humminbird Helix 7 Chirp

Fish FinderBrand/ModelScreensizeBeamGPSPrice
Overall WinnerLowrance Hook 2-75", 7", or 9" HorizontalDownscan, Sidescan, ChirpYes Check Price on Amazon
Runner-upHumminbird HELIX 5 SI/GPS Combo5" HorizontalDual / Side & Down ImagingYesCheck Price on Amazon
Best PortableGarmin Striker Plus 44.3" VerticalDual-beam with ChirpYes Check Price on Amazon
Lowrance FishHunter PROn/aTri-FrequencyYes via PhoneCheck Price on Amazon
Deeper Smart Sonar PRO+ Portable GPS/Wireless Fish Findern/aNarrow & WideYes via PhoneCheck Price on Amazon

”There is nothing I love more than fishing. It’s a chance to get away from the hustle and bustle of day to day life and just relax. The thrill of the catch and the places that fishing takes you all add to a great past-time. Thankfully working for Focus Fishing gives me the opportunity to mix business with pleasure and wet and line as much as possible.

I highly recommend the use of a fishfinder when exploring new ground, or simply to locate previous GPS marks. The technology these days is amazing with sidescan and downscan imaging and it makes locating and identify fish and also structure so much easier.

Tight lines!”

Matt, Focus Fishing.

Focus Fishing Matt

Fish Finder Reviews 2019

1. Lowrance HOOK2 Fish Finder/Depth Finder

MOUNTABLE/FIXED FISH FINDER

This Lowrance fish finder is a great product for beginners and experts alike! We found this model to be extremely easy to use, and the price tag is fairly reasonable.

Similar to other Lowrance models, the interface on the Hook2 is very user-friendly.

The Hook2 has all of the basic features that you need. From a DownScan sonar, SideScan sonar, to CHIRP sonar views and highly detailed preloaded maps of either the US, or US+CAN… Everything you need is here.

As a bonus, this model gives you twice as much sonar coverage as similar fish finders. The sonar also auto-tunes, so you do not have to waste time fidgeting with any settings. This is another great plus for beginners!

GPS is also included with the Hook2. You can also follow trails and add waypoints with the GPS.

The maps are of course upgradeable if needed, with the use of a simple SD card.

The Lowrance Hook2 comes in 5″, 7″, or 9″. We really like the 7″, as the 5″ is just a tad too small.

Product Specifications

  • 5″, 7″, or 9″ sized displays
  • IPX7 waterproof protection.
  • Power: 12v DC (10-17v DC min-max)
  • Max Power Consumption: <6.1W.
  • Transmit Power: 200w rms Sonar.
  • Operating Frequency: 200kHz Wide Angle Sonar.
  • Sonar Beam Width: 40°
  • Usable Depth: 80m+ Sonar

Pros

  • GPS included
  • Great for all levels of experience
  • Affordable
  • User-friendly interface
  • Reliable and recognisable brand

Cons

  • No updates via a wireless connection which some might not like. We don’t really mind it that much.

Summary

As you can tell, we really like this model, which is why it’s the #1 on our list. Pretty much a no-brainer in our book! With multiple sizes to choose from, you should have no issues picking one to suit your fishing style.

2. Humminbird HELIX 5 SI/GPS Combo

MOUNTABLE/FIXED FISH FINDER

Serious piece of equipment!

If you are looking for a model with all the bells and whistles then the Humminbird HELIX 5 is it! Sporting a large 5″ screen, the HELIX 5 SI GPS is the first in the HELIX series and includes all 3 sonar types – DualBeam, Down Imaging, Side Imaging.

The powerful transducer with CHIRP and temperature control makes all aspects of imaging a breeze, and no fish will be safe from being found.

The ability to screenshot or record the sonar is a handy feature especially if you want to show/review your footage at a later date. The display has LED backlight providing great visibility at night or in direct sunlight and being IPX7 waterproof is always an added bonus.

Product Specifications

  • Screen: 5″ diagonal, color TFT, 800H x 480V pixel resolution, with backlight
  • Sonar: Side Imaging, Down Imaging, DualBeam Plus
  • Depth Capability: DualBeam Plus: 1500 ft (457 m); SI/DI: 100 ft (30 m)
  • Frequency and Coverage:
    • DualBeam Plus: 200 kHz / 20° and 83 kHz / 60°
    • Down Imaging: 455 kHz
    • Side Imaging: 455 kHz / 86° (x2) – 240 ft (73 m) on each side of the boat
  • Transducer: Transom XNT 9 SI 180 T
  • Power Output: 500 Watts (RMS)
  • Power Input: 10.8-20 VDC
  • Power Draw: 615 mA
  • GPS: 5 Hz, Internal

Pros

  • GPS built-in
  • DualBeam + Side Imaging + Down Imaging
  • Powerful transducer
  • Sonar Recording and screenshot capability
  • IPX7 waterproof;
  • NMEA 0183 support;
  • MicroSD card slot;
  • Upgradable internal software;
  • Gimbal mount included;
  • Fairly easy to install.

Cons

  • No active support for SmartStrike cards;
  • Does not include AutoChart Live
  • Limited to 100 ft depth capability for SI/DI sonar

Summary

If you are looking for a larger unit with great sonar features and GPS then this is a great unit. The large screen size makes viewing sonar and maps at the same time a breeze! This one gets a well-deserved spot on our list of the best fish finders.

3. Garmin Striker Plus 4 with Dual-beam

MOUNTABLE/FIXED + PORTABLE FISH FINDER

Good things come in small packages! 

For those looking to get into the market with a small fish finder unit then this model is ideal. Perfect for small boats or kayaks, the Garmin Striker 4 provides a great service at a great price.

It may only be small, but the 4.3-inch display provides quality imagery with various screen modes to show both sonar and GPS/maps at the same time.

The dual-beam transducer includes a temperature sensor which is always an added bonus with multiple mounts included. It has powerful depth capabilities for such a small unit and has the ability to be used offshore, so overall it’s very versatile.

Product Specifications

  • Screen: 4.3″ diagonal display (Resolution 272 X 480 pixels)
  • Splitscreen mode
  • Ultrascroll® (displays fish targets at higher boat speeds)
  • Fish Symbol ID
  • One 4-pin transducer port
  • Quickdraw Contours
  • Integrated GPS
  • Mark Waypoints
  • Course over Ground (COG)
  • Current draw @ 12V: 0.23A

Pros

  • GPS built-in
  • Unit cover not included;
  • No NMEA port.
  • Capable of 50/77/83/200 kHz base frequencies
  • IPX7 waterproof;
  • NMEA 0183 support;
  • High-sensitivity GPS;
  • GPS speed;
  • Quickdraw Contours;
  • Split screen mode
  • Small and compact
  • Easy to install.

Cons

  • Does not come with a cover;
  • No NMEA port.

Summary

If you are looking for a quality fish finder for your kayak then this is definitely for you. The GPS is highly accurate and it can even be used offshore.

4. Lowrance FishHunter PRO

PORTABLE / WIRELESS FISH FINDER

The world’s fastest tri-frequency fish finder

Following in the steps of other castable/wifi fish finders, Lowrance has released their own version which is sure to please.

It is packed with features and really is a game-changer for landbased or ice fishers. With multiple views including raw, fish and ice flasher view, you will be spotting fish under any fishing circumstances.

With a WIFI range of 150ft, you will be able to cover a lot of area with speeds 4x faster than Bluetooth and no requirement for an internet connection.

Probably the biggest feature is the tri-frequency transducer that rotates between 3 different frequencies to give you the highest resolution possible.

Product Specifications

  • Small and compact – the size of a tennis ball
  • Weight: 180g
  • Operating temperature range: -22°F to 95°F (-30°C to 35°C )
  • Up to 160 ft (55 m) max depth
  • Frequencies 381kHz, 475kHz
  • Wi-Fi range up to 200 ft (65 m) 
  • Integrated GPS
  • Mark Waypoints
  • Course over Ground (COG)
  • Current draw @ 12V: 0.23A

Pros

  • Small unit, easily stored
  • Reliable WiFi, No Data Connection Required
  • Difficult to submerge which improves Wifi connection
  • Dedicated fishing view for ice fishing
  • Has a built in LED light so you can always see the unit in the dark
  • The Fishhunter App provides many features and allows you to log catches and share data with friends.

Cons

  • Requires a smart phone with Wifi

Summary

We really like the castable wifi fishfinders and this one is certainly up there with the best.

5. Deeper Pro Wireless Fish Finder

PORTABLE / WIRELESS FISH FINDER

Game-changing sonar technology!

The Deeper Pro Wireless Sonar model is paving the way for handheld / portable fish finders. No longer do you need a boat with a fixed transducer, the Deeper Pro allows all types of fisherman to utilise sonar when targeting fish.

Scan the river bottom whilst winding in and the sonar data will be transmitted to your phone via wifi.

Use the available smartphone app to save scan data and identify features such as structure and fish.

Product Specifications

  • Wifi range of 330 ft / 100 m
  • Small size of 2.5″/ 6.5 cm diameter
  • Compatible with iOS 11.0 and Android 4.4 to the latest iOS and Android devices
  • 3.5 oz /100 g weight
  • Rechargeable 3.7v Lithium Polymer battery
  • Battery lasts for 6 hours of non stop usage
  • Wi-Fi range up to 200 ft (65 m) 
  • Integrated GPS
  • Mark Waypoints
  • Course over Ground (COG)
  • Current draw @ 12V: 0.23A

Pros

  • Ultra fast WiFi connectivity, no data connection required
  • 15 scans per second Smooth Trolling feature will put you on the fish
  • The Pro unit scans down to 260 ft / 80 m
  • Casting range of 330 ft / 100 m
  • Dual beam scanning
  • Perfect for kayak, boat, ice or shore fishing
  • Deeper Smart Phone app has lots of great features, split screen mode, fish ID and more
  • Quick 2 hour recharge time – battery lasts for 6 hours non stop usage.

Cons

  • Requires a smart phone with Wifi

Summary

This model is really changing the game, and one of the best fish finders in the portable category. Perfect for landbased or kayak anglers looking to improve their catch rates.

6. ECHOMAP Plus 73cv

MOUNTABLE/FIXED FISH FINDER

The ECHOMAP Plus 73cv comes with additional features not available in the earlier versions. These features include Wi-Fi, SailAssist, ActiveCaptain compatibility, and touchscreen technology with keyed-assist.

The ECHOMAP Plus 73cv offers a sophisticated fishing technology due to its GT22 transducer. It includes CHIRP ClearVü scanning sonar and CHIRP traditional sonar for crisp and clear images at varying depths. Its image quality and compatibility with Panoptix all-seeing sonar give you endless functionalities and convenience.

With the built-in Wi-Fi, you can access OneChart by pairing the free ActiveCaptain app. It’s also possible to buy and download additional charts.

The ActiveCaptain app will help you to access Quickdraw Community data, smart notifications, and the ActiveCaptain community for marinas.

With the help of the Quickdraw Contours mapping software, it’s easy to create personalized maps with 1’ contours for your fishing expeditions.

Product Specifications

  • 7” diagonal display that enables bright, sunlight-readability
  • Keyed-assist, touchscreen combo
  • Comes with LakeVü g3 pre-loaded inland maps covering more than 17,000 lakes with 1’ contours
  • ClearVü with built-in CHIRP
  • Built-in NMEA 2000 support and Wi-Fi to enhance smart notifications, Quickdraw Contours, and pairing of the free ActiveCaptain app among other functionalities.
  • GT22 transducer
  • Mount for the trolling motor or transom
  • Split-screen zoom capabilities
  • Has a water-resistance rating of IPX7

Pros

  • Crisp images from the 7’’ display
  • User-friendly
  • Built-in Wi-Fi to access tons of new features
  • Enables personalized, real-time mapping
  • Integrated Navionics data
  • Lightweight make (1.7 lbs.)
  • Compatibility with Panoptix all-seeing sonar (sold separately)
  • A good amount of accessories available
  • Large display size

Cons

  • Has no SideVü imaging capabilities
  • Limited offshore capabilities

Summary

The ECHOMAP Plus 73cv has all the features you would require in a fish finder. You will get high-resolution images and great navigation.

7. ECHOMAP Plus 43cv

MOUNTABLE/FIXED FISH FINDER

If you are looking for a fishing unit that offers clear, photolike images, ECHOMAP Plus 43cv is the way to go. This unit comes with a 4.3’’ color display that provides superior ClearVü sonar images. The result is a perfect view of the underwater.

The ECHOMAP Plus 43cv has a built-in 5Hz GPS receiver to ensure no delay on your navigation screen. With the GT20 transducer, you can achieve exceptional target separation. The CHIRP ClearVü scanning sonar delivers a great view below the boat.

You can create personalized fishing maps on the go thanks to the Quickdraw Contours mapping software. You also can opt to share your personalized maps with the Quickdraw Community or keep them for private use.

The 17,000 plus preloaded maps of rivers, reservoirs, and lakes will make your fish finding easier and accurate.

Product Specifications

  • 4.3” combo unit with bright, sunlight-readability
  • Comes with a GT20 Transom Mount transducer
  • CHIRP ClearVü scanning sonar
  • Has built-in QuickDraws Contours software for mapping
  • Quick-release mount when installing or removing device from power
  • Capability to share routes and waypoints with other ECHOMAP users
  • Comes with Navionics data and preloaded LakeVü g3 maps that cover 17,000 plus lakes and up to 1’ contours
  • 5Hz GPS Antenna

Pros

  • Micro SD slot for additional memory
  • Easy to use
  • Clear images through the 4.3’’ display
  • Integrated Navionics Data
  • Ability to create personalized, on-screen maps through the Quickdraw Contours mapping software
  • You can share routes and waypoints with other units
  • Lightweight (1.6 lbs.)

Cons

  • Has no coastal maps
  • No Wi-Fi connectivity

Summary

The ECHOMAP Plus 43cv is a great fit if you are looking for an affordable and easy to use fish-finding unit.

8. Raymarine Element 7 HV

MOUNTABLE/FIXED FISH FINDER

If accuracy and convenience are your concerns, then don’t hesitate to buy the Raymarine Element 7 fish finder. This unit comes with a 7” multi-function display that offers high-resolution imagery for top-notch clarity. It also comes with an oversized waypoint key to ensure you can mark your favorite spots with ease.

The Raymarine Element 7 HV offers a wide range of navigation features including a 28-channel internal GPS. It also comes with position enhancement capabilities through MSAS, EGNOS, GAZAN, QZSS, and WASS.

This fish finder can deliver instantaneous chart redraw, clear RealVision 3D imaging, and fast response thanks to its quad-core processor. Its RealVision enhances accuracy to help you identify channel beds and ledges among other contour changes.

Product Specifications

  • 7” display with a high-resolution of 840H*480V
  • Quad-core processor to enhance fast response
  • Smooth RealVision 3D imaging and instant chart redraw
  • HV-100 transducer that supports all built-in sonar types
  • Up to 1.2 MHz super-high-resolution sonar imagery
  • Internal GPS with 28 channels
  • Internal memory can save up to 5,000 waypoints
  • Comes with a track plotting and creation function
  • Offers Navionics navigation features and maps for Canada and the U.S.
  • Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity
  • RealBathy sonar mapping

Pros

  • Multiple sonar functions
  • Fast and accurate
  • Multiple navigation features courtesy of Navionics
  • High-resolution images
  • Fairly easy installation process
  • Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity
  • RealBathy Sonar mapping

Cons

  • Doesn’t support 50KHz and 83KHz sonar
  • Doesn’t offer circular flasher sonar view

Summary

The Raymarine Element 7 HV has abundant features that would excite any angler. It can work great when used for inland navigation as well as fishing.

9. Humminbird Helix 7 Chirp

MOUNTABLE/FIXED FISH FINDER

Get a clear view of the underwater using the Humminbird Helix 7 CHIRP. This model comes with a 7”, ultra-wide screen to give you a perfect view of the fish. Its MEGA side imaging enables you to get up to 125 ft. of coverage on either side of the boat.

The Humminbird Helix 7 has a Dual Spectrum CHIRP sonar. It enhances target separation and provides a more fulfilling 2D sonar experience and better fish arches.

Through the built-in Bluetooth, you can pair your unit with your smartphone to get text message popups, updates, or even control of the unit. You also benefit from Ethernet Networking, which enables you to share waypoints.

Product Specifications

  • 7’’ screen with a resolution of 800*480
  • Dual Spectrum CHIRP
  • Acclaimed CHIRP sonar with a depth capability of up to 1,500’
  • Built-in GPS providing over 2,500 waypoints and up to 50 routes
  • Single Micro SD slot for extra memory
  • Compatibility with various cartographies
  • Bluetooth and Ethernet networking
  • Keypad control
  • AutoChart Live to create your own maps in real-time
  • Compatibility with Navionics
  • Comes with gimbal mounting bracket, transducer, mounting hardware, and power cable

Pros

  • LakeMaster compatibility
  • Clear display
  • MHz imaging
  • Pre-loaded split-screen view
  • Ability to create real-time maps
  • Accuracy due to the LakeMaster maps
  • Two-way search (maximum coverage or narrow mode) due to its dual spectrum
  • Handy accessories

Cons

  • Does not offer Wi-Fi connectivity

Summary

The kind of imaging and accuracy achieved by the Humminbird Helix 7 CHIRP is on another level. With all these amazing features, it’s also shockingly affordable.

How to Choose the Best Fish Finder!

Different Types

With so many fish finders on the market, we have broken them down into 3 main categories. This will make it easier for you to decide on what type of device is best for your style of fishing.

MOUNTABLE / FIxed

Mountable fish finders can be easily attached to a small boat of kayak temporarily. This is great for travelers or anglers using rental boats.

PORTABLE & Handheld

This is a combination of a small fish finder unit along with a special portable kit consisting of carry case, mounts, portable transducer and a rechargeable 12v battery.

CASTABLE / Wireless

A new style of device that’s very popular with  landbased anglers. Anglers cast a floating transducer which transmits data to their smartphone via wifi.

Fish Finder Features To Look Out For

There are a lot of different models out there for you to sift through (even specific ice fishing fish finders), and with so many extra features, it’s easy to feel lost at sea looking for the right device for your purposes, or even location… as you might even need a different fish sounder depending on if you’re fishing on Lake Tahoe, or Riggs Lake, for example. Knowing the features that you need and which ones aren’t essential is key to finding a device that meets your standards without breaking the bank (yes, there is such a thing like cheap fish finders)!

By knowing what the features you may encounter are, you can easily prioritize which ones you find most important, and which ones you can live without. So, without further ado, here are some of the most common features you’ll encounter when considering different depth finders, we analysed these as well while writing our reviews for the best fish locators.

transducer

Transducer

The transducer is the part that is used to send out sound waves and give you an idea of what is lurking underneath the water’s surface  (assuming you got a decent trolling motor to get you out there). This works a lot like a radio antenna; it emits a sound wave and receives the returning echoes.

Some features that will be essential in a transducer include the cone angle, installation type, and operating frequency. A transducer is able to be mounted in a variety of locations, so it can sit where it is most convenient to you. It is often mounted on a transom or a trolling motor, or even inside the hull of smaller watercraft. You’ll also find that a larger thru-hull unit is available for fibreglass boats.

The transducer you choose strongly depends on your cone angle, so select one that will accommodate the type of fishing you participate in. Wider angles will be less effective in deeper waters while providing a wider view of shallow waters. Keep these things in mind when shopping for your ideal transducer!

Display

Just like the display of an underwater fishing camera, your fish finder’s display is a key feature in how well it works for you. Pay special attention to the display size, the color, contrast, and detail. These will determine how well you are able to discern the returning sonar signals.

One of the most important things to consider in this regard is how many pixels your display has. The more pixels, the clearer and smoother your image will be, allowing for easy deciphering. Most people think it’s worth shelling out the extra cash for a color display if the budget allows as well. This permits your images to “pop” and make them easier to view under the sun’s bright rays.

A larger screen size also increases your ease of reading! At the end of the day, the right display for you all comes down to your preferences. Some you can even read without taking off your fishing sunglasses.

fish finder display
fish finder frequency

Frequency

Most fish finders you encounter will operate either on a very low kilohertz or a very high one. For the ones you encounter that operate on the lower side of the spectrum, they tend to hover around 50kHz. For those that are on the upper end of the scale, they can range from 192kHz to 200kHz.

This range depends mostly on the area that you are fishing in, and each frequency option comes with its own inherent advantages. Water is capable of absorbing higher frequencies, so the scanning sonars that operate on the lower end (around 50kHz) are able to have a deeper penetration. However, they tend to have wider cone angles, meaning you will find less definition and a greater chance of there being distortion.

Imaging sonars that boast higher frequencies tend to perform at their best in shallower waters. While high-frequency units do not go as deep, they have less susceptibility to distortion and display more definition.

Their methods are the opposite that you will find from low-frequency units, so choosing between high and low frequencies will depend heavily on the location where you are fishing and if it is a deep or shallow water area. Fortunately, you can track down units that operate on both types of frequencies, allowing you to enjoy a crisper image in deep waters.

If you tend to fish in both shallow and deep environments, then you might be best off purchasing one of the units that is able to effortlessly switch back and forth between either frequency.

Cone Angle

We’ve mentioned the cone angle a few times already, in regards to frequencies and transducers. The reason for this is, without your cone angle, neither of these other features would be able to function properly.

When looking for a transducer for a depth finder, many users consider the cone angle to be the most essential feature. The cone angle of a depth finder also works hand-in-hand with its frequency.

Put simply, the cone angle refers to the beam’s width when it is sent out and goes down through the bottom of your fishing boat. This feature is referred to as the cone angle because the shape it begins as is narrow at the top, and steadily widens as it delves deeper into the water – much like a cone.

This feature is also known as the transducer beam angle. A wider angle will result in a wider field of view for your sonar signals. Knowing the full breadth of how it works requires an in-depth understanding of math and physics. The simple version is that a wide angle allows you a wider field of vision, while it also reduces sensitivity when the waters are deeper, which can result in distortion of your image.

cone angle
portable fish finders

Portable vs. Fixed

You may have heard a bit about portable models, and you may have heard them portrayed as an ideal affordable alternative to the more expensive fish finders that require you to fix them in place. They’re very popular with beginners with fishing kayaks, and a lot of them buy them as dedicated kayak fish finders.

Although portable fish finders continue to become more popular, you truly can’t beat the advanced technology that comes with a traditionally mounted model. Fixed units allow you to mount them just how you want it, and your wires can be hidden with ease by putting them under the floorboards.

Fixed models also offer more stability than portable options, which utilize suction cups to stay in place. They can fall easily at higher speeds for this reason. Fixed units offer more consistency as well, as you don’t need to tune the settings as much as you will with a portable device.

While portable models may seem appealing and a good option if you’re looking for the best budget fish locator, it’s best to opt for a fixed model if you can! You can use them both for small boats, or big ones.

GPS Integrated

GPS, or global positioning systems, are something we all love to have on the road – and they are equally convenient in the water!

GPS can be used to find your way back to dry land with ease and map out the coordinates of local lakes and ponds in the USA (or wherever on the planet) you’d like to explore using mapping software. You also can mark the spots with the highest fish densities, so you can come back time and time again to take advantage of your rare finds!

Many modern models come equipped with GPS features, but whether or not you need this in your own fish finder comes down to personal preference. They are extremely convenient and helpful. However, it’s best not to spend the money on a more advanced model if you don’t think you’ll ever take advantage of the feature!

Most devices with GPS are combination units, able to do both chart plotting and depth sounding. The depth sounder refers to the fish finder device itself, while the chart plotter displays your location constantly, so you don’t need a separate device or rely on questionable cell phone service to know where you are.

Units with GPS also allow for ease in entering different waypoints, so you can mark down structures, launch ramps, or fish. You can select these to revisit them at any time! It’s best to keep these capabilities in mind and decide if you want them for your fishing expeditions to decide if GPS is an important feature to you.

gps fish finder
downscan

Scanning

There are two methods of scanning that fish finders can conduct: the downscan and the sidescan.

A downscan allows the user to see great detail and even spot individual fish within a structure or school. These scanning sonars are accurate but are typically too powerful for shallower waters. Using them in shallow waters often results in an undecipherable blur. It is also overly focused and can result in a fisher missing activity happening on the boat’s sides.

Sidescans are the other option you might encounter. This scanning sonar able to scan a vast amount of water, covering a greater area. You don’t need to move your boat directly to the area you are looking to scan, and you can scan undisturbed water. However, you won’t have as effective of results in deeper waters.

Some units offer a combination of both downscan and sidescan, so if you can’t decide between the two, then those models are a great option!

Fish Finder Brands

There are a lot of fish finder brands you’ll see on today’s market, but only a handful offer the high-quality units that fishers can truly rely on for premium depth finders for the money. These brands offer a wide product range, with both standard sonar as well as GPS units.

While model’s overall function will remain constant, the technology becomes more and more advanced with each new model. Inclusions of things like downscan and sidescan can make finding structures – and fish – much easier. In addition, modern 3D technology is bringing even clearer images to the screen. Some of the most brands most famous for their trustworthy products include:

fish finder brands

Durability

A key factor in the right fish finder is durability. The most high-quality options will be able to handle a lot of wear and tear from your fishing adventures and still work flawlessly.

Make sure that your unit will be securely mounted and doesn’t break easily for the longest-lasting model with the best results! While other features come down to preference, every fisher should look for a fish finder of the utmost durability, so it will last you for years to come!

Fish Finder FAQs

A fish finder is a device that sends out ultrasonic electrical waves at certain frequencies and when the waves bounce back to the unit it determines the depth of the water. When these waves hit something harder than water, ie a fish, the waves will return to the unit quicker than previously signalling something other than the bottom on the sonar.

There is a wide range of models on the market today, with new technology being released by the top brands regularly. The most common types of fish finders include Portable or Handheld, Fixed/Mounted, Ice Fishing or Flasher, and Wireless / Castable.

Within in each type, there are different technologies used. It is amazing how accurate fishfinders have become at displaying the bottom of lakes and rivers as well as detecting fish. Not only do they scan the bottom, but they can also scan out to the side of your boat, a technology called Sidescan. More recently, Livescan and 3D scan have been introduced which again, provide even more accurate representations of fish and structure.

If your fish finder includes GPS it means it has a Global Positional System which allows you to view your location on a map, no matter where in the United States or America you are (or the world for that matter). This is great for navigating rivers and lakes and placing pins or marks on the map when you locate a good fishing spot or catch a fish. Most models on the market today will include GPS and it is a great safety feature especially when fishing far offshore.

Most fish finder transducers will operate at varied frequencies ranging from 50kHz to 200kHz with some units going up to 400kHz. Basically the higher the frequency the more detail you will see on your fish finder.

The most popular and leading brands in the fish finder market include Humminbird, Garmin, Lowrance, Raymarine, Deeper, Vexilar, Furuno. Not all brands will make models suitable for all types of fishing so be sure to check out what they offer first. Humminbird, Garmin, Lowrance have a wide range of sizes and styles available to suit most fishing methods.

Whilst the majority of fish finder head units are NOT waterproof, the transducers most certainly are, as these are more often than not mounted below the water level. There are a number of waterproof units being released which act as wireless castable units which transmit back to a smartphone. Standard models units should always be kept away from water, and a cover is advisable if left out exposed.

There are many ways to install a fish finder. The most common way for a small boat is a transom mount. This involves mounting the transducer at the rear of the boat just below the water level. The power cord is then fixed either to the side of the boat or through the rear hull and then connected to the head unit. Another method is the thru-hull mount.

This is a little trickier but does not involve any interference /screwing to your boat hull. The transducer is fixed inside the hull of the boat often inside a small container filled with silicon to ensure no gaps or air is between the transducer and the hull. This allows for an uninterrupted signal being sent from the transducer through into the water.

Yes, you most certainly can. Many companies make dedicated fish finders that are ideal for kayaks due to their size and features. With space limited on a kayak and also mounting restrictions, be sure to select a fish finder that is suitable. A small vertical screen fish finder will use up less space than a wide 9” unit. Transducers can either be mounted within the hull, through the scupper holes or over the side using a transducer bracket mount.

Yes, the majority of devices will have a temperature gauge within the transducer. If your transducer is mounted in the water then you will get a good reading of the current water temp. If your transducer is hull-mounted, your reading may be off a few degrees. Knowing the water temp will allow you to determine what types of fish may be at your location.

Most fish finder screens will display the same, unless of course, you are using a new technology such as downscan, sidescan or 3d scan. A typical chirp sonar will show the hard bottom as a yellow band with blue below it. Generally, there will be no colour (or a solid colour) between the water surface (top of the screen) and the bottom. When there are disturbances or other marks showing suspended from the bottom these can be either fish or floating debris such as seaweed. Generally the thicker and bigger the mark, the larger the fish. Keep an eye out for arches, as these are more than likely fish. A large ball can often be a bait ball so keep an eye out for larger dots or blobs around the ball as this is where predatory fish will be.

About The Author

Peter Wilkins

Peter WilkinsWhen I’m not out fishing trying to land my next pb, you can find me writing about fishing, or reviewing the latest in fishing gear. Hopefully, our articles will help you make an informed decision on your next fishing tackle purchase, and ideally catch more fish!

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