Some may say that fishing is more about the journey than the destination, but at the end of the day, you still want that catch! One way that is catching more and more attention is using a fish finder.
Humminbird HELIX 5 DI
iBobber Wireless Bluetooth Smart
Garmin Striker 4 GPS
Venterior Portable Wired
3D Chart View
Micro SD card slot
Depth & Temprature
|45 Degree Sensor Beam
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This device, that in theory, will help you detect whether or not you are near fish and other objects in the water. While this sounds great, there are several factors that may have people skeptical about even the best fish finders. Some questions that may be raised are:
- Do these even work?
- Aren’t they too expensive?
- Aren’t these only needed in deep water?
- Is it too hard for a casual fisherman to use?
There are a lot of myths and misconceptions about fish finders out there. In order to help you find the best fish finder, it’s important that we not only cover some of the different options out there. Equally important is understanding how a fish finder works, so you get what you want for your hard-earned money.
What Is A Fish Finder?
The easiest way to understand a fish finder is to break it down into its two main parts — the display and the transducer. The display is a basic screen setup with simple computing power. While this is what will go in your boat or angler kayak if you have one, the transducer does the bulk of the work.
The transducer goes into the water and sends sonar waves into it. When these waves of sound hit something in the water, the transducer estimates the size and depth of the object. This information is then sent back up to the display. Don’t worry about scaring any fish, there’s lots of other noise in the marine environment! These sound waves will be far from the only thing fish hear.
While it’s obvious that this will help in your search for fish, any object in the water will be picked up. These range from logs, rocks, shallow water, and other potential hazards. This capability means that some fishermen may even use their finder when they aren’t actually fishing.
The majority of fish finders will come with some sort of mount to help you attach it to your boat. Other models of fish finders tend to have more and more extra features as the pricetag goes up. Some things to look for are GPS functionality or water temperature detection.
More expensive finders tend to be more accurate, sometimes even telling between different types of fish. At the same time, though, even the most basic version can be a major asset. What makes the best fish finder, though? That may be a bit more complex.
Will A Fish Finder Help Me Catch More Fish?
At the core, the best aspect of a fish finder is that it helps you save time. If you’ve been fishing for a while and are having trouble finding any luck, this could be a great time to use your finder.
Maybe the fish don’t care for this area, and you’re better off looking somewhere else. Or, maybe there are fish, but they don’t respond to the type of lure you’re using. This lets you know that you may want to switch up what you’re using to attract the fish.
At the same time, you may want to be more aggressive with your finder. As you move through the water on your boat, keep an eye on your finder to see what’s going on below. If you see an area with a lot of objects under it that look like fish, this may be the time to stop and start casting.
Sometimes, other objects that you see below the surface may be valuable. Underwater rock outcroppings or other structures may be hiding potential fish that the finder can’t detect. And of course, knowing what’s in the water decreases your chances of hitting a snag.
It’s important to realize, of course, that a fish finder is just a machine. Even the best fish finders aren’t infallible. The soundwaves won’t always pick up every single detail, particularly in choppy or muddy water. In addition, it may be difficult to determine whether or not the object being picked up is an actual fish or something inanimate, like a plant.
Don’t get discouraged or think your fish finder is broken. At the end of the day, this is another tool to make things easier for you, like a new bait or rod. It’s still going to be your skill and choices when using those tools that help you catch fish.
Every fish finder provides settings to adjust the sonar waves the transducer sends out, as well as the sensitivity of things that get picked up. Don’t be surprised if you have to mess with these a bit before seeing some success.
The Best Fish Finders — Our Reviews
iBobber Wireless Bluetooth Smart Fish Finder
The iBobber is unique among fish finders in the sense that it’s not just a separate piece of technology. This is a combination fish finder and app synced via Bluetooth. The app itself has much of the typical features you’d expect from a traditional fish finder. These include marking spots, mapping waterbeds, as well as the ability to mark lures, species, and photos in a log.
Before trying it, I had to admit, I was a bit skeptical about how well the iBobber would work, just because it’s a bit off the beaten path. However, after giving it a try, I was quite pleased. Combining a finder with a smartphone app may give a whole new section of more casual fishermen an entry point to use this valuable tool.
First, I want to discuss the actual depth finder itself. The iBobber’s finder, which syncs to your smartphone via the app, is extremely small and light. This can be a plus for those looking to be as portable as possible with their fishing tools.
I found that this basically is equal to similar traditional fish finders in its price range in terms of accuracy. This is around the middle of the spectrum, so while not a bargain, it’s easily affordable.
While this is the top seller on Amazon, several reviews report having issues with connectivity and battery life. In some cases, they needed replacements. In most cases, the replacements worked fine. Personally, I had no problems with either issue while trying out the iBobber. The nature of this combined with its price means that I would consider this one of the best fish finders for newcomers. Simplicity and value are the two strong points here.
Venterior Portable Wired Fish Finder
The Venterior carries a far lower price point than the other 3 selections in this list. As a result, you need to take the price into consideration when using. Overall, I found it to be worth its price, and will be an effective starter fish finder for those on the fence. At the same time, there are a few issues with it that I will get into.
The nicest things about this from a starter budget fish finder perspective is how easy the Venterior is to set up. All you need to do is put in the necessary batteries and adjust some of the settings until you are comfortable. These settings are relatively basic, such as battery saving mode, alarms, backlights, and more. As a result, you don’t need to spend a lot of time setting up before you begin fishing.
When it comes to actual detection of fish, I found that this is overall relatively effective at finding where fish are. However, sometimes silt or bubbles and the water can confuse the finder. Overall, though, these incidents were at a minimum, and the finder does a great job of helping you find out the contours in the water.
The one major issue I found, thankfully, isn’t too hard to work around. The cable to the transducer is extremely long. I assume this is to be dropped off a bridge or floated in the water. In a boat, however, it is a bit unwieldy. For my tests, I ended up just working around this, but for extended use, you may want to tie the cable off.
The Venterior is a perfectly effective and cheap starter fish finder. If you are a more casual fisherman looking to cut down time you spend looking for fish hotspots, this is a great choice. I can see why Amazon shoppers chose it as one of the best fish finders when you’re on a budget.
Garmin Striker 4 GPS Fish Finder
I mentioned before that the Venterior and iBobber were both great starter options for fish finders for different reasons. But at some point, you may want to move beyond these into more of an intermediate option. This Garmin is a good example of what the next step may be if you want to go further into fish finders.
The most appealing thing I found when first looking at the Garmin was how easy it is to navigate the features. This includes using its GPS receiver to mark certain spots. One of the major issues that people have when using fish finders for the first time is getting overwhelmed by all the settings and features. This is a major help in that regard.
As far as the accuracy of the fish finder itself, I found that the Garmin was perfectly acceptable. While it wasn’t as accurate as some of the top of the line finders out there, I found that the readings were mostly accurate. They were also easy to understand This is also easy to mount, which can be a plus if you are new to finders.
On the whole, while the Garmin didn’t blow me away in any particular area, I was pleased by how solid it is overall in multiple areas. If you’re ready for a fish finder with some extra features but don’t want to break the bank, this is a great finder to choose.
Humminbird HELIX 5 DI GPS Fish Finder
Humminbird is one of the bigger names in fish finders, so it’s no surprise that they are represented in the top sellers. This particular model comes combined with a GPS to help you navigate your way to some of the best areas to fish.
It also has a micro SD slot to help you save maps and waypoints so you can keep track of where these best areas are. Note that these features come with a premium in price. The Humminbird likely won’t be a starter fish finder for most people.
I decided to test this finder in two parts. First, I looked at how well it scanned the lake floor where I like to fish and see how it’s imaging worked. After that, I tested the GPS and marking functions to see how well those worked.
Firstly, the actual finding capabilities of the Humminbird were extremely smooth. After adjusting some of the settings, I had no issue getting an accurate picture of both fish and other sunken objects at the bottom of the water.
The GPS functions of this finder are effective as well. However, I must mention that getting them to work was a bit more complex. This is pretty indicative of the Humminbird overall. Its base function as a fish finder is excellent. The added GPS functions are effective for fishermen who may go to the same body of water often also. However, making the most use of it takes some time. Be prepared to be sitting with this finder for a while before you find settings that suit you best.
What To Look For In A Fish Finder
The market for fish finders has exploded, with models for beginners and pros, bargains and cutting-edge options alike. With so much to choose from, there are a few essential things you should consider while you’re shopping for a fish finder.
Most fish finders have a basic LCD screen to display what the transducer picks up. However, some models use down/side imaging. The higher frequency with these leads to a clearer picture, but rather than being seen left to right, you see top to bottom. The top, of course, is where your boat is.
Some higher-end models have a combination sonar and chartplotter display. This setup allows you to search for fish and check your map at the same time.
In general, each mounted transducer should be placed where a smooth flow of water will pass over its face at all times. This will ensure accurate ratings. However, there are several different types of mounts out there. The most popular type is the transom-mount, working best when it is slightly below the boat’s hull. These are generally also recommended for aluminum or steel-hulled boats.
With a shoot-thru-hull mount, the transducer is bonded to the inside of the hull with epoxy. Note that this is only recommended with certain transducers, as some signal strength is lost when put in the hull.
Bolt-thru-hull mounts are similar. In this case, the transducer is mounted through the hull by means of a threaded shaft and nut. There is also a trolling motor mount for boats that use trolling motors.
In general, what you will find on the market mostly are 192 or 200 kHz (kilohertz) frequencies. Some come in at 50 kHz, while others are dual frequency capable. This means that they can run at either 50 or 200 kHz depending on your choice of settings.
The question here is clarity vs. penetration. 192/200 will allow a better resolution and depiction of underwater targets. While a 50 kHz can go deeper into the water, you get less definition.
Another thing to consider is what the cone angle of your transducer will be. The wider the cone, the greater area that is covered. If you plan on fishing in shallow to medium-depth waters, go for a wider cone.
Narrow cones will go to deeper depths. But due to their narrow beams, you will see less fish and structures than with a wider cone. At the end of the day, picking the best fish finder is a matter of knowing what you need
The Best Fish Finders In Review
The fish finder may have the reputation of a tool for only advanced or professional fishermen, but that is way off base. With technology not only advancing, but prices dropping, fish finders are much more of a viable option for everyone.
Whether you want to cut down on your time looking for fish or chart out some of your favorite grounds, fish finders are a useful tool for anyone.
At the same time, this isn’t simple as trying a new lure. As a result, it’s important that you know both how they work and how to make one work for you. Hopefully, this article both provided insights on what some of the best fish finders are on the market. Hopefully, you now have the knowledge to use these finders to get the best catches you can find. Happy fishing!