6 Things to Consider When Buying a Fish Finder

When it comes to getting out on the lake and going fishing, we tend to imagine tranquil scenes involving people sitting on boats, and enjoying a low-tech day on the water. With the bevy of fish finding equipment, there’s an argument to be made that all of these beeping instruments take away from the pure joy anglers get of just enjoying nature and learning the patterns of the fish from scratch.
There’s also the argument to be made that fishing without catching any fish isn’t fun at all. Not to mention, a fish finder will only do part of your job for you. You still have to interpret the results, pick the right bait, and actually catch the fish you’re after. A fish finder is a great tool that will help you, but you’ve still got to do the work.
So, here are 6 things to consider when you’re in the market for buying a fish finder:

What are my goals with this fish finder?

Aside from finding fish, what other things are important for you to track? Some fish finders (which are also sometimes called depth finders) measure stats like how fast you’re traveling in a boat, the water temperature, and of course sonar readings of varying clarity to help you make out structures and fish to better help you catch fish and identify where they may be nesting, spawning, or just hanging out.

What’s my budget for a fish finder?

Figure out what fish finder fits your budget, and which features you can and cannot compromise on. If you fish for fun every once in awhile, buying a lot of fancy gear may not be the best move until you become more of a veteran fisher. Or, you may want to start out with a more simple model.

​Should I get built-in GPS?

If you do a lot of boat fishing, you may want to consider getting GPS built-in. Yes, it definitely bumps up the price, but in the event that you get lost and your phone dies or doesn’t have service, it could be an important feature if you spend a lot of time out on the water in your boat alone.

Should I get a portable or mountable fish finder?

If you fish from the shore or rent boats for fishing on the water, a portable fish finder is the best bet for you. It’s also a great option for those who are on a budget. It’s not as detailed or as accurate as most of the models that actually are mounted on a boat, but it’s still a viable option.
If you’re a boat owner and spend a lot of time on the water, the investment in buying a mountable fish finder will pay off because it’s a lot more stable. The portable fish finders often come with an unstable suction cup mount, which is definitely not as helpful as just mounting the thing on your boat.

Should I get a 3D fish finder? 

If you want the absolute full picture of what's around your boat and where the fish are compared to the bottom of the lake or wherever you’re fishing, you may want to consider getting a fish finder that presents images in 3D. The sonar capabilities on these units also often use color to differentiate between the fish and other objects to help you figure out exactly where you want to cast your bait. However, this advanced imaging will cost you, so be prepared to spend some cash.

Remember that your fish finder won't tell you everything

Your instincts, knowledge of your fishing areas, and experiences fishing in your local area will be the biggest asset to your fishing expeditions. Fish finders can definitely help, but nothing truly replaces your unique experiences on the water.

See also: Best 5 Portable Fish Finders

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