Best Fish Finder Reviews: Comparisons of Top-Rated and Budget Depth Finders

Welcome to the ultimate fish finder review for May 2019, where we’ll be exploring the absolute best fish finders 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 outdoors only to come home empty handed.

Investing in a quality fish 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 finder is the best investment for your needs. 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 5 fish finder picks as well as what to look for before you buy.

If you’re looking for a fish finder to bring home the perfect catch, read these fish finders reviews to see which works best for you.

Our Top Choice: The Garmin Striker 4

Before we dive into the in-depth reviews, if you’re in a rush to find our top fish finder pick, look no further than the incredible The Garmin Striker 4. It is the best fish finder for the money. Here are some of its amazing features.

  • Easily navigate your fishing locations with a built-in waypoint map
  • Check your boat speed on your display
  • Incredibly portable and easy to use
  • Provides some of the best accuracy and imaging of any model on the market today

Here are some other choices:

Now let’s get into the fish finder reviews!

Our Roundup of the Top Fish Finders

Garmin Striker 4

As we mentioned, our top pick for beginner fishers and professional fishermen alike is the Garmin Striker 4 with a transducer.

One of the best things about this fish finder is it can easily toggle between the modern-day fish viewer view and the classic flasher format. This makes it perfect not only for regular fishing but ice fishing and vertical jigging as well. It’s also incredibly easy to use and an overall high-quality product.  

Key Features

  • 3.5-inch CHIRP Fishfinder with GPS
  • Highly sensitive and accurate GPS
  • Waypoint map navigation
  • Built-in boat speed features
  • Easy to use keyboard controls
  • Ability to upgrade to a higher performance CHIRP sonar
  • Includes a Garmin CHIRP (77/200 kHz) transducer

What We Like

Without a doubt one of the best fish finders on the market today, the Garmin Striker 4 also comes at a great price. The Garmin 4 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, 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.

Pros

  • Incredibly affordable and feature packed  
  • Backed by the reputable Garmin brand
  • One of the most accurate fish finders on the market
  • Intuitive and easy to use interface
  • Under $300 but not sacrificing quality

 

Cons

  • Additional 12v battery may be needed
  • Cables can be somewhat fragile if not taken care of properly

Conclusion

The Garmin Striker 4 is our top-rated 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 device on your next outing.

Rating: 4.75 out of 5

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Humminbird Helix 5

The Humminbird Helix 5 CHIRP GPS G2 Fish Finder is a fantastic option for all skill levels. This unit uses SwitchFire technology to allow you to easily switch between Max Mode and Clear Mode.

Key Features

  • CHIRP Dual Beam with Sonar
  • Internal GPS with chart plotting
  • Micro SD card for additional map space and charting
  • 2.5-inch target separation.
  • SwitchFire technology with the ability to switch between max and clear mode
  • 2D Sonar
  • High-quality side and down imaging all in one.
  • Keypad control
  • Humminbird Autochart Live

What We Like

The Humminbird fishfinder is a fantastic value and provides everything you need in a high-quality fish finder. We especially like the fact that it includes a Micro SD card slot, which is great if you intend on recording a large amount of map and location data.  If you’d like to know more, here’s our in-depth review of Helix 5. We’ve also reviewed more recent models such as the Helix 7, Helix 9, and Helix 10.

What Needs to Be Improved

We would love for the Humminbird 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 has all the features you need.

Pros

  • Great value for the price while not sacrificing quality
  • Built by the highly reputable Hummingbird brand
  • Has both side and bottom imaging capability

 

Cons

  • The screen is on the smaller side compared to other options
  • Abundance of features can be overwhelming if this is your first fish finder purchase

Conclusion

If you want a gadget that uses bottom and side imaging at a great price, choose the Humminbird Helix 5.

Overall Rating: 4.5 out of 5

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Deeper PRO+ Smart Sonar

If you’re primarily going to be fishing on the shore or ice fishing, it doesn’t get much better than the Deeper PRO+ Smart Sonar fish finder.  Incredibly compact, portable, and versatile, this is hands down one of the best tools 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.

Key Features

  • Can be cast up to 330ft and reach depths of 260 ft
  • Deep Pro+ Smart Sonar technology maps
  • 2D vertical zoom
  • Internal Wi-Fi signal for added convenience
  • 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 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 this is a fantastic all-around fish finder, the expected battery life is roughly one year, which is unfortunate. While ordering a replacement battery is easy, it can be an inconvenience and comes at a cost.

Pros

  • Great value all around
  • Highly accurate and user-friendly
  • One of the best ones designed for ice and shore fishing

 

Cons

  • 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

Conclusion

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 do not plan on getting in a boat this season, then this is the finder for you.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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Garmin EchoMAP 54CV

Another fantastic fish finder created by the well-respected Garmin brand, the Garmin Echo comes with a best in class internal 5 Hz 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.

Key Features

  • Preloaded BlueChart g2 charts for the coastal US
  • 5 Hz GPS refreshing at up to 5 times per second
  • 5-inch color display with easy to use keypad
  • High accuracy and resolution
  • Includes Quickdraw Contours for custom map creation

What We Like

The 5-inch color display is one of our favorite interfaces its category. The accuracy and 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 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.

Pros

  • Great value when considering the features
  • Screen is bright and simple to navigate
  • Easily detaches from mount for quick storage

 

Cons

  • A little pricier than similar options
  • Some of the added functions and features can be overwhelming for new users
  • Needs additional cable for use passed 22 feet

Conclusion

The CHIRP sonar technology offers 500 W of power, making it powerful enough to be used in most fishing situations. Additionally, the Echo includes the Quickdraw Contours customHD map software.  If you like to throw your line in the same spot every so often, this fish finder will help you become the apex predator on the water. We also talk in more detail about 2 other Garmin fishfinders — the Garmin EchoMap 73sv and the Garmin Striker 4.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5

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HookK2 4X

The 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 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 HookK2 4x also comes with wide sonar coverage, giving you up to two times the coverage of other fish finders on the market.

Key Features

What We Like  

The Lowrance fish finder is a great value due to its affordable price and ease of use. Out of all the fish finders on the market today, 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 spot 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.

Pros

  • Great all-around value and can fit any budget
  • A fantastic investment for kayak and boat use
  • Includes wide angle CHIRP sonar for added accuracy

 

Cons  

  • Does not include a working GPS out of the box
  • While affordable, the durability is lacking compared to similar options

Conclusion

The display is easy to view even in the toughest sunlight conditions. You can save your map 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.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

 

 

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Buying Guide for Beginners

A fish finder is essentially a tool that uses sonar 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 finders — 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 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 a fixed and portable one depending on your needs.

The Screen

When investing in a fish finder, you want to make sure that it has a high-quality screen that is both easy to read and navigate as well.

When out fishing, 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 your fish finder. Bigger screens make it easier to see where exactly the fish are as well as adjust various settings. Most portable ones 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 sized screen is more than enough to see all the critical data you need.

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 one with a GPS just in case you go out on multiple fishing excursions and your needs change.

Fish finders without a GPS are generally less expensive, but the small additional cost is often worth the investment if you plan on fishing in multiple locations over the year.

Down Scan or Side Scan?

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 fish finder scans the water directly below your boat.

The second type of fish finder is one that scans sideways from your boat. Some fish finders offer both options 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.

Power

High wattage fish finders will have more range and scope than fish finders of lesser power. So, if you plan on fishing in deeper bodies of water, you generally want to purchase a finder with more power.

Generally speaking, 100 watts of power at 50 kHz will allow for your fish finder to accurately detect fish in the range of 400 feet. A 100 watts of power at 200 kHz, the level provides around a range of 100 feet.

Water Resistance

Another thing to look at when choosing your fish finder is its 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.

Final Thoughts

Whether fishing is just a hobby, or you’re an experienced fisher who wants to improve their skills, investing in a fish finder is a must. We hope our top fish finders guide helped you make a decision.

Our top pick is the Garmin Striker 4. It will provide all the features you want without breaking the bank. Where others might lack GPS or have a dim screen, the Garmin 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 device can handle both areas.

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