I have gone through the strangest, most embarrassing fishing experiences to realize just how important it is to invest in a fish finder. Here’s a little story from my beginner fishing years.
I had gone all the way to Lake Alan Henry, Texas for a fishing escapade with my college best friend and was excited for this new adventure. I had always wanted to go fishing in Texas. And now, here was our 6-months planned tour about to be history.
It was on a warm summer afternoon when we drew down our fishing gear. The sun had just gone down and in my experience, this is the best time to find fish as they scout for their night meal. However, despite the favorable climate and time, when we lowered our rod and bait, it seemed like we were chasing after the wish. For hours, we tried different recommended fishing spots to no success.
The next day we had better luck. Not because we arrived in time to find the fish at their favorite spot, but because we found someone who had a fish finder. This gadget was able to track and direct our bait towards the specific spot where the fish was. The fish finder was also smart in that it could tell the water temperature and depth.
After this initial experience with a fish finder, I have never gone fishing without one. In fact, I have tried out so many of them that I have learnt to know what to look for in a good fish finder and the best ones in the market.
Top Best Fish Finders Comparison Chart – 2019
|Image||Product Name||GPS||Display Size||Weight||Price|
|Garmin Striker 4 Built-in GPS Fish Finder||Yes||3.5"||0.5lbs|
|Humminbird HELIX 9 DI GPS Fishfinder||Yes||9"||8.6lbs|
|Garmin Striker 5DV||Yes||5"||0.95lbs||Check Price|
|Lowrance Hook-3X Sonar||No||3"||2lbs|
|Raymarine Dragonfly 5 Pro||Yes||5"||3.2lbs|
|Lowrance HDS-9 Gen2 Touch Insight Display||Yes||9"||12.4lbs|
|Deeper Smart 3.0||No||Smartphone Display||1.2lbs|
Below, I will guide you on how to find the best fish finder for your fishing needs. Let’s get started.
How to Choose the Right Fish Finder
A fish finder may seem like a simple gadget. After all, it’s only work is to locate fish. However, this seemingly simple gadget comes with different qualities and features. You might end up losing a lot of money by choosing the wrong fish finder.
Here are some useful tips to follow when ‘fishing’ for a fish finder.
Fish finders are powered by batteries whose energy is measured in watts. A higher number of wattage means a quicker response time for a fish finder. Using a fish locator with higher watts when fishing in deep waters will enable you see deeper into the water and find fish faster.
The work of a fish finder transducer is to release and receive a sonar wave that detects fish and other objects in the vicinity. After the transducer has collected the data, it will transmit it to the main unit and then project it on the screen. Nothing much will be shown on your fish finder screen if it doesn’t have a transducer.
Although every fish finder comes with a built-in transducer, these are normally not as efficient in data reception like after-market transducers. If you need a fish finder that will save you time, invest in an after-market transducer that will capture data real quick and work more effectively.
The original fish finders had black and white screens. These screens are being replaced by colored ones in new fish finder models. However, the screens are still excellent. If it is your first time using a fish finder, or if you are tight on budget, go for the black and white screen. You can also get an extra screen as a backup.
If you would rather go with the newer screens, there are multiple colors to choose from. These modern screens are more trusted than the old model ones. They even make it easier to fish in the sun.
There is also a glowing screen that you can opt for.
When it comes to fish locator screen resolution, have the same expectations you would with your computer and TV screen resolution. The better the locator resolution, the easier it will be to see everything when you are out fishing. A good quality screen resolution should be at least 240 X 160 pixels.
When you have the right screen size and resolution, your picture quality will be clearer. Of course, your budget may limit the quality of the screen you get. However, go for the best. Alternatively, buy a small fish finder to begin with and upgrade later.
Fish finder frequencies come in 50, 83, 192, or 200 kHz, which represent single dual and multiple frequency modes. You should fully understand the frequency range of the fish finder you intend to buy. A low frequency mode (50 or 83) is ideal for fishing in deep waters, while a high frequency (192 or 200) is perfect for shallow water fishing.
Generally, a high frequency will provide more detail on your screen. Therefore, you should know beforehand what you’ll be using your finder for primarily to determine the right frequency it should have.
Beams, Cone Angles and Transducer
Other equally important things to pay attention to when purchasing a fish finder are the beams and the cone angles for your locator. You should also go for a transducer made of quality material.
Recommended Top 10 Best Fish Finder Reviews
This fish locator can live stream your data to your smartphone. This is possible thanks to a downloadable Raymarine Wi-Fish mobile app that easily tracks all information. When you have installed this app on your phone, you can save your experience to share later with your loved ones. You can even directly upload your most appealing pictures.
The Raymarine Dragonfly 5 Pro comes with a 5-inch display screen. The screen has an LED backlight that makes reading comfortable even in bright sunlight. The screen has wide viewing angles and colors pop due to the optical bonding, giving you an experience like no other.
This locator has a removable mounting ball that makes it possible to share it with another boat. You can also personalize your mounting options since it’s compatible with socket mounting systems and aftermarket ball. This fish finder has enough storage for 15 tracks and 3000 waypoints.
- Comes with detailed
- easy-to-comprehend instructions
- Has a bright and sharp screen
- Compatible with any smartphone
- Powers up relatively fast
- Has a removable attached mounto
- The screen is polarized slightly
- Inconveniently long data cable
This fish finder has 90-290 kHz frequency, which enables it to perform well in all waters. When fully charged, the battery will last a full 6 hours. This is perfect for full time fishermen that make a living out of the activity.
Compatible with smartphone
All you need is the right app to synchronize this fish locator with your smartphone. This is ideal for people who don’t have a boat, or may be just trying new waters.
The Deeper Smart Portable 3.0 stays true to its name. It’s a high performance gadget that will get you readings, whether it’s in a kayak, bridge, shore or dock. If you are that adventurous fisherman who wants to experience any waters you can get your eyes on, this is the perfect fish finder for you.
This gadget can use Bluetooth to connect to your smartphone and hence allow you to get faster readings. And since it’s portable, you only need to make sure your battery is charged for the best fishing experience.
- Smartphone compatible
- Battery can last long
- Ideal for frequent fishing adventure
- Poor technical support
The use of the Vexilar SP200 T Box is not limited to any particular location in the world. You can download an app that will use patented Wi-Fi technology to tap into all information found by the fish finder. Once the information is in your smartphone, you can study it, share and discuss with other fishermen to improve your fishing adventures.
This fish locator features a mount that can be fixed on your boat. Since this mount is not removable, the fish finder is suitable for fishermen worried about losing their unit and prefer fishing from their boat.
If you worry about fish slipping away just in nick of time, purchase the Vexilar SP200 T Box. The fish finder will sound off an alarm loud enough for you to know that your target is within reach. You can then use the depth indicator to confirm the distance of your target fish and adjust your reel appropriately.
Compatible with Smart Phone
You can also download this fish finder’s app on your phone. With this, you will be up to date with the sonar information and make the best decision for profitable fishing.
- Easy to read
- Provides comprehensive information
- Ideal for plotting charts
- Installation is easy
- Compatible with smartphone
- Very slow when turning on
- Has a fixed mounto
With the temperature display of the Helix 5 DI, you will never be at a loss of the correct spot to go fishing. If you unintentionally stray to cold waters, you can adjust your boat to head for warmer waters and vice versa.
Down Imaging Sonar
This fish locator works at varying depths and therefore provides a clear picture of the area even when there are high tides. It has 400 watts of OTP power output and can transmit images up to 350 feet. This imaging power gives it an edge other fish finders.
The dual beam will enable you to personalize your fish finder. With this, you can be sure to catch the biggest, fattest fish in whatever water you are fishing.
This Humminbird model comes with a color display that makes it easy to locate fish from the crowd under the water. The display makes it easy to locate a good spot with a high fish population and also to read even on bright, sunny fishing days.
- Adjustable tilt
- Ideal for beginners
- Does not overheat in sun
- Installing the hardware is somewhat challenging
This fish locator features a rechargeable battery that makes it convenient to travel with. Even when not fully charged, the battery will last more than five and a half hours. This will ensure you enjoy more fishing hours.
This fish locator is versatile and will allow you to fish in both salt and fresh water spots. It even has a dual frequency that improves its applicability. This is the perfect fish finder for adventurous fishermen who like trying out all kinds of water.
The Wi-Fi of the Deeper Smart Sonar Pro + comes in handy when it comes to getting updated maps. The Wi-Fi can help you locate your special spots and makes this locator an attractive fish finder. You can even directly upload photos to Facebook and other social media sites through the Wi-Fi.
Nothing will give you a better fishing experience like the onshore GPS mode of this gadget. Fishing is made easier through the availability of updated maps. You will also learn more about the fishing grounds.
- Operating it is easy
- Can be used for both salty and fresh water fishing
- Has Bluetooth
- Gives clear picture of what is on the ground
- Can be used in clogged waters
- Will give unsatisfactory results in waters that are less than 3 feet
Benefits of Using a Fish Finder
If you are a fishing enthusiast, there is no important gadget to invest in as a fish finder. Wish this gadget, you will get useful information that can better prepare you for your fishing experience. Some of the information you can get from a fish finder include:
- The depth of the fishing grounds
- An updated map of the fish ground
- Fish hide away spots
- Temperature of the fishing water
- You can take and upload pictures of your favorite fishing spots and fish caught
- Information on what’s underground
A fish locator is capable of providing these information, and many more.
If you are a newbie in fishing, this gadget will help you adapt pretty fast. Also, if you are fishing in a new fishing ground, you will avoid frustrations of not catching any fish when you have this device. The information you will get from this gadget will help you put more attention on the fishing area and by so, make you a master at the game.
I never knew what a huge difference a fish finder can make until I got my hands on one. I had been fishing for many years but was not catching more fish and enjoying my fishing experience like now. A fish locator will help you know which spots are risky and what you should do in both deep ad shallow waters. This gadget is not something that you will buy and then leave rusting somewhere inside your boat. You will be carrying it every single day on your fishing extravaganzas.
How Does a Fish Finder Work?
A fish finder is an everyday practical tool that can improve your fishing experience. It has a very simple design that comprises of only two parts; a display screen that relays information from the water and a fish locator that has a transducer that picks up data on your fishing area.
The transducer uses sonar technology, which can bounce off coral, rocks, fish and other objects in water. This device is capable of showing the depth of the water and the distance of the nearest fish via the display. Many people choose to put the display screen in the boat.
So, basically what we are looking at here is a simplified ‘water’ computer that picks up data of what’s under water then shows it on the display screen. The device is mostly easy to understand and will help you make a good judgment of where the fish are and strategize on how best to bait one.
A fish finder will also help you better learn your fishing grounds. You will know which parts are shallow and which are not, where fish love most for food, which waters are cold and which ones are hot and so forth. Because you will have a clear map of your fishing area, you will be in a better position of avoiding risky places, say rocky spots when kayaking for instance.
Tips for Using Your Fish Finder
The first time you get your fish locator, you may be at a loss of what to do with it and how to operate it for the best results. Here are simple tips to help you.
Read the instructions sheet
The best way to learn your new gadget is by reading your manual. The manual has instructions on how you can program the finder and the terms and conditions for use. Although the technical details are not that fun to read, they will help you understand what you have at hand.
How to mount your fish finder
Different fish finder models come with different types of mount. The most common mounts are the portable, trolling, hull and the transom ones. The type of mount that you pick will depend on your preference. The idea, however, is to place your locator on the most favorable position on your boat.
How to set up your fish finder
When your fish finder arrives, it will be in pre-program settings and automatic mode. If you want to personalize your locator, you can set it to manual mode. After turning it on the first time, you can continue using it, drive around the fishing ground, with the automatic mode to assess the area.
Personalizing your fish finder
The most important setting on your gadget is the sensitivity setting. This setting regulates your device power to enable you view more. A low power will naturally result into a low display quality. Customize the settings on your fish finder to find the best.
The Fish ID Setting
The default automatic setting on your gadget will automatically locate fish. This is a perfect mode for anyone using the device for the first time. After you are used to it, you can turn off that setting. For a better view of what’s taking place under the waves, you can view the arches.
The Auto Depth Feature
You should leave the auto depth feature turned on when using sonar for the first time. This setting will automatically track the depth of the waters. After you have gotten better with your device, you can adjust the auto depth setting to reveal only a few feet under and above the real bottom. Mastering the use of the Auto Depth setting will help you focus on the fish you are going after.
The depth cursor is a line running across the display screen and that indicates the distance of the fish from the water surface. This makes it easy for you to place your bait appropriately. The depth cursor won’t be static. Following its movement will make catching fish easier.
In my experience, there is usually nothing much of peace and tranquility when fishing, except in movies. Sometimes it’s not really the human noises that are distracting you, but the nature sounds like the singing of birds. The suppressor setting is ideal when you want to block out those background noise.
When you receive your device and your transducer is correctly installed, the setting will normally be on automatic. Don’t keep the suppressor setting on as it can block out the sonar. Instead, play around with it and see how comfortable it can get.
What is the Price of a Good Fish Finder?
The cost of a good fish finder will depend on a lot of factors including the type of fishing you do, the location and type of your fishing ground, the features you are looking for in a locator, and lastly the type of fish that you are aiming for. The price could go from as low as under $200 to well greater than $1000.
If you are on a low budget and want a quality, affordable fish finder, be prepared to spend about $300 but not more than 800 to find one with most features. But if you are ready to make a good investment once and for all, go for the $300 to $600, range of fish finders. These are expensive but worth every cent.
Investing in a fish locator is a brilliant idea that every fisherman should embrace. Not only is this gadget capable of giving you information that will improve your catch, but will also help you to better learn and understand your fishing grounds.
One of my favorite fish finder recommendations is the Deeper Smart Portable 3.0. The fish finder is easy to use and sturdy. It will help you get the best out of your fishing adventure. This fish locator is also compatible with your smartphone. This means you can get readings even when you’re not using a boat. Unlike other fish finders, it is capable of attaching right to the line. This makes it easy for you to adjust the settings any time.