The best fish finder is going to allow you to get out there not only to locate fish but also to find spots where fish like to live. Such as different forms of structure, drop-offs, humps, or any type of fish habitat.
However, it can be kind of overwhelming getting into the fish finder game. This is especially true if you are new to this kind of thing or fishing electronics in general. Don’t worry though, we’ll cover everything you need to know and you’ll see that it is not that difficult to get going.
Table Of Contents
- Best Fish Finders
- What Is A Fish Finder?
- Benefits Of Using A Fish Finder
- Considerations Before Buying A Fish Finder
- Best Fish Finders Reviewed
Best Fish Finders
- Best Overall Fish Finder: Humminbird Helix 5
- Best Budget Fish Finder: Lucky Handheld
- Best Fish Finder for a Large Boat: Humminbird Helix 7
- Best Fish Finder for a Small Boat: Garmin 010
- Best High-End Fish Finder: Simrad NSS16
So, below we’re going to cover five different fish finders and then we’ll also go over some of the different features of each product. Check them out and see which kind of fish finder is going to work the best for you!
First here is a list of the products that we’re going to cover.
What Is A Fish Finder?
Simply put, a fish finder is a device that is used to tell the water depth, temperature, and to also locate fish and their habitat. Different fish finders come with different features. Some have SONAR, while others have down scan and side scan imaging to help you find fish. All of this is in real-time as well.
The fish finder works by using a transducer. This helps show you exactly what is beneath you. You’ll find that some fish finders come with Bluetooth and wifi. A great freshwater fish finder will have an echomap, with high resolution. This helps you find the best fishing spots.
Some fish finders are even castable now. They have clearvu, with chirp technology, with a cone angle. The depth finder works well and they have clear images. Compatibility is only with smartphones though. They can be used on the shore or a fishing boat, and surprisingly have great durability.
The size of the fish finder will depend on what you prefer as well as the size of the boat you are on. Something that is small and lightweight will be ideal for something like a canoe or even a kayak.
Benefits Of Using A Fish Finder
There are no downsides to using a fish finder. It will only help you when out on the water. Below, we’re going to go over a few reasons why it will help you. Check them out and see which ones you like the best!
Knowing the water depth is crucial in ice fishing and saltwater fishing. For ice fishing, you need a solid flasher. Anything with high quality and high frequency will work. Look for something in the 50-200 KHZ range. Fish like to hold at different water depths based on the temperature of the water. So knowing where you are can make a huge difference when you’re on the lookout for fish.
The water temperature is just as important as the water depth. The temperature of the water will determine exactly where the fish are and you can use this to target in on where they are going to be and how they are going to be reacting.
Having the ability to see structure underneath the water is going to put you further ahead than anglers who are just fishing using their yes. Yes, you can find laydowns and structure just by paddling around a lake. However, a whole new world opens up when you can actually see beneath the water.
It’s in the name after all. A fish finder is meant to locate fish and that’s what they all are going to do. Some may show different pictures on the screen of what may be fish but they all will guide you in the right direction. Also, if you’re in shallow water then a higher pixel count will help you see much more clearly. Sonar technology utilizing sound waves will also help.
Considerations Before Buying A Fish Finder
Below, we’re going to go over a few things you should think about before purchasing a fish finder. Think about what features you need exactly and then check out the list below. Find the one that is going to work the best for you!
Fish finders or fishing electronics can become expensive very quickly. So, think about what your budget may be, and then try and stick to it. Items can get into the thousands or tens of thousands very very quickly.
Just like prices, there are many different sizes for fish finders. The more expensive ones are going to be larger. However, that is not always true so don’t make that the rule when searching for fish finders.
Larger ones are ideal for larger boats because there is no weight limit in the same sense that a kayak has a weight limit. So, when you’re on a kayak using a fish finder you may need something very small and lightweight that has a four-inch display screen. Instead of a large 12-inch screen. Smaller fish finders are great portable fish finders as well. Some even have preloaded maps in them that allow for split-screen.
Many of the fish finders with preloaded maps and Navionics allow for MicroSD cards. These hold extra maps. All you need to do is use the card slot.
There are a couple of different types of imaging out there for fish finders. Each has its own pros and cons so check them out below and see which one is going to work the best for you and your style of fishing.
Downvision is going to give an image of what is directly beneath your boat. You’ll see the limbs hanging off of trees, or a fish sitting right on top of a stump waiting for suspecting prey. Or you could even see a bait ball hanging out beneath your boat. Down imaging is great for when you are in deep water and would like to jig.
This is just like down imaging except it will show you what is on the sides of the boat. Making it perfect if you want a more stealthy approach to those spooky fish. The images appear exactly the same as down imaging. It will show you what is within a certain distance of where you are located.
This is the original imaging for fish finders. SONAR shows you blobs that are occurring beneath your boat. These Blobs could be structure, game fish, or sportfish. Luckily most of these products come with a guide so you can tell which is which. Also, after a little while of using these, you will be able to tell which is which without much effort.
You’ll also find that many different fish finders come with different mount types. Most are going to either be fixed or replaceable. The fixed mounts are great for use on larger boats, and the replaceable mounts are ideal for use on smaller boats such as jon boats, kayaks, or capes. This allows you to take it off and keep it locked up inside and safe.
Best Fish Finders Reviewed
Below, we’re going to go over five different fish finders. Each is going to have its own pros and cons. So, take your time looking over them and their features and then decide which ones are going to be the best for you and your style of fishing.
1. Humminbird Helix 5 (Best Overall Fish Finder)
This device is going to have just about everything you need to find fish. It comes with maps, GPS integration as well as SONAR. Giving you just about the option available to help you make the best of your time out on the water. The price point is also pretty great as well.
Thanks to GPS fish finder integration and the waypoint feature you’ll never get lost on the lake again. Easily find your favorite spots because of the waypoint feature, and then the GPS units will help you get back to the boat launch. It also is great for fishing in bodies of water you’ve never been to before.
The dual-beam sonar gives you a larger search area. This is to help with precision. This is going to show you both the fish as well as the bottom of the lake. The dual-beam allows you to combine both beams so that you can have an even more detailed picture of what may lay beneath your boat.
The five-inch screen is also perfect for use on most boats. It may be a little small for some of the larger boats out there, but for bass boats, large kayaks, or canoes it could be the absolute perfect size. So, think about this one when you need a fish finder for just about any type of scenario.
2. Lucky Handheld (Best Budget Fish Finder)
For the price, this is just a great fish finder. Coming in at under $50, this can help you locate fish, structure, water temp as well as depth. It is very bare-bones and won’t give you many of those extra features that some other devices will. However, this is going to give you all the information you need to catch more fish.
This could also be used for anglers on the shore as well. No longer do you have to think about all the structure and fish you might be missing while walking the shoreline ever again. Simply pack this away in your tackle box and quickly set it up at the water’s edge upon arrival.
It has a wonderful reading on the contour of the bottom of the water. So you’ll be able to tell where structure might be laying, or where humps and drop-offs might be occurring. These are all spots where fish like to hang out.
The depth range is between three feet and three hundred and twenty-eight feet. So, you have a broad range of depth that you will be able to see using this device. Making it perfect for someone who may fish in all different types of bodies of water.
3. Humminbird Helix 7 (Best Fish Finder For A Large Boat)
The larger display size is perfect for use on a larger boat. It also comes with many more features than the Helix 5. Making this perfect for the angler who is looking to upgrade their device but would still like to keep it in the Humminbird family. After all, they do make excellent fishing electronics.
This features SONAR, down imaging, and also has maps. Giving you three different options on how you want to view the body of water you’re fishing. Perfect for someone who wants to know in detail exactly what is beneath the boat or what might be around the next turn.
The max coverage is only 125 feet, so it is shorter than most of the other devices on this list. However, it won’t be very often that you are in water over 100 feet. So, if this is going to be a problem then choosing another dive will probably be the best option for you.
It also comes with all of the cords, mounts, and wires you need to rig it up yourself. No need to go to the local hardware store and shop around. This comes with it all and you’ll be out on the water and fishing in no time.
4. Garmin 010 (Best Fish Finder For A Small Boat)
The Garmin 010 is ideal for use on smaller boats. The lightweight size and small screenplay perfectly into the fact that you will be up close and personal with this device and that kayaks and canoes have a might lighter weight load.
It can be mounted relatively easily on your kayak or canoe as well. Depending on the model and make that you have you may need to create your own surface that you can mount it on. However, most kayaks allow for this.
It also comes in three different sizes. It has 3.5”, 5”, and 7”. So you can even go smaller or larger depending on what your needs are. It even has a waypoint map included on the device. So you can plot out exactly where that last honey hole and always remember where it was located. The chart plotter map is great as well. It’s a great combo.
It utilizes CHIRP SONAR. So you will see those blobs that we mentioned earlier. However, despite the size, this is a very clear device for SONAR to show up on. So, it won’t take long for you to learn how to read this device and locate fish on your own.
5. Simrad NSS16 (Best High-End Fish Finder)
If you want to upgrade to a high-tech fish finder then this is the product for you. It is much pricier than the other items on this list. However, that is why we named it the best high-end fish finder. The touch screen and color display allow for great functionality and easy fish finding. The connectivity to Bluetooth is easy as well.
It has a very large LCD 16-inch screen. Perfect to be able to see exactly what you need and with crystal clear clarity as well. It also has a high-performance processor. Allowing for a slower wait time while navigating the menu, maps, and other features on this device.
The built-in GPS navigation is perfect for traversing new bodies of water that you have never been to before. No longer worry about where the boat ramp or how you’re going back to it because you can mark it directly onto the map of this device.
The vessel wide integration is perfect for someone who wants to know everything about their boat but in one spot. Monitor the engines, fuel capacity, control your onboard sound system as well as many other great features.
Picking out a fish finder can be overwhelming. Especially if you are new to the world of fishing electronics. So, take a moment and take a look over the article above and it should help you get a better picture as to what you need.
Feel free to check out these other makes and models as well. Lowrance, Garmin Striker 4, Raymarine Dragonfly, Lowrance Hook 2, Piranhamax, or the Hummingbird. Each of these is a quality fish finder and can be found on Amazon. All of these are going to help you have great fishing trips.
There are many different types of fish finders out there, and not all of the features above are going to be an important feature for you. You don’t have to pick one from the list above. Instead, you can use it to guide you through the process of finding the fish finder that is right for you!