Fish finders, or depth finders, are an invaluable tool if you are going to have much success fishing. With these, you’ll be able to have a tool in your arsenal that allows you to increase your chances of finding the fish, but you’ll also start enjoying your time on the water a lot more when you know that you have a secret weapon to save you from having a successful trip out. They come in a variety of styles and use different techniques, but if you know the right things to look for you can make sure that you have the best fish finder possible. Read over this guide, and take a look at the top five below, and you’ll have everything you need for a trip out on the water that is sure to result in many more catches.
Factors To Consider When Buying A Fish Finder
There are a lot of different things you should consider when you are looking into buying a new fish finder. If you understand each of these, you will be able to always have the best option possible, without ever having to worry that something isn’t suited to your needs.
The transducer is the thing that will actually be sending out the sound waves that help you track the fish you’re chasing. The cone angle is one of the most important things you can think about. The larger the angle of the cone that you are using, the larger the view you’ll have of everything under your boat. This is especially helpful when you are in shallow waters, when you wouldn’t have a good view otherwise.
They are available in sizes anywhere from 9 degrees on up to 60 degrees, although most are going to be somewhere in the middle of that range. For most people, 20 degrees is perfect, although it’ll depend on what you are looking for.
The frequencies are also just as important. The higher the frequency, the more of a view you will have in shallow water. Most models that you look at are going to come with frequencies of either 200 kHz, 192 kHz, or 50 kHz. These are all also in relation to the cone angle as well.
The best fish finder will have the ability to use more than one, in the form of a double or triple beam that will let you have the most efficient search possible.
GPS is something that not all of the best fish finders are going to have, but they will be a great option for some people that have a use for it. These Global Positioning Systems will use a satellite to give you the exact location on the water, helping you mark places that you have a lot of success, or places that you never have any luck. It will also serve as a homing beacon if you ever get into trouble out on the water and need rescuing.
The type of power and the wattage will be an important part of your fish finder if you need the most powerful option possible. The minimum that you should be looking at will be about 600 watts, although there are options up to 3,000 that are recommended for serious fishermen.
You will need less power the more shallow the water you are fishing in. For every 100 watts of power you’ll be able to see 400 feet, with a rating of 50 kHz. With 200 kHz, though, you’ll see 100 feet for every 100 watts of power. A good fish finder will let you split it up, though, and with split frequencies you can dial in the perfect amount for what you are needing at the moment.
Finally, the type of display that you are using will make it much more appealing, even if it doesn’t always offer something incredible performance wise. A black and white screen will certainly function well enough, but a full color screen with information on different fish available and the like will dramatically increase your pleasure on the water and help make it more effective than ever. In comparison, however, you will end up spending much more money on a color model than a black and white one.
A speed sensor is a part of the GPS system in some cases, but as a tool and luxury feature it is something that some people prefer to be included with their fish finder.
Fish Finder Buying Guide
We also recommend you to check out this video for some tips on how to choose the best fish finder that will suit your needs.
What Types Are Available?
If you want to have a successful outing, you’ll have to have the right kind for your particular needs. There are three main types of fish finders available to you, but you’ll have to look at each of them individually to know if they are a fit.
Portable Fish Finders
A fish finder can be a cumbersome piece of equipment in some cases. There are models that will have to be installed with multiple pieces, but a portable fish finder will be entirely self contained and easy to carry with you and power off of a battery. With a simple suction cup you will be able to attach the transducer and start finding fish faster than ever.
What stands out about portable fish finders in particular is that they typically come in several parts, regardless of the name. With two separate pieces of equipment, you can still have a self contained unit that doesn’t take up much space, but also doesn’t sacrifice quality.
This is typically accomplished by a quick attaching systems that make it easy to remove the head unit, but there will also be easy to apply units that include the transducer, including some that will easily be placed on the ends of rods that can be swept underneath the water. Even if you have a unit that has to be applied on the bottom of the boat, it will be one that never has to be screwed into place, doing potential damage to your boat that you might not use all of the time or might not even be yours.
One thing to keep in mind is that you might sometimes be better off with other options if you aren’t short on space or weight requirements. The features alone make them very appealing to a lot of people throughout the fishing world.
Fish Finders With GPS
As we talked about above, a fish finder with GPS can be a great addition to your arsenal. This is especially true if you are going to be going out on lakes that are easy to get lost on. It also helps you remember all of the places that you prefer to fish in.
The first thing that you should look at when it comes to GPS type models is the kind of maps that are included. These can come in a variety of forms, but the overall idea is that you will have the ability to see where you are going in any river, lake, or coastline throughout the country. Upgradeable and updatable software are important here when it comes to staying on top of things that might change or improve as time moves on.
Next, you should think about the accuracy of the unit that you are looking at. There are a lot of different forms of GPS units that can be built in or used externally, but the general idea is that you want to make sure that you are going to be able to see where you are within just a couple of meters.
Finally, GPS units will come in either external or internal forms. If you are going to get one with an external unit, you’ll have to install it somewhere, which can be a problem if you are on a smaller craft or are more interested in a portable unit that doesn’t require any kind of installation.
Fish Finders For Kayaks
Fish finders for a kayak are a very special breed. The needs of a person in a kayak are specific, including accounting for the severe lack of space compared to a full boat. For this, you will need a full featured, although heavy duty, waterproof, and light model that will help you still row on your kayak without having to worry about the state of your Fish Finder. It will need to be light enough so that it doesn’t add any additional weight that will make it harder to row. A kayak is perfect for sneaking up on fish that might otherwise be scared away, but you’ll still have to make sure that you are protected since they are often more likely to tip over if you get carried away.
One important thing that you will have to consider is the combination of portable options. As we already covered, you’ll have to make sure that you have an option that is portable enough to fit on your kayak, but also doesn’t require any external parts. Having a transducer that has to be installed on the outside will cause problems when you are dealing with such a small watercraft.
You’ll also have to make sure that you think about the same things related to the GPS unit. When you are going out on a kayak you won’t have a motor or large craft to help you if you start to get lost, so it is important that you have the ability to know exactly where you are at all times and know whether or not you are going to be found if something happens and you are in an emergency.
Top 5 Fish Finder Reviews
Take a look at these five best fish finders to see where you can get started. Now that you know everything that you should be looking for, you can find the perfect choice.
Garmin 010-01550-00 Striker 4 Bbuilt-in GPS Fish Finder
When you go out fishing, the last thing you want to do is have to worry about babying your fish-finder. The minute you hit those open waters, all you want to focus on is enjoying your time outdoors and finding the best fish possible. Thanks to the incredibly rugged and durable design of the Garmin 010, you won’t have to worry about that at all. The 010 is able to handle even the harshest conditions that you come into contact with, and it’ll still run like a champ while doing so.
And, along with that incredibly rugged design, the Garmin 010 will also help you get one of the most accurate readings of your surroundings that you can find on the market. Thank’s the highly sensitive GPS that the company used in this fish-finder’s construction, the Garmin 010 is not only able to find your exact location, but is even able to save a favorite fishing spot of yours, see how fast you’re currently trolling, and more. That’s not all that’s packed in here though! The 010 also includes CHIRP sonar technology. This sonar is able to send a continuous sweep of various frequencies – going from ones that are both low and high. This wide range of frequencies allows you to get incredibly detailed information about your surroundings, and also allows for the creation of much crisper arches of any fish that pop up on your radar.
Garmin Echo 551dv Fishfinder
When you’re in the market for a new fish finder, there are a couple different routes that you can go. The first is the more affordable route. There are plenty of fish finders out there for about $150 and under, and although you won’t get even feature imaginable with these gadgets, they still have a tremendous amount to offer for the price points that they come in at. The second route that you can take is that of the more expensive one. Along with affordable fish finders, there are also many out there that are quite high-end and premium. You end up paying a steeper price tag for these products, but they’re very well worth the higher price of admission. One such fish finder of this kind is the Garmin Echo 551dv.
The Garmin Echo 551dv is currently selling on Amazon for a little more than $400, so there’s no denying that this thing doesn’t come cheap. However, what you get included with this fish finder is quite fantastic. For starters, the screen is split into two sections. This is due to the fact that the 551dv is able to deliver both HD-ID77/200 kHz and Garmin’s DownVu scanned images at the exact same time. The images that are produced are some of the clearest and sharpest that you’ll find, with the results looking almost photographic. Other features include Smooth Scaling for smooth transitions when moving from deep to shallow water, narrow-to-wide viewing cones for viewing a wide area of your surroundings, and a maximum reach of 2,300 feet. If you want one of the most powerful fish finders on the market, this is for you.
Garmin echo 301dv Fishfinder
If you’re looking for a fish finder that is able to pack a tremendous amount of power in a compact design, Garmin’s echo 301dv is definitely worth checking out. Some of the most powerful fish finders on the market are also some of the largest. While size isn’t an issue for everyone, it can prove to be quite annoying at times if you want to be as minimalistic as possible with your fishing gear. The 301dv features a color display that measures in at 3.5-inches with a QVGA resolution. Although this isn’t the highest resolution screen you can find on a fish finder, the smaller screen size of the 301dv means that there’s a higher pixel density. As a result, you get a crisp image even with a lower resolution. A quick-release and tilt/swivel mount add even more to the portable nature of the 301
However, perhaps the most notable feature here is the Garmin echo 301dv’s inclusion of the Garmini DownVu scanning sonar. This sonar is able to provide you with an incredibly detailed reading of the waters that you’re fishing in. Along with giving you a clear view of both fish and the structure underneath your boat, the results that this sonar technology is able to deliver are so detailed that they could almost be mistaken for actual photographs. Combine this with a narrow-to-wide viewing cone for extremely broad viewing angles, a maximum sonar radius of up to 1,750 feet, and we’re looking a pretty powerful, compact package.
Humminbird 409640-1 HELIX 5 SI Fish Finder
When you think of your ideal fish finder, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Is it an ultra-affordable option that will perform great without costing a heap of money? Maybe it features a small, compact design, yet it still includes incredibly detailed mapping technology?. For some people, the ideal fish finder will be a unit that is able to deliver details that are incredibly precise, specific, and informative, along with showcasing a large screen and other functional features. For those who love the idea of that last type of fish finder, The Humminbird 409640-1 could be the perfect package.
This fish finder from Humminbird is no cheap option. However, the features and functionality that the 409640-1 is able to deliver is second to none. For starters, the GPS that is included is not only incredibly precise, but also features built-in cartography from UniMap. UniMap is one of the most trusted brands out there when it comes to this field, so seeing it’s inclusion with the 409640-1 is a big plus. Additionally, this fish finder’s big and bright 5-inch display will allow you to see more information that you thought possible on the screen at one time. This is especially useful if you want to gather as much data about the area you’re in with one glance at the screen. And, finally, the Humminbird 409640-1 comes with support for microSD card expansion. By popping in a microSD card of your choice, you are able to not only load additional maps, but also save certain waypoints or areas of interest that you want to use in the future.
Humminbird 409670-1 PiranhaMax 197C Color Fish Finder
One of the greatest parts about fish finders is just how expansive the market can be. You can spend $400 or more to get one of the most powerful and feature rich fish finders possible, or you can spend as little as less than $100 to get a gadget that is still incredibly capable of delivering a really solid experience. While there’s no denying the power and flexibility that comes with a premium or high-end fish finder, a lot of people won’t be able to shell out over $400 for a fishing gadget. So, if you’re looking to spend around $100 or so, what options do you have? There are a surprising amount of choices that consumers have, but one of the best options out there comes in the form of the Humminbird 409670-1.
Right off the bat, one of the most notable aspects of the 409670-1 is it’s very simplified interface. Humminbird wanted to make this fish finder as easy to use as possible, and we think that they did a really solid job here. All of the features, including Fish ID+, alarms when fish come into your area, alarms for reaching certain depths in the water, and zooming in on your surrounding territory have been implemented in incredibly simple fashions. So, even if you don’t have any past experience with using fish finders, everything should be quite easy to figure out and use. However, we haven’t even mentioned the best part yet. Humminbird’s 409670-1 fish finder will run you just $99.00, and when you consider everything that’s included here, the 409670-1 turns into an absolute steal.
More Fish Finder Reviews
Garmin Echo 100 Fish Finder
For the price, you will be hard pressed to find a better option for you than the Garmin Echo 100. This state of the art fish finder isn’t packed with features, but what it does, it does better than you could possibly imagine. This is especially helpful for smaller crafts that you are taking out.
It comes with 100 watts of sonar power, which is plenty for smaller outings. The addition of a 200kHz single beam transmitter furthers that usefulness. With a grayscale display that is fast to refresh and will show you depths up to 600 feet, you won’t have to worry about anything other than finding fish. There is also a trolling motor clamp included to make it easy to mount.
If you are on a kayak and want to have the ability to see to the bottom of any freshwater lake you are in, this is the option for you. individually listed fish, their depth, and an audio alarm will make it simpler than ever to creep up on all the right locations and start catching right away.
The Garmin Echo 551C Fishfinder
This is the top of the line model that many people turn to when they want only the best. The entire line from Garmin stands out among the rest, but this is truly special.
The Garmin Echo 551c FishFinder will completely change the way that you look at color screens in a fish finder. The HD-ID tracking technology means that you’ll have a clear picture of what is under you, but you’ll also know exactly what it is. Every floor contour, every fish, every underwater structure will be yours to behold.
With 500 watts of RMS power and a 120 degree viewing angle, you’re also sure to catch everything within reach. you won’t have to worry about anything escaping your electronic eyes with this kind of power, on down to 1,900 feet of fresh water. The addition of Smooth Scaline technology also ensures that you will have a real time view in addition to rewinding your sonar history if you think you missed something.
Finally, Garmin has made it easier than ever to mount and use this particular fish finder. It only takes a couple of minutes to install and uses a quick-release mount and a transom-mount transducer, both of which come together to make one of the easiest to install units on the market.
The Garmin Waterproof Fishfinder 300C
This is one of the top products in this price range and one that you won’t regret. With a 1200 watt rating peak to peak, it is a powerful piece of equipment that also hosts a 150 watt rms rating. For freshwater lakes and recreational fishermen, this can be perfect, especially with the incredibly detailed user interface and the high resolution screen.
Using that amount of power, this fish finder uses a dual beam transducer that easily shows you everything that is going on beneath you. It does this in real time too, thanks to the UltraScroll feature that comes standard on many of Garmin’s models. Especially in shallow waters, this can be ideal, but it is powerful enough to see through deeper waters as well. In addition it has a 2X and 4X zoom that will help you see exactly what you are looking at under the water, all without having to drill through the bottom of your boat. The transducer has the ability to read through a fiberglass hull in some cases, making it an incredibly portable piece of equipment compared to others on the market.
Just to make sure that everything is working well, it also includes a Fish ID feature to identify the fish you are looking at, AutoGain Technology to minimize the clutter on the screen, and Whiteline Technology to indicate the depth of the floor of the body of water that you are currently on.
Important to note is that if you are on a Kayak this is an especially useful one since everything is made to be waterproof and it can be completely soaked without ever sacrificing functionality. You will always be in danger of ruining an expensive piece of equipment if you don’t make sure that this part is handled well by the manufacturer, so rest easy knowing that you can trust Garmin in this regard. They know how to protect an investment.
The Hummingbird 408120-1 Fishfinder
This is the first model from Hummingbird on this list, but you’ll see why they have two on here further on. They simply make some of the best you are going to find, especially when they make a unit as versatile as this one. It is cheaper than the upcoming model on the list, but that doesn’t mean that they have sacrificed anything in order to do that.
This unique fish finder includes built in maps of over 3,000 different rivers and lakes in the USA, has a high resolution chart plotter, and can use GPS locating to track you wherever you go, regardless of how sure you are of the territory. Once you’re there, you’ll find that the 4,000 wats of power comes in handy when using the switch fire dual beam sonar that is an incredible 5” in size. This will give you a view of everything that is happening in real time and make it possible to never miss another fish.
The entire system can be detached as well, making it a much more portable option than many of those that have similar features. Being able to get this with you wherever you go can be of huge benefit, especially when you have the ability to take on fishing spots you never thought you would be able to. For a top of the line model fish finder, you might not need to look much further.
Hummingbird 409470-1 698ci HD Combo Fishfinder
Hummingbird is known for producing some of the best fish finders on the market today and the 698ci is no exception. To start with, this model features a 180 degree side to side sonar imaging function that gives you the very largest image possible. A thin beam will scan the entire area, covering up to an incredible 240 feet on both sides of your boat. The rapid motion of the donor makes it possible to see virtually everything that is going on in incredibly high detail. Not to mention the fact that you can see down to 1,500 ft in almost any condition on the 5” HD display that is among the largest and most defined in the world.
Using high frequency sound waves, you can also get a “fish eye” view of the world below the surface. This makes it possible to see tree limbs, debris, and more that is under you as if you were actually under the water hunting for the fish. On top of that, there is a GPS built into the head unit, making it easy to track everywhere you go, an SD card slot to store screenshots, locations, and even sonar recordings, and a quick disconnect that also features tilt and swivel movements to make it easier than ever to attach and control your fish finder with ease.
There are very few products that can match the kind of features that this fish finder packs, even on this list of the top five. It comes with a hefty price tag, but the ability to literally see under the water should never be underestimated if you are a serious fisherman. There is simply not enough space to say all of the good things that are included in this model, so be sure to read up on it some more on your own and you’ll be surprised how much more there is to it.
Making the Decision
At the end of the day, the choice will be up to you. With the knowledge you have gained you will be able to easily spot the best fish finder, but there is no denying that those listed here are absolutely among the best. Hummingbird and Garmin both make high quality products that are built to not only last for years, but always function at their best and offer you a chance to fish in a way that you never thought possible. Pick one up today and you’ll be surprised how clear they make your decisions and how many more fish you can catch in a single day.