How To Choose a Fish Finder

How to choose a fish finder

Technology has really made its way to all aspects of our lives, and fishing is not an exception. Fish finders are an amazing invention that allows you to easily locate your fish and multiply your catches.

When you’re shopping the best fish finders on the market, there are a few features that will help you pick the one that’ll suit you the most.

1. Transducers and Their Material

A transducer is an essential building block in every fish finder. They’re the part that sends out and receives sonar waves.

The waves that are emitted into the water and bounce off different objects to return to your transducer and provide you with all the data and information you need.

Understanding the different types of mounts will help you pick the suitable transducer mount for you.

Bigger boats will require a thru-hull mount. On the other hand, a transom mount will be suitable for most boats and is quite easy to install.

2. Beams and Cone Angles

An important aspect of the transducer is its cone angle. The cone angle determines the width of the beam emitted into the water from your boat.

The wider the cone, the larger the area your beam will cover, and the more fish that will be visible on your fish finder’s screen.

The cones of the transducer can range from as little as 9 degrees to as huge as 60 degrees.

The larger the number, of course, the more the range stays solid despite the depth.

A good average cone degree would be 20 degrees –something that fits someone who’s starting out and wants to experiment in different water depths.

Some transducers come with the ability to emit more than one cone from a single point. This includes double beam, triple beam, and even a side beam –depending on how advanced the transducer is.

The deeper and wider the water body is, the more important it is to have a transducer with multiple beams.

3. GPS capability

Although the GPS feature isn’t found on all fish finders out there, it’s a feature that’s definitely a huge bonus.

With GPS, you can mark waypoints for your return, download pre-made maps for various bodies of water and their underwater topography.

You can view all the objects beside or beneath your boat and thereby find the best fishing locations.

Some advanced ones even have advanced individualized cartography and navigation to give you a degree of customizability.

4. Quality and Size of the Display Screen

It’s important to pay attention to both the size and resolution of your display as they’ll certainly affect how well you view your information.

The minimum resolution you should settle for is 240 x 160 pixels. But of course, the higher the resolution is, the better.

In this particular aspect, you shouldn’t worry about spending some extra money as you’ll be paid back in the long run.

That’s why you should always buy the highest quality and largest display you can afford.

It's also a bonus if your display is in color and not black and white. The latter is evidently harder to read in direct sunlight, while the former will make reading and taking in the information a lot easier.

5. Ease of Use and Usability

There are two things that you should find easy to use and be comfortable with.

Firstly, the intangible system that enables you to customize the way the transducer gathers information to fine-tune the unit.

Some units give you the option to adjust the visibility and contrast of your device to fit your needs.

Secondly, think of the physical installation and the mounting processes –make sure they’re both easy.

If you’re going to fish in a kayak, canoe, or if you’re going to store your finder between fishing trips and change its location, make sure the previous point applies.

6. Water Temperature Probe

Experienced anglers definitely know how the water temperature affects the presence or absence of different kinds of fish.

Knowing the temperature beneath and around your boat will help you locate the fish you want to catch.

7. Custom Map-making Function

If you fish in spots that aren’t that popular such as a farm pond, a river, or a creek, then you’ll probably have a hard time finding maps or charts that give you details about the area.

That’s why custom map-making is a great option to create your own custom maps on the go and have a guide ready whenever you return to an area you’ve already covered.

Best Fish Finders 2019 – Buyer’s Guide

Best Fish Finder

Are you an avid angler? Are you frustrated by how you’ve followed all the tips and tricks for finding where the fish are hiding?

No matter how solid your fishing equipment is, if you can’t find where the fish are, you can never do a good job.

But thanks to the technology that can be found in the 21st century, there are other ways than asking the locals. The most reliable of which is the fish finder.

So here are the best fish finders you can find on the market.

Best Fish Finder: Comparison Chart

Fish Finder

Display Size

GPS

Raymarine Dragonfly 4 Pro

4.3 inch

Yes

Venterior Portable

2.2 inch

Yes

Deeper PRO+

N/A

Yes

Garmin Striker 4

3.5 inch

Yes

Lucky Handheld

2 inch

Yes

Garmin Striker 7sv

7 inch

Yes

Humminbird Helix 5

5 inch

Yes

Garmin Echomap Plus 73sv

7 inch

Yes

The 8 Best Fish Finders for 2019

1. Raymarine Dragonfly 4 Pro - The Best Overall Fish Finder 

Dragonfly 4 PRO Fish Finder

The Raymarine Dragonfly 4 Pro features a 4.3-inch display with a 480 x 272-pixel resolution that helps you locate fish easily.

The LED backlight makes it easy to read during any lighting conditions, even in bright sunlight.

Its colors are quite sharp and vivid while its viewing angles are wide enough to let you see for extended angles.

A very great feature on the Raymarine Dragonfly 4 Pro is the GPS functionality that allows you to see the directions underwater as well and makes a great GPS fish finder.

Moreover, it has a dual-channel sonar that provides you with a wide spectrum of everything. The CHIRP DownVision sonar produces very clear images while the second CHIRP sonar aims in on the fish.

Besides that, the Raymarine Dragonfly 4 Pro’s Pro CHIRP enables the user to stream their sonar data to the phone for real-time transmission. It can also store up to 3,000 waypoints and 15 tracks.

You can download the Raymarine Wi-Fish mobile app to keep a record of all the information. You can rewind, save, and share your catch with other anglers and upload your images instantaneously.

Finally, the Raymarine Dragonfly 4 Pro has a removable mounting ball that allows you to take it on different boats if you’d like.

Bottom Line:

This fish finder is a pretty great choice for someone who’s looking for the ultimate combination of the great features and the affordable price.

Pros

  • Fast power up
  • The screen is bright and clear
  • Removable mounting ball
  • Easy to read instructions
  • Compatible with smartphones

Cons

  • Long data cable
  • Slight polarization of the screen

2. Venterior Portable - An Excellent Portable Fish Finder

Venterior Portable Fish Finder

The best thing about the Venterior Portable Fish Finder is that its transmitter is completely waterproof. This is a great addition to your fish finder and keeps it up and running for a longer time.

However, the receiver isn’t. So you have to be cautious and keep the screen away from water.

The Wired Sonar Sensor Transducer and LCD display are only capable of detecting bait fish or fish that is smaller than 10 cm.

But by all means, it’s still pretty accurate with its water depth and fish location estimations. It also displays both tall and short weeds as well as sand and rocks on the bed of the sea.

The Venterior Portable Fish Finder comes with a couple more features that make it a favorable choice.

From the adjustable sensitivity level to the various modes (battery save, backlight, fish alarm, and unit of measure), there isn’t anything you won’t find.

It also displays water depth in both units of meters and feet and you can display range between 1m and 100m.

The round transducer comes with a 25 feet cable and has a removable transducer float.

Finally, the Venterior Portable Fish Finder automatically shuts off after 5 minutes of idleness to save on battery.

Bottom Line:

The Venterior Portable Fish Finder performs smoothly with little to no errors.

Coming with all the necessary features and accessories that provide you with convenience, it’s one of the best choices on the market.

Pros

  • Accurate depth estimation
  • Satisfactory fish estimation
  • Long battery life
  • Transmitter is waterproof
  • Has a fish alarm system

Cons

  • Resets when you shut it down

3. Deeper PRO+ - A Great Fishing Sonar

Deeper Smart Sonar PRO+ Fish Finder

The Deeper PRO+ Smart Sonar is compatible with any smartphone or tablet that runs iOS 8.0 or later as well as Android 4.0 or later.

This enables the user to view the sonar feedback right on their mobile device. The connected app also gives you features like a Solunar Forecast calendar, a weather forecast, fish notes, and more.

The device work on WiFi so you can use it just about anywhere. It also emits its own WiFi field. This extends the device’s connection range up to 330 feet (100 meters).

Moreover, the Deeper PRO+ Smart Sonar weighs only 3.5 ounces and has a 2.5-inch diameter which makes it quite portable.

The ABS construction makes your device able to give you tough, impact-resistant performance.

The solid battery allows your device to operate for 6 whole hours, with 2-hour charge time.

The high resolution gives you clear feedback while the 15 scans per second guarantees you don’t miss out on anything.

In addition, you can even use your Deeper PRO+ Smart Sonar as an ice fishing flasher that enables you to take a look at the water column beneath your hole.

Finally, the Deeper PRO+ Smart Sonar has a bathymetric mapping. This extends your ability from merely viewing lake maps to create your own.

This allows you o mark hotspots, make a record of the sea bed, and accurately know where your fish will be hiding.

Bottom Line:

The Deeper PRO+ Smart Sonar is a fish finder that gives you an amazing value. It’s very useful and does a precise job at locating fish.

Pros

  • Great build quality
  • Stays connected even over longer casting ranges
  • Offshore-ready sonar depth
  • Superb built-in GPS

Cons

  • A little costly
  • Not suited for large boats
  • The base model doesn’t include night fishing cover

4. Garmin Striker 4 - An Affordable Fish Finder

Garmin Striker 4 Fish Locator

The Garmin Striker 4 comes with a Clearvu Scanning Sonar that shows you a great deal of what’s in the water around your boat.

The high-frequency sonar is capable of working on two frequencies: 50/200 kHz or 77/200 kHz to give you an almost photographic image of the objects, fish, and structures.

The CHRIP sonar emits a continuous sweep of frequencies to widen the range of the information you receive.

The keyed interface and the dedicated buttons give it a minimalistic design and make it easy to use and install.

With a 3.5-inch display, you’re going to get an IPX7 water rating.

You can use the waypoint map to easily view, mark, and navigate to locations like brush piles, docks, and stumps.

Its maximum depth is a whopping 1,600 feet in freshwater and 750 feet in saltwater which makes it a great depth finder.

Finally, the Garmin Striker 4 comes with a built-in flasher so that you can view your sonar data in the classic format. This makes it perfect for ice fishing or vertical jigging.

Bottom Line:

The Garmin Striker 4 does an exceptional job at being a fish finder.
It’s the ideal choice for an entry-level device or a recreational angler looking for a budget fish finder.

Pros

  • Dual-frequency capability
  • 2D CHIRP sonar
  • High-sensitivity GPS
  • Saves up to 5,000 waypoints
  • Highly affordable

Cons

  • The cover isn’t included
  • Doesn’t have NMEA connectivity

5. Lucky Handheld - The Best Fish Finder for a Kayak

LUCKY Handheld Fish Finder

The Lucky Handheld Kayak Fishfinder has the ability to read and display the depth of the water, estimated locations of fish, short and tall weeds, as well as sand and rocks on the bottom.

Its detecting range extends from 3 feet (1 meter) up to 328 feet (100 meters) below the fishing sonar transducer. It also comes with a 25 ft cable and removable transducer float.

It’s quite a versatile device as you can use it for off-shore fishing, kayak fishing, ice fishing, lake fishing, or even sea fishing.

It has 5 sensitivity options, a battery saves mode, a backlight mode, and a fish school alarm that lets you know when to cast out.

Typically, its battery lasts about 4-5 hours.

You can hang the device conveniently around your neck.

Finally, it comes with a 12-month warranty.

Bottom Line:

Even though the Lucky Handheld Kayak Fishfinder can use rechargeable batteries as a better replacement for the short-lived ones, it still has some pretty solid features for such a cheap device.

It’s great for anyone that’s tight on budget or a budding amateur and generally as a fish finder for a kayak.

Pros

  • Versatility of function
  • Quite cheap
  • Transducer gives you a great picture with a 45-degree cone range
  • Adjustable sensitivity (5 options)
  • Fish alarm lets amateurs when to cast out

Cons

  • Only reads meters and can’t be changed to feet 
  • Batteries need frequent replacement

6. Garmin Striker 7sv  - A Great Fish Finder for the Money

Garmin Striker 7sv

The Garmin Striker 7sv comes with a 7-inch color display that gives you detailed, real-time information regarding the data that’s collected by the sonar technology.

The device is capable of working at two frequencies: 77/200 kHz or 50/200 kHz 2D CHIRP sonar (Mid CHIRP and High CHIRP).

Furthermore, there are various 2D sonar functions available including an A-Scope, Bottom Lock, Flasher, Fish Symbols, and Split Zoom.

Its WiFi capabilities allow you to update it on-the-fly as well as pair it with smart mobile devices.

In addition, the QuickDraw contours feature allows you to take full advantage of the best live sonar mapping and store up to 2 million acres of 1-foot contour data.

Bottom Line:

The Garmin Striker 7sv smartly chooses the features it has to offer to spare you ones you might not need and focus on the CHIRP technology for 2D, SideVu, and DownVu.

It’s true that it has the minimum navigation and connectivity features but it gives you one of the best sonars out there at an affordable price.

Pros

  • Dual-frequency capability
  • Versatility of functions
  • Temperature graph function
  • Saves up to 5,000 waypoints
  • Easy to use and install

Cons

  • Lacks NMEA connectivity
  • Resets the settings every time you shut it down

7. Humminbird 410210-1 Helix 5 - Best GPS Fish Finder Combo

Humminbird Helix 5 Fish Finder

The Humminbird 410210-1 Helix 5 is a high-quality fish finder that gives you the best GPS fishfinder combo.

Its waterproof and removable cover has a Micro SD card slot behind it to store your marked locations.

Both the side imaging and down imaging combined gives you a very vivid view of the depth and all the structures and contours.

You can choose between two modes depending on what your aim is. If you want bigger fish, go for the “Clear Mode”, while if you’re looking for a school of fish go for the “Max Mode”.

A drawback, however, is that it doesn’t come with a standby mode, save or screen saver mode like most available devices.

Its display comes with out-of-the-box color accuracy. You get an 800 x 480-pixel resolution on a 5-inch Ultra HD widescreen LED-backlit display.

Combining the CHIRP sonar and transducer technology, the Humminbird Helix 5 gives a superb performance.

Moreover, it doesn’t cover only one frequency but a range of frequencies with better clarity and accurate separation between the water structures and fish.

The large transducer can be secured thanks to the 15-millimeter magnetic transducer mount.

The transducer lets you know the temperature of the water, besides being capable of going down to 1,500 feet deep in water.

The built-in GPS technology facilitates navigating around any lake.

Furthermore, the fish alarm in the Fish ID+ mode allows you to know the size of the fish you find to know if it’s large, medium, or small.

Finally, the Humminbird Helix 5’s battery life is pretty impressive as it lasts 7 whole hours. This is more than enough time to finish your fishing adventure.

Bottom Line:

The Humminbird 410210-1 Helix 5 is a fish finder and chart plotter with a lot of functional features.

It’s one of the devices of a higher price on the list, but it’s definitely worth every penny as it’s suitable for a variety of boat sizes and is suitable for both freshwater and saltwater.

Pros

  • Features DualBeam Plus sonar with SwitchFire
  • CHIRP and temperature capable
  • Can reach a depth of 1,500 feet with the included transducer
  • Easy to install

Cons

  • Doesn’t include a unit cover

8. Garmin Echomap Plus 73sv- A High-End Fish Finder

Garmin ECHOMAP Plus 73sv Fish Finder

The Garmin Echomap Plus 73SV comes with a bright, sunlight-readable 7-inch touchscreen with keyed-assist.

It also includes a transducer for Garmin high, full CHIRP traditional sonar, CHIRP ClearVu, and CHIRP SideVu, besides being compatible with Panoptix all-seeing sonar. (The Panoptix is sold separately).

The Garmin Echomap Plus 73SV comes with preloaded LakeVu HD maps that include more than 17,000 total lakes, reservoirs, and rivers, 13,000 with 1’ contours.

You can get multiple options for your sonar frequencies: CHIRP, low, mid, and high.

Furthermore, the built-in QuickDraw Contours mapping software is capable of creating personalized fishing maps with 1’ contours as you fish.

Finally, you get free access to OneChart, smart notifications, and Garmin QuickDraw community data.

Bottom Line

The Garmin Echomap Plus 73SV gives you some exceptional mapping freedom compared to other devices. Its extensive features justify its high price point.

Pros

  • Bright touchscreen
  • Comes with preloaded LakeVu HD maps
  • Built-in QuickDraw Contours mapping
  • Built-in WiFi can be used to pair with free ActiveCaptain app

Cons

  • Doesn’t come with an NMEA 2000 adapter cable

How to Choose a Fish Finder:

These next few things are the factors you should consider when you’re setting out on buying a fish finder.

GPS capability

This feature is important to let you know your location as well as the objects beside or beneath your boat. Consequently, helping you find the best fishing locations and navigating the water.

Quality of the display screen and its size

If you can’t easily see and read the data that your fish finder collects, it will be useless. Make sure you get a fish finder with a high-resolution screen that produces color images.

Moreover, the bigger the size of the screen, the better you’ll be able to view images when you’re close to the unit or at the other end of the boat.

Ease of use

This divides into two aspects. The first is the intangible system and how easy it is to customize the way the transducer collects information for fine-tuning the unit.

Look for the ones that allow you to change the display colors to adjust the contrast and visibility according to your needs.

The second aspect is how easy it is to physically install the fish finder and mount it to your boat.

This is especially true if you’re going to change the location of your fish finder often, or if you’re using a kayak or canoe that you’re going to store between one fishing trip and the next.

Flasher

Vertical jigging or ice fishing can’t happen without a flasher.

It helps you get rid of any unnecessary information and puts all the focus on your fish and your lure.

Water temperature probe

Knowing the water temperature can give you a lot of indications about the fish behavior and where they may be hiding.

Custom map-making function

If you’re fishing in a smaller farm pond, a creek, or a river, it’s usually harder to find charts or maps that provide you with your desired details.

That’s when the custom map-making function shines and allows you to make your own custom map on the go.

Preloaded charts and maps

This spares you the need to buy separate maps for your device, especially that some map packages are pretty pricey.

That’s why preloaded maps add a lot of value to the fish finder that has them.

FAQs

How to read a fish finder?

The direction of reading: You should know that the reflection of SONAR will be displayed from the right to the left. This means that the latest reading would be on the screen’s right.

Water depth and temperature: The upper left side of the screen displays 2 numbers. The right-most one represents the depth of the water and the other indicates the temperature of water beneath your fishing boat.

Reading soft and hard bottom: The red-colored wavy indicates the surface of the water body while the green layer beneath it indicates that beneath the water surface, there’s a soft bottom.

Reading the position of underwater structures and trees: If the green lines are visible in the midst of the red-colored wavy ones, then the reading is indicating the position of a structure beneath the water and close to the bottom.

The left part of the screen may show treelike objects, those are trees located beneath your fishing boat.

​​​​How do fish finders detect fish?

The fish finder basically sends electric signals to the submersible. The converter, then, transmits the signal as waves.

When a sound wave hits an object, it reflects back to the transducer for interpretation.

The recorded sonar, then, is returned on deck to the fish finder that displays the information in different shapes, forms, and sizes.

​​​​Do fish hear sonar?

Indications show that gamefish aren’t able of hearing high-frequency waves of SONAR.

What does CHIRP mean on A GPS fish finder?

It’ short for Compressed High-Intensity Radiated Pulse. It’s basically sending electric signals to discover objects underwater.

What is down view sonar?

As the name suggests, it’s the ability to provide a detailed, picture-like image of the bottom and structures below a boat.

​​​​What is the Lowrance Structure Scan?

This is the ability that the add-on module for Lowrance fishfinder/chartplotter devices employs by using Broadband technology, high-frequency, a very-narrow-beam transducer to combine DownScan with Side Scan data from either side of the boat to build a better image of the world beneath your boat.

​​​​What is Humminbird Down Imaging?

This is where the sonar uses a razor-thin beam to take a sonar snapshot of the area down to 400 feet to the left and to the right of your location.

This image, then, is added to others that you’ve taken before so that an incredibly detailed view of the lake bottom is built.

Which Is The Best Fish Locator Overall?

The fish finders on this list are all pretty effective and efficient.

But if you’re looking for the one that gives you the best fish finder for the money, opt for the Raymarine Dragonfly 4 Pro.

If you’re looking for the one that reaches the most depth, then you should go for the Garmin Striker 4, while the Lucky Handheld Kayak would be the best entry-level fish finder, and the Venterior Portable –as the name suggests- would be the best for portability.

The Garmin Echomap Plus 73SV is the fish finder with the bet mapping capabilities, but you have to be willing to expand your budget a little.

Saltwater Fishing Tips, Tricks & Techniques

saltwater fishing tips and tricks

If you’re going to set out to sea, you need to learn a couple of things to do your fishing optimally.

In this guide, we’ll tell you all you need to know about hooks, lures, techniques, lines, and saltwater spinning reels.

Tips on How to Fish in Saltwater

Know Your Environment

The first thing you should be aware of is the difference between freshwater and saltwater fishing.

If you’re fishing in saltwater, your reel, line guides, and any metallic hardware attached to the rod are all prone to corrosion and rust that greatly reduces the efficiency of your equipment.

Don’t stress too much about this though. You can easily extend the longevity of your fishing equipment by washing it down with fresh water every time you’re back from a saltwater fishing trip.

Finishing up by spraying the reel with silicon-based lubricants like WD-40 also helps extend its durability.

Although saltwater spinning reels usually have a sturdier build than ones designated for freshwater fishing, you still should do your part in keeping it functional.

Keep Your Hook and Bait in Proportion

Always make sure your hook size is close to the size of the bait you plan to use.

If it’s too big, it’ll look out of place and deter the fish away.

If it’s too small, a fish could miss the hook during a strike and run away with the bait.

Generally, the best hooks you can use in saltwater are the J hook, the live bait hook, and the circle hook.

J hooks are best for fishing with strip bait or chunk bait and enable you to apply multiple hooks to the bait to secure it.

On the other hand, live bait hooks allow your bait to swim freely to give off a natural air that induces a lot of strikes from hungry fish.

And finally, circle hooks are best for hooking in the corner of your catch instead of going to deep into its gullet. This is very beneficial when it comes to releasing the fish without inflicting any damage on it.

A Weak Knot is Not a Reliable Knot

Learning to tie strong knots is crucial when it comes to keeping your main line connected to your hook or lure, and consequently crucial to catching big saltwater fish.

You can use the double Palomar for its ease of tying and reliability. The uni knot is another good choice as it’s firm, easy to tie, and versatile. The Bimini twist is great because it maintains all of its strength when ties.

Use The Tides To Your Favor

It’s always a wise choice to arrive at your fishing spot around an hour before the scheduled peak of the high tide and continue fishing for around half an hour from then on.

Test The Drag

After threading your line through the guides, pull it off gradually while holding the rod at about 45 degrees.

If the tip of the rod moves up and done as you pull the line against the drag, you should have it checked at the tackle shop.

Test The Guides for Cracks

Detecting cracked guides is a bit of a tough job as you can only tell if the rod is under load.

Pull a piece of cotton wool or stocking through the guides to check for any cracks and send your rod to the tackle shop if you do find any so that you avoid any damage to your lines.

Make Use of The locals’ Knowledge

The local tackle fish would probably have info regarding the area you plan to fish in. They’ll provide you with the best strategies and the best baits to use at the time of the year.

Explore Sunken Objects

You should get yourself informed on the places and structures your fish like to hang out around.

You can find a lot of information on the internet that guides you to both natural and artificial structures in the area you’re fishing in.

Find The Right Boat

A boat is a pretty important factor when it comes to saltwater fishing. Depending on the number of people that are going to be on the trip, you can be in a simple rowboat or in a yacht.

Make sure you’re on a sturdy boat that won’t be too affected by strong waves, some rocks, or bumps on the beach sand.