The Best Fish Finder of 2022: Top 10 Tested & Reviewed

Kenneth ReavesEdited by: Kenneth Reaves
Michael DarmontReviewed by: Michael Darmont

Last Update:

The Rundown

Best Overall: Garmin Striker 4 (click to view)
“Providing enhanced visual capabilities and ease of navigation using Clear Vu technology and GPS mapping, the Garmin Striker 4 also features a simple control interface – best for most users of fish finders.”

Best For Bank Fishing: ReelSonar Bluetooth Fish Finder (click to view)
“The ReelSonar Smart Fish Finder is Bluetooth-capable, has long battery life for all-day usage, and has 135’ maximum depth for ample versatility in freshwater – just what those who forgo the use of a boat and fish from the dock or bank need.”

Best Mid-Range Sonar: Garmin Striker Plus 4 (click to view)
“Featuring a dual-beam transducer, GPS mapping, and an ultra-bright 4.3″ display screen for ease of viewing with excellent picture definition as well as easy lake navigation – the Striker Plus 4 is perfect for anglers seeking a versatile, durable, yet easy-to-use fishfinder.”

Check Other Models on Amazon

For many avid anglers, the modern fish finder has become a valuable tool as a rod and reel.

Fish finders allow anglers to locate pockets of fish, as well as an underwater structure that offers significant promise. In our increasingly modernized world, fish finders are already a must-have whenever one heads for their nearest lake or river.

There are a lot of fish finders to choose from so we rounded up 10 of the best out there to help you decide. The best fish finders are highly reliable, produce quality images that are easy to decipher, and allow multiple waypoints to be marked for future reference.

Sources researched
12
Sources researched
Customer reviews
16,719
Customer reviews
Hours spent testing
25
Hours spent testing
Products tested
10
Products tested
Product Name
Best Overall
Best Mid-Range Sonar
Our Rank
Ranked #1
Ranked #2
Ranked #3
Thumbnail
Garmin 010-01550-00 Striker 4 with Transducer, 3.5" GPS Fishfinder with Chirp Traditional Transducer
ReelSonar CGG-MY-IBOBBER iBobber Wireless Bluetooth Smart Fish Finder for iOS and Android devices,Classic,Small
Garmin Striker Plus 4 with Dual-Beam transducer, 010-01870-00
Our Grade
Our Rating 96/100
Our Rating 93/100
Our Rating 91/100
Feature 1
Clear Vu technology for enhanced visual capabilities
Bluetooth capable for easy pairing with all IOS and Android devices
Dual-beam transducer for excellent picture definition
Feature 2
Simple control interface for ease of use
Lengthy battery life for all-day usage
GPS mapping for trouble-free lake navigation
Best Overall
Product Name
Our Rank
Ranked #1
Thumbnail
Garmin 010-01550-00 Striker 4 with Transducer, 3.5" GPS Fishfinder with Chirp Traditional Transducer
Our Grade
Our Rating 96/100
Feature 1
Clear Vu technology for enhanced visual capabilities
Feature 2
Simple control interface for ease of use
Best For Bank Fishing
Our Rank
Ranked #2
Thumbnail
ReelSonar CGG-MY-IBOBBER iBobber Wireless Bluetooth Smart Fish Finder for iOS and Android devices,Classic,Small
Our Grade
Our Rating 93/100
Feature 1
Bluetooth capable for easy pairing with all IOS and Android devices
Feature 2
Lengthy battery life for all-day usage
Best Mid-Range Sonar
Product Name
Our Rank
Ranked #3
Thumbnail
Garmin Striker Plus 4 with Dual-Beam transducer, 010-01870-00
Our Grade
Our Rating 91/100
Feature 1
Dual-beam transducer for excellent picture definition
Feature 2
GPS mapping for trouble-free lake navigation

Best Fish Finder Reviews

  1. Best Overall: Garmin Striker 4
  2. Best For Bank Fishing: ReelSonar Bluetooth Fish Finder
  3. Best Mid-Range Sonar: Garmin Striker Plus 4
  4. Easiest To Mount: Lowrance HOOK2
  5. Best Imaging: Humminbird PiranhaMAX 4 DI
  6. Most Powerful Output: Garmin Striker 4cv
  7. Best Budget: Deeper Start
  8. Best High End: Humminbird HELIX 7
  9. Most Reliable: Garmin Striker Plus 5cv
  10. Best Sonar: Lowrance HOOK Reveal 5x

Garmin Striker 4

Best Overall Fish Finder: Simple to use, yet comprehensive in features

Garmin 010-01550-00 Striker 4 with Transducer, 3.5' GPS Fishfinder with Chirp Traditional Transducer
Check Price on Amazon

Check Price on Bass Pro

KEY FEATURES

  • Clear Vu technology for enhanced visual capabilities
  • GPS mapping for ease of navigation
  • Simple control interface for ease of use

The Garmin Striker 4 is likely to be an excellent option for those new to fish finder use. This unit features a simple-to-operate interface, which should be easy to get the hang of for even the most inexperienced of users. In fact, with only an afternoon’s worth of use, most anglers become proficient enough in using this unit that they can operate it with little to no issue.

CLICK TO SEE MORE

Another noteworthy feature of the Garmin Striker 4 is its GPS-enabled capabilities. So if you stumble upon an excellent site during your next outing on the lake, simply mark it as a waypoint, and return to it time and time again. This is also quite handy when attempting to navigate new waters where you have not previously ventured. Simply drop a waypoint at the boat ramp you launched, and travel toward this location should you become turned around.

The Garmin Striker 4 is also renowned for its depth of clarity, which comes as a byproduct of Garmin’s Clear Vu sonar system. This sonar operates at 200 kHz and probes to a maximum depth of 1,600 feet in freshwater and 750 feet in saltwater. This should be plenty deep enough for most any fishing application, as crisp, clean images will be given to depths well over where many game fish species are found.

This best fish finder features a 3.5″ color display, which provides an outstanding definition, and is easy to decipher. In addition, the unit’s resolution is high enough that anglers should be able to key in on subtle changes in bottom composition and any form of submerged structure.

ReelSonar Bluetooth Smart Fish Finder

Best Fish Finder For Bank Fishing: A simple fish finder that keeps bank and dock anglers in the game

ReelSonar CGG-MY-IBOBBER iBobber Wireless Bluetooth Smart Fish Finder for iOS and Android devices,Classic,Small
Check Price on Amazon

Check Price on Bass Pro

KEY FEATURES

  • Bluetooth capable for easy pairing with all IOS and Android devices
  • Lengthy battery life for all-day usage
  • 135′ maximum depth for ample versatility in freshwater

The ReelSonar Wireless Bluetooth Smart Fish Finder should be a hit with all who forgo the use of a boat and fish from the dock or bank. This unit can be placed into the water from a fixed position, offering substantial opportunities for those who cannot use traditional fixed transducer units. Rather than using a control head like many competing sonar kits, the ReelSonar Smart Fish Finder pairs to a mobile device to provide real-time data.

CLICK TO SEE MORE

One of the most favorable characteristics of the ReelSonar Wireless Bluetooth Smart Fish Finder is that it can be used reliably by anyone who has access to a smartphone or tablet. This best fish finder relies upon Bluetooth connectivity to put its findings right in the palm of your hand. This unit is compatible with both IOS and Android products and pairs with such devices in an effortless fashion, thereby providing streamlined operation.

The ReelSonar Wireless Bluetooth Smart Fish Finder has an operating depth of up to 135 feet, which should make it useful in almost any freshwater fishing application. Many freshwater reservoirs do not reach depths above the maximum depth specified for this product, likely making it ideal for inland fisheries. However, this is probably a product off the table for those who fish primarily in saltwater.

This sonar unit operates off a rechargeable battery, which saves money over purchasing conventional disposable batteries. The ReelSonar Wireless Bluetooth Smart Fish Finder can run for 10 hours on a single charge, making it viable for all-day use.

Garmin Striker Plus 4

Best Mid-Range Sonar: Rich in features, yet subdued in cost

Garmin Striker Plus 4 with Dual-Beam transducer, 010-01870-00
Check Price on Amazon

Check Price on Bass Pro

KEY FEATURES

  • Dual-beam transducer for excellent picture definition
  • GPS mapping for trouble-free lake navigation
  • Ultra-bright 4.3″ display screen for ease of viewing

The Striker Plus 4 serves as a further extension of Garmin’s ultra-popular Striker line of fish finders and should be a perfect fit for any angler who is seeking a versatile yet easy-to-use fish finder. This unit utilizes a dual-beam transducer to produce vivid depictions with a substantial degree of definition. The Striker Plus 4 also offers extensive GPS mapping capabilities, allowing anglers to mark waypoints and observe contour lines on virtually any body of water.

CLICK TO SEE MORE

As mentioned, the Garmin Striker Plus 4 features a dual-beam transducer for enhanced detection capabilities. This feature is nearly unheard of at this price point, making the Striker Plus 4 valuable for anglers of every skill type. As a byproduct of this technology, the Striker Plus 4 provides excellent target separation and can detect contour fluctuations of as little as 1′.

This best fish finder features a wealth of GPS-enabled capabilities, making it possible for anglers to drop waypoints whenever they have located a point of interest. This unit also comes preloaded with Garmin’s quickdraw contour mapping software, making it possible to up to 2 million acres of referenceable contour maps on a single unit.

Most anglers are also likely to appreciate the Striker 4 Plus’ easy-to-use interface, which allows simple navigation through various menu screens and maps. This unit is also renowned for its sizable 4.3″ screen, with a 272 X 480-pixel count. The sum of these features should allow this unit to be viewed concisely, even on the sunniest of days.

Lowrance HOOK2 4x

Easiest To Mount Fish Finder: A sonar unit that fits virtually every application

HOOK2 4X - 4-inch Fish Finder with Bullet Skimmer Transducer
Check Price on Amazon

Check Price on Bass Pro

KEY FEATURES

  • Wide-angle sonar cone for a greater range of detection
  • Auto tuning capabilities for ease of operation
  • Multiple points of mount for ease of installation

The Lowrance Hook2 4X should be the perfect sonar unit for anglers who have previously become agitated with the complexities of less user-friendly fish finders. This unit features cell phone-like options menus, which promote ease of navigation and quick, efficient use. This simplicity of use is further aided by Lowrance’s Bullet Skimmer transducer, which provides a broad scope of detection.

CLICK TO SEE MORE

As mentioned, the Lowrance Hook2 4X utilized a Bullet Skimmer wide scope transducer, which offers a wide-angle sonar cone, giving you double the coverage of many traditional fish finders. This is a feature that should find immense favor among competitive bass anglers, who typically cover great expanses of water in search of a few high-producing honey holes.

This best fish finder is also noteworthy for its ease of setup. A single transducer can be mounted on the transom, inside the hull, on the trolling motor, or through a scupper hole. The versatility of setup offered by this unit makes it highly versatile and promotes trouble-free use, no matter the boat to which the unit is being affixed.

Yet another notable feature of the Lowrance Hook2 4X is its ability to auto-tune to the situation at hand. Instead of being forced to tune your sonar to a particular stretch of river or creek, this unit uses the information returned to its transducer to tailor all operations to the exact circumstances encountered. This allows you to spend less time making necessary adjustments and more time catching fish.

Humminbird PiranhaMAX 4 DI

Best Imaging Fish Finder: Imaging so good that you will feel like you are watching a movie

Humminbird 410160-1 PIRANHAMAX 4 DI (Down Imaging) Fish Finder, Black
Check Price on Amazon

Check Price on Bass Pro

KEY FEATURES

  • Down imaging capabilities for a video like an image transmission
  • Dual-beam transducer for enhanced viewing capabilities
  • Large 4.3″ LCD screen for ease of observation

If you are looking for a highly detail-oriented fish finder that provides a significant degree of depth in its field of detection, then the Humminbird Piranhamax 4 DI is likely to become your new favorite form of sonar. It utilizes down imaging fish finder technology to give anglers a “bird’s eye view” of what lies directly beneath their boat. The Piranhamax 4 DI’s detection level is further bolstered by using a highly advanced dual beam transducer.

CLICK TO SEE MORE

The Humminbird Piranhamax 4 DI’s down imaging fish finder capabilities provide video-like depictions of all that takes place underwater. This technology should appeal to any highly detail-oriented angler, as one can vividly observe virtually every fine detail associated with the lake or river bottom that is being analyzed. Even details related to vegetation and bottom composition can be seen.

Another outstanding feature of this best fish finder is its dual beam sonar transducer. This dual-beam operation provides additional depth to all captured images and even allows anglers to determine the type of fish represented on the unit’s display head. The Humminbird Piranhamax 4 DI also benefits from a broader scope of coverage, thanks mainly to this same dual beam technology.

Many anglers are also likely to favor the Humminbird Piranhamax 4 DI’s large, 4.3″ Liquid Crystal Display. Images displayed on this unit’s screen are relayed in color, allowing anglers to study any information at hand in great detail.

Garmin Striker 4cv

Fish Finder With Most Powerful Output: A powerful unit that yields even more powerful results

Garmin Striker 4cv with Transducer, 4' GPS Fishfinder with CHIRP Traditional and ClearVu Scanning Sonar Transducer and Built In Quickdraw Contours Mapping Software
Check Price on Amazon

Check Price on Bass Pro

KEY FEATURES

  • CHIRP Clear Vu sonar for enhanced image transmission
  • Garmin Quickdraw Contour Maps for improved charting
  • 300 RMS rating for improved output strength

The Garmin Striker 4CV is a detail-oriented fish finder that is highly comprehensive in its range of functionality. This should make the Striker 4CV ideal for die-hard crappie and bass anglers, who spend a significant amount of time structure fishing. This unit combines traditional CHIRP sonar and Garmin’s CHIRP Clear Vu sonar to provide rapid feedback and detail-rich image transmission.

CLICK TO SEE MORE

The built-in Garmin Quickdraw Contours mapping software is another feature of the Garmin Striker 4CV that is likely to become an instant hit with most anglers. This software allows anglers to create and store maps with 1′ contours for up to 2 million acres. This feature should be incredibly well-received by avid crappie anglers, who often rely upon contour maps to locate suspended post-spawn fish.

This best fish finder also features first-in-class GPS capabilities, allowing anglers to mark a nearly infinite number of waypoints. In doing so, anglers can access prior points of interest in a far more efficient manner than they would have previously thought possible. This feature alone should make it possible to spend more time fishing instead of boating around searching for your honey hole.

Many anglers should also favor the Garmin Striker 4CV’s 300 watts (RMS) power rating. This robust output allows the Striker 4CV’s transducer signal to push through minor obstructions, such as silt, and penetrate deeper than many other units in its class. As a result, anglers using this unit should notice little in the way of feedback.

Deeper Start Smart Fish Finder

Best Budget Fish Finder: A fish finder that is sure to become a bank angler’s best friend

Deeper START Smart Fish Finder – Castable Wireless Wi-Fi Sonar Fish Detector
Check Price on Amazon

KEY FEATURES

  • Bluetooth capable for easy pairing with all IOS and Android devices
  • 165′ depth of operation for adequate fresh water usage
  • Long battery life for periods of extended use.

If you primarily fish from the shore or a dock and are looking to gain a slight competitive edge over your fishing buddies, then the Deeper Start Smart Fish Finder should be exactly what you have been searching for. This unit is a castable sonar solution for those fishing without a boat. The Deeper Start Smart Fish Finder pairs with an angler’s mobile device and provides reliable, real-time fish location in the immediate area.

CLICK TO SEE MORE

The Deeper Start Smart Fish Finder features Bluetooth capabilities seamlessly paired with any IOS or Android mobile device. To do so, simply download the easy-to-use Deeper app, enable your phone’s Bluetooth services, and hit the water. After doing so, relevant information on fish location, bottom contour, and vegetation density should be no further away than the palm of your hand.

Power is provided to the Deeper Start Smart Fish Finder by an integrated rechargeable battery. This sonar unit can run continuously for 6 hours on a single charge, with only 2.5 hours needed to recharge fully. This is likely to be seen as a favorable attribute by many anglers, as one is not required to swap batteries or pack along a deep cycle battery to facilitate use.

This best fish finder also has a remarkable range of operations. This unit can be cast to a maximum distance of 165 feet and still maintain complete connectivity and data transmission. Similarly, the Deeper Start Smart Fish Finder is capable of probing depths of up to 165 feet. This should be more than adequate for nearly any freshwater application.

Humminbird HELIX 7

Best High-End Fish Finder: Two forms of sonar, twice the results

Humminbird 410950-1NAV HELIX 7 CHIRP MSI (MEGA Side Imaging) GPS G3 NAV Fish Finder
Check Price on Amazon

Check Price on Bass Pro

KEY FEATURES

  • Dual Spectrum programming for a custom viewing experience
  • Crystal clear imaging for greater depth of data analysis
  • Split-screen capabilities for efficient data management

The Humminbird Helix 7 CHIRP is perhaps the best choice for experienced anglers, who have used lesser sonar products in the past, and now demand nothing but the highest level of performance. This unit combines CHIRP sonar with down imaging detail to produce a fish finder capable of providing next-level image clarity. The Humminbird Helix 7 also possesses a deep level of mapping functionality.

CLICK TO SEE MORE

One of the Humminbird Helix 7 CHIRP’s most unique features is its Dual Spectrum programming. This programming allows anglers to toggle between individual transducer modes to select their desired view of what lies beneath. This unit scans the largest sweep of water possible in Wide Mode, providing anglers with a significant scope of coverage. In Narrow Mode, a smaller area is scanned with an ultra-high level of detail.

No matter its mode of operation, the Humminbird Helix 7 CHIRP should provide a level of image clarity that few other sonar units can match. This best fish finder is engineered to help you see individual fish, identify bait and structure clearly, and reach greater depths and range. This level of ingenuity is likely to give tournament anglers the competitive edge that they seek.

The Humminbird Helix 7 CHIRP also features a pronounced 7″ screen, on which you can view all data in vivid color. Additionally, users are given the option of toggling between numerous split screen menus, which allow for simultaneous viewing of maps, graphs, and images. This should be of immense benefit to those looking to maximize their efficiency while on the water.

Garmin Striker Plus 5cv

Most Reliable Fish Finder: A reliable unit that allows you to fish with confidence

Garmin Striker Plus 5cv with Transducer, 5' GPS Fishfinder with CHIRP Traditional and ClearVu Scanning Sonar Transducer and Built In Quickdraw Contours Mapping Software
Check Price on Amazon

Check Price on Bass Pro

KEY FEATURES

  • Clear Vu scanning sonar for enhanced image transmission
  • Quick Contour Mapping for simplified graphing
  • Bright 5″ display for effortless viewing

The Garmin Striker Plus 5CV should be the perfect option for anglers looking for a feature-rich sonar unit at an economical price. This fish finder offers an extensive range of features, such as CHIRP Clear Vu scanning sonar, Garmin Quickdraw Contour Mapping, built-in GPS, and a sunlight-readable 5″ display. Together, these features should provide a highly efficient yet user-friendly interface that any angler could appreciate.

CLICK TO SEE MORE

Much of the Garmin Striker Plus 5CV’s pronounced viewing capabilities stem from the unit’s use of not one but two highly effective sonar platforms. This best fish finder employs both standard CHIRP sonar, and Garmin’s signature CHIRP Clear Vu sonar. Combined, these two applications produce clear, vivid images of all taking place within close proximity to one’s boat.

The Garmin Striker Plus 5CV also features Garmin’s Quickdraw Contour Mapping software, which allows anglers to create and store up to 2 million acres of contour maps. This is a feature that should find favor among bass and crappie anglers, who often find themselves searching for suspended fish along drop-offs, points, and channel ledges.

Another highly regarded feature of the Garmin Striker Plus 5CV is its bright 5″ display, which you can read even in the face of direct sunlight. This feature will likely save anglers time, and effort, as the need to stoop and bend to view a sonar display will be a thing of the past. Images are also displayed in crystal clear clarity, thanks in large part to the unit’s 800 x 480-pixel count.

Lowrance HOOK Reveal 5

Best Sonar: Sonar so efficient that fish light up on your screen

Lowrance HOOK Reveal 5x SplitShot - 5-inch Fish Finder with SplitShot Transducer, GPS Plotter
Check Price on Amazon

Check Price on Bass Pro

KEY FEATURES

  • Splitshot transducer for multi-level viewing
  • FishReveal function for easier identification of fish
  • GPS Plotter for simplified waypoint marking

The Lowrance Hook Reveal 5X SplitShot is likely to find favor among any anglers who are currently conflicted between whether to purchase CHIRP or down imaging sonar, as this unit possesses both capabilities. The Lowrance Hook Reveal 5X SplitShot uses a Splitshot transducer to cast both types of radar into the depths below, thereby providing anglers with a wealth of knowledge relating to fish location, bottom composition, and vegetation density.

CLICK TO SEE MORE

Another unique feature of the Lowrance Hook Reveal 5X SplitShot is its autotuning sonar function. When an angler boats into an area, the depth and conditions of the fishing area are calculated by the Reveal 5X, and provisions are made to provide optimal sonar operation. This feature should allow anglers to make more efficient use of their time on the water.

This best fish finder also utilizes a FishReveal function to differentiate between fish and other miscellaneous instances of sonar return. When the Lowrance Hook Reveal 5X SplitShot recognizes the signature of a fish, it is illuminated to create contrast from other objects that are graphed. This provides anglers with a definitive representation of what lies beneath their boat.

Many anglers will also likely find value in the Lowrance Hook Reveal 5X SplitShot’s GPS Plotter function. This function allows anglers to mark and store waypoints for future reference instantly. This is a feature that should be immensely popular with tournament anglers, who often mark good locations before fishing to avoid wasting time when returning on day one of the competition.

How To Choose The Best Fish Finder

When purchasing a fish finder, it is essential to recognize that no two units are the same. By giving ample consideration to each of the following factors, one can better select a fish finder that best suits their specific needs.

Cone Angles and Beams

Cones and angles are the meat and potatoes of fish finding units, which control how you see what lies beneath the water’s surface.

The best fish finder relies upon signals that are sent and received from a transducer. These signals are sent in the form of beams that deliver radio frequencies throughout the water. The width at which these beams cover is referred to as cones. The cone angle and beam count of a fish finder differ from one unit to the next. 

Cone angles vary tremendously and generally range between 9 and 60 degrees. A wider cone allows a unit to analyze a greater area in a single scan. However, a wide cone does not provide as definitive of a view at deeper depths. On the other hand, narrow cones provide a clearer picture in deep water but cover a very limited area.

While the transducers of many standard fish finders emit only a single beam, more advanced units now possess multi-beam capabilities. As a unit’s beam count increases, so do a unit’s range of coverage. However, multi-beam units also cost significantly more than standard, single-beam units.

Frequencies

Choosing the right transducer frequency can be the difference between seeing what you wish to see and being left guessing.

The frequency of sonar that a fish finder emits also differs from one particular unit to the next. The most universally utilized sonar frequencies are 50 kHz, 83 kHz, 192 kHz, and 200 kHz. As a fish finder’s frequency increases, its ability to quickly cover water and avoid background noise. However, higher frequencies do not penetrate as deeply as lower-frequency outputs.

When fishing shallow water, it is best to use units with higher frequencies, such as those in the 192 kHz and 200 kHz range. Alternatively, when fishing deeper water, an output of 50 kHz is desirable. For an excellent compromise, an 83 kHz frequency can be quite employed.

Pixel Count

Pixels are a small part of the much larger story that your fish finder is attempting to tell you.

When seeking out the best fish finder to purchase, it is important to understand the role that pixel count plays in determining display quality. The picture that is shown on a fish finder’s display head is made up of many minuscule dots, called pixels. The more of these dots that a display presents, the better its picture will be. Therefore, one can refer to a fish finder’s pixel count in order to determine the clarity of its display.

However, one must always take cost into consideration. As a fish finder’s pixel count rises, so does its sales price. Those units which feature crystal clear displays, often retail at a premium price point. By account, it is always best to purchase a fish finder with the highest pixel account that you can afford.

Display Screens

Much like a TV, the quality of a fish finder’s display directly determines how easy its images will be to view.

Today’s best fish finders come in numerous display formats, with some being infinitely easier to view than others. The three main fish finder display types are black and white, color, and high-definition. Each of which can be imagined in parallel with subsequent development within the television market.

Fish finders with black and white displays are generally very affordable. However, they also leave quite a bit to be desired in picture quality. Color display sonar units are priced moderately and likewise offer a standard grade picture. On the upper end of the spectrum, high-definition displays are now offered for a top-tier price.

Transducer Wattage

A transducer’s wattage is one of the single biggest factors related to how well sonar frequencies penetrate through the water.

The wattage of a transducer carries an RMS designation. This designation directly reflects the amount of power that is being pushed through a transducer, and the unit’s ability to penetrate the depths below with its output. The higher a particular unit’s RMS rating, the easier it is for the unit transducer to deliver its output in less than ideal circumstances, such as extremely deep or silty water.

When fishing inland bodies of water, such as lakes or rivers, a 200 watt (RMS) rating is typically sufficient. However, when fishing in deep, blue coastal waters, the use of a unit with a rating of 1000 watts (RMS) or more is advised.

GPS Capabilities

GPS software turns the best fish finder into an invaluable tool that most anglers do not leave home without.

Today, we no longer live in the primitive age of fish finder use. Gone are the days in which fish finders served just a single purpose. Today, most units of this nature now feature a wealth of additional functions, with perhaps the most important of which pertaining to GPS use. The advent of GPS-capable fish finders has revolutionized the way that we fish and allowed us to be more efficient when on the water.

While non-GPS fish finders are still available for purchase, there are numerous reasons to spend the extra money in order to upgrade. The use of a GPS-enabled fish finder allows you to mark brush piles and other underwater covers as waypoints for future return. Many such units also depict underwater topography as well.

Water Resistance

It is immensely important to consider how you will be using a fish finder before making a purchase. Will you be fishing from a relatively stable bass boat, or do you plan to attach your fish finder to a kayak? This question is of value because its answer determines how much water exposure a particular sonar unit is likely to be exposed to. While some fish finders are impervious to the effects of water, others are not. 

One should always consult a fish finder’s IPX rating before proceeding in the purchase process. A unit’s IPX rating designates how much water it can be exposed to without suffering adverse effects. The higher the number, the more water exposure a unit can handle. 

The real-world application for this rating comes into play when determining what level of protection is needed, for the particular type of fishing that you intend to take part in. It is reasonable to assume that a fish finder used in a kayak would require a higher IPX rating, than a similar unit used in a significantly more stable bass boat.

Questions & Answers

What is the average cost of a fish finder?

Fish finders vary significantly in price from one end of the spectrum to the other. These prices can range from as little as $70 to as much as $5,000 or more. However, in the world of fish finders, you typically get what you pay for. Lower-end fish finding units offer little more than basic sonar, with little in the way of quality screen resolution. However, units at the top end of this price scale typically feature highly accurate side imaging capabilities, a full range of GPS capabilities, and second to none screen resolution.

Overall, the average cost of a moderate quality fish finder generally falls in the $300-$800 range. Units at this price point usually feature concise, reliable imaging, reasonably quick feedback, and color display screens.

Does it matter which brand of fish finder you choose?

While several quality fish finders are currently available from small or obscure companies, there is certainly something to be said for the products of any number of the most popular sonar manufacturers. In many cases, these companies have risen to prominence for a significant reason. Most have a stellar track record of quality customer service and excellence in their craft. This in itself can be a legitimate reason to buy predominantly from these larger, more established manufacturers.

In the world of fish finders, three leading companies dominate the landscape. Lowrance, Garmin, and Humminbird have all been mainstays in the fish finding industry since its inception. All three of these companies also have a reputation for producing some of the highest quality fish finders currently available.

Do fish finders make you a better angler?

Fish finders do not technically make you a better angler. That would be like saying that a road map makes you a better driver. However, using the fish finder does allow you to be a more efficient angler. Their use points you in the right direction to spend less time blindly casting where fish might or might not be. Instead, you can spend more of your time casting to the confirmed location of fish in the hopes of enticing a strike.

This is the same reasoning behind why tournament anglers rely so heavily upon their fish finders. While any such angler could locate and catch fish without any assistance, they simply choose to use a fish finder because they face a time limit. A day’s tournament ends at a set time when all anglers must return to have their fish weighed. Therefore, the best fish finders allow these anglers to make the most out of the limited time that they do have.

How long will a fish finder last?

There is no set rule as to how long a fish finder will or will not last. However, one must consider that a sonar unit is an electronic device and will eventually wear out or succumb to internal circuitry issues. On average, most fish finders seem to last 4-6 years, though some last significantly longer, and others are significantly shorter. Therefore, it is worth considering that heavily used fish finders will likely experience a shorter service life, though their total hours of operation will likely fall into the average tier.

In any event, one should take all possible measures to prolong the life of their fish finder. In order to facilitate this, make sure to place your fish finder inside of your home when not in use, protect your fish finder from significant water exposure when possible, and prevent any hard impacts that could damage such a unit.

Do fish finders come with a warranty?

Most of the best fish finders do come with a warranty of some type. However, the length and extent of this warranty are solely up to the manufacturer of the unit in question, and such circumstances can differ significantly from one fish finder to the next. Generally speaking, a 1-2 year warranty tends to be the industry standard for most fish finders.

It is also important to remember that most warranties will not cover any form of physical damage or neglect. Therefore, if a fish finder were to be damaged in an event outside of a manufacturer’s control, it is doubtful that it would be covered.