When purchasing a fish finder or any other fishing gear, we all want quality, but sometimes, we get disappointment instead! I’ve done my research and can certainly say that there are plenty of good fish finders out there. You might disagree with me, but, the best fish depth finders for the money ever produced, in my opinion, are provided below:
- Humminbird HELIX 7
- Garmin Striker Plus 4
- Garmin Striker Plus 5cv
- Lowrance HOOK2
- Garmin Striker Plus 7Cv
- HDS-7 LIVE
- Humminbird HELIX 5
- HOOK2 5
Click Here to skip product description and keep on reading.
Humminbird HELIX 7Check on Amazon
Hummingbird is no doubt one of the best manufacturers of fish finders. The helix 7 can be regarded as one of their most prized assets because it boasts of several unique features that novice and professional anglers would love.
This fish finder boast of a 7-inch screen, which is ideal for displaying all data from the sonar and GPS. It has a resolution of 800-by-480 pixels and displays 256 colors, which will come in handy as you locate the ideal fishing location and the number of fishes present in the water. With a LED back-lighting, you can see the images well without any hindrance whatsoever.
If you feel sunlight will be an issue, then you have to quell such worries because the display of this device is made to operate in harsh and bright environments. The screen of this device is supported with bonded glass. Anglers who have Helix 5 are quite aware that the default material for that fish finder, but the glass safe that comes with the Helix 7 ensures that the screen is protected; it also improves its image as well.
Generally, the image of this fish finder is far more enhanced than other fish finders out there. With the hummingbird helix 7, you are certain to enjoy your fishing adventure. All contemporary models of the helix 7 are equipped with two extra RAMs which is very important because it tends to store a huge amount of data.
There were several complaints regarding the small RAM space of the older versions of Helix 7; due to its low space, some functions and features didn’t operate effectively. When it comes to clarity, this fish finder sits at the top. All images provided by this unit are clear and sharp.
This version of hummingbird is equipped with a GPS, whereas there are other versions that lack the GPS system, thus making them cheap. You don’t really need to combine a GPS with a fish finder, but it can be beneficial if you are fishing in an unfamiliar area.
With a GPS system, you can track your speed, location, and the general depth of your environment, which enables you to have the best insight regarding where your prey will be. With a GPS, you can set way-points, routes, which guides you back even when you fish in an unfamiliar area.
When it comes to power, the helix 7 is known for its powerful strength. This unit boast of a transmit power of 500W and 4,000W peak-to-peak. Its sonar frequency functions at 83/200 kHz with 2D imaging including 455 kHz side and down imaging.
- This device comes with a 7-inch screen coupled with a 800H x 480V resolution color TFT display.
- Boast of a mega down imaging: Provides you with an amazing underwater display with coverage around 125 ft. underneath your boat.
- Comes with a transducer and mounting hardware, power cable and gimbal mounting bracket.
- Boast of a mega side imaging which enables you to see the underwater world in an amazing perspective.
- Is equipped with an SD card for out-of-the-box map coverage of more than 21,000 lakes and water bodies.
- Down imaging sonar
- Display brightness
- Provides users accurate and clear images
- Comes with SD card slots
- US and Canada coastline, inland lakes and river maps in-built
- Functions in salt and freshwater
- Has no network
- Is quite expensive
Garmin Striker Plus 4Check on Amazon
If you aren’t a novice angler, then you will know the benefits of a good fish finder like the garmin striker plus 4. The Garmin Striker plus 4 is an amazing fish finder, and the first thing you tend to notice about this unit is its design. The design of this device is so attractive that merely seeing it; you feel the urge to check it out with the hope of purchasing it.
The fish finder company Garmin designed this fish finder utilizing heavy-duty military standard material so it can be useful in any given circumstances or condition. The weight of this unit is 318 grams, with a dimension of 3.9×1.8×6.9. Also, this fish finder boast of an impressive display of 4’3” inches.
The most thrilling feature of this awesome tool is the addition of its double beam transducer. When it comes to displaying, this fish finder is also at the forefront. It provides its users with a broad display of 4.3 inches that is capable of displaying all the necessary information and one can also interpret the images on the screen when the environment is bright.
As an angler, you will definitely cherish this fish finder simply because it is equipped with a map storing capability.
When fishing, you sometimes discover that you tend to fish some areas twice or more without noticing; this can be quite frustrating, especially if those areas don’t contain fishes. With this unit, you will be notified of the areas that you have fished and those you haven’t.
As you move through those areas you have rummaged for fishes, you can draw and save contour maps. All you have to do is to get into the “Quickdraw Contours” option and press “start recording.” Yeah! It is as simple as that.
Another amazing feature of this device is the in-built GPS system that it comes with. With the aid of its GPS, you can take down any way-point, discover a path to navigate the sea, and take note of the boat speed. The Garmin Striker 4 is also equipped with a dual-beam transducer coupled with a chirp tech that enables the device to make sonar images of target separation that are as clear as anything you can ever think of. With this tech, you can also have a clear view of all that is taking place underwater.
This device, amazingly, can be utilized with any 12v, 7 amperes rechargeable battery. If you love to catch fish, then you should consider this unit because it comes with no fishing restriction whatsoever. If you are on the lookout for a fish finder that is smooth to install, then it is best you consider this unit. You do not have to be a rocket scientist for you to know how the installation is carried out.
- Is equipped with a dual-beam transducer with Garmin Chirp traditional sonar for clear images and amazing target segregation.
- In-built GPS to enable you to indicate way-points, make routes and see the boat speed.
- It can be read in the sunlight.
- Boast of rugged design. Supported frequencies: Traditional: 50/77/83/200 kHz, Transmit power: 200 W (RMS).
- Has a huge display of 4.3 inches
- Comes with a GPS navigation system
- Garmin quickdraw contours mapping
- Strong and durable
- Inbuilt dual-beam transducer
- The package comes with no cover
- Isn’t equipped with an NMEA port
Garmin Striker Plus 5cvCheck on Amazon
This fish finder is a compact, water-resistant, and user-friendly device that is equipped with a CHIRP sonar and a 5-inch display. Just like the Garmin Striker 4, this fish finder also has a rugged design, which helps it withstand harsh environments and conditions. If you are in search of a fish finder that boasts of one of the best performance rates, then you have gotten one in the Garmin Striker plus 5cv.
With the striker fish finder, you can indicate that fishing spot you enjoy the most and come back whenever you wish to; of course, this ensures that you save both time and money. This unit is equipped with components such as a power/data cable, tilt/swivel mount, GT 20-TM transducer, transom and trolling motor, including an owner’s manual. With the tilt and swivel mount, you can easily find the appropriate viewing angle and the amazing screen size enables you to see the display clearly even in faint lightning.
The Garmin Striker plus 5cv has a depth range of 1,100 feet in saltwater, and 2, 300 feet in freshwater, thus, making this unit appropriate for either saltwater fishing or freshwater fishing. With the ClearVu scanning sonar, which is available in this unit, you can get a display of whatever is moving underneath your boat. The frequency of this fish finder ranges from high to low and offers its users an extensive array of information with clearer fish arches and good separation.
With the split display of this device, you can see sonar, scanning sonar, including way-point and depth simultaneously. It also comes with an in-built GPS, which allows you to indicate hot spots where you have a huge amount of fishes. With the Garmin user data sharing chord, you can share your best way-points and routes with other devices that are compatible with the Garmin Striker and echoMap chart plotter combo.
- Is equipped with a transducer for in-built Garmin CHIRP traditional sonar plus CHIRP ClearVu scanning sonar.
- It comes with an in-built Garmin Quickdraw contours mapping software that lets you make and save maps with 1’ contours for an area of 2 million hectares.
- Has a crisp, clear display which can be read in bright environmental conditions.
- Has a rigid design which makes it strong and durable.
- Comes with a display resolution of 800×480 pixels.
- Has a 5’ display
- Comes with a transducer
- Has a GPS
- Can indicate hot spots
- Needs installation
- Screen isn’t large enough
Lowrance HOOK2Check on Amazon
This fish finder may not be the flagship model of the brand, but it still has plenty to offer. The Lowrance Hook 2 fish finder is the lowest of all the Lowrance enhanced Hook2 series, but still, it is very much capable of satisfying your needs while providing you with the best fish finding services.
Unlike other types of fish finder mentioned in this article, this unit is not suitable for all types of fishing. For instance, it is not going to provide you with an extraordinary experience that will blow your mind off, but it will surely offer you a satisfying experience when fishing in those low-lying freshwater, and it also has the capability to thrive in some deeper lakes as well.
One thing you should note regarding this unit is that it comes in two diverse models, namely: one with a GPS antenna and one that has no GPS antenna. While the absence of a GPS antenna would not in any way affect the ability of this unit to locate fish, it is either it provides its users with an extra course tracking alternative or not.
When it boils down to selecting fish finders, one thing you should keep an eye out for is its ability to detect fishes. While you may view this as a very basic requirement, there exist several other features that influence the capability of a fish finder to locate fish, and I can confidently say that the Lowrance Hook 2 has of a huge chunk of those features.
One amazing thing about this unit is that it is very easy to use; if you are good at using your normal electronic gadgets and mobile devices, you should have no difficulty using this unit.
- This unit comes with an auto-tuning sonar, including a phone-like menu, which makes you enjoy using it without any difficulty.
- This fish finder is equipped with a broad-angle CHIRP sonar cone, which is capable of providing you with one of the best coverage you have seen in any fish finder.
- With this fish finder, you can easily navigate your way with its GPS system; with it, you can as well include way-points, follow trails, including navigate.
- Depth/ shallow water alarm
- Auto-tuning function
- Boast of a wide-angle broadband
- It has no A-Scope function
- A lone beam radar system
- Comes with no new split display mode
Garmin Striker Plus 7CvCheck on Amazon
Garmin keeps us on our toes with their amazing fish finders. This fish finder isn’t like the other fish finders in its collection; the Garmin Striker Plus 7cv comes with enhanced sonar technology and some unique array of features that ensure that you reel in a huge amount of those fishes. Similar to the other striker series that you know, this unit is very easy to operate.
The striker plus 7cv is equipped with a built-in GPS, Quickdraw contours mapping, including wireless connectivity. One thing you ought to note is that the older series can also be upgraded to plus tech. You are certainly going to cherish the large display of this unit, which also has easy-to-understand menus.
If you haven’t used a fish finder before, trust me, you will definitely find this device very easy to use. The striker plus 7CV also features a very clear and sharp WGVA color, and it offers its users a split zoom including an anti-glare lens so that you can see the screen even when the sun is at its peak.
With a high-sensitive GPS system, this fish finder can help you navigate your way, and it also provides you with regular position updates as you enjoy your fishing adventure with this device. If you wish, you can change your rolling speed for the best precision and improve your probability to reel in more fishes.
- It is equipped with a transducer for in-built Garmin CHIRP traditional sonar plus CHIRP ClearVu scanning sonar.
- This fish finder comes with an in-built Wi-Fi so you can easily gain access to ActiveCaptain app to get smart notifications, access Quickdraw Contours Community, and also send way-points and software update notifications.
- It is equipped with an in-built Garmin quickdraw contours mapping system which enables you to make and save maps with 1′ contours for an area of 2 million acres.
- High-sensitive GPS
- Can store way-points of around 5,000
- Has the ability to record and track routes
- Can display coordinates
- Has no NMEA support
- Isn’t equipped with a microSD card reader
HDS-7 LIVECheck on Amazon
Regarded as one of the best fish finders with GPS, this unit is a futuristic leap in navigation and fish finding. The HDS-7 live is designed for power users, its components are made of state-of-the-art technology, and it comes in a package that can be installed without difficulty. It is easy to use, and it also provides you with exactly what you want without any hassle.
It also has a current OS which provides its interface with the best simplicity so that you can make use of the features you cherish the most with just one click or touch. If you see a boat that has this unit at its helm, then that boat can be regarded as a modern and well-equipped boat.
This device has a 6.2-inch display, which makes a split-screen view possible. If you wish to view sonar data like never before then, you need to opt for this fish finder. The HDS-7 is very compatible with all kinds of Navionics chart cards, platinum+, platinum, platinum HotMaps with satellite imagery, aerial photos, and 3D display. This fish finder also offers you an excellent underwater view thanks to its StructureScan module.
- Has an extensive array of colors that improve the near-photographic image of SideScan, Downscan Imaging, TotalScan, including StructureScan HD/3D quality.
- Is equipped with a structurescan 3D and a simultaneous view CHIRP Sonar to provide its users with an optimum view of fish and structures underneath and to the sides of your fishing vessel.
- Has the ability to encompass a wide area of water and target fish precisely from a network of CHIRP sonar transducers.
- Has the most advanced fish finder technology
- Dual-core processor
- Internal GPS antenna
- Has no transducer
- A micro SD card is needed
Humminbird HELIX 5Check on Amazon
I present to you a new model of the hummingbird series. This fish finder has an amazing, high-quality 480×800 resolution display that showcases a whopping 256-colors on a screen of 5-inches that has backlighting, which provides you with a clear and crisp visual even in bright conditions. The awesome display of this device is one thing that makes it stand out from its contemporaries. It took its transducers and software from the old 800 and 600 series. The Helix 5 is known to have several models, such as the sonar-only model to the side-imager with GPS, etc.
This unit needs about 10 to 20 volts of direct current. It transforms DC into an average of 500 watts of sonar power with a peak-to-peak return of 4,000 watts. The 2D sonar of this amazing device can go as deep as 1,500 feet, and it does this by transmitting a 200 kHz sonar wave in the form of a 20-degree cone. Utilizing a beam that is as small as the mentioned, the width of the provided image will be little (about one-third) of the attained depth.
For instance, an image that displays an area of land at a depth of 24 feet will encompass just eight feet. The helix 5 allows 2D sonar with an 83 kHz beam that covers an angle of 80 degrees. With this mode, you can easily view an image that is as wide as its depth.
You can view the helix 5 as a reduced model of the 7 inches 899 version. The primary disparity between the two models is just the display size. It has a fairly enhanced internal GPS, and it offers its users a precise position reading.
- Provides you with a comprehensive image of what is underneath your boat.
- You can see the information that other types of sonar can’t display to you.
- Lakemaster supported with upgrade.
- A very quick and precise fish finder
- Has a 2D Wide CHIRP sonar
- Very easy to install
- Has more than 3,000 U.S. maps
- Has no networking capability
- Doesn’t support external AIS or GPS units
HOOK2 5Check on Amazon
Recently, Lowranace announced the release of its new series of fish finders- the HOOK2 versions. The HOOK2 models are enhanced, easy-to-use, unlike other HOOK series. This fish finder has a display of 5′ at a high-resolution of 800Hx480W pixel screen. With this fish finder, you get SolarMax LED back-lighting and WVGA TFT color present bright, and the best of images at any level of brightness.
If you desire, you can choose to tilt the viewing angle left or right or probably top to bottom at an angle of 50 or 70 degrees. With a little keyboard stationed at the right of the display screen, you have easy access to all menus and functions with just one touch. This fish finder also has a waterproof rating of IPX7, which means it can withstand all weather conditions without any malfunction.
This device also provides its users with an overlay Downscan, which you can use to overlay your DownScan imaging with the aid of a 2D broad-band CHIRP. This provides you with a much clearer view of the fish arches compared to the structures present underneath the water or the vegetation created by the DowNScan.
The HOOK2-5 fish finder also has structure Map, which allows you to portray recorded SideScan sonar images onto your map so that you can have a better view of underwater objects in relation to the shoreline.
- You can mount a single transducer on the transom, inside the hull, it could be on the trolling motor or via a scupper hole.
- This unit is equipped with a preloaded C-Map US inland lake maps with 1-foot contours for more than 3,000 lakes, including standard coverage of an extra 9,000 lakes.
Story Behind The Invention Of The Fish Finder
There are two stories behind the invention of the fish finder. The most unpopular one alleges that the first fish finder was assembled in the garages by the precursor of the Humminbird equipment company in Eufaula, Alabama in the 1970s.
The second and the only believable story credit the Kisoyaka brothers for creating the first fish finder in 1948 from scrap metal and simple sonar. In the spring of 1948, Kisoyaka and Kisoyake were approached by their enthusiastic fishing friend who vowed to show them the best fishing spots on the shores of the Pacific Ocean.
One reaching the shore, their friend confided in them that the best technique to identify good fishing spots is to watch out for air bubbles emerging of water. He believed that bubbles signified the presence of shoals of fishing trying to breathe while being close enough to the beach – an area that can easily be navigated by the boat.
Kisoyake and Kisoyaka were amused by his thoughtfulness and got inspired to think widely about the possibility of locating fish using air bubbles. After significant research and several impractical prototypes, one of the brothers who had heard about the workings of the sonar that was being used in American submarines thought of trying to apply the technology in locating the fish and even modifying it to specifically suit the needs of the fishermen.
The brothers deployed the first sonar-inspired fish finder in 1956 when they accompanied a private fishing vessel into the sea. Legend has it that the prototype mistook a swarm of jellyfish with a school of fish, an incidence that infuriated the captain to the point of throwing them out of his ship.
The first successful fish finder employing the active sonar became available in 1957 when it became commercially available in Nagasaki and the fishing villages of the islands’ Pacific shores.
How a Fish Finder Works?
A fish finder works on the principle of reflection of sound waves when they hit an obstacle. Hence, it borrows much of its functionality from the active sonar which transmits a sound wave and listens for the reflection to determine the location and size of the object lying in the path of the waves. Best fish finders borrow the working principles of a fathometer – an active sonar instrument used for safety and navigation by determining the depth of the water.
A fish finder consists of a display unit, a transmitter, and a transducer. The process of peeking into the water’s bottom begins when the transmitter sends an electrical impulse to the underwater transducer which converts it into a sound wave.
Depending on the frequency of the sound wave, it can reflect the images of the fish regarding size, shape, composition and even their distance from the boat. The easiest alternative used by the best fish finders is to judge the distance of schools of fish is to measure the speed of the sound wave and the time it takes it to bounce back.
Since the speed of speed in water can be affected by an array of water conditions including temperature, salinity, and pressure, more data can be collected by more sophisticated fish finders to give the fisherman enough information to make informed decisions.
The process of transmitting and listening for the echo of the sound can be repeated to the maximum of 40 times per second resulting to the water bottom being displayed versus time.
High frequency of transmission means the fish finder will get a clearer picture of the situation and the sea bottom while a low frequency translates to blurred and often insufficient information.
Types of Fish Finders:
Best fish finders can be grouped into two broad groups depending on the flexibility and imaging technique.
- Portable Fish Finders
As you can guess, this type of fish finders can be used on one boat or canoe only to be removed and installed on another boat or canoe moments later. They are highly versatile, i.e. the fisherman can decide to enjoy any type of fishing.
They are also compact, light, and easy to transport. They are predominantly used on smaller boats and canoes. Their small size, however, limits the number of technologies that can be added on the board to make them more effective and accurate.
- Fixed Fish Finders
This type of fish finders is permanently installed on a fishing vessel because of their large size. The big size is a tradeoff for advanced technology, i.e., they tend to more high tech than their portable counterparts.
The increase the load on your hull though their GPS is reliable. They also feature a big screen on which maps can be seen more clearly in greater aspect ratio.
Types of Fish Finders According to Imaging Technique:
- Side Imaging Fish Finder
This type of fish finders provides a180 degrees view of the underwater to the maximum range of 1500 feet. It is more accurate when used in deep water rivers and lakes. It is less prone to noise disturbance due to the “rear sight” being limited to just 180 degrees.
- Down Imaging Fish Finder
This type of fish finders visualizes objects below the water by employing ultra-thin slices of high-frequency sound waves. Down Imaging Fish Finders are capable of distinguishing an individual fish from a school. Its main flaw is over-concentration on the downward area.
Advantages and Disadvantages Of Fish Finders:
The GPS on the fish finder not only keeps you aware of your location in unfamiliar fishing spaces but also keeps the memory of the location with a high population of fish. The fact that all these activities can take place while the vessel is in motion makes it a must-have device for any fisherman.
A fish finder allows you to fish any time you please regardless of the weather condition. As long as the GPS and the transducer remain in operational conditions, you’re free to wander far and wide uninterrupted.
Some advanced fish finders are capable of switching between high and low sound wave transmission to capture images of preys which can either be a safety precaution in case of sharks or a lead to other schools of fish.
The incorporation of the speedometer in some fish finders assists fishermen in maintaining a slow cruise because high speeds scare the fish.
Fish catchment goes up when you use a fish finder compared to when you don’t, thanks the huge amount of information available for decision making.
With a fish finder, you can discriminate the size of fish to catch because young fish can easily be distinguished from the large mature ones. This helps in keeping the fish population within sustainable levels.
The profession of fishing has never been near effortless as it is now. A fish finder does most of the job. Long are gone the days a fisherman could use personal instincts and other unreliable techniques to catch fish.
Fish finders have led to overfishing because fishers can now locate fish with more precision than before. The resultant imbalance in the ecosystem can lead to extinction and encroachment of some animal species that depend on specific species of fish for food or protection.
Which Features Fish Finders Have?
All fish finders you’ll find on the market have a few different features that can be regarded to be the standard features of a typical fish finder. Here are the features of a fish finder:
- The Display
As a fisherman eager to locate shoals of fish under water, you need to be updated with information about the size of the shoals, their exact location, among other bits of information. The display screen displays all the information you need for decision making. Here are the standard specifications that should be met by every fish finder’s screen:
The display should be wide to allow a bigger viewing.
It should be clear to display sharp images that are easily observable in a range of weather conditions.
Although monochromatic screens aren’t entirely bad at the job as long as clarity and size are perfect, it’s prudent for the fish finder to be equipped with a color display.
Backlit property to maintain a clear view in low light conditions.
Visual of Audio alarms should accompany critical messages displayed on the screen such as bottom located fishes and abrupt change in temperature.
A fish finder must be strategically fixed on a surface for the user to use them easily and pick signals from the water. Most fish finders come with suction cup transducers for firm mounting.
The global positioning system is a valuable feature that enables you to go fishing in unfamiliar places and come back safely without getting lost. It is also useful in creating “bookmarks” of your best fishing grounds so that you can back to the same location again in the future.
- The Temperatures Gauge
Water temperature influences the behavior of the fish because they are cold-blooded animals. Warm and cool levels of water meet at the thermocline. Bait fishes prefer hanging around in regions slightly beyond the thermocline while big game fish prefer staying closer to the thermocline.
Why Should You Use a Fish Finder?
There are good reasons why you should seek the services of a fish finder when out in the sea fishing.
- They Save Your Time
You don’t want to use antique trial and error methods to locate fish. All you need to is to deploy a fish finder, and you’ll immediately know whether you should cast your net or not.
- They are Playing a Homing Role
Forgetting the best fishing grounds or even getting lost in the sea is the last thing you would want to happen you. The GPS that comes with the fish finder is valuable in guiding you to the sea and back.
- Enjoy All-Weather Fishing
Your fish finder does all the hunting regardless of the weather condition. Some fish migrate between areas but the fish finder pinpoints them will make very little effort.
- They Can be Safety Tools
The ability of some advanced fish finders to distinguish large fishes of prey such as sharks can ensure your safety especially when you’re fishing in shark infested waters.