What do you do when you can’t catch any fish? You know that you have the best bait, the best fishing rod and are in the most prime area of the lake. The only problem is that it seems all of the fish have gone into hiding. What’s worse is that the water is too murky to see.
If you have never used a fish finder, you’re missing out on a hell of an experience. It helps you locate where the fish are hiding by scanning the waters and pinpointing their location in proportion to where you are. It can tell you how deep it is and in some cases, the temperature of the water. In this post, we review the best fish finders and tell you how to choose one that suits your needs.
|1|| Garmin 010-01801-01 Echomap Chirp 74Cv with transducer|
|2|| Humminbird Helix 7 Chirp SI GPS G2 Combo|
|3|| Garmin 010-01802-01 Echomap Chirp 73SV with transducer |
Best for Deep Sea - Editor Choice
|4||Garmin 010-01813-02 Garmin echoMAP CHIRP 52cv with transducer Best for Lakes||Check Price|
|5||Garmin 010-01815-02 Echomap Chirp 72SV with transducer||Check Price|
|6||Humminbird 409640-1 HELIX 5 SI Fish Finder with Side-Imaging and GPS Best for Beginners||Check Price|
|7||Garmin echoMAP CHIRP 52cv Without Transducer Best Budget||Check Price|
|8||Garmin echoMAP CHIRP 42dv without transducer Best Budget||Check Price|
Reviews of Best Fish Finders
Garmin 010-01801-01 Echomap Chirp 74Cv with Transducer – Best Overall Fish Finder
The Garmin Echomap Chirp 74Cv is, in many ways, similar to the older Echomap Chirp 74dv. It comes with a traditional 2D sonar and is capable of 50/77/200 kHz frequencies. With the provided transducer and Chirp, this fish finder can use Mid-band CHIRP to modulate the pulse between 80-160 kHz with a 240/130 conic angle. The system can also modulate the sonar pulse between 275 kHz and 445-465 kHz. This modulation offers a better separation between fish and other structures in the water.
Humminbird Helix 7 Chirp SI/GPS G2 Combo – Best Value for the Money
The Helix 7 offers Switchfire Sonar and DualBeam PLUS Sonar features. The frequencies available in DualBeam Plus are 200 kHz and 83 kHz. This allows you discover and catches fish in areas as wide as your depth for a complete picture. The SwitchFire Sonar feature allows you to view sonar returns in Clear mode or Max mode by adjusting the signal filtering.
The GPS feature has built-in Bluetooth and with an Ethernet cable, you can share tracks, waypoints, GPS position information, routes and sonar information. However, you cannot share maps. You can save up to 50 routes, 2500 waypoints and 50 tracks with 20,000 points. Other optional features with the GPS include Humminbird Mapping, PC Connect, Naviocs+ and Naviocs Platinum+.
Garmin 010-01802-01 Echomap Chirp 73SV with Transducer – Best Fish Finder for Deep Sea Fishing
The Garmin Echomap Chirp 73SV comes with the Lake Vu mapping system with detailed illustrations of more than 17,000 rivers, lakes, and reservoirs in the US. Also included are views of more than 5700 lakes and contour shading for easier depth recognition. You can plot up to 100 routes, 5000-waypoints, and 50,000 points. The provided SD card comes handy when you want to save favorite locations for the future excursion or upgrade the system to the BlueChart G2. The 5 Hz GPS/GLONASS receiver updates images every five seconds.
Garmin 010-01813-02 Echomap Chirp 52CV with Transducer – Best Fish Finder for Lakes
The Echomap Chirp 52Cv is equipped with an accurate and fast 5Hz GPS that provides updates every five seconds. It is capable of saving up to 100 routes and 5000 waypoints. The trial recording function allows you to save 50 tracks and 50,000 track points. This unit also has inbuilt Worldwide Basemap, which a series of charts that cover the US, Mexico, Canada, Central and South America, Africa, Australia and other regions. While these charts can’t be updated, you can use a MicroSD card to install more detailed charts like LakeVu HD/HD Ultra and BlueChart G2 HD/G2 Vision.
Garmin 010-01815-02 Echomap Chirp 72SV with Transducer – Best Fish Finder with Large & High-Resolution Screen
The Garmin Echomap Chirp 72SV is, unlike other units in the series, only equipped with the worldwide charts. It doesn’t have LakeVu or BlueChart charts, but you can add these later via SD card. The system includes a ClearVu transducer that is capable of scanning on a frequency of 50/77/200 kHz for 2D as well as 260/455/800 kHz for ClearVu and SideVu. The transducer has a 20-feet cable, 12-pin connector and incorporates a temperature sensor. While not as impressive as other units on this list, a depth capability of up to 800 feet is pretty good for fishing in a lake. Sonar functions are a little different from other units in the series and include Bottom Lock, Fish Alarms, Sonar Recording, Fish Symbols and A-Scope.
This unit is equipped with an internal GPS that updates on a 5Hz frequency and updates data every five seconds. It is also able to store 5000 waypoints, 100 routes and 50 tracks with 5000 track points. The Quick Contour feature uses sonar data and GPS to draw the contour as well as the depth of the lake or river you’re fishing in. This unit uses a 7″ screen with an 800×480 pixel count to provide excellent imaging.
Humminbird 409640-1 Helix 5 SI Fish Finder – Best Fish Finder for Beginners
Like other units in the Helix 5 series, the helix 5 SI fishfinder features a 5″ 480 x 800 resolution display that depicts 256 colors. The internal GPS is a slightly smaller and improved version of the 7″ 899 model. In addition to chart plotting, the unit comes preloaded with UniMap that provides 3D charts for inland rivers and lakes as well as the US coastline. There is also a micro sd slot for installing additional map software. You can store up to 45 routes or 2500 waypoints.
Garmin Echomap Chirp 52CV without Transducer – Best Budget Fish Finder
The Echomap Chirp 52CV without Transducer is similar to the 52CV reviewed above, with the main difference being that this one doesn’t come with a transducer. Garmin maximized on the power of simplicity with easy-to-install chart plotter/sonar combos, Auto-dimming display, and backlit controls. The Chirp sonar sends a continuous sweep of frequencies and interprets them individually. Like other models on this list, this unit uses an inbuilt 5 Hz GPS to track your location. It updates the data every 5 seconds to ensure that you mark waypoints easily.
Garmin Echomap Chirp 42DV without Transducer – Best Budget Fish Finder
The Garmin Echomap Chirp 42DV without transducer boasts an internal 5 Hz GPS, clear scanning sonar technology, chirp sonar and more. The high-frequency sonar does a good job of providing photographic images of marine life and underwater terrain.
The chirp sonar allows for better separation between fish and other structures. This unit comes with LakeVu HD and BlueChart G2 charts. Our main concern is that it doesn’t include a transducer.
How to Choose the Right Fish Finder
There are several factors you should consider to choose the best fish finder. Some of them are discussed below.
With increased wattage comes faster time response. A fish finder that has more wattage also makes it easier to see deeper in the water and find the fish. If you will be fishing in shallow waters, a finder with less wattage will be better. Depending on the frequency range, you will readings from 100 feet deep to more than 400 feet deep.
It is important to understand the significance of the frequency range when looking for a fish finder. Frequencies come in three types including single, dual and multiple. They come in 50, 83, 192 or 200 kHz. The higher frequencies are ideal for fishing in shallow waters while lower frequencies like 50 and 83 are great for deep water fishing. The higher the frequency, the more detail you will be able to see.
A transducer makes it possible for a fish finder to actually find fish in the water. It emits and receives sonic waves that let you know if there is any fish nearby. Once it receives the data, it sends it to the main unit before switching it to the screen. Without this feature, your fish finder is simply a fancy screen.
Every fish finder has a transducer but it’s always good to purchase an after-market transducer. This is because after-market transducers are designed to read a wider area, receive data faster and generally work better than what comes with a fish finder.
Color screens allow for greater detail in millions of colors as compared to 256 shades of gray. They are the new standard when it comes to fish finders since they make underwater life really pop out at you. It makes it easier for you to see what’s going on, especially in bright light or when the weather is cloudy and dark.
While black and white models are still available on the market, using them won’t be as enjoyable as a color screen. We would recommend one if your budget doesn’t allow you to purchase a color finder.
Another important factor to consider is the number of pixels on the screen. The higher the number of pixels, the more details you will be able to see. You want to ensure your fish finder has, at the minimum, a resolution of 240 x 160 pixels. Even then, images will not be very clear. Consider spending more on a higher resolution screen.
The screen resolution combined with the screen size will be the ultimate factor that determines the clarity of the display. While smaller screens are good choices for backup or secondary fish finders, purchasing the biggest screen with the highest resolution you can afford makes more sense.
Choosing a fish finder is easy if you know what features to look for. All of the models reviewed above are highly rated and have predominantly positive reviews from customers. The most important thing when making your purchase is to ensure that the fish finder you choose suits your needs. Don’t hesitate to tell us more about your favorite model and why you love it.