Fish Finder Full Buying Guide
Whether you are searching for a product that will enhance your fishing experience, or just trying to understand the fish finders and relating information, know that you have come to the right website. We are a bunch of fishing enthusiasts that happened to learn many things about the best fish finders during our market research, and this website presents you the benefits of our research.
Fish finder brands come in wide variety of types, models, and brands, making it quite time-consuming and overcomplicated for those who are searching for a good fish finder. We proudly present you the list of best fish finder reviews, which consists of top rated and most popular fish finder models of 2015. These reviews will surely help you to find the fish finder that fits your particular style of fishing. Prior researches are often vital before making a purchase. Our comparisons of various fish finders will help you to select the right features and ultimately decide on the model you need.
Below you can find the twelve best fish finder models (best sellers, higher rated and best feature models) that we have selected based on our research:
12 Best Fish Finders
The fish finder has a large and clear display, great fishing sonar, and 500-watt transducer, allowing the wave to reach a maximum depth of 2300 feet. The transducer is dual beam type and uses dual frequency range from 50 kHz to 200 kHz, and the normal frequency range from 77 kHz to 200 kHz.
The DownVu capabilities this model is equipped with, provide a view of fish and whole structure underneath the boat that is almost photographical in quality.
The 5-inch display itself provides high resolution, horizontal viewing, vertical viewing, zoom, and ability to view the down image and broadband sonar side by side in a split screen mode.
The device is waterproof. The user will be ready to cast and to catch when necessity arises with the help of built-in audio alarm. The combination of low-profile trolling motor transducer and quick-release tilt-swivel and transom mount provides the overall easy installation of the device.
Lowrance Elite-5X HDI is a fish finder equipped with the 250-watt transducer, using 50 kHz frequency to give underwater readings for maximum depth of 1000 ft. It achieves a very high-resolution imaging due to using a combination of traditional Broadband Sounder and Down Scan imaging used in Lowrance brand with brand-new HDI technology.
Downscan Overlay used in this model exceeds at finding structure but may fail to spot individual objects, including the fish, accurately. This drawback is overcome by a brilliant combination of Downscan Overlay with traditional sonar that is well-suited for identifying separately-moving objects. The result is the ability to display both structure and bottom on one screen, allowing to see simultaneously the moving fish and the static objects like rocks and submerged objects. The display itself is multi-window, allowing for 3-panel viewing.
To show the fish and the structure of bottom with better clarity, the readings are automatically adjusted by Advanced Signal Processing Technology, making the use of fish finder even easier.
Judging from user reviews, Lowrance Elite-5X HDI fish finder is very easy to use and is of great help. The features of this unit are praised in most of the reviews.
Humminbird 898C HD Side Imaging fish finder is a high-end high-price advanced unit. Notice that while it has more features, these may not be useful to just everyone. So it is more of a specialized, niche product.
This unit is side imaging and can provide crystal clear images with a 7 inch bright LED backlit LCD display. Down Imaging technology allows to identify structure and cover, while SwitchFire technology serves for targeting and locating fish. Finally HD Side Imaging allows to scan up to 240 feet wide area to both sides of boat’s location.
898C HD SI is a combo that provides an internal GPS for chart plotting, which works with a built-in ContourXD map. This map covers all the inland U.S. lakes and rivers, as well as the whole coastline. This is very useful for traveling around the States, as it allows you to plot your way with the help of an accurate chart you will be able to access at all times.
Lowrance Elite-7X is a fish finder that is perhaps most famous and immediately recognizable for having 7-inch widescreen, which is one of the biggest screens present among the best-rated fish finders in our list. Not only does it allow to view details at wide angle, but it also allows to view details in conditions of bright sunlight thanks to offering the great resolution, contrast, and brightness. Keypad and screen can be used both in the daylight and at night (with an adjustable backlight).
The sounder has RMS power of 250 watts and works in the frequency range from 83 kHz to 200 kHz, while the Down Scan sonar works in the frequency range from 455 kHz to 800 kHz. Such selectable frequency allows to achieve deeper and wider coverage of the imaging, giving details of the bottom structure and all the objects hidden beneath the water surface in high definition.
The Down Scan Imaging allows you to discern the details such as predator fishes, baitfish, thermoclines, bottom and structure located under the boat, and this viewing has photo-like quality.
Humminbird ICE-35 is a model that we would recommend for ice fishing enthusiasts. The most important and popular feature of this unit is advanced zoom flexibility, allowing the user to zoom in any part of the water column for viewing more details. The readings are very clear, viewed with the help of fiber optic display that supports three colors.
Other features of this unit include dual frequency, 800 watts peak-to-peak, depth capability that reaches the maximum of 200 feet, and LCD technology suited for extreme temperatures that automatically sets the flasher and reports the lake bottom to the user.
The 859ci model by Humminbird also includes a wide 7-inch display and is a combination of internal GPS and fish finder. It features a very powerful 4000 watts PTP output for Dual Beam Plus technology, allowing to cover more of the underwater area.
As for the GPS, it comes with a feature of built-in cartography. One of dual SD card slots is used for the cartography, the second slot can be used for stuff like sonar recordings, screenshots, and saving waypoints.
The LCD display itself is LED backlit and easy to view even in direct sunlight, as it gives crystal-clear, bright images.
The device itself is compact and small, has black & white display to show data on bottom, structure and, of course, the fish, all of this captured with an innovative target tracking technology.
A single beam sonar used by Echo 100 has power of 100 watts (RMS) and operates at 200 kHz frequency, resulting in underwater depth being monitored to the maximum of 600 ft.
It is easily installed with a quick release tilt mount included in the package.
One of the best portable fish finders, Humminbird 140C Fishin’ Buddy, and its usage requires no rigging or wiring. Suitable for most small and mid-sized boats, it uses an extendable transducer tube housing. The length allows you to use it just anywhere – the dock, your boat, or the leased boat.
You can purchase a 256 color TFT screen option, or a black & white screen option. The screen itself displays the readings of maximum depth of 240 ft in nice and clear image.
Humminbird 140C features a single or dual (you can purchase any option) SideFinding sonar. Not only does it give accurate readings, but it also can be pointed in the direction of your choice, allowing you to cover the area fully while searching for fish. Also included is the temperature feature.
This fish finder has wattage of 1000 watts, and its charge can last for a maximum of 30 hours.
NorCross HawkEye F33P model is yet another popular portable fish finder under 200, simple yet innovative, which makes it a great budget option. While showing the image that denotes the readings of structure, fish, weeds and other objects at the maximum depth of 100ft, this fish finder has a downside of not drawing the image. So while it may be too simple for anglers who are experienced, it is still a good model for beginners.
Probably the best benefit of this model is no doubt its small and compact size (can easily fit in the palm of a hand). As such, there is a variety of ways to use this portable unit, including mounting it on the boat using mounting tabs from the package. But mounting is not a requirement, you can also carry it in any small storage space, for example inside tackle box or in your pocket; else you can throw it into the water (either from boat or dock), and then optionally allow it to float/troll behind your boat.
Humminbird 698ci HD Side Imaging fish finder is one of the more advanced models, with power output of 500 watts (RMS) and whopping 4000 watts (Peak-to –Peak), and powerful side imaging technology that offers readings up to 240 feet on boat’s each side, while 2D sonar of this model gives readings of up to maximum of 1500 ft.
GPS tracking and chart plotting are done with the help of internal GPS unit, which is additionally powered by UniMap cartography. A card slot allows a selection of optional maps. Humminbird 698ci has a high-res backlit split screen display allows to view the charts simultaneously with sonar data. The navigation during fishing never was so easy.
Aside of down imaging and side imaging, this unit also includes temperature and speed data. It can be installed and deinstalled very easily using the quick disconnect mounting system with tilt and swivel.
Raymarine Dragonfly fish finder stands out by having features typical for models that are much pricier but costs just around 600. It employs CHIRP technology, a next-gen technology that transmits a wide frequency spectrum, creating high-resolution imagery of photographic quality.
The display of this model has a decent size of 5.7 inches, so reading the underwater details shouldn’s be a problem, and with 1600 nits it gives a clear view even when using underneath bright sunlight. Data from down vision and the images produced by powerful digital sonar engine of this model can be viewed either independently or simultaneously. Internal GPS is also included, featuring 50 channels and fast-acquisition technology.
Installation and uninstallation of Raymarine Dragonfly are very quick and use transom mount transducer and quick-release swivel bracket to make the process easier.
The last Humminbird model to enter our list of 12 recommended fish finders is perhaps one of the best among inexpensive portable units, and comes with black & white display with the size of 4 inches. As small as it is, it possesses a dual beam sonar working in the frequency range from 200 kHz to 455 kHz and provides underwater readings with the maximum depth of 600 feet. The greyscale display allows to view the readings clearly even underneath sun rays in broad daylight.
Best Fish Finder Selection Guide
As there are too many of brands of models of fish locators, it is understandably difficult to narrow it down to the single fish finder that suits your needs and your very own fishing style. Add there transom mounts, flashers, sonars, echoes, transducers and the common person becomes lost in this quite easily. So, how to choose a good fish finder? Perhaps it’s to rephrase the question: which fish finder will help you to catch more fish? Keeping this important point in mind, you can read this fish finder selection guide we have compiled. Thus, the choosing process will hopefully become more simple and lead you to the best choice with the help of our information.
The main part of any fish finder, the transducer is the element that keeps sending sound waves to show the picture of what lies underneath the water surface. This sonar signal sent by the transducer will then bounce off any underwater objects and return to be picked up by the transducer, to be transformed into an accessible form of the picture depicting said underwater objects.
The most important parameter to look for when checking the transducers is the cone angle. The bigger is the cone angle degree, the bigger perspective of the verges underneath it gives. As you want to locate more fish, you will require the extended coverage of the under water, which leads you to selecting the wider beam. But keep in mind that there is also a downside to this: rapid loss of strength and thus unability of deep water penetration when compared to the narrow cone. And vice versa, the narrow cone allows you to see a very deep picture right down to the composition of the bottom (even in shallow waters), but the width of the area covered will be smaller.
There actually is no need to choose one type over the other, since there also are dual beam transducers (also known as dual frequence), which are essentially the combinations of wide and narrow cones in single fish finder unit. Then there are even more specialized transducers with even more beams (for example 4). As expected, these cover even larger underwater areas and can produce 3D viewing images on their displays. And the last option we cover here is the side beam type of transducers, which emits signals to the sides and in this way increases the size of the search area, allowing to find more fish.
The first important parameter of the display is the pixel resolution. More pixels means higher resolution, which allows you to see more details. But it also means a higher price of the model.
The suggested minimal resolution of the screen would, therefore, be 240(w) x 160(h) pixels – which is still pretty blocky in regards to the image. But the more money you are willing to invest, the better resolution, and the sharper image you will get.
Then, it’s arguably hard to discern data from even high-res display if the display size itself is small. Thankfully, the displays also come in different sizes and selecting a bigger sized screen will give you better and clearer picture. You will be able to differentiate such data as echoes and numbers without the need to strain your eyes or use the magnifying glass.
Budget display units are typically black & white while color displays are more costly. Color display provides a picture in millions of colors. If you are using the color display, it is easier to view what exactly is happening underwater, plus the screen itself is much more easy to view in bright daylight compared to the black & white version.
Power of fish finders measures in watts and is a very important feature, for it provides you with more usable depth, better speed of displaying and updating your readings, and increased effectiveness overall. This means that while you can still get away with lesser wattage models in shallow waters, for fishing in deep waters (great lakes, oceans and the likes), powerful units are a must. We would recommend the values of 600 watts and 1000+ watts for shallow waters and deep waters respectively.
Frequency of fish finder model is an important transducer feature tied directly to its cone angle. Standard frequencies found within most transducers are 200 kHz (max), 192, 83 and finally 50 kHz. Higher frequencies come with the benefit of providing you more advanced details on the display. There are fish finder models with single frequencies, dual frequencies, and multiple frequencies available.
Fixed or Portable
All fish finder units can be divided into two types: fixed fish finders that require to be mounted onto watercrafts, and portable fish finders that are fully self-contained.
Fixed units are most likely the better choice for watercraft owners and settled fishers, seeing that they will be able to mount it to any location on their boat. Typically these are mounted either on the trolling engine, hull or stern. Each setting corresponds to owner’s certain preferences or needs.
If you are leasing your boat or prefer ice fishing / “fly-in” fishing, it’s more suitable to use a portable fish finder. Portable fish finder packages include transom mount for installation needs, with the transducer being attached to the transom via suction cup; they also come with battery power supply and special carrying case.
GPS-Combined Fish Finder Unit
For those looking for the fishing tool that is most advanced, the addition of GPS seems to do the trick. The Global Positioning System (GPS) helps to calculate your exact location using the help of satellites. Needless to say it is a must-have for serious fishers, and why should you use it separately when a combined GPS fish detector saves you both space and money, not to mention is very convenient?
The benefits of adding GPS to your fish finder are various. For one, you will be able to mark the hot fishing spots on the GPS map, and then you can find them anytime you need them and return to exact same spots in the future. By the way, marked GPS spots are known as waypoints, and typically most combination units will allow you to mark hundreds or even thousands of waypoints.
If you have selected one of the fish finding units with charts and background maps inclusion, GPS will also allow you to navigate through the waters.
Finally, use of GPS increases your safety by the simple fact that you will not get lost as GPS will always easily point you home. Consider the cases when your fishing happens throughout several different locations during the day, or situations when severe weather suddenly rolls out, and you lose sight of the landline. With GPS, you can always tell how far you are from home, and in which direction you need to move in order to reach it.
Fish Finder Working Principle
To better understand how to use your fish finder, you should, of course, understand how it works. It uses sonar technology that displays underwater objects with the help of sound waves. First, the sound wave produced by the fish finder is sent through the water by the transducer. As it penetrates the water deeper and deeper, this sound wave spreads forming a conic shape (usually called a beam). Within the range of this beam, any objects encountered by the wave trigger the reflection of the signal back to the transducer.
After this, transducer calculates the amount of time which has passed between the instances of sending and receiving the bounced back signal. This allows to measure the distance, which is then shown on the display. In case the sound wave does not encounter any obstacles on its way, it will reach the bottom. The bottom can be either soft or rocky. In case of soft bottom composed mostly from mud and weeds, the signal simply gets absorbed, while a rock bottom will reflect more or less strong signal back tot he transducer.
In the end, sonar signal reflections are being read by fish finder and end up displayed on the screen. This way, fish finder lets you know about the bottom and everything encountered between it and the transducer location.
Sonar beam angle is known as the cone angle (measured in degrees), and the wider it is, the more of underwater area will be covered. Each fish detector model comes with own cone angle, and there is a big choice of these, especially if you add the fish finder models that are equipped with multi-beam sonar technology for covering an even wider area.
Amazon is a good place to check for fish finder prices since it’s a convenient place to go for online shopping. From our experience one can always expect to find a good deal there when buying a fish finder.
We have listed above the most popular and advanced fish finder models of 2015 with the best price/quality ratio. Their user reviews are largely positive, and all these models are high-rated. We also tried to present as much variety as possible, taking all possible target auditory from newbies to professional fishers into consideration. Since we made all this work of condensing the very best fish finders in a relatively short list, it should be easy for you to select a model that suits your needs now.
Of course when comparing different fish finder models, the key things to consider are your budget and the desired features you would like to have in your unit. Deciding between fixed or portable unit is also important, as is the decision to have integral GPS in your fish finder model. In any case after reading our site you are already well-equipped with knowledge, and we hope that the information provided here will help you to find the most appropriate fish finder for your fishing needs.