Getting the right equipment before you go fishing is always integral for a wide range of reasons.
Of course, the most evident one is that you don't want to lose a fish just because of your shoddy gear, but there are other risks involved in fishing without the right tackle. Some of them even affect your safety.
There is simply so much gear and tackle to consider before you go fishing, but it will all be up to the kind of angler you are. You’ll want to keep in mind that a fly fisher won’t have the same tackle as the one who targets bass. If you fish on your boat, there is a crucial piece of gear you will need, for example.
A fish finder is one of the more controversial advancements amongst boat fishers, as it has divided the community about the authenticity of the sport. Some anglers will argue that using a fish finder is unfair and that it defeats the sport of fishing and learning about the right spots in the water.
On the other hand, you have those who choose to openly embrace technological advancement in the hobby. Neither side is wrong in this argument, but we believe that every fisher should have a choice of the gear that they bring with them, and nobody should be derided for their use of the best fish finder.
Speaking of fish finders, you may be wondering exactly what they do. Most of these devices are very rudimentary pieces of sonar equipment that detect the fish in a certain range around your boat. As with all other sonar gear, top rated fish finders will do this by emitting a sound pulse and then detecting it when it bounces off of a fish.
As you can imagine, choosing the right product based on what manufacturers tell you about the best fish finder may only lead to more confusion or disappointment. That is why we’re here to help you out with the buying process, as we can guide you through every step of finding the best fish finder for the money.
First off, we’ll be taking a look at three of the best fish finder models that are currently available, but that won’t be the only source of guidance in this article. We are also going to present a few of the most integral aspects to look for in the best fish finder, for our readers who may be wondering what to look for.
Remember to use this buying guide as you see fit, as only you know what you need out of the best fish finder. If you are an experienced buyer, feel free to focus on the reviews and gloss over the buying advice section. Without any further delay, let’s get right into our reviews.
Best Fish Finder
Best Portable Fish Finder
Best Fish Finder
Winner - Garmin Striker 4 Built-In GPS Fish Finder
Picking the best fish finder around may sound like a bit of a challenge, but the first of our fish finder reviews should help with that. The winner of our fish finder category is the Garmin Striker 4, which is equipped with everything that you need, regardless of whether you are on a boat.
The best thing about this fish finder is its versatility, as it can be used for ice fishing and more since it doesn’t need to be mounted to your boat.
The interface consists of only a few buttons that are easy to use, making this model effortless to navigate and preventing you from getting frustrated.
This device is also surprisingly precise when you consider the price that you pay for it.
The use of CHIRP sonar means that you will be able to see fish arcs represented with much greater precision.
Garmin’s proprietary Clearvu sonar is another inclusion that makes this model an excellent choice.
You can find the Striker 4 available in three different sizes, but we reviewed the smallest of the bunch: the 3.5-inch model. We were impressed with the quality of the screen, though we would recommend a larger size, as it can sometimes be a challenge to see the information on the display.
Runner Up - Raymarine Dragonfly 7 Pro CHIRP Fish Finder
Finding the best fish finder is a matter of striking a balance between all of the features you need and a reasonable enough price point. The Raymarine Dragonfly 7 is designed for anglers who don't care about the price and just want the best fish finder on the market, and there's nothing wrong with that.
While this product may be somewhat less accessible than the other choices on this list, it certainly is a joy to use, and it makes finding fish easier than you could ever imagine. Key to this models effectiveness is the DownVision display which shows you the fish under your boat as if you were looking at them.
This is only capable because of the wide-spectrum CHIRP sonar which directly transmits the sound waves into the water for the clearest possible representation of what is below the waves. Of course, a fish finder this expensive is good for much more than what is under the water.
The Dragonfly 7 is completely GPS-ready, and it has a wide range of charts and navigational aids available. Even the display on this model is impressive, as it is designed to be visible even on sunny days, heavily reducing the amount of glare that you will have to deal with.
If you want the best fish finder on the market and you don’t mind spending some extra cash on it, then this is the choice for you.
Best Portable Fish Finder
Winner - Venterior VT-FF001 Portable Fish Finder
If the best fish finder to you is something that is portable and cheap enough to make for a reasonable purchase, then this model from Venterior is probably going to be your favorite. While this product may not be flashy, it gets the job done, and that’s more than you can ask for out of some other fish finders.
It seems like most budget fish finder models break after one or two uses, but we found that this product is one of the most reliable fish finders in this price range. It also helps that it comes included with a two-year warranty so you can rest assured that it will keep going for that duration.
For such an affordable fish finder, it has a wide range of depths at which it is capable, ranging from only three feet to over 300 feet. There are five settings available when it comes to choosing the sensitivity, allowing you to do things like conserving the battery or setting off an alarm when a fish is in range.
This portable fish finder uses a transducer, as you would expect, and it is connected with a 25-foot cable, allowing you to get a decent detection range out of it. Unlike other products, you won’t have to reset your settings every time you start up this fish finder, as it will keep track of them for you.
If affordability and reliability are the two features that you’re looking for, you’ll be sure to love this fish finder from Venterior.
Why You Need A Fish Finder Even On Smaller Boats
Many anglers wonder whether a fish finder is all that important and whether they should bother getting one if they fish on a smaller boat. We would argue that you should still get the best fish finder, even if you are used to angling on boats that aren't so large because these products keep getting smaller.
You will no longer need a massive setup to use a fish finder, as most modern examples are quite small. You don’t always need to use a full-size transom-mount fish finder to ensure that you detect everything around you. You’ll typically want to account for the size of your boat and balance it with your budget.
Whether your boat is large or small, everyone can agree that using a fish finder makes fishing much easier. Some models will even be able to act as a depth finder, giving you an idea of what the floor under the water looks like so that you won’t accidentally run aground or damage your boat.
If you like the idea of never coming home empty-handed, then a fish finder will make your angling experience much more enjoyable. On the other hand, if you are a more traditional fisher, then you probably won't welcome the intrusion of one of these devices, but you should still give one of them a try.
What To Look For When Choosing The Best Fish Finder
Some aspects are more integral to picking the best fish finder than others, and you may not be acquainted with them if this is your first time buying one of these products. In this part of our guide, we'll look at some of these aspects briefly, from portability to the maps available for download.
One thing that you will want to consider is whether or not your fish finder is portable, as there are two main varieties. Most fish finders will be mounted on your boat, so they will provide a fixed image of the area around the hull. On the other hand, there are also smaller, more portable models.
Most of the time, these fish finders are attached to a buoy or another device that helps them float and keeps them in your line of sight. A portable fish finder is an excellent choice for an angler who doesn’t necessarily do all of their fishing from the deck of a boat, as they can often be used with your smart devices.
The next thing to account for when selecting the right fish finder is the range at which it can detect the fish surrounding you. The best fish finder will have a long enough range not only to catch the fish surrounding your boat but the ones that are directly beneath you at a greater depth.
The power of a fish finder is directly responsible for its range, so if you are going to be fishing in deeper waters, then you will need a more capable model. Of course, the price is also directly related to the power of the fish finder, so you will want to adjust your budget accordingly.
Some fish finders will also offer GPS, which will allow you to keep track of where you find the most fish, making it easier to come back next time. GPS will also show you the waterways around you and will make navigation much easier.
You will also want to account for whether or not your fish finder comes included with maps already installed or available for download. Most fish finder makers will offer up-to-date maps of waterways and areas for download on their sites.
Finding the best fish finder on the market doesn’t have to be a challenge, and we hope that we’ve been able to make that evident for you over the course of this guide. Feel free to leave a comment down below and let us know what you think of these products and some of our purchasing tips.