Best Fish Finders of 2018

by | Feb 1, 2018 | 0 comments

Whether you are an inshore or offshore angler, you will probably realize that seeking the trophy catch of your life can be tricky and difficult. Through thousands of hours fishing on the water, we finally compiled this guide. We searched the market and found the 5 best fish finders that fit your needs.

You can find all kinds of fish feeders in 2018 that vary in functions and usability but the important factors are not only the tranducer (the eye) but the Display Functions.

3 Best Fish Finders for Kayaks

Top Portable Fish Finders (Best 3)

3 Best Fish Finders for Boats

Boat and Kayak Fish Finder Reviews 2018

 

1. Garmin Striker 4 Review

Just to start out with, the Garmin Striker is the hallmark of practicality and innovation for every angler. Whether you are a beginner or an avid mad angler like me, you will see that it is a really good Garmin depth finder. Overall, all Garmin products are reliable and especially the “Striker” series.

It is very easy to use and in terms of specs it has some very good features that you will find only in expensive fish finders like CHIRP. You have only to think about your needs. What do you need? GPS? Check, High Resolution? Check, Outstanding Abilities? Also, Check!!

It’s a small unit and if you don’t understand how CHIRP works, we attached a short video so you can learn more about this new high-performance technology.

And the most incredible is that it is affordable and portable. Personally, I mounted my Striker on my kayak and I can ensure you that it works perfectly! However, I would like to analyze the specifications one by one so you can have a better view of what you are gonna buy. One of the best fish finders worldwide.

Oustanding Features

  • CHIRP Sonar System

 As stated above, this special technology will give you a better resolution so you can see what’s going on down there in the water. If a traditional fish finder emits one beam, CHIRP sends many of them into the water. This signal gives you more clarity and accuracy.

Surprisingly, many fishermen think that it is just a small normal fish finder, but it’s not. You can use it both for saltwater and freshwater fishing as it is able to detect small fish and big trophy fish!

Please click here to learn more about CHIRP

  • Integrated GPS

So,  you are on the water and you found a really really good spot that holds fish. The only way to save this spot is a fish finder with GPS! Mark spots and locations just with a click. There is enough space for up to 5000 waypoints! Additionally, there is a track speed function which you can use while you are dragging your lure through the water.

More Features and Specifications

  • Flasher Mode System

Depth scale in a circle is the feature that all ice fishing or jigging fishing fanatics will love. Imagine that it will show you if the bottom is rocky, muddy or solid. I am usually vertical fishing and believe me this fish finder is a gem.

  • IPX7 Waterproof and Durable- IPX Described click here

One of the top rated fish finders could not come without being rugged IPX7 Waterproof. Like all Garmin fish finders, the Striker 4 is absolutely waterproof even in one-meter depth for 30 minutes. It is well-rugged so you can use it for every fishing situation without any issue!

  • Incredible Display

We are talking about a small main unit with a 3.5 ” display but it does not mean that it will not give you all the basics. 480X320 Pixels and HVGA Color! With the GPS option, you can mark many spots with colorful small items. Overall, we can definitely say that the device will give you a high-quality image.

ProsCons
  • High-Quality Sonar System
  • Flasher Mode especially helpful for ice-fishing
  • Waterproof
  • Small and Portable
  • Easy Mount
  • Built-In GPS
  • If you expose the screen directly to sunlight, you will be not able to see something
  • Small Unit

Final Thoughts

As all fishermen would think, the Garmin fish finder Striker 4 includes all the basic features for every serious angler. Nothing more, nothing less. To sum up, this durable housing is quite small, but the features will impress even the most demanding fisherman. Suitable for trolling, jigging, vertical fishing or ice-fishing.

To my way of thinking it is a big big plus that it has CHIRP Sonar just like the best fish finders ever made. I’ve seen many 2D Sonar devices but this one is the best option for every angler. In addition, just to let you know the transducer is also well-made and you can install it easily on your boat, kayak or even inflatable boat.

2. Lowrance Hook-4 Ice Machine – Perfect for Ice Fishing

fish finder for ice fishingFirstly, the Lowrance ® HOOK 4 Ice Machine fish finder offers the most bang for the buck especially if you compare it with other devices on the market. A value-for-money device that will give you a clear view of the underwater world using innovating technologies and high-quality parts.

The great display paired with CHIRP Sonar gives you a high-resolution view. Since you are reading this you are probably an angler so you know that Lowrance is one of the best brands. This Lowrance fish finder is exactly what you want and the package comes with a convenient ice-fishing bag which will keep it safe and sound!

I would recommend it to freshwater anglers just because it is ideal to detect smaller fish and baitfish. We included the Lowrance depth finder in the list with the best fish finders because it is a number one selection for all US anglers and you will find out why in the next section! Down Imaging at an affordable price.

Outstanding Features

  • CHIRP DownScan Imaging

Built for versatility it will offer more than you expect thanks to the exceptional CHIRP DownScan Imaging technology. You can obtain more information about different fish and obstacles in the water. It can show clear details up to 300 feet with absolutely zero noise.

Especially the split screen will be definitely helpful for viewing a wider angle.

  • Built-In GPS and numerous Maps

I promise that every US angler will appreciate this GPS fish finder because it includes a detailed map with 3000 rivers, lakes and coastal areas. The navigation features will definitely surprise you as you can find the basic mapping models and improved of course. Moreover, the device supports many mapping and navigation apps which you can download from your pc and save it on a sd micro memory card.

I am using Navionics for many years since the app was released and I think it is a good option as you can find a free version which is extremely good!

The 16 channel GPS Antenna will never let you down so you can save waypoints, spots, locations and re-visit your favorite waters which hold some big fish!

More Features and Specifications

  • Great 16Bit Color Display

The 272X480 Pixel display is the reason why I would definitely select the Lowrance Hook 4 Ice Machine depth finder. It is not only a high-performance screen but also has some special features.  A Led Backlight which you can adjust according to the light conditions you fish is a great plus.

Personally, I am a night angler so the backlighting is essential.

  • Connectivity and Card Slot

Specifically, it is a big feature that the device has a micro SD card slot so you can save some good navigation apps or just save the waypoints on your pc. Additionally, there is an NMEA 0183 port.

ProsCons
  • Almost zero noise
  • High-Quality GPS
  • Good Connectivity
  • Apps Compatible
  • Full Package with Ice-fishing bag and Transducer
  • Ample Maps
  • The basic Mapping Mode will not give you many details especially about lakes
  • The main Unit is  quite small

Final Thoughts

If this fish finder would be a car, I would characterize it as the Ferrari of Fish Finders. Obviously, it is a great kayak fish finder and boat fish finder for all tastes that will fulfill even the most demanding needs. If you are fishing for small or medium size fish, you should take it seriously into consideration.

It would be important to mention that the included transducer is extremely lightweight and small so you can mount it on your boat or kayak without any problem.

3. Humminbird 409690-1 PiranhaMax Review


Humminbird fish finders are widely known amongst all fishing circles all around the world! What is not to love? I would characterize it as an all-in-one device with powerful features. Whether you are a day or night angler, you will detect the fish easily thanks to the LED backlight. Overall, I came across to this small buddy because I saw that it is available at a really good price and I cannot resist of taking a short look at.

Of course, I realized that it is definitely a good choice for freshwater and shallow water anglers. One of the best fish finders on the market and through my research I think that many kayak fishermen use it. Let’s take a closer look at this buddy.

Outstanding Feature

  • Dual Frequency Sonar

Standard frequencies between 200kHz, 455kHz, and 455kHz are ideal for shallow and freshwaters. The dual beam transducer will give you a good image but remember that high frequencies are suitable for shallow waters. The narrowest beam is 16 degrees and the widest 28 degrees so you can see that it covers more area than normal fish finders.

Please take a look at the video below to learn more about dual frequency.

More Features and Specifications

  • Excellent 256 Color Display

I would not expect from a 3.5″ unit to show me sharp details, but Humminbird made it possible with the 320X240 Pixel colorful display. It has a backlight and a nice and easy menu.

  • Amazing Water Depth

This device is made to work in waters up to 600 ft depth so you can understand that it is a powerful device which will give you a detailed underwater view.

ProsCons
  • User-Friendly Menu
  • Lightweight and small
  • Sharp Resolution
  • Affordable
  • Could have a better imaging technology
  • Small Screen

Final Thoughts

Summarizing, many anglers would like to cut through all the complicated devices and go for the simplest and best fish finder ever. Humminbird took this to heart and created the Humminbird Piranhamax 197c which promises special features at a low cost. I like simplicity because I want to stay focused on my target fish, so this would be my next kayak fish finder.

4. Lowrance Elite 4 HDI Review

fish finder chart plotter
The Lowrance Elite 4 is a dedicated high-quality device which should be definitely on the list with the best fish finders. Having a clear onscreen image and other capabilities like good Sonar and GPS, it would be a great fish finder for small boats, inflatable boats, and kayaks. There are many great things to say about this Elite 4 and the only downfall I would like to mention is that it comes without a transducer.

It is a feature-rich device that will give you more than the basics. I am not surprised that it earned in reputation as long as it was launched on the market. When it comes to a good device, I would like to have high quality and cutting-edge features without spending a fortune.

And that’s exactly what I mean. The hallmark of simplicity in one device, but you will have to buy the transducer to take advantage of all these features. It does its job and does it well thanks to Lowrance.

Outstanding Feature

  • HDI Imaging

HDI simply means Hybrid Dual Imaging and it combines not only Down Imaging but also Broadband Sounder which will obtain more information about the bottom structure or fish. Broadband Sounder Technology is a revolutionary system which decreases the noise thanks to a developed filtering process.

Most fish finders cannot give you a detailed image of the underwater world so it’s no wonder that Lowrance managed to improve that. Personally, I like that it can also be used in muddy waters. In the Video below you can see this feature explained on the water.

More Features and Specifications

  • Insight Genesis

Think outside the box and go for the best fish finders on the market because a good device is not necessarily an expensive device. The Insight Genesis Technology is created for you so you can create your own maps! So, you are on the water and you have no idea about the depth or structure.

The only thing you will have to do is to criss-cross the water and the device will create the maps for you! The Insight Genesis gives you the option to upload the maps by using a micro SD card.

  • Big Screen

The 16-bit 4.3″ display is one of the features which I love and many people would also appreciate. When you are on the water, fighting a big fish and you are barely holding the rod, a big screen would be a great plus for you. Some previous Elite models had a smaller display so Lowrance decided to change that.

They equipped it with this high-resolution screen suitable for all conditions even if it is exposed directly to the sun. Personally, I had a bad fish finder and I was not able to see anything.

  • Integrated GPS

Furthermore, navigational aid is a must-have feature. The Elite 4 utilizes a powerful and sensitive GPS and includes a detailed US map where you can mark your fishing spot. The device is compatible with almost all navigation apps like Lake Insight or Nautic Insight.

ProsCons
  • Detailed Imaging
  • Sensitive GPS
  • Easy Menu
  • Split Screen
  • Portable
  • LED Backlight
  • No Transducer
  • Quite Expensive
  • No Unit Cover

Final Thoughts

To sum up, the all-weather Lowrance Elite 4 is able to withstand even the most demanding situations. Manufactured with accuracy and high-quality materials. The result? A nice fish finder which will be your next fishing buddy.

The device does not utilize CHIRP but the HDI Technology is also powerful and it can show you the water bottom structure and composition and fish. The detail makes the difference and I am sure that you will appreciate this gem.

5. Garmin 010-01809-00 Striker 7SV Review

best garmin fish finderLastly, I chose the Striker 7sv that is a good fit for everyone. Literally, it is an all-in-one option which includes GPS, excellent imaging, CHIRP and a big comfortable screen. If you want to examine bottom structures carefully and detect every fish and every fish shoal, you should definitely take a look at the Striker 7sv.

When it comes to high-performance, the Striker 7sv is exactly what you are looking for. The Garmin CHIRP will give you the smoothest fishing experience ever. But what’s the most notable about this fish finder?

Outstanding Features

  • Garmin CHIRP High Resolution

Since you are reading this article, you definitely know that normal devices send only one or two beams-signals. This 7sv is able to send numerous signals from low to high in order to cover a larger area and crystal clear resolution especially if you are bottom fishing or jigging.

The device comes with a 77/200kHz transducer which can be easily mounted on every boat or even trolling motor. To my way of thinking the best fish finders on the market have CHIRP.

  • DownVu and SideVu Technology

Digging into fish finders, I found out that many Garmin devices have DV or SV. The DownVu Technology will give you a good obstacle and fish resolution and overall it is widely used by all Garmin fanatics. On the other hand, SideVu offers a better bottom image.

And the best of all is that it can show all three technologies on one screen!! A flasher mode is also available but I think it is not necessary.

More Features and Specifications

  • GPS and Navigation

So, you are on the water, on a nice fishing trip and you found the best fishing spot of your life! Certainly yes, you can mark the spot but the improved GPS System gives you one more feature. It draws and remembers the path you took so you can follow the same route next time.

  • Easy Mount

Do you love your boat? So do I! And I do not want to drill it at all. Garmin paired the unit with a comfortable mount option so you can mount the transducer directly on the motor.

If you have an inflatable boat you can attach the main unit and transducer on the tube with a simple strap.

ProsCons
  • Large Clear Screen
  • Crystal Clear Resolution
  • High-Quality and Durable Transducer
  • Convenient Mount
  • CHIRP
  • no sd card slot
  • no NMEA
  • Bad connectivity

Final Thoughts

Finally, one of the best fish finders on the market that eliminates your needs for a good expensive device is the Garmin striker 7sv. Build to outstand even the most expensive fish finders just because it has all high-performance features you need. I know that it lacks in connectivity but who needs something more if you have already the necessary features utilized in one device?

When it comes to fishfinding, you should choose carefully and wisely. Actually, it is up to you and overall the device must fit your needs. Kayak fish finders fulfill different needs than a freshwater crappie angler would need. Consequently, fish finder manufacturers developed devices for every angler.

In a few words, there are some basic specs that you should look for and it is great that many of them have also some extras and secondary features. The point is to get a clear image and fish successfully. Bottom structure beneath your boat plays an important role so it would be a good idea to select the right device.

Hopefully, you like our article about the best fish finders 2018! Thank you for reading and stay tuned on tackle.org!!

Fish Finder Buyers Guide 2018

best fish findersFirstly, I would like to underline the fact that a fish finder is not just a simple device that detects fish. Yes sure it is able to detect fish underwater but to be honest it is not always possible. A slight deviation is almost inevitable even for th best fish finders of the world.

So, the most important thing is to use it with the right frequency. The complicated looking features may be not as complicated as you think as long as you use it the right way.

Best Fish Finders Functions and Features

On the other hand, the best fish finders can inform you about the depth and bottom structure which is helpful for bottom fishing techniques, jigging etc. Taking this into account I would admit that it is a useful device with multiple features. Overall, there are two depth finder types, the active and passive.

A fish finder consists of the following parts:

  1. Display-Screen (main unit)
  2. Transmitter (located in the display)
  3. Receiver (also located in the main unit)
  4. and Transducer (also known as the eye)

Overall, the transmitter generates a high electrical pulse and sends this “pulse” to the transducer. The transducer transforms the electrical pulses into a beam and sends it down into the water under your boat. When the beam hits on an object, it returns to the transducer, turns it into an electrical signal and sends it to the receiver.

The receiver amplifies this signal so you can see the translated information on the screen.

  • How can the device calculate depth?
    Knowing the speed of sound in the water and the exact time the sound-signal returns to the receiver, the device can show you the bottom depth and structure.

Frequency

Imagine that the transducer is the eye of your main unit and it consists of some piezoelectric substances and they determine the frequency. I know that the function of a fish finder may confuse you but is really simple!

Remember that the signal is a cone-shaped beam, the higher the frequency the wider the cone. Undoubtedly, this unit does the hardest job here so we should install it properly! Personally, last year I got a new boat and a fellow fisherman gifted me with a brand new Garmin depth finder.

I was so excited so I mounted quickly the transducer on the boat and hit the water! Unfortunately, the mount was awful so I couldn’t find anything.

Nevertheless, we will talk later about the transducer mount. In a few words, low frequency works great in deep waters but it will not give you the perfect screen resolution. High frequency operates shallow waters and you can see more details on the screen.

Please take a quick look at the table.

50 kHz200kHz
Big ConeSmall Cone
Deep WatersShallow Waters
Less ResolutionHigher Resolution
More NoiseAlmost Zero Noise
50 kHz200 kHz
Big ConeSmall Cone
Deep WatersShallow Waters
Less ResolutionHigher Resolution

CHIRP Imaging

If you need great precision and accurate imaging options, a CHIRP fish finder is exactly what you need! Chirp (compressed high-intensity radar pulse) is widely used by saltwater anglers and almost all boat depth finders have CHIRP. It covers more water as it works slightly different than normal devices. First of all, a CHIRP fish finder emits many pulses which have different frequencies.

Since it is scanning more objects in the water it can give you better imaging results. Yes, of course, you can see good information with high frequencies but if you want to locate a school of fish in the middle of the ocean, CHIRP will work perfectly.

What CHIRP frequency should I use?

CHIRP Technology

Don’t worry! A few years ago, when this technology showed up, CHIRP fish finders were expensive. Fortunately, today, they are available at really good reasonable prices for everyone! If you are not familiar with this technology, here are some basic guidelines about the right frequency selection.

Low CHIRP 0-80kHz: Deep Water Fishing and Big Game Fishing.

Medium CHIRP 80-200kHz: Works well for almost all water depths. However, it is not suitable for smaller fish and maybe it will not detect them.

High CHIRP 200-240kHz: Great for shallow waters, freshwater fishing and inshore fishing.

GPS with maps

GPS is one of the basic and crucial features your fish finder should have. If the device has built-in maps you will see that it will be really helpful especially for fishing. Navigation, tracking and saving waypoints!

Imagine that you are fishing in a specific spot and you caught a bucket full of fish and you want to mark the spot. The GPS and mapping technology will help you return to this spot. Usually, they have some integrated maps but I found some of the best fish finders that create maps.

Is this possible? Yeah, without any doubt even if you are in an unmapped water area. The transducer will cover the area and make the mapping job for you.

Let’s do some History!

The fish finder does not make fish to strike, but it solves the first and major problem, it finds them. In 1950, Carl Lowrance and his sons used to observe the underwater world (structure, fish behavior, temperature) and they designed the first fish finder.  It was a small portable fish finder and later, after years of research and hard work, they invented the world-wide known fish finder!

In 1959, Lowrance launched the small green box, a new device with integrated sonar. No wonder that Lowrance continues to create the best fish finders.

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