Looking for a good fish finder? Start by browsing the best fish finder reviews. These are editor recommended fish finders with a 5 star rating and sure to make you come home with lots of fish.
Only have a minute? No problem. Here are the Top 3 fish finders I would recommend to my dad or fishing buddy:
#1: Garmin Fishfinder 160C - Color display, detects down to 900 feet. Read full review...
#2: Humminbird 365I - Built in GPS, big screen, and 300 power packed watts of sonar. Read full review...
#3: Garmin Fishfinder 90 - The best entry level fish finder. Costs less than $80 and "it just works." Read full review...
When you are ready to catch the most fish while out fishing you need to know a little bit about how fish finders work. It is actually very cool how they look through the water around your boat using sonar. Sure you can go fishing without one. But with all of the GPS and other features, your fish finder will be your new fishing buddy.
We have written more about how the fishfinder uses sonar here. Read this if you would like a more detailed explanation. Or you can just keep looking at our reviews. They are sure to help you find the right unit and technology for your fishing rig.
Price is a very important consideration when it comes time to buy a fish finder. Some units are priced at over $800, while the prices on some budget fishfinders can be under $100. Naturally there is a wide range because there are many features, performance levels, mount styles, and brands available.
Of course the more you spend the better fishfinder you'll get. But here in the real world, we have ranked our reviews but also by price. Our first recommendation is to understand how much money you can spend. From there you can get the right high performance model to match your fishing needs.
Power ratings are a pretty good way to compare two different fishfinders. All things being equal, the fishfinder with a higher RMS power output will have a easier to read display, more accurate sonar, usually be higher quality, and have more advanced features.
The power rating mostly affects the sonar output. With more power the sonar is clearer and updates faster. This lets you find more fish around your boat in the water. Slower updates mean the LCD screen updates slower. This means you catch less fish.
This is another area where bigger is better. A higher resolution screen is easier to read on your boat. It will also show more fish. It just makes it more easy to use all around.
We recommend to get the biggest screen possible. All our fish finder reviews have the screen size listed. This helps you find a good display.
When you see numbers like 640x480, you read it like a computer display. These are the amounts of pixels on the LCD screen. The higher the numbers the more fish you can see.
Display size is related to resolution on your fish finder. Size is expressed in inches. The bigger the physical size, the easier and larger the display is.
Some of the best fish finders have an 8 inch screen. Some of the cheaper ones are about 3 inches diagonal. You will pay more for a bigger screen. But even if you get one that is 4 inches across, that does not mean it won't work. It will find fish, work a transducer, and be reliable anyway.
Portable fish finders are a new type of mount. They are very popular with kayaks and kayakers. But I have seen portable units mounted on a full boat as well. They just don't tap the hull.
You will pay a little bit more for a portable version. Humminbird makes several models that also come in a portable model.
They all work the same, and have the same screens. The only difference is they can be moved to the boat of your buddy easily. You can read our full reviews on this site, and the portable fish finders are noted throughout.
The transducer is the guts of the sonar system. Without a transducer your fish finder can't see. Soem high end fishfinders do not come with a transducer (you can swap the displays and transducers out) but for the most part we review devices with transducers.
This makes is easier for you to start fishing.
You will see lots of terms used to describe transducer features. Single beam, dual beam, etc. Don't worry - it's very easy to understand.
A single beam or single frequency transducer operates sonar with one sound frequency. They cost less and work well for shallow ocean waters, or for lakes. If you like to fish inland or near the coast you will do fine with these styles.
Dual frequency and dual beam transducer work well in deep water. They have a secondary sonar frequency that is not as "wide" but can penetrate the deep ocean water better. You see less of an area but it is deeper.
Dual beam transducers also work in shallow water with their primary frequency. Don't worry if this makes no sense. Just find a fish finder that is reviewed well and rated for the depths you like to fish at.
This is another important consideration. A through the hull mount offers better performance and display clarity. The downside is you mount it into the hull of your boat.
Transom mounts are more portable and easier to install. But they are not as effective, especially when you go over 12 knots. For most people that will be fine. Plus transom mounts can cost much less.