The best fish finders will increase the amount of fish you catch by a lot. The amount of baitfish and underwater structure you’re missing with your bare eyes will astonish you.

This might not be too big of a deal when you’re floating clear rivers that are shallow, but on bigger bodies of water, a fish finder is a necessary tool if you want to consistently catch fish.

Quick Look: Best Fishing Finders

#1 Best Fish Finder Overall: Simrad Go 7

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So, if that sounds good, then check out the information below. I’ll cover several different fish finders that will help you become a more successful angler.

Fish Finders

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Best Fish Finders Video

What Is a Fish Finder?

A fish finder is a device used by anglers to locate either baitfish, sport fish, or structure in the water. This helps them increase their chances of landing a fish.

A close-up of fishing sonar, fish finder, echolot at the boat

Fishfinders work by using SONAR. This relays a picture back up to a screen on the boat that the angler can use to determine if there are any fish or structure in the area that might attract fish.

Fly Fishing Gear

Types of Fish Finders

There are several different types of fish finders. Many people have a preference for what they use in the boat. However, each has its own list of pros and cons.

Below, I’ll go over the different types of fish finders. Look over the descriptions below and see which one will be the best for you and your fishing style.

Mountable

These are great if you want to put a fish finder on a boat. This could a drift boat, bass boat, pontoon, or even a kayak. They come with brackets that you can use to attach it anywhere you wish.

These are great because they offer a secure way to keep the fish finder in place. So, if you wind up hitting any chop or any bumps in the water, you know that your fishfinder won’t go flying off the side of the boat.

Fixed

This is similar to mountable. Or, it could even be the exact same thing. Often times mountable fish finders are considered fixed since they can;t be moved once you’ve installed them.

Again, these are great for when you want to have a spot on your boat that always has a fish finder on it, allowing you to easily glance over and see what may be beneath you.

Portable

A portable fish finder is ideal for someone who doesn’t have a large boat, but has a small boat, kayak, or canoe instead. You can easily grab it and go.

Portable fish finders often have temporary brackets on them. This way you can mount them on your boat and then you can easily remove them when you’re done for the day.

Handheld

These are typically used for ice fishing. Or, it can be used when you’re on an inflatable raft or float tube, something that doesn’t have an area where you can mount a fish finder.

These are usually cheaper, but they can be a great asset for anglers who don’t have a boat with a mount but still want to be able to utilize a fish finder for their time out on the water.

Castable

These are relatively new in the fishing world. You can cast them out with a fly rod and reel, and they work like a fish finder would on a boat. The difference is you can pick exactly where you want to look.

These are great for shore anglers who want to know how deep an area is in front of them. Or, for anglers who have kayaks and canoes and are floating a river. This allows them to see what’s ahead of them before passing over it.

When to Use a Fish Finder

You can use a fish finder in just about any scenario you can think of. If fishing from the shore in a small bass pond, then you can use a castable fish finder. It can only benefit you.

A fisherman fight against a pike. The man is sitting in the fishing inflatable boat. He also use a sonar fish finder to detect the fish underwater.

Ideally, the best time to use one is when you’re fishing in deeper water where you can’t see the bottom. This helps you find fish as well as structure. So, deeper rivers, lakes, and salt water are ideal for using a fish finder.

Fly Fishing Species

Do You Really Need a Fish Finder?

The short answer is no. You don’t need a fish finder. That being said, it’ll only help you. There’s a whole world beneath your boat, and a fish finder will help you see it.

Whether it’s baitfish, beds, structure, drop-offs, or a weed line, a fish finder will help you see all of these spots, which the naked eye could miss but the fish are drawn to.

5 Best Fish Finders

Below, I’ll go over five different fish finders. All of them will help you catch fish, but each has its own list of pros and cons that meet different angling needs.

So, take a close look at the list below and then think about what you need for your own fishing trip. Chances are the fish finder you need is on the list below. Check it out and see!

1. Humminbird Helix 7

  • Pros: Great down imaging
  • Cons: Transducer can’t be used on a trolling motor

For the price, this might be one of the best products on the list, making it great for someone who is looking to get a solid fishfinder without spending too much money.

The accurate down imaging is phenomenal, allowing you to locate exactly where you want to fish every single time. It will make you a more efficient angler.

The Humminbird Helix 7 shows depth, water temperature, speed, coordinates, and time. It can also allow you to save fishing spots. So, if you find a good brush pile but no fish are on it, you can save it for later.

Product Specifications

  • 7 inch screen
  • 800H X 480V resolution and display
  • Mega down imaging down to 125 feet
  • Includes transducer, mounting hardware, power cable and mounting bracket
  • Dual spectrum chirp

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2. Lowrance Hook 2

  • Pros: Easy to use with wide coverage
  • Cons: Maps load very slowly

The Lowrance Hook 2 fish finder is very easy to use. It has an auto tuning sonar and a phone-like menu, so you can easily navigate through the product and locate whatever it is that you need.

The wide-angle sonar gives you double the range of traditional sonar, allowing you to see more of the bottom of the body of water you’re fishing. This gives you an edge over most.

It’s also very easy to set up. You can put it on the transom, trolling motor, or the hull. The easy mounting makes it ideal for putting it on either a canoe or a kayak.

Product Specifications

  • Auto tuning sonar
  • Down imaging up to 300 feet
  • 4000 preloaded lake maps
  • Comes with transducer
  • Micro SD slot
  • CHIRP
  • GPS

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3. Lowrance Hook 5

  • Pros: Fish are very clear and easy to see, high end maps
  • Cons: Can take some time to learn all of the features

The Lowrance Hook 5 is the nicer version of the Hook 2, which I mentioned above. It’s incredibly clear, making it very easy to see fish, vegetation, and the bottom of the lake that you’re fishing.

Similar to the Hook 2, there over 4000 pre-loaded maps on this unit, making it great for taking to just about any major body of water in the US.

The 5 inch display wont blow you away with its size, but it’s big enough to let you spot fish with ease and read maps so you know where you’re going and where you’ve been.

Product Specifications

  • Fishreveal makes for easy viewing
  • CHIRP sonar
  • High resolution
  • Down scan
  • Splitshot transducer
  • Auto tuning sonar

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4. Simrad Go 7

  • Pros: Smart reveal technology makes it easy to see
  • Cons: The unit can sometimes freeze up

Simrad isn’t one of the best-known names, but they still make a great product. The Simrad Go 7 has an easy-to-use multi-touch interface, allowing you to figure out exactly what you want to see on the screen, and where.

This unit has CHIRP sonar and side and down imaging, giving you the opportunity to see everything you want either beneath or on the side of your boat. This is a very versatile unit.

It has both a flush and bracket mount display, meaning you can put this almost anywhere on the boat or vessel of your choosing. It’s also easy to install.

Product Specifications

  • Easy touch multi-use interface
  • Fully featured chart plotter
  • Flush or bracket mount display
  • Widescreen with bright LED light
  • 10 HZ GPS receiver
  • Wireless connectivity
  • Dual micro SD slots

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5. Raymarine Axion 7

  • Pros: Extremely fast, built-in WiFi
  • Cons: Smaller screen can be tough to read

The multi-touch interface system makes this a very easy product to use. No longer do you have to spend half your day out fishing messing with your electronics trying to figure out how to get to your favorite spot.

The Raymarine Axion 7 unit also features maps of over 20,000 lakes, rivers, and ponds, making this great for the North American angler who wants to travel the continent to find the best fishing possible.

The built in WiFi even lets you control the unit from your phone. You could be sitting in the backseat and pull up a map for the driver who’s sitting in front. It’s easy to use and efficient.

Product Specifications

  • CHIRP sonar
  • CHIRP down vision
  • Built in WiFi
  • Quad core processor makes for fast performance
  • 20,000 lakes and rivers from North America mapped out
  • Surface mounting kit
  • Mounting hardware

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Features of the Best Fish Finders

Below, I’ll cover some of the best features of each fish finder. Take a look and see which features will work best for you and how you prefer to fish.

GPS Integrated

This is great if you plan on fishing in a very large body of water. Whether it’s a lake or the ocean, GPS integration will allow you to find spots that hold fish over and over again.

Fishing tackle set and fishfinder, echolot, sonar at the boat.

Also, the GPS will help when you’re headed home too. This is ideal when you’re fishing in a new body of water. There’s nothing worse than being tired at the end of the day and getting lost out on the water.

Cone Angle

Most people don’t know what a cone angle is on a fish finder. This is the area that the fish finder covers on the bottom of the body of water. Usually, it’s measured by degrees, although most people just refer to their cone angle as good, efficient, or effective.

It looks like an upside-down ice cream cone of sound that gets shot out from the fish finder to the bottom of the water. Most are usually around 10 to 20 degrees.

Side Scan vs Down Scan

Down scan allows you to see what’s directly beneath the boat. This is ideal when you’re fishing deep water, so you can drop a lure off the side of the boat or figure out what the depth of the water is in front of you.

Side scan allows you to see an area that’s off to the side of the boat. How far away it goes depends on the maker of the fishfinder. Having both side and down scan is ideal.

Mounting Type

There are a couple of different mount types for fish finders. There can be bracket mounts that screw into the boat or onto a platform that holds it in place, making it a fixed mount.

A Fishfinder, echolot, fishing sonar at the boat

Or, there are types where a mount is screwed or drilled into the boat, and then the fish finder is clicked into place. This is great for someone who wants to remove their finder when they leave the boat.

Vessel Specific Fish Finders

Removable fish finders are best used for drift boats, canoes, or kayaks. That way you can easily switch them out between different vessels and can take them out for safekeeping.

Fixed and mounted fish finders are best used on larger boats, such as bass boats, pontoons, or any other type of boat that you plan on taking out on larger bodies of water.

Transducer

A transducer sends and receives signals for the fish finder. It’s the heart of the echo sounder system. Without it, the fish finder wouldn’t work, and you’d be stuck with a blank screen.

Display

Displays vary based on the size of the fish finder and the quality with which it’s made. A well-made fish finder will have a much clearer display, making it easier to see and read in low light or high light conditions.

A smaller screen or a cheaper fish finder won’t be as clear, leading to potential confusion or mistakes when you’re reading the fish finder.

Frequency

The frequency on fish finders usually ranges from 15 KHZ to 200 KHZ. However, you’ll find that the majority of the fish finders out there use 50 KHZ to 200 KHZ.

There are some that even use 400 KHZ. However, that’s very rare. 15 KHZ is best used to help locate large schools of fish or baitfish. 200 KHZ is used to find the exact location of the fish.

Who Makes the Best Fish Finders?

Below, I’ll go over four different brands of fish finder that I deem to be some of the best out there. Each company makes a great product, so make sure to check them out and see which one you like best.

A close-up of Fishfinder, echolot, fishing sonar at the boat.

Before you go too deep, though, you should think about what you need in a fish finder and then apply that to the list. This will help you determine which one will suit your fishing needs.

Humminbird

Humminbird is one of the best-known names in the world of fishing. They make great products, and their fish finders certainly reflect that. They also make a wide range of fish finders that meet every need.

They have some of the best sonar out there that gives you some of the clearest imaging. Most of their products also come with very accurate lake maps and charts, so you can always know where you’re fishing.

Garmin

Similar to the Humminbird, Garmin also makes great electronics used for fishing. Their fish finders are top notch, and any angler would be happy to have one strapped to the bow of their boat.

They’re a relatively new company to the fish finder world, starting in 1989. Don’t let that deter you, though. They have drive and passion for creating great electronics.

Lowrance

This is the oldest company on this list. Starting in 1957, Lowrance has been leading the way in fishing electronics. They may have started over sixty years ago, but they have kept up with the times, and the technology they use shows.

They were even the first company to create the HD multi-function screen. They’re always seeking to find the latest and greatest forms of tech that they can apply to their very own products.

Raymarine

It doesn’t matter if you want down vision, side vision, real vision 3D, or chirp sonar. Raymarine has a product for you that will meet just about every need you could think of.

They make sonar for both fresh and salt water. So, you can have a completely versatile fishing experience, allowing you to spend more time catching fish and less time reading electronics.

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Conclusion

Fish finders can be an incredibly helpful tool when you’re out on the water. They won’t only help you locate baitfish or the target species, but will also help you locate brush piles or drop-offs that you can attack later.

There can be a little bit of a learning curve with them. However, once you’ve figured out how to work these devices, you’ll be spending a lot more time catching fish and less time boating around looking for them.

Now, if the information above sounds pretty good, then check out some of the products I listed on Amazon. They’ll only benefit your fishing experience!