Now a days finding that great spot takes patience and the right conditions, but are the fish actually there or are you wasting your time? If these are questions your asking yourself then it may be time to invest in the right equipment, and yes we are talking about a fish finder.
There are many different products out there, and prices can range from one hundred dollars all the way to four thousand, depending the what bells and whistles you want to have. But are you getting the right deal or are you over paying for features you will never use in your life. You want to be able to purchase a unit with all the features you require for the fish you will be targeting at the skill level you have. If your an occasional fisherman with a 12 foot aluminum boat you likely aren’t going to require a state of the art 10 inch fish finder with every feature imaginable. Likewise if your a semi-pro fisherman or and angler that spends many hours per week on the lake you would be wise to invest in a higher end model that you’ll get good usage out of.
All this talk probably sounds so confusing right, but don’t sweat it because we are going to break it down by brands, models, boat/finder combo’s and a few other things you need to know before you spend the money on what may be the most used piece of equipment in your boat. You’ve made the right first step by deciding to research before making a purchase.
Remember that a fish finder is one of the most important tools when your out on the water, not just for targeting fish but also for safety. Being familiar with water conditions such as depth, temperature, and underwater structures is crucial for safety.
Should I Buy A Fish Finder With Built In GPS
A lot of people start researching fish finders and this is the first question that pops up; Do I need on that has a built in GPS? The jump in price between fish finders with and without a built in GPS is fairly substantial and therefore its important to determine if you really require this or not.
In my opinion, anyone who travels the waters in search of fish should have a GPS on board. Fisherman who fish large bodies of waters such as the great lakes, or rivers and streams that run for miles should consider a unit with this feature. The GPS is an important safety feature as it allows you to determine where you are and where you are going. You never know what you can encounter on the waters and knowing your exact location and mapping out routes is vital for safety. Certain routes on the waters may have shallow areas, or sunken dangers and a GPS allows you to map out these areas so you can navigate around or away from them in a safe fashion.
It also will improve your game on the waters; especially larger waters. Fish often times migrate and reside in certain basins and underwater crevices and finding them with a fish finder makes fishing that much more productive. The problem is that in larger waters it may be difficult to relocate these exact spots. A GPS solves this issue, by allowing an angler to track their routes and “mark” hot spots so they can return there at a later time.
In general a GPS is helpful for safety as well as fishing productivity and is definitely a game changer on the water. If you are fishing smaller rivers and streams that run only a few miles long than the GPS feature is probably overkill and you can save your self a few hundred dollars.
What Are The Best Fish Finder & Depth Finder Brands
The first names that come to mind are Hummingbird, Lowrance, and Garmin. These are what we would assume to be the biggest players in the fish and depth finder market. But sometimes that doesn’t mean they have the best one that fits your budget and needs.
We would say that the best bang for your buck may come from your Hummingbird models. Hummingbird which is a subsidiary of Johnson outdoors make a pretty decent fish finder. On one of our aluminum boats we use a basic hummingbird 143 and on the other is a HDS9 Lowrance.
Personally we have outfitted each boat with what we think is the best piece of equipment to suit our needs. Brands can be tough to pick apart but what we recommend doing is to look at a few things to narrow down your brand search. The first couple things to always look for is the build quality of the equipment, which can usually be measured by the warranty the company issues for all of there products. The other thing we like is to look at is misleading marketing of features you will never use. We like companies that tell it the way it is and not offer more than what you really need.
Deals come up all the time, so if you do your research you may be able to pick up a higher end model that would normally be out of your price range. It is important to research prices and to search online frequently.
Features To Consider Before Buying
- Cost – The obvious main thing to factor in is the price. You want to get the most bang for your buck and you want to determine which features and components you’ll need and use on a regular basis. An entry level fisherman looking for a budget friendly entry level fish finder will be able to get away with a unit that costs $80-200. A more elite fisherman looking for a higher end model will likely spend $300-1000. Pros and fisherman with high end boats can easily spend $1000 +
- Signal Frequency- Fish finders shoot a signal deep into the water to determine whats going on down there. The signal bounces off objects or fish and determines the depth and size. The stronger the signal the better the model. Signals can be as weak as 50 kHz or as high as 200 kHz.
- Screen Size- This is more of a preference and space thing. Screen can range from 3 inches to 12 inches plus. Obviously the larger the screen size the more you’ll pay for the equipment.
- Portability – Some fish finders are intended to remain stationary on a boat while others are portable. If your kayak fishing or fishing in small inland lakes the portability is great to have. Those with large boats will prefer a stationary unit that is hardwired and mounted to the boat.
Best Fish Finders For The Money & Reviews
Below are a couple fish fish finders that we have reviewed and tested. These are some of the best sellers out there. Remember, you can’t simply choose “the best fish finer” you need to research and pick the best fish finder FOR YOU and that suits your needs and budget. The fish finder that an average angler requires is going to be a lot different than that of a pro fisherman running a walleye circuit. So read up and do your research.
If you are looking to buy a fishing boat and the bright text says free fish finder chances are this is the one you are going to be getting. This is what we think is the Merc of fish finders, they offer what you need for a great price. This isn’t by all means the best of the best but for a under 100$ price tag it sure is. A few features/specs of the Hummingbird PiranhaMax 143 include the following:
- Screen Size – 4inches
- Max Depth of 600ft
- 2d Imaging with Backlight
Great to have on the dash of any boat this models also features great tilt and swivel action, making it perfect to face the back or the front of the boat wherever you are standing.
Tournament fisher, semi pro, or pro hobby angler this may the nicest and most feature packed fish finder on the market. With Lowrance you can always find great value as well as a great product, having said that this fish finder tops its list. Basic Features and specs of this unit include the following:
- 9 inch screen size
- High definition screen resolution
- 2D structure and down scan overlay scanning
- 5000 waypoint storage
- 5000ft max depth
- (50/200 or 83/ 200 kHz) + 455/800 kHz sonar frequency
Most reviewers including ourselves are finding that the best feature of this fish finder is of course it 9 inch display. Bright, bold and in high definition this fish finder gives you crisp and timeless response. perfect for seizing the moment and getting the best out of your fishing experience.
With Garmin looking to grow its line of marine product they spice up the fish finder market with the echoMap 43dv fish finder with LakeVu Mapping. The best part of this product is the seamless mapping and depth views from its crisp 4.3 inch screen. Below are a few basic features and specs you need to know
- 4.3 inch screen size
- Transome mount/ Trolling motor transducer.(transducer comes with the echoMap 44dv)
- Internal GPS antenna
- 2,300ft freshwater depth and 1,100 ft bluewater(saltwater)
A personal experience we enjoyed with the Garmin corporation is there great customer service. They were very straight forward in giving us a great customer experience by answer all our question on point. This is a product we would also like to recommend our readers to look at.
Having a fish finder on board can save you a lot of meaningless fishing in the long run. By getting the depths you need and actually marking, you can speed up the process of landing those monster fish. Where there are bait fish there are most likely the big units, don’t be alarmed if that’s all you see on your finder, the big one is yet to come.
Other Similar Articles and Reviews: