In order to fish like a pro you are going to need the right equipment. One of the essentials is a portable fish finder. They have been around for a long time (since the 1950s), but now with advancements in modern technology, they are better and more affordable than ever before.
To catch a lot of fish, you first need to know where the fish are. If you stand in the same spot every day, then you probably won’t have much success. You need to move around and really understand what’s underneath the water. That’s where a fish finder comes into play. This device will help you understand your surroundings and help you locate different types of fish. It uses a sonar system to create digital images for you to examine. When a sound waves hits something (fish, rocks, etc) it sends back a response to the GPS. You will instantly know what’s underneath the surface. In addition, there are plenty of other features that are useful for fisherman.
Our Top Choices
There are hundreds of fish finders available for sale but only a few actually get the job done. We took a look at some of the top selling products, latest technologies, and newest releases to find our which fish finder performed the best.
We used a few simple criteria to decide on the best fish finders. First, we wanted something that was easy to use and understand. Our preference was for “plug in and go” models that required few initial settings adjustments and had quick out of the box and into the water setup times. We also considered functionality. We looked for the latest GPS technology and chart plotting functionality and new sonar technologies. Take a look below at our brief fish finder reviews.
The Best Inexpensive Fish Finder
The Garmin Echo 101 is the best choice out of all discount fish finders. It has a 4 inch, black and white display monitor that features Garmin’s patented HD-ID tracking technology. You will be able to see detailed images right as they appear. The advanced sonar will allow you to scan up to 1500 feet, that’s more than enough depth for freshwater lakes.
This model is easy to set up. It comes with a power cable, mounting bracket, and trolling motor clamp. It’s pretty much ready to go after you open the box. The interface is simple and easy to navigate as well. After a few outings you will be an expert at using this device, even if you’re not great with technology.
This model does not come with all the advanced features that higher-end models have, but it will get the job done. If you are looking for a cheap fish finder, then this is the model for you.
The Best Fish Finder For the Money
The Garmin Echo 550c is a feature-packed user friendly fish finder that allows you to see defined detail down to 1900ft in freshwater environments. The heart of the Garmin echoMAP 43dv is a dual-beam transducer that has a 120 degree viewing angle. It uses Garmin HD-ID target tracking technology to find fish with its powerful sonar. You also get the ability to rewind. The unit stores history so you can go back and look at what you missed.
Our favorite feature is the easy-to-use and understand layout. There are only 8 buttons on the device. The menus are simple and easy to navigate so there is no real need to open the manual to figure out what everything does. The bracket mount system is revolutionary in its simplicity. You don’t need to mess around with a bunch of plugs. Just clip the unit into the bracket and you are ready to go.
The 4.3-inch display shows excellent details. You can see fish returns, structure and bottom contour without a problem. Resolution and picture quality are top-notch, even in bright sunlight and high glare conditions.
The Garmin echoMAP 43dv is an excellent value. It’s a lot less expensive than other full featured models. The most important feature is that it works perfectly. The echoMAP 43dv displays fish with exceptional detail and delivers optimum bottom definition. It’s easy to use and set up so you can spend less time messing with electronics and more time catching fish. The echoMAP 43dv is easily the best value.
The Best High-End Model
The Raymarine Dragonfly is feature-packed and (considering the features that set it apart from the competition) quite affordable compared to the other advanced fish finders on the market. Raymarine sets the Dragonfly apart with two distinct technologies. The first is CHIRP spread-spectrum “ClearPluse.” It sends out fish finding signals through multiple frequencies instead of a single spectrum frequency. Together with Raymarine’s “DownVision”, a high frequency down-view high resolution scan, the Dragonfly delivers a clearer image of what rests beneath the water than anything we’ve seen in a fish finder in this price range.
This model is incredibly simple to use. There are only a few buttons on the front below a 5.7-inch color LCD. The interface is intuitive to anyone who has used a fish finder. It was designed to be simple and easy to understand. The functions are admittedly basic. If you are looking for an automatic “set up and forget” style device that you don’t need to mess around with, then this is it. If you want something with a ton of advanced menu features and complex functionality that you can adjust you might want to look elsewhere.
Overall, buying a fish finder is a terrific investment. They are almost essential for the modern day fisherman. The good models will be relatively expensive, but the benefits outweigh the costs. Quality models will last a while, help you catch more fish, and help you avoid frustration. They ensure a more enjoyable fishing experience, and isn’t enjoyment what fishing is all about? You simply can’t put a price on enjoyment. And for that reason, I recommend buying one of these fish finders.