Top 10 Best Fish Finders In 2020 Revews

If you’re an avid angler, then there is likely one aspect of your fishing gear that is missing from your tackle collection. Or if you do have one, it could well be due for an upgrade. Need a clue? It’s also the most modern tool in your tackle box. Of course, we’re talking about…

Fish finders – items that completely change the game!

Best Fish Finders

Rather than tossing a line and waiting for a bite, these help you find where your prey is sitting below, turning the day into more of a hunt. But how do you know which are the best fish finders on the market today?

Well, we’ve reviewed the top 10 best currently on the market plus give an in-depth buying guide and FAQ section. So keep reading, and we will answer all of your questions about finding the perfect fish finder for your needs…

Top 10 Best Fish Finders For The Money 2020 Revews


1 Humminbird Helix 5SI Fish Finder

The first entry we have reviewed for our list of the best fish finders is the Helix 5SI from Humminbird, who started this all over 40 years ago. They are still one of America’s favorite fish finder brands and the leading innovator in Side Imaging technology, which is employed on this model.

Buy from a brand you can rely on…

Not only is Humminbird one of the top makers of fish finders, depth sounders, and GPS systems, they also make a top quality product that even professional anglers can count on. This particular model is followed up further below with a review of two other models by this manufacturer, the Helix 5 & 7 DI.

Keep reading to see how the SI and DI series differ…

With a 5-inch 800H x 480V display and keypad control for navigating features quick and easy, you’ll be able to see what’s lurking below adjust as needed effortlessly. The 5SI comes with Down Imaging, DualBeam PLUS, and Side Imaging running 50/83/200/455 kHz with a 1,500-ft (standard transducer), 2,500-ft (optional 50 kHz), 2,500 ft (optional Airmar CHIRP) sonar depth. We think this is likely more than adequate for most fishermen looking for a top fish finder.

Did we mention there’s a GPS built-in?

Not only that, but you can record the sonar and snap screenshots for review later. Yes, it’s waterproof per IPX7, and this model has upgradeable internal software. The best part though, is the powerful transducer with temperature control and CHIRP, going together for a clear, easy to use shot of the below.

Humminbird Helix 5SI Fish Finder
Our rating:3.9 out of 5 stars (3.9 / 5)

Pros

  • Beautiful backlit LED 5-inch screen.
  • CHIRP Digital Sonar, CHIRP Down Imaging, CHIRP Side Imaging, DualBeam PLUS.
  • Built-in GPS.
  • Sonar recording and screen shot features.
  • Power output 4,000 Watts peak-to-peak.

Cons

  • There are newer models available with more features and larger screens.

2 Garmin Striker Plus w/Dual-Beam 4 Fish Finder – Best Budget Fish Finder

Another well-known maker of GPS and fish finder devices is Garmin, and the first product we review from them is the Striker Plus 4. Being one of our least expensive entries, and considerably less than some options, you’ll just have to keep reading to see if this is the best fish finder for those on a budget…

Why is it so much less expensive?

First of all, you do get a Dual-Beam transducer with Garmin’s traditional 50/77/83/200 kHz sonar with Chirp technology. This provides clear imaging and a decent target separation on the 4.3-inch 272/480 pixel display. The keypad is a bit more limited than on the above option as well, but you do still get built-in GPS that lets you mark waypoints, create routes, and even see how fast the boat is going.

A great deal for this price, what’s the catch?

We couldn’t really find one, other than the transit power. Though for the price, we think this is a great entry level fish finder. All in all, there’s some concern with the build quality for those of you needing something for regular rough use, but for the weekend anglers out there, the Striker Plus 4 a great option.

Garmin Striker Plus w/Dual-Beam 4 Fish Finder
Our rating:4.4 out of 5 stars (4.4 / 5)

Pros

  • Nice 4.3-inch screen.
  • DualBeam Imaging.
  • Built-in GPS.
  • Ability to mark waypoints and create routes.
  • Display made for easy reading in sunlight.

Cons

  • Transmit power of 200 W.
  • You get what you pay for in quality and imaging technology.

3 Garmin Echomap Plus 43Cv

Stepping things up a notch in both price and features, Garmin provides our next entry with the Echomap Plus 43Cv. The Cv stands for CV20-TM, the transducer that it employs for better imaging. Definitely a step up from the last review, but as you’ll see further down, this is still a more affordable fish finder.

How does this differ from the last Garmin fish finder?

For starters, you get an upgrade on the numbers with 500W (RMS) with 4,000 W peak to peak, a dual-frequency (50/200 kHz), and dual-beam (77/200 kHz) capable sonar, and a bottom lock that shows the return from the bottom up in the viewfinder. You also get a maximum depth of 2,300-ft in freshwater, and 1,100-ft in saltwater under the 77kHz setting.

Like to go fishing with your buddy on occasion?

If you, or a friend, have another Echomap or Striker unit, you can share waypoints and routes using this model, which is a nice feature for those who regularly go on fishing trips or to the same spots as friends or family. One thing we really liked is the built-in Quickdraw Contours mapping software system, which backs up the preloaded LakeVü HD covering over 17,000 lakes. The drawing software instantly generates fishing maps on-screen with 1-ft contours as you fish.

So is it worth the upgrade?

It may not look like much of an upgrade with the same 4.3-inch screen as the last Garmin product we reviewed above, but the features make for some fine additions. And we really like that extra bit of power.

Garmin Echomap Plus 43Cv
Our rating:4.3 out of 5 stars (4.3 / 5)

Pros

  • Transmit power of 500W (RMS) with 4,000 W peak to peak.
  • Dual-frequency (50/200 kHz) & dual-beam (77/200 kHz) capable sonar.
  • Quickdraw Contours mapping software system.
  • Sunlight friendly 4.3-inch screen.

Cons

  • Does not have the wifi ability that newer models often have these days.
  • No coastal maps are included in the preloaded list.

4 Humminbird Helix 7DI Fish Finder

Humminbird also offers the Helix in the 7 series, which has a few upgrades to the 5 series we looked at above. The most obvious when looking at these two items on a shelf, the Helix 7 has…

Can you guess what the 5 or 7 stands for?

That’s right; it has a 7-inch 800H x 480V color TFT display. You won’t be bending over the unit anymore, trying to see the display, it just makes life that much easier. The extra size also allows you to keep an eye on the water and still be able to see the screen in your periphery, which you certainly can’t do with a small screen.

We really like the ultra-widescreen for clearly visible results…

The Low Q CHIRP and Dual Spectrum CHIRP transducers provide you with two ways to see the below. You can either go wide for maximum coverage or narrow for improved detail. The Mega Down Imaging is accurate down to a depth of 125-ft, which will cover most lake fishing we expect.

One of the top rated fish finders for the price…

The Helix 7 DI is also LakeMaster compatible, so you’ll be able to upgrade to the in-house Humminbird LakeMaster detailed map range.

Humminbird Helix 7DI Fish Finder
Our rating:4.3 out of 5 stars (4.3 / 5)

Pros

  • Outstanding 7-inch 800H x 480V color TFT display.
  • Transmit power 500W (RMS).
  • Low Q CHIRP and Dual Spectrum CHIRP.
  • Mega Down Imaging.

Cons

  • Missing WiFi features that many models now offer.

5 Deeper Pro+ Smart Sonar Fish Finder – Best Fish Finders for Ice Fishing

For those looking for something a bit different, our next review is for one of the best cheap fish finders and really caught our eye for another reason. It can be hard to compare is altogether different from those we have reviewed thus far, but the Deeper Pro + is a castable sonar is a great option we couldn’t leave off the list.

Yes, we said castable sonar…

Not only that, but it can sync with your iOS or Android devices. Things are getting fancy here, with a device that you attach to the line and cast off with the bait. You’ll get back scans down to 260-ft with a half-inch target separation, at a burst of 15 scans per second. It’s equipped with dual beam (broad or narrow), and GPs which enables you to create bathymetric maps. You even get access to Deeper’s Lake Book, where you can save, review, and analyze your maps once home.

One of the best ice fishing fish finders…

We really like how quick and easy the design attaches, and the smooth trolling it allows. It has fewer features, as it is much more compact. However, linking through the WiFi to phones or tablets makes this a great option for a number of different types of fishing.

Deeper Pro+ Smart Sonar Fish Finder
Our rating:4.1 out of 5 stars (4.1 / 5)

Pros

  • Castable design is great for ice fishing.
  • WiFi sync with your iOS or Android devices.
  • Scans down to 260-ft.
  • Access to Deeper’s Lake Book.

Cons

  • Unusual design won’t meet everyone’s needs.
  • The black design is easy to lose in the water.

6 Garmin Striker 4 w/Traditional Transducer Fish Finder – Best Cheap Fish Finder

If you liked the sound of our second entry on this list of the best fish finders for the money you want to spend, then keep reading as our next entry is almost the same.

Perhaps the best low cost fish finder…

That may be a bold claim, but we feel that Garmin makes a quality product, and even with only a traditional transducer, the Striker 4 still provides a quality entry level fish finder. After all, you still get the same screen and ability to mark waypoints.

The only downgrade on this one is the loss of the dual-beam transducer…

With that in mind, you should note that even while you’re saving money, this model does still provides 50/77/83/200 kHz at 200 W (RMS). You also still get the bottom lock feature, a graph, and a log of the water temp, and IPX7 waterproof rating.

We would say this is a great first fish finder, or a smart choice for those on a tight budget that want to test how a fish finder will affect their catch rate.

Garmin Striker 4 w/Traditional Transducer Fish Finder
Our rating:4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)

Pros

  • Nice 4.3-inch screen.
  • Built-in GPS.
  • Ability to mark waypoints and create routes.
  • Display made for easy reading in sunlight.

Cons

  • Transmit power of 200 W.
  • Not the quality we’re used to from Garmin.

7 Garmin EchoMap 55Cv Fish Finder – Best Sonar Fish Finder

Stepping things up a notch, Garmin also makes the 55Cv fish finder. This bad boy comes with a 5-inch 480 x 480 pixels screen that certainly looks a great deal better than the above from the same manufacturer.

Does a bigger screen mean we catch bigger fish?

Well, sure. You should be able to better see what is being displayed with a larger screen. However, that’s the only major difference between the 43Cv and 55Cv. This bigger option also employs the high-frequency ClearVü scanning sonar for near-photograph level imaging of what is in the surrounding water.

Is this the best fish finder with sonar?

At this price point, it’s certainly a contender. The EchoMap 55Cv has the same 500W (RMS) with 4,000 W peak to peak, a dual-frequency (50/200 kHz), and dual-beam (77/200 kHz) capable sonar, and a bottom lock that shows the return from the bottom up in the viewfinder. It also has a maximum depth of 2,300-ft in freshwater, and 1,100-ft in saltwater under the 77kHz setting like the 43Cv version.

Yes, it also has the same waypoint sharing capabilities.

All in all, we feel this is a decent upgrade from the Garmin options above. Though if you are looking for one of the top fish finders, you should keep reading…

Garmin EchoMap 55Cv Fish Finder
Our rating:4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Pros

  • Transmit power of 500W (RMS) with 4,000 W peak to peak.
  • Dual-frequency (50/200 kHz) & dual-beam (77/200 kHz) capable sonar.
  • Quickdraw Contour mapping software system.
  • Beautiful 480 x 480 pixel, 5-inch display.

Cons

  • Wifi not available.

8 Lowrance Elite 7Ti Fish Finder w/TotalScan Transducer

Moving things into the higher end in both cost and features, the Elite 7 fish finder by Lowrance really pushes up the bar in a couple of ways.

Are you a fan of touchscreens?

Keypads are very much 20th century, and these days with smartphones so prevalent, it’s surprising that this is the first fish finder reviewed that employs the 21st tech of a touchscreen. Not only that, but it’s 7-inches. You’ll be able to see everything in wonderful clarity without hunching over the display or straining your eyes.

So, it looks good, but how’s the sonar capabilities?

The Elite 7Ti comes with a TotalScan transducer for DownScan sonar, SideScan sonar for up to 300-ft on either side, and CHIRP sonar for fish arch views. There’s also basic navigation built-in via GPS, which also allows you to add waypoints, follow trails, and general navigation.

Best of all…

The software and mapping can all be upgraded via the SD card slot that allows you to download third-party maps and future software updates. We found this system to run smoothly and really like the high level display. However, we would say that for the price (and it is expensive compared to other options reviewed here), the quality should be a touch higher than what is delivered.

Oh, and yes it does have Bluetooth and WiFi connection

Lowrance Elite 7Ti Fish Finder w/TotalScan Transducer
Our rating:3.5 out of 5 stars (3.5 / 5)

Pros

  • Easy to use and view 7-inch touch screen.
  • Upgradable mapping and software.
  • DownScan, SideScan, & CHIRP Sonar.
  • Built-in GPS.

Cons

  • One of the most expensive options reviewed.

9 Humminbird Helix 5DI Fish Finder

The Helix 5DI is almost the same fish finder as the 5SI that we reviewed at the top of this list of the best fish depth finders, but there are a few small differences that will stand out to those in the know.

First, for the numbers…

Again there is a 5-inch 800H x 480V display and keypad control for navigating features, and a clear picture of what’s below. The 5DI comes with Down Imaging, DualBeam PLUS, and Side Imaging running 50/83/200/455/800 kHz with a 2,500-ft (optional 50 kHz), 2,500-ft (optional Airmar CHIRP), 600-ft (standard transducer) sonar depth. So, you’re missing out on the CHIRP side-imaging here…

Is there still a GPS built-in?

Yes, and you can still record the sonar and snap screenshots for review later. The waterproofing (IPX7) and other features are also the same, so you really aren’t missing out on much with this option.

Pros

  • Beautiful backlit LED 5-inch screen.
  • CHIRP Digital Sonar, CHIRP Down Imaging, DualBeam PLUS.
  • Built-in GPS.
  • Power output 4,000 Watts peak-to-peak.

Cons

  • No range side-imaging as on the 5SI

10 Raymarine Axiom 7DV Fish Finder

The last entry on our list of the best fish finders is built by Raymarine, and is another of the top-end fish finders reviewed here. The Axiom 7DV is one of the smaller options that Raymaine produces in this range, but still considerably more expensive that many fish finders.

What does this option have that others do not?

For starters, this fish finder includes WiFi and can be synced with your iOS or Android devices for remote operation. This is still a newer feature for fish finders, and something we can see a lot of users really appreciating. Plus, the Navionics+ charts included cover coastal USA and Canada, as well as over 20,000 rivers, lakes, and ponds.

That’s a lot more map coverage than most fish finders are pre-loaded with…

The sonar is an ultra-wide CHIRP Down Vision that runs alongside a CHIRP fish-targeting sonar to produce a high resolution view of the below. There’s a quad-core processor for blazing fast performance, so you won’t need to deal with lag of lesser models.

What about the display?

A 7-inch multifunctional display utilizes a multi-touch interface and powerful Lighthouse 3 operating system for a simplified boating experience. The Dock-to-Dock Auto-routing allows you to transfer routes and markers, upload sonar logs, and update charts wirelessly. Plus, the Axiom 7DV includes SonarChart Live to allow you to create 1 foot HD bathymetry maps while navigating.

If you’re wondering who makes the best fish finders…

It will, of course, depend on which features you priorities or can live without, but one thing worthy of note is that all Axiom fish finder models now include WiFi. Not only that, but they also are compatible with a wide range of accessories to help you perfect the experience as you progress.

Raymarine Axiom 7DV Fish Finder
Our rating:3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

Pros

  • Multifunctional 7-inch display.
  • Dock-to-Dock Auto-routing.
  • Ultra-wide CHIRP Down Vision runs alongside a CHIRP fish-targeting sonar.
  • WIFi capable.

Cons

  • At the higher end of the price range for this list.

Best Fish Finders Buying Guide

That completes our list of reviews of the 10 best fish finders on the market. And to help you to narrow down which of the features noted above even further we’ve put together the following buying guide. Here we will detail the points that most users will want to prioritize before making a purchase.

Keep reading for our FAQ section below…

The first thing to consider when purchasing a fish finder is the display, as this is the part that you’ll be staring at. Some options do utilize (either solely or as a feature) your smartphone or tablet screen for this, but otherwise, you will need to consider both the size and quality of the screen.

We all want the biggest screen our space can accommodate…

Larger screens are more readable and generally will give you a better overall experience. At the same time, the pixel quality will affect how clearly what the screen displays, so it’s worth investing a bit more for a better picture.

What about the transducer?

Beyond the screen, the transducer is the most important part of the overall kit and is something you should really pay attention to. This is the part of the device that sends out the sound waves to see what is hiding below.

Humminbird 409640-1 Helix 5 SI Fish Finder with Side-Imaging and GPS

It functions much like a radio antenna, emitting and receiving the waves so the onboard computer can analyze the difference in their return rates. A wider angle will provide a wider view of the shallows, but tends to be less effective in deeper waters. So, just ensure that you choose your transducer based on your fishing locations.

What should you look for when considering the frequency range?

This again is determined by the type of water you intend to use the fish finder in. Usage range generally falls into the 50 – 200 kHz range, with some options running as high as 400kHz.

Those sonars operating at the lower end of the range (50kHz) get better penetration through the water, and thus provide a deeper scanning range. They also tend to have wide cone angles, which adversely affect the definition resulting in a greater occurrence of distortions.

Higher frequency imaging sonars perform best in shallow water, as they provide greater definition and are less susceptible to distortions. Luckily, there are a number of options that can run a number of different frequencies, for those that fish in all types of water depths.

Do I really need GPS integration with my fish finder?

Need no, but you’ll likely really enjoy having the feature. Especially if you get an option with downloadable or map building software that allows you to pin your favorite spots. Because there really isn’t much better than finding that one good spot you visited last time, and finding it can be difficult in changing foliage over time.

DownScan vs. SideScan…

Humminbird HELIX 7

Fish finders use sonar being emitted wither from the top-down, or the sides-out. It’s that simple. DownScan overs great detail to the point of being able to see individual fish within schools; however, the accuracy fails in shallow waters. This is due to an overly focused sonar, which effectively returns an indecipherable blur while also missing activity on the boat’s side.

There’s more about reading your fish finder in our FAQ section below…

SideScan transducers can scan a vast amount of water for a greater coverage zone, and you won’t need to worry about being directly over the fish you intend to locate. At the same time, these don’t generally do too well in deeper waters. Luckily again, there are options that utilize both options within the same model, just be prepared to pay for the double system.

What about the power?

Once again, your needs in this area will very much be determined by the depth of the water you plan to fish in. For fish finders, power is measured in wattage and combined with frequency to determine the depth of coverage.

The depth is key in a lot of ways…

Every 100 watts will push to about 1,300-ft in depth for a low-frequency locator, while it may only prove as deep as 330-ft if running a high-frequency. Thus, a higher wattage fish finder is more suitable for fishing in deep water, while low wattage options are great for the shallows.

Salt of freshwater…

As is the type of water you plan to fish in. Saltwater tends to have a more challenging terrain with debris that the fish finder has to work with. For this reason, saltwater angling generally requires a higher frequency than what you’d use for freshwater.

Can a fish finder really tell what type of fish is below?

Garmin 010-01818-00 Garmin echoMAP Chirp 55cv with transducer

Some can, but you have to know how to read the fish finder. Lower quality fish finders are limited to detecting schools of fish, and not generally very good at identifying individuals. Fish finders with a higher frequency range are better at spotting individual fish, and if you get a super high-end 3D imaging, your laughing.

There’s a fish finder that’s perfect for every angler…

Hopefully, this round up of features has helped you narrow down exactly what you should look out for when selecting a fish finder. Hand in hand with the reviews above; we hope this has cleared up all of your questions relating to your upcoming purchase, but if you still have questions, please check out our FAQ section below.

Best Fish Finders FAQs

What is a fish finder?

A fish finder is a wonderful piece of modern technology where ultrasonic electrical waves are burst out at specific frequencies. Their bounce back is then used to determine the depth of the water at any given point, thus showing submerged objects that return a signal prior to hitting the bottom.

What are the different types of fish finders?

With so many different styles of fishing out there, the manufacturers have taken to producing an option for everywhere. There are now fish finders that are handheld/portable or fixed in place, wireless, or even castable.

These various types then also utilize differing technologies to give you the desired fish location information. Some models employ SideScan technologies to give you an image that accounts for what is to the side of your boat, and recently there have been 3D and Livescan options hitting the market that provide an even more accurate image of the below.

Why does the frequency the fish finders operate at matter?

Garmin Striker 4 with Transducer, 3.5

By and large, the higher the frequency, the finer the detail on your viewing screen. Most fish finders operate in the 50-200kHz range, though there are options running 400 kHz.

What is the best fish finder brand?

It’s hard to say who makes the best fish finders, as there’s a number of different options out there for specific subsets of fishing (such as ice fishing, deep-sea fishing, castable finders, etc.). We will say there are some brands that manufacture a wide range of fish finders, including Humminbird, Garmin, Lowrance, Raymarine, as well as others. Similarly, there’s a number of brands like Deeper that specialize in a specific type of fish finder, in this case, castables.

Can I sync my fish finder with my smartphone or tablet?

With many options these days, you can, but not all. WiFi and/or Bluetooth are quickly becoming more and more standard features with fish finders these days, at least for the higher end models. Some castable options even require you to use a smartphone or tablet as the viewing screen.

How are fish finders installed?

This will depend in part on the style of fish finder and the type of boat you have. One of the most common installations for smaller boats is a transom mount, where the transducer is mounted at the rear of the boat just below the waterline. The power cord will then need to be either fixed to the side of the boat, or through the rear hull for most models.

Another option is a thru-hull mount, in which you fix the transducer to the inside of the boat’s hull. For this option, it is important to ensure that no gaps or air is left between the transducer and the hull, and for this reason, it is often encased in a small container filled with silicon for a tight seal.

Are fish finders waterproof?

Yes and no. There are a number of styles out there, some can be submerged completely, and others only have transducers that mount below the waterline. The display unit is usually susceptible to water damage and should be kept covered when mounted.

Will fish finders work for kayak fishing?

Certainly, in fact, there’s a number of companies that have units specifically designed for use in kayaks. These generally tend to be more portable and have smaller vertical screens rather than the large widescreen options.

How do I read a fish finder?

 Garmin Striker 4 with Transducer,

Most fish finders display function in more or less the same way, unless downscan, sidescan, or 3Dscan is being used. For the more traditional CHIRP sonar, you will see the hard bottom displayed as a solid band (often yellow with blue below). Between this and the surface (top of the screen), there will be no color (or a solid color) representing the water.

Submerged objects, whether they be fish, seaweed, or anything else, are shown marked on the screen higher than the bottom of the lake/river/etc. Larger objects below (including fish) will be shown as thicker lines on the screen.

But, how do I tell if it’s a fish or something else?

It will, of course, take you some time to get used to reading your fish finder, but once you do, you will be able to tell if something showing on the screen is likely to be a fish or not. One key piece of knowledge from the experts, arched lines are more likely to be fish, while a large ball could be a bait ball where the predatory fish tend to hang out.

Do fish finders show the temperature?

Knowing the water temperature will help you know what fish you can expect to find below, and thus some (but not all) fish finders display this reading. Just note that the transducer’s mounting location (in or out of the water) will affect this reading if the model offers it.

Further Reading

If you’ve enjoyed this article, then please check out our other in-depth articles on such subjects as What are Scupper Plugs, a comparison between Sit on Top vs Sit In Kayaks and many, many more…

So, What Are The Best Fish Finders?

With so much information laid out for you here regrind fish finders, you should now be ready to net your next piece of fishing gear. You’ve got all the numbers; now you just need to decide where to go fishing.

If for some reason, you still can’t make up your mind, we would recommend the WiFi capable…

Raymarine Axiom 7DV Fish Finder

…for its truly modern capabilities.

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