Imagine that you have the perfect rod, a nice reel with powerful drags, but where are the fish? Finding fish can be one of the hardest parts of fishing. Unless that is, you have a handy fish finder. The fish finder will do the job of finding the fish for you! In this article, we will review the must-have fish finders so that you are sure that you’re getting the best fish finder on the market.
10 Best Fish Finders 2018
|Fish Finders||Key Features|
|1. Lowrance Elite 3x||Affordable and comes with a transducer|
|2. Garmin Striker 4||GPS and CHIRP Technology|
|3. DragonFly 4dv||GPS, CHIRP Technology and Waterproof Main Unit|
|4. Lowrance Elite 5||Broadband Sounder System, GPS and Excellent Imaging|
|5. Humminbird Helix 5||CHIRP Technology, big screen and Fish ID|
|6. Deeper Smart Portable||Portable, lightweight, can be used from the shore and boat|
|7. Venterior Portable||Innovative transducer with removable float, affordable and lightweight|
|8. Garmin Echo 100||Affordable, easy mount and perfect for kayak anglers|
|9. Raymarine DragonFly 7 Pro||CHIRP Technology, built-in Wi-Fi and GPS|
|10. Garmin EchoMap 53dv||Large screen, LakeVu, DownVu and 2d Sonar Technology|
How does a fish finder work?
Fish finders are designed so that most fishermen can use them with ease. We’ll give an overview of how fish finders work, but it will be best to consult the instruction manual that comes with your fish finder to fully understand all of its features.
Before fish finders, fishermen would have to guess at where fish were at any given time. Today, thanks to rapid technological development, we can use fish finders to tell us exactly where the fish are hiding so that the real challenge is catching them, not finding them.
There are both passive and active depth finders, but we use only active finders for finding fish. The passive depth finder was developed primarily for military purposes.
Fish finders primarily rely on SONAR to show where fish are. The word SONAR derives from (So)und, (Na)vigation and (R)anging and the first fish finder was invented during World War II. A typical fish finder consists of four main parts:
The transducer creates and emits an electric pulse (signal or sonar wave). When the signal bounces off an object, such as a fish, it returns to the transducer. The transducer “reads” this wave and transforms it into an electric signal and sends it to the display where you “see” the fish.
The speed of sound in water is 1087 feet per second, so it is easy to find the accurate, real-time distance between the boat and object (fish).
What features should you look for in a fish finder?
Before you start looking at different fish finders, you should consider some factors. All manufacturers glorify their products and equip them with many innovative features, but here are some of the features we recommended looking more into.
First and foremost, water absorbs a large percentage of the signals. You will have to choose between high and low frequencies.
On the one hand, high frequencies will give you a better result in terms of resolution and detail, but only in shallow waters.
On the other hand, lower frequencies can travel long distances, so they are suitable for deep waters.
Thus, the selection of the right frequency depends on the water depth. Additionally, it would be important to mention that there are three types of frequencies, single, dual and multiple. Common fish finders operate at 200/50 kHz.
The best fish finders feature a GPS in addition to the sonar. We think that this feature is a must-have characteristic of every device. You will find this feature in almost all fish finder reviews below. Imagine that you found a great fishing spot with plenty of big fish and you want to return there next time! If you have a depth finder with GPS, just mark the spot on the device.
Additionally, many devices have some built-in charts and maps which you can use to find your way.
Wattage and Power
First of all, wattage (W) plays a significant role when it comes to selecting the ideal device for you. Cheap fish finders are usually low wattage devices, but it does not mean that they are not good. If you are fishing in deep waters and you have one high wattage and one low wattage unit, the first one will give you a better resolution.
Moreover, before you buy a fish finder, make sure that you know the power needs of the device. Some of them run on batteries and other must be connected with the trolling motor or electrical system of your boat.
If you are a kayak enthusiast, it would be better to get a device that runs on batteries. A simple power “hack” for kayaks is to get a small UPS battery and put it in an airtight plastic box!
Every angler deserves to spend more time to catch some trophy fish than wasting time trying to find them. The Lowrance Elite 3X is a great combo both for the kayak and boat angler because it is lightweight and versatile. It utilizes two frequencies 83 for deep waters and 200 kHz for shallow waters.
It is really easy to use especially if you are an entry level angler. Just switch between the frequencies with the page list button. It is a big plus that this device comes with a transducer as it is the most important part of a fish finder.
You may think that the screen is quite small, but once you have this device, the screen will definitely surprise you. You can control the backlight so there is no problem if you hold it is exposed directly to the sunlight. It will also show you water temperature and bottom structure.
A great device, at the lowest price and remember that a Lowrance depth finder will pass the test of time.
Packed with innovative characteristics and equipped with the best sonar technology (CHIRP), this is the best fish finder gps combo. If you want an affordable fish locator which will give you accurate details, take a look at this one. Common depth finders emit a short pulse.
However, the devices with CHIRP emit a longer pulse so they are able to give you more information about fish in a single pulse! The high-sensitivity gps allows you to mark each fishing spot and the waypoint map will make the navigation easier.
Lastly, if you are vertical fishing, the flasher will show you the structure of the bottom.
Surprisingly, this device offers functions and features which you can only find in expensive depth finders! The CHIRP DownVision Sonar technology makes the difference and this is the reason why we included this product on our list. The 4.3″ display is IPX6 and IPX7 waterproof and it is quite big.
The only downfall here is that it does not feature a gps system. If you want an accurate and detailed image of the bottom and fish just like a photo, this is your device. Additionally, it has a special function to adjust automatically the noise and contrast and a LED backlight.
Looking to invest in a super good product? If the answer is yes, then take a closer look at the Lowrance Elite 5 HDI! This super Lowrance deserves a place on the best fish finders list and the reasons will be explained right now.
It’s not just a common GPS fish finder. This device features multiple technologies and many people use it as a boat depth finder. Just to start out with, the Broadband Sounder system shows you exactly the action of your lure.
Moreover, the advanced signal processing technology makes it easier to locate fish.
Undoubtedly, an impressive product which pairs innovative technologies with durability. If you are looking to find a really really good fish finder, this is exactly what you want. High-sensitivity GPS, dedicated navigation, big screen and accurate maps in one device!
The great thing about the Humminbird HELIX 5 has a nice 5 inch display and bring together the best humminbird technologies. Humminbird introduced the new Helix series and equipped it with brand new and remarkable features. Firstly, the built-in gps will help you find your favorite fishing spots.
Moreover, we would like to underline the fact that it has CHIRP Dual beam technology which appears to be one of the most important features. Top-quality down imaging combined with selective functions like Fish ID or flasher which is extremely helpful for ice-fishing.
Looking for a portable fish finder? Check the Deeper Smart! It is a small ball-shaped fish finder which displays the information on your smartphone screen. Too good to be true?
It is a ready-to-use device which you can charge with a simple USB cable. These portable fish finders are suitable for boat fishing, ice fishing, shore fishing etc. Previously, fish finders were available only for people who own a boat.
Thanks to this smart device you can fish for hours both from the shore and boat. It works perfectly in a water depths up to 130ft.
The majority of serious fisherman just want a small and “easy to use” device. The Venterior is not just really easy to operate, but it is also extremely lightweight. You can use it for different fishing occasions as it can be mounted on the boat or used from the shore.
Additionally, the transducer features a removable float and it can show you the proximate fish location and water temperature. These great functions combined with this price makes the item one of the top portable fish finders.
The batteries are rechargeable and generally speaking it is a good product for freshwater anglers.
A small fish finder equipped with a 4-inch grayscale display is the top selection for kayak anglers or people who want something simple. For someone who finds modern fish finders complicated, this small size device is the perfect depth finder.
You probably know that many depth finders cannot show you a clear image especially if you are trolling. With this Garmin Echo 100 you will not have any issue thanks to the Garmin ultra-scroll technology.
To our way of thinking, it’s a good package for people who want a simple device which can be easily mounted on the trolling motor.
9. Raymarine DragonFly 7 Pro
When you are considering the best fish finders, CHIRP is a technology that the best one should definitely have. The raymarine Dragonfly 7 pro employs GPS, built-in Wi-Fi, Navionic Maps and the transducer is also in the package.
This fish finder is considered to be quite expensive, but thanks to the superior features it deserves a place on our best fish finders list. It looks and feels like a top-quality product which you should include in your fishing arsenal.
Summarizing, the detailed Navionic maps are a big plus and don’t forget that the device has a micro sd slot where you can save waypoints or even routes.
Lastly, one of the best fish finders is the Garmin EchoMap 53dv with innovative LakeV’u’ maps and dual frequency HD sonar system. For those who want a large screen and cutting-edge technologies, the Garmin EchoMap has is the ideal depth finder.
In addition, the internal GPS antenna cannot only help you with marking spots and waypoints but also track the speed of your boat while trolling. The combo package includes the transducer (4-pin type) and the unit is IPX7 waterproof.
Needless to say, this fish finder is the perfect choice for the freshwater angler. If you are not sure about the mounting process, Garmin is there for you. There is a simple transom mount and a trolling motor mount. Equipped with 2d Scan, DownVu, and Lakevu Systems and it is ready to be used!
Finally, we hope that this article was able to help you with your final decision. The fishing style and tactic, our needs and our budget, of course, are some factors that we should think about before we select a fish finder.
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