Do you love to fish out of your kayak or boat? Are you doing more fishing than catching? Maybe it’s time for you to up to your fishing game. You need to pick the best fish finder for the money.
What is the best fish finder today? This is a question that even the most experienced angler will likely find difficult to answer. With the many fish finder units available in the market, it can really be tough to pick just one model.
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Table of Contents
- Comparisons of 10 Best Fish Finder in 2019
- How Fish Finders Work – Step By Step Guide
- 10 Best Fish Finder For The Money in 2019
- Things to Consider When You Look for The Best Fish Finder (Buying Guides)
- How To Use Fish Finder (Beginner to Advance Guide)
Comparisons of 10 Best Fish Finder in 2019
|Name||Brand||Weight||Dimension||View on Amazon|
|Garmin Striker 4||Garmin||0.5 pound||3.6 x 1.6 x 5.9 inches||Check Price
|Venterior Portable Fish Finder||Venterior||1.1 pound||9.6 x 2.2 x 5.9 inches||Check Price
|Lowrance Hook 3X||Lowrance||2 pounds||3.8 x 1.9 x 6.5 inches||Check Price
|Humminbird Helix 5||Humminbird||11.6 pounds||13.4 x 4.2 x 7.1 inches||Check Price
|Garmin Striker 4DV||Garmin||2.7 pounds||1.6 x 3.6 x 5.9 inches||Check Price
|Garmin Striker 5DV||Garmin||1.1 pounds||7.4 x 2.1 x 4.5 inches||Check Price
|Humminbird Helix 7 Finder||Humminbird||4.6 pounds||5.6 x 10.5 x 5.8 inches||Check Price
|Garmin Striker 7SV||Garmin||1.7 pounds||9.3 x 2.3 x 5.5 inches||Check Price
|Raymarine Dragonfly-4 Pro||Raymarine||3.2 pounds||13.8 x 13.8 x 13.8 inches||Check Price
|Raymarine Dragonfly 5 Pro Navionics+||Raymarine||3.2 pounds||13.8 x 13.8 x 13.8 inches||Check Price
How Fish Finders Work – Step By Step Guide
Fish finders can seem like alien technology to those who have never used one before. With this in mind, it is important that any serious fisherman understands how they function. After all, you will not want to invest in an expensive piece of technology like how fish finders Work without understanding the benefits it will unlock for you.
Thankfully, we have put together this list to benefit our readers. By going over each important aspect of the fish finder, we have described how fish finders work to help you fish more effectively. After you’ve read this article, you will be itching to get your hands on a high-quality fish finder model.
Before you get started learning how the various programs, features, and pieces of your fish finder work, you need to familiarize yourself with its interface. By doing this, it will be easier to understand what you’re looking at as we discuss the next few steps of learning how fish finders Work.
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The manual that comes with your model is extremely useful for learning to understand what you’re looking at on the display interface of your fish finder. Having your manual handy is also highly recommended for the rest of the steps on this list.
Fish ID Settings
Most fish finders show basic fish shapes when you first start them up. These shapes are representative of where the fish are predicted to be located.
While this feature is useful for beginner users, you eventually want to change the settings to replace them with various arch shape representations. This will give you a better idea of the trajectory of the fish being picked up, allowing you to more effectively reel it in.
Auto Depth Features
The auto depth tool on a fish finder determines where the bottom of the body of water you are on is. However, their accuracy depends on a wide variety of factors.
Similar to the fish ID setting, you will want to adjust this feature once you’ve become familiarized with it. Eventually, you will be setting the upper and lower limits of the auto depth aspect yourself, allowing the fish finder to read your environment more accurately.
Once your fish finder has located fish, you can use the depth cursor to help it more accurately read the location of the fish. Fish finders use the position of the depth cursor to focus their readings more intensely in that area.
You simply need to place the cursor on the arches representing the fish your finder is picking up, and the accuracy of your readings will increase.
Before getting into mounts and programming unique controls, you need to understand how one last feature of a fish finder works: the zoom. Your fish finder can zoom into areas of its readings, giving you a better understanding of what it is picking up.
Once you know the area you want to focus your angling efforts into, you should use the zoom feature to get a more precise reading. By doing this, you will allow the fish finder to adjusts the way it is reading an area to benefit that particular region.
Once you’ve learned the basics of the systems that make a fish finder work, you can start adjusting settings to your individual needs. Additionally, you can program the controls on many fish finder models.
This allows you to quickly go into preset modes you’ve created to help you simplify the setup process. If you fish certain areas constantly, you will simply need to press a button, and you will be ready to start reeling in tons of impressive fish.
After you understand how a fish finder works, its time to install in on your watercraft. Depending on the type of craft you’re using, you will need a certain kind of mount. There are several kinds of mount types, but generally speaking, you will be investing in one of the following:
- Manual Mount
- Hull Mount
- Trolling Motor Mount
- Transom Mount
- Portable Mount
Each one of these mounts benefits different types of watercraft. For example, a portable mount is ideal for those who either use several different craft, or who use smaller, more intense craft like kayaks when fishing.
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Transom mounts, on the other hand, are meant to be used with larger, more professional fishing boats and setups. Knowing which mount to invest in will not only save you money, but it will ensure you use your fish finder properly after learning its features, and figuring out how it works.
10 Best Fish Finder For The Money in 2019
1. Garmin Striker 4 Fish Finder
This is a small, portable, and affordable fish finder with CHIRP sonar capability. We recommend this to anglers who want a CHIRP fish finder but don’t want to spend more on other advanced navigation features.
This unit comes with a transducer. It is very affordable and makes a great addition to any small boat or kayak.
The Garmin Striker 4 has a rugged design. It is water proof, and according to Garmin, can withstand immersions of up to 1 meter of freshwater.
It has a small, 3.5 inch display with a 480 x 320 pixel resolution. It’s not top of the line but you should have no problems reading it even in direct sunlight.
Because of the relatively small display, you can only view two panels or application on the screen.
Arguably the biggest selling point of the Striker 4 is its CHIRP sonar. It gives more power and clarity to the images displayed by the Striker 4.
With it, you can see clearer images with less clutter. You will be able to see fishes individually, even when they are close together.
Another comment is that it doesn’t drain much of its fishing battery. Others feel that this model is a steal given its advanced features.
2. Venterior Portable Fish Finder
Aside from the fish finder, the package includes a transducer with 25 foot cable, a removable transducer float with a rubber stopper, neck strap, and stainless bolt and wing nut.
The 25 foot cable that comes with the transducer can be advantageous or disadvantageous.
With its length, users can drop it off a bridge or float it out on a lake or stream. They don’t need to have a boat to use it.
But for those who have a boat, the extra-long cable can be a nuisance.
However, the biggest drawback of this fish finder is that it is not waterproof. While Venterior says it has a waterproof design, many best fish finder reviews experts say the screen will get foggy when it is exposed to some moisture.
Another complaint is that it doesn’t remember the setting that you last used. Thus when you switch from meter (the default setting) to feet, the unit will go back to meter when you turn it off.
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3. Lowrance Hook 3X
This is another highly recommended best fish finder with a budget-friendly price tag. It features a 3-inch, LED-backlight screen with 320x 240 pixel resolution and sonar operation that gives up to 60 degrees of conical coverage.
It is easy to operate with its Advanced Signal Processing (ASP). This practically eliminates the need to manually change settings in order to view the bottom detail more clearly.
There are dedicated quick keys that users can turn to if they want to focus on the strategic fishing areas.
The power button also acts as a backlight control, so users will be able to change the screen lighting depending on ambient conditions.
We also love its Fish ID that shows fish icons instead of the usual fish arches. There are also track and alarm options in this unit.
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However, many users say that this fish finder will struggle in showing bottom structure, depth, and water temperature when the boat moves at a pace faster than 5 miles per hour.
There are also reviewers who doubt whether this fish finder is water proof.
4. Humminbird HELIX 5
The Helix 5 has a 5 inch display that has a landscape orientation. It has an excellent 800 x 480 pixel resolution.
Not surprisingly, a lot of reviewers have pointed out that the high resolution display of this unit is a reason why they’re happy with the Helix 5.
Mounting the Helix 5 is done through a plastic gimbal mount. This replaces the old, quick disconnect mounting system that Humminbird used for so many years.
It also features a single microSD card slot located on its left side.
This may be packed in features but the Helix 5 isn’t networkable. This may have been due to Humminbird’s desire to keep this model affordable.
Overall this is still one of the best fishfinders in terms of functions and price. It doesn’t have the steepest price but it is loaded in features that should keep the techie user contented.
5. Garmin Striker 4DV
The Striker 4DV is very compact that you should have no problems fitting it in your kayak or boat. The unit, in fact, weighs a mere 8 ounces.
The screen measures 3.5 inches diagonally, with a clear 480 x 320 pixel resolution. A cluster of control buttons sits next to it.
We like that it comes with a swivel/tilt mount that allows users to install it in any watercraft. There’s also a transducer that goes along with it for producing and gathering sonar pulses.
The Striker 4DV offers max penetration of 1,750 feet in freshwater, and around 800 feet in saltwater. We think that’s very solid given its price.
Aside from sonar readings, the Striker 4DV has a waypoint map. It lets users label rich fishing spots on the screens.
And with its GPS capabilities, the unit is able to visually trace the user’s direction and distance across the water.
We feel that the lack of maps is the only factor that prevents the Striker 4DV from being the best fish finder.
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6. Garmin Striker 5DV
Like its cousin Striker 4DV, the Garmin Striker 5DV has a very compact and rugged design. It also has high sensitivity GPS, waypoint map, CHIRP sonar, and a built-in flasher.
But it beats it cousin in many facets. One is the depth range.
The 5DV has a depth range of 1,100 feet in saltwater compared to just the 800 feet of the 4DV. It is also capable of scanning up to 2300 feet in freshwater compared to just the 1,100 of the other Garmin model.
And it has a bigger, 5 inch screen. We felt that with more space, the screen is able to show more data like depth, scanning sonar, down view sonar and waypoint views.
We also love the scaling feature that leads to the uninterrupted image when the unit changes frequencies.
Similar to the Striker 4DV, this unit doesn’t have a user’s guide. You would have to figure out how to use it.
This doesn’t sit well with most of its users, especially those who found the waypoint map quite difficult to use.
Still, this could be the best depth finder unit today.
7. Humminbird Helix 7 Fish Finder
It is also non-networkable like the Helix 5.
But the Helix features a glass bonded display that is a lot better than the plastic lens used on the Helix 5.
It also has a 800 x 480 pixel, 256 color LED backlit display. According to Humminbird, the brightness display of this unit is 1500 nits or very bright.
It also has a 2xD-RAM memory which means it can draw maps faster. The unit also refreshes its screen at a faster rate.
We like how Humminbird introduced a gimbal mounting bracket for the Helix. The said bracket is a lot better than the mounting system found in its older models.
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Aside from offering very advanced features despite its low price, the Helix 7 has been getting good fish finder reviews for being sturdy.
The issues raised against this fish finder can be dismissed as being petty, like the transducer plug mount having a tendency to loosen up, or the non-inclusion of a case or cover.
8. Garmin Striker 7 SV Fish Finder
Do you wish to get a fish finder with advanced features like GPS and CHIRP sonar but hesitant to pay for fancy maps? If so, consider getting the Garmin Striker 7SV.
This unit has a 7 inch screen with a high 480 x 800 pixel resolution. It offers 2D, side, and down imaging features as well as GPS and CHIRP sonar.
It doesn’t have preloaded maps, though. But if you are a small lake fisherman who doesn’t need those maps, then you wouldn’t really be missing that feature.
We like the brilliant backlit display of this unit that makes it very readable even on the sunniest of days. With enough space, the screen is able to show multiple sharp images simultaneously.
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The built-in flasher, meanwhile, is very useful in stationary fishing.
In case the powerful sonar imaging feature of the 7SV can’t spot fish, you can turn to its GPS tracking. You can also note landmarks like natural features on the unit for additional guidance.
Aside from the maps, user’s guide is something conspicuously missing in this product.
9. Raymarine Dragonfly 4 Pro
The Raymarine Dragonfly 4 Pro is loaded with features you would think that it is a high-end product. But isn’t it nice when you see its price tag well within your budget?
This is a waterproof unit that’s very easy to use. It has a 4.3 inch LCD screen with a decent 480 x 272 resolution.
Images appear in bright colors and sharp contrasts thanks to its built in optical bonding. We also like that the images are viewable at different angles.
With that screen size, the 4Pro can show single or split screen illustrations. You don’t need to worry, though, as the unit shows easy to read large numerals.
And yes, this is a fog-resistant device that you can bring for any fishing expedition.
This unit is also Wi-Fi capable so I can connect to a smartphone or tablet. This is a great feature as they can use the mobile app of Dragonfly in rewinding or capturing still images.
Others, though, are disappointed that the unit takes a lot of time when starting up.
10. Raymarine Dragonfly-5 Pro
This is the latest offering from Raymarine and expectedly, it has all the advanced technologies you would want from a fish finder. Yet it is still competitively priced which makes a lot of anglers very intrigued with this unit.
One of its key functions is CHIRP sonar. With this feature, there are more signals emitted into the water leading to better images seen on the Dragonfly Pro’s screen.
In short, you will see images that are clear and very distinguishable.
The DownVision technology meanwhile, works at depths of up to 160 feet.
We also like that it has WiFi, and a mobile app that lets you control the unit. This means you and your buddy won’t have to jockey to get the best view of the screen.
Simply connect to the mobile app, and you can see whatever your buddy is seeing on the Dragonfly Pro’s screen. Speaking of screens, the Dragonfly 5 offers a 5 inch display with a 480 x 800 pixel resolution.
Things to Consider When You Look for The Best Fish Finder (Buying Guides)
A fish finder is a device that uses sonar to display underwater objects, like the bottom, logs, rocks, and fish. A fish finder keeps you from fishing in areas where there are no fish. You can maneuver your boat or kayak into position directly above the fish.
This technology greatly increases your chances of catching a fish, because you can see them. But how do you decide which fish finder to buy? There are many factors to consider when picking out which one is best for you.
First, you need to decide how much money you are willing to spend. There are fish finders on the market from $80 to $2000. Deciding on your fish finder budget will quickly eliminate the ones out of your price range.
Portable or Fixed
Next, you should decide whether the unit you need will be a portable one or a fixed one. Portable fish finders usually run off of batteries inside of them. They are usually small enough to fit in your pocket. They are ideal for use on kayaks, can be moved from boat to boat, or can also be used to fish off of a dock.
Fixed units are usually wired up to 12-volt power. They usually attach to a permanently mounted bracket on your kayak or boat. The unit is typically removable from preventing theft. The performance of portable vs. fixed units is very comparable.
There are three factors to consider when deciding what type of display you want on your fish finder. They are color, size, and pixels. Do you want a black & white or a color display? Users report that color displays are much easier to see in overcast or low-light conditions.
Units with black & white displays are usually more affordable. The size of the screen is the next decision. Just like your phone, notepad, or computer, larger displays are much easier to see and use.
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However, as the size of the screen increases so does the price. Pixel numbers are similar to your TV set. There are cheaper units with low pixel counts and expensive ones with HD screens. Deciding what color, size and pixel count you want help to narrow down your decision further.
The transducer is the eyes for any fish finder/ sonar system. The transducer shoots out a beam of sound waves at a particular angle from 9-degrees to be 60-degrees. Fewer degrees perform well at deeper depths while wider beam angles allow you to see more in shallow water.
Consider what conditions you fish most often. A good all-around transducer angle is 20-degrees. Some more expensive fishfinders use multiple transducers to allow you to see down, and also to the sides of your boat.
Most people are very happy with a single (down) transducer system. Decide what your needs are and match them to your price range. Learn more about transducers here.
Many manufacturers make units that are both a fish finder and a GPS unit. Of course, these dual-function units cost more money. Keep in mind where you fish most often. GPS capable units allow you to plot points so you can remember hot spots where you have had success in the past.
They can also help with navigation. If you fish most often in ponds, lakes, or rivers, GPS may not be necessary.
If you fish in the ocean a good deal, GPS is a valuable safety tool to have on your boat. A combination fish finder/GPS helps to eliminate the need for two separate units and can save space in your boat.
When choosing your best fish finder for the money, keep in mind that not all manufacturers are the same. I suggest that you focus your search on established brands. Lowrance, Humminbird, Garmin, and Raymarine have been producing marine electronics for a long time.
These companies will stand behind their products if you have any problems. In the portable market, many people are happy with Fish Hunter and Deeper Smart brands as well.
Comfort and Convenience
Buying the best fishfinder for the money can be a complicated decision. However, if you follow this step-by-step decision guide, you can quickly focus on the units that are best for your individual needs. As with any other product, the more you spend, the more you get.
There are two ways for fish finders to scan fishes and structures below your boat—side scan and down scan.
Down scan imaging is powerful and focused but it can make you miss targets that are not passing directly underneath. On the other hand, side scan fish would enable you to scan lots of water but isn’t as effective as down scan imaging for deep waters.
You’d want to get a fish finder with both side and down scan imaging. It’s like getting the best of both worlds.
Design and durability
The design of the shape can affect where and how the device will be mounted on your watercraft.
You should also get a fish finder that is waterproof and weather resistant. If you’re looking to fish in saltwater, then buy a fish finder that is designed to resist corrosion.
This is a function that is particularly useful if you swim with a buddy. With a Wi-Fi capable fish finder, you can connect to a phone or tablet and still see the images shown on the fish finder.
So in effect, you get to have an extra screen aside from the fish finder. This means you don’t have to jockey for position with your buddy in seeing the images flashed on the fish finder.
How To Use Fish Finder (Beginner to Advance Guide)
If you’re looking up this Section, you may know the basics of fish finders already, but this information will take you to the next level.By fine-tuning both your fish-finding abilities, and your ability to use a fish finder, your fishing game will increase drastically.
After you learn to properly utilize the zoom feature of your fish finder, you can get a better understanding of the areas you are fishing in.
You need to understand that the way lines pop up on the screen can be counter-intuitive. For example, a hard bottom will show up as a thin bottom line, while soft bottoms present a thick bottom line.
This happens because sonar waves penetrate soft bottoms to some degree before bouncing back and giving information to the fish finder.
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Ultimately, to understand whether the bottom of the area you are fishing over is hard or soft, you need to zoom in far enough to see the last five or ten feet of water being picked up by your fish finder.
Most fish finders come with a transom-mount transducer. This useful feature can get you better results, but only if you know how to calibrate it properly. To get good feedback, try adjusting the settings, or changing your location entirely. For the fine mount, you must be need to know How To Use Fish Finder
When you are receiving poor details and info from your fish finder, these settings are often why. By adjusting them, you unlock a much better ability to use your location features.
Turbulence can also interfere with the readings you’re getting from the fish finder. When you are having interference from turbulence, changing settings in the transom-mount reducer is a perfect solution.
Any quality fish finder on the market today has highly sensitive tuning capabilities. While this will benefit you greatly in still waters, you might find that it seems like a detriment in rougher areas.
If you don’t know how to adjust your settings to do well in rougher water‘s, or those with thick plank-tonic or algae growth, you will be lost at sea.
When you find yourself in this situation, simply peak the transducer slowly work your way down from the maximum setting. Eventually, you will get to a perfect area of sensitivity.
Another important tip for tuning is that it’s always ill-advised to boost filters when trying to reduce surface clutter. All this will do is decrease the amount of sensitivity your tuner is experiencing.
Filters may give you a better view of surface features, but it will do little to give you a clear view of the area below the surface that really matters.
Understanding the Interface
Fish finders should always be used in conjunction with your chart-plotter. This will help you understand the various visual signifies that show up on your fish finder.
If you have a combo unit, using the split-screen feature so you can see both the fish finding and chart-plotter data is highly recommended. Those who failed to invest in a combo system, should try to invest in one if at all possible.
You will be able to easily scroll between important information, and you can easily reroute to any area that promises a better chance of catching big amounts of fish.
With these amazing tips, you will get a lot more use out of your fish finder. Once you begin having a more finessed approach to your fishing excursions, you will never go back to fishing blind again.
Now that we have listed the best fishfinders in the market today, there’s just one question that needs to be answered—what is the best model in this list?
While there are lots of top rated fish finders in this list, we have to go with the Garmin Striker 4 Fish Finder.
It has the advanced functions you would want from a top rated mode—CHIRP sonar, DownVision technology, Wi-Fi compatibility and a large, 5.5 inch screen.
It’s very easy to install and operate. And the price is a steal for all its good qualities. It is hard to argue that the Garmin Striker 4 Fish Finder is the king of fish finders today.