Best fish finders will give clear picture of fish, structure of the debris of the water bottom and display accurate data.
”Best” means different things to different people. While some fishermen are looking for a low budget device, others hobbyist anglers may seek top-rated units for their specific needs.
What fish finder should you buy in 2021?
This guide is designed in a way that any beginner or expert fishermen can choose a new fish finder or replace existing one. Today we’re going to walk you through the process – showing exactly what you should consider choosing a best fish finder.
For your reference, here’s some quick tips to choose best fish finder
- You own a kayak, boat or canoe? Buy a Plansoutdoor with Transducer
- Transom Mount or Through-Hull Transducer? Choose Transom Mount
- No Kayak? Choose Portable one or Castable units
- Need Navigation systems to save tracks & fishing hotspot? Get a GPS integrated Fish Finder
- Want GPS signal transfered into electronic navigational chart? Get Chartplotter
- For Ice Fishing, shop flasher unit
Consider the Types
You could be overwhelmed by lots of choice and prices ranging from hundred to several thousands dollars based on the type and quality of the devices. But there’s good news for you! We organized 3 best fish finder from 3 types of technology to narrow your focus and make shopping easy.
You shop for a poor fish locating device; you’ll be disappointed to the point of losing faith in these amazing devices. You shop for the right device, and you’ll forever be grateful that such devices exist…
What Fishfinder Device is right for you?
IT’s time to decide what’s for you and what fits your parameters best. Well, the first thing you need to do is set those parameters. Budget is one major factor of those parameters.
Choosing what is right for you is not much tough as you thought if you take budget into consideration.
Determine the Budget
If you buy the low-priced devices (i.e. the basic fish finders), you’ll be able to enjoy some minimal core benefits. As the prices go up, so does the features improve.
To unlock the full benefits of a fish finder, you’ve to raise your price. Most GPS combo and the fully networked system usually fall in this category.
High Budget Fish Finder
- Provide picture like structure with 3 dimensional image
- Fully networked system comes with a wide range of data sources e.g. radar, raster/vector GPS charts, video, satellite radio, etc.
- Ability to work with all boats including the large vessel
- Fully networked systems are Ethernet and Wi-Fi enabled
Low Budget Fish Finder
- Provide depth, fish structure and bottom structure
- Not possible to combine with radar, satellite or other high end technology. But you can still enjoy down imaging, side imaging facility.
- Suitable for people fishing on small boats as well as medium size kayak
- Custable portable units are Bluetooth and WiFi enabled
Best Fish Finder Under $200
1-HawkEye FT1PXC Fishtrax Review
Only read review of this product if your aim is to get a small unit of less than 200 bucks and you want to ignore other top notch opportunity of high end devices.This device only show depth of water.. No size, no picture of fish will be shown. If your intention is to see fish size and structure this will not help you.
If you’re used to fishing with your kayak in shallow water HawakEye can be in your choice.
It comes with dual frequency intelligent sonar technology that allows you to make precise reading of water depths of up to 240 ft. Fine tuning these readings to make them clearer is quite possible on this device.
This product with two frequencies of operation (200 kHz and 80 kHz) makes it a good deal for kayakers fishing in shallow waters.
To deploy the fish finder, simply toss the sonar sensor in water (you can also opt to put it in your boat’s hull) and power on the display.
- Dual frequency intelligent sonar system
- HD color displayIce-mode digital flasher support
- Kayak Mountable
- Very Small Display
- Don’t give size and shape of fish
- Don’t go with it for ice fishing
Other Key Features and Benefits –
High-Performance VirtualView LCD Display
FishTrax 1C comes with a clear view color screen that allows you to see details without a single bias e.g. water depth, water temperature, depth scale, battery strength indicator, surface clutter, fish arches, frequency, lower limit and bottom contour. This is incredible. All of these details being clearly shown on a single screen.
Enjoy Unlimited Expandability
This one will make you smile… The fish finder has expandability options. It means that it allows you to add accessories that enable it to adapt to any fishing platform other than your kayak. With the right accessories, you’ll have an easy time mounting it to your boat, canoe, Float Tube, Ice, Dock, etc.
Dual Frequency Sonar
That FishTrax 1C supports dual frequency is another great thing. It means that you can simply fine tune the device for use in either deep or shallow water. But since we’re fishing in shallow water here, you’ll be better off using the 200 kHz frequency value.
This product is backed by a two-year warranty from its manufacturer. They’ll resolve any technical problems that your device might develop within the two years.
2- iBobber Castable Smart Fishfinder Review
As the name suggest, this is a device that you’d simply tie to the end of your fishing line and toss it in water. That’s all.
It works with your Smartphone and tablets (whether Android or iOS) via Bluetooth connection. The device is 100% waterproof, easy to deploy and activates as soon as it touches the water.
You’ll truly like how iBobber displays the fish detected in two sizes so that you can easily pick the bigger one. Other than this, the device marks waterbeds, GPS tag your hotspots, logs your entire trip and even share it on different social media.
The fish finder has a long battery life that charges very quickly.
One important thing we noted about the device is that kids like to watch it. So if you’re looking for something to keep them quiet and busy in your boat, you need iBobber!
- Waterproof design
- Advanced sonar technology
- GPS system support
- Long-lasting battery
- Lunar calendar weather available
- Very cheap
- Inconsistent syncing
- Connectivity problems
Key Features and benefits –
Healthy Battery Life
iBobber healthy battery is able to keep it on for 8 full hours when you fully charge it. This is enough time to help you get through a busy weekend hunting the fish of your choice.
Note that this battery is also rechargeable. But unlike others of its kinds, it charges pretty fast!
Extremely Easy to Use…
It has no complicated features. As long as you know how to cast it into the water and connect it to your Smartphone via Bluetooth, you’re good to go. In case you find some difficulties using this device, refer to the user manual it comes with. It bears installation procedure and troubleshooting tips to help you out.
Advanced Sonar Technology
Though simple, the device employs an advanced sonar technology that reaches as deep as 135 inches. This enables you to make a wider coverage and increase your chances of getting more fish. The sonar readings are presented in the form of stunning graphics on your Smartphone (no wonder the kids like to watch them).
Actually, iBobber displays two sizes of fish (under 15” and over 15”) to help you pick your target wisely.
iBobber is among the best inexpensive fish finders for you. But this does not compromise its features in any way. It supports all the basic features that will help you locate fish quickly and make a nice catch, e.g. the Bluetooth/waterbed contour mapping that goes up to 100” away.
3- FishHunter PRO, Fastest Wireless Portable Fish Finder Review
Thanks to FishHunter!
The device has a simple design to make it easy for you to use along the shores.
It requires you to download FishHunter app and install it on your Smartphone, connect the phone (Android and iOS compatible) to your device and the game is on!
You’ll view all the fish on your phone screen the moment you hook the device on your line and casting, and select the one you’d like to bag.
The unit works on Bluetooth only and needs no cellular connection. With military-grade sonar technology and a built-in GPS system, be ready to experience an exceptional performance this unit throws at you.
Did we mention that you can as well apply this device to ice fishing?
- Military-grade sonar technology
- Extremely portable
- Night vision lighting
- High-frequency transducer
- Healthy battery status
- Bluetooth connectivity problems
- Some users complain that their phone battery dies faster
Features and Benefits –
Military Grade design
Sorry, but we have to let you know that all the materials used to make this device are military grade. That makes the device to endure any situation, any condition, however, tough it is. Take the protective rubber coating for example- it’s ultra durable and won’t get hurt easily. For this reason, you can use it wherever you wish to fish. Even ice fishing!
By stating that this device is extremely portable, we mean that you can easily slip it into your pocket and carry it about everywhere you go. Nobody will even know you have a fish finder with you. Don’t you like this?
FishHunter is great in finding fish and depths! It quickly and conveniently measures water depths and bottom contours (upto100ft or 30m), surface water temperatures and enables you to clearly see the fish on your Smartphone screen. Remember that it uses military grade SONAR technology which allows you to see everything in 3D.
A Well-Organized Log Book
Probably the most interesting thing we bumped into when examining the FishHunter mobile App. You won’t believe what it will do for you. It keeps a track of all the fish you caught, photos, different types of fish, length and weight of the bait used, and so much more.
So much in a single app, right?
4- Deeper Smart Portable Fish Finder Review
Before going through the details we would like to mention you, Deeper DP0H10S10-P Wireless Sonar Smart Fish Finder is the most popular device that have highest customer reviews in amazon on this category. This product is popular because it is portable, lightweight and castable and made for all round uses.
For anglers who hunt all around the water, this tennis ball shaped plastic sphere is your perfect fish finder. One main thing you need to know about his fish finder is that it allows you to fish in places that other fish finders fail to reach.
Angling has never been so simple and fun with this device. It helps you easily explore and identify the best fishing sport on the shores. To achieve this, all you have to do is tie the device to your fishing line and place it in the water. With the help of Bluetooth technology, Deeper sonar will transfer precise sonar data to your Smartphone (works with both Android and iOS) from a depth of up to 150feet (45meters).
You don’t need any cellular data to operate this device. Meaning you can employ just anywhere.
With a healthy battery that lasts for 4 hours when fully charged, you’ll have a great time hunting off shores, inside your kayak, with no interruptions.
But there are some down on this unit. It depletes the battery backup quickly. If price is less and you want to relish the benefits mentioned above and always carry an extra phone with powerful battery then you may consider buying deeper.
- Healthy, rechargeable battery
- Comes with a free mobile App
- Dual frequency operation
- Wireless sonar technology
- You may face bluetooth connectivity problems
- Phone battery charge reduce
Key Features and Benefits –
Wide Area Coverage
You’d wish that your fish locating device covers your entire fishing area and exposes you to all the fish present, right? Apparently, Deeper Sonar fish finder works tirelessly to help you achieve this…
It has dual frequency operation mode to help you cover an extremely wide area. Needless to say, the main benefit of wide area coverage is that you’ll be in for an ample search and high accuracy findings.
The exact values of the dual beam, as expressed by the manufacturer are: 290kHz (15 degrees) and 90kHz (55degrees)
A Pretty Portable Device
Yes, you heard it right: this fish finder is very portable. The mere fact that it comes in the size of a tennis ball explains it all. Other than the compact size, the device is also ultra-lightweight. All this allows you to deploy it any time of the year and in places that other fishes have difficulties reaching.
Next, let’s discuss an additional benefit of this device being portable…
Easy to Use
Now that the device is portable and lightweight, it will be extremely easy for you to sue. You won’t encounter any frustrating weights as with most fish finders out there.
No installation process needed which further makes the device easy to use. No external batteries as well.
Above all, the device uses a unique wireless technology to connect to our device. So, you won’t need to connect any wires (a stressing task for many).
FREE Mobile Application Provided
Compatible with both Apple iOS and Android smartphones.
Deeper Mobile App provides you with unique content plus the latest features that help increase your fishing productivity. Some of the features you’ll enjoy from this 100% free app include a lunar fishing calendar, customized fishing rod, integrated camera function, integrated map function, up-to-date weather reports, social media networks, and so much more!
5- Lowrance Elite-3X Review
Take a look at its 3.5” color screen that you use for viewing. It has such a high clarity that you can view its reading even in the full sun. Very interesting, right? Other than this, it’s wide for easy reading and supports zoom capabilities to help you zone on a specific target.
This fish finder has features that rank far above its inexpensive price tag. Another prove to this fact that it has a 10x sensitivity (compared to expensive models) and includes a broadband sonar that helps prolong the transducer’s battery life.
You even have the advantage of operating this device at two frequencies! That allows your floodgate to unlimited fishing options as explained below…
A very portable fish finder that fits your pocket without issues is here. It’s not only affordable, but it’s also packed with interesting features to help you reach a maximum fishing potential.
- Quite Affordable
- Completely easy to operate
- Extremely portable
- Comes with a transducer
- 3.5” display is somehow tiny
- it’s a no frills fish finder (Because of the low price)
Features and Benefits –
Dual Frequency Support
If you’ve ever used a dual frequency fish finder, I know you’re already imagining how great this particular device is. If you never have, I’ll teach you about it…
The dual frequency operation means that you’ll be using the device at both low and high frequencies. The low frequency of this device (83 kHz) gives you the advantage of locating schools of fish at high depths while the high frequency (200kHz) lets you separate and target the areas you wish to.
As you can see, the two frequencies team up to give you a maximum coverage to ensure you’ll never go home without a fish for the dinner.
Easy to Operate
There’s a reason why this product is highly recommended for beginner fishermen. Have you looked at its menu already? If not, please do so right now. You’ll notice that it comes with arrow keys that make it thoroughly easy to navigate. The fish ID function makes the operation even simpler. How? Let’s see this below…
Fish I.D Function
Another feature that favors beginners without a single clue how the fish finder works…
This function clearly identifies every fish displays on the device’s precision screen. This way you’ll get to learn how to catch your target fish and when to save your bait!
This is an advanced Lowrance technology that turns this tiny fish finder into an ultra-powerful device that gives you finer details about fish, water columns, and the bottom structure.
Medium Budget: Fish Finder Under $500
6. Humminbird HELIX 5 CHIRP SI
We present you with the best finder GPS combo (or chart plotter if you like) that introduces you to a world of excellent fishing experiences. Humminbird Helix can guarantee you of catching more fish in your next saltwater or freshwater outing.
The device utilizes dual beam which is filtered with Switch-fire technology to help meet all your fishing needs at all times.
The GPS system will NEVER disappoint you. Users who have used this device before can attest to this fact. They’ve been having fun using the system. The fact that the UniMap cartography that covers important US coastlines, inland lakes and rivers is good news to all fish hunters.
- High-precision GPS system
- Temperature sensor available
- 3D chart view
- You will be able to know speed of boat on the screen
- Getting used to with this system is always a struggle for new users
- Lack of lighting makes it difficult to see the buttons and hence adjust the settings
Key Features and Benefits –
Resolution is always a key feature in every fish locating device. A high resolution is one of the coolest features you’ll enjoy when using this device. It comes with a color LCD display (TFT) that ensures that you can apparently access all the readings.
On top of this, the screen is wide enough (5”) to allow easy toggling, and side-by-side GPS, Sonar.
High Precision Internal GPS Chartplotting
If there’s that one attribute you’d fall in love with this unit, then it must be the integrated GPS system. It has a high degree of accuracy. It gives you the actual results. It has a built-in UniMap cartography. It leads you to the fish hotspots. It maximizes your angling experience at all times. It’s just awesome!
Wide Area Coverage
Angling in a vast water body? Great, you need this fish finder from Humminbird to help you cover the widest area possible. How is it able to do this? Well, the device operates on dual beam mechanism. With the help of dual beam PLUS Sonar, it delivers a narrow or a wide beam depending on your choice. With the narrow beam, you’ll be able to view the bottom structure below your boat. The wider beam allows you to cast your net wider and search for fish like structure around your boat.
7- Humminbird HELIX 5 SI Review
If you are looking a best fish finder that support side-imaging and GPS, we found the perfect fit for you. This is the Humminbird 409640-1 HELIX 5 SI Fish Finder. It helps you traverse waters with confidence, locate fish to great depths and offer full clarity.
Like the previous product we’ve just discussed, this one too comes with a brilliant display screen. It has the same dimensions and features like the earlier product. It’s 5 inches wide to ensure that you get a more clear view of all the details you’re looking for. And when you split the screen, it displays all the diverse readings like they were on separate wide screens!
What’s more interesting in this fish locating device? You’ll get the right reply to this question immediately you start using the side imaging technology it presents you with. This is the technology that will help you an 180 degrees coverage that you’re looking for.
The device becomes even fancier when you comes to learn that it supports dual beam PLUS sonar technology (with SwitchFire technology). This is what will help you search fish up to 1500” depths.
An integrated GPS system is the climax of this excellent fish finder. It performs wonders and gives you nothing less than precision readings. It shows you the right way home and guides you to schools of fish. You simply can’t get enough of this device!
- Great display
- Waterproof design
- Temperature sensors available
- 3D chart view
- A bit expensive compared to its competitors
- The screen might allow moisture to get in, making it difficult to read (especially in the early morning hours)
Features and Benefits –
HD Display Screen
As with all the other Humminbird fish finders, the display screen if this device does not disappoint. It has what it takes to give you quality, ultra-clear output. To start with, the screen has such a high resolution of 480 x 800 pixels-great enough for you to take readings effortlessly.
Other outstanding characteristics of this display system include backlight, multiple viewing functions, zooming function and broad view (of 5 inches to help you see everything without struggling).
How many times have your fish finder allowed water to get inside and probably ended up being destroyed for good? This is the worst experience for many anglers. And if you haven’t experienced it while at the middle of your fishing, play it never happens to you.
You can escape this embarrassing, stressing scene by investing in this fish finder. It has the waterproof design of the class IPX5. That means you can take it deep into the water of a greater depth for half an hour without any issues.
Side ad Down Imaging Support
If you want a wide coverage (and hence a maximum angling experience), this is the ideal fish finder for you. It’s able to do 180 degrees coverage with the Side Imaging. Enabling you to get finer details of the fish around you on its HD screen!
High Precision GPS System
Humminbird 409640-1 HELIX 5 SI Fish Finder is GPS combo unit. Its GPS system is unlike the others. It has high accuracy level and is dedicated to help you locates schools of fish. And if you feel lost, it will also guide your way back home.
Remember it has a built-in UniMap cartography for the best results. A micro SD slot is also provided where you can add your additional maps and even save your way-points.
Application of this device: The last broad category of fish finders comes with many technology advancements and fancy features not seen in the above two models. And for this reason, they’re at the top of the ladder (regarding performance and pricing).
8- Humminbird Helix 9 SI with Dual Beam GPS
If you think that the above portable fish finder does not fit your class or needs, then we recommend you to buy Humminbird 409950-1 Helix 9 SI 480×800. Like its counterpart, it has a tiny, compact design that enables you to carry it anywhere.
Though small, it houses very impressive features that help you net more fish at all times.
The device functions a state of the art, incredible sonar technology that helps you get all the details you need about the fish and the structures that exist under the water your hunting in. You’ll enjoy accessing all the side image, down image and beam plus readings on a ultrawide, high definition color display screen that comes with the device.
Inspecting this unit from bottom to top, you’ll be quick to notice that it has a jaw-dropping industrial design and great fish hunting capabilities that make it worth its price tag.
- Contour XD cartography support
- Built-in GPS system
- Side Imaging Supported
- Exceptional color display screen
- Directional pad is sometimes unresponsive
Features and Benefits –
Built-in GPS System
An integrated GPS system that comes with this device is one of the most important features that you’ll enjoy here. The GPS system does not come alone. A contourXD mapping is included. With up to 3,000 US lakes in its database, contourXD makes it completely easy to find a lake close to any region you might want to fish. The maps also feature contour lines to help you identify the main spots where fish are hiding.
Extra-bright, Stunning HD Display
This display is bright that it gives you a clear view of various color images even in the harsh sunlight. The fact that this display is 9” wide means that you don’t have to open your eye wide to see the readings.
You can “split this screen” to accommodate this screen to show different readings- from temperature, sonar recording, 3D chart view, etc. Every reading will surely get a sufficient space!
DualBeam PLUS Sonar
This feature is common in almost all Humminbird products. As you know, it combines 2 cones of coverage to give you a wide coverage as well as exposing you to more details of the fish you’re hunting and the bottom structure of the waters you’re fishing in.
High level of Connectivity
If you’ve wished for long to get a fish finder that gives you many connection options, your prayers have been finally answered! Humminbird 409950-1 Helix 9 SI 480×800 spoils you with connectivity options you’ve never enjoyed before. It supports Bluetooth, HD Radar, AIS signaling, and Ethernet connectivity among others.
Why we wrote this guide?
It is not an easier task to select which is best as there are many deciding factors.
One brand or model will never fit everyone’s need.
You need to pay attention to know some conspicuous features about these devices first and which one suits your needs. We created this guide to help you taking right decision.
8 Features to look in best fish finder:
Again, don’t just shop blindly to buy a device for any type outdoor activity. Don’t be overwhelmed by a product just because it appeals to your eyes and has fancy features. Take your time to understand what it carries and whether it helps you catch more fish. The best way to find best fish finder out of the many choices you get out there is by following our expert buying guide below… …you got to read and scrupulously follow every detail of this guide to avoid disappointment and not to waste your valuable time and money.
What Type of Unit Do You Prefer?
Just what we’ve discussed above: you can choose to buy a standalone, combination or fully networked system. From our prior discussion, you fully understand what each unit entails and how it works. The standalone is the most. The price rises as you move from GPS combo to fully networked systems. Factors such as the size of water body you are fishing in, your budget, the size of your boat and so on, will help you pick the right unit.
Screen Resolution (Display Clarity)
You don’t want to pop your eyes out of their sockets trying to see the information being displayed on the screen of your device. Nobody does either. It can only be prevented by investing in a device that comes with a high-quality, high-resolution display. The screen clarity is measured regarding the pixels. The more pixels per square inch it carries, the higher its resolution is. It is not that hard to understand; even a child can understand it. A high-resolution display lets you see the details of the smallest fish, see the fish at the bottom and on the edges of your bait balls, and even separate targets that are closely spaced.
Another crucial factor to remember when looking for a great fish finder is its power. The power of fish finders is expressed in Wattages (W). The higher the Wattage, the faster your system will be at displaying the readings and the deeper it will go to give you these details. The exact opposite is very true. Lower wattage means a slower performance of your device. It also means that your device will penetrate to a limited depth. Generally, the depth of water you’re planning to fish in will determine the amount of power you need. If the body is too shallow, you only need a less powerful unit. This is for the inland lake fishermen to whom 200Watts is enough to see the lake bottom. Coastal fishing demands an around 500Watts units. But if you’re a serious Bluewater angler, you ought to look for 1000plus Watts units. We guarantee you that these will serve you better.
Frequency of Operation
Frequency plays a major role in determining how your device performs. And since you want a unit that performs better, you’ve to pick the right frequency… Most fish finders usually operate at the single, dual, multiple, and Broadband CHIRP systems. How do you go about the frequencies? It’s very simple. You just need to understand that the higher the frequency, the higher the resolution and significantly reduced background noise on your unit screen. You’ll enjoy ultra-clear view from a fast-moving boat. The only downside of high frequency is that they don’t penetrate as deep as the lower frequencies. Therefore, if you’re a shallow inland lake angler, go for the frequencies as high as 200 kHz, 400 kHz, and 800 kHz. For deeper waters, choose the 80 kHz and 50 kHz units.
Have you checked the Transducer Details?
First of all, what’s a transducer? It’s simply the device use by fishfinders to emit and receive sonar signals. It enables the fish finder to get a view of the fish below you or any other structure to the bottom. Now, most fish finders you’ll get on the market comes with transom mount transducers- the easiest to mount with little or no transducer skills. If your needs to (and boat) get more advanced, you might want to look into more advanced transducers e.g. In-hull and Thru-hull. Still on transducers, it’s important to pay attention to its cone angle. It determines how wide the signal beam sent from the bottom of your kayak into the water is. The wider the cone angle, the bigger the area it covers. But getting too much wider might weaken the signal sensitivity in deep waters. Most units present you with cone angles of between 16-20 degrees. The 20 degrees angle will work great in different water depths.
Display Color: Black/White or Color Screen?
Let’s agree on one thing- a color screen is a new standard in all the electronics today, including fish finders. Surprisingly, black and white fish locating units are still available on the market. Unless your budget limits you to the B/W units, it’s always advisable to go for colors screens, bearing in mind the benefits they’ve over the former. They’ve millions of colors that advocate for a better image detail. They make it easier for you to see all that’s going on, even in dark or bright screens. They maintain their clarity even when the weather gets cloudy or dark.
The Screen Size is Also Important
Usually, larger screens are better. They’re easier on your eyes and offers you more detailed information, clearly. Given that some devices allow you to divide the display into radar and GPS screen, doing so on a small-sized screen will be a total disaster. You’ll hardly see the details of both screens and if you do, you’ll have to struggle.
You Get what You Pay For
This rule applies to the fish finders too. The fancier it becomes, the more you’ve to spend. As we’ll see later, most of these units come with many fancy features: some are necessary while are just nice to have. Confining yourself on a budget is the simplest way to get your right fish finder catch. But remember to get a unit that meets your needs and helps you put more fish into your bag.
All the fish finders that we’ve reviewed above are the most popular in 2016. They’ve received many positive reviews from satisfied users and continue to perform better every new day. These products are form different brands, have different price tags and varied features. To choose an ideal one, you need to come up with a budget and understand all your fishing needs. Once you have this information, go back to our product list and pick the right one for you and get ready for a maximum fishing experience.
Enjoy your fishing!