Going out on a fishing trip is a very relaxing way to spend your weekends.
Sometimes, you have to put the lure anywhere around your boat and enjoy the scenery, but it’s not a bad thing to know where the fish are.
Using the best fish finder can help you locate fish under the water. It uses sonar and creates an image of the underwater around your boat.
You can see groups of fish in the water and structures where they might be staying.
Here are some of the top fish finders that you can find in the market, as well as a short buying guide and answers to FAQs.
Best Fish Finder Reviews
1. Garmin Striker 4
The Garmin Striker series has become a household name when it comes to fish finders. This series offers different models depending on your budget.
The Garmin Striker 4 has a decent price point and it offers a wide range of features that you can use for fish finding.
The Garmin Striker 4 has a Garmin CHIRP transducer that can provide amazing image quality for fish and structure underwater.
It is operating at 77/200 kHz, but it provides a clearer image compared to other fish finders with the same transducer.
CHIRP will send a continuous wave of frequency to make sure that the image would be very clear once the fish finder receives it.
The Garmin Striker 4 is a budget-friendly fish finder that is very easy to use and accurate in shallow and deep bodies of water.
It features a high image resolution that would provide a clear picture of the area under and around your boat.
It comes with a wide range of premium features that would make you love it even more.
The Garmin Striker 4 comes with a high-sensitivity GPS that would make it easier for you to navigate.
It has a Waypoint map that would tell your position based on the waypoints that you marked.
You can use the waypoint map to navigate and search for certain locations like brush piles, docks, and stumps.
You can even use it to go back to the boat ramp. You can also check the boat speed from the screen of the fish finder.
This is a good way to know if you are at the right speed for your lure, especially when trolling.
It also has a water rating IPX7 and it is currently available in 3.5-, five-, and seven-inch sizes.
What We Like
The best thing about Garmin Striker 4 is its different modes. The Traditional mode will show you the structure underwater, while the Flasher mode will show you the depth levels.
The Split Frequency will provide you 200 kHz and 70 kHz side by side, and the fourth mode, which is the waypoint map can be used for navigation.
The fifth mode is the waypoint map and the sonar screen that will enable you to change the map by doing horizontal and vertical splits.
The last mode is the Section Number that will tell you the GPS speed coordinates.
What We Don’t Like
The only thing that you won’t like about the Garmin Striker 4 is the screen size. Although it comes in different sizes, it is still a bit smaller compared with other devices.
2. LUCKY FFC1108-1 Fish Finder
The LUCKY FFC1108-1 Fish Finder is made for both pros and beginners. It is very affordable and user-friendly, making it one of the top choices for fish finders on the market.
Although the max depth is only half of the LUCKY FF718LiC model, it is a better choice in terms of value and price.
The LUCKY FFC1108-1 Fish Finder is a fish finder that can detect and display the approximate location of the fish, water depth, sand and rocks on the bottom, and the short and tall weeds.
It is very portable that you can even hang it around your neck so that you can access it anytime you want.
The best thing about this fish finder is its flexibility because you can use it for different fishing environments.
You can use it for ice fishing, kayak fishing, off shore fishing, sea fishing, lake fishing, and more.
The LUCKY FFC1108-1 Fish Finder also has a 45-degree detector range in the shape of a cone, and the depth range is from three feet to 328 feet.
This portable fish finder also comes with five modes of sensitivity that you can choose from. It has a battery save mode, fish and fish school alarm, and backlight mode.
This fish finder can also last up to five hours of continuous usage when you are using new batteries.
What We Like
One of the best features that you would love about the LUCKY FFC1108-1 Fish Finder is its sensitivity levels.
You can choose from one to 10, with the higher number being more sensitive. More sensitivity means that the fish finder can detect more detail underwater.
What We Don’t Like
If you plan to spend the whole day in the lake to catch fish, this fish finder won’t last for a long time without bringing extra batteries.
Although other brands also have the same battery life, it is a bit lacking if you will spend a lot of time in the lake.
3. Humminbird HELIX 5 GPS G2
When the HELIX 5 series was released by Humminbird, it became a sensation because it is the first time that Side and Down Imaging was introduced on a fish finder under $500.
This feature is only available on fish finders worth $1,000 and more. The Humminbird HELIX 5 GPS G2 is one of the best of the series and it is also one of the most affordable.
The Humminbird HELIX 5 GPS G2 is a popular choice for kayak fishing because the five-inch screens are perfect for the small spaces in your kayak, while still being big enough to be seen clearly.
The CHIRP Sonar and Imaging is one of the best features of this model and it can cover a range of frequencies instead of just a single one.
This method allows clearer images and a better separation between structure and fish. The HELIX 5 G2 also has an improved user interface that you can only find on the bigger series.
It is very easy to take snapshots and you can easily way down a waypoint with just a short press. It also allows you to do live mapping through the AutoChart Live.
This feature will let you paint depth contours to the fish finder while you are driving your boat. You can also create maps and build better detail.
Its SmartStrike mapping cards are special maps that would work with the software to pinpoint the fish holding spots based on your inputs.
You just need to select the season, the body of water, the current weather conditions, and the target species.
The HELIX 5 G2 will then compile the data and highlight the areas. The LakeMaster Plus is also a mapping upgrade for the HELIX 5 G2 and it contains satellite and aerial imagery.
This is extremely useful for you to see shoreline structure and vegetation without the need to drive your boat to the area directly.
What We Like
The LakeMaster Plus mapping upgrade is one of the best things about the Humminbird HELIX 5 GPS G2.
It will map out the areas in the vicinity and help you locate vegetation and other shoreline structures without going there physically.
It is like a mini radar that would provide a clear image of what’s ahead.
What We Don’t Like
The only issue with the Humminbird HELIX 5 GPS G2 is portability since it is bigger than other fish finders.
Although it would fit on your Kayak, it is not something that you can use while holding or putting around your neck since it is big and heavy.
4. Garmin STRIKER PLUS 4CV
Garmin is one of the most popular brands when it comes to fishing since they have a wide range of advanced equipment that can make your fishing expedition easy and effective.
The Garmin STRIKER PLUS 4CV is a real game-changer because it is budget-friendly and it offers a wide range of features.
The Garmin STRIKER PLUS 4CV features an amazing display with a colorful screen that has a size of 3.5 inches.
The display also includes a high-sensitivity ClearVu and CHIRP sonar technology that would enable you to read the ratings and display clearly.
The colors can be seen clearly and it has an LED backlight that would highlight the readings even more. The GPS can be used to mark all of the hotspots on the area and you can come back for it later.
The Garmin STRIKER PLUS 4CV is also very easy to use and it has a compact design so that you can bring it anywhere you want.
It has a weight of 230g and dimensions of 91.6 x 150.8 x 42.8 cm. The CHIRP Sonar is also one of the best features of this fish finder because it releases a continuous range of frequencies to create a clear image of the target.
The model provides a 77/200 kHz frequency level for better clarity. The model also comes with a GPS technology that would pinpoint the location of the fish and calculate the speed of your casting.
It has a waypoint map that would provide better navigation around the water and it can be used to track locations.
What We Like
The Garmin STRIKER PLUS 4CV is very easy to use and portable. It doesn’t take too much space and provides the basic features that you need from a fish finder.
The high-sensitivity CHIRP sonar and ClearVu technology are also both amazing for its price range.
What We Don’t Like
Connectivity is a bit on the downside because it does not have additional slots for micro SD cards.
It doesn’t have any screen protection, as well, so you need to be careful when you are using it.
5. Lowrance HOOK2 4X
The Lowrance HOOK2 4X may not be the flagship model of the brand, but it has features that would go toe-to-toe with other popular brands on the market.
This model is the lowest end of the Hook2 series, but it provides a lot of value, especially if you don’t something too complicated.
The Lowrance HOOK2 4X is known for its frequency since it is one of the companies using the CHIRP sonar technology.
This type of frequency does not send a single frequency, but a range of frequencies that would guarantee that you can get a clearer picture of what’s under.
However, this model does not have any features that can alter the frequency settings.
Although the display is not as good as the other fish finders in the market, it definitely has the basic display features that you want from a fish finder.
Its four-inch display is comparable to other high-end fish finders since it comes with SolarMAX technology that is very useful during bright days.
The display will also adjust its brightness based on the amount of light is hitting the display.
The Lowrance HOOK2 4X is also very easy to use because of its simple menu layouts.
The options are large and they are completely distinct so you won’t have to search for the settings that you want to alter.
What We Like
Although the Lowrance HOOK2 4X is not the best on the list, its price range and the basic features are already enough for beginners.
What We Don’t Like
It offers a wide-angle sonar beam, but it only has a single beam. It means that you will not be provided with detailed information about the fish that you are targeting.
Fish finders are quite expensive, so you should spend some time checking out its features before you buy.
There are fish finders that are very easy to use, while some are too complicated that only professionals would understand how to use it.
Here are some of the things that you need to check if you want to find the best fish finder.
All fish finders have transducers that send out and receive the sonar waves that will be processed into an image and displayed on the screen.
For the transducer material, you need to choose based on the type of boat that you are going to use.
For beginners and casual fishers, using a plastic transom mount would do as it is compatible with almost all types of boats.
If the transducer that you are using has an in-hull mount or a thru-hull, you should use plastic housings.
As for steel and aluminum hulls, a stainless-steel housing is required. For recreational users, trolling motor transducers would be a good choice.
2. Cone Angle
You have to be very particular when it comes to the cone angle since it pertains to the beam width emitted to the water coming from your boat.
A wider cone means that you can cover more area underwater. You have to remember that the wider angle would mean lower sensitivity.
Transducers usually come with a cone angle of nine degrees up to 60 degrees. The devices that you can find on the market range from 16 to 20 degrees.
If it is your first time fishing, you should opt for a 20-degree cone angle.
Color displays are definitely the best choice right now since the information provided by the transducer will be very easy to read and understand even in direct sunlight.
Black and white screens are challenging to read when the sun is too bright and has limited readability if the weather is dark or cloudy.
The only time a black-and-white display would be a good choice is if you are tight on budget.
4. Screen Resolution
Since we already talked about the display, you have to check the screen resolution of the fish finder since it would determine the clarity and the amount of detail displayed on the screen.
If you have more pixels, more details will be displayed. You should opt for a fish finder with at least 240 x 160 pixels, which is the lowest screen resolution, so it's always better to get something higher if you can.
Transducers come with different frequencies, and the cone angles are related to them. You should choose the frequency based on where you plan to use it.
If you are planning to use the fish finder in shallow bodies of water, 192 and 200 kHz frequencies would be a good choice.
For professional use in deep water, a 50 kHz transducer will be your best option.
The power of the fish finder will determine the speed and depth of the readings. If you want the fish finder to make fast and deep readings, you should opt for a model with high wattage.
The fish finders with lower wattage are slower and are only applicable to shallow bodies of waters.
If you plan to fish on shallow water, you won’t have to worry about the power of your fish finder since any wattage would do.
However, if you are going to fish on deep water, you need to get a fish finder with more power.
7. Water Resistance
Since you will use the fish finder while riding on a boat or kayak, you have to check the JIS or IPX ratings. This rating determines the resistance of the unit to water.
If they have a rating of four, it means that you can splash water on the fish finder and won’t be affected.
A rating of five or six means that the fish finder can handle low- to high-pressure water. If it has a rating of seven, you can submerge the fish finder up to 10 feet for about 30 minutes.
A rating of eight will mean that you can submerge the fish finder in water for a long time.
1. Do I Need Gps on My Fish Finder?
When it comes to fish finders, you must buy one with a GPS. It receives signals from government satellites and will help you determine your location.
GPS can also be used to track your course and also create a map for your fishing spots, water hazards, and more.
2. What Is Chirp on Fish Finder?
Compressed High-Intensity Radiated Pulse (CHIRP) can send high pulse energy to the water column and is the main feature that can generate the images with the use of the frequencies.
This feature can enhance the bottom tracking of fish finders, especially if you are going for deeper depths.
It is also faster and provides a crisp and exact definition of the objects underwater.
3. Do Fish Finders Show Depth?
Yes, fish finders are one of the best tools for reading depth and finding an underwater structure.
It is one of the most important features that you can get from the fish finder aside from marking the fish.
4. Which Is Better Side Imaging or Down Imaging?
Side imaging and down imaging are both great choices, but it would depend on their usage.
Side-imaging units will help you scan more water and offer a better picture of the marine life underwater.
On the other hand, down imaging is the right choice when you are looking for fish in deep waters.
You are looking for fish vertically, so it is the best option in this kind of situation.
5. What Does a Fish Look Like on a Fish Finder?
With Fish-ID technology, the fish will look like an actual fish icon when it appears on the radar.
It is very easy to detect and will even appear in different sizes. If you are using fish arches, they will appear as lines and arches.
If it shows big arches, it means that your fish detector managed to find big fish.
You have a lot of options to choose from when it comes to fish finders, so if you want to know which one is the best among the models that we’ve reviewed above, you should look at the overall functionality of the fish finder.
The Humminbird HELIX 5 GPS G2 is the best one because it provides a clearer image of what is happening underwater.
Although it is not portable, it has more advanced mapping compared with the other four models.