A fish finder uses the ultrasonic wave to find the desired object. The ultrasonic wave transmits through water at a constant speed of 1500 meters per second. When the wave strikes an object such as the fish or seabed, the sound is reflected back towards the source. The depth then can be determined by calculating the time difference between the transmission and the reflected sound. This is the basic idea of how a fish finder works. Many people like to keep their fish finders working, even when they are not actively looking for fish, to work as a lookout for hazards.
Types of Fish Finders
Depending on the purpose of your target, you can choose among three best fish finders. They are: Standalone, Combination and Networked system fish finders. I will talk about them briefly to give you some basic knowledge.
Standalone Fish Finders
If your sole goal is to find out what is below the surface of the water, you should get a dedicated and best fish finder with the biggest display screen. They are often providers of most performance with the least cost. If you own a small boat that you use for fishing on small inland lakes then you should get one of these best fish finders. You can also get one if you are on a budget. If you have room for more displays, you can get a big screen fish finder for yourself. The best fish finders will let you add in a GPS sensor later if you want.
Combination Fish Finders
If you own a middle-sized boat then you should get a combination fish finder. You can make use of the GPS for navigation to the fishing areas, view both of these on a split screen or view only the fish finder. There are Black Box sounder modules which you can buy to turn your Chart Plotters into combination units if you install a transducer.
The fully networked systems of fish finders can be bought from almost all the major suppliers. The networked systems usually support a wide range of data sources including the radar, raster and victor GPS charts, SiriusXM satellite radio and videos. Many networked systems allow WiFi and Bluetooth as well, which you can connect with your smartphone or iPhone to control from there. Such Networked Systems are great for medium-sized or large boats. The Black Box module of the Networked System only works as one of the sources of data.
How to Choose a Fish Finder
Now that you are in the market to look for the best fish finder, you should take notice of some of the key things to make sure that your purpose is getting fulfilled. First and foremost you should decide what your main purpose is. Based on that answer, you can choose one of the above-mentioned types to somewhat narrow down your choices.
Next, you should look at the following matters to choose your best fish finder.
You will have to decide among these three options – single, dual and multiple. Of course, depending on the level of frequency, the performance will differ, and so will the prices. Frequencies are a big factor in transducers as well. Most of the transducers come in 50, 83, 192 or 200 kHz frequencies. All of these are in direct relation to the cone angle.
Determine where your favorite fishing crowds lie, and if you want to venture out more. Higher frequencies, for example the 192 and 200 kHz work best in the shallower water. Low frequencies on the other hand, for example 50 kHz work best in deeper water and can be used by professionals and for commercial uses.
Here is a general rule of thumb for you if you are confused. The higher the frequency, the more detail it will show up on your display screen. As higher frequency means there are many more sonar waves being sent and received by the transducer of your best fish finder, it will pick up on more fish or rocks or any other objects. Some best fish finders even send out multiple frequencies and even in 400+ kHz and they show incredibly detailed images of the objects. These fish finders even let you choose between narrower and more detailed views or broader and more general views.
Power is a crucial matter to think about before you make your purchase for the best fish finder. The power of fish finder units is measured in Wattage (W). The greater the W in your best fish finder, the faster your fish finder’s display screen can show you the readings with more depth. If the wattage is less, it will be slow in doing the readings and it will obviously be more suitable in shallower water due to this reason.
So what power you want to invest in clearly depends on your choice and style. If you fish in shallower water, you will need less power. If you want fish in deep water like the great lakes or the sea, you should get a fish finder with the greatest number of W that your budget allows you to get. For every 100 watts of power at 50 kHz, your transducer can show readings for up to 400 ft. For the same watt power at 200 kHz, it will be for up to 100 ft. Most mid-range fish finders are available in dual frequencies, so you see the readings from both the frequencies in the split screen of your display.
Display Screen Resolution
The amount of pixels in your best fish finder’s display screen is also an important factor to consider before you make that final decision. The pixel can be thought of as a dot on your screen. The dot is the smallest amount of detail that you can see on your screen. When you put all these dots together, you see what the actual object is.
The more number of pixels there are, the more details you will be able to see. At a minimum, you should get a screen of 240 (v) X 160 (h) pixels. Know that even then, the image will be kind of blocky. To get sharper and crisper images, you should consider investing in a higher resolution display screen.
Screen resolution along with the screen size will ultimately make up the fact for how clear and crisp your images are. The less expensive fish finders generally have smaller screens and they can be used as secondary fish finders or backups. If you plan to buy your main fish finder, you should go for the biggest size screen you can get within your budget. This will make your overall experience better as getting a clearer image means you will be able to see the echoes, data and numbers clearly as they will be more spread out. It will also be easier to see and differentiate among the objects in your best fish finder.
Keep in mind that screen sizes are measured diagonally and most quoted screen sizes refer to the diagonal distance in inches across your display screen. Widescreen displays let you see the more meaningful information. When you make split screens on such a widescreen display, you get to see your GPS chart, radar screen or returns from multiple transducers all at once and in a convenient way.
Color or B/W
Color is the latest standard these days when it comes to electronics. They let you see things in greater details showing up to millions of variations of colors compared to just 265 shades of gray. A fish finder with a color display screen will show you the fish and underwater objects which will truly pop out at you from the display. This will help you in seeing what is actually going on underwater. Color screens also tend to be easier to see in the bright lights, compared to plain old black and white screens. If the weather is dark or cloudy, you will see the color screen even better.
You can still find models of old fish finders which are available in black and white display screens but unless you are really tight on a budget and it is the only feature set that fits into your pocket at the time, you will surely get much more enjoyment from a color display. If you absolutely can’t, a black and white display will still do the work and is a good way to start, as it is not actually a deal breaker.
Transducers are the main part of the fish finders as they emit and receive the sonar waves. The sonar waves are what help in finding the fishes and objects for us. Depending on where and how far you want to look, you can choose one. There are best fish finders with high-frequency transducers available now which can look to the side, straight down and can cover over a 360 degrees range. If you are not a professional, you don’t need such high frequencies as you are not looking for power to see up to 5000 ft. down but it is still nice and better to be able to see on the sides. Based on frequencies, there can be three types.
Higher Frequency Transducers
These have shorter wavelengths and more wave cycles per second which means you get to see more detail but can only venture out to shallow to moderate depth. A 200 kHz transducer will have a range of about 600’. High-frequency transducers generally show crisp and clear images of the bottom but will unfortunately not cover much depth range. These types will help you in finding the fish right below your boat.
Lower Frequency Transducers
These transducers have longer waves with fewer waves per second. As a result of this, they show less detail but carry more energy and can show greater depths. Lower frequency transducers will not show as much of clear and crisp images as the above mentioned one, but they will operate more effectively in the deep oceans or great lakes. These types will help you in finding clustered fishes, for example near a beam.
Dual Frequency Transducers
These transducers use the same material used in other transducers to emit and receives pulses from more than one frequency and this sometimes occurs simultaneously. There are best fish finders with dual beam or QuadraBeam transducers as well which use multiple elements, some of which are sometimes aimed at different directions.
You can buy transducers separately in some models of fish finders.
Transducers are made in many types of materials but keep in mind that not all materials can be used in all types of boats. For example, plastic thru – hull housing should never be used on a wooden boat. Wood swells up as it absorbs the water and the expansion of wood can do damage to a plastic transducer and cause a leak. It is better to use bronze in wooden boats.
On the other hand, bronze thru – hull housings should not be used in aluminum boars as the interaction between the bronze and the aluminum, in addition to the presence of salt water, will eat away the bronze housing and aluminum hull.
Cone Angles and Beams
Cone angles mean the width of the beam sent from the bottom of your boat into the water. At the top where your transducer resides, it is pointy. As it goes further down, it gets wider. The wider the degree of the cone angle, the wider the area is being covered. The cone gets bigger as you go deeper. But keep in mind that as the cone angle gets wider the sensitivity starts to decrease in deep water.
The cone angles generally range from 9 degrees to greater than 60 degrees. The best fish finders have a 20 degrees cone angle as it is a great point to start at getting to fishes in different depths. The standard transducers will have a single beam. As it gets advanced to the best fish finders more beams will be added and the angle to cover more area will be increased as well.
Style and Shape
Transducers come in many styles and shapes. You should choose that best goes with your boat’s style.
Thru – Hull
This is most likely to provide with the best signal quality but it is also the most difficult one to install. Sailboats generally use these types. A thru – hull transducer has temperature and depth sensors as well as a speed paddle wheel.
In – Hull
These types don’t need any contact with water. These are glued to the inside of the hull with either epoxy or silicone. The In – Hull types don’t work on cored or steel hulls and can be only used on solid fiberglass. They are popular in trailer-able boats.
Transom – Mount
These types have an adjustable angle bracket which is bolted or screwed to the transom with the transducer hanging below or behind the hull. This installation is simpler compared to the other ones but it may encounter with more chaotic water flow.
These types are clamped to the outside or permanently installed inside the propeller hub of the trolling motor.
Why Use a Fish Finder
Other than for the obvious reason of finding you fish, the best fish finders can help you making your overall fishing experience better and more enjoyable.
Locating the Bait
It can be hard to find sometimes on the surface as many times the bait might be suspended in the water column. In such times it can be located with the use of the best fish finder. You will be glad to have invested on a fish finder when you won’t be able to get your bait at a dependable spot.
Assuming the Number of Fishes
The best fish finder will help you in assuming the number of fishes in a school. On the screen, you will get to see and determine the number of fishes where you have placed your bait, depending on the power and frequency of your fish finder.
Guessing the Size
The best fish finder will let you determine the size of your target as well. This can be a great feature as having the knowledge of how big your catch is going to be is always helpful. Some best fish finders come with different sizes of fish icons to give you an idea about the size while some have other advanced technologies.
Determining the Depth
If you want to place your bait, it is better to determine the depth of the water beforehand. Knowing the depth of water will let you easily drop the bait in the right location. It will help you in fishing in oceans and great lakes as well.
Understanding the Speed
You can get an idea about the speed of the wavelength with the help of the best fish finder that is GPS enabled. It is essential to know about the turn and speed of the wave to avoid any sort of hassle while you fish. A fish finder can also give wave alert from the longer distance.
Measuring the Water Temperature
The best fish finder with GPS enabled feature can help you in determining the temperature of the water. You can look at the horizontal lines on the display screen to define the water temperature. It will help you in finding the hot and cold water zones. Some species of fishes live in cold water while some in hot water. Understanding the water temperature will give you an extra edge you plan to catch a certain type of fish.
Marking the Spot
If one day you come across an area where you don’t generally fish in but fall in love with, you get to mark your spot to come back with the help of a best fish finder, even if you don’t own a GPS. Knowing the depth of the bottom will work in your advantage here. Lining up a couple of land reference points along with the depth measurement can put you right back in that desired area.
Other than being useful as a fish finder, your fish finder can be helpful in other ways as well. For example, if you like to dive off your boat or kayak, knowing the depth will come in handy. Not only will this be helpful in saving you the time and energy for not having to guess on a good spot, but also it will help you from potential danger of the unknown lying underwater. Knowing the depth of the bottom is definitely far better than having to jump off blindly.
Now I will review some of the available brands of fish finders to help you out in your endeavor.
10 Best Fish Finder Reviewed Here!
Still now we have talked about different characteristics that should be present in the best fish finder. From our research we have come up with the 10 best fish finders reviews, which almost fulfill all these criteria. Therefore, please give a look at these fish finder reviews for better understanding to get your best fish finder.
Garmin Striker 4 Portable GPS Fish Finder Review
This high-frequency fish finder sonar gives near-photographic images in the representations of fishes, objects and structures. Garmin is not a bad brand at all. The high frequency helps to see what is near your boat. The interface is simple to use as it uses keys to operate. The Garmin Striker 4 is easy to install and use. The display screens are available in sizes 3.5, 5 and 7 inches. There is a built-in flasher in the fish finder which helps in viewing the gathered data in the classic fisher format. This feature is ideal for vertical jigging and ice fishing.
There is a feature of a way-point map. The way-point map can be used to easily view, mark and navigate the locations such as docks, stumps and brush piles. The sonar system uses a chirp system. The chirp of the sonar system sends out a continuous sweep of frequencies that provides and gathers a wide range of information from the surrounding underwater. The chirp sonar system is capable of creating crisper fish arches with better target separation.
- Near photographic images and true representation of structures, fishes and objects.
- Easy to navigate keyed interface.
- Moisture gets between the screen and outer glass.
Lowrance Hook-3X Sonar Review
This Lowrance fish finder has a 3 inches color display that comes in detailed 320 X 240 resolutions. It makes it easier to see under direct sunlight and from wide viewing angles. There is a LED backlight that makes it useable even during the night time. The fish finder works with broadband. The device is able to identify fishes, bottom contour and hardness, structure details, columns etc. There is a feature of Advanced Signal Processing (ASP) which reduces the need to manually adjust the settings to target on the fishes, structures and bottom details with more clarity.
The Lowrance Hook 3x fish finder operates with dual frequencies of 83 kHz and 200 kHz to maximize the view of the area beneath the boat as well as the overall surrounding areas. The 83 kHz sonar wavelength provides for up to 60 degrees of conical coverage which is ideal for covering large areas at once. It also helps in displaying the largest fish arches. We have got a big guide about Lowrance here which you can check out.
- Amazing 3 inches color display that can be viewed from wide angles and under full sunlight.
- ASP reduces the need to manually adjust every single time.
- Operates in dual frequencies to cover larger areas.
- Can’t be used over 10 MPH on boat.
Deeper Smart Sonar PRO+ Review
This fish finder runs with advanced technologies as it is a wireless finder that runs on WiFi connection. The Deeper Smart Sonar PRO+ fish finder contains an internal GPS receiver that lets your device to create barometric maps while you go for fishing both offshore and onshore. Previously this feature was only available on the consoles of expensive and commercial fishing boats. Worry not about having WiFi or internet connection while you are out in the sea as with the help of the Deeper App, you will have internal access to your smartphone.
The Deeper App works on most android and iOS devices. You need to download the Deeper App on your device to have access to your fishing notes, offline maps, weather forecast, screen color mode, social media sharing etc. The color mode can be accessed through the Deeper App and can be changed based upon the time and brightness of your day. It increases target separation and decreases noise. You can choose the sensitivity of the fish finder as well. Here’s a complete Deeper review if you want to know more.
- Weights only 100 grams or 3.5 ounces.
- Real time bathymetric map can be achieved for location efficiency.
- It doesn’t work on shallow water.
iBobber Wireless Bluetooth Smart Fish Finder Review
The iBobber wireless and Bluetooth smart fish finder is a super cute looking fish finder that uses the latest technologies to make your hobby more fun and enjoyable. It is the portable and wireless fish finder which you can bring anywhere with you in an easy way. No matter your skill level, this fish finder was designed with portability and flexibility in mind so that anyone can use it with ease. You need to download the app on your android or iOS device to use this fish finder to mark fishes, underwater structure, map depth contours etc. This fish finder also shows you the water temperature, weather, location, species of the fishes, photos and hot spots as well as the option to share with your Social Medias.
You can use this personal fish finder to fish from the shores and docks and also take it with you out in the water, be it on the kayak, canoe, raft or boat. iBobber fish finder works equally well on fresh and saltwater and is effective in locating the fish and structures in rivers, lakes, streams. Our iBobber guide can help you more too.
- Portable and flexible to be taken anywhere.
- App lets you mark all your targeted objects.
- The range is only about 40 feet.
Fish Finder Camera 720P 2MP Underwater Fishing Camera System Kit Review
This underwater fishing camera works as depth finder as well as fish, structures and objects finder. There is a 30 meter strong tensile resistance video line which can undertake up to 20 kilograms in the deep water so you can assure that your camera will be safe even in the deep water. The HD camera has a 140 degree wide angle lens that is 2 mega pixels. You can record and shoot in the night time thanks to the 6PCs IR night version LED. It can support 720P HD videos. With the real time video option, you get to see the fish type and their quantity.
The fish finder has a portable design which means it is mini in size. The fish finder comes in a handy water proof packing kit with sun visor to help protect your underwater fishing camera under all circumstances. The camera can work 12 hours at once. There are 4PCs of rechargeable batteries which will work throughout the day. This will improve your fishing experience and skills.
- 30 meter strong video tensile line.
- 12 hours long battery power.
- Water proof packing kit included.
- It can be sometimes hard to point where you want to.
FishHunter Military Grade Portable Fish Finder 3.0 Review
This fish finder uses the Bluetooth technology and the casting range is up to 25 meters (80 ft.). The depth range is 100 ft. (30 Meters). Ice fishing depth is up to 60 ft. (18 meters). The track jig can be up to 30 ft. (9 meters). Technicalities aside, this fish finder can be used almost anywhere. The package includes a mini USB cable, a charging station, a charger, a carrying bag and a manual. Needless to say, you are good to go as soon as you get your fish finder out of the box, which I find to be very convenient.
What is even better is that you can store your information inside the fish finder. For example, information on your catches, photos of those catches, the types of fishes, weight and length and the bait you used to catch it can be stored right inside the app. So you can brag confidently with your big catches and you will have solid proof to show. Moreover, with this fish finder you can access to military grade sonar technology with GPS, navigation and plotting your favorite spots.
- Package includes everything needed for fishing.
- App lets you store information of previous catches.
- Data is shown in raw mode.
Humminbird PiranhaMax 197C DI Color Fish Finder with Down-Imaging Review
You can what is lying right below your boat with the help of this down imaging fish finder. The fish finder boasts down imaging with an easy to use interface. The interface shows important and useful information with a zoom in action such as fish ID+ even in full sun light. Other than this, the fish finder also sends out depth alarms and fish alarms which let you get the notification without having to constantly stick the fish finder right in front of your eye. Concentrate on your fishing game instead as the alarms will keep you updated. The finder has depth capabilities of 320 ft. with down imaging and 600 ft. with the dual beam. It features a tilt – mount base as well.
The 256 color display screen is 3.5 inches in size and is in the resolution of 320V X 240H. The power is 2,400 Watt peak – to – peak. The dual beam transducer uses 200 kHz/28. It is a water proof fish finder.
- Easy to use interface.
- Depth and fish alarms are sent.
- Has a tilt – mount base.
- Attractive color display screen.
- The depth count jumps all over the place.
Raymarine Dragonfly-4DV Sonar Review
The sonar fish finder has a 4.3 inches large display for providing you with the ease of use on a large display screen. The display is a high definition and all-weather fish finder screen. There is a LED-backlit display for using at night or in cloudy and stormy weather. The display screen was optically made to ensure clear viewing even from wide viewing angles. The display has sharp colors and there is no internal fogging.
The CHIRP DownVision sonar technology uses wide spectrum waves to give you photo-like images of the underwater area. This will help you in identifying the fish and objects easily. It also provides you with high speed tracking and better deep water resolution. There is a ball and socket tilt swivel mount attached with the Dragonfly sonar that lets you mount the fish finder easily on any type of surface. There is a transom mount CHIRP transducer added with a temperature sensor to measure the water temperature.
- 3 inches large display screen with a pop of color for near photo like images.
- CHIRP sonar technology uses wide spectrum to identify underwater objects and fish.
- Real time display is slow.
Venterior Portable Fish Finder Review
This wireless and the portable fish finder is effective in finding out the fishes, structures and objects that lie underwater. This fish finder eliminates the need to carry along a long and heavy cable connected transducer. The sonar sensor transmitter needs to be thrown in the water to get all the valuable information about the fish and objects. Since the sensor needs to go in the water, be sure to dry it completely to make it stop working. This can be used for ice fishing as well, thanks to this feature.
The display screen is convenient and colorful. It shows the important information such as depth of the water, water temperature, depth scale and range, size of the fishes etc. in this easy to use interface. Another great feature is there is no need to drill holes in your kayak or boat as the sensor gets hooked with the fishing line. You need to cast it as far away as you want. The fish finder uses automatic setting so all your settings will be set in even if you turn it off, which is a plus point.
- Portable and wireless.
- Easy to monitor LCD interface.
- Battery drains out very quick.
Lucky® Fish Finder Review
This fish finder will help you in determining the approximate location of the fish or fish school, as well as measuring the depth of the water. This portable fish finder has a depth scale with it to tell you exactly where the games are. The measurements can be in either meter or feet and you can choose the one that works best with you. This features an audible fish alarm to let you know about the fishes when you are not looking at the fish finder. With this finder, you will be able to detect fish, grass, sand, rocks, weeds etc.
The LCD screen can be used under direct sunlight and is very easy to use. There is green LED backlit to make it even more useful, even during the night time. The depth range of the fish finder ranges at a minimum of 2.30 ft. or 0.7 m and a maximum of 328.08 ft. or 100 m. The sensor beam angle can cover areas up to 45 degrees. The portable fish finder needs 4 AAA batteries to run which are not included with the package. The battery life is terribly poor.
- Can be used in different temperatures.
- LCD screen is anti UV rays.
- The settings go back to default after turning off.
The best fish finders are numerous in numbers, styles, shapes and sizes. You need to figure out first what kind of fish finder you are looking for and what exactly is your purpose for getting one. Based on those answers, you can determine which fish finder will suit you the best. I hope this handy little buying guide will help you to reduce your confusion and to find the best fish finder for you.