Best Fish Finders Reviewed & Rated for Quality
Fish finders are great for cutting out a lot of the time spent wondering if there are fish below your boat. Waiting for a fish to bite is part of the fun of fishing, but at least now you'll know that there are some fish thinking about doing just that. There are many fish finders on the market. They vary in their ability to detect fish, how they detect them, and in what situations they can be used to find fish. Due to this, it can help to have a single place to see all the different products there are to be found on the market. Among these there will definitely be one here that will feel right in your boat. Read on to find something that is right for you.
In a Hurry? The test winner after 13 hrs of research
Customize your fish finding display
In detailed color
Can save waypoints
10 Best Fish Finders
1. Humminbird Helix 5
Customize your fish finding display
In detailed color
Can save waypoints
Not so durable attaching mechanism
The Helix 5 is a five-inch color display that can record maps for your navigation, can plot waypoints, and uses very accurate sonar for finding your fish.
The Helix 5 uses Dual Beam sonar for a clean and precise side view of the water below you. something great about the Helix 5's sonar is that is highly customizable so that you can get the image that you want with the information you want. You can keep it clear of superfluous details if you want it simple, or you can add in things like the turbulence of the water, the temperature of the water, or show the depth of the water with simple button presses.
The Helix 5 is also a worthy GPS that will give you an accurate overhead view as well as giving you the accurate side view of the water. This fish finder is equipped with a slot that allows you to use micro SDs to install maps onto your fish finder. Or you can let the fish finder use its Autochart feature, which will create maps for you as you go.
Cost and Value
The Helix 5 costs a little bit of money, but the effect it will have on your fishing is priceless. It does so much more than act as a fish finder. It will reduce the amount of time you spend looking for a spot to fish, and will just give you a spot to fish.
2. Garmin Striker 7sv
Connected to WiFi
Multiple kinds of sonar
No navigation, can only set waypoints
The Striker has a seven-inch display and features a screen that can still be seen in bright sunlight, as well as a detailed GPS system.
The Striker has different kinds of sonar built into that will give you different kinds of side viewing images. Having multiple ways to view your images will give you a better idea of what the sonar is catching down there. The Striker uses traditional sonar, which uses a ping with a short duration, but also CHIRP sonar's longer duration sounds.
Comes with WiFi
The Striker also comes with WiFi pre-built into it so that you can stay connected even when you are far out on the water. Being connected to the internet with the Striker allows for use of their app, ActiveCaptain. ActiveCaptain is useful for giving you notifications on recent news in your area, as well as the ability to download community maps specific to where you are, as well as download software updates for your Garmin fish finder.
Cost and Value
The Garmin Striker costs quite a bit more than the Helix 5, which is what places it second on the list. On the other hand, the Striker does a great job of being loaded with many useful features that you will definitely find useful at some time or another. If you want something that will cover all of your bases when you are going out fishing, then think about giving the Garmin a try.
3. Lowrance Hook 3X
Multiple sonar types
Still accurate at speed
Easy to see display
The Lowrance Hook 3X is a fish finder with a three and a half inch display that uses multiple frequencies of sonar to give you the best sonar depending on the situation.
Two Frequencies of Sonar
The Hook 3X can be set to either eighty-three kHz frequency sonar or two hundred kHz frequency sonar. The eighty-three kHz frequency covers a large area with a wide cone. This setting is good for finding larger fish or for when you are trying to cover a large area so that you can pinpoint your target. The two hundred kHz frequency is better for pinpoint accuracy and being able to track where your lure is in the profile of the water.
Other Sonar Features
The Hook 3X also has other useful features that make it a great choice as your fish finder. It has a skimming transducer that allows it to detect the lake or ocean's profile at up to seventy-five miles per hour. This means you won't have to slowly trawl while you look for fish. The other useful feature this fish finder has is that it can place fish icons on images that it believes to be fish. This takes some of the guesswork out of your interpretations of the imaging.
Cost and Value
This fish finder costs a little more than the Helix 5, but less than Striker. It actually has fewer features than the Helix, but is much more focused on being a fish finder. It is a very focused product that won't provide you any GPS or maps. This could be a good choice if you are a fisherman who spends more time on lake, or if you have a good feel for your boating area of choice.
4. Raymarine Dragonfly Pro
Clear images of the lake bottom
Two kinds of sonar
Lots of storage
Low quality mount, aftermarket one recommended
The Dragonfly Pro has a five-inch display that uses light up LED for increased visibility, and is alos in HD for a very clear image.
Two Kinds of Sonar
The Dragonfly Pro also uses two kinds of sonar, but these are actually different kinds of sonar than the Lowrance. The Dragonfly uses two kinds of CHIRP sonar that are best for different kinds of sonar. The Downvision sonar gives you photo-like images of the bottom of the see. This is useful for being able to tell where you are, and what the landscape is like. This also has traditional sonar that does a great job of marking fish for you on the map.
The Dragonfly comes with an app that allows you to do many things. It allows you to upload any of your sonar data so you share the events of the day with your friends. It is also able to download thousands of waypoints so you can keep track of all of your best fishing spots. It also has a slot so you have somewhere to put a SD card for even more storage.
Cost and Value
The Dragonfly Pro costs about the same as the Lowrance. This is a good choice because of its many features. This is different than the Hook 3X for the many extra features it has on top of the crystal clear sonar it sports. This fish finder gives you a good image of the water in many different ways,
5. Deeper Smart Sonar PRO+
Connects to your phone without internet
Can be used in many areas
Many options for what you want to see
Different bands of frequency on the sonar
Not as convenient if on a boat
The Smart Sonar PRO+ is a fish finder that is designed to be cast out by your fishing rod. It is made for fishing from shore, or any kind of non-boat fishing.
The way this sonar works is that you cast it out with your rod. Then you give it some time to detect the area around it, and then you reel it back in. This will then give you a display of your surroundings with any fish that might be around. It really reduces the amount of time you will spend fishing in a bad spot.
The Smart Sonar PRO comes with many settings that will give you the experience you would like while going out fishing. This sonar comes with an app that doesn't need WiFi to be used. It just needs to be able to connect to your phone. It will give you maps, and you can also view your readings there. It also has options that allow you to choose the depth of the sonar, as well as what is displayed on your phone.
Cost and Value
This is the cheapest fish finder on the list so far. This fish finder can also be used on a boat if you would like to. This fish finder is great because it can be used in many situations, whereas most fish finders are stuck being attached to your boat. If you fish in all kinds of climes and settings then maybe look into buying this fish finder. It's different, but it works very well.
6. Vexilar SP200
Mobile WiFi hotspot
GPS and fish finder in one spot
Easy to mount
Doesn't work with every kind of smartphone
The Vexilar is unique on this list because what it does is turn your phone into a WiFi hotspot fully equipped with sonar technology so that you can quickly turn your phone into a fish finder.
Smartphone Fish Finder
The Vexilar is a mounting system and a battery that can be connected to your smartphone. It will turn your phone into something that can be quickly connected to the internet and to sonar. The Vexilar will work just as well as many fish finders on the market. This is convenient as it means that your fish finder won't get stolen because it will just come with you.
All of the features of the Vexilar are useful to giving you the best fishing experience imaginable. Besides being an accurate fish finder. The Vexilar can also be used as a GPS because of the WiFi that comes with it. It will give you an image of depth, a picture of the sea floor, and a GPs all from the conveneince of the smartphone you know so well.
Cost and Value
The Vexilar costs much less than all of the other finders on this list, mostly because it doesn't provide its own fish finder. This is a good deal because you will get all of the features you are looking for in a fish finder, but just in the convenience of your own smartphone.
7. Garmin echoMAP CHIRP 53cv
Huge amount of HD maps
Clear CHIRP sonar
No wireless technology
Strong processor for up to date tracking of position
Can't download new maps
The echoMAP is both a GPS and a fish finder. It has been designed with some of the best features in both departments to give you the most accurate of what is happening around your boat and on your fishing trip.
The echoMAP has a finetuned GPS that gives a clear image of where you are. The echoMAP is designed with a hefty processor that allows it to very quickly update your position on the map. The other great thing is that it has all of its maps predownloaded. This amounts to over seventeen thousand lakes, with most of them detailed down to the square foot.
Clear Imaged Fish Finder
The fish finder on the echoMAP is also no joke. It has been designed to use CHIRP sonar that allows it to give you very clear images that are almost like photographs. This will give you a clear picture of the sea floor below.CHIRP sonar will also give you much more information than traditional sonar.
Cost and Value
The echoMAP doesn't cost too much compared to the other fish finders on this list. It lands right in the middle, as far as price. The echoMAP's strength is the clear, simple, and high quality technology that is designed right into it. It doesn't use smart technology or anything that needs to be accessed off the boat. This is a good choice for those looking for a simple combination GPS and fish finder.
8. Lowrance HDS-9
Cartography so that you can record the best spots
Navionics that will give you directions
The HDS-9 is an all-in-one display that will give you any information you may need on your path to catching the big one. This fish finder is also built with navionics, and cartography.
The HDS-9's many features make it a great choice if you want to fully deck out the navigational systems of your boat. The navionics allow you to keep track of where you are as you go boating. The mapping system will record the data you get from your sonar so that you can create a complete picture of the lake that you are driving on. On top of that, the HDS-9 has advanced sonar as well.
Unlike many fish finders. the HDS-9 is built to keep track of images in four directions. This will give you a more complete picture while you are fishing. There is the classic sonar that is built to get an image of below you. This is great for the classic profile shot. It also has sonar for the left and right, which will give you a better image for cartography. This means that if you find a good spot you can come back to it at any time, and know the details of it for more finely tuned fishing.
Cost and Value
The HDS-9 is much more expensive than the other fish finders on this list, but could be worth the price for you if you have the money. This is a one stop shop as far as fish finders go, and you will find that you won't be left wanting for any other features. This is a good purchase if you have the money to get it all bought up in one go.
9. Humminbird Helix 9
Many kinds of sonar
Built for multiple displays
The Helix 9 is another entry from Humminbird that uses different frequencies of CHIRP sonar to give the image that suits your style of fishing best.
The Helix 9 can use either low, mid, or high CHIRP frequencies in its sonar detection. Even better, you can use all of these at once. This means that you can choose the kind of information that you want to receive while fishing. This fish finder has also been built with multiple bands of sonar so that you can choose the area of information that you want from your pings. You can keep it narrow and specific while looking for a single fish, or make it broader for when you want to find any fish at all.
The Other Features
The Helix 9 is also built with many other features that are useful when out fishing. It has a built-in GPS that has maps for thousands of lakes in the USA. Most of these have maps that are detailed enough to include their contours. It is designed to be spread out among different screens around the boat so that multiple people can keep track of their own information while fishing. This makes it easy to access the fish finder without having to go back to where it is stationed.
Cost and Value
This is another expensive fish finder. It is designed for larger boats and has some top-of-the-line features when it comes to its sonar. The custom sonar allows for a very personalized experience, while the other features make the rest of your boat trip just as convenient.
10. Hawkeye Fishtrax
Comes with a fish alarm
Might be too simple
The Fishtrax is a budget fish finder that is simple and easy to use. Small enough to fit in your hand if you don't want to mount it.
The Hawkeye is designed with Dual-Frequency sonar for an even more accurate picture. The display of this fish finder is very simple so that it is a good choice for beginners or for someone who just wants a simple picture of their depth and the fish found there.
The Hawkeye has a few other useful features that you might be interested in,. It has a few choices of display so you can choose what kind of image you would like. It also has a built-in alarm for when it detects a fish that you can turn on and off. It is also very easy to grip if you want to carry it around with you while fishing instead of leaving it at the front of the boat.
Cost and Value
The cost of the Hawkeye Fishtrax is quite cheap, and so this is a good choice if you are buying your first fish finder. It is also a good choice if you are on a budget, or if you just want something that works simply and effectively.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
The reason you're looking for a fish finder is so that it can the thing right in its name: find fish. An accurate fish finder will do a good job finding fish. The higher the rating it has in the accuracy category, the more accurately it will dot that. When looking for a fish finder, there are a few things that will ensure their accuracy. Try getting one that uses CHIRP sonar instead of regular sonar. Another thing that you could look for are how many frequencies that the sonar works on. The higher the frequency, the wider it's range will be. There is also the cone of the sonar. This will be represented by an amount of degrees, the wider the cone, the wider the sonar's vision. There are many ways that the sonar can be different so look out for what this brings to the table.
The sonar may be what you came for when looking for a fish finder, but it is often the bonus features that will truly sell you on any specific one. There are many fish finders that focus on being simple, and will only be a fish finder. Of course, that is okay, and sometimes preferred if you want to keep it simple, but there are many features that may make your life easier when you are out on the water. Many of the fish finders on this list come with GPS. GPS is useful because it will allow you to see where you are on the water,. GPS will often give you the ability to leave waypoints so you can keep track of the good spots that you have found on your journey. Another great feature to look out for when buying yourself a fish finder is to look for one with navionics installed. Navionics will give you a detailed set of navigational maps that can give you great data on depths around you and just a general sense of the sea.
Ease of Use
If you're driving the boat with one hand, and figuring out where the fish are with the other, then you better hope that that fish finder is easy to use. An easy to use fish finder will make your life easier in many ways. The less time it takes to fiddle with the fish finder is more time enjoying the actual act of fishing. An easy to use fish finder will have a clear display. A clear display can be done through multiple ways. Some are resistant to glare so that you cans till read them in direct sunlight. There are other fish finders that have a light up LED screen so that you can see it during the nighttime. Even better, try to find one with both. Another feature that will make your fish finder easy to use is just the way the menus are set up. A good fish finder will give you many options for customization, and then save those options so you don;t have to keep changing them every time you get in the boat.
One of the most common complaints among people who use fish finders is that often they won't turn on once you get in the boat. This can be for a few reasons. Sometimes the fish finder has been shaken loose by the current and the waves. You want to find a fish finder that does a good job keeping itself together when you are bouncing up and down on the waters. Other fish finders will get interrupted when you turn the boat on. This is another thing to avoid. The last thing to look out for when buying a fish finder is to make sure the connectivity is good for the ones that comes with smart apps. Having a fish finder that comes with an app is usually a good thing, but it can become annoying if it doesn't stay constantly connected to the internet. The best fish finders on this list use mobile hot spots that they create themselves to connect to the internet. The other thing a fish finder can do to be useful in this situation is connect to your phone without the interent. This is most reliable for trips that may take you out into the bush, a bit.
It can be a complicated process installing your fish finder. There are transducers, and mounts, and all sorts of things. The best fish finders will keep it simple for you so you don't have to spend time installing that could be time fishing. Good fish finder mounts will have the ability to be quickly removed and put back on. The best ones can just be stuck right on the boat and moved around freely. Another thing to look out for when looking for an easy to install fish finder is one that allows you to remove the display without removing the mount. Being able to take the display with you to other parts of the boat is always a benefit. Sometimes, it might be better to get one of the fish finders that is not mounted at all. Being able to mount the fish finder is a benefit in itself though, so make sure to think about it first.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
Some of the options on this list are designed to work with your mobile phone for some extra features. There is the most overt ones, like the Vexilar that needs the smart phone to be the screen for its fish finder, and the castable fish finder that uses the smart phone to give you all of its data, but some of the other fish finders are useful for this as well. Many of them come with apps that can work as a second screen, or can be used to change settings. They can also be used for things like downloading updates for your fish finder and sharing downloading maps for your GPS. If you are getting a fish finder that is designed to be used as a smart device, try and make sure that it can work as its own mobile hotspot. This means that it will provide its own internet.
Going fishing is all about waiting. You will often spend hours waiting for a fish to nibble on your bait. A lot of this has to do with the fact that you can never have any idea of what is lurking below the surface of the water. There might be a fish contemplating biting your bait, but there might also be absolutely nothing going on down there. Finding the popular spots to go fishing is one thing. You can listen to rumors and people's educated guesses. It is better than nothing, but if you want to know if there is something going on under the surface of the water, then maybe you should buy yourself a fish finder.
Other Factors to Consider
A useful feature of some fish finders is the ability to change the settings of your fish finder. A lot of the better fish finders have many settings to pick from so that you can choose only the statistics you are interested in when looking for fish. Some will have different colors for different depths. Many will have the ability to turn on and off markers for where the fish finder thinks that fish might be. There are also features that measure temperature. Another thing to look out for are fish finders that allow you to change the type of sonar you are using. Some fish finders have settings that cover different frequencies, different directions, and even kinds of sonar. Play around with your new fish finder and find the settings that fit best for you.
Some of the fish finders on this list are designed to work with your mobile phone for some extra features. There is the most overt ones, like the Vexilar that needs the smart phone to be the screen for its fish finder, and the castable fish finder that uses the smart phone to give you all of its data, but some of the other fish finders are useful for this as well. Many of them come with apps that can work as a second screen, or can be used to change settings. They can also be used for things like downloading updates for your fish finder and sharing downloading maps for your GPS. If you are getting a fish finder that is designed to be used as a smart device, try and make sure that it can work as its own mobile hotspot. This means that it will provide its own internet.
There are many different kinds of screens anmong these fish finders. The visual quality of your view finder might be important to you, so it is important to look into what these screens will be displaying. Some of the screens here present HD visuals, while others use a simple LCD screen that looks like a calculator. They both have their strengths. The HD screens will often be able to show a lot of information. On the other hand, the simple screens will usually show simple information very clearly. IT is mostly a matter of personal preference. But it is important to note the HD screens are a bit more versatile, and you can do more with them in general.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: How do these even work?
Fish finders work by using sonar, like in a submarine, to show you images of the sea floor. It gives you a profile shot of the water below you. The sound of the sonar, which is like the pings from sonar in the movies, bounce off of objects under water and then return to the fish finder. This allows for an image to be formed based off of all the places that the sound has bounced off of. The fish finder itself is a display of the data being collected by the transducer, which is installed underneath the boat. Depending on the fish finder that you buy, your image will be more or less specific. Some fish finders can display exactly what kind of fish is being found by the sonar. The frequency of the sound being sent out by the sonar will change the image as well.
q: How do you install these?
There are three major things you need to do when installing a fish finder. You have to mount the display, run the wires to the transducer, and then you need to install the transducer. Mounting the display is usually quite easy. It is usually a matter of drilling the transducer into the console of your boat. The most important part is making sure that you place the mount in the right place. You want it to be easily read while you are driving the boat. Make sure it is at an easy to read height from your pilot's chair and that you can easily turn it left and right, up and down, without it smacking into any gauges or levers. The next step is running the wires to your fuse box, and also to the transducer itself. You need to get power to the fish finder, and you also need to connect the display to the transducer. This is easy, as long as you have been given enough wire to run all of that length. There will be two wires that need to be run to connections. Make sure their colors match. The last step is to install the transducer. You want your transducer to be well beneath the water. Importantly, it needs to remain underwater even while the boat is moving. If it doesn't, then you will lose your readings on the display. If this happens, just move the transducer a little lower on the boat one half-inch at a time. Make sure to be very careful when doing this, as you don't want to ruin your boats seal. Find a good spot for your transducer before doing any of the other steps.