In this post we are going to review the highest rated fish finders for the money in 2017 and you can decide which one is the right for you in no time.
If we could travel back in time, we could see many anglers fishing with small wooden boats. The only tackle they needed were some hooks, line or nets. Nowadays, fish populations have been affected by extinction due to overfishing and environmental pollution (Source).
Consequently, it became hard to find and the success rates decreased in number. Fortunately, modern technology and science are in favor of us fishermen. Manufacturers designed special devices called fishfinders, which could also be described as the “eyes” of the boat.
These cutting-edge depth finders revolutionized the fishing industry. Nowadays, we are able to know depth, water conditions, water temperature and amount of fish. Surprisingly, we have abundant useful information displayed on small screens. What’s not to love?
If you’re in a hurry, check out the Garmin Striker 7SV: It’s one of the most versatile and portable fishfinder gps combo made with durable and quality materials, and equipped with extraordinary sonar technologies.
However, since we are talking about new technological advancements, many people have some queries. We participated in several fishing discussion and assumed that most anglers do not know how to choose the right device that fits their needs. Today, we are going to present you this ultimate guide which will help you to select a fish finder.
Of course, every research is useless if it is not accompanied by some reviews of the products on the market. We ensure you that when you finish reading this article; you will acquire the ability to recognize the specifications of a fish finder in detail.
Let’s start out by comparing the best depth finders (also called fishfinders) and searching for their differences.
|Product Image:||Name:||Main Feature:|
Garmin Striker 7SV
|Good Sonar Scanning technologies, Flasher, CHIRP technology|
Humminbird HELIX 7 SI GPS Fishfinder
|Built in GPS, Backlight on the device, Great Max Depth|
Raymarine Dragonfly 7 Pro
|Waterproof and durable, CHIRP Software|
Lowrance Elite 7 Ti Touch
|Built-in GPS, CHIRP Software|
Deeper Smart Sonar PRO+
|Bathymetric Maps, GPS, Suitable for all weather conditions|
Our Top 5 Fish Finders Reviews
Garmin Striker 7SV
Maybe you have heard this: You buy Garmin only once. Undoubtedly, Garmin designs and constructs durable and high-tech tools. If you take a look at the picture, the first thing that will cross your mind is that it has a sporty “flair”. Indeed, Garmin managed to construct a fish finder that is suitable for outdoor activities.
In a few words, it is able to withstand hard conditions like rain, saltwater or even dirt. After searching the net and testing the device, we came to the conclusion that it is highly recommended for anglers. The clear scanning sonar systems will help you to see exactly what happens under your boat.
Watch this product release video by Garmin
Sonar CHIRP Systems: DownVu and SideVu are systems developed by Garmin that provide a detailed depiction of the bottom. What is not to love? Once you try it, you will be surprised by the accuracy.
What is ClearVu and SideVu? If you want to learn more about this systems visit Garmin website.
GPS: Garmin incorporated a GPS in the device and will help all our fishing friends to find the marked spots.
Speedometer: While you are trolling you should have a specific speed. The high sensitive and accurate speedometer will inform you about the speed.
Show me the bottom: The integrated flasher will show you if the bottom is sandy, weedy or muddy. The next time you notice a sandy bottom; do not forget to use your crankbaits!
Learn more about ClearVU Sonar in this video made by AmericanaOutdoors1
Specifications and Features
Portable: You can couple the fish finder with a rechargeable battery and take it wherever you want. It is extremely helpful if you are kayaking or ice-fishing.
Transducer: Fortunately, the package has a GT52 Garmin transducer and you can mount it easily on your boat.
Max Depth: 2.300ft.
Frequency: As far the frequency is concerned, you have abundant option. As we already mentioned, frequency depends on the water depth.
- Extraordinary Sonar Scanning technologies.
- Flasher which is useful for every angler.
- Designed for outdoor activities (hard like a tank)
- CHIRP technology
- Suitable for saltwater fishing
- Appropriate for all water depths (shallow or deep)
- Despite the fact that it utilizes CHIRP Technology many people claim that the resolution of the screen is not good.
- Garmin does not provide many navigation applications
- Heavy device
Summarizing, once you take a look at the review, you will definitely not overlook it. Unfortunately, Garmin does not provide a wide variety of applications and software updates but it remains a leading brand in the fish finder industry. Moreover, the Striker series is really popular amongst the fishing society as it has many features that will reveal the secrets of the bottom.
Humminbird HELIX 7 SI GPS Fishfinder
Once again, Humminbird GPS fishfinder combos show why they are a leading company in the this industry. The HELIX 7, with a 7 in. screen will fulfill even the most demanding needs. It utilizes unique technologies and there is also a Micro-SD card slot which allows accommodating some useful apps like navionics.
Moreover, it features a side imaging sonar and dual beam which allows you to have a better view of the underwater world. This device will definitely become the “eyes” of your boat. Many anglers suppose that this is a good pick if you are looking for a fishfinder with built in GPS and many other extras.
Some other manufacturers would definitely be jealous of some features of the Humminbird HELIX 7. Surprisingly, if you want you can connect the product with your PC which may come in handy sometimes.
GPS: The main unit utilizes a GPS which helps you to facilitate your navigation and find your fishing spots easier. Moreover, you can see in the specs that it has GPS Speed. This feature allows you to monitor the speed of your vessel while cruising.
The Micro-SD card slot is also really helpful especially for navigation as you can mark routes and find them easily each time.
Side Imaging Sonar: This is a special technology developed by Humminbird which provides you a better view of the bottom. Keep in mind that the sonar emits really wide beams in order to cover more area and to provide detailed information of the objects.
Specifications and Features
Glass Bonded Display: Previous Humminbird models of the HELIX series had only a plastic screen. Nevertheless, Humminbird improved this and equipped the new HELIX seven with a glass bonded display. The 800×480 pixel screen has an option to make the digits quite large and features a LED backlight.
Double Ram: The double ram will increase the speed of the your display (scrolling, refreshing)
Sonar Frequency: 200/83/455 kHz
Max. Depth: 1500/100 ft.
Transducer: The Humminbird HELIX 7 package has a XNT 9 SI 180 T Transducer which you can mount on the boat with the gimbal bracket.
Quick Review of the fish finder explained by Humminbird Experts:
- Built in GPS, while most fish finders do not have such a feature
- Backlight is really helpful not only during the night, but also during the daylight when the sunbeams hit the screen
- Easy Mount
- Incredible Max Depth
- Easy to Navigate Menu
- You can insert a Micro SD with the latest apps
- Durable Screen and Body
- Some people complain that the transducer does not work properly
- Could have a better hardware
- Unfortunately, it’s not suitable for some weather conditions
After all, Humminbird managed to create a quality product that will help you navigate the water. We would like to emphasize that it is suitable both for fresh and saltwater. Besides that, we could say that it is slightly expensive.
However, the price should not discourage you.
Raymarine Dragonfly 7 Pro
Are you looking for a high quality Fish Finder with built in GPS and CHIRP technology (Compressed High Intensity Radiated Pulse)? If the answer is yes, the Raymarine Dragonfly 7 is designed for you. The technologies, the accuracy and the great display will certainly surprise you.
Furthermore, the unit has an easy to use monitor which also utilizes LED backlight. Colorful displays have a problem if you are using them in sunny conditions. However, Raymarine knows that and for that reason they combined the CHIRP Technology with a high resolution screen with LED backlight.
If you want to update and download any maps you can do it thanks to the WI-FI Connection. The official Raymarine website offers the raymarine Raytech Navigation software for each client.
CHIRP (Compressed High Intensity Radiated Pulse): It is known that the military used this technology. Raymarine incorporated this technological advancement in the Dragonfly 7 which improves imaging and can show you the objects underwater in detail. In addition, you can use several frequencies depending on the water conditions you are going to fish in.
150-240kHz. – Freshwater (shallow waters)
80-180kHz. – These frequencies cover more area than the previous. It would be a good idea to use them in deep lakes.
60-80 kHz. – Suitable for deep waters. Specifically, we recommend them for saltwater.
Specifications and Features
Lightweight Device: The Raymarine fish finder has a weight of 5 pounds. Thus, you can easily transport it and it would be better to disconnect it after each trip.
Transducer: CPT-60 is included in the package with two mount options. You can attach it with a ring on the trolling motor or select the through the hull option. We would like to underline the fact that you must be really careful with the installation.
The angle of the transducer plays a significant role in accuracy as the beams must hit the water vertically. The package has a 20ft. long cable in order to fit every boat length.
Temperature Display: The integrated temperature sensor will show you the exact water temperature. It is extremely useful for ice-fishing enthusiasts.
Raymarine Trackback: Anglers will definitely appreciate this feature. You can save many spots in the system in order to find them later. Raymarine paired this incredible feature with a GPS.
- The device is waterproof and extremely durable. It is able to withstand harsh weather conditions and saltwater corrosion.
- You can update the software of your device through WI-FI connection and download lots of apps thanks to the Micro-SD card slot
- Durable and suitable for all weather conditions
- Unique CHIRP Software for high quality resolution
- Despite the fact that it features a multi language menu, the fish finder is only available in the US
Finally, this product definitely deserves a place on the list with the best fishfinders. It goes without saying, that CHIRP is a modern technology and there are not many devices that utilize this feature on the market. Moreover, we would like to underline the fact that the whole package is affordable for everyone.
It comes as a full package fish depth finder with transducer, mount options and accessories so you do not have to buy something else. Just unpack, mount, connect to the battery, and finish!
Lowrance Elite-7 Ti Touch
First of all, just to start out with, Lowrance fish finders are world-wide known for their quality. The Elite 7 Ti is an exceptional model as it has a high quality 12 in. touchscreen. No matter if you have no idea about these products, this device will probably fulfill all your expectations.
Do you want an all-in-one product? You should definitely take a look at this review. Modern systems combined with useful features are some things that you should look for in a good fish finder.
Touchscreen: 800×480 screen resolution, colorful of course, will bring you some steps closer to a high quality and accurate display. The screen is quite large so you will face no problem. Moreover, Lowrance equipped it with backlight.
CHIRP TECHNOLOGY: Low, mid and high frequencies for every water depth.
NMEA 2000: It is a system that allows you to share information with many devices within the boat.
Specifications and Features
GPS: Integrated GPS will probably make navigation easy and you will be able to observe your cruising waypoints.
Mapping: Multiple Map-Navigation Software like Nautic Insight, Navionics and Fishing Hotspots Pro. They are helpful both for fishing, as well as cruising.
Micro-SD slot: If you visit the official website of Lowrance, you can download some software upgrades or put many other applications which fulfill your demands.
Trackback: Save each fishing spot and be sure that you will find it in your next fishing trip.
- Wide variety on cartography options
- Built-in GPS
- Thanks to CHIRP, the fish finder provides you the best quality image.
- Easy to operate
- You can connect the device with your PC
- Great colors
- 7.5 pounds fish finder. Many people noticed that is heavy
- The touchscreen is not helpful especially if you are fishing. If you touch it with wet hands, saltwater could cause severe damage.
Despite the fact that the fish finder has lots of features, we would like to underline the fact that many of them are not extremely useful. Besides that, the device makes wonders while you are moving on with your boat and is able to save 3000 fishing spots.
Furthermore, when you get it, Lowrance gives you free access to GoFree Cloud where you can download many applications and software solutions.
Deeper Smart Sonar PRO+
Ice-fishing and shoreline fishing enthusiasts: focus on this unique Deeper Smart Sonar Pro+. As you can see, it is a small “magic” ball which will provide you with all necessary information. It is a portable, ultra-light tool.
GPS fishfinder, WI-FI connectivity, mapping! All these features incorporated in one 3.50 oz. ball. Is it possible? With Deeper Smart Sonar of course.
This device came directly from the future and made thousands of fishermen happy. It won many international awards all around the world (Australia, UK, Russia, China). Undoubtedly, it remains on the top of the best fish finder list and surprises every new owner.
If you want to understand the water body and do not want to spend a fortune, you should include this product in your list. No difficult mounts and no frustrating transducers. You can connect it with your smartphone and convert it into a fish finder display.
Surprisingly, we have seen many people that mounted their phone on the fishing rod! There is no doubt that it will provide you a smooth fishing experience. Whether you are fishing constantly or not, it will not disappoint you.
Connect the fish finder to your smartphone: Thanks to WI-FI technology you can connect the device to your smartphone, laptop or tablet and it will show the necessary information on your phone. However, if you are going to perform long distance casts it may lose connectivity. However, you will face no problems.
Keep in mind that there is no need to be close to an internet WI-FI net.
GPS: The GPS system should definitely be in your arsenal. You can download some maps and just mark the spots that you are interested in. We can ensure you that the mapping system works great and you can use them even if you are offline.
Bathymetric Map: Undoubtedly, all fishermen should have a clear view of the water bottom. This feature gives you the opportunity to explore the bottom in order to make fishing more efficient. The bottom plays an important role when it comes to fishing.
Where can I download maps and applications for my device?: Deeper gives you free access to the Deeper App which has lots of maps and software
Specifications and Features
Brightness and Color Mode: There are many display color options and you can choose the right color according to the light conditions. Furthermore, there are two selections, day and night modes which automatically choose the color for you.
- Obviously it is portable
- Bathymetric Maps
- You can adjust the color of the screen
- Nice GPS
- You can connect it to your phone
- Suitable for all weather conditions
- Unfortunately not really suitable for saltwater fishing
- If you want to mount it on your boat or kayak, you must buy some accessories
- Some customers claim that it loses connectivity
Finally, many people would agree that is the best choice if you want a portable fish finder device at a low price. Gone are the days, when you could find some features of the Deeper Smart Sonar Pro only in some expensive fishfinders. Deeper took to heart all fishing demands and managed to create this “wonder” device.
How does a Fishfinder work: Introduction and Basic Features
First of all, modern fish finders use sound waves (human cannot hear them) in order to detect the objects and fish underwater. There are two types of sonar, passive and active. Passive sonars have been developed only for military purposes in order to locate ships and submarines.
Passive sonars use the noise of the engine to detect the submarine or ship. They are built to receive signals so the enemy cannot find them. Thus, we are going to talk about active sonars which are the classic devices we all know.
Active sonars consist of two parts, the main unit and the transducer. The main unit has a screen with lots of keys. The transducer receives and sends the signals.
The main unit sends high-voltage electrical power (600-2000 volts) to the transducer and there it is converted into a “pulse”. Moreover, when the transducer is in the water, the pulse vibrates the molecules of water and produces sound waves.
Imagine that the system works similar to the speaker systems. Furthermore, the sound waves travel through the water and when they hit on objects, they bounce off and bring the signals back to the transducer.
Consequently, the transducer converts the signals into electrical signal which are transferred to the main unit (our screen). Equally important is the fact that sound waves can travel through the water 0.25 seconds/70 meters!
The sensor (transducer) is made of a mixture of different chemicals (lead zirconate and barium titanate). They heat and mold these chemicals in order to make them hard and able to transmit electricity.
The selection of the frequency depends on how the water affects the signals. For instance, water absorbs more signals when the frequency is high. Despite the fact that high frequencies are able to give you more details (in terms of resolution), they cannot travel long distances.
On the other hand, low frequencies work excellent in deep waters, but they do not provide high quality details.
In addition, many fishfinders are able to use more than one frequency in order to cover more area.
Keep this in mind
- High Frequencies= Excellent Details but only for shallow waters
- Low Frequencies= Deep waters but poor details
Tip #1: If you are going to fish in deep waters, the most important thing for you is the depth. It would be a good idea to select a low frequency proximate 50kHz, which is more than enough. On the other hand, if you want to fish in shallow waters you should definitely use high frequencies.
The transducer emits a signal (beam) from the bottom of your boat. Imagine this beam like a cone (take a look at the photo). It will cover more area if the degree of the angle will be wider. Obviously, wide cones cover more area in shallow than in deep waters.
Undoubtedly, power influences the clarity of the screen resolution. It would be a good idea to choose a product with high power if you want accurate results. However, if you are not fishing constantly, there is no need to spend a fortune for a high power fish finder.
Have you ever thought of why the sound waves return to the transducer once they hit the object? The simple answer is that all objects have a different density. The higher the density, the stronger is the beam.
However, you should know that the signal is not always accurate. There are many factors that affect them like water temperature or air bubbles. Fish reflect the beams due to their skeleton, body and air bladder (if it has one).
It is scientifically proven that 2/4 of the sound waves comes from the skeleton and body and 50% from the air bladder. Fish species without an air bladder are displayed on the screen as small fish.
Additionally, it is important to mention the fact that the signal travels faster in freshwater than in saltwater. The structure of the bottom could also affect the sonar. Rocky and weedy bottoms reflect the beam more easily than sandy bottoms.
From Theory to Practice: Transducer Types and Mounts
Obviously, there are different transducers on the market. Each brand has a specific type of transducer. The most common type is the transducer which you can attach on the transom of the boat. You must attach the unit with screws.
Emphasis should be laid on the fact that you must be really careful. If you drill the holes wrong, you could damage the transom.
Tip#2: When the boat is in the water, you have to check the transducer for leaks. If you notice any leak, you should re-install it.
Undoubtedly, many people have inflatable boats or kayaks and they do not want to make drills. Unfortunately, there is a great danger to ruin the vessel. Some small inflatable boats have really thin transoms and it is impossible to drill it.
However, this fact should definitely not discourage you because we have two options for you. Firstly, you can get a stainless steel adjustable bracket (it is really affordable) which you can attach on the transom. The bracket should be slightly longer than the length of the transom.
Secondly, this is the last option and it is also the most affordable for inflatable kayaks. You can mount the transducer on the air chamber with wraparound straps.
Frequently Asked Questions by our users
It goes without saying that if you search the market you are going to find many options. However, before choosing the device that fits your needs you should answer the following questions. You should pay close attention because they will certainly play a significant role in your decision.
Are you going to fish in shallow or deep waters?
If you are going to fish in shallow waters (>=300m) , you will need a fish finder with frequencies 200 – 455 kHz. We can ensure you that it is the best choice and it will provide you with useful information at a low price.
On the other hand, fish finders with low frequencies are ideal for deep water anglers.
Color VS Grayscale. Which should I get?
Color is definitely a great advantage because it helps you to recognize the objects better. Fish finders with many color schemes will give you a better screen resolution. However, they can be really expensive and they are not helpful if the sun hits the screen directly.
Should the main unit (screen) be made of some special materials?
The answer is definitely yes. Fishing is an outdoor activity and sometimes your equipment must withstand harsh abuse or bad weather conditions. The elements of nature can destroy your screen if it is not waterproof and corrosion resistant.
To sum up, modern portable GPS depth finders have surely changed the fishing philosophy. Thanks to them we can have “all-in-one” devices equipped with GPS, Maps and other features. Whether you are a new angler or avid-experienced fishermen, a good finder must be in your arsenal.
We totally understand that the new technologies may confuse you. However, we can ensure you that they are made for human and they are easy to operate even from a 12-year child. Since you read our article, you are probably interested in buying it.
Generally speaking you must take frequency, the transducer, GPS and some other things into consideration. That is easy, right?
Unfortunately, you got to the end of our guide! Thank you for reading and be sure that if you follow our guidelines step by step, you will make a good choice. If you are looking for our honest recommendation, we found Garmin Striker 7SV to be the best fish finder under $500 you can. Even if you go with any other on our list, these are some recommendations which we picked out of many other products on the market and we honestly think that they’re top notch.
Sources and References:
- Fishfinder – on Wikipedia
- 10 Tips to Tweak Your Sounder or Fish Finder – By Chris Woodward via Sport Fishing Mag