Best Fish Finder Buying Guide and Review
If you enjoy fishing and you own your own boat, you need to have a best fish finder. Fish finders use sonar to display the bottom features and fish that are under your boat. This helps you to find the best fishing spots and quickly see the depths that the fish are swimming at. Utilizing a fish finder can greatly increase your fishing success rate and enjoyment. If you don’t have a fish finder for your boat, but are thinking about getting one, this is the article for you. First, I will go over the different features to consider when shopping for a new fish finder. Then, I will briefly review nine great products that are available for sale on the internet. Lastly, I will name a winner out of the nine candidates. Let’s get started
What should you consider when you are shopping for a fish finder? There are four major considerations:
The first item to look at on any fish finder is the display. Features to examine are the size, any backlighting, or if it is monochrome or color. Just like a television, a larger display is easier to see and has better clarity. Also just like a television, the larger the display, the more expensive the price. Try to determine a good display that will work for you at a reasonable price.
On any sonar unit, the power indicates the depth that your fish finder can see. This is commonly measured in peak-to-peak watts. More powerful fish finders can penetrate deeper depths, and can also see better in saltwater. Consider where you will be using the fish finder most of the time, and the depth requirements that you need.
The eye of any sonar system is the transducer. A transducer typically mounts on the transom of your boat or on the trolling motor. It shoots out the sonar signals and receives the data back. Transducers are available in different cone angles. A wider cone angle allows you to see more underwater area, while a narrower cone allows you to see deeper down. Make sure your fish finder comes with a transducer. Some manufacturers sell them separately.
Consider everything that comes in the box with your new fish finder. You should receive the unit, a power cable, a transducer, and any mounting hardware to install it. Some fish finders come with GPS capability, sun shades, or cables to link to radar or other electronics. Select the fish finder that meets all of your needs.
Recommended Top Fish Finder Reviews
After hours of research, I have created this list of nine great fish finders with a short review on each one:
Garmin 010-01550-00 Striker 4
GPS – The Striker 4 has high-sensitivity GPS built-in, which allows you to track your speed, mark waypoints, and navigate back to the fishing hot spots later.
Sonar – The sonar on this fish finder is a traditional down-only beam with the included transducer. Fish are shown as arches above the bottom features.
A mounting bracket, power cable, and mounting hardware are included with this fish finder.
Humminbird 409640-1 HELIX 5 SI Fish Finder with Side-Imaging and GPS
Display – The display here is a 5-inch, 256 color backlit display with 800×480 pixels. The display can be split in half, or you can use the full screen for maximum visibility.
Power – The HELIX 5 generates an impressive 4000 watts of peak-to-peak power.
Transducer – The transducer included handles side-imaging and down-imaging duties in one convenient piece.
GPS – This fish finder includes built-in GPS for chart plotting and navigation. A micro SD card slot allows you to load maps or save waypoint information.
This fish finder includes a mounting bracket, hardware, a power cable, and instructions.
Lowrance 000-11448-001 Elite-3X Fishfinder with 83/200 Transducer
Transducer – The transducer included with the Elite-3X is dual-frequency. At 83 kHz, it emits a 60-degree cone to cover a large area. At 200 kHz, it is a 20-degree cone for better target separation and deeper depths.
This fish finder comes with a quick-release swivel/mounting bracket, a power cable, a dual-frequency transom mount transducer, installation hardware, and an owner’s manual.
Lowrance 000-11145-001 Elite-5 HDI
Display – The Elite-5 features a 5-inch backlit color display with 480×480 pixels. This display can be split into three windows to display two sonar images and the GPS at the same time.
GPS – An internal 16-band GPS antenna allows you to navigate and plot up to 3000 waypoints. The micro-SD card slot allows the use of chart and map cards. You can also store up to 100 routes and 100 plot trails for future reference.
Transducer – The hybrid dual-imaging transducer uses two separate frequencies simultaneously to increase accuracy and resolution. The dual sonars can be viewed separately or overlaid to form a more complete picture.
This fish finder comes with a mounting bracket, installation hardware, the dual-imaging transducer, and the owner’s manual. A one year warranty is included on parts and labor.
Garmin echo 150 Dual-Beam Fish finder
Power – This fish finder is capable of reaching depths of 1300 feet deep.
Transducer – Garmin uses a dual-beam transducer here for better accuracy and picture resolution.
This is a simple and affordable fish finder that performs very well. It includes a power cable, transducer, mounting bracket, mounting hardware and a manual. One year limited warranty.
Raymarine Dragonfly-4 Pro Sonar/GPS with US C-Map Essentials
Display – The Dragonfly-4 has a 4.3-inch color high-definition backlit LED display.
Transducer – The included transducer is a dual-frequency one that uses a wide cone and a narrower cone at the same time to show you a large area and still target fish effectively.
GPS – The built-in GPS includes C-Map’s US lakes, rivers, and coastlines. The microSD memory slot lets you add maps as you need them.
A built-in WiFi lets you stream live sonar data straight to your smartphone so you can share with others.
This package includes the mounting bracket, transducer mounting hardware, and power cable.
Humminbird 1199ci HD SI Combo Fish Finder System, Black
Display – This unit has a massive 10.4 inch liquid crystal display that is color, backlit, and has 600×800 pixel resolution. The screen can be split to display sonar and GPS data at the same time.
Power – This fish finder has a 4,000 watt peak-to-peak rating that’s good for 1,500 feet of depth. The side imaging is good for 240 feet out and 150 feet down from the transducer.
Transducer – This dual-frequency transducer features sidescan and downscan technology.
This GPS can receive satellite data via Ethernet to provide you with real-time navigation data.
All mounting brackets and hardware are included.
Humminbird 4087201 998C HD SI Combo Side Imaging/Down Imaging Dual Beam Fishfinder and GPS with Ethernet
Display – This one has a color 8-inch screen that’s backlit with 480×800 pixels of resolution. Display can be split to show sonar and GPS data.
Power – This unit is a powerhouse with up to 8,000 watts of peak-to-peak power that’s capable of penetrating 3000 feet down with an optional deepwater transducer.
Transducer – Dual-frequency with both side and down imaging.
GPS – This GPS has built-in Contour Xd mapping, dual SD card slots for additional maps, and real-time satellite imaging that you can overlay with Ethernet access. Compatible with Navionics maps.
Everything you need is included with this fish finder. An optional deepwater transducer is available for saltwater use.
Garmin 010-01554-00 Striker 7SV
Transducer – Garmin includes a transducer with this unit that enables you to see both sidescan and downscan sonar at the same time. This gives you a full view of fish and structure surrounding your boat.
GPS – The GPS that is built-in to this fish finder allows you to track your speed, plot waypoints, and navigate safely during your fishing trips. Waypoints also allow you to mark underwater hazards on your maps as you go.
All brackets, hardware, and transducer are included with the Striker 7SV.
This is the hardest part of writing any review article. All nine of these fish finders are great pieces of marine electronics. While I love the size and features of the big Humminbird units, the price is a little steep for most of us. The winner of this fish finder review is the Raymarine Dragonfly-4 Pro Sonar/GPS with US C-Map Essentials. I like the medium-sized full-color display, the dual-beam sonar, and the exceptional GPS capabilities found on this fish finder. As far as extras, the included C-Maps are great to have for any American fisherman. It’s also nice to have the latest technologies, like the built-in WiFi that transmits to your smartphone. Even with all of its advanced features, the Dragonfly-4 is still reasonably priced