I’m here to make your life easier, Fisherman! There is plenty of different makes and models out there. Compared to choosing a fishing rod for example, the process of finding the best fish finder for the money, ideally one with a large number of features if possible, can be quite challenging. You’d almost certainly like nothing more than to get it over with so that you can just enjoy the adventure and ease that comes with catching more fish with the perfect fish finder available.
It’s clear that you want to carry out some research before making a purchase, and that’s why I’m here to help you. I’ve put together a large, comparison chart, which will make it remarkably easy for you to find the best fish finder for your specific needs, no matter of whether you are looking to just make the Sunday fishing easier or are looking for a top-notch finder with the latest and the most advanced features available. By the time you are finished reading this guide, you will know precisely what to buy.
What Are Fish Finders and What Can You Do With Them?
Fish finders are sonars with display screens that allow fishers to see a graphic portrayal of what is below their boats so they can recognize fish. To select a correct model, look at the type of unit – does it include GPS and is it a part of a boat-wide network, size of the fish finder’s working range, resolution and size of the display, the amount transmitting power you need, and what frequencies will work best in the inland, coastal or deep-water conditions where you like to fish.
Basically there are three types of devices available:
- Standalone fish finders that serve no other purpose. If you’re on a budget and want to see what’s below the water, dedicated finders give the biggest display and the most performance for the smallest cost. Perfect for small boats and small lakes.
- Combination finder products that also contain a chart plotter. These models are suitable for most mid-sized boat owners. You can use GPS for navigation to the fishing area, view both on the split screen, or view only the fish finder. There are also transducer modules available for chart plotters. This is a receiver that mounts to your ship and it “collects” returning sound waves.
- Fully-networked systems offering a large array of possibilities, all viewable through a large display. The features include radar, raster and vector GPS charts and graphs, video, satellite radio, controlling them through smartphone and so on. Multiple display support. New features are being introduced for more expensive models every year.
The larger the better, wide displays let you to see more useful details when you split the screen to display different types of data, such as your GPS chart, depth, frequency, radar screen, or data from transducers.
This is power of the fish finder device. The strength of the ping signal is stated in watts. Smaller lake anglers can see the shallow bottom with just 200 watt (rms) equipment. A 500-watt fish finder has enough power for most coastal uses. A truly serious fishers should look for 1,000 watts or perhaps even more. The higher the wattage, the faster your device can show readings, and the deeper your readings can be. The lower the wattage, the slower it will be, and is better suited to shallower water. That is because your fish finder reads the sonar waves it gets from the transducer.
Typically, higher frequencies provide the best and precise resolution, minimum background noise on the display and the best look from a fast-moving boat, but don’t pass through as deeply as lower frequencies. Low-water inland fishermen usually choose higher frequencies, say 200kHz, 400kHz or 800kHz. For highest possible depth, lower frequencies are advised. We suggest 200kHz or higher (as much as 800kHz) for water depths up to 200 feet(60 meters) and 80kHz or 50kHz for deeper waters. Some models allow multiple frequencies showing unbelievably detailed images and let you switch between them for wider, more general views, and narrower, more precise views of the waters under.
Fixed or Portable
For more established fishers and boat owners, a fixed finder would be a better option, it can be set in a fixed position on a boat. If you like to ice fish or travel around to fish, a portable fish locator would be more suited. XC XC.
OVERVIEW OF VARIOUS MODELS
Raymarine Dragonfly 5 Pro Navionics+ Dual Channel Sonar/GPS
The Raymarine Dragonfly 5 Pro has dual channel CHIRP Sonar/GPS navigation system with DownVision plus regular sonar. This unit also includes a 5″ all-weather, high-definition LED display for sharp color, wide viewing angles, and zero internal fogging. Comes with Navionics North American Gold lakes, rivers and coastal map. This device will transform your underwater views and improve your efforts fishing with it’s advanced wide-spectrum CHIRP technology. Quickly distinguish fish and underwater items with photo-like sonar graphics from the DownVision channel and focus on fish with the classic CHIRP sonar channel. An integrated 50-channel GPS gives accurate direction data and integrated Wi-Fi lets you send live sonar data directly to your smartphone.
Product Dimensions: 13.8, 13.8, 13.8 inches; weighs 3.2 pounds (1.45 kg)CHECK THE LATEST PRICE ON AMAZON!
Garmin Striker 5DV
This rugged Striker fish finder series with improved-sensitivity GPS is intended to let you to label your good found fishing location and navigate back to it another day, saving you time and trouble. Its power output is measured at 500 watts RMS. All of the Striker line models offer CHIRP classic sonar that demonstrates crisp fish arches with outstanding target separation. The DV range has CHIRP DownVü scanning sonar to deliver sharp shots of the shapes and objects beneath the ship. Use the split screen view to display the waypoint map and different sonar options or set up customized sonar views at the same time. Striker range units are offered in 3.5-, 5- and 7-inch display sizes. It’s 2D sonar is operating at 200 kHz / 15° and 77 kHz / 45° with 1,900 feet (580 m) depth and DownVü at 455 kHz 2.5° / 53° and 800 kHz 1.4° / 32° with 750 feet (230 m). The only thing that’s missing on the Striker series, is that it does not have chartplotter or built in maps.
Product dimensions (LWH): 7.4, 2.1, 4.5; weighs 1.1 pounds (500 g)CHECK THE LATEST PRICE ON AMAZON!
Garmin Striker 7SV with transducer
7SV makes fishing much easier and is a more advanced model than 5DV, it includes the CHIRP DownVü and CHIRP SideVü scanning sonars and has the unique capability to find structures on each side of the boat. It features a simple-to-use 7-inch color fishfinder with integrated, high-sensitivity GPS and CHIRP sonar, as well as Garmin’s own advanced CHIRP ClearVü™ and Garmin CHIRP SideVü™ scanning sonars that helps to find fish easily, mark and come back to favored fishing spots or docks and ramps. The 7SV also includes the transducer with high wide CHIRP 250 W, 455/800 kHz CHIRP ClearVü and CHIRP SideVü with 350 W power. You can share waypoints and routes with other STRIKER or echoMAP™ chartplotter combos systems. Smooth Scaling™ software technology comes with for depth spectrum adjusting.
Dimensions (LWH): 9.3 inches, 2.3 inches, 5.5 inches; weighs 1.7 pounds (770 grams)CHECK THE LATEST PRICE ON AMAZON!
Lowrance Elite-7 Ti Touch Combo with TotalScan Transom Mount Transducer and Navionics+ Chart
This massive touchscreen fish finder/chartplotter matches many high-end features and comes with impressive performance – all of this with a reasonable price. Having a 7-inch, high-resolution touchscreen screen, the Elite-7 Ti has all of your sonar needs taken care of with StructureScan® HD compatibility and equipped for Low/Mid/High CHIRP and 83/200 /455/800kHz frequencies. The multi-window display allows you to select from eight pre-programmed screen layouts, such as up to three split-screen panels to see sonar, chart, and DownScan Imaging all together. The integrated GPS antenna comes with reliable Lowrance navigation system, making navigation a breeze. This unit also has Bluetooth and WiFi capabilities that you can update the software of the unit and also download the Insight and Genesis custom maps when you want, even when you’re on a boat. It’s maximum power output is 500W RMS and operating frequency 50/200 or 83/200 kHz plus 455/800 kHz. A built-in Insight USA thorough base map covering 3,000 lakes and rivers is incorporated as the base map in this model. And there’s microSD card slot also.
Product Dimensions: 11 x 8 x 9 inches; 7.4 pounds (3,35 kg)CHECK THE LATEST PRICE ON AMAZON!
Humminbird HELIX 7 CHIRP GPS G2 Fish finder
Once a very popular and widely used is now available as an updated model. The 410290-1 Helix 7 GPS G2 comes with improved user interface and operating system, offers a dazzling 800 x 480, 7 inch color screen. CHIRP Dual Beam PLUS sonar with 500 watts RMS (4000 watts peak) power output, Precision Internal GPS Chart plotting with built-in Anima cartography with waypoint saving function. Improving your angling adventure with this unit is undoubtedly simple. CHIRP frequencies (out of box transducer) are 83 kHz: 75-95 kHz 200 kHz: 175-225 kHz with maximum depth of 1500 feet CHIRP frequencies (with optional additional transducer) low: 28-75 kHz medium: 75-155 kHz high: 130-250 kHz 83/200: 75-155/130-250 50/200: 28-75/130-250 with maximum depth: 2500 feet, CHIRP Sonar w/ Dual Beam, Temp, GPS. The HELIX model line has progressed fast with new, leading technologies such as regular CHIRP Digital Sonar, improved networking, and new MEGA Imaging for in depth sonar results that fishermen have ever witnessed. High end technology and the ease of use are the main keywords with Humminbird devices and this is one of the best in this price class available.
Helix 7 G2 dimensions: 1.1 x 10.5 x 5.8 inches and weight: 3.1 pounds (1.4 kg)CHECK THE LATEST PRICE ON AMAZON!
ABSOLUTE TOP MODEL
Lowrance HDS-9 Gen2 Touch Insight Display with 83/200 & LSS-2 Transom Mount Transducers
The Lowrance HDS 9 gen2 is one of those top level fish finder/chart plotter models and absolutely looks to come with all of the envisioned great features included. Reported to be one of the simplest to use, with most complete equipment available to the modern day angler, the HDS 9 gen2 Touch lets you to uncover a comprehensive, exceptionally accurate portrayal of the body of water under you, letting you to navigate and locate with outstanding ease. Put together these elements with advanced mapping tools and outstanding usability, and you have one of the most complete packages available now in the market. The unit presents either 455 or 800 kHz of working power and provides some of the most detailed resolutions for depths on its 7 inch display (12 inch display model also available) of up to 300ft. It’s an expensive model but offers as much you would expect – clear images from below, dual beam sonar, integrated GPS, 300 feet of depth, ease of use and more.
HDS-9 Gen 2 dimensions: 14.8 x 13 x 10.7 inches; weighs 12.4 pounds (5.6 kg)CHECK THE LATEST PRICE ON AMAZON!
LOW BUDGET MODELS
Lowrance Hook-3X Sonar Transducer
This small and very affordable device packs a wide viewing angle, easy to use in sunlight 3.5″ LED-backlit color display and a Broadband Sounder that readily recognizes fish targets, underwater outline, structure feature, base hardness, thermoclines and much more. It’s dual-frequency 83 or 200 kHz function allows boost the view below your watercraft. Working with 83 kHz sonar delivers up to 60 degrees of conical coverage that is just perfect for showing greater fish arches and exploring big areas, as the 200 kHz frequency alternative delivers up to 20 degrees of conical area for advanced fish-target separation and lure-tracking – suitable for a vertical drop-shooting tactic. The integrated Skimmer transducer with water-temperature sensor can monitor base level up to 75mph. Fish I.D. demonstrates fish icons rather of fish arches to help to recognize fish targets, and the device has track and alarm features. Advanced Signal Processing (ASP) lowers the need to hand fine-tuning controls to see fish, structure and bottom part information better, and the Pages button will allow the user to swiftly swap between 83 kHz and 200 kHz sonar frequency views.
Size (LWH): 3.75 inches, 1.85 inches, 6.5 inches, weight: 2 pounds (900 grams)CHECK THE LATEST PRICE ON AMAZON!
Garmin Striker 4 Built-in GPS Fish Finder
This little Garmin model is an absolute best-seller. It offers a lot of bang for the buck, it even has high-sensitivity GPS built in. The easy-to-use 3.5-inch color display makes it simple enough to view what’s going on under the water, it can also show the boat’s speed on the screen to be sure you are moving at the appropriate speed for the lure you’re employing and for a certain fish species.. You can mark and return to your favorite spots, docks and it’s also a great addition for locating your path back to the boat ramp. Hassle-free and very convenient keypad is located below the screen. The CHIRP (77/200 kHz) sonar transducer is also conveniently integrated with this unit. The transmit power is rated at 200 W RM and that translates to 1,600 W peak power. Can later upgraded to a more powerful CHIRP with a GT8 or GT15 transducer (both of them sold individually). A portable kit is attainable to secure and carry your Striker 4, so it’s fantastic for kayak, canoe or ice fishing.
Size 3.6” x 5.9” x 1.6” (91.6 x 150.8 x 42.8 cm)CHECK THE LATEST PRICE ON AMAZON!
Raymarine Dragonfly-4DV Sonar
The Raymarine Dragonfly 4DV model boasts a 4.3″ all-weather LED backlit display, it is optically attached for sharp color, wide viewing angles and there is absolutely no internal fogging. CHIRP DownVision sonar will transform your underwater perspective with exceptionally clear, photo-like sonar images. This model’s CHIRP DownVision™ outperforms regular imaging sonars with remarkable deep water efficiency to 600 feet (183m) and dependable high speed underside tracking. Frequency and coverage details are: 320-380 kHz / 60° side-to-side and 1.4° fore to aft. Unfortunately this model has no GPS and no maps. Waterproofing standard is noted IPX6 and IPX7.
Measurements: 13.8 x 13.8 x 13.8 inches; weight: 2.8 pounds (1.27 kg)CHECK THE LATEST PRICE ON AMAZON!
ICE FISHING MODELS
With ice fishing you first need to look for a decent flasher display. Mechanical flashers are not as reliable and may need some maintenance more often, and that is why we would suggest a digital flasher. Most 5 inch portable devices have a flasher choice in the available views. You can also do a split screen to see standard 2D sonar. With those two views you can view the fish and your bait under hole in the ice.
For ice fishing lovers one of the leading fish finders we suggest is the Humminbird ICE-35. This unit is taking ice fishing completely into the next phase with the new ICE Series. Pairing trusted flasher technology together with revolutionary features, the ICE range puts all the data you want right in front of you. Extreme-temperature LCD technology immediately detects and reports the river bottom, by arranging the flasher scale automatically – there is zero guesswork for the user concerned. Thoroughly adjustable zoom allows you see any section of the water column in its complete detail. With its Dual Beam sonar you see everything what you need to see under the ice. The ICE-35 packs a 526 segment 3-color fiber optic display, selectable dual frequency sonar, it’s got 200 ft. depth capacity and power output is rated 100 Watts RMS (800 watts peak to peak). Its sonar frequencies sit at 240 or 455 kHz.
Product size is 13.5 x 12.3 x 8.1 inches and weighs 11.9 pounds (5.4 kg)CHECK THE LATEST PRICE ON AMAZON!
VECTORCOM Wired Fish Finder
There are not tons of choices for ice fishing, but most portable models should do well. This is one of them and it’s a very affordable model as well. This cute little fish finder fits in one hand, comes with a basic LCD display (with green LED’s in its background) and it’s quite alright for ice fishing. Its spray waterproof, anti UV TN screen size is 40W x 39H. The small round transducer comes with 24 ft. (7.5m) cable and has a 45-degree beam angle. This device operates on 4 AAA batteries, which has battery save mode and battery strength indicator. Settings for high and low sensitivity. Depth range is from 2 feet (0.7meters) to 328 feet (100meters) 9). Working temperature ranges are from: -4F to 158F (-20C to70C). This model is able to see through the bottom of the boat and also clear ice. Great, easy to use and inexpensive device for beginning ice fishers – also works in the summertime as well.CHECK THE LATEST PRICE ON AMAZON!
Choosing the right fish finder can be an overwhelming task, especially since different models offer various capabilities. Some models are big or small, basic or loaded with features. Some units are perfect for beginners or less frequent fishermen, while others are a greater fit for professional use, for larger boat owners and for bigger lakes. You must choose what display size to have and if you want a high resolution screen. GPS and sonar are not always featured, however they are nice add-ons. It’s good to have chart plotting so you can tag good fishing spots for next fishing trip. Whatever you may considering, I trust this article has delivered you beneficial information to help in your hunt for fish!