best fish depth finder for the money

Best Fish Depth Finder For The Money Smackdown!

What would be the best fish depth finder for the money? Here is a review of three affordable yet recommendable fish finders on the market:

Fish Depth Finders For The Money – Top 3 Choices!

Skip product description and keep on reading:

Humminbird 409620-1 HELIX 5 DI Fish Finder

This fishfinder is part of Hummingbird’s Helix series that consists of compact and affordable fishfinders that offer the same features found in larger expensive models at a remarkably pocket-friendly price tag. Hummingbird 409620 Helix 5 DI GPS Fishfinder, in particular, comes with functionalities that rival the Hummingbird 859 which is one of the most popular fishfinders from the maker. It has turned to be the darling of both the amateurs and seasoned fishermen looking for a cheaper alternative that suits their needs.

Hummingbird Helix 5 DI GPS

The unit measures 7.55” x 6.64” x 3.3” and comes packed in a box alongside a swivel transom mount, transducer, power cable, instruction manual on a DVD and an array of other necessary hardware. You are allowed to opt between in-dash mounts and gimbal. The front of the unit has a 5″ widescreen that displays clear images in up to 256 colors and 480×800 resolution. The Hummingbird 409620 Helix 5 DI GPS Fishfinder is one of the easiest fishfinders to use out there, thanks to the user-friendly and self-explanatory control buttons, and access menu functions. Hence, performing such actions as marking sonar selections, choosing split or single screen views, enabling image zoom, and making general navigation selections is remarkably easier.

The GPS Features

There are moments when a fisher wanders deep into the sea or navigates to areas he’s never been. The Hummingbird 409620 Helix 5 DI GPS Fishfinder comes with factory-installed UniMaps cartography that displays detailed full-color 3D charts of almost every river and lake in the United States plus the extensive coastline of East, West, and South of the country. The mapping data includes a range of land-based physical features. Better yet, the device stores up to 45 designated routes or 2,500 waypoints. The user can enhance the software storage or capture more images by adding a microSD.

Sonar Features

The device’s down imaging sonar can “peer” distances up to 350 feet below the water to provide clear pictures through high-frequency sound waves broadcasted in ultra-thin slices. Besides illustrating the real depth of objects under the water, the device allows you to view the pictures through the sharper 45 degree/800 kHz or 75 degree/455 kHz options. With the sharp DualBeam Plus function, you can generate traditional sonar images of objects located 600 feet under the water.

Accuracy

It’s important to mention that the Hummingbird 409620 Helix 5 DI GPS Fishfinder is remarkably accurate at its job whether you’re cruising your boat fast speed or you’re stationary in an unfamiliar location which makes it one of the best fish finders for the money.

Pros

  • The angling experience is maximized, thanks to the precise internal GPS that comes complete with in-built UniMap cartography.
  • The option to expand the memory by adding a microSD card allows you to expand the capabilities of the software and save more images for analysis.
  • Easy navigation made possible by easy to use controls makes it user-friendly.
Raymarine Dragonfly Pro Chirp Fish Finder

This fishfinder belongs to a small crop of models featuring the DownVision and CHIRP technology launched at the start of 2015. With the onboard multifunctional displays, GPS and charts, it is one of the few CHIRP units you can afford at a low price. Since Raymarine ships the multifunctional displays in a range of bundles with each bundle featuring different transducers and map packages, it is important to clarify beforehand that this review is based on the model no. E70294-US. It is also important to note that the Dragonfly 4PRO is built on a similar basic platform with the Dragonfly 4DV.

Raymarine Dragonfly 4PRO

High-Quality Display

The Raymarine Dragonfly 4PRO CHIRP comes with a 4.3” optically bonded LCD that almost never fogs up. It’s capable of displaying crisp, clear color pictures that are easily observable in a wide array of weather conditions, thanks to its 380×272 screen resolution. Backlight adjustment controls can make the screen bright enough to offset the bright sunlight of midday.

High-Performance Sonar

The CHIRP technology was first tested on Raymarine and a few other fishfinders thus making Raymarine one of the makers to become synonymous with this technology. The CHIRP technology produces detailed images by relying on an array of sonar frequencies that are transmitted simultaneously below the water. CHIRP DownVisionTM imagining is the specific version of this sonar technology shipped worldwide in all Raymarine Dragonfly 4PRO fishfinders. The sonar has a range of 600 feet. It’s surprising that the inclusion of such cutting technology in this device doesn’t make it expensive.

Flexible Mounting System

Raymarine Dragonfly 4PRO CHIRP comes with a ball-in-socket mounting bracket that’s easier to install on a range of different surfaces whether you use a kayak or boat for fishing. This mounting system allows you to adjust the device’s screen quickly and see it from almost any reasonable angle.

Pros

  • You can upgrade the fish finder with HotMaps and Navionics Gold

  • The GPS maps loads faster than in other similar fish finders.

Cons

  • The design of the fish finder limits mounting options

 

Deeper PRO+ Smart Sonar

What’s so pleasant about Deeper Smart Sonar PRO+ is its ability to work flawlessly with Android and iOS and display the underwater activities. It can be easily cast from a rigid rod or boat, lowered in water, and maintain a stable WiFi and to clarify beforehand that this review is based on the model no. E70294-US. It is also important to note that the Dragonfly 4PRO is built on a similar basic platform with the Dragonfly 4DV.

Deeper Smart Sonar PRO+

High-Quality Display

The Raymarine Dragonfly 4PRO CHIRP comes with a 4.3” optically bonded LCD that almost never fogs up. It’s capable of displaying crisp, clear color pictures that are easily observable in a wide array of weather conditions, thanks to its 380×272 screen resolution. Backlight adjustment controls can make the screen bright enough to offset the bright sunlight of midday.

High-Performance Sonar

The CHIRP technology was first tested on Raymarine and a few other fishfinders thus making Raymarine one of the makers to become synonymous with this technology. The CHIRP technology produces detailed images by relying on an array of sonar frequencies that are transmitted simultaneously below the water. CHIRP DownVisionTM imagining is the specific version of this sonar technology shipped worldwide in all Raymarine Dragonfly 4PRO fishfinders. The sonar has a range of 600 feet. It’s surprising that the inclusion of such cutting technology in this device doesn’t make it expensive.

Flexible Mounting System

Raymarine Dragonfly 4PRO CHIRP comes with a ball-in-socket mounting bracket that’s easier to install on a range of different surfaces whether you use a kayak or boat for fishing. This mounting system allows you to adjust the device’s screen quickly and see it from almost any reasonable angle.

Pros

  • You can upgrade the fish finder with HotMaps and Navionics Gold
  • The GPS maps loads faster than in other similar fishfinders and capable of providing quality bathymetric maps

Cons

  • The design of the fish finder limits mounting options

  • WiFi connection for the Android version of the software keeps breaking unreasonably

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

Smart Sonar

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. Modern 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.

Operating Theory

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 latest 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

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

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 fishfinders 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.

Mounting

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.

GPS

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?

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.

If I had to choose the best fish depth finder for the money, I would choose Raymarine Dragonfly 4PRO CHIRP.

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