Fish finders are one of the handiest tools to take along on fishing trips. They help you to depict what is happening in the water beneath you, that you can’t see with the naked eye. They are literally the eyes you need to see the underwater conditions.
They help you to locate the places that fish are hiding. You can even save all the hotspots of your trip for future visits. You can put your trust in fish finders to navigate you to all of your saved locations. We’ve looked at thousands of fish finder’s and have concluded that these are the best on the market.
The Best Fish Finder Reviews
- Deeper Smart Solar Pro+
- CHIRP? No
- Display: Cell Phone
- MicroSD Slot? Yes
- Sonar Depth: 260ft / 80m
- GPS? Yes
- 4.5 Out Of 5 Stars
- Garmin Striker 4
- CHIRP? Yes
- Display: 3.5 Inch
- MicroSD Slot? No
- Sonar Depth: 1,600ft Freshwater, 750ft Saltwater
- GPS? Yes
- 4.4 Out Of 5 Stars
- Lowrance Hook 3x Sonar
- CHIRP? Yes
- Display: 3.5 Inch
- MicroSD Slot? No
- Sonar Depth: 500ft Freshwater, 250ft Saltwater
- GPS? No
- 4.1 Out Of 5 Stars
- Humminbird Helix 5 GPS
- CHIRP? Yes
- Display: 5 Inch
- MicroSD Slot? Yes
- Sonar Depth: 2,500ft
- GPS: Yes
- 4.7 Out Of 5 Stars
- Lowrance Novico Hook 7
- CHIRP? Yes
- Display: 7 Inch
- MicroSD Slot? Yes
- Sonar Depth: 2,500ft
- GPS? No
- 4.5 Out Of 5 Stars
Deeper Smart Sonar PRO+, 2.55″, Black
This Deeper Smart Sonar Pro is practical to use for most types of fishing sports including:
- Ice fishing
- Shore fishing
- Boat fishing
- Rover fishing
It’s safe to use in fresh water and salt water.
The enhanced clarity and resolution of the screen enables you to effectively analyze the information received. You’re able to examine small water features and accurately identify specific underwater objects.
It has a connection range of 330ft while submerged in waters up to 260ft. Any fish with a 0.5’’ and larger body will be marked by the sonar.
A Wi-Fi connector is used to transfer information from the sonar to your smartphone. The app is compatible with iOS and Android. It operates both offline & online and provides the following features:
- Weather forecasts
- Details of underwater structure and vegetation
- Day or night color screen mode
- Social media sharing
You can pinpoint the underwater locations of fish, making catching fish easier. The internal GPS receiver creates a bathymetric map that contours the underwater. Able to assess the underwater conditions, you can determine the location of any school of fish. By using this, you can optimize your fishing activities.
Real Time Bathymetric Mapping
Bathymetric mapping is an offline maps feature by which you can examine water conditions. You can explore and navigate at any time, archive maps to build unlimited information and improve map accuracy. This feature enhances your fishing capabilities and enables you—and/or your crew—to safely make your way out of the waters or dangerous conditions.
You can adjust the screen brightness according to the weather conditions or time of day. This ensures focused targeting and noise reduction. It helps you to accurately determine where most fish are, while at sea or onshore. The color mode will also indicate the bottom contours and water temperatures.
- Ideal to use during all the seasons of the hear
- Highly accurate and to the point; shows fish's exact location
- Long lasting battery life
- Bluetooth app does not have a strong connection
- Battery takes a couple hours to charge
- Once the Deeper is connected, your mobile device loses all data connection
- Drains your smartphone battery fast
If you want a fish finder that makes your fishing trips a success then this is the product to buy. The advancement in the technology creates maps that you will find useful. This fish finder will save all your best fishing locations and guide you there with ease.
Garmin 010-01550-00 Striker 4 Built-in GPS Fish Finder
This compact fish finder is user-friendly. The convenient key pad operation allows you to change the various display settings. You can also move back and forth between the information supplied to navigate accurately through the fishing conditions.
You can use this finder in most water environments. It’s practical for fishing off shore. Once you’ve found an ideal fishing spot you can save the location. The next time you want to go to the hotspot, the GPS will easily navigate you to the location.
The fish finder doesn’t need a Wi-Fi or data connection to operate. The transducer can be submerged in 1600ft of fresh water and 750ft of salt water.
Clarity of CHIRP
CHIRP provides an enhanced level of clarity and structure of the fish & underwater conditions.
While other traditional finders will send one frequency, CHIRP sends multiple frequencies. These frequencies range from high to low. The finder automatically interprets the frequencies. This aids you in getting better information regarding the fish and water conditions.
The bottom contours are accurately presented, even when travelling at high speeds. In greater depths, the noise is reduced. Both qualities of CHIRP provide true information of the underwater structure.
The Garmin Striker 4 includes a highly sensitive GPS. The GPS allows you to see your exact location in relation to your saved waypoints.
You can use the waypoint map to easily view, mark and navigate to the different hotspots you’ve saved. These waypoints can include brush piles, stumps and docks.
The waypoint map and GPS will easily guide you back home from the various saved locations.
You can monitor the boat’s speed with the fish finder. This makes it practical when approaching the waypoints. It lets you know how much you will need to reduce your speed to lure the fish and not startle them.
It ensures that, when you’re in wake-controlled areas, you’re driving according to the speed limit. This will help you to avoid disturbing the peace.
Take the Fish Finder Everywhere.
You can carry and protect the fish finder & GPS with the portable kit, which includes:
- One sealed rechargeable battery with charger
- Built-in transducer suction cup for cable management and storage
- Transducer mount and float
- Easy to install and operate
- You can see the colors of the fish in detail
- The graphics are in high quality
- There is precision in the navigation
- Screen is very small
- The transducer cable is not long enough to get more coverage
- The cables are fragile
- There is no accurate reading when traveling at medium to fast speeds
The CHIRP technology sends multiple frequencies, giving you unlimited information to help you determine what is beneath you. You can save multiple waypoints. The GPS will easily navigate you to each location. This fish finder is convenient to mount onto your boat because of the suction storage cup.
Lowrance 000-12635-001 Hook-3X Sonar, W/ 83/200 XDCR
The 320×240 resolution screen makes the reading of information easy in all weather conditions. This includes reading in direct sunlight and viewing it from different angles.
The high-quality resolution provides sharp imagery of the terrain and the movement of fish. You can focus on fish easily as the transducer distinguishes fish from rubber.
You can zoom in four times in the normal view. This will help you pay attention to the fish hotspots and will increase your chance for a good catch.
No Wi-Fi or data connection is needed. A transducer scans the waters and sends raw data to the finder. The 60° feature of the sonar provides a narrowed coverage, helping to identify fish and search for the areas that have the largest schools of fish.
The LED Display
In addition to being able to easily read the screen in any condition and from different viewing angles, the informational graphics are easy to understand.
The Broadband sounder easily identifies fish, the bottom contours, the underwater structure, the bottom hardness and thermoclines.
You can select between an 83kHz or 200kHz frequency operation.
The 83kHz sonar operation provides up to 60° of conical coverage. This is practical for displaying larger fish arches and searching for fish areas.
The 200kHz frequency operation provides 20° of conical coverage. This enhances fish targeting and lure tracking. This is ideal for vertical drop-shooting techniques.
You can switch between frequencies with ease.
The Patent Skimmer Transducer
The transducer has a built-in temperature sensor. This sensor can track the bottom of the water up to 75mph.
The transducer displays Fish IDs and fish icons instead of fish arches. This will help identify fish targets.
The transducer is equipped with an alarm. This alarm will signal when fish are nearby.
Advanced Signal Processing (ASP)
ASP automatically adjusts the settings of the sonar. By doing this, it gives quicker readings of the water conditions.
When the ASP automatically adjusts the required settings, you will immediately get a better reading of the fish, the underwater structure and the bottom contour.
- Easy to install without drilling holes in your boat
- Easy to understand
- Provides optimal performance at slower speeds
- Long battery life
- The wiring harness is too short
- It does not provide accurate readings during speeds of more than 10mph
- Users occasionally report that it fails to pick up fish
- You need a boat to operate the fish finder
The broad sounder provides accurate readings of the water. The high-resolution display will help you picture what is beneath you. The screen is easy to read in all weather conditions and in direct sunlight. Amateurs can use this fish finder as it’s user-friendly.
Humminbird 410210-1 HELIX 5 CHIRP GPS G2 Fish finder
This fish finder has a five-inch color WVGA display that gives you the graphics you need to accurately understand the underwater conditions.
This newer model is equipped with CHIRP technology, providing you with the resources to find fish quickly. CHIRP also saves all your marked waypoints, enabling you to navigate to all the waypoints with ease.
Sonar and Transducer
The Humminbird Helix 5 Fish Finder is equipped with DualBeam Plus. There are two sonar beams. The sonar beams simultaneously scan the water underneath the boat.
Each sonar beam has a unique color. The shape of the fish, the underwater structure or any other objects will be in the same color as the sonar beam that detects it first.
The sonar is equipped with a fish alarm. There are three settings pertaining to this alarm. You can set it to sound when the beams detect large, medium or small fish.
Sonar recording is an added feature that you will find useful. You can rewind previous sonar feeds. This enables you to view spots again and again without needing to visit the actual location. You can insert a MicroSD card to save all your recordings.
Switch Fire and Circular Flasher are two additional features of the sonar you will benefit from. These are the details:
- Switch Fire is a quick filter that allows you to switch between Clear Mode and Max Mode.
- Clear Mode removes most obstacles. It enables the sonar beams to focus on the bigger fish.
- Max mode gives you better information on fish and other targets. It achieves this by viewing all the sonar information the system could detect.
- The Circular Flasher function is ideal for ice or stationary fishing. It puts the information of the sonar into a ring-based diagram. This intensifies the colors in each sonar displayed.
One part of the navigation function is the Uni-map Charts. This chart is sufficient if you don’t have the advanced navigation tools. It shows lakes, oceans and streams with the boundaries between the land & water.
A 3D-chart view is available. You will receive a 3D-view of your location, above and behind your boat. The purpose of this is to enhance your environmental awareness.
You can save up to 2750 way-points, 47 routes and 50 tracks.
Control Unit Features
The IPX7 waterproofing rating allows the device to have some incidental contact with rain, snow or splashes. It can be submerged in one meter of fresh water for 30 minutes. Salt water is hazardous for the unit display and connectors.
- You can switch between GPS and fish finder or have them both on screen
- The big screen provides as much detail as possible
- A gimble mount is included
- Easy to install
- There is no screen cover for the finder unit
- Batteries are not included
- The fish finder doesnt accurately detect fish
- You will need to purchase a MicroSD card separately
The Dual-beam Plus scans the underwater environment simultaneously to provide better information. The new advancement in the transducer allows the user to easily switch between different modes that will help your fishing trip be a success.
Lowrance 000-12664-002 Navico Hook 7 with Card & Cover Mid/High Down Scan
The high-resolution display screen ensures the graphics represent information accurately. You will have a complete and precise view of the waters beneath you. This display, in conjunction with the defined colors, helps you depict the water conditions and objects such as sea weeds & rocks.
The finder is equipped with multi display windows. You can pick from the preset page layouts. You can also have a three-panel review. You can have the waypoints map and the underwater scanned-frequencies displayed simultaneously.
The display will inform you of basic details including the temperatures and the speed at which you’re travelling.
You will have the combined advantages of CHIRP sonar and DownScan technologies. Both generate accurate frequencies. The information that you interpret helps you in locating where the best and most fish are.
CHIRP and the DownScan technologies give you the following benefits:
- Enhanced sonar sensitivity
- Focused target separation
- Ultimate noise reduction
With these benefits, you can target bait fish quicker & easier.
The built-in GPS has a trustworthy navigation system. It guides you to the different marked waypoints with ease. There are three maps you can pick from:
- A base map
- Optimal high definition chart upgrades
- Customized insightful maps
This fish finder produces high to medium frequencies. Relating this range to CHIRP sonar technologies which optimizes your fishing activity.
High CHIRP ranges between 150-240kHz. It’s ideal for depths less than 600ft.
- Best used for coastal salt water and fresh water fishing
- Best choice for lure tracking
- Helps you identify game fish and fish bait targets
- Helps you target fish near the bottom
Medium CHIRP ranges between 80-160kHz. The depth is the same as high CHIRP.
- A wider coverage area is displayed
- Scans larger areas quicker
- Displays larger fish arches, however, in less detail than high CHIRP
The DownScan imaging generates the optimal display of the underwater conditions. DownScan imaging will display a high graphical representation of the bottom of the boat and the structures around it. You can determine what lies below efficiently.
Advanced Signal Processing
ASP reduces the need for you to adjust the settings when fish are nearby. The automatic settings adjustments enable you to determine the fish size more accurately. It will also define the structure and the bottom of the waters in greater detail.
- It can mark 3000 waypoints and 100 routes
- Navionics card is provided
- Easy to use inerface controls
- Performs the basic functions you need flawlessly
- Maps take long to load
- Readings are inaccurate past 2ft of water
- GPS is unreliable
- No upgraded functional features
This fish finder gives you more information than some other products on the market. The three-panel display feature allows you to view three sets of information simultaneously. The CHIRP frequencies provide great detailing of the waters beneath you.
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Signstek FF-003 Portable Fish Finder – Best Kayak Fish Finder
This compact fish finder performs the tasks you need to locate the best fish hotspots. The lightweight and compact size make for an easy fit into your tackle box. It’s user-friendly, even for amateurs. Professionals will also see the value in this fish finder.
The display is basic. It doesn’t offer a variety of colors as higher-end fish finders do. The screen will, however, display the data that is necessary to make your fishing trip a success.
It can be used in any type of waters:
- Small ponds
It’s ideal to use in small boats or kayaks. You don’t need to mount the fish finder onto the boat, you can keep it on your lap.
Different regions of the world can use this fish finder. There is a multi-language menu. You’re guaranteed that the languages are translated well and are easy to understand by most non-English speakers.
The fish finder is powered by four AAA batteries. The batteries are not drained in a short amount of time, allowing you to fish for hours on end.
The IPX4 waterproofing rating allows the unit to be splashed with water without malfunctioning.
This fish finder must not be used in water conditions less than zero degrees. The freezing temperatures will affect the electrical components and, therefore, the performance.
Once the sonar has detected a fish, it will sound an alarm. The alarm will also notify you of any changes in depth.
The fish finder can read waters from as little as 2ft up to 240ft. This is beneficial to the user as it will scan a larger area of the water than some other products.
This sonar technology uses a different method to provide readings. It uses sound waves to locate fish and help you to navigate through the waters you’re fishing in.
The transducer also utilizes sound waves. It measures the time between the transmission of the sound wave and when it’s reflected off an object. By doing this, it will determine the depth and/or location. It also determines the size and composition of an object.
- Successful in finding and alerting where the fish are
- Easy to naviate menus
- The display can be used during the day or night
- The cord from the transducer is long, providing greater coverage
- You can not mount the finder onto your boat
- There is no GPS
- Steep learning curve
- Fish identification is weak at times
If you don’t want the hassle of a large fish finder that needs to be mounted then this model is the best one for you. You can carry this fish finder in your pocket or tackle box. The small size should not deceive you. It’s highly successful in finding fish.
Lucky FFW-718 Wireless Portable Sonar Fish Finder with Dot Matrix 40m Range
English, Russian and Dutch fishermen can use this fish finder as all three languages are available to use.
This fish finder is ideal to use in any type of water. It’s highly practical for ice fishing. It can float in waters reaching a temperature of -20°.
This device doesn’t make use of a cabled transducer. The sonar floats on the water. The bottom of the sonar scans the underwater environment. The fish finder receives the information wirelessly.
The finder will display information which includes
- Water depth
- Water temperature
- Location of the fish
- Bottom contours
The sonar remembers your specific settings. This makes it convenient when starting your fishing trip. When you turn on the fish finder, there is no need to toggle through the settings to find the one suited for you.
There are two alarms embedded onto the fish finder. Each of the alarms has a different purpose. The one alarm will sound when the sonar detects a fish. The other will sound when you’re traveling slow.
The fish finder unit is powered by 4 AAA Alkaline batteries and it will not drain the batteries rapidly. This extends your fishing trips for hours. There is a battery icon on the finder that allows you to monitor your battery life.
The sensor is waterproof. It will automatically switch off when it’s not in use. This contributes to the longevity of the product. The sonar has a coverage of 120 meters. It will provide accurate readings of the underwater conditions, no matter the coverage distance.
User Selectable Sensitivity Features.
These settings enhance the capabilities and ease of use of the unit:
- Water depth: The depth can be read in meters or feet.
- Zoom: You can zoom in or out with the reader. This helps you to scope the water conditions better.
- Shallow alarm: You can customize the pitch of the alarm.
- Fish symbol: You can pick between fish arches or icons.
- Easy to setup and program
- Locates fish effortlessly
- Long lasting battery life
- There is no interference by other frequencies
- The receiver is not waterproof
- In some cases, it takes a while for the sonar to connect to the reader
- Does not work accurately in the ocean
- At times, it does not mark the fish
The selectable user settings add ease to fishing trips. These settings allow you to make the most of your trips and alert you when there are fish nearby. The long-lasting battery life allows you to extend your fishing trip for hours.
HawkEye FT1PXC FishTrax Fish Finder with HD Color VirtuView Display
The HawkEye fish finder is made ideally for skilled fishermen. It includes a full-color high definition VirtuView TFTN display.
This fish finder has three features that optimize your fishing capabilities and they work in any environment you’re fishing in.
This fish finder can be used as a portable device or mounted onto your boat. Its compact size makes it very portable for travel.
The finder is powered by 4 AAA batteries. The batteries are protected by a screw sealed cover.
The sonar beam is equipped with two functional airwaves frequencies. You can display the frequencies separately or at the same time.
- 80 kHz: Represents 83 000 sonar pulses per second
- 200 kHz: Represents 200 000 sonar pulses per second
These frequencies can be modified to match your fishing style. When adjusting between the frequencies it will fine-tune the readings to give you the best information. This will make fishing effortless.
All Fishtrax models are embedded with an intelligent beam sonar. The sonar settings are adjustable, which gives you the advantage of adapting to any technique or platform that will enhance your fishing skills.
The solar angler locates the fish with ease. The 100-level affect-ability modification, the multi-depth ranges and the auto zoom ground tracking all contribute to this precision.
FishTrax expandability enables the fish finder to be mounted or stored on any fishing platform or boat. Once you’ve selected the fishing platform or boat, you can select the accessories that will make your fishing trip more relaxing.
- Suction-cup transducer mount
- FishTrax transom mount transducer
- Fish finder mounting disk with a 3M adhesive
- Fish finder mount bracket
- Carrying case
- Neck strap
If you don’t want the fish finder to be powered by the batteries, you can opt for the 12V power adapter. This adapter can be easily mounted on your fishing boat.
FishTrax 1C Multi Mode
The VirtuView TFTN displays in three functional modules:
- Fish finder
- Data mode
- Ice-mode digital flasher
The fish finder mode measures the overall water depth. It also locates the presence of the fish. It graphically represents the bottom contour and composition.
The data mode displays the information you will need to make your trip a success. The data provided includes:
- Battery voltage
The ice-mode digital flasher gives a real-time view of what is happening underneath you at that very moment.
These modes give an accurate representation of the water conditions.
- Easy to read and operate
- It effortlessly finds holes where the bigger fish are hiding
- Long battery life that lasts for hours
- Easily mounted onto small boats
- The receiver is not waterproof
- In some cases, it takes a while for the sonar to connect to the reader
- Does not work accurately in the ocean
- At times, it does not mark the fish
This fish finder is suited for skilled fishermen. It can be used in different water environments. You can move it around or mount it onto your boat. It will not take up much room if you mount it. You can select the frequencies based on how you’re fishing.
FishHunter Military Grade Portable Fish Finder 3.0
This fish finder uses Bluetooth technology to receive information from the sonar. The small size enables you to carry the fish finder with you on all fishing trips.
It can be used for different types of fishing such as:
- Shore Fish Finder
- Kayak Fish Finder
- Boat Fish Finder
When out on the water the sonar will “ping” a fish it detects. This makes it convenient for you as you don’t lose sight of the fish.
Ice fishing will be made easier with this fish finder. It was built to last in waters as cold as minus 30 .
The built in GPS system enables you to mark the best hotspots. It will guide you to the saved locations with ease.
This fish finder is made for convenience and durability, with these features:
- Night-vision lighting
- No exterior joints that cause leaking
- Protective rubber outer casting
- Secure towing point
This fish finder is easy to be used by amateurs. The finder displays information that is easy to understand and read. After a few fishing trips, you will read the finder with ease as your skills improve.
You don’t need to mount the fish finder onto the boat. You need to download an app onto your smartphone or tablet. This app can sync to the sonar via Bluetooth.
There are instructions with the app that make learning easier. Without the need of a transducer cable you can still locate fish and mark them. You’re given details about the underwater conditions including the depth and contours.
You can log and map all the locations you have been to and would want to visit again.
All images shown are in 3D. You can save all the sonar images captured.
You can save the details of the type, weight and height of the fish you’ve caught.
The GPS tracking system allows you to mark all the fish and the different locations. You will be guided to the different marked locations with ease.
- LED light notifies you when the device is charging
- Ideal for ice fishing
- Detects fish exceptionally well
- Detailing is highly accurate
- Bluetooth signal is unreliable
- Batteries do not last long
- A Wi-Fi connection to sync the transmitter to receive may be needed
- It takes a long time for data to refresh
This fish finder is best if you want to use your smartphone or tablet and not a finder unit. The device will sync to the transducer via a Bluetooth app. This app will mark all the waypoints you have saved and will easily navigate to them. Be warned, the Bluetooth signal is unreliable at times.
Venterior Portable Fish Finder
This portable fish finder doesn’t use a Wi-Fi or data connection, but it is twofold. There is an LCD finder and a transducer, with a 25ft cable that connects the two. This cable allows information to be passed between the two parts.
When submerged, the transducer feeds underwater data to the LCD finder. The information shown will indicate where the hot spots are to catch fish.
The display is a TN/Anti-UV LCD screen with a green LED backlight. Though the screen is basic, it will provide useful information while fishing, such as:
- Detecting and displaying water depth
- Estimating the fish’s location
- Indicating where there are short and tall weeds, sand & rocks
There are multiple areas in which you can use the Venterior Portable Fish Finder. You can use it when you fish in lakes, rivers and the sea.
However, strong waves, suspended matter and muddy water all affect the information received.
You can ice-fish with this product. When using the finder in cold conditions, a few things are important to note:
- Remove any snow to allow for a clean, smooth surface
- If there is air between the sonar sensor and the ice, you must change spots or cut a large hole in the ice
It’s imperative to keep the sensors above a temperature of zero. Extremely cold weather will affect the performance of the sensors.
There are five sensitivity options to select. The first time you use the product the information will be basic. It will only show the fish’s location and not the size.
You can receive more details by adjusting the sensitivity features. When the sensitivity is high, it will indicate both small and big fish, in addition to their location. When the sensitivity is low, it will only show the bigger-sized fish, along with their location.
By constantly adjusting the settings, you can increase the finder’s accuracy.
Battery save Mode
The finder operates on four AA batteries that are included in the kit. To optimize the battery lifespan, you can enable the battery save mode. This prolongs the battery life by turning off the LCD screen when it’s not in use.
This enables you to view and read information on the LCD screen at night.
This gives you an alert sound whenever fish are nearby.
Adjustable Unit of Measure
The water depth can be displayed in meters or feet.
- Updated model saves the personalized user settings
- Provides underwater conditions without a colored screen
- Can be mounted on your boat or hung around your neck
- The batteries drain rapidly
- The reader is not waterproof
- At times, the readings are inaccurate
- Marks other objects as fish
This fish finder is ideal for those who want a fish finder without the added features. It gives you an element of surprise as it will only tell you where the fish are but not their size. This fish finder is made to be used in any fishing environment.
How does a fish finder work?
Fish finders make use of sound waves. The transducer emits sonar waves. The sonar waves are bounced around and returned to the transducer.
The transducer then reads the speed, distance and the rate in which the waves return.
Once the sound waves have returned, the transducer converts the raw data into visual data. Thick, colored lines represent the contours of the water.
Arches that the unit displays are a graphical representation of where the fish are in relation to your location.
Modern fish finders will display a fish icon instead of an arch.
How are you supposed to read a Fish Finder?
A fish finder displays basic information. When interpreted well, this information will guide you to where schools of fish are to increase the chances of you catching them.
Depth, Temperatures and Speed Sensors
Depth finders are commonly presented in modern fish finder devices. It’s usually displayed on the top left corner of the screen.
Many transducers have a depth finder embedded in them. This gives you a reading on how deep the water is below you.
By using the depth finder, you’re able to determine what type of fish are in the environment or what the conditions are.
The depth of the water is generally shown in meters rather than feet. The accuracy of the fish finder depends on the brand or model you purchase.
How the information is received by the finder also determines the accuracy. Using a transducer with a cable produces a highly reliable result compared to wireless sonars.
The water temperature is generally located below the depth reading on the screen. The temperature is generally shown as degrees Celsius. For countries that don’t use this system, some models allow you to convert the temperature to Fahrenheit.
The temperature is also useful in locating the different species of fish. Some fish prefer warm waters while others prefer cold.
By using the depth and temperature, you are better able to track down the different species of fish.
The speed sensor displays how fast you’re traveling. This is useful when approaching the marked way-points. You will know how much you need to reduce your speed to prevent startling the fish.
Color and Echo Return Strength
The display of the finder is available in three colors. A full-color screen, a greyscale screen and a basic black and white screen.
The color screens are the best to display information. The colors relate to the strength of the sound echo that returns to the transducer.
The density and the hardness of underwater objects are important factors in echo return strengths. The darker the color on the fish finder, the stronger the echo was when it returned to the transducer.
The seabed or the bottom of the waters is usually depicted in the darkest of colors. The bottom of the body of water can be depicted by either a thick, bold, thin or light line.
A thin line generally informs you of softer ground like clay, whereas a thicker line represents a harder object.
It’s advised not to overlook the small details, as it can be fish.
Grey scale and black & white screens indicate where the fish are. They don’t provide high graphics of the underwater structure.
This technology is found in newer models of fish finders. A fish icon will display rather than the traditional arch.
When you’re reading the frequencies on the screen, you may have difficulty in distinguishing the various underwater objects. Fish ID technology alleviates you of this hassle.
Advanced technology does more than displaying fish icons. Fish-ID also provides an icon for rocks, plants and schools of fish.
Fish-ID technology is not accurate at all times because it may identify a group of plants as a school of fish.
Arc Fish finders
The fish finder will display arches rather than a fish icon. These types of fish finders display raw data.
Moving objects will be represented by an arch. Stationary objects will be displayed as a straight line.
The size of the arch will give you an indication of the fish size. The bigger the arch, the bigger the fish.
Reading a fish finder with arches is challenging at first. Once you’ve learned how to read the information correctly, you will locate the fish with ease.
Arches are more accurate than fish icons.
When there is a school of fish, the finder will display a cloud-like formation.
Tips to Get the most out of your Fish Finder
Keep It Simple and Consistent
Fish finders have various settings from which you can pick. The settings are beneficial and each serves a purpose that will make your fishing trip a success.
When selecting the settings, it’s best to pick a few to display that will give you as much information as you require. There is no formula to the settings. You need to choose the one that is suited for you.
Selecting a different color scheme will help you determine where the best fish or hot spots are. By using and getting familiar with the basic color scheme, you can help yourself identify the fish quicker.
Learn the School Formations
Through constant fishing and saving previous sonar feeds, you help yourself study the formation of plants and fish better.
Whenever you’re fishing and you see a body of matter, you will be able to determine immediately if it’s fish or not.
This is a skill to have if your fish finder doesn’t have the advanced feature of displaying plant icons.
There are three distinct school-of-fish formations. An attack formation, wall-to-wall carpet and an explosion formation. When your finder displays these formations or other common ones you’ve noted, you know there are fish nearby.
Fish finders have a harder time depicting the echoes when you’re idling.
To optimize the sonar’s reading, the device needs to be moving steadily. This helps process depth, features and the bottom of the waters better.
The charts of the fish finder move from right to left. This isn’t based on movement, but time.
When you’re not moving, the fish finder will display the same location again and again. The information will change if fish approach your location.
Do all fish finders come with GPS? What about a Transducer?
Some fish finders don’t come with a GPS. However, it is best to purchase a fish finder with a GPS to make navigation between the waypoints easier.
All fish finders need a transducer. The transducer scans the underwater environment and feeds the information to the fish finder.
You can select between a cabled transducer and wireless connection. Bluetooth or a Wi-Fi/data connection will be needed to sync the device to the transducer.
Does the trailer bunk get in the way when mounting a transducer?
There are two simple steps that help resolve the problem of your trailer bunk being an inconvenience when mounting the transducer.
The simplest task is to move the winch of the trailer bunk back approximately 3’’. With this method, you don’t need any additional materials to mount the transducer. The transducer will be fitted close next to the trailer bunk. The transducer will float in the waters with no obstacles in its path.
The second method is to install a “spacer.” This spacer will allow the transducer to reach further into the waters.
By using a spacer, you will block the gap between the transducer and the pivot arm. This prevents a flow of water coming up from the transducer.
What fish finder and transducer are for me?
Picking the right fish finder and transducer is a difficult task.
Picking the right one boils down to what you would prefer in a fish finder. You will need to consider the following items that can make your decision easier:
- The display: There are three color modes. Full color, grayscale and black & white. If you want basic information then you can opt for the gray scale or black and white screen. Pick the color screen if you want a full graphical representation of the waters and the contours.
- GPS: With a GPS, you’re able to navigate through all the saved waypoints with ease. It shows your location and will help you to navigate your way back home.
- The transducer: You have two options for how the transducer will send information to the finder. It can be sent via cable or wireless. The wireless option can be done through a Bluetooth connection or Wi-Fi. Wireless options also allow you to use an app on your smartphone. You can then use the smartphone as the finder. If you want more accurate results, opt for the cable transducer.
Once you have decided on the basics, your next step is to purchase the one that has all the characteristics you want.
What’s a decent fish finder with a scupper mounted transducer?
The Humminbird brand might be the best pick. Not all of the Humminbird fish finders will list their transducer as mountable. To rectify this, you can call customer service and arrange a swap between the transducer you have for a plastic thru-hull transducer. The transducer will then fit perfectly into the scupper holes.
Some kayak manufacturers are teaming up with fish finder brands. Kayak manufacturers are pre installing scupper holes—designed to fit the transducer—into their boats. This helps to make installation easy and seamless.
Most fish finders operate well in fresh water only. The Humminbird brand doesn’t present this problem. It can be used in salt water, too.
Can you use a second fish finder on the back of the boat?
There may be an interference issue if you have two fish finders per boat. However, if mounted properly it can also increase your fishing experience as you’ll be able to move back and forth depending on the location of your target species.
If your boat doesn’t have two stations, you can still make use of two fish finders, but it will need to be placed strategically.
The transducers need to be placed on opposite ends of your boat. This way you can make use of them simultaneously without any interference.
Have one transducer aimed forward to show the fish you’re approaching and possible submerged hazards. Use the second transducer as an angle-wide finder. This will show the underwater sides and back of your boat.
Another possible technique you can use is to link the transducer to your down-riggers. This will follow the bottom contours as you move.
What battery will the fish finder work best with?
Fish finders work the best when they are powered by a 12V battery. This type of battery will last you on average 8 to 10 hours when on the water.
The type of fish finder influences the battery life. Basic black and white color fish finders can last up to a weekend on a single charge.
When the battery is drained, it will take approximately four hours for the fish finder to fully charge. This amount varies between the different brands.
To prolong the battery life, it’s best not to over-charge. Don’t leave it to charge overnight. When recharging for the first time, time how long it takes for the batteries to charge fully. Use this as a guide for the next time you need to recharge your battery.
You can set the alarm to notify you when the batteries are fully charged.
What’s the best fish finder for a kayak?
When purchasing a fish finder for a kayak you will need to consider the three main components that will make picking and buying easier. These consideration points are also practical for buying a fish finder for small boats.
The first component is the display. This consists of the actual unit. Kayaks are not very wide. If the display is larger than five to six inches it will be too thick and difficult to mount onto the kayak.
If the display is larger than 7’’ it will be trickier to mount. If you mount a ram on the one side of the kayak to hold the display, you will be adding five to 10 extra pounds on the kayak.
The transducer usually arrives with a transom mount. Using this option requires you to run the transducer cables through the plastic or pipe of the scupper holes. Suction cups are also provided instead of the transom mount.
Suction cups don’t require you to drill any additional holes onto the kayak. There is an adhesive that sticks to the side. The adhesive is strong and ensures the stability of the transducer.
The transducer mount must not be too heavy or big. If the mount is too large, it will take more room on the kayak. Heavier mounts will create a slower traveling speed.
The last component to consider is the power source. You can place a marine battery into a waterproof box. You can run the wires from the battery to the display and transducer. You can opt for a portable fish finder if you don’t want to install a power source.
The best fish finders for kayaks:
- Raymarine Dragon fly 4 Pro: This is 4” long, has a four-color display and a built-in GPS.
- Lowrance Elite-3x: This fish finder doesn’t have a GPS; however, it is highly reliable and easy to use.
- Garmin EchoMap 151dv: The screen is gray scale; however, it is better suited for 3D sonar frequencies.
- HawkEye FishTrax Series: This series is the same size as a smartphone. They are portable, they don’t need to be mounted which saves space on the kayak.
How do you mount a fish finder to a kayak?
There are four methods you can pick from to install a fish finder onto your kayak.
In the Hull
Open the hatch of your kayak and select a flat location on the hull to place your transducer. Pick another method if your kayak doesn’t have direct access to the hull.
Clean the selected spot to ensure there is no grime, dust, or debris. You can clean it with rubbing alcohol.
To stick the transducer in the spot you can use a pool noodle. Cut a 2-3’’ slice of the pool noodle and trace the outline of the transducer on the noodle. Cut the outlines using a jagged knife. Fit the fish finder into the cut-out space.
Use a waterproof glue to stick the noodle onto the kayak. Add a generous amount of glue and ensure no air bubbles are present. Bubbles that are not removed will affect the durability of the pool noodle.
Leave the glue to dry for 24–28 hours. You can place duct tape over the noodle to keep it in place while the glue dries. Remove the tape after the set time.
Run the cable through a hole that is close to where you mounted the fish finder. Use a water tight fitting to extract the wire. Only extract the wire until it fits the fish finder well.
This easy method will show you how to make your own scupper hole transducer mount:
- Acquire a PVC pipe that should be the same size as the scupper hole.
- Take the PVC pipe and Insert it into the transducer mount. Mark off where the whole and the transducer mount align.
- Take the mount and carefully drill a hole through it. Then cut off a ½ inch deep on both sides of the hole. You will then have two holes facing each other.
- Look for the cut off area and fit the transducer into the area. Make sure you have run the lines through the pipe first and it’s sticking out through the top first. Screw in the transducer through the holes you’ve made.
- Run the pipe through the scupper holes and ensure the transducer is placed 1” below the bottom of the kayak.
- Seal the bottom of the pipe with pipe insulation and a cap can be used to seal the top of the pipe.
- The one drawback to this method is one of the scupper holes will be blocked. You will need to find another method to drain the water from your kayak.
On the Back Near the Rubber
Mount a plastic or metal plate on a flat surface—of your choosing—at the back of your kayak. The plate must be approximately 3” wide and shorter than your kayak.
Mount the transducer on the plate. Ensure the transducer is slightly higher than the bottom of the kayak. This will safeguard the transducer in case your kayak hits a rock. The rock will hit the kayak and not the transducer.
Run a wire across the top of the kayak to the location in which you will be mounting the fish finder. Secure the cables with twist ties or clamps.
Using a Portable Kit with a Suction Cup
This method is most costly, however, the most convenient. You don’t need to drill additional holes or acquire other material to mount the transducer in place.
The transducer mounts wherever you want it to by using only a suction cup. This suction cup sticks to the kayak when it’s in water. When you’re done fishing, you can simply pull off the suction cup.
What batteries should I use for the fish finder?
The battery size will not matter if it’s 12V. They are equipped to run various currents which contribute to the strength and durability.
By using a 12V 9Amp you will have enough power for the fish finder for hours. 12V 10Amp batteries are practical for when you want to power multiple items.
Can you test a new fish finder for proper operation without putting it in the water?
The best method to test a transducer is in water.
You don’t need to go out into the body of water. You can create a small pool of water from a container or plumbers putty. By placing the transducer into the pool, you can determine if it reads the area well.
Some transducers work best when the water is at least 4ft deep.
Adding a new fish finder? What about a positive from the bus bar to the battery?
You can run two fish finders from the same battery. The fish finders need to be wired correctly to the positive and negative terminals.
To have optimal performance, connect the fish finders on two separate batteries on opposite ends of the boat.
If the transducers and both fish finders are near one another, there will be an interference in signal frequencies.
Have both the transducers perform a certain role. One must scan the front of the boat, while the other scans the sides.
Can you use a fish finder for ice fishing?
Some fish finders are constructed to handle the cold waters of ice fishing.
Portable Fish Finders
You need to have a fish finder that is compact. This makes it easier to carry when traveling through snow or ice.
The battery of the fish finder needs to be small, yet powerful. You don’t want to inconvenience yourself by carrying around a charger in cold weather. Acquiring a 12V battery will be sufficient to power your fish finder for hours.
How Does a Fish Finder Work for Ice Fishing?
There are two ways for a fish finder to scan the waters. You can select the one method or the other; however, they can’t be used at the same time.
The first method is using flasher units. They don’t show a graph of the details below. They will provide a real-time look. This technology is outdated, however, it’s still very reliable.
You can also use 2D sonar. This is an alternative to the flasher. It will show a scan of what’s happening below, which includes the underwater structures and contours.
Advanced fish finders are equipped with both these methods. You must switch from one to the other when you want to. You increase your chances of knowing what is beneath you when you purchase a fish finder that has both techniques.
A wider cone of the sonar beam gives you greater details. It not only shows what is beneath you, but also what is around you.
How much power does a fish finder draw?
The colored display and the GPS are the two features that will cause your batteries to drain.
A basic black and white unit will consume less battery power than a full-color display screen.
You can calculate how long your fish finder will run. You can decide for yourself if that specific brand draws a lot of power or not.
When the specs on the unit say it consumes 250mA and the battery is a 5Ah, calculate the run time by doing the following:
- First, convert the mA to A, by diving by 1000; Therefore, it’s 0.25A
- Divide the Ah by the new A; 5/0.25 = 20
- The run time on the fish finder is therefore 20 hours
Not all batteries will last the specified milliamps it claims. If you believe the battery will not last the desired amount, take additional batteries or a power cord.
How do you read the screen on the fish finders the correct way?
Fish finders are the most useful tools you need to make your fishing trip a success. You need to know how to read the screen effectively so that you have a sound understanding of what’s happening beneath you.
Know the Direction of Reading
The reflection of the sonar will be from left to right. The right-hand side of the screen will display the latest readings.
The sonar will display the same readings when the boat is idle.
With the readings not changing, you can still determine if there is a school of fish beneath you. Thick dark red lines can represent a sea bed. When the sonar scans the same location again and a green color appears, you will know there is a school of fish beneath you.
The Fish Indicator
By constant practice, you can determine if the data on the screen represents the school of fish or individual fish.
A school of fish will be represented by a cloud shape. Each species of fish will have their own unique formation. Through constant studying of the frequencies, you can match the formation to the species.
A single fish will be represented by a curve.
How do I get rid of hard water stains on my fish finder?
There are five best ways to clean your fish finder’s screen. It’s important to know what not to do when cleaning your screen.
Don’t use abrasives. Don’t use this in a dry or liquid form. It will remove the protective coatings of the screen. Your screen will then scratch easy. Don’t use paper towels to dry the screen. It may contain fibers that will scratch the screen.
Avoid Ammonia or alcohol-based cleaners. They have the same effect as adhesives. They will dissolve the reflective coatings on the screen. With time, the screen will reflect the sun or any other form of light back into your eyes. Eventually, the screen will begin to cloud and will not be useful.
Rain-X solutions have polymer substances. When you use Rain-X, you will be covering the anti-reflective coating. By continuously doing this the screen will no longer be anti-reflective.
Windex with Vinegar
Use Windex Multi-surface with vinegar. It’s 100 % ammonia free and will not dissolve the screens’ coatings.
Products such as Wave Away and Krystal Vision are made to protect the coatings of your screens. You can clean the sonar, too. There is no alcohol or ammonia. They arrive in easy-to-spray bottles.
Sparkle Glass Cleaner
This is an alternative to Windex with vinegar. You can add more vinegar if the stains are tough.
Water and Vinegar
You can make your own DIY cleaner if you don’t want to buy the specific cleaning products. You will need to be cautious and not add too much vinegar as it’s a mild acid. This acid can dissolve the screen coatings.
You can add 16 parts of water to 1 part vinegar. Or even a dilution ratio of 20:1 would be better.
Dish Soap and Water
This is the most cost-effective method. Add water and dish soap into a spray bottle. When you’re ready to use the product spray the contents onto a cloth and wipe the screen.
Always use microfiber cloths. These cloths don’t keep dirt or grit from previous usage which can scratch the screen.
How do I wire a fish finder on the bow of my boat?
Hard wiring the fish finder directly to the battery with the inline fuse is the best method. It will be challenging to make all the wires reach the back. If your boat has an existing conduit, you can use an electrician’s fish tape to help get the wiring through.
You can also connect it to the existing wiring of the boat. This option is viable if your boat allows you to have access to the main fuse.
Some boat manufacturers will put an additional bus near the dash panel. This allows you to add more electronics to your boat. The bus will have both a positive and negative terminal.
The fish finder will be powered by the main battery of the boat. This brings convenience as you don’t need to run wires to the back of the console or starting battery.
If your boat doesn’t have the additional bus, you can then run the wires to the back of the console where the main fuse is located. When you follow this method, you need to ensure the fuse has the right number of amps.
How do I wire this fish finder to a 12V battery?
Locate the red and black wires from the transducer. Connect these wires to the pigtail wire assembly. Take the end of the red wire from the fish finder power cable and connect it to the red wire that is on the battery-harness pigtail. Join these red wires in the small—and color specific—connectors. Once the wires are securely attached to the connectors, press the button of the connectors all the way down with pliers. Once the wires are depressed, it connects the wires and pops a gel pack to protect the wires from water.
Repeat the step with the back wires. Connect the cables of the transducer and power source to the display screen. You do this by connecting the female pigtail to the male pigtail. Place epoxy glue around where the wires enter to ensure a water tight seal.
What tools do I need to install my Portable Fish Finder?
Wiring of the fish finder and the transducer cable is made easier with two devices. These devices ensure your portable fish finder can move into and out of the boat with ease.
Magnetic Transducer Mount
Magnets are used to easily install the mount onto the boat within seconds. You can take the mount off in a matter of seconds, too. You don’t need to drill any holes for installation. The transducer mount was made to be installed on the boat where it will have direct contact with waters. This mount has a 180° tilt up or down feature. With one quick hand twist, you can tilt the transducer out of the waters. You can do this for reduced drag or to prevent it from getting damaged.
The footprint of the magnetic mount is ultra-compact. It’s smaller than a business card. It has a strong build and will last for years.
Fish Finder Boat Mount Kits
You can install and uninstall your portable fish finder in a matter of seconds. No drilling is required. You can move the fish finder mount from boat to boat. Your wires and cables will be stored and managed with machine slots. The wires are neatly wrapped away. It won’t get into contact with water. When moving to and from the various boats, you will not leave any scuff marks. There are scuff guards on the mounting that prevents this.
You will get greater flexibility. If you don’t like where you have installed the mount you can detach it and place it in another location.
By making use of these two tools you give yourself greater flexibility in mounting. The no-drills feature doesn’t require you to commit to one boat or position. This is practical for portable fish finders that you don’t want to hold in your lap or hands.
What about weather? Do you think the fish finder will be ok?
Some fish finders can withstand some weather conditions like drizzle or fog. Air temperatures are also considered when building the fish finders. A fish finder can’t last in wet or winter-like weather conditions for prolonged periods without proper maintenance and care. This will eventually affect the performance of your fish finder if you don’t take care of it.
When it’s winter, it’s advised to remove the fish finder from the boat. Store the fish finder in places that are room temperature. This will prevent the cold conditions from affecting the performance. When the weather conditions are very hot, keep the fish finder covered. If the fish finder is exposed to the sun for long periods of time, the fish finder will begin to sweat internally. This sweat will have the same effect as winter conditions and cause the fish finder to not perform as it should.
Fish finders can make your fishing trip a success, when it otherwise would have ended in failure. With the advancements in frequencies and graphics you can establish where the fish are hiding. You don’t need to remember all locations where you’ve found schools of fish. Fish finders will save the locations. You can use the fish finders directly after installation.
Listing all these benefits you may wonder why you don’t have one already. Start shopping today based on the information above. Test out your fish finder so you’re ready for your next trip.