Fish finder has long been a helpful tool in any fishing trip. It shows the graphic representation of what is beneath the boats to identify the fish. However, finding a best fish finder is a daunting task as now there are so many brands, models, and types available on the market. And to choose a fish finder, there are so many things to consider, type of unit, the size of the footprint, resolution of the display, etc. So as to facilitate your buying decision, this writing will provide a comprehensive buying guide for the fish finder.
- 1 Why use a fish finder?
- 2 How it helps me?
- 3 Top 7 Fish Finder Reviews
- 3.0.1 Garmin Striker 4
- 3.0.2 ReelSonar iBobber Wireless Bluetooth
- 3.0.3 Venterior VT-FF001
- 3.0.4 Humminbird 409640-1 HELIX 5 SI
- 3.0.5 Lowrance 000-12635-001 Hook-3X Sonar
- 3.0.6 Raymarine Dragonfly 4DV
- 3.0.7 Garmin Striker 7 SV
- 4 Fish finder buying guide
Why use a fish finder?
I have a kayak boat, and I enjoy fishing around the bays around Panama City. My fishing trips will not ever turn out to be enjoyable experiences without a fish finder. I was not very serious about the brand, though. I started with a basic Garmin fish finder in the beginning and I just wanted some extra fishes for fun.
But then the difference between “using” and “not using” a fish finder was significant that made it like a must-have item in every fishing trip. Also, I started to have some research on the Internet about different brand names. The world of fish finders is huge; each one has its own plus and minus points.
And for those who are looking for a high-value fish finder, this task can be frustrating. But this piece of writing will definitely help you out. Whether you are a newbie or an oldie in fishing, having a fish finder is always a good investment.
So why use a fish finder? The answer is simple. It helps to get more fishes. A fish finder is a wonderful device that helps fishermen to find more fish in a short time. And it’s totally true when say fishing has achieved a new dimension with the advent of the fish finder. It makes every fishing trip easier, more time-saving and more enjoyable.
How it helps me?
The fish finder has helped me in many different ways. And here are some main advantages of having a fish finder that I like the most.
Determine fish location
The fish finder sees through the water and tells me what is beneath the boat. And we all know how beneficial it is when you can see the location of the fish on the display screen. Without a fish finder, the guess work will be tough and boring.
Assume the number and the size of fish
It helps me to determine whether or not a place worth my bait. By offering the view of the target size, the fish finder also aids in targeting the fishes more effectively. It thus saves a lot of time and effort in fishing.
Most of the today’s fish finders come with this feature. It reads the depth and displays it in meters or feet. As a result, I can choose the area in which I should place my bait. This benefit is a huge advantage when fishing in the deep sea or lake.
Understand the wave speed
With the help of a fish finder, regulating the boat is easier. It provides the turn and speed of the wave. This means that I can avoid the hassle during fishing and have the wave alert from a long distance.
Define water temperature
On the display screen of the fish finder, there is a horizontal line showing the water temperature. It helps to find out the cool and hot water zone, especially in the areas which you don’t fish often. And knowing the water temperature and the living habit of the fish significantly facilitates in placing bait and choosing the proper fishing location.
Below you can check a chart of the top 7 fish finders and more detailed description of each of the products is provided below the tables.[table id=1 /]
Top 7 Fish Finder Reviews
The Garmin Striker 4 is a simple yet effective fish finder. It performs all the basic tasks of tracking with ease. Specifically, it can mark your hot spot, boat ramps, and docks for several returns. Also, it allows strikers to share their routes and waypoints with others. The Garmin Striker 4 is an easy-to-use fish finder with high-sensitivity GPS.
Besides the primary navigating tasks, the Garmin Striker 4 fish finder also helps strikers to quickly see the boat’s speed. Speed being displayed on the screen thus facilitates in regulating the boat. Also, it helps to ensure the boat is trolling at the right speed for each fish species and for the lure.
The Garmin Striker 4 is ideal for kayak fishing as its kit is portable and lightweight. Additionally, the kit includes a battery with a charger, transducer cable management, storage, and suction cup transducer, and float. The sturdy and simplified keyboard also adds more value in its ease of use.
With 77/200 kHz, the built-in CHIRP transducer provides a good clarity and detail for structure and fish. And what makes this transducer seems to be so effective in providing the details is that it can send and interpret a continuous sweep of frequencies. Thus, it offers crisper fish arches and helps to separate the target with ease.
- Easy to install
- High-performance for small to medium boat
- Convenient keyboard operation
- Upgradable CHIRP sonar transducer
- Intermittent display backlight
- Lack of usefulness in saltwater
ReelSonar iBobber Wireless Bluetooth
iBobber is a pocket-size fish finder that offers small and light personal depth. It is a portable, castable and wireless fish finder that syncs with the free app on the smart portable device. The concept of iBobber is innovative while still ensuring the effectiveness of its performance.
iBobber is designed with lightweight and supreme portable concept. It is thus suitable for fishing in low to the medium depth of water. In these fishing situations, iBobber can provide an accurate reading of bottom contours, structures, and fish. It seems to have a lot of tech in just a small package.
The app syncs to the iBobber device via Bluetooth Smart. Currently, iBobber is compatible with devices using Bluetooth Smart 4.0. This means that iBobber can work with iOS 6, 7, 8, and 9.1, and Android 4.3 or later. iBobber includes a wide range of compatible devices, making it more user-friendly.
For displaying fish details, iBobber does a good job. It offers the info on size and depth to help you get on the lunkers quickly. However, as stated earlier, iBobber seems to lose its capability in deep water areas. For normal hiking, camping, canoeing, and kayaking, iBobber still performs with satisfaction.
- Highly portable
- Easy sync
- Ideal for canoe fishing
- Vivid screen graphics
- Battery consuming
- Short range
The Venterior fish finder works with excellence for short range and shallow water areas. And even though it may not be an advantage for large boat and fishing experts, the Venterior is still a good choice for beginners and fishing enthusiasts. It meets all the basic needs of a standard fishing trip.
The Venterior can apply to lake and river with the low to medium depth range. And please note that it measures the depth from the sonar sensor, not the float. Besides displaying water depth, the Venterior provides an approximate fish location. Again, the accurateness depends on the depth of the water.
This fish finder comes with several user settings. Specifically, it has five users selectable sensitivity, backlight mode; battery-saving mode, unit of measure and fish alarm. Water depth is either in meter or feet. To change the unit of measure, hold “SETUP” and “ENTER” keys together for 5 seconds.
The Venterior has a great edge in its battery-saving feature. It will automatically turn off if the depth display read “—“ for five consecutive minutes. While this can be a plus, some people may not like to “babysitting” it continuously. For the price, the Venterior is still a great product.
- Highly affordable
- Good depth finder
- Ideal for shoreline fishing
- Various user setting
- The receiver is not waterproof
- Not easy to set up
Humminbird 409640-1 HELIX 5 SI
The Humminbird HELIX 5 SI GPS comes with an extra-wide and vivid resolution display. With the 480 x 800 resolution, this fish finder can depict 256 colors on its 5-inch screen. Along with the high-class backlighting, it ensures clear and crisp images of fish and structure in all lighting conditions.
What makes the Humminbird HELIX 5 SI GPS unique is that the innovative display offers comprehensive details even for ice fishing. And with the side-imager GPS, it offers a great extent of accuracy, which is a great improvement from its older models. Precision in position readings is what it is most appreciated for.
The Humminbird HELIX 5 SI GPS needs from 10 to 20 volts DC. And the unit turns into about 500 watts of power or up to 4,000 watts at maximum. This helps the sonar penetrates as far as 1,500 feet down the water. And with the impressive side scanner, it provides an 180-degree view of the sub-aquatic terrain.
With the Clear and Max modes in the SwitchFire Sonar, this Humminbird meet several searching requirements. The Clear mode is for bait, school, and game fish. And the Max mode works for zoo plank populations, natural and artificial structures and thermoclines.
- Big display screen
- Excellent GPS
- Innovative side imaging
- Ideal for ice fishing
- Comprehensive features
- Basic preloaded mapping
- Slow processor screen image
Lowrance 000-12635-001 Hook-3X Sonar
As the Lowrance Hook-3X is a 000-12636-001 unit, it has DSI Skimmer transducer that can operate at two frequencies – 455/800 kHz. As compared to a traditional 2D scanner, the fan-based beams that Lowrance Hook-3X utilizes are more effective on deep and large water area.
And when put into comparison with the CHIRP sonar technology of the Garmin, I tend to fall for the HOOK one. The DownScan sonar offers crystal clear images, and it is great to have a grasp of various structures and contours of the bottom. Also, the relation between the fish and the structure is easier to understand.
As the name suggests, Lowrance Hook-3X has a 3.5-inch display, with the 320 x 240 resolution. This display feature is not something special, but what makes me appreciate the most about this fish finder is that it has 11 levels of lighting. This features high-quality readability even in direct sunlight.
The Lowrance Hook-3X is IPX7 waterproof; it thus can resists rain or splashes, or even submersions for a short time. But if you are fishing in salt water, it’s better to protect them against the water, as salt water is corrosive. However, despite the type or depth of water, Lowrance Hook-3X offers high speed of scanning, making it more effective in locating the target.
- DownScan imaging sonar
- Quick release
- Dual frequency
- Less manual adjust settings
- Ideal for displaying large fish arches
- Lack of 2D sonar
- Not durable connect mount
Raymarine Dragonfly 4DV
The Raymarine Dragonfly 4DV is the most popular and basic fish finder of the brand. It is a standalone fish finder with DownVision sonar, which is a powerful one. And even though it does not give many features and functions, it is still worth its weight in gold.
What should be emphasized about this fish finder is its CHIRP DownVision, which is perfect for analyzing the structure and the shape of the bottom. The image quality is photo-like, and the target separation is superior. The CHIRP technology does a good job in this aspect.
The transducer offers decent coverage and depth capability. Also, it has a built-in sensor that makes it temperature capable. Thus, this fish finder is an excellent choice for fishing on the medium-depth water. The fan-shaped beams and the 25 MPH speed make Raymarine Dragonfly 4DV a good performer in kayak and canoe fishing.
The control unit is quite similar to the Raymarine Dragonfly 4PRO. With 480 x 272 resolution and 16:9 ratio, it offers 24-bit color, which is quite easy to read. And for this aspect, it wins over the Lowrance Hook-3X, which only has 16-bit color depth display.
- Ability to adjust noise, gain, and contrast
- Widescreen layout
- Quick disconnect system
- Superior target separation
- Clear view of fish and structure
- No unit cover
- No NMEA connectivity
Garmin Striker 7 SV
Let’s first talk about its powerful sonar. The Garmin Striker 7 SV provides 50/77/200 kHz for traditional sonar and 260/455/800 kHz for SideVu and DownVu. As enforced with CHIRP GT5HW-TM transducer, this fish finder is powerful in locating, navigating, and displaying.
Garmin Striker 7 SV has superior depth capability. It can reach up to 2,300 feet for freshwater and 1,100 feet for salt water. The view of the fish and structure are clearly defined. And the best part is, the Garmin Striker 7 SV has an impressive coverage. It seems to directly look under the boat.
Even though the Garmin Striker 7 SV comes with no chart plotter, it can track current coordinates and monitor your boat’s speed. This also allows strikers to mark the waypoints with a broad range of icons. And then they can share the waypoints with echoMAP via data cable.
Garmin Striker 7 SV has a comprehensive control unit, with 7-inch display and screen space for up to 3 panels. Also, with the 800 x 480 resolution, it gives out vivid display of the details. The Garmin Striker 7 SV is a high-class fish finder in many different ways. With all the high-performance features of the transducers, control unit, and rugged design, it is a great investment for any kind of fishing.
- Excellent navigation
- Protective cover and power cable
- Ability to save large number of waypoints
- Various 2D sonar functions
- High-class sonar
- Need reset after each shutdown
- Cannot copy waypoints from other units but Garmin
Fish finder buying guide
What to look for in a fish finder?
A color display screen is better than a black and white one. Most fish finders on today’s market have the color screen, which provides clearer images of the fish and the structure. Also, the resolution of the display is another noteworthy thing. Larger and higher-definition screen means more precise locating performance. However, it is less portable than the smaller ones.
A fish finder comes with either down scan or side scan. And both types have their own advantage. Down scan imaging is more focused while side scan offers wide coverage of water area. However, down scanning may miss some targets that are not passing directly underneath. And side scan loses its effect in deep water areas.
GPS features in the fish finder allow effective targeting and separating the fish from the structure. A high-value fish finder should come with high-quality GPS that can navigate with excellence. Also, a good GPS should be able to mark several waypoints and save several routes for returns. Besides GPS, a fish finder with Wifi connection will be a huge plus. You can connect to your smart devices while still seeing the details on the fish finder.
The shape and the construction of the fish finder affect where and how it is mounted on the watercraft. In term of design, the durability of the unit should also be put into consideration. A good fish finder should be the one with waterproof and weather resistant features. For those who usually fish in salt water, a fish finder that is corrosion resistant should be a priority.
High-price fish finders are not always the best ones. In fact, many luxury fish finders come with unnecessary features, decreasing the ease of use. So instead, go for the cost-effective solutions. A high-value fish finder should be the one that offers valuable functions and the great extent of affordability.
How to buy a best fish finder?
Specify your need
Before jumping to read any product description, make sure you know what you want. And here are some major questions you should be able to answer:
- Do you want a standalone (for small size boat), Combo (Combination of the fish finder and chart plotter – for mid-size boats), or network system fish finder (for large vessels)?
- What is your extent of requirements for display specs (pixels and screen size)?
- How is your preference for transducer (High, low, or dual)?
- What is your taste in style and shape? (thru-hull, transom-mount, in-hull, or trolling motor)?
- In what kind of water do you usually fish? (deep, shallow, fresh, salt water)?
- At what price range you can afford for a fish finder?
Investigate the features
As you know what you want, narrow down the brands that have the features you are looking for. Here is the clarification for the each function of a fish finder
- Frequencies: higher frequencies for shallower water, and better details showing up on the screen
- Power: the greater the wattage, the faster the unit can read and the deeper the readings can be.
- Screen resolution: the more pixels, the more high-definition the screen can display
- Cone angles and beams: Transducer with 20-degree cones is ideal. And the more beams it has, the more advanced the unit is, which means wider coverage the unit can offer.
- Transducer material: When using thru-hull or in-hull transducer, the plastic housing is ideal for fiberglass or metal hulls. Stainless steel housings for aluminum or steel hulls. And bronze housings for wood or fiberglass hulls.
Read the reviews
Now as you have some products to investigate into, it’s time to read the reviews. By knowing what others are thinking about the product, you can determine whether or not it is the right one. And to serve the purpose of providing you the most remarkable reviews, this writing already offered the review on top 7 best fish finders on today’s market.
To wrap up the review section, each product will meet each criterion of choosing, Garmin Striker 4 is easy-to-use, iBoober is portable, Venterior is cheap, Hummin Bird HELIX-5 is comprehensive, Lowrance Hook-3X is cost-effective,Raymarine Dragonfly 4DV is powerful, and Garmin Striker 7 SV is luxurious.
Also, this writing acts as a buying guide that facilitates your buying decision; it also offers the most recommendable products. So along with the knowledge on hot to choose a high-value fish finder, I hope you can opt for your top favorite fish finder among the top 7.