Best Fish Finders [Reviews and Comparisons]

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Our independent research team tests and recommends the most effective product available to consumers;

Anyone with 40+ years of fishing experience knows he can catch more fish using the best fishing app.

I have been flogging without a finder since the early 21st century, but I will give you the best advice. If your favorite goose-chasing activity is tailing fish throughout the day, please continue.

Before we “dive” into our top fish finders, let’s quickly go through the basics:

What is a fish finder, do you need one, and what makes a good fish finder?

fish finder basics

So what is a fish finder?

A fish finder is an electronic device used by anglers to locate fish underwater.

The device uses sonar technology to detect schools of fish.

Anglers can then use this information to determine where to cast their line.

Do you need a fish finder?

If you want to catch more fish, then the answer is yes!

Fish finders are especially useful for locating hidden schools of fish.

They can also be used to locate structures, such as reefs and sunken logs, which can attract fish.

What makes a good fish finder?

There are several factors that you should consider when purchasing a fish finder. These include transducer frequency, power, display resolution, and GPS.

Fish finders transducer frequency – The frequency of a fish finder’s transducer determines the size of the area that can be scanned.

Higher frequencies provide better resolution, but they don’t penetrate as deeply as lower frequencies.

Fish finders power – The power output of a fish finder’s transducer is measured in watts. Higher-powered units can scan more extensive areas, but they will also be more expensive.

Fish finders display resolution – A fish finder’s display is measured in pixels. Higher-resolution displays provide better image quality, but they will also be more expensive.

GPS – Many fish finders now come with built-in GPS receivers. This allows you to mark locations for later reference, such as schools of fish or underwater objects.

Now that we’ve gone over the basics, let’s look at our top picks for the best finders.

Top Finders by Type of Sonar

It has become increasingly common to see sonar technology pushing the envelope to consumer products in the fishing industry.

For years flashers were the deal. Lowrance’s famous Green Box locator and Hummingbird’s favorite flasher “Super60”.

From that time, fishfinders turned into paper graphs and LCDs that displayed details about the water below the boats.

The Humminbird Company was the first to sell side images at affordable prices to consumers, and the result was an incredible success. Since then, there was a war of armies called the Sonar Wars that some people called”.

What are the types of Sonars?

There are three types of sonar: Side Imaging, Down Imaging, and CHIRP.

Side imaging sonar

Side imaging sonar uses high-frequency sound waves to create an image of the area around your boat. This type of sonar is excellent for finding fish in places with lots of structure, like reefs and drop-offs.

Down Imaging sonar

Down imaging uses high-frequency sound waves to create an image of the area directly beneath your boat. This type of sonar is excellent for finding fish in deep water or places with little structure.

CHIRP sonar

CHIRP stands for “Compressed High-Intensity Radiated Pulse.” CHIRP sonar uses a wide range of frequencies to create an image of the area around your boat. This type of sonar is excellent for finding fish in deep and shallow water.

The best fish finder on the market

Lowrance HDS-Live Fish Finder

Price: $$$

The Lowrance HDS-Live is a top-of-the-line fish finder that features advanced sonar technology, CHIRP, and DownScan imaging.

It also has a bright, sunlight-readable display and comes preloaded with high-resolution mapping.

This fish finder also includes built-in WiFi, so you can easily share your catch with your friends and family.

If you’re looking for the best of the best, and money is not playing any role in your decision, the Lowrance HDS-Live is perfect.

Best fish finder for the money

There are many factors to consider when purchasing a fish finder, but the essential element is always your budget.

Garmin Striker Plus Fish Finder

Garmin Striker Plus Fish Finder

Price: $$

The Garmin Striker Plus is a great fish finder for those on a budget.

It features CHIRP, GPS, and preloaded lake maps.

It also has a bright, sunlight-readable display and can be used in freshwater or saltwater.

If you’re looking for a great fish finder that won’t break the bank, the Garmin Striker Plus is perfect.

The best portable fish finders on the market

Portable fish finders are portable tools for easy installation or retrieval. A mobile device may help make occasional excursions into a lake, rent a boat, or have smaller fishing vessels unsuitable for installing the permanent fishing finder.

This product usually includes an extra battery in the carry case.

There are castable finders, which are floating transducers pods. They’re excellent for fishing on shores and small vessels.

When one uses a portable fish finder?

A portable fish finder is perfect for anglers who want to be able to take their fish finder with them on the go.

They are also great for ice fishing, as they can be easily transported from one hole to another.

There are two great options for portable finders on the market:

 

Deeper Chirp Fish Finder

Price: $$$$

If you’re looking for a portable finder packed with features, The Deeper Chirp Fish Finder is the best portable finder.

It features advanced sonar technology and a bright, sunlight-readable display. It also has a built-in GPS and can be used in freshwater or saltwater.

Garmin Striker 4 with Portable Kit

Garmin Striker 4 with Portable Kit

Price: $$$

Garmin Striker comes with a portable kit, perfect for anglers who want to take their fish finder on the go.

It features CHIRP sonar and GPS, and it comes preloaded with high-resolution lake maps. The Striker also has a bright, sunlight-readable display and can be used in freshwater; Garmin Striker is an excellent choice for anglers who want a portable finder that doesn’t sacrifice features.

The cheapest fish finder on the market

LUCKY Kayak Fish Finder

LUCKY Kayak Portable Fish Depth Finder

Price: $$

The Lucky Kayak Fish Finder is not the best kayak fish finder( which cost $$$$$), nor the cheapest, but poor quality or performance is a risk below that price.

It’s an excellent choice for those on a budget, as it features advanced sonar technology and a bright, easy-to-read display.

It also has a built-in temperature sensor and can be used in freshwater or saltwater.

Best Down Imaging Sonar​

Best Down Imaging Sonar

Down Imagery utilizes a transducer that produces a single extremely tiny piece of acoustic waves to produce a realistic 3D look of what is below your ship.

These thin segments of sonar return can give more detail when you place the finder in the water. What might look like blobs of some sort from standard sonar becomes immediately apparent as sand, rocks, fish, and other kinds of structures.

All manufacturers offer down imaging sonar, including Humminbird’s down imaging, Lowrance’s Down scan, Garmin’s Down imaging, and Raymarine’s Dragonflies.

 

Best Side Imaging Sonar

Best Side Imaging Sonar

The downward image uses one Sonar beam aimed directly at a lower level, but the side image uses two rays that have a slightly upward orientation.

The beams create photo-like images of the lake bottom on each side of our boat and simultaneously show contour changes, composition changes, and fish structure.

Side imaging can provide valuable information on fish-holding structures in a lake. It is possible to significantly reduce your fishing time and efficiency and help you to spend much more time on the side Image Tutorial.

All manufacturers offer side imaging sonar, including Humminbird’s side imaging, Lowrance’s Side Scan, and Garmin’s SideVu.

Best Chirp Sonar

Chirp is an acronym for Compressed High-Intensity Radiated Pulse. Chirp technology uses a broad range of frequencies to produce better fish targets and bottom detail.

This results in less clutter, more fish, and more transparent images of fish and the bottom. Today, all major manufacturers offer chirp, including Humminbird’s CHIRP, Lowrance’s Broadband CHIRP, and Garmin’s ClearVu.

Fish Finders’ Knowledge Base:

Standard vs. Chirp Sonar

Deep finders using Sonar can detect what’s below using a single beam that bounces from something below. This provides an overview regarding the depth of the object but does not describe how the thing might be located.

Chirp is designed to increase the system’s efficiency by sending quick bursts of sonar waves at different frequencies that allow more precise information to be accessed.

Down Imaging vs. Side Imaging

Down Imaging Depth Finders use low-frequency chirping sonar to detect depths. As the name suggests, down imagers focus on what goes beneath the ship.

In turn, the side imaging depth finders use a two-dimensional telecommunications antenna (typically slightly off the boat) to capture the contours and shapes.

Is Garmin better than Lowrance?

This is difficult to answer as it depends on the user’s needs.

Both brands offer high-quality products with features that appeal to different anglers.

It is advisable to read reviews and compare features to find the best fit for your needs.

Is a portable finder worth it?

If you enjoy fishing from different locations or do not want to drill holes in your boat, a portable finder is excellent.

Portable finders are also a good option if you only go fishing occasionally, as they are less expensive than permanently installed units.

They are easy to use and provide all the features and functionality of a larger unit.

What is the best GPS fish finder combo?

There are many GPS fish finder combos on the market, and it can be challenging to choose the best one.

Some factors to consider include price, features, brand, and reviews.

A few best-selling models include the Lowrance HDS-12 Gen³, the Garmin Striker 12cv, and the Humminbird Helix 12 CHIRP Mega SI GPS G.

What is a good fish finder for kayaks?

There are many kayak finders on the market designed specifically for kayaks.

The best-selling models include the Lowrance Hook³, the Humminbird PiranhaMax 197Ci, and the Garmin Striker Plus four CV.

When choosing a fish finder for your kayak, it is vital to consider transducer type, power, display size, and GPS capability.

What is the most user friendly fish finder?

HOOK2 4x Bullet Skimmer transducers. The simplest fish finders on the market, a HOOK2 4x Bullet, features simple navigation, menu access to critical functions, and Autotune Sonar.

Hook2 4x is a wide-angle RF sonar system with wideband bandwidth. You can plug the plug into the water. The sonar wave is cast out, and the returns are received on the same transducer.

This makes it very easy to use as you don’t have to worry about managing multiple transducers or cables.

What is the best fish finder for ice fishing?

There are many excellent ice fishing finders on the market. The best-selling models include the Lowrance HOOK²-12, the Humminbird ICE HELIX five CHIRP GPS G, and the Garmin Striker four with Transducer.

When choosing an ice fishing fish finder, it is essential to consider display size, power, frequency, and transducer type.

Portable finders are also a good option for ice fishing, as they are less expensive than permanently installed units and are easy to use.

Can you use a portable finder on a boat?

The sensors utilize Sonar technology to locate fish. You’ll be able to steer your boat towards the places where fish are available to be caught.

Because these are lightweight, there is nothing to mount. Some of these will fit in your purse—they are so tiny! The battery is the only thing you might have to worry about, as some are not made to be used on a boat.

However, there are now options with longer-lasting batteries that will work fine on a boat. You can also get solar power chargers for them.

Is a fish finder and depth finder the same thing?

No. Depth finders are devices that use sonar technology to determine depth below the water surface, while finders use sonar to locate fish.

Depth finders are usually less expensive than finders and do not have all the features and functionality of a fish finder.

However, some depth finders now come with additional GPS and mapping capabilities.

What is the best fish finder on the market?

There are many excellent fish finders on the market. The best-selling models include the Lowrance HDS-12 Gen³, the Garmin Striker 12cv, and the Humminbird Helix 12 CHIRP Mega SI GPS G.

What is the best and easiest fish finder to use?

The Hook² by Lowrance is the simplest finder on the market and features easy-to-use navigation, menu access to critical functions, and Autotune Sonar.

Hook² is a wide-angle RF sonar system with wideband bandwidth. You can plug the transducer into the water, cast out the sonar wave, and receive the returns on the same transducer.

This makes it very easy to use as you don’t have to worry about managing multiple transducers or cables.

Is CHIRP better than sonar?

There is no definitive answer to this question as it depends on personal preferences and fishing conditions.

However, many fishermen believe that CHIRP  is a more effective way to find fish as it produces clearer images and can penetrate deeper into the water.

Do I need maps on fish finder?

No, you don’t necessarily need maps on your fish finder, but they can be helpful.

Maps can give you an idea of where the best fishing spots are and help you avoid areas that are known to be unproductive.

Some fish finders come with built-in maps, while others allow you to download or purchase maps.

Which fish finder has the best maps?

The Garmin Striker 12cv fish finder has the best maps, as it comes pre-loaded with Garmin LakeVü HD and Garmin BlueChart g² HD cartography.

These maps cover over 19,000 lakes in the U.S. and Canada, so you can always find a good spot to fish.

Is side imaging worth the money?

Side imaging is definitely worth the money if you are serious about fishing.

It gives you a much better idea of what is going on beneath the water’s surface and can help you locate fish that you might not be able to see with traditional sonar.

Final thoughts

After testing the best fish finders on the market, we found that the Garmin Striker 4 with Portable Kit is our top pick. It was easy to use and had great features for a reasonable price. If you are looking for a quality fish finder, the Garmin Striker 4 should be at the top of your list.

Hope to see you on the water!

Fish Finders Glossary

2D Sonar – This is the traditional type of sonar that uses one transducer to emit and receive sound waves. 2D sonar produces a cone-shaped beam that gives you a general idea of what’s in the water beneath you.

3D Sonar – 3D sonar creates a three-dimensional image of what’s under your boat. It uses multiple transducers to emit and receive sound waves, which provides a more detailed picture than 2D sonar.

Beam – The beam is the cone-shaped area’s width scanned by the sonar waves. A wider beam will cover more area but will not be as accurate as a narrower beam.

Bottom Lock – Bottom lock is a feature on some fish finders that keeps the depth reading at the bottom of the screen even when the boat is moving. This helps keep track of depths in shallower water.

CHIRP – CHIRP stands for “Compressed High-Intensity Radiated Pulse.” It is a type of sonar that uses a broader range of frequencies than traditional. CHIRP sonar produces more explicit images and can penetrate deeper into the water.

Depth Finder – A depth finder is a device that uses sonar to measure the depth of the water. Depth finders can be used to find fish and underwater obstacles.

Down Imaging – Down imaging is a type of sonar that creates an image of what’s beneath your boat. It uses multiple transducers to emit and receive sound waves, which provides a more detailed picture than 2D sonar.

Frequency – The frequency is the number of times the sonar waves are emitted per second. Higher frequencies will provide better resolution but will not penetrate as deeply into the water. Lower frequencies will penetrate deeper but will not be as accurate.

GPS – GPS stands for “Global Positioning System.” GPS is a technology that uses satellites to determine your exact location. GPS can be used to find fish, mark fishing spots, and navigate back to your starting point.

Hard Bottom – Hard bottom is the solid bottom of a lake or river. It is usually composed of rock, sand, or gravel.

Ice Fishing – Ice fishing is the sport of catching fish through a hole in the ice. Ice fishing requires special equipment, such as an ice auger, ice shelter, and tip-ups.

Inland Lakes – Inland lakes are lakes that are not part of the ocean. They are usually freshwater lakes, but some may be brackish (a mix of fresh and salt water).

LCD – LCD stands for “liquid crystal display.” LCDs are used in fish finders to display the sonar data. They are usually backlit so that they can be seen in low-light conditions.

Mark Button – The mark button is a feature on some fish finders that allows you to mark a location on the screen. This can be useful for marking fishing spots, docks, or other landmarks.

MFD – MFD stands for “multi-function display.” MFDs are computer screens that can be used for navigation, sonar, and other functions. They usually have a larger screen than fish finders.

NOAA – NOAA stands for “National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.” NOAA is a US government agency that monitors the weather and ocean conditions.

Offshore – Offshore is the open ocean, away from the coast. Offshore fishing is usually done in deeper water than inshore fishing.

Ping Rate – The ping rate is the number of times the sonar waves are emitted per second. A higher ping rate will provide better resolution but use more battery power.

Portable Kit – A portable kit is a type of fish finder that can be moved from boat to boat. Portable kits usually have a separate transducer and display unit.

Power – Power is the maximum amount of power that a fish finder can use. It is measured in watts (W). Higher-powered fish finders will be able to penetrate deeper into the water but will use more battery power.

Pre-Drilled Holes – Pre-drilled holes are holes drilled into a boat’s hull before the boat is built. They are used to mount fishing electronics, such as fish finders and GPS units.

Rechargeable Batteries – Rechargeable batteries are batteries that can be used over and over again. They are usually lithium-ion or lead-acid batteries. Rechargeable batteries are more expensive than disposable batteries but will save you money in the long run.

Resolution – Resolution is the detail of the image on the screen. Higher-resolution images will show more detail but use more battery power.

Rule of Thumb – The rule of thumb is a guideline that says that you should use the highest frequency that you can afford. This rule is not always valid, but it is a good starting point.

Screen Size – Screen size is the physical size of the display. Larger screens will be easier to see but may be less portable.

Side Imaging – Side imaging is a type of sonar that creates an image of what’s beside your boat. It uses multiple beams of sonar that are emitted from the side of the transducer.

Sonar – Sonar is a type of radar that uses sound waves to detect objects in the water. Sonar is used by fish finders to find fish, mark fishing spots, and navigate back to your starting point.

Split Screen – A split screen is a display showing two images side-by-side. Split screens often show the same screen’s sonar image and GPS map.

Stand Alone Display – A stand-alone display is a type of fish finder that has its own built-in display. Stand-alone displays are usually more extensive and more expensive than portable units.

Transducer – The transducer is the part of the fish finder that emits and receives the sonar waves. It is usually mounted on the boat’s hull in the water.

Tri-Frequency – Tri-frequency means a fish finder can use three different frequencies (50 kHz, 83 kHz, and 200 kHz). Tri-frequency fish finders are more expensive but provide better results.

VHF – VHF stands for “very high frequency.” VHF radio waves have a higher frequency than HF radio waves. They are used for communication over long distances, such as between boats.

Waterproof – Waterproof means an electronic device can be submerged in water without damage. Most fish finders are waterproof, but not all of them are.

Watts – Watts (W) are a unit of power. Fish finder power is measured in watts. Higher-powered fish finders will be able to penetrate deeper into the water but will use more battery power.

Waypoint – A waypoint is a location that you have marked on a map. Waypoints can be used to navigate back to your starting point or to mark fishing spots.