This article was updated in November to reflect the best fish finders for the upcoming 2018 year.
I have been fishing all of my life. My mom says that I was fishing before I was born. I am not a professional but I love to fish.
Technology has changed the way we fish. From fishing rods and reels to types of line, the sport has came a long way. Nothing makes this more obvious than today's modern fish finders.
There are many different fish finders with different features. This can sometimes make it a daunting task to pick the right one. So I decided to do some research and try to help you find the best fish finders for your fishing needs.
Defining The Best Fish Finder
Everybody will have a different definition of best. 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.
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.
How We Determine What Is Best
In making this list of fish finders we kept 3 things in mind: Quality, affordability, and customer satisfaction.
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.
That is why you do not see off brand knock offs on this list. You only see the top names in the fishing industry.
Although our list of fish finders has units that range from $100.00 to $1,000.00 these are not the highest priced fish finders by any way shape or form. Some of the most expensive fish finders can run in the multiple thousand of dollars.
We spent the time reading all the customer reviews left on these fish finders to ensure that any fish finder we recommend is well liked by real anglers. Every fish finder we recommend was rated with 4 stars or better at the time of this writing.
Editors Choice Award - The Humminbird Helix 10
The Humminbird HELIX 10 DI GPS Fish finder is a top notch unit boasting of some great features.
The 10" screen makes it much easier to view split screens. It has easy to use controls that enable you to spend more time fishing and less time setting up or changing functions.
First Runner Up - Simrad GO7 XSE Chartplotter/Fishfinder
The Simrad G07 XSE is perfect for small sport boats, day boats, and fishing boats. It's brightly lit touchscreen displays its charts, GPS tracking, and fish finding screens in any type of light. Couple that with its Broadband Sounder and StructureScan HD DownScan and SideScan imaging and you will find fish like a pro.
Second Runner Up - Lowrance Navico Hook 7
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 signal processing gives anglers a quality fish finder that is easy to use.
Best Fish Finders Under 500 Dollars
There are some great fish finders for the avid fishing enthusiast under $500.00. Here are some great ones ranging from $200.00 to $500.00
Garmin Striker 7SV
You will find fish better than ever with the Garmin 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 software technology. See the fish clearly with the Chirp dual-band sonar.
Lowrance Navico Hook 5
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 sonar gives you excellent target separation enabling you to see clearly the baitfish and gamefish targets you are seeking.
Humminbird HELIX 5 G2
Garmin Striker 5cv
Inexpensive Fish Finders Under 200 Dollars
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 what you are looking for. You still get some of the advantages of the pricier models but don't pay for all the bells and whistles.
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 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.
The Lowrance Hook 3X 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!
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+
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 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.
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 that makes it so much easier to find the fish and where the fish are biting.
Let me know if you found this best fish finders list helpful. Let me know if there is anything I can add that will help you make your decision on what is the best fish finder for you. I will try to update the content as time and technology changes.