Picture of a man holding a trout after using a fish finder

The 10 Best Fish Finders Of 2017 – Buyers Guide And Reviews

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I have been fishing all of my life. My mom says that I was fishing before I was born. I am not a professional but I love to fish. 

Technology has changed the way we fish. From fishing rods and reels to types of line, the sport has came a long way. Nothing makes this more obvious than today's modern fish finders.

​There are many different fish finders with different features. This can sometimes make it a daunting task to pick the right one. So I decided to do some research and try to help you find the right fish finder for your fishing needs.

Quick Comparison Chart

What Do I Mean By Best Fish Finder

Everybody will have a different definition of best. Some will equate it to best bang for your buck. Others will equate it to quality and range. Yet others will simply mean the best for the type of fishing I do.

So I am not going to try to convince you which one is the best quality or best bang for your buck. Instead I am going to show you fish finders in different price ranges and let you decide which one is the best fish finder for you. After I show you the different fishfinders, then I will give you a buyers guide so you know what to look for in a fishfinder that will suit your particular needs.

Fish Finders Under $1,000.00

Humminbird HELIX 10 DI GPS Fishfinder Review

Display Size:

10"

Ideal For:

Semi-Pro to Avid Enthusiasts

Price:

$932.88

The Humminbird HELIX 10 DI GPS Fish finder is a top notch unit boasting of some great features.

The 10" screen makes it much easier to view split screens. It has easy to use controls that enable you to spend more time fishing and less time setting up or changing functions. ​

Features

  • DualBeam Plus
  • Down Imaging
  • SwitchFire
  • Precision GPS
  • AutoChart

The Helix 10 DI uses 2 types of sonar. It has 4 frequencies for 2d imaging and 2 frequencies you can use for down imaging. The DualBeam plus uses 2 conical beams to pick up the fish and the down imaging uses 1. It can scan to a depth of 600 feet in fresh water.

SwitchFire allows you to quickly switch between full sonar mode and clear mode. Full sonar mode allows you to see all the objects in view and the clear mode which eliminates most of the clutter and allows you to center in on the big game fish.

​The Helix DI has a precision GPS tracker built in and is compatible with Navionics or LakeMaster charts. It also will record your date with its AutoChart feature and add those to the charts you have giving your charts a real time feature.

Conclusion

The Helix DI 10 is a great fish finder for freshwater fishing and as long as you stay close to shore in under 300 feet of water, for saltwater fishing as well. The only drawback is that it is a fairly technical unit and does take a bit of a learning curve to learn how to use properly.​

Simrad GO7 XSE Chartplotter/Fishfinder Review

Display Size:

7"

Ideal For:

Fishing, Power Boating, Water Sports

Price:

$649.00

The Simrad G07 XSE is perfect for small sport boats, day boats, and fishing boats. It's brightly lit touchscreen displays its charts, GPS tracking, and fish finding screens in any type of light.  Couple that with its Broadband Sounder and StructureScan HD DownScan and SideScan imaging and you will find fish like a pro.

Features

  • Multi-Touch Display
  • ​Chartplotter Navigation
  • ​Customizable Interface

  • Chirp And Structure Scan
  • 10 Hz GPS Receiver
  • Wi-Fi and Bluetooth Enabled

The GO7 XSE offers easy use with intuitive touchscreen controls that smartphone and tablet users will find familiar. Simple home screen and menu layouts make the controls quickly accessible, with large and clearly marked icons that are easy to recognize and tap.

The GO7 XSE is a full-featured chartplotter. Navigate with confidence to places near and far by choosing charts that best fit your needs and location. Set and record your favorite spots easily with simple waypoint mangement.

​Customize your home screen with shortcuts to the features you use most. You can use the adjustable split-screen views and customizable panel layouts to see everything you need on-screen at once.

​Whether fishing is your passion or just a casual hobby, your fishing trip will benefit from the vast array of built-in sonar technology found with the Simrad GO7 XSE.

Conclusion

Although the Simrad G07 XSE has features suitable for water sports and power boating which might lead you to believe it is not geared for fishing, that does not take away from its amazing ability to find fish. With great side and down scan capabilities, this fish finder is a great addition to any fisherman's arsenal.

Lowrance Navico Hook 7 Review

Display Size:

7"

Ideal For:

Perfect for the Avid and Casual Fisherman

Price:

Check on Amazon

The Lowrance HOOK-7 is a fish finder that offers the right features at the right value without compromising the quality fisherman have come to expect from a company like Lowrance. Combining Chirp technology with advanced signal processing gives anglers a quality fish finder that is easy to use.

Features

  • 7" Display
  • Advanced Signal Processing
  • One Thumb Operation
  • DownScan Overlay
  • Chirp Sonar Plus Technology
  • Multi-Window Display

The Lowrance Navico Hook 7 comes with a brilliant high resolution 7" display that is easy to see in all kinds of light. The one thumb navigation and multi-window display makes it easy to use for anyone.

It comes with both Chirp technology and Sonar plus which combines the best of fish finding technology. Combine that with the ability to overlay both signals on one screen and the advanced signal processing reducing the need to manually adjust the settings to see the fish, makes it a very accurate fish finder.​

The Lowrance Navico Hook 7 has the ability to track back on your earlier sonar findings to return to the spots that had fish.

Conclusion

If you are looking for a top-notch fish finder that is dedicated to one thing; finding fish, then the Lowrance Navico Hook 7 is the fish finder for you. You are paying for only the things that will help you find the lunker you are looking for.

Best Fish Finders Under $500.00

There are some great fish finders for the avid fishing enthusiast under $500.00. Here are some great ones ranging from $200.00 to $500.00

Garmin Striker 7SV Review

Display Size:

7"

Ideal For:

Avid Enthusiasts And Hobby Anglers

Price:

$414.95

You will find fish better than ever with the Garmin Striker 7SV. Log your hot spots and plot your course with Striker's high sensitivity GPS mapping. Adjust the depth you are probing with their smooth scaling software technology. See the fish clearly with the Chirp dual-band sonar.

Features

  • Striker High Wide Chirp Transducer
  • Garmin ClearVu Sonar
  • High Sensitivity GPS
  • Portable
  • On-Screen Speedometer
  • Built In Flasher

The Garmin Striker 7sv is a fisherman's favorite and for good reason. Between Garmin's Chirp technology that has higher sensitivity than traditional sonars and their ClearVu and SideVu technologies you will be able to find trophy fish wherever you go.

Unlike regular fish finders, Striker 7sv fish finder has a built-in, high-sensitivity GPS to find your current position quickly and precisely, then maintain your GPS location wherever you are on the lake. Smooth scaling graphics provide uninterrupted graphics when switching between depth-range scales. Sonar history allows you to review sonar images and mark waypoints you originally may have missed. 

You can quickly and easily see your boat’s speed on the screen of your Striker fish finder so you know if you are trolling at the right speed for the lure you are using and the fish you trying to catch. Its built in flasher will help you if you are jigging for crappie or ice fishing on your favorite lake and need to see what depth you need to place your bait. With the optional kit, your Striker 7sv is completely portable as well.

Conclusion

There is good reason that Garmin is so well loved in the fishing world. This affordable fish finder gives you everything you need to land the big ones and at a price that won't break the bank.

Lowrance Navico Hook 5 Review

Display Size:

5" 

Ideal For:

Fishing enthusiasts of all kinds

Price:

Check on Amazon

The HOOK-5x combines the benefits of CHIRP Sonar and DownScan Imagin technology to give you a clear and complete view of all the fish and structures below your boat. Its high performance sonar gives you excellent target separation enabling you to see clearly the baitfish and gamefish targets you are seeking.

Features

  • High Resolution Color Display
  • Chirp Sonar plus
  • Advanced Signal Processing
  • One Thumb Operation
  • Multi-Window Display
  • TrackBack Technology

Just like its big brother, The Lowrance Navico Hook 5 comes with a brilliant high resolution 5" display that is easy to see in all kinds of light. The one thumb navigation and multi-window display makes it easy to use for anyone.

It comes with both Chirp technology and Sonar plus which combines the best of fish finding technology. Combine that with the ability to overlay both signals on one screen and the advanced signal processing reducing the need to manually adjust the settings to see the fish, makes it a very accurate fish finder.​

Conclusion

If you want the quality of a Lowrance fish finder but at a less expensive price point then the Lowrance Navico Hook 5 is your answer. The only major difference between it and its bigger brother the Hook 7 is the screen size. So if you have a smaller boat, or don't need a large display then this fish finder is your choice.

Humminbird HELIX 5 G2 Review

Display Size:

5"

Ideal For:

Fresh Water Fishing Enthusiasts

Price:

$294.89

When Hummingbird first released the Helix 5 it sent shockwaves through the fish finder industry because it included side and down imaging in a fish finder that was under $500.00. Now they are continuing to rock the boat by including it in the Helix 5 G2 for under $300.00.

Features

  • 2D Sonar
  • 5" Display
  • Down And Side Imaging
  • Live Mapping
  • Import Mapping
  • Keypad UI

For less than $300.00 you get Hummingbird's famous Chirp technology which sends a variety of sound frequencies into the water giving you a better differential between fish and structures in the water like sunken trees and rock ridges. 

​Couple that with its improved user interface and you can't go wrong with this fish finder. Especially if you are a small boat or kayak owner where you need easy operation since you are more than likely doing more than one thing at a time.

The live mapping feature and the ability to import professional maps makes this fish finder great for really scoping out your favorite spots.​

Conclusion

This fish finder is the perfect addition to the arsenal of any small boat or kayak owner. You have all the qualities of a larger fish finder but more compact when space is a premium. 

Garmin Striker 5cv Review

Display Size:

5"

Ideal For:

Entry Level Fish Finder Buyers

Price:

$261.08

Not to be outdone by Hummingbird, Garmin has put out a great entry level fish finder to compete. The Striker 5cv (clear view) is a strong competitor. With 800 pixels in a 5" screen, you will be able to distinguish where the fish are.

Features

  • 3 Frequency Sonar
  • ClearVu And SideVu Technology
  • GPS
  • 5" Screen
  • Mid And High Range Chirp
  • Trolling Motor Mount

I cannot go into it enough how the 800 pixel 5" screen helps you define what is fish and what is structure. Combine that with the 3 frequency (260kHz, 455kHz, and 800kHz) sonar and you have a powerful little fish finder in a small package. It is almost picture like quality of images.

The G20-TM transducer gives you great depth range and the trolling motor mount makes it a complete package for the entry level fish finder buyer. If you are on a tight budget then this fish finder is for you.​

Conclusion

The only drawback to the Striker 5cv is the lack of mapping. It has GPS but no way to record where you have been or what you saw previously. However if you are just looking for an entry level fish finder, the image quality of what you see below and to the side of you can't be beat.

Best Fish Finders Under $200.00

Maybe you don't hit the water every weekend but you would like to have the advantage of having a fish finder when you do. These inexpensive fish finders might just be what you are looking for. You still get some of the advantages of the pricier models but don't pay for all the bells and whistles. 

Raymarine Dragonfly-4DV Review

Display Size:

4"

Ideal For:

Hobbyists

Price:

$133.00

Raymarine offers quite a few fish finders with the most affordable being the Dragonfly 4DV. This is a basic fish finder with few bells and whistles but if you are just a hobbyist fisherman then this might be just the fish finder you are looking for with its extremely affordable price point.

Features

Column 1

  • 4" Screen
  • Chirp DownVision

Column 2

  • 600' Depth Range
  • 24 Bit Color Depth

The Dragonfly 4DV (down vision) is a basic fish finder. It does not have a lot of bells and whistles. It only shows you what is below you with no side vision capability. However it does have good screen graphics with its 24 bit color screen. It does use Chirp technology giving you greater ability to discern fish from structures and foliage on the bottom of the lake or river.

​It also has a quick disconnect system so you can consider this unit a portable fish finder as well. 

Conclusion

The Raymarine Dragonfly 4DV is a great little fish finder for the fishing hobbyist that wants a little edge when they are out on the water. It is the least expensive fish finder that comes with Chirp technology. 

Lowrance Hook-3X Review

Display Size:

3"

Ideal For:

Hobbyists and Casual Fishermen

Price:

The Lowrance Hook 3X is the perfect fish finder for the hobbyist or casual angler. It is the least expensive traditional fish finder made by a quality manufacturer. 

Features

  • 3" Backlit Screen
  • Dual Frequency Sonar
  • Quick Disconnect
  • Waterproof

It's dual band sonar shows fish under and directly around the boat. Its LED backlit screen helps you differentiate between fish and other structures below the water. Its fish ID system and water temperature guage helps you find the fish you have been missing without a fish finder.

It's quick disconnect plug and size makes this a perfect portable fish finder. You can easily remove it and transfer it between your small boat and kayak.

Conclusion

There is nothing fancy about the Hook 3X. However if you want a small fish finder that will help you find some fish then this unit will do the trick. Just remember, at this price point it comes with limitations like no GPS, maps, or side view sonar.

Cheap Portable Bobber Style Fish Finder

​Maybe you are a river fishing enthusiast or maybe you like to fish using a kayak or inflatable rubber boat. This portable bobber style fish finder will help you find the big ones that are lurking beneath the surface.

Deeper Smart Sonar PRO+ Review

Display Size:

Cell Phone Screen Size

Ideal For:

River and Bank Fishing

Price:

$214.97

Deeper Smart Sonar has truly taken the portable fish finder market by storm with their bobber style fish finder Pro+. This unique fish finder is able to be used like a bobber and cast out and retrieved with a fishing pole to help you find where the fish are hiding,

Features

  • Smartphone And Tablet Compatibility
  • 330' Range
  • 6 Hour Battery Life
  • Truly Portable

The Pro+ is meant to be used by bank anglers and river fishermen. You just turn it on, start the smart phone or tablet app, and cast away. It operates on an independent Wi-Fi connection that is not connected to any cell signal making it usable even when you are out of cell range.

​It uses a dual frequency sonar that makes the fish stand out nice and clear. You can also scan areas that your boat fish finder may not pick up, like next to a log jam or close to the bank brush.

Conclusion

How I wish this technology would have been around years ago. Spending time working each hole in a river would have been shortened drastically. How can you not love this truly portable fish finder? Just stick it in your tackle box and you are never without a fish finder again. With 6 hours of battery life, you just made a good day fishing great.

Fish Finder Buyers Guide

​Quick Tips On Selecting The Best Fish Finder

  • ​Don't out cheap yourself. Make sure you buy the type of fish finder that will work for you in the long run. Many anglers regret getting too small of a display or one that is not very powerful. They limited themselves in their fishing experience to save a few bucks.
  • Consider units that can be upgraded. If money is an issue, then pay attention whether or not the unit you are considering can be upgraded. If so, then maybe you can buy an upgradeable unit now and upgrade it next year.
  • Buy what you need. As we all know, money doesn't grow on trees. As much as the top notch features are tempting, if you are not going to use them, then you have spent more than you need. Ask yourself what type of fishing will you do? If you are sticking to shallow lakes or streams, then maybe you don't need the most powerful fish finder out there.

Understanding The Functions Of A Fish Finder

​There are two main components of a fish finder. They are the display unit and the transducer. The transducer is the component that produces the sonar that is read by the display unit. Here are some important aspects of both of these units.

The Display Unit

Display units come in all types of sizes and shapes. Some are small enough to mount on your rod while others really need to be mounted on the dash of your fishing boat. 

The display unit is the part of the system that controls all the aspects of the fish finder system. You set the sensitivity and type of signal produced from the transponder. You don't want to skimp on the display unit. You can have the most sensitive sonar in the world but if it is displayed on a lousy display it won't help you find fish.

graphic showing how pixels are used horizontally and vertically

​Resolution

Resolution is the amount of pixels that are used in displaying the image. A pixel is a dot of image information. If you have 800 pixels of resolution then it takes 800 dots to go from the top to the bottom of the image in a straigh line. So 800x800 resolution is 800 dots across by 800 dots down. The larger the display resolution the more defined the screen image is going to be. Do not go below 240 pixels top to bottom. The image will be too fuzzy to be of any use to you and even then it is pretty fuzzy.

Screen Size

​Bigger does not always make better. Smaller screen sizes are better for small boats, kayaks, and rubber flotation devices and larger ones are better for boats with cockpits. However smaller size fish finders do have their drawbacks especially with multi-screen mode or when being viewed from a distance.

Multi-Screen Functionality​

​Some fish finders come with the option to view multiple screens at the same time. Some units will show you different views of the bottom and others will show you a map and your sonar at the same time. This functionality works best on units with larger screens.

Colors​

​Modern fish finders have moved away from black and white screens. Color allows you to be able to define the image better. In this case, the more bits of color, the more your image will be defined. They can range from 16 bit color up to millions of shades of color and beyond.

​Additional Features

The best fish finders will not just show you the depth of the bottom and what is below. They will show you water temperature, speed you are traveling, GPS position and more. Some even come with alarms to notify you when it finds fish!

The Transducer

​The transducer is the unit that produces the sonar signal. It sends a ping into the water and then receives the echo back and translates that into data that the display unit can understand. Most transducers are mounted on the outside of the boat although there are a few that will operate through the boat's hull.

Here are some key features of transducers.

​Frequencies

​The frequency is the number of times the transducer emits a sound wave per second. These are measured in Khz. KiloHertz. Most transducers will come with either 50, 83, 192 or 200 kHz frequencies. Higher frequencies, like 192 and 200 kHz work best in shallower water, while the low 50 kHz transducers work best for use in deep water. High frequency sonar however, uses more battery power.

Many fish finders have the ability to use more than one frequency at a time making the sonar results better.​ There are 4 major types of frequency types used in fish finders.

  1. Single Frequency. This is in all basic fish finders. It is best used in portable and shallow water situations.
  2. Dual Frequency. The transducer uses 2 set frequencies to gather it's sonar data. This gives you better clarity.
  3. Multiple Frequency. This is where you have more control over what frequencies are used with variable settings.
  4. Chirp Technology. (Compressed High Intensity Radar Pulse) This technology emits a variety of frequencies simultaneously giving you the most complete sonar image available today.

Power

The transducer's power has a direct impact on your fish finder's clarity and depth. The power of the transducer is measured in watts. The higher the watts, the more powerful it is. 

As a practical matter, the deeper you fish, the more power you want but if you are mainly a shallow water angler, then you can get away with a lower wattage transducer. As a rule of thumb, ​at 50 kHz, for every 100 watts of power, your finder/transducer can show readings up to 400 feet.

At 200 kHz, for every 100 watts of power, your finder/transducer can show readings up to 100 feet.Most mid-range finders available are dual-frequency, so you can see readings from both frequencies(usually 50/200 or 85/200) in a split screen fashion.

Cone Angle​

The cone angle is the dimensions of the beam as it is sent from your boat into the water. It looks like an upside down ice cream cone. The wider the degree of the cone angle, the larger of an area is scanned below you. A 50 degree cone angle will theoretically cover more area than a 15 degree cone angle. However you need to remember that the larger the cone angle the less sensitive your fish finder become at deeper depths. 

Most units start at 15 - 20 degree cone angles. This is usually a good starting point for your fish finder.​ Higher quality units come with more than one cone so you can use one for down sonar and one for side sonar.

graphic of a sonar cone used in typical fish finders

How To Use A Fish Finder

When you purchase your fish finder you will be learning how to read sonar based data. This is different than what you would see if you panned an underwater camera down under your boat. The data is time based, not distance based.

So when you use your new fish finder you will need to remember that what you are seeing is not spacial movement but time scans.

You also will find that you get better images and data if you keep moving rather than stay stationary. The reason for this is that with movement you give your fish finder the ability to get different angles on any fish or object below you.

​Tips For Reading The View Screen

Not all fish finders have icons that tell you what is a fish and what is a tree stump. Not always is it easy to tell right off the bat. Here are a few tips to help you read your view screen.

  • A thick line at the bottom shows a soft bottom where a thin line shows a hard or rocky bottom.​
  • The right to left movement of your screen is not panning right to left. It is the image based on time.
  • Adjust your sensitivity controls so that objects are clear and distinct from the background.
  • Mount your transducer where it gets a steady flow of water across it rather than near turbulence. This will greatly improve the image you see on your view screen.

Here is a helpful video on how to read your new fish finder.

​Final Thoughts on Fish Finder Technology

​I still remember the days when I had to know how to read the water in order to find fish. However I also love the new technology that makes it so much easier to find the fish and where the fish are biting.

Let me know if you found this fish finder list helpful. Let me know if there is anything I can add that will help you make your decision on what is the best fish finder for you. I will try to update the content as time and technology changes.​

About the Author Duke Taber

Duke Taber is the owner of 3 successful Christian websites and is now taking his skill as a webmaster and using it to help bi-vocational pastors and missionaries do their jobs across the world.

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