Fish finders are incredibly useful tools for fishermen of any caliber, whether you’re just starting out in the hobby or have been fishing for decades. As the name suggests, these devices help you locate fish beneath the surface of the water so that you have an easier time catching them.
It can be difficult to find a good fish finder these days, let alone one that works for you. So, we’ve reviewed some of the best fish finders on the market right now to make your choice a little easier. Read on for more.
- Fish Finder Reviews
- Buyer’s Guide
Fish Finder Reviews
Humminbird Helix 5 CHIRP G2 Fish Finder
High expectations require excellent performance, and Humminbird delivers just that with their Helix 5 CHIRP fish finder. It boasts an uncompromising widescreen color display and several other handy features that you’ll find invaluable when out on the water.
If you are looking for a fish finder that will allow you to locate and see fish more clearly, then look no further than the Helix 5 CHIRP G2 from Humminbird. Their 2D sonar offerings are far from two-dimensional, and whether you are fishing in coastal waters, freshwater lakes, or on the ice, the CHIRP can be a great solution to locating your next catch.
The SwitchFire feature on this fish finder allows you to control the way that your on-screen returns are displayed. With two different display modes – Clear Mode and Max Mode – you can decide how much detail you want to, or don’t want to, see, including thermoclines and fish structure.
You are also able to choose between two different beam types, thanks to the DualBeam functionality. With a wide beam for a greater search area or a narrow beam that allows for more precision tracking, DualBeam shows you fish and the bottom contour while also giving you the option to combine the two beams for enhanced detail.
CHIRP stands for Compressed High-Intensity Radar Pulse, which is just a sophisticated way of saying that the Helix 5 is able to show you fish that other 2D sonar forms could not. CHIRP scans the water for fish in a similar way that the seek function on a radio scans the airwaves for stations to connect to. By covering a large range of frequencies, CHIRP is able to provide more detailed, accurate returns of fish, the bottom, and structures.
Another great thing about the HELIX 5 is that it boasts side imaging. This allows you to gain a superior, side-to-side perspective of the environment below the surface of the water.
- SwitchFire feature
- DualBeam functionality
- Detailed Side View technology
- Also features Bottom View technology
- Small memory capacity
Related: Best Humminbird Fish Finders
Garmin Striker 4 With Transducer
Garmin is one of the most popular GPS manufacturing companies in the world and its products are always high-quality. The Striker 4 fish finder is no exception and boasts some powerful features to make your fishing experience more enjoyable.
Since the Striker 4 fish finder from Garmin includes a high-sensitivity GPS, you are able to see your position in relation to waypoints that you have marked out. You can use the waypoint map to view, mark, and navigate to locations like stumps, brush piles, and docks with ease. It can also be a great tool for finding your way back to your boat ramp in the event you become lost.
You are also able to see your boat’s speed quickly and easily on the screen of the Striker 4. It is a fantastic tool that helps you make sure you are trolling at the correct speed for the lure that you are using and also for a particular species of fish. Additionally, it can help you determine if you are going the proper speed in wake-controlled areas.
You also have the option of getting a portable kit that helps you carry and protect your Striker 4, making it great for small-vessel fishing, such as with kayaks or fishing in canoes or on the ice.
The great thing about the aforementioned portable kit is that it comes with a sealed, rechargeable battery and its accompanying charger, an integrated transducer cable management system, as well as a storage and suction cup transducer, mount, and float.
Striker 4 also comes with a Garmin CHIRP transducer, which provides a noticeable greater level of clarity and detail for structures and fish than your average, traditional transducer. Rather than just sending a single frequency, CHIRP sends out a continuous sweep of frequencies that range from high to low and then individually interprets them when they return.
While this is quite a high-tech, high-performing fish finder, the Garmin Striker 4 does not come with side or down imaging technology, meaning you can’t get a full view of the underwater environment below you.
- High-sensitivity GPS
- Displays boat speed
- Portable kit available
- CHIRP transducer
- No side or down imaging
Lowrance HOOK 2 Fish Finder
If you are on the hunt for an extremely simple solution to fish finding, then the Hook 2 from Lowrance might be your perfect match. It comes with all of the features you’d expect from a fish finder, without the unnecessary complexities.
The Solarmax display that is featured on the Hook 2 provides you with a clear and crisp view of the fish beneath the surface of the water, as well as a fish-holding structure with the excellent clarity and daylight visibility of the display. It not only provides you with a detailed view of all of the fish the device detects but also of the contour of the floor.
With the Hook 2, you can spend more time fishing and less time adjusting settings, thanks to the Autotuning Sonar Settings functionality. All you really need to do is plug the device in and start fishing – you would never have to touch any of the adjustable settings if you didn’t want to, making it suitable for even the most technophobic fishermen out there.
The Hook 2 comes with its own integrated mapping that allows you to find roadbeds, depth changes, or your favorite fishing spot with ease, thanks to the high detail of the map. It features 1-foot contours, and more than 3,000 lakes in the US, only adding to the device’s usefulness and convenience.
One of the great things about the Lowrance Hook 2 is its Micro SD slot, which, as you may have guessed, allows you to insert your own micro SD card into the device so that you can save your routes, waypoints, and trails, or upgrade your mapping with an optional chart card. This adds to the overall customizability of the device.
There are also a number of different Hook 2 models available for you to choose from, like theall-season pack and all-season pack plus the GPS.
The one problem we have with this device is that the depth range tends to change rapidly for even the slightest change in depth, which can leave the screen looking like a mess of thin vertical lines, making finding fish challenging.
- Clear fish view
- Never need to adjust settings
- Features integrated mapping
- Micro SD slot
- Highly sensitive to depth changes
Related: Best Lowrance Fish Finders
Eyoyo Portable 7-inch LCD Monitor Fish Finder
The name really says it all here. This fish finder from Eyoyo is portable and features an impressive 7-inch LCD monitor that provides you with a crystal-clear view of everything you need to see below the surface of the water.
If you’re looking for a do-it-all fish finder, then this device from Eyoyo may be your perfect match. With the camera, you are able to capture fish in high-definition, with up to 1000TV lines, which is noticeably clearer than many other fish finder cameras.
The camera also comes equipped with 12pcs infrared LEDs, which means that you will be able to see the fish beneath you far clearer than you usually would in deeper, darker waters. However, it is important to note that once you activate the infrared lights, the image displayed on the screen will be in black and white, which can be difficult to see for some people.
The battery lasts for up to eight hours on a full charge, thanks to its powerful lithium battery, so you won’t have to worry about resurfacing the device every time you go fishing just to charge it up. When the battery does eventually go flat, you can simply charge it again using a standard USB cable.
With the Eyoyo portable fish finder, you’ll be able to observe the aquatic life below your vessel through a 7-inch color LCD monitor with 800×480 pixels. To most people, that might not sound like a lot, but when you consider the fact that the screen is only 7 inches wide, those pixels translate to a high level of definition.
You are not just buying a camera with this device – you will also receive a carrying case that is resistant to water and compact and portable to allow you to carry it around wherever you go. The camera’s versatility is another trait that should be praised, as it can be used in many fishing environments, from lakes to rivers, to ice fishing.
Sadly, attaching the camera to your hook when fishing can make it challenging to reel your line back in once you’ve caught a fish. For the best results, you’ll want to keep the camera separate from your fishing line.
- HD camera quality
- 12pcs infrared LED
- 8-hour battery life
- Carrying case included
- Attaching camera to hook can make reeling in difficult
Related: Best Portable Fish Finders
HawkEye Fishtrax 1C Fish Finder
Finally, we have the Fishtrax 1C fish finder from HawkEye, a brand that is well-known for its premium fish finding equipment. This device is the perfect portable option for anyone that is looking for a fish finding device to use on their small fishing vessel.
The great thing about the Fishtrax models is that they all come with FishTrax intelligent sonar, which lets you tweak the settings on your device to allow it to adjust to any fishing platform or technique. Thanks to its 100-level affectability modification, auto-zoom ground tracking, and multi-level depth ranges, any angler can improve their targeting with satisfaction.
The device comes with two functioning airwave frequencies, which means that you can fine-tune your sonar readings in both deep and shallow water with ease. The FishTrax intelligent sonar allows you to carefully adjust the fish finder to suit your personal fishing style, making this a highly adaptable device.
The two operating frequencies that the sonar detection technology uses are specially designed to make finding fish as easy as possible.
The HawkEye Fishtrax boasts integrated expandability that allows you to add your own accessories to adapt the device to any platform you may be fishing from. You can attach the device to a kayak, boat, float tube, canoe, dock, bank, and even the ice, making this one of the most versatile fish finders out there.
The Fishtrax also includes a full-color HD VirtuView TFTN display, as well as three functional models, namely the Fish Finder, Data, and Ice-Mode Digital Flasher. This provides you with a real-time view of the sonar echoes that the device produces.
Unfortunately, a number of users have reported that their Fishtrax model did not read the depth of the water they were fishing in, no matter what settings they adjusted. This can be a downside for anyone that enjoys knowing the depth of their water.
- Intelligent sonar
- Highly adjustable settings
- Integrated expandability
- 3 functional models
- May not read depth
If you’re new to fish finders, then you might be wondering what exactly you should look for in one of these devices. This buyer’s guide will clear everything up for you.
Types of Fish Finder
There are many different types of fish finders on the market that serve different purposes and have some additional yet important features.
These are fish finders that are solid, economical options for anglers who do most of their angling on inland lakes and operate from smaller vessels. They provide an adequate display and simply track everything around you.
These devices work well on slightly larger boats whose owners want to be able to navigate as well. The sonar and GPS can be displayed simultaneously, but both components can be used separately as well.
These fish finders generally release longer sonar pulses, providing you with 50x the vibrational energy. The sounds it produces will vibrate through the water at different frequencies, producing images with greater detail.
These devices come with various features and functionalities. If you are on the market for a wireless fish finder or one with video, GPS, radar, and even SiriusXM radio, then you’ll want a networked fish finder.
As the name suggests, these fish finders are the easiest to carry around with you and are perfect for anyone that wants a model that is easy to transport. The best portable finders feature a transducer, mount, battery, and display unit.
Ice Fish Finders
Most of these devices will make use of flashers to reveal a chart of the environment below. There are also some more advanced ice fish finders that can provide a real-time view as well.
Transducers are vital to any fish finder. They are responsible for sending out and receiving sonar waves. Once released into the water, the waves are bounced from various objects and are then collected by the transducer. The data is transmitted to the central unit, and the signals are converted to an image on the display for the user to interpret and understand.
Depending on the type of vessel you are fishing in, you will want to pick a fish finder with the right transducer material. For casual fishers, plastic transom mounts are fine and are compatible with most boats. Transducers that have thru-hull or in-hull mounts, fiberglass, or metal hulls, will require plastic housings. Stainless steel housings are for aluminum or steel hulls, while bronze housings work well with boats with fiberglass or wood hulls.
Beams & Cone Angles
This is one of the most important things to consider when choosing a transducer. The cone angle determines the width of the ray that the boat emits to the water. Wilders cones cover larger areas, and the cone angle expands as the beam moves down, which results in sensitivity loss in deeper water.
It is important to ask yourself whether you can use your fish finding device comfortably before buying it. Think about your level of technical know-how because while having all of the added features can be useful, they will only be useful if you know how to use them.
Mono or Color Screens
Like many other electronics, colored screens have become the standard in fish finders. With millions of colors and greater detail, you will rarely ever opt for a fish finder with a black and white screen that only displays 265 shades of gray.
Color screens allow you to interpret and understand the device’s information easily. You will be able to see what’s going on easier. Black and white screens can be much more difficult to read, especially when in direct sunlight. They also become difficult to read in the dark.
While there are plenty of fish finders with GPS functionality, they are not always the best. GPS lets you download maps, mark waypoints, and even create personalized navigation and cartography. However, you will often be better off with a regular GPS.
Fish finder power is represented with watt RMS. Its power is linked to how well you will be able to see in murky water, scan down deeper, and resolve unconnected targets. We recommend looking for a fish finder with 1000 or more watts.
The transducers on fish finders work with different frequencies, either single, dual, or multiple, or alternatively, a CHIRP broadband structure. Cone angles are related to these frequencies. In general, the higher frequencies provide better images for fast-moving boats and the least background noise on-screen.
If you are looking for a high-quality image, you will want to choose a fish finder with a good screen resolution. We recommend anywhere from 240 x 160 pixels and above.
Brand & Affordability
The fish-finding market is packed with poorly-made imitations, bad designs, and inferior CHIRP systems. If you want to avoid disappointment, you should purchase a fish finder from one of the popular brands that have been in the industry for a while, like Humminbird, Lowrance, Garmin, and Raymarine.
Fixed vs. Portable Fush Finders
This comes down to a matter of preference. Do you want a fish finder that is attached to your boat or a portable device that you can move around as you see fit? This is a choice you will need to make for yourself.
Warranty & Customer Service
As with anything, you will want to know that the brand you’re buying from has your best interests at heart. Try to purchase from brands that have a history of good customer service, and look for products that have some sort of warranty on them.
What is a fish finder?
Fish finders are electronic instruments that are used to locate fish underwater. They do this by detecting reflected pulses of sound energy, also called sonar.
How does a fish finder work?
Fish finders use sonar devices to send sound waves through the water. When these waves hit items like fish, the bottom, or vegetation, they are reflected back to the source. The device measures how long it takes for the waves to travel, hit an object, and return.
How do I read a fish finder?
Reading a fish finder is quite a simple process. Any fish that the device detects will be displayed as small fish icons. You will sometimes see the contour of the bottom, the temperature, depth of the water, and the distance of the fish the device detects.
There you have it – our reviews of some of the best fish finders out there, complete with a buyer’s guide and some FAQs. We hope that this article has been helpful and that we were able to help you find your dream fish finder. Happy fishing!