Spending time on the water is relaxing, and you might even want to spend your entire day there. If you’re a fisher, it can get frustrating to just sit on the lake without getting a bite, regardless of the type of bait you use.
Fish finders are incredibly useful tools that help anglers find out where all the fishes are swimming off to, so we’ve taken five popular fish finders and compared them against one another to see which one comes out as the best fish finder.
Best Fish Finder Reviews
1. Garmin Striker 4 Fish Finder
The Garmin brand is so well-known and reputable, so it makes sense that it’s the first fish finder to review. The brand has built a legacy for itself, and while it might be an entry-level fish finder, it appears to have the features of a higher-grade model. Does it compare with the pricier models on our list? Let’s find out.
As one of the most affordable fishfinders on the market, the Garmin Striker 4 packs a lot of punch. It’s straight to the point, features GPS, and lets anglers see what’s happening beneath their boat and locate the fish.It has a 3.5-inch color display that’s positioned on a body shaped like an old mobile phone. The screen displays what’s happening beneath the water by using CHIRP technology, and the integrated GPS lets you create waypoints to keep you from getting lost or losing track of where the fishes are. Additionally, the Striker 4 provides the option of reading the data in a flasher-mode format.
What’s to like about the Garmin Striker 4 Fish Finder
The affordability of the Garmin Striker 4 is something that we liked the most, and we found it to be very user-friendly. We also really liked the built-in flasher mode, the highly sensitive GPS, and the fact that it gives depth readings and temperature. The UltraScroll feature was a nice addition since we could see fishes at higher boat speeds.
What’s not to like about the Garmin Striker 4 Fish Finder
Firstly, the size of the screen and the overall design of the Striker 4 was a definite let down for us. While the detail in the image was precise, the display and device were small, and we feel it would be better as a larger unit. There also didn’t appear to be any maps, and the transducer wouldn’t be suitable for ice fishing.
2. Deeper Pro Plus Sonar
We were pretty surprised when we uncovered the Deeper Pro Plus Sonar. Its shape, packaging, and broad range of features drew us in immediately, and we needed to test it out. The majority of other fish finders are used with a transducer mounted to the boat, but the Deeper Pro Plus can get casted with a heavy rod, too. Is that a pro or a con?
The Pro Plus uses Wi-Fi to connect, just like many other mobile fish finders. The connection range comes in at approximately 250 feet, and the device uses a dual-channel sonar transducer. The first channel is excellent for locating fish and the second channel is great for going to deeper depths.GPS was included with the design of the Pro Plus and is used to create color-coded maps at the bottom of water bodies with the integrated mapping software. The built-in GPS is an upgrade from their previous models.There are four different modes featured on the Pro Plus app that enable you to get the most out of your fish finder. Additionally, there are different color modes. Anglers can access all their data and maps from the coveted Lakebook cloud platform.
What’s to like about the Deeper Pro Plus Sonar
The design and build of the Pro Plus were noticeable right away. It’s high quality, but still light enough that standard rods can cast it into the water. We also like that the different modes as it makes it ideal to use with various types of fishing, and the Wi-Fi and sonar depth range is impressively high.
What’s not to like about the Deeper Pro Plus Sonar
Even though the Pro Plus is on the expensive side, the battery life just wasn’t up to par like previous models were. We also felt that it should have included a night fishing cover instead of only a built-in LED light.
3. Venterior Portable Fish Finder
Portable fish finders bring a certain amount of convenience to fishing, so it only made sense that we included one on our list. Whether or not it’s the best is still to be determined, but the Venterior Portable Fish Finder is the third device that we reviewed.
The Venterior Portable Fish Finder is as basic as it comes. It has one sensor and a small screen with average resolution. Regardless, it offers a few essential features that all anglers are looking for as it can locate and measure the depth of the water and identify vegetation, weeds, sand, and rocks.This fish finder puts the sonar beam out at a 45-degree angle and reads from three feet up to 330 feet. It also shows the location of your fish targets, though doesn’t let you know how big the fishes are unless the sensitivity is set to high; low sensitivity only picks up small fishes.Venterior designed their portable fish finder with users and budgets in mind. It’s simple, affordable, and has minimal buttons to keep things as effortless as possible while using it.
What’s to like about the Venterior Portable Fish Finder
The affordability of the Venterior Portal Fish Finder is what sells most people. We liked that it was very user-friendly and feel it would be a suitable option for a beginner. It’s easy to set up and understand. We also like that it has a one-year manufacturer’s warranty.
What’s not to like about the Venterior Portable Fish Finder
Unfortunately, because it is a basic model, it is missing out on some features that would be beneficial for more experienced anglers. The one sonar beam doesn’t seem to cut it. It also doesn’t show the size of the fish and doesn’t save any preferred measurement units.
4. Humminbird Helix 5 G2 Fish Finder
Humminbird is one of the most well-known brand names when it comes to marine electronics. There was no way that we couldn’t compare one of their impressive devices with the other fish finders in our comparison chart. While Humminbird continues to upgrade and make advancements in the industry, we’re going to see if the Helix 5 G2 really is worth the money.
The Humminbird Helix 5 G2 is without a doubt an incredible product that has great features and performs excellently. Its CHIRP Sonar technology, transducer, built-in GPS, UniMap software, and Fish ID Plus make it a tool worth using.The battery lasts up to seven hours of consistent use, and the integrated sonar recording allows you to save your spot with a memory card or even rewind to get an additional look. The UniMaps charting is there to show you coastlines, islands, rivers, lakes, and more, though you can still equip the device with software such as Lake Master or Navionics Chart.Unlike some other units, the Humminbird G2 offers 2D sonar and CHIRP imaging over multiple frequencies, and the included transducer can reach to a 1500-foot depth and recognizes water temperature.
What’s to like about the Humminbird Helix 5 G2 Fish Finder
We found that using the G2 fish finder was simple, and fishes were clearly marked. The screenshot and sonar recording feature is another great benefit that we feel sets this model apart, and we also like that it included a micro-SD card, as it saved us from having to purchase one on our own.
What’s not to like about the Humminbird Helix 5 G2 Fish Finder
Deep inside, no one really likes to shell out hundreds of dollars for a fish finder, so we do feel it is pretty expensive. We didn’t like that there wasn’t a unit cover included with the device, and no saving mode feature in case the battery dies.
5. Raymarine Dragonfly 4 Pro Fish Finder
Did we save the best for last? The Raymarine Dragonfly 4 Pro Fish Finder is known for its reliability, just as much as the Raymarine brand is. The company specializes in marine electronics and providing anglers with the tools they need to get the most out of fishing. The last fish finder on our list could be the next one in your collection.
The Dragonfly 4 Pro has a 4.3-inch LCD that’s optically bonded and guaranteed not to fog up under cold and damp weather conditions. The high resolution promises a crisp, bright, and easy-to-see image regardless of the weather.As one of the first companies to create CHIRP technology, the 4 Pro has Raymarine’s trademarked DownVisionTM software included on the interface, giving a broad view of the water beneath the boat. There is also a screenshot function that allows you to share your data with other fishers, and it’s compatible with the Raymarine’s Wi-Fish app and Navionics Chart. The micro-SD slot is there to give you the option of uploading additional software, files, and mapping packages that can be used with the built-in GPS navigation.
What’s to like about the Raymarine Dragonfly 4 Pro Fish Finder
Once again, the affordability of this unit and the promise that’s backed by a reputable brand name is comforting. We also like that it’s compatible with Navionics Chart and that it has a micro-SD slot. The built-in GPS and integrated Wi-Fi are nice features, too.
What’s not to like about the Raymarine Dragonfly 4 Pro Fish Finder
While the 4.3-inch display is a decent size, it is too small for split-screen usage, which is a downfall. We also didn’t like that there aren’t any NMEA connectors or built-in sonar recording options. Though recording can still be done via the app, so it’s an easily resolved issue.
Dozens of fish finders get manufactured yearly but choosing one doesn’t need to be as challenging as you might think it is. Even experienced anglers sometimes have difficulties purchasing a fish finder just because technology is continuously changing and staying up to date with the devices can be difficult. We’ve put together a brief buyer’s guide for you, so the task of buying your fishing tool would be easier.
Frequencies (Dual, Single, and Multiple)
Frequency is an absolutely crucial part of the fish finder, but if you are new to fish finders, it’s likely that you don’t understand what role it plays in the device. The frequency is an essential feature of the transducer, which is typically included when you buy a fish finder. To put it simply, the higher the frequency, the higher the detail on your screen.
The majority of fishfinder transducers have 50, 83, 192, and 200 kilohertz (kHz), and are offered with single, dual, or multiple frequencies. When running a dual or multiple frequency, you can choose which map and screen run at the highest and which runs at the lowest frequency.
Another crucial element to your fish finder is the power. The power is usually measured in watts and works like anything else that uses that measurement. The higher the wattage, the greater the impact. Fishfinders that have higher wattage are faster, more effective, and display readings and depth tracking better.
If you plan on using your fish finder in shallow, fresh water, then a device with a lower wattage would be more than suitable. However, for experienced and advanced anglers who spend time in deep or salt waters, it’s recommended that you purchase a unit that has at least a 1000 wattage.
The size of the screen on your fish finder isn’t as important as some of the other features, but it depends on what you want to see on your screen. If the screen is large, you’re more likely to have a clear and crisp image. It’s also easier to understand the data that gets displayed on the screens.
Larger screens are also beneficial when it comes to models that allow you to add multiple maps to your screen or ones that would enable you to customize and show a wide view and down view.
Screen Resolution or Color
Getting the best image on your screen means investing in a fish finder that has a high resolution. The more pixels, the more details you can see. It’s suggested that you don’t go any lower than 240 x 160 pixels when purchasing a fish finder, but even that is low and would provide a poor image. Investing a few extra dollars for a model that has a higher resolution could save you a headache from having to focus so hard on the screen.
Many fish detector models come with the ability to choose between colored or black-and-white displays. The benefit of selecting a black-and-white display is it’s going to cost you less. However, buying a unit that has a colored screen is going to provide you with a brighter image, more detail, and the ability to view the screen in brighter lights.
Wireless Device Compatibility
Everyone loves Wi-Fi. If there is a device that isn’t Wi-Fi compatible, it can turn many customers away, so many fish finders can now connect to other Wi-Fi compatible devices.
This feature becomes highly convenient when you want to control your fish finder and view your images regardless of where you’re at. Some even include their own apps that allow you to upload and transfer data to your devices and share it with your friends who are using the same platform.
Preloaded Maps and Charts
Not all fishfinders on the market have the preloaded maps and charts feature, but it’s something that is beneficial. It’s certainly not necessary when purchasing one, though it can save you quite a bit of money in the long run. There are plenty of map packages that are quite expensive, so if the device that you’re looking at already has them included, the value of the detector immediately goes up. Not to mention, you won’t have to search for the specific package you need to download.
Fish Finder FAQs
What is a Fish Finder?
A fish finder is a tool that’s primarily used to detect fish underneath the water. It uses sonar technology to pick up on sound energy and converts the data to a screen where the fisher can use the information to assess where to move next. Fishfinders pick up schools of fish, individual fishes, the bottom of the water bed, and obstacles beneath the surface.
How to Use a Fish Finder?
Using your fish finder is going to depend on the model that you purchase, and you can usually find step-by-step instruction guides in the documentation provided with your purchase. To help you a bit further, you can use some of these tips to find fish and map them, too.
- Depending on the mode your fish finder is in, the fish might show up differently. Smaller fishes might appear as small circles, blobs, and even ticks.
- If you are looking for a larger fish, look for noticeable arches on display, and sometimes even large dots. Fishes such as catfish, salmon, and others are large enough to give off enough energy to form a solid shape.
- Use your display data to uncover what kind of terrain is under your boat. The thick line at the bottom of your screen represents the bottom of the water you’re in. Usually, the line appears red.
- If you have the option, switch your fish finder into the dual-screen mode so that you can use the chart plotter feature. This lets you mark it when you spot a group of fish and come back to it later.
How to Read Fish Finder Screens?
Reading a fish finder screen isn’t as complicated as some might believe. While it does take time to get used to, a little practice is all it takes. Typically, there are three types of screens on your fish finder, and we’ve compiled some information about each one to help you read them.
- 2D Sonar Interpretation: Traditional or standard sonars use cone-shaped “beams” to pick up the water column. The higher the frequency, the wider the cone and the more area gets covered. With the 2D interpretations, the newer returns are at the right, while the oldest ones go to the left. Fishes show up as arches, dots, or round marks if they are small while the large ones are more noticeable and have a solid color in the middle because it returns the signal easier.
- Down Imaging: Fishes look the same with down imaging as they do with 2D sonar interpretation, though they can appear smaller because of the water column.
- Side Imaging: Fishes aren’t as easy to spot with side imaging because the beam is at the side rather than underneath. Fishes appear as shadows, the smallest ones looking more like cotton balls.
What to Look for in a Fish Finder?
When purchasing a fish finder, what you should look for is going to depend on what you use it for. While the primary function of these units is to find fishes, they can also be used for a variety of other things.
If you are using it only to find fishes, you might want to look for a device that features a down image or a typical CHIRP sonar. If you also want to see what’s happening around your boat and directly beneath it, investing in a fish finder that also features a side imaging sonar would be exceptionally useful for you.
How to Read a Fish Finder?
Reading a fish finder isn’t that challenging, though it does require some practice, and it can be confusing if it’s your first time using it. Depending on the type of sonar you’re using, the data is going to show up differently.
Fishes are easy to spot if they’re larger and they always appear as a larger blob or arch with a solid center because they are big enough to create enough sound energy. Smaller fishes, on the contrary, can appear as dots, ticks, cotton balls, and more.
Most fish finders offer the fish symbol feature. If you aren’t able to read your fish finder, you can activate that feature, and the dots and curves turn into fish symbols to let you know where they are.
After spending a reasonable amount of time looking into each of the five fish finders and finding out how they differ from one another and what features one has that the other doesn’t, we’ve made our decision. Determining the best fish finder wasn’t easy, but someone had to do the job.Fish finders are a complex item because there are so many variations. We understand that the detector we recommend might not be the same that someone else would suggest, and that’s okay. We made our decision based on all-around general features, a decent price tag, reputation, and if the benefits outweigh the cons.The Raymarine Dragonfly 4 Pro Fish Finder is a fantastic tool to add to your boat. It’s not entirely over the top and stuffed with features that make it unaffordable but includes enough to be appealing to both beginners and experienced anglers. The dual-channel sonar, Wi-Fi app capability, and included trademarked software is enough to make spotting fishes that much easier.On the off chance that you are looking for something more, Raymarine does offer a broad range of upgraded Pro items such as the Raymarine Dragonfly 4DV Pro Fish Finder. It has a lot of the same features as the 4 Pro, but some differences set it apart. Happy fishing!