Get Better Fishing Results With The Best Fish Finders On The Market
I have been fishing all of my life. My mom says that I was catching fish before I was born. I am not a professional but I love to fish. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine some day I would be writing about the best fish finders.
Technology has changed the way we fish. From the top fishing rods and reels, trolling motors, types of line, and trusting the locals to find the best fishing spot, the sport has came a long way. Nothing makes this more obvious than today’s top rated fish finders.
There are many different fish finders with different features. This can sometimes make it a daunting task to choose the best fish finders. So I decided to do some research and try to help you choose the best fish locator for the money for your fishing needs.
Defining The Best Fish Finder
Everybody will have a different definition of the best fish finders. Some will equate it to best bang for your buck. Others will equate it to quality and range. Yet others will simply mean the best for the type of fishing they do like deep sea fishing, lake fishing, river fishing, or ice fishing.
So I am not going to try to convince you which one is the best quality or best bang for your buck. Instead I am going to show you fish finders in different price ranges and let you decide which one is the best fish finder for you. I do have 3 recommendations but you are the one that has to decide if the fish finder is the right type for your fishing adventures.
If you need help deciding which fish finder would be best for you, I suggest you read our Fish Finder Buyers Guide.
In this article you will find a quick comparison chart of the best fish finders, and then below you will find product listings for each weed eater pulled from Amazon’s product database for you to compare.
But before we go onto the list, here is a helpful video on how to buy a fish finder by West Marine.
Top Picks For The Best Fish Finder
How We Determine What Is Best
Why You Should Trust Us When Searching For The Best Fish Finder
We spent over 40 hours researching and writing this list of the best fish finders so you wouldn’t have to spend your time doing the research. We consulted with the top experts in the industry and coupled that with our own personal experience to bring you this list. We do not accept free products or incentives when we review products in order to keep our opinions unbiased and helpful to our readers.
In making this list of fish finders we kept 3 things in mind: Quality, affordability, and customer satisfaction.
Fish Finder Quality
As an avid fisherman myself the last thing I want to do is cause you to have a bad fishing trip because of a review we gave. So when I decided to make this list of fish finders, quality was the number 1 consideration. My desire is that you catch more fish.
That is why you do not see off brand knock offs on this list. You only see the top names in the fishing industry.
Fish Finder Affordability
Although our list of finders has units with price ranges from $100.00 to $1,000.00 these are not the highest priced finders by any way shape or form. Some of the most expensive finders can run in the multiple thousand of dollars.
Fish Finder Customer Satisfaction
We spent the time reading all the customer reviews left on these top rated finders to ensure that any fish locator and depth finder we recommend is well liked by real anglers. Every fish sonar we recommend was rated with 4 stars or better at the time of this writing.
Humminbird's Helix 10 CHIRP MEGA DI Sonar/GPS G2N Combo delivers crisp images, excellent coverage and an internal GPS so you can spend less time guessing and more time fishing productive spots.
The Humminbird HELIX 10 DI GPS Fish finder is a top notch unit boasting of some great features.
The 10″ screen size makes it much easier to view its split screen. It has easy to use controls that enable you to spend more time fishing and less time setting up or changing functions.
- Display 10.1-INCH Color TFT
- 3 Programmable Buttons
- Down Imaging Dual Beam PLUS Sonar
- Upgradeable software
- Gimbal or Optional In-Dash Mount
Best Fish Finder For Small Boat
Amp up your chartplotting, fish finding and your wireless connectivity with Simrad's GO7 XSR TotalScan Sonar/GPS Combo. Not only is the 7" widescreen display enhanced with touch-screen controls that remind you of your cellphone's interface, its bright LED is easy to see in bright-light conditions The Simrad G07 XSE is perfect for small sport boats, day boats, and fishing boats. It's brightly lit split screen touch screen displays its charts, internal GPS tracking, and fish finding screens in any type of light. Couple that with its Broadband Sounder and StructureScan HD DownScan and SideScan imaging sonars and you will find fish like a pro even in the deep waters.Usually ships in 1-2 business days
- Easy to use multi-touch interface
- Full-featured chartplotter with widest available cartography support (Insight, Navionics, CMAP)
- 7-inch flush or bracket mount display, widescreen with bright LED backlight
- Includes TotalScanTM transducer for medium/high frequency CHIRP sonar and StructureScan® HD imaging
- Built-in GoFreeTM Wi-Fi
Top Fish Finder 2018
The world's easiest fishfinder, HOOK2 7x TripleShot offers simple menus, easy access to key functions and Autotuning sonar. Powered by proven Lowrance performance, HOOK2 7x features TripleShot 3-in-1 sonar with wide-angle, High CHIRP coverage, SideScan and DownScan Imaging, plus a simple and accurate GPS plotter. The Lowrance HOOK-7 is a fish finder that offers the right features at the right value without compromising the quality fisherman have come to expect from a company like Lowrance. Combining Chirp technology with advanced dual beam signal processing gives anglers a quality fish finder that is easy to use. Its 7 inch display size makes it easy to see.Usually ships in 24 hours & Free shipping
- Brilliant 7" full color screen
- CHIRP sonar plus DownScan imaging combed to provide the best possible view beneath your boat
- Mid / High CHIRP transducer with Down Scan
- Advanced Signal Processing (ASP) reduces the need to manually adjust settings to see fish, structure and bottom detail more clearly
- TrackBack to review recorded sonar history including structure, transitions or fish targets, then pinpoint locations with a waypoint
Best Fish Finder GPS Combos Under $500
There are some great fish finder GPS combos for the avid fishing enthusiast under $500.00. Here are some great ones ranging from $200.00 to $500.00
Featuring a crystal-clear transducer with both CHIRP ClearVü™ and CHIRP SideVü™ sonar capabilities, Garmin's Striker Plus 7SV Sonar/GPS Combo delivers an incredible view of the terrain, structure and activity below and to the side of your boat, allowing you to put your lure in front of more fish You will find fish better than ever with the Garmin's fish finder, the Striker 7SV. Log your hot spots and plot your course with Striker's high sensitivity GPS mapping. Adjust the depth you are probing with their smooth scaling depth finder software technology. See the fish clearly with the Garmin Echomap Chirp dual beam sonar.Usually ships in 1-2 business days
- Clearer scanning sonar - shows you more of what is in the water around your boat. This high-frequency sonar gives near-photographic images with detailed representations of objects, structure and fish.
- The power of simple - offers a keyed interface with dedicated buttons. The Device is easy to use and easy to install. Available in 3.5-, 5- and 7-inch display sizes.
- Way point map - use the way point map to easily view, Mark and navigate to locations such as brush piles, stumps and docks. Water rating IPX7
- Chirp sonar - Chirp sends a continuous sweep of frequencies which provides a wider range of information. Chirp sonar is able to create crisper fish arches with better target separation.
- Built-in flasher - view your sonar data in the Classic flasher format; ideal for ice fishing or vertical jigging.
Featuring a brilliant 5-inch color display, the HOOK-5x is powered by high performance sonar with enhanced sonar sensitivity, excellent target separation and superior noise rejection, making it easier to see baitfish and gamefish targets. The HOOK-5x combines the benefits of CHIRP Sonar and DownScan Imagin technology to give you a clear and complete view of all the fish and structures below your boat. Its high performance dual beam scan sonar gives you excellent target separation enabling you to see clearly the baitfish and gamefish targets you are seeking with its fantastic split screen display.Usually ships in 1-2 business days
- Lowrance-exclusive, brilliant, high-resolution, 5-inch, color display
- CHIRP sonar plus DownScan imaging provides the Best possible view beneath your boat
- Advanced signal processing (ASP) reduces the need to manually adjust settings to see fish, structure and bottom detail more clearly
- Multi-window display lets you quickly choose from pre-set page layouts - including a three-panel view
- Mid/high down imaging transducer included
Improved user-friendly interface and added features like CHIRP sonar make the Humminbird Helix 5 Sonar G2 Sonar/GPS an efficient fish-finding tool. When Hummingbird first released the Helix 5 it sent shockwaves through the fish finder industry because it included side and down imaging in a fish finder that was under $500.00. Now they are continuing to rock the boat by including it in Humminbird's fish finder, the Helix 5 G2 for under $300.00.Usually ships in 24 hours & Free shipping
- 5-Inch Color WVGA Display
- CHIRP Dual Beam PLUS Sonar
- Precision Internal GPS Chart plotting with built-in Anima cartography
- Micro SD card slot for optional maps or for saving waypoints
Finding fish is easier than ever with STRIKER 5cv fishfinder. Mark and return to your hot spots, boat ramps and docks. You also can share your favorite waypoints and routes with other STRIKER and echoMAP™ combos. Not to be outdone by Hummingbird, Garmin has put out a great entry level fish finder to compete. The Striker 5cv (clear view) is a strong competitor. With 800 pixels in a 5" screen size, you will be able to distinguish where the fish are.Usually ships in 1-2 business days
- CLEARVÜ SCANNING SONAR - Shows you more of what is in the water around your boat. This high-frequency sonar gives near-photographic images with detailed representations of objects, structure and fish.
- THE POWER OF SIMPLE - Offers a keyed interface with dedicated buttons. The device is easy to use and easy to install. Available in 3.5-, 5- and 7-inch display sizes.
- WAYPOINT MAP - Use the waypoint map to easily view, mark and navigate to locations such as brush piles, stumps and docks.
- CHIRP SONAR - CHIRP sends a continuous sweep of frequencies which provides a wider range of information. CHIRP sonar is able to create crisper fish arches with better target separation.
- BUILT-IN FLASHER - View your sonar data in the classic flasher format; ideal for ice fishing or vertical jigging.
Best Fish Finders Under $200
Maybe you don’t hit the water every weekend but you would like to have the advantage of having a fish finder when you do. These inexpensive fish finders might just be the best fish finders for you. You still get some of the advantages of the pricier models but don’t pay for all the bells and whistles.
Change your underwater view and catch more fish with the Dragonfly wide-spectrum CHIRP DownVision™ technology. Easily identify fish and underwater objects with photo-like sonar images. Raymarine offers quite a few fish finders with the most affordable being the Dragonfly 4DV. This is a basic fish finder with few bells and whistles using just standard sonar and lcd display, but if you are just a hobbyist fisherman then this might be just the fish finder you are looking for with its extremely affordable price point.Usually ships in 24 hours & Free shipping
- 4.3" All-weather, high-definition LED backlit display
- Optically bonded for sharp color, wide viewing angles and no internal fogging
- Award winning wide-spectrum CHIRP DownVision sonar technology for photo-like images, high-speed tracking, and better deep water resolution
- Ball and socket tilt swivel mount lets you mount Dragonfly easily on any surface
- Includes transom mount CHIRP transducer with temperature sensor
The Lowrance® HOOK-3x is a fishfinder that offers proven features at a great value without compromising the quality anglers have come to expect from Lowrance.Featuring a LED backlit 3-inch color display, the HOOK-3x is powered by high-performance Broadband sonar with Advanced Signal Processing (ASP), excellent target separation and superior noise rejection, making it easier to see baitfish and gamefish targets. It features a built-in water temperature sensor and supports 83 and 200kHz frequencies, allowing you to select the frequency that works best with current water conditions. Lowrance fish finders like the Hook 3X sonar fish finder is the perfect fish finder for the hobbyist or casual angler. It is the least expensive traditional fish finder made by a quality manufacturer.If you are looking for a cheap fish finder this may be the one for you!Usually ships in 24 hours & Free shipping
- Led-backlit color display with detailed 320 x 240 resolution that's easy to see in full sunlight & from wide viewing angles
- Downscan imaging view with dual-frequency 455 or 800kHz operation reveals easy-to-understand, underwater detail of fish-holding structure
- Patented downscan imaging transducer design can track bottom up to 55Mph
- Pages button allows user to quickly switch between 455kHz & 800 kHz sonar frequency options
- Dedicated quick keys allow user to zoom up to 4x the Standard view & focus on key fishing areas
Best Portable Bobber Style Fish Finder
Maybe you are a river fishing enthusiast or maybe you like to fish using a kayak or inflatable rubber boat. This portable bobber style fish finder will help you find the big ones that are lurking beneath the surface.
Deeper Smart Sonar PRO+Fish Finder is especially designed for amateur and professional fisherman alike, to find out location of fish, depth, water temperature, bottom contour of water and many more. It can work on smartphones and tablets. Deeper Smart Sonar has truly taken the portable fish finder market by storm with their bobber style fish finder Pro+. This unique fish finder is able to be used like a bobber in shallower water and cast out and retrieved with a fishing rod to help you find where the fish are hiding using standard sonar sound waves. It connects to your mobile phone and has an IOS and Android app. It is perfect for fishing from the bank or kayak fishing.Usually ships in 24 hours & Free shipping
- FishFinder Bundle Includes:
- 1 x Deeper Smart Sonar PRO Series - Wi-Fi Connected Wireless, Castable, Portable Smart Fishfinder for iOS & Android Devices
- 1 x Universal Waterproof Case, CellPhone Dry Bag Pouch for Apple iPhone 6S 6,6S Plus,7 SE 5S, Samsung Galaxy S7, S6 Note 5 4, HTC LG Sony Nokia Motorola up to 6.0" diagonal - Black
- Deeper Smart Sonar PRO, USB Charging Wires, Neoprene Carry Pouch, 2 Attachment bolts, Quick Guide, Safe Usage and Regulations Manuals & Universal Waterproof CellPhone Case
- Universal waterproof case dry bag fits all smartphones up to 6.0" diagonal size (Certain big screen phones need to remove protective case); Credit card wallet money waterproof dry bag for beach, fishing, swimming, boating, kayaking, snorkeling and water park activities - 100 feet IPX8 Certified waterproof; Offers waterproof / snowproof / dirtproof protection for your device while maintaining full touch screen functionality (Phones pictured are not included.)
How To Use A Fish Finder
When you purchase your fish finder you will be learning how to read sonar based data. This is different than what you would see if you panned an underwater camera down under your boat. The data is time based, not distance based.
So when you use your new fish finder you will need to remember that what you are seeing is not spacial movement but time scans.
You also will find that you get better images and data if you keep moving rather than stay stationary. The reason for this is that with movement you give your fish finder the ability to get different angles on any fish or object below you.
Tips For Reading The Depth Finder View Screen
Not all fish finders have icons that tell you what is a fish and what is a tree stump. Not always is it easy to tell right off the bat. Here are a few tips to help you read your view screen.
- A thick line at the bottom shows a soft bottom where a thin line shows a hard or rocky bottom.
- The right to left movement of your screen is not panning right to left. It is the image based on time.
- Adjust your sensitivity controls so that objects are clear and distinct from the background.
- Mount your transducer where it gets a steady flow of water across it rather than near turbulence. This will greatly improve the image you see on your view screen.
Here is a helpful video on how to read your new fish finder with sonar technology.
Fish Finder Buying Guide
Quick Tips On Selecting The Best Fish Finder
- Don’t out cheap yourself when purchasing a fish finder. Make sure you buy the type of fish finder that will work for you in the long run. Many anglers who have not taken the time to read a fish finder buyers guide regret getting too small of a display or one that is not very powerful. They limited themselves in their fishing experience to save a few bucks.
- Consider fish finders that can be upgraded. If money is an issue, then pay attention whether or not the unit you are considering can be upgraded. If so, then maybe you can buy an upgradeable unit now and upgrade it next year.
- Buy what you need in a fish finder. As we all know, money doesn’t grow on trees. As much as the top notch features are tempting, if you are not going to use them, then you have spent more than you need. Ask yourself what type of fishing will you do? If you are sticking to shallow lakes or streams, then maybe you don’t need the most powerful fish finder out there.
Understanding The Functions Of A Fish Finder
There are two main components of a fish finder. They are the display unit and the transducer. The transducer is the component that produces the sonar that is read by the display unit. Here are some important aspects of both of these units.
The Fish Finder Display Unit
Display units come in all types of sizes and shapes. Some are small enough to mount on your rod while others really need to be mounted on the dash of your fishing boat.
The display unit is the part of the system that controls all the aspects of the fish finder system. You set the sensitivity and type of signal produced from the transponder. You don’t want to skimp on the display unit. You can have the most sensitive sonar in the world but if it is displayed on a lousy display it won’t help you find fish.
Fish Finder Screen Resolution
Resolution is the amount of pixels that are used in displaying the image. A pixel is a dot of image information. If you have 800 pixels of resolution then it takes 800 dots to go from the top to the bottom of the image in a straigh line. So 800×800 resolution is 800 dots across by 800 dots down. The larger the display resolution the more defined the screen image is going to be. Do not go below 240 pixels top to bottom. The image will be too fuzzy to be of any use to you and even then it is pretty fuzzy.
Fish Finder Screen Size
Bigger does not always make better. Smaller screen sizes are better for small boats, kayaks, and rubber flotation devices and larger ones are better for boats with cockpits. However smaller size fish finders do have their drawbacks especially with multi-screen mode or when being viewed from a distance.
Fish Finder Multi-Screen Functionality
Some fish finders come with the option to view multiple screens at the same time. Some units will show you different views of the bottom and others will show you a map and your sonar at the same time. This functionality works best on units with larger screens.
Fish Finder Screen Colors
Modern fish finders have moved away from black and white screens. Color allows you to be able to define the image better. In this case, the more bits of color, the more your image will be defined. They can range from 16 bit color up to millions of shades of color and beyond.
Additional Features Of Fish Finders
The best fish finders will not just show you the depth of the bottom and what is below. They will show you water temperature, speed you are traveling, GPS position and more. Some even come with alarms to notify you when it finds fish!
The Fish Finder Transducer
The transducer is the unit that produces the sonar signal. It sends a ping into the water and then receives the echo back and translates that into data that the display unit can understand. Most transducers are mounted on the outside of the boat although there are a few that will operate through the boat’s hull.
Here are some key features of transducers.
Fish Finder Sonar Frequencies
The frequency is the number of times the transducer emits a sound wave per second. These are measured in KiloHertz. Most transducers will come with either 50, 83, 192 or 200 kHz frequencies. Higher frequencies, like 192 and 200 kHz work best in shallower water, while the low 50 kHz transducers work best for use in deep water. High frequency sonar however, uses more battery power.
Many fish finders have the ability to use more than one frequency at a time making the sonar results better. There are 4 major types of frequency types used in fish finders.
- Single Frequency. This is in all basic fish finders. It is best used in portable and shallow water situations.
- Dual Frequency. The transducer uses 2 set frequencies to gather it’s sonar data. This gives you better clarity.
- Multiple Frequency. This is where you have more control over what frequencies are used with variable settings.
- Chirp Technology. (Compressed High Intensity Radar Pulse) This technology emits a variety of frequencies simultaneously giving you the most complete sonar image available today.
Fish Finder Transducer Power
The transducer’s power has a direct impact on your fish finder’s clarity and depth. The power of the transducer is measured in watts. The higher the watts, the more powerful it is.
As a practical matter, the deeper you fish, the more power you want but if you are mainly a shallow water angler, then you can get away with a lower wattage transducer. As a rule of thumb, at 50 kHz, for every 100 watts of power, your finder/transducer can show readings up to 400 feet.
At 200 kHz, for every 100 watts of power, your finder/transducer can show readings up to 100 feet.Most mid-range finders available are dual-frequency, so you can see readings from both frequencies(usually 50/200 or 85/200) in a split screen fashion.
The cone angle is the dimensions of the beam as it is sent from your boat into the water. It looks like an upside down ice cream cone. The wider the degree of the cone angle, the larger of an area is scanned below you. A 50 degree cone angle will theoretically cover more area than a 15 degree cone angle. However you need to remember that the larger the cone angle the less sensitive your fish finder become at deeper depths.
Most units start at 15 – 20 degree cone angles. This is usually a good starting point for your fish finder. Higher quality units come with more than one cone so you can use one for down sonar and one for side sonar.
What To Do After Reading Our Fish Finder Buyers Guide
Now that you have read our fish finder buyers guide and have a basic understanding of fish finders here are some fish finder articles and reviews for you to read. We have done reviews on…..
- Lowrance Fish Finders
- Garmin Fish Finders
- Humminbird Fish Finders
- Simrad Fish Finders
- Raymarine Fish Finders
- Deeper Smart Sonar Fish Finders
Just scroll through the list of articles below.
Fish Finder Reviews And Articles
Final Thoughts on Fish Finder Technology
I still remember the days when I had to know how to read the water in order to find fish. However I also love the new technology like chirp technology that makes it so much easier to find the fish and where the fish are biting.
Let me know if you found that this best fish finders list has helped you chose the top fish finder for you. Let me know if there is anything I can add that will help you make your decision on what is the gps fish finder for the money for you. I will try to update the content as time and technology changes. Feel free to share some fishing tips as well.