Best Fish Finder Reviews – Unbiased Reviews of Best Fishing Views

If there is a universal question that has puzzled fishermen since the dawn of time, it is that critical conundrum: Where are the fish? We have listed below the Best Fish Finder Review to solve this confusion and answer the question.

Fisherman and women now turn to sonar fish finders that send sound waves into the water and measure how long it takes that sound wave to bounce back. These devices calculate the distance to the object that the sound was discharged from, including plants, rocks, fish, rusting cars, and the bottom of the lake itself. In turn, all that data is turned into images on a screen. Depending on the style of the fish finder you purchase, the images you see will be either color-coded blips on graph-like, topographical backgrounds or, it will be small, iconic pictures of fish.

Sonar fish finders certainly improve your odds of catching more fish, but they are not perfect. They have trouble, at times, differentiating between a fish and a plant. Furthermore, some of the images on the fish finder screen can be difficult to interpret. Larger fish on some fish finders are designated by how dark the picture of the fish might be.

Expect not to mount a fish finder on your boat in the morning and catch the biggest fish in the lake in the afternoon as it takes practice to learn how to understand what the device is telling you. Furthermore, the best fish finder out there for someone trolling the lake is different from someone who stands on a dock to fish or someone who drops a worm on a hook into the lake and holds relatively still. The technology behind the different devices is slightly different, so you are essentially comparing apples to oranges when looking at them side by side.

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sonarfish Best Fish Finder Review

All about Fish Finder

Take our word on it as there are a lot of choices out there, and we have compiled the best fish finder review as a great time saver for you. However, it makes more sense for us to tell you the best in each category of fish finder than to show you a dozen in each category. Furthermore, we are going to look at the best fish finders for the average recreational fishermen and women – fish finders in the $200 to $300 range. If you spend a lot more than that, you are likely a commercial fisherman or someone with a charter fishing tour business. If that is who you are, you should be delving into more technical discussions than this article is intended to provide. All of these recommended units are available on Amazon, and none of them will break the bank. Our top recommendation costs about $300. Our most affordable recommendation costs $87.57 the last time we looked. Now let us reveal our five top choices for fish finders. First, we will just take a glance at each one. Then we will provide the best fish finder review that details why we liked them so much. From priciest to most affordable, here we go: Ready, set, cast!

The Raymarine Dragonfly Pro CHIRP Fish Finder With Built-in GPS and WiFi with Navionics+ Charts and Transducer

Current price on Amazon: $379.38 (with free shipping)

This fish finder has all the right bells and whistles, including WiFi capacity, which adds tremendously to the versatility of the unit. It has one of the most sophisticated mapping systems available for recreational fishermen, and just as important, it is one of the easiest there is to understand. The map looks like a handheld marine chart with a familiar layout for ease of daily use. Additionally, the Ray-marine Dragonfly fish-finder is very durable and has several mounting options, which will save you from the challenges of having to change its reading positions. It also has some of the best fish finder review ratings as a result of its functionality and features.

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The Hummingbird 4100210 HELIX 5 CHIRP GPS G2 Fish Finder

Current price on Amazon: $279.83 (with free shipping)

Hummingbird makes a variety of very sophisticated fish finders, and this is our favorite. It features an impressive 5-inch color WVGA screen display that gives you a ton of information at a glance. It also features a built-in GPS and a micro SD card slot that adds even more fabulous options, not the least of which is the ability to map the body of water you are fishing and to identify and save “hot spots.” That means if you caught your biggest fish of the day or the most in one spot, this fish finder could lead you back to the same spot in your next outing. With such unique features, it is no wonder that it receives some of the best fish finder review ratings.

Deeper Smart Portable Fish Finder For Smartphone or Tablet

Current price on Amazon: $200

cellphone Best Fish Finder Review

How can you argue with a cast-able sonar device that has a four-star rating with one of the best fish finder review comments containing 1,399 reviews listed on Amazon?. Yes, the four-star rating could be higher, but that is such an enormous number of reviews that the accuracy is unquestioned. The margin of error after close to 1,400 reviews has got to be pretty small. Of course, it is famous for several reasons that bear out when you use it. It is highly portable, very distinct, and readable on the screen and boasts the ability to find and mark “anything up to 3in bodies in water up to a depth of 130 feet.” Indeed, many weekend warriors are going to find a use for a fish finder that can find a minnow 130 feet below your boat (the length of some 30-story buildings).

Technical specifications aside, this fish finder’s transducer will feed the data to your smartphone, which means that many fishermen have already purchased the bulk of the hardware needed for the Deeper Smart Portable Fish Finder. If you do not have a smartphone, the purchase of a $100 tablet will still allow you to use it. This means the company is saving you money by dovetailing with a device you already own. You get a lot of value for your money that way.

Garmin Striker 4 Built-in Fish Finder

Current price on Amazon: $107.99

This four and a half starfish finder comes from the company that produces top-rated and affordable golf course mapping devices that tell golfers in tens of thousands of locations how far they are from the green. Garmin, in effect, knows what they are doing and prices their units from very affordable to pricey. In monetary terms, this an incredible unit that uses a split-screen to show you the cone-shape focus of the sonar’s transducer (the component that sends and receives signals) in the top half and images of fish with a light, blue background in the bottom half. It will take an outing or two to get used to the screen, but the device is still effortless to use. The company calls this “the power of simplicity” as for them, simple is money in the bank. It also allows them to sell variations that include small, medium, and larger devices, ranging from 3.5 inches to seven-inch screens. Just like a television screen, fish finder screens are listed by measuring the screen on a diagonal axis.

Furthermore, Garmin’s fish finder also uses the latest CHIRP Sonar, which means you enjoy a continuously sweeping system that allows for sharper images. This fish finder is also one of the more versatile on the market, especially for the price. This is because it is useful for stationary fishing, for instance, ice fishing or dock fishing, as well as fishing from a boat. It is for these reasons that this device makes it to our list of the best fish finder review.

Hawk-Eye Fish Trax 1X Portable Dot Matrix Fish Finder

Current price on Amazon: $77.57

For a handheld fish finder, the Hawk-Eye Fish Trax 1X Portable is a terrific bargain. It is all the more versatile because it is so small and lightweight it will fit in the average tackle box, meaning you do not have to always take your boat with you when you go fishing. Albeit, it has a mounting system if you do want to attach it to your boat. This unit is very simple to use and gives you the basics, including the depth of the fish and the depth of the water. It uses a “Virtue View” Dot Matrix Display, which is rudimentary by some standards. That just means you have fewer bells and whistles to wade through to interpret what you are viewing.

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The Basics

Okay, now let us explain the basics of how sonar devices work so that you can make an independent judgment on what to buy when you purchase a fish finder. Similar to when you buy a computer, the first thing a salesman should ask when you show up to buy a fish finder is what you plan to use it for. Sure, you could shell out hundreds or thousands of dollars to buy something that commercial fishermen would use, and you would be the envy of your fishing buddies. But they would privately be whispering that you could have spent a lot less and still gotten all that you need.

The Ideal Fish Finder

Best Fish Finder Review

The Basics

Understanding the basics of how sonar devices work will help you make an independent judgment on what to buy when you purchase a fish finder. Similar to when you buy a computer, the first thing a salesman should ask when you show up to buy a fish finder is what do you plan to use it for. Sure, you could shell out hundreds or thousands of dollars to buy something that commercial fishermen would use, and you would be the envy of your fishing buddies. But they would privately be whispering that you could have spent a lot less and still gotten all that you need.

The Ideal Fish Finder

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CHIRP

If you have a CHIRP system, you have the latest broadband system on the market, a system that trickled down from military use to recreational use in about 2009. CHIRP stands for Compressed High-Intensity Radiated Pulse. It is frequently called a ‘game-changer’ among options for finding fish. The basic science here is that transducers send a high-energy pulse into the water and a signal that bounces back. A low-frequency pulse, for instance, 50 kHz, like a low gear on a car, penetrates deeper but returns with a less distinct image. A higher frequency requires more power but comes back with a sharper image, although it is best used in shallower water. Consider, for instance, a camera that is more in focus at short distances.

At long distance, the image may be in focus, but it is so small that when you increase its size, the pixels start spreading apart and the image loses its sharpness. The CHIRP system compresses the signal so that with low wattage, it can send out a pulse that has a variety of frequencies, high and low, in the same pulse. Precisely, this is why weather stations all now boast that their systems register the ‘Doppler effect,’ which allows a compressed signal to scan a variety of frequencies at the same time. The energy pulse is also of a much longer duration, and the more extended signal returns with much more data than a shorter signal. So, you get more compressed information,  which means your software can give you much greater accuracy.

Power and Frequency

Best Fish Finder Review

At this point, we can now understand where power and frequency interact. The more power, the stronger the signal sent, giving you cleaner images in deep water. The higher the frequency (250 kHz compared to 50 kHz) means a sharper image, but it also reduces the depth that your scanner can focus on. Cut the frequency in half, and you roughly double the depth your scanner will read. But increasing power can make up the difference. How does this apply to you? Well, handheld devices are run from batteries, which limits the power of the energy pulse.

The Rest of the Package

The rest of the package is hardware and software. Indeed, every company has its boasting points. Your concerns should be ease of use, bells and whistles, size and resolution of the screen, durability, flexibility, waterproof and floating capabilities and price

* SPECS / Pros and Cons / And A Few More Recommendations

After listing our favorites from least to most expensive, let us look at the specifications in reverse order, from least expensive to most.

1. Hawk-Eye Fish Trax 1X Portable Dot Matrix Fish Finder

Current price on Amazon: $77.57

SPECS And Features

This unit is small, fundamental, portable, and ideal for thrifty or beginning fishermen and women. It includes:

  • VirtuView Dot Matrix Black And White Display
  • Water Depth Detection
  • Fish Depth Identification
  • The Check can be handheld or mounted on a boat
  • The Check operates on two frequencies – 83 kHz, beneficial for deep water, and 200 kHz, more useful in shallow water.
  • The check  range: 1.5 feet to 240 feet deep.

PROS:

  • The price is hard to beat
  • It is durable, made with a rugged rubberized plastic shell
  • Small and portable (6 in. x 3 in. x 2 in.)
  • The check is versatile, with a range that will suit most fishing

CONS:

  • Not so great in salt water
  • The screen is tiny, so the images are often clustered together
  • Battery-powered (although 4 AAA batteries last 30 hours)
  • check while sensitivity levels give you range, you have to adjust them frequently if the depth of the water changes.

2. Garmin Striker 4 Built-in Fish Finder

Current price on Amazon: $107.99

SPECS And Features:

  • Handheld with small, 3.5 inches screen, 480 horizontal x 320 vertical resolution
  • HVGA color screen that is back-lit
  • Dual Frequency CHIRP sonar
  • Check coverage: 200 kHz at 15 degrees and 77 kHz at 45 degrees
  • Check range: Freshwater depth 1,600 feet/saltwater depth 750 feet
  • The Check power is 200 W
  • The Check includes a GPS

PROS:

  • Accurate, easy to installation
  • The color-screen unit, which makes it very readable for the money
  • Includes GPS
  • Check accurately in deep and shallow water
  • Check extremely well priced

CONS:

  • Cables are fragile
  • Difficult to mount in some situations
  • GPS does not include maps
  • check instructions are unclear

3. Deeper Smart Portable Fish Finder For Smartphone or Tablet

Current price on Amazon: $200

SPECS And Features:

  • Bluetooth connected, wireless, castable, portable
  • Compatible with iOS and Android tablets or smartphones
  • Due to the above: Can be deployed with large, high-resolution, color screens
  • The Check spontaneous sonar readings that register bottom contour and fish
  • The Check also monitors water temperature

PROS:

  • Includes wireless Bluetooth connections
  • Works off of Smartphone or Tablet, which means you have already paid for the monitor
  • Compatible with Android and iOS systems
  • Check rugged: Works under low and high-temperature conditions
  • Check every detailed software renderings
  • Check works with rechargeable batteries

CONS:

  • Bluetooth connection may be unreliable
  • Lacks a reset button when you lose connection
  • Water penetration problems
  • Too heavy for some casting conditions
  • Check instructions are unclear

4. The Hummingbird 4100210 HELIX 5 CHIRP GPS G2 Fish Finder

Current price on Amazon: $279.83 (with free shipping)

SPECS And Features:

  • 5-inch color WVGA display
  • GPS with charts and built-in Anima cartography
  • CHIRP Dual-Beam Plus Sonar System
  • Check Micro- SD card slot that increases functions
  • Check Able to record and save fishing hot spots

PROS:

  • Spacious, bright, clear, color display
  • Easy to install
  • Loaded with features (temperature reading, boat speed, depth indicators)

CONS:

  • Some find the unit tricky to learn how to use
  • Cable connections break too easily
  • GPS may be hard to use at night

5. The Raymarine Dragonfly Pro CHIRP Fish Finder With Built-in GPS and Wi-Fi with Navionics+ Charts and Transducer

Current price on Amazon: $379.38 (with free shipping)

SPECS And Features:

  • 5-inch ‘all-weather’ high-definition LED-back-lit display
  • Optically bonded display for sharper colors, sharper images
  • Streams data to the smartphone with Raymarine’s Wi-Fish mobile appearance
  • Versatile mounting system
  • Check stores up to 3,000-way-points and 15 tracks
  • Check uses the optional Micro-SD memory card for expanded storage

PROS:

  • Very high customer review ratings (4.5 stars on Amazon)
  • Considered very easy to use
  • Excellent GPS
  • Check holds image remarkably well in a moving boat
  • Check data-rich displays

CONS:

  • Truthfully, negative reviews are hard to find
  • Understanding fish indicators difficult for some
  • Requires 5 amp inline fuse that is not included
  • The check owner’s manual is not great
  • Check Somewhat large and bulky compared to others

The Back-Up Plan

Five fish finders are not a lot of choices, so it is time to throw in a back-up plan for those who find fault with the recommendations or find the local fishing outlet does not carry those products. Here, then, just in summary form, are some alternatives at various price ranges. These are units that test well and are recommended by many, even if they did not make it to our top five list.

PLAN B:

1. Lowrance GEN3 Insight Fishfinder/Chart plotter

Currently not available on Amazon

Although currently not listed on Amazon, this fish finder includes CHIRP technology, which is the game-changing sonar system that was, until ten years ago, exclusive to the military. Consider this as a long-term investment, not a gift to somebody who is not dedicated to fishing. The CHIRP system gives the software ten times data than a standard sonar pulse would do, so it returns that much more information. It allows for sharper, more exacting images, and allows for more discerning screen displays that present the size of the fish and allows for greater accuracy in general. On the downside, it is a little bit pricey but still makes it to the Plan B section of our list of the best fish finder review.

2. iBobber Wireless Bluetooth Smart Fish Finder

Current price on Amazon: $89.95

This Bluetooth oriented Bopper is affordable and uses graphically appealing software that is displayed on either your iOS or Android device. It is not as ‘professional’ as some outfits, but provides accurate readings of up to 135 feet, which a commercial fisherman would find too lightweight, but is apt to fit the needs of many recreational fishermen without any problem. On the plus side, the iBobber is very affordable. It hooks to your fishing line, so it is telling you precisely what is happening where your bait is sitting. In this way, it is limited, but at least it is focused on the right spot.

3. Venterior VT-FF001 Portable Fish Finder with Wired Sonar Sensor

Current price on Amazon: $39.99

This is a lightweight, casual, handheld fish finder that is simple to use and read. It gets very high ratings from customer reviews despite its low price. It is hard to argue with that. Additionally, it is not designed for commercial fishermen or charter boats but is terrifically suited to beginner fishermen as it works well in lakes, rivers, and saltwater. It can be used fishing off a dock, ice fishing, or from a boat. It can also remember previous settings, so you don’t reconfigure the device as you move around familiar territory. It also has some of the best fish finder reviews and ratings.

See also: Top 5 Best Fish Finder