Last Updated on February 5, 2021 by Donnell Henderson
Welcome to the ultimate fish finder review, where we’ll be exploring the absolute best fish finders for the money on the market today that can fit any fishing style.
Whether fishing is a hobby or you consider yourself a true fishing pro, there’s nothing worse than spending the entire day on your boat only to come home empty-handed.
Investing in a good fish and depth finder will not only help put you in the best position to catch the perfect fish, but it also makes the time spent fishing more enjoyable as well.
With so many top-rated fish finders to choose from, it can be a challenge deciding which fish or depth finder is the best investment to install on your boat’s hull, stern, or trolling motor. I have used good and bad devices, so I know how annoying choosing the wrong product can be.
I put together this in depth review with my top fish and depth finder picks as well as what to look for before you buy.
If you’re looking for a new fish finder to bring home the perfect catch, read these fish finders reviews to see which works best for you.
Now let’s get into the fish finders!
The Best Fish Finders Are:
1. Garmin Striker 4
As we mentioned, our top pick for beginner fishers and professional fishermen alike is the Garmin Striker 4 with a sonar transducer.
An awesome thing about the Striker 4 is it can toggle between the modern-day fish viewer view and the classic flasher format. This makes it perfect not only for regular fishing but also for ice fishing and is one of the best ice fishing fish finders and vertical jigging options as well. It’s also incredibly easy to use and gives you high-quality images.
- 3.5-inch display
- Includes a Garmin CHIRP (77/200 kHz frequency) sonar transducer
- Transducer with highly sensitive and accurate built-in GPS
- Waypoint map navigation
- Built-in boat speed features
- Easy to use keyboard controls
- Ability to upgrade to a higher spectrum CHIRP sonar sound waves
What We Like
Without a doubt among the top fish finders on the market today, the Garmin Striker 4 also comes with an affordable price tag and gives great displays. The Garmin 4’s sonar technology is incredibly accurate and can suit the needs of both amateur and professional fishermen alike.
What We Would Love to See Improved
While the Garmin Striker 4 is portable, but it does require a 12v battery to be used, so be sure to stock up on an extra battery or two. This will make transportation a little more complicated, but it’s worth it once you know when to switch batteries.
Also, it would have been great if it did side imaging as well.
- Incredibly affordable and feature-packed
- High-frequency sonar for clear imaging
- Backed by the reputable Garmin brand
- Portable transducer that is among the most accurate on the market
- Intuitive interface
- Easy to install
- Additional 12v battery may be needed
- Cables can be somewhat fragile if not taken care of properly
- Screen may feel a tad tiny
This Garmin Striker is our best pick because of its ease of use and the fact that it’s full of all the features you need. Both affordable and incredibly accurate, you won’t be disappointed if you try this sonar device the next time you take your boat out.
Rating: 4.75 out of 5
2. Humminbird Helix 5
The Humminbird Helix 5 CHIRP GPS G2 Fish Finder is one of the best options for all skill levels. This Helix uses SwitchFire technology to allow you to switch between Max Mode and Clear Mode.
- CHIRP Dual Beam with Sonar
- Internal built-in GPS with chart plotting
- Micro SD card for additional charting
- 2.5-inch target separation.
- SwitchFire technology with the ability to switch between max and clear mode
- 2D Sonar
- High-quality down and side sonar imaging all in one
- Keypad control
- Comes with transducer and mounting parts
- Humminbird Autochart Live
What We Like
The Humminbird Helix fishfinder is a fantastic value and provides everything you need in a great GPS fish finder. It uses CHIRP dual beam and gives you the versatility of toggling down scans and side imaging. We especially like the fact that it includes a Micro SD slot, which is great if you intend on recording a large amount of location data.
What Needs to Be Improved
We would love for the Humminbird Helix 5 to be a little more user-friendly, especially for those who are purchasing their first fish finder. However, once you get comfortable with it, it gives great resolution displays and has all the features you need.
- Great value for the price while not sacrificing accuracy or quality
- Built by the highly reputable Hummingbird brand
- Has both down and side imaging capability
- Dual beam transducer
- Under $300 but not sacrificing quality
- This Helix model’s screen size is smaller compared to other options
- Abundance of features can be overwhelming if this is your first fish finder purchase
If you want a transducer gadget that uses bottom and side imaging at a great price, choose the Humminbird Helix 5.
Overall Rating: 4.5 out of 5
3. Deeper PRO+ Smart Sonar
If you’re primarily going to be fishing on the shore or a frozen body of water, it doesn’t get much better than the Deeper PRO+ Smart Sonar fish finder. Compact, wireless, portable, and versatile, this is hands down a contender for the best tool for shore focused fishing.
This Deeper Pro fish finder allows you to easily see the location of prime catch and the size of fish as well as various measurements like underwater structure, depth, and even temperature.
- Can be cast up to 330ft and reach depths of 260 ft
- Deep Pro+ Smart Sonar tech maps
- 2D vertical zoom
- Dual frequency band
- Internal Wi-Fi signal for wireless convenience
- Transducer operates in both salt and freshwater
- Includes access to Lakebook mapping system
- Power saving mode that turns it off when out of water
What We Like
We really like this fish finder works flawlessly in both salt and freshwater and has an internal Wi-Fi signal, so you’re never caught without connection while on the go. We also like the fact that it offers free access to the incredible Lakebook mapping system.
What We Would Love to See Improved
While Deeper Pro+ is a fantastic all-around fish finder, the expected battery life is roughly a year, which is unfortunate. While ordering a replacement battery is easy, it can be an inconvenience and comes at a cost.
- Great value all around
- Transducer does 15 scans per second
- High frequency, accurate and user-friendly
- Perfect fish finder for kayak fishing
- One of the best ones designed for both ice fishing and shore fishing
- You need to replace the battery every year
- Safety strap could be improved
- Occasional hiccups while connecting with an IOS device, though the company has addressed these issues
Built by one of the most reputable fishing accessories brands, Deeper PRO, this stylish and sleekly designed fish finder not only looks great but is jam-packed with all the features you would expect from a top-rated fish finder. If you are taking a kayak out, or if you’re just fishing from a dock, this season, then this is the finder for you.
Rating: 4 out of 5
4. Garmin EchoMAP 54CV
Another fantastic option for the best fish finder created by the well-respected Garmin brand, the Garmin Echo comes with a best in class internal 5 Hz frequency internal GPS, updating the display data 5 times per second.
Garmin Echo has a 3.54 x 3.54 display that is bright enough to see on sunny days.
- Preloaded BlueChart g2 charts for the coastal US
- 5 Hz GPS transducer refreshing at up to 5 times per second
- 5-inch color display images with easy to use keypad
- High accuracy and high resolution
- Includes Quickdraw Contours for custom map creation
What We Like
The 5-inch display is among our favorite interfaces in its category. The accuracy and high resolution of the Garmin Echo is the top of its class. We loved the Quickdraw contours for creating custom HD maps.
What We Would Love to See Improved
We would love for the Garmin Echo transducer to work in both saltwater and freshwater out of the box. Unfortunately, you need to purchase each fish finder individually depending on where you’ll be using it.
- Great value when considering the features
- Screen is bright and simple to navigate
- Easily detaches from mount for quick storage
- Continual sweep of frequencies
- A little pricier than similar options
- Comes with added bells and whistles that can be overwhelming for new users
- Needs additional cable for use passed 22 feet
The CHIRP sonar tech offers 500 W of power, making it powerful enough to be used in any body of water. Additionally, the Echo includes the Quickdraw Contours custom HDmap software. If you like to throw your line in the same spots every so often, this fishfinder will help you become the apex predator on the water.
Rating: 3.75 out of 5
5. Lowrance HookK2 4X
The Lowrance HookK2 4X is an excellent general fish finder for those looking for quality that costs less than $500. The HookK2 4X stands out with its ease of use while not sacrificing the features you need for the job.
This Lowrance fish finder includes auto-tuning sonar to help ensure all data is accurate and up to date, so you never miss your target fish. The Lowrance HookK2 4x also comes with wide cone angle sonar coverage, giving you up to two times the coverage of other fish finders on the market.
- Navigation menu functions like a phone
- Included Bullet Skimmer transducer
- Wide cone angle spectrum CHIRP sonar
- Perfect for dinghies, fishing boats, and kayaks with limited space
What We Like
This Lowrance Hook fish finder is a great value due to its affordable price and ease of use. Out of all the transducers, it is one of the easiest to get set up and running. The HookK2 4x also includes built-in depth mapping so you can find your next favorite fishing spots with over 3000 lakes included in its mapping software.
What We Would Love to See Improved
It does not include a GPS out of the box, which is a must-have for fish finders today.
- Great all-around value and can fit any budget
- A fantastic investment for kayak and boat use
- Transducer easily mounted on the hull, stern, or troller
- Comes with wide angle CHIRP sonar for added accuracy
- Wide cone angle sonar coverage
- Does not include a working GPS out of the box
- While affordable, the durability is lacking compared to similar options
The Lowrance Hook’s display images are easy to view even in the toughest sunlight conditions. You can save your locations and markups and take your data elsewhere with its included micro SD slot. That said, the fact that it does not include a working GPS out of the box is a pretty big letdown.
If you don’t need help with navigation or have a separate GPS unit, this may be the best for you. We review other Lowrance models here that have GPS.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Buying Guide for Beginners
A fishfinder is essentially a tool that uses sonar cone technology to help you locate schools of fish so that you can put yourself in the best position to make the catch. Fish finders are also incredibly useful for getting the lay of the land (or in this case water), so you know if there are objects in the depths below.
There are two main types of fish finder transducers — portable and fixed. However, we believe that for most fishing use cases, portable fish finders are the way to go. Castable fish finders are a type of portable fish finder transducers, usually wireless, that bob in the water. If you plan on staying on a dock and not in a boat or kayak, this can be a great option to consider.
If you spend much of your time on and off the water, it may be worth purchasing both fixed and portable fish finders to cover all your needs.
When investing in a new fish finder, you want to ensure that it has a high-quality screen resolution that is both easy to read and navigate as well.
When out with your rod, you’ll likely be exposed to the sun, which can make seeing your screen difficult. Therefore, it’s imperative to choose a fish finder navigation system that comes with glare protection.
You don’t want to have to use your hand to cover the screen just to see where the fish are.
Additionally, you want your fish finder to include a light setting that allows you to see the screen if you’re fishing in the early mornings or late evenings where there is very little natural light.
While added glare protection and low light settings may seem minor, they can make a huge difference in your overall fish finding experience.
Screen size is also incredibly important when choosing to get a new fish finder. Bigger screens lets you get a clearer view of where exactly the fish are as well as adjust various settings. Most portable ones come in a smaller size can easily fit inside your tackle box.
Fish finder screen sizes range from 3 inches to 16 inches; however, we recommend going for a screen that is on the smaller side if possible. For most use cases, a smaller to medium size is more than enough to see all the critical data you need.
Some models also offer split-screen functionality which allows you to show different zooms and various other custom readouts in a split-screen format.
Do You Need A GPS?
We recommend that you choose a fish finder with GPS functionality for added convenience. That said, if you mainly intend on staying on a dock or a single location, GPS might not be a priority.
If you’re going to be investing in a high-quality fish finder, it often makes sense to choose something with a GPS just in case you go out on multiple fishing excursions and you need change. Fish finders without a GPS are generally less expensive, but the small additional cost is often worth the investment for anglers who like to fish in multiple locations throughout the year.
So, YES, you should get a fish finder with GPS.
Down Scan or Side Scan?
It all depends on the depth of the water you’re in.
When it comes to fish finders, there are generally two types of modes.
The first type of fish finder is the down scan fish finder. This transducer scans the water directly below your boat, which is useful when fishing in waters of great depth.
The second type of fish finder scans sideways from your boat at a low frequency, which is best when fishing in shallow water. Some fish finders offer both down scan and side imaging which you can toggle depending on your needs.
Having a comprehensive view of below your boat and to the left or right of your fishing location can help you find the best place to fish.
Fish finders that come with a higher wattage will have more range and scope than fish finders of lesser power. So, if you plan on fishing in deeper bodies of water, your new finder should generally have more power.
Generally speaking, 100 watts of transducer power at 50 kHz frequency will allow for your fish finder to accurately detect fish in the range of 400 feet. With 100 watts of power at 200 kHz frequency, the level provides around a range of 100 feet.
Another thing to look at when choosing your fish finder is the transducer’s level of water resistance. Not all models are designed to be submerged several feet underwater, so it’s important you choose the right one for your needs.
Some fish finders can be in water up to 10 feet deep while others are explicitly designed to sit on top of the water.
Different fish finder models have varying transducers designed for mounting on different parts of the boat, above water or underwater. Some are mounted in the stern, while others are meant to be affixed to the hull, transom or trolling motor. Some fish finders don’t even require installation and are designed to just bob in the water.
For hobbyists or experienced anglers who are looking to improve their skills, investing in a fish finder is a must. We hope our top fish finders guide helped you decide.
Our top pick is the Garmin Striker 4. This fish finder with GPS will provide all the features you want without breaking the bank. Where others might lack GPS or have a dim screen, the Garmin Striker 4 outshines them all.
That said, look over each device to see if it better suits your unique fishing style. If you are on a tight budget, you might want a decent but cheap fish finder. If you fish in saltwater and freshwater, make sure your transducer device can handle both areas.