Hello there! My name is Rick and you’ve probably come across my website because you’re in search of a product that will make your fishing experience easier and more effective. Or maybe you are just looking for information to get a better understanding of fish finders. In any case, you’ve come to the right place. I’m not a professional in this industry, I’m just a fishing enthusiast and during my search for the best fish finder on the market I’ve learned quite a few things about them. To give you the benefit of all the research I’ve done, I’ve created this website.

There is a huge variety of fish finder brands, their models and types. All this can make it quite complicated and time consuming to find the right one for your needs.  To help you in your search, we have compiled this best fish finder reviews of the models that are popular and top rated in 2016. With our reviews you can find the right fish finder for your style of fishing. To make sure that you get the right features for your needs, it’s important to do prior research. So read our reviews and comparisons to decide which model you need.

In selecting the top 10 models of fish finders we used research we had done of the models that are highest rated, best sellers and offer the best features.

fish finder reviews
  • Lowrance Elite-5X HDI
  • 4.7 Customer rating
  • Beam: Multiple
  • Display size, inches : 5.7
  • GPS: no
  • Price: $$
top fish finders
  • Lowrance Elite-7X
  • 4.8 Customer rating
  • Beam: Multiple
  • Display size, inches : 7
  • GPS: no
  • Price: $$
Garmin Echo 551dv Worldwide
  • Garmin Echo 551dv
  • 4.5 Customer rating
  • Beam: Dual
  • Display size, inches : 5
  • GPS: no
  • Price: $$
Humminbird 409120-1 859ci HD
  • Humminbird 859ci HD GPS/Sonar
  • 4.6 Customer rating
  • Beam: Dual
  • Display size, inches : 7
  • GPS: yes
  • Price: $$$
Garmin echo 100
  • Garmin echo 100
  • 4.5 Customer rating
  • Beam: Single
  • Display size, inches: 4
  • GPS: no
  • Price: $$$
raymarine dragonfly
  • Raymarine Dragonfly
  • 3.6 Customer rating
  • Beam: Dual
  • Display size, inches: 5.7
  • GPS: yes
  • Price: $

Top 10 Fish Finders

Garmin Echo 551DV Fish Finder

Garmin Echo 551dv WorldwideThe Garmin Echo 551DV is one of the newer and more advanced models in the Garmin line of fish finders and it’s the top fish finder under 300. It’s one of my top choices and I really think that it’s the best fish finder for the money. It offers the best fishing sonar and a large clear display. The transducer has 500 watts of power, which allows the wave to go as deep as 2300 feet. It comes from the echo fish finder series that are known for their great accuracy.

The dual beam transducer uses the 77/200 kHz frequency and 50/200 kHz dual frequency. Additionally it has DownVu capabilities that allow to nearly photographically view the structure and fish underneath the boat.

The 5-inch high resolution display offers zoom, horizontal and vertical viewing, and a split screen mode for viewing the broadband sonar and down image side by side.

Other features include waterproofing, audio alarm for when to be ready to cast and catch. For easy installation the device comes with quick-release tilt-swivel and transom mount, and low profile trolling motor transducer.

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Lowrance Elite-5X HDI

fish finder reviewsWith 250 watts and 50 kHz, Lowrance Elite-5X HDI can give readings of underwater of up to 1000 ft. Featuring the new HDI technology Lowrance combined in this unit the brand’s traditional Broadband Sounder and Down Scan imaging. The result is amazing high resolution imaging.

Another great feature of the Elite-5X HDI is the Downscan Overlay that combines traditional sonar with Downscan. Downscan’s primary purpose is finding structure, but it can’t very accurately spot individual fish. That is better done by sonar. Combining the two in one, this device displays on one screen both bottom and structure. So you can see every rock and submerged object as well as fish.

The model features Advanced Signal Processing Technology that provides easier use of the unit. The technology automatically adjusts the readings to show fish, bottom and structure with greater clarity. The multi-window display allows three panel viewing.

The Elite-5X HDI fish finder reviews mostly only have praise for this unit’s features. The users find the device very helpful and easy to use.

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Lowrance Elite-7X

top fish findersThe best rated fish finder, Lowrance Elite-7X, features one of the biggest screens among the models that have made it to our list of 12 top fish finders. The 7 inch widescreen offers excellent brightness, contrast and resolution. This allows viewing details even in bright sunlight and at a wider angle. The screen and keypad have an adjustable backlight for better viewing and usability at night and daylight.

It features a 250 watts RMS power of the sounder and 83/200 kHz frequency. The Down Scan sonar features 455/800 kHz frequency, which gives high definition details of the objects beneath the surface of the water and also of bottom structure. The selectable frequency gives wider and deeper imaging coverage.

Lowrance features innovative Down Scan Imaging that gives photo-like viewing of such details as baitfish, predator fish, structure, bottom and thermoclines that are right under the boat.

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Humminbird 859ci HD GPS/Sonar Combo

Humminbird 409120-1 859ci HDHumminbird 859ci also features a wide 7 inch display. The LED backlit LCD gives bright and crystal-clear images, allowing easy viewing in direct sunlight. The Dual Beam Plus gives more coverage of the area underwater. It features a powerful 4000 watts PTP output.

This device is a combo of a fish finder and a GPS. The internal GPS features also built-in cartography with dual SD card slots. One slot you can use for cartography and the other for saving waypoints, screenshots and sonar recordings.

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Garmin Echo 100

Garmin echo 100For those looking for a black and white best fish finder under 200, we would recommend considering the Garmin Echo 100 model.

It features innovative target tracking technology that gives data on fish, structure and bottom. It features single beam sonar with the frequency of 200 kHz, which allows monitoring the underwater to the maximum depth of 600 ft. So it’s a more suitable device for fishing in freshwater lakes.  The sonar power of the model is 100 watts (RMS).

This unit is also small, so it’s also the perfect choice for a small craft. The installation of the Echo 100 is a snap with the included quick release tilt mount.

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Raymarine Dragonfly Fishfinder Sonar GPS

raymarine dragonflyFor just around 600 you can get this Raymarine Dragonfly fish finder that offers features that are usually found on much pricier models. It uses next-gen CHIRP technology that gives photo-like imagery with high resolution structure. The CHIRP technology transmits a wide spectrum of frequencies and the result is a much higher resolution. The generous size (5.7 inches) of the display gives an easy read of the underwater details and the 1600 nits gives clear viewing even in bright daylight.

The powerful digital sonar engine can simultaneously display the sonar images and the down vision. Alternatively you can view each one independently.

This model also includes a 50-channel internal GPS that features fast-acquisition technology.

The device comes with the quick release swivel bracket and the transom mount transducer, which makes installing the Dragonfly a quick and easy process.

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humminbird 140c
  • Humminbird 140C Fishin' Buddy
  • 4.2 Customer rating
  • Beam: Dual
  • Display size, inches: 3.5
  • GPS: no
  • Price: $$$
Humminbird ICE-35
  • Humminbird ICE-35
  • 4.9 Customer rating
  • Beam: Dual
  • Display size, inches : 7
  • GPS: no
  • Price: $$
Humminbird-898C-HD-SI-Combo-1024x1024
  • Humminbird 898C HD SI
  • 4.4 Customer rating
  • Beam: Dual
  • Display size, inches : 7
  • GPS: yes
  • Price: $$$$
Humminbird 409470-1 600 698ci HD SI
  • Humminbird 698ci HD SI
  • 3.8 Customer rating
  • Beam: Single
  • Display size, inches: 5
  • GPS: yes
  • Price: $
NorCross HawkEye F33P
  • NorCross HawkEye F33P
  • >3.3 Customer rating
  • Beam: Single
  • Display size, inches: 2.3
  • GPS: no
  • Price: $
Humminbird PiranhaMAX 175
  • Humminbird PiranhaMAX 175
  • 4.1 Customer rating
  • Beam: Dual
  • Display size, inches: 4
  • GPS: no
  • Price: $

Humminbird 140C Fishin’ Buddy

humminbird 140cHumminbird 140C Fishin’ Buddy is one of the top rated fish finders among the portable type. So you can use it on your boat, on the leased boat, on the dock or for fishing from anywhere else. To use the device you won’t need to do any rigging or wiring. Instead it uses extendable transducer tube housing with the length suitable for most small and mid-sized boats.

The 256 color TFT screen gives a clear image that can give you readings of depths of up to 240 ft. The charge of the unit can last up to 30 hours. It features SideFinding sonar that gives accurate readings. Its benefit is that you can point it in any direction and get full coverage of the area to find more fish. The temperature feature is included.

The wattage for the device is 1000 watts. Purchasing it, you have several options. You can either choose a black and white or color screen option. One more selection is of either dual or single beam sonar.

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Humminbird ICE-35

Humminbird ICE-35For ice fishing enthusiasts one of the recommended and top rated fish finders is the Humminbird ICE-35 model. One of the most liked features on this device is the zoom flexibility. It allows you to zoom in not just to the bottom, but also zooming in for more details in any part you choose of the water column. The three color fiber optic display gives you a clear view of the readings. The extreme temperature LCD technology reports the lake bottom and automatically sets the flasher. Other features include dual frequency, maximum 200 depth capability and 800 watts peak-to-peak.

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Humminbird 898C HD SI Combo

Humminbird-898C-HD-SI-Combo-1024x1024One of the more advanced and at the same time higher priced fish finder devices is the Humminbird 898C HD Side Imaging fish finder. The high price gives you more features, which for some might be very useful, while for others not that necessary.

As the above mentioned models, this unit also feature a 7 inch bright LED backlit LCD for crystal clear images. The 898C HD SI features Down Imaging for identifying cover and structure, SwitchFire for locating and targeting fish, HD Side Imaging for scanning the area of up to 240 feet to both sides of the boat location.

This side imaging fish finder is also a combo and features an internal GPS for chartplotting. It includes a built-in ContourXD map that covers the U.S. coastline, all the inland lakes and rivers. So almost anywhere you travel in the states, you will have an accurate chart to plot your way.

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Humminbird 698ci HD SI Internal GPS/Sonar Combo

Humminbird 409470-1 600 698ci HD SIIf you are looking for a more advanced model, then consider Humminbird 698ci HD Side Imaging fish finder. It provides powerful side imaging technology, a high resolution backlit display, 2D sonar frequencies with the ability to give readings of up to 1500 ft.

The power output is 4000 watts (Peak-to –Peak) and 500 watts (RMS). Side imaging offers 240 feet readings on each side of the boat.

This model includes an internal GPS unit that provides both GPS tracking and chart plotting. The split screen allows viewing sonar and charts at once, making it easy to navigate while fishing. It comes with UniMap cartography and a card slot with a selection of optional maps.

Temperature and speed are also included in this unit. It has side imaging and down imaging. For easy installation of the Humminbird 698ci HD SI there is the tilt and swivel quick disconnect mounting system.

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 NorCross HawkEye F33P

NorCross HawkEye F33PThe most popular fish finder under 200 is the NorCross HawkEye F33P model. It’s simple but also quite innovative. If you are looking for a portable device on a budget, then this is the best option.

This model is designed to give readings of fish, structure and weeds as deep as 100 ft. The downside of this unit is that it doesn’t draw an image, but only shows an image that denotes fish and other objects. So it’s a good model for beginners. Experienced anglers, however, will most likely find it too simple.

One of its benefits is the tiny size. It can fit in the palm of a hand. So you can easily fit it in your pocket or tackle box, or some other small storage space.

Since it’s a portable unit, there is no mounting of the device needed. You just throw the transducer into the water from the dock or boat. You can let it float or troll behind the boat. This small fish finder does come with mounting tabs, so you can mount it on your boat if you wish.

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Humminbird 4086401 PiranhaMAX 175

Humminbird PiranhaMAX 175The last model we would like to mention in our top 12 list is a model also from the Humminbird brand. It’s also one of the best inexpensive fish finder models. It comes with a black and white display. The sonar is dual beam and its frequency (200/455 kHz) allows viewing readings of depths of up to 600 feet. It’s also a small fish finder with the display being just 4 inches. The clear edge grayscale display clearly shows everything even in direct sunlight.

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Best Fish Finders Comparison Chart

Product nameBeamDisplay size, inchesGPS
Garmin Echo 551dvDual5no
Lowrance Elite-5X HDIMultiple5.7no
Lowrance Elite-7XMultiple7no
Humminbird 859ci HD GPS/SonarDual7yes
Garmin echo 100Single4no

What Is a Fish Finder?

A fish finder is a sonar instrument that is designed for the specific purpose of detecting fish underwater. It does so by detecting reflected impulses of sounds energy. All the electronic impulses that are reflected off fish are converted into information that is then display in graphic rendition on the screen of the fish finder. In addition to locating fish, these units also measure the depth of the water, locating underwater debris, and bottom structure. The image on the screen of the fish finder can represent just one fish in the form of a small icon or with a series of arches.

Best Fish Finder Buying Guide

How to choose a fish finder? There are so many fish finder brands and models of fish locators available that it can be quite difficult to figure out which one would best meet your needs and your individual fishing style. Moreover, it’s also easy to get lost in transducers, echoes, sonar, flashers and transom mounts. The most important thing to keep in mind when choosing a good fish finder is the question: will it help you to catch more fish? To make this choosing process less complicated and so you can understand more about fish detector features we have compiled this buying guide. Using this information will help you to make the best choice.

    • Transducer

      Transducer is the main part of the fish locator. It sends the sound waves and shows what is underneath the surface of the water. The sonar signal that the transducer sends into the water, bounces off of the objects that are underwater and then gets picked up by the transducer. The signal is then translated into a picture.

      When checking the transducer, the most important feature is the cone angle. For a bigger perspective of the verges underneath, choose a bigger degree on the cone. The wider beam gives more coverage of the under water and allows locating more fish within it. However, its drawback is the quick loss of strength. Due to this, it cannot penetrate the water as deep as the narrow cone. The narrow one can go really deep even in shallow waters and can also give information on the composition of the bottom.

      To get the most of the both there’s the dual beam type of transducers. It’s also called dual frequency and which combines both features in one unit. Other types of transducers are more specialized. They include multiple beams (can be 4 or more). These cover a larger area of the underwater and can even give a 3D image on the display. One more option is the side beam transducer. These units shoot their signals to the sides, which increases the search area for fish.

    • Display (size, resolution, color/mono)

      The display is all about pixels. With more pixels you will be able to see more details, so it’s also an important factor to consider. More pixels also means higher price of the fish detector. We would suggest going minimum 240(v) x 160(h) pixels of the screen. However, this screen will give a pretty blocky image. To have a sharper image and better resolution, you will need to invest more.

      The displays of the models are also available in different sizes. A bigger sized screen will give you a clearer and better picture. It will be easier to differentiate on it all the data that is usually displayed, such as echoes, numbers and other data.

      You can also choose either a color or black and white display. If you are looking for a budget unit, then a black and white option will suit just fine. Benefits of color screen include greater detail showing in millions of colors, easier viewing of the screen in bright light and easier viewing of what’s going on underwater.

    • Power

      An essential feature to consider before choosing the fish finder is its power. The power measure of these units is watts. Higher wattage gives better effectiveness, better speed of displaying readings and more usable depth. For shallower water you can use a unit with lesser wattage.

      So if you plan on fishing in deep waters, for example in the Great lakes or salt water bodies, look for more powerful units. While for shallow waters 600 watts might be enough for you. For serious anglers a more recommended wattage would be a 1000 and up wattage.

    • Frequency

      When choosing the fish finder, you also need to choose the unit with the right frequency, which is also an important feature of the transducer. The frequency is directly related to angle of the cone. On most of the transducers you can find the following frequencies: 50, 83, 192 and 200 kHz. A higher frequency will give you more detail on the screen. You can find models that offer dual, single and multiple frequencies.

    • Portable or Fixed

      You also have a choice of buying a fish finder that is portable and entirely self-contained or a fixed unit that you will need to mount onto your watercraft.

      Portable fish finders are the better choice for those who lease their boat. Also if you ice fish or “fly-in” fish, a portable unit would be more suitable for you. They usually come with their own carrying case and battery power supply. Most of the fish locators come with the transom mount for installation. The portable units come with the transducer already attached to the transom with the use of a suction cup.

      For more settled fishers and watercraft owners, a better choice would be a fixed unit that they will be able to mount in any precise location on their boat. According to your preference or needs, you can mount the transducer either on the stern, hull or trolling engine.

    • Fish Finder and GPS in One Unit

      If you are looking for an ultimate fishing tool, consider adding GPS to it. The Global Positioning System (GPS) with the help of satellites calculates your exact position.

      A GPS is a must have for many fishers and having it in one unit with a fish detector is economical, space saving and convenient. Having the addition of a GPS gives you many benefits. It will give you the ability to mark hot fishing spots and easily return to them in the future, as you can mark the spot on the GPS and then track your way back to it later. These spots are called waypoints and on most units you will be able to mark hundreds or even thousands of them.

      A GPS also gives you navigation through the waters. For this you will need to select a unit that comes with background maps and charts. One more benefit of the addition of the GPS is safety. Wherever you fish, you will have the confidence that at the end of the day the GPS will easily point you home. For example, you could be fishing throughout different locations during the day, or you could lose sight of land, or some severe weather could suddenly roll out. In such situations, a GPS will give you the exact direction to your home and will tell you how far it is.

How Does a Fish Finder Work

Understanding how a fish finder works will help you to understand how to use it. Fish finders work using sonar. It’s a technology that uses sound waves to display underwater objects. The fish finder produces the sound wave and with the transducer sends it through the water. Penetrating the water deeper, the sound wave starts to spread in the form of a cone (commonly called a beam). As the wave encounters objects within this beam, it sends the signal back to the transducer.

By calculating the amount of time between when the sound wave was sent and when it bounced back, it measures the distance and shows it on the screen. If the wave doesn’t encounter anything on its way, it reaches the bottom. If the bottom is soft and it’s just mud and weeds, the signal gets absorbed. A rock bottom will reflect a stronger signal back.

These sonar reflections will also display on the screen. So this way a fishfinder reads and lets you view the bottom and everything it encounters in between. The angle of the sonar beam is measured in degrees and it’s called the cone angle. A wider angle covers more area underwater. Different fish detector models come with different cone angles. Some models also include multi-beam sonar technology that allows covering a much wider area.

Bottom Line

If you would like to check the fish finder prices, you can follow the links to Amazon. It’s a convenient place to shop and you can always buy there a fish finder for a good deal.

The best value fish finder models that we have listed above are the most popular in 2014. All of them have high fish finder ratings and predominantly positive reviews of the users. According to your needs, one model or other might be a better choice for you. When you compare fish finders, you should consider your budget and the features you would like the fish finder you are looking for to have. Before choosing fish finder, you need to decide do you need a portable unit or a fixed one for mounting onto your boat. Also consider will a fish finder be sufficient for your needs or do you also need an integral GPS in the unit. We hope that with the information that I have provided in this best fish finder reviews, you will find a fish finder that will help you catch more fish.