If you’re an angler or fisherman, you spend a lot of time looking for good outdoor sports products and best fish finders.
Just as Moby Dick tells the story of a fisherman focused on finding the great white whale, fishermen have their own quest for a whale with their quest for the best fish finders.
There are a lot of fish finders on the market, but most of them will make it easier to find a tin can or boot than a fish. We’ve compiled a list of the best fish finders on the market to help you catch a full seafood dinner in an afternoon.
What Features to Look For When Buying a Fish Finder?
Good fish finders have a few traits that give them the edge over the competition.
The basic idea of a fish finder is the same regardless of model. It uses sound to locate fish under water and display that information for you to read. From there, they vary based on their depth range and other capabilities.
Whether you’re a competitive angler or just looking to throw a few beers in your backpacking tents on the weekends, here are some things to look for when you buy a fish finder.
All fish finders use sound to detect fish underwater. But detecting fish at various depths is more essential, and for that, you need a fish finder with a quality depth range.
If you want to catch fish such as catfish or mullet, you’ll need a fish finder with a good depth range.
Looking for fish at depth is great. But having a GPS in fish finder feature will help you contextualize where you are in the particular body of water you’re in. If you want something more specific than “the Mississippi River” or “Off the coast of Cape Cod,” this is absolutely necessary.
Serious fishermen know that location is everything. So if you’re looking to get the best fish finders, you’ll need something with a high-quality GPS integrated.
Having a decent display size is necessary for a fish finder. If you have a small screen, you’ll have no actual idea where to look for fish. Also while fishing during daylight, it is really hard to see any display against direct sunlight. So having a bigger display is always a must.
You don’t need a plasma screen TV for this. But something five inches or bigger should be enough to give you the context you need for your fishing trip. Failing this, an alternative is an affordable fish finder that will let you see what you’re looking for on your phone screen.
Check out our first contender!
Venterior Portable Fish Finder
iBobber Smart Fish Finder
3 Best Fish Finders
If you want something that’s both a useful fishing tool and a fun high-tech toy, the Humminbird Helix 5 is the best fish finders series you can get your hands on.
The Helix 5 is great because it’s not just one fish finder, but a series of finders depending on your needs.
Prices of products can range from just under $200 to just under $500. The most basic model, the Humminbird Helix 5 Sonar G2, offers a 5” display with over 256 distinct colors. It has a Dual Beam PLUS sonar with a power output of over 4000 watts.
The most expensive model, the CHIRP SI GPS G2, has a maximum depth of 1500 feet out of the box and 2500 feet with an add-on. It has a wide frequency range along with that, meaning this can be considered the best fish finders in the series for its depth range.
Along with this list, we love this one so much it also made our list of the best kayak fish finders.
2. Garmin Striker 5
If you want something that’s accessible to beginners without being an entry-level product, the Garmin Striker 5 might be the best fish finders you can get. That’s because it’s easy to use, and a heck of a lot of fun when you get on the water.
It’s also advanced and high powered.
Like the Humminbird Helix 5’s most expensive model, the Garmin Striker 5 uses a sonar system known as “CHIRP.”
Most sonar systems send one frequency at a time. You can look for information from a high frequency or a low frequency, but you cannot look for information for both at once.
Over the course of an afternoon, this can mean missing out on dozens or even hundreds of fish.
CHIRP sends a wide range of frequencies that are read individually by the advanced system. That means when you see fish show up on your fish finder, you know you’re seeing all the fish there are.
If there’s one pattern you’ll notice here, it’s that CHIRP is awesome and you should absolutely get a fish finder with CHIRP capabilities.
But the Lowrance Hook 7 can be considered the best fish finders for people looking for stellar sonar and a series of cool features beyond sight and sound.
As a matter of fact, this feels so high-tech that it makes you think Lowrance should be making technology for James Bond. Anglers can really rejoice in the fact they work for us and not MI-6.
The big advantage you’ll get out of the Hook-7 is a variety of maps and cool navigation technology. It comes with a built-in map featuring over 3,000 lakes and rivers.
If that’s not enough, you can create your own maps from sonar logs and use those.
With other fish finders, you need to manually adjust your settings to see fish and other details clearly. With the Lowrance Hook-7, you can avoid that responsibility with advanced signal processing. This feature gets that done for you, making it easier for you to focus on catching fish.
Finally, if you’ve had a good fishing excursion, you don’t need to forget about it and just hope for another good one. The Lowrance Hook-7 comes with something called “TrackBack” technology.
TrackBack allows you to review your recorded history after your journey or on your next one. Everything from structure transitions to fish targets can be reviewed easily.
That makes the Hook-7 the best fish finders for anglers looking to keep track of their fishing trips after they return.
Whether you’re looking for a fish finder, a backpack, or cookware, you’ll want the best. Don’t pay through the nose for a poorly made product. And don’t waste your time and money getting the first product you see.
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Did you like this post? If yes, don’t forget to check out our Buyer’s Guide for the Best Fishing Rod Carrier and our Best Backpacking Tents.