Best Fish Finder for The Money 2017

best fish finder
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Whether you venture out into the deep blue or just prefer to puddle hop for an afternoon, if you are casting lures it always helps to be able to see what you are casting at. If you are new to electronic fish finders than it can be hard to decipher the real deals from the fishy ones. But, if you are looking to invest in a better way to fish this guide should be just what you need in order to get started.

Best Fish Finder Overview

 Lowrance 000-12635-001Garmin Striker 5CV
 Lowrance 000-12635-001Garmin Striker 5CV
Amazon Rating
MSRP$$
Lowest Price$$$Amazon See it$$$$Amazon See it
BrandsLowranceGarmin
TypesFish FinderFish Finder
Model000-12635-001010-01807-00
Weight2 pounds1.1 pounds
Product Dimensions3.75 x 1.85 x 6.5 inches7.4 x 2.1 x 4.5 inches
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Benefits of Buying the Best Fish Finder

So why bother learning any of this? Well, we’re glad you asked. Whether fishing is a simple pleasure for you or more than just a hobby the whole thing is a lot better when you can actually catch some fish. Below, you will find all the ways that a fish finder will help you achieve your fishing goals.

  • Helping You Find the Fish: Seems a little obvious, but starting with the basics is best. As the name suggests, a fish finder will help you in your search to find fish.
  • How Many Fish are in an Area: Let’s be honest, just because you can see where the fish are doesn’t mean that particular one is hungry. It’s hard to catch a fish that won’t bite. However, being able to see how many fish are in one area can increase your chances of getting one of them interested in your bait.
  • How Big the Fish Are: Yes, size matters and we all know it. Especially when it comes to bringing home dinner. If you don’t want to waste your time on Minos a fish finder will help you determine if the fish is big enough for you to waste your time on.
  • Are the Fish Further Down?: You can cast all day, but if you are in deeper waters the fish won’t bite at what they don’t see. The fish finder will help you see how far down you need to be casting your lure.

Things to Consider Before Buying a Fish Finder

There are always a thousand things to understand about a product before you commit to buying one. This is especially true of electronics as much of the language used to discuss each feature might be an unfamiliar term. Well, if you are in over your head navigating the depths of information and wading through the technical waters, then this section is for you. Below, we will discuss some of the common options you are likely to encounter in your search and what they mean as far as your fishing capabilities.

What Type of Fish Finder Do You Want?: There are a few different choices when it comes to the type of fish finder you want and primarily they come in three variations; standalone, combination/chart plotter, and networked systems. The first starts off as your most basic model with all the basic features and the lowest price going all the way to the last with the most advanced options and the biggest price tag. Below we have included a brief description of each.

The first of these types and the most basic is a standalone fish finder (or single frequency), which is exactly what it sounds like. With this device, the sole purpose is to find fish and so that is the only function. This is great for smaller boats in shallow waters and is also the most cost effective version you can find. If you using a small canoe or kayak, then this will likely be the device you want.

The next grade up in finding fish is the combination (also known as a chart plotter with dual frequency) fish finder, which can — you guessed it– combine the basics of sonar with the added benefit of GPS. This is ideal for larger boats, like motorized bass boats or similar vehicles.

And rising to the top of the technological wave is the networked system fish finder. These types of devices use a wide array of technologies to give you the most informed and useful data to look at. With the use of GPS, sonar, radar, and actual video you will have all that you need in order to find the biggest fish in the pond.

How Much Power Do You Need?: Power is measured in wattage (W). The higher the wattage the deeper the reading you can get and the faster it can relay those readings to your screen. This is when your preferred environment for fishing matters a little more. Naturally, you aren’t going to need a super powerful fish finder if you stay in shallow waters, so you can have a lower wattage if you choose to. On the other hand, if you prefer the deep or open water than you are going to need a stronger device to send sonar waves deeper and faster.

The Screen of Your Device: Remember, your device will only be as effective as the screen you use with it. Many of the basic standalone models will come with their own screens, though it is important to consider the resolution. If you are shelling out the extra money for the extra features, you should stop and make sure the camera is equipped to deal with them.

Most commonly you will find these devices with an LED screen, so the number of pixels per square inch will determine the resolution. The higher the pixels per square inch are, the more accurate the image will be and make it easier for you to read what is below you. The higher the vertical pixel count, the higher the resolution your camera is capable of processing. The higher the horizontal pixel count indicates how long images will stay on your screen.

Another important aspect to consider, while we are on the topic of screens, is the split screen or dual screen option. This allows you to see two images side by side, like the sonar image and video for example. You will usually find split screens on higher end models because, like most other products, you have to pay extra if you want the best.

Quick Tips for Choosing the Right Fish Finder

Here are a few tips to help you find the right fish finder to find your fish.

  • Keep in mind the frequency of your transponder: If you are wondering how any of this works, you are not alone. Basically, a fish finder works by using a variety of three frequencies; dual, single, and multiple. This refers to the frequencies used by the transponder which is the part of your fish finder that interprets the images created by the sonar or radar. The higher the frequency the more data your transponder will be able to use to translate sound waves to images. Frequencies commonly come in ranges of 50, 83, 192, or 200 kHz depending on the type of frequency your transponder uses.
  • Don’t forget to look at the cone angle: The cone angle refers to the angle and width of the beam (or wave) that is emitted from the transducer. Like a flashlight, the spread gets wider as it moves away from its source. How large the cone it will determine how wide the beam will be as well as how far into the depths it can go.
  • Understanding CHIRP: Before we get into our list of the best fish finders let’s go over CHIRP quickly. CHIRP stands for Compressed High-Intensity Radar Pulse and is a way devices can send frequencies through the water. Basically, this means that low-frequency wave are put into the water, which results in lower power. However, this is a tradeoff for the distance that these machines can travel. The primary benefit here is that you can choose the direction you want to look and isolate the image to particular spots.

What’s the Best Fish Finder?

Now that you are no longer treading water in the wide world of finding fish here are our top choices for the best fish finders the market has to offer at the moment. But, don’t just take our word for it, follow the links included for every entry and determine its value for yourself.

Raymarine Dragonfly-4DV Sonar

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First up on our list we have a great option to start out with. The Raymarine Dragonfly-4DV Sonar comes with everything you need to get started with better fishing. Features of the aforementioned include the following:

  • No internal fogging
  • Wide angle cone for maximum viewing
  • CHIRP transponder and sonar
  • Mount swivels and attaches to any surface
  • Reads depths up to 600ft
  • Water proof

The Breakdown of Features

The first thing to notice about this fish finder is the LED backlight which allows you to read the high definition screen, even in direct sunlight. The Raymarine Dragonfly-4DV is also resistant to fogging, which is a great feature considering the damp environments in which you would be fishing. The device uses a wide-angle cone for maximum viewing and uses a CHIRP transponder which allows you to move the cone beam and direct the sonar in specific places. The screen is easily mounted on a variety of services and swivels to allow you to view the screen from any position or angle. Since it uses CHIRP the frequency is lower than with other types of frequency and because of this the sonar reaches depths of up to six hundred feet and the frequency can be directed anywhere with a wide range. Naturally, the device is waterproof, considering the high probability of it getting wet.

The Advantages of the Product

The primary advantage is the CHIRP system this fish finder uses in order to detect objects up to six hundred feet under water. The low frequency used here limits the sonar to six hundred feet but responds quickly and is able to update the image with a high degree of accuracy. The other major benefit is the fog and waterproof LED backlight, which allows you to easily read the screen in a variety of conditions,

The Disadvantages of the Product

Chirp is a great feature to have, however since it uses low frequencies to cast on a wider range it doesn’t go as deep as other high-frequency devices. Again, the benefit here is being able to move the direction of the transponder, though if you fish in deeper waters this may come down to a judgment call on your part.

Lowrance 000-12635-001 Hook-3X Sonar, W/ 83/200 XDCR

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Next up we have another great device by Lowrance. Before we get too into the breakdown as well as the advantages and disadvantages, let’s check out some of the appealing features that it boasts:

  • Dual frequency with 83 or 200 kHz
  • Cone reads up to 60 degrees
  • Water temperature sensors
  • Resolution 320 x 240
  • Waterproof

The Breakdown of Features

The LED backlight allows you to read the images of the murky depths regardless of the weather topside. Rain or shine this screen is exceptionally user-friendly and easy to read. Unlike the entry before, this device uses a dual frequency transponder. This means that it uses more than one frequency to interpret images in the water. It has a sensor to detect water temperatures and the screen has a high resolution with zoom options. The device is waterproof to protect it against the likelihood of it getting wet.

The Advantages of the Product

One of the better feature the Lowrance 000-12635-001 Hook-3X Sonar has to offer is the high-resolution screen for clear and accurate readings. The screen also boasts a zoom option which allows to get up close and personal with your dinner, if you so choose. It also helps you to accurately determine the size of particular fish so you can be more choosing and accurate about getting the big ones. While the resolution itself may seem low if you’re a computer geek, the quality is actually crisp and clear, and doesn’t compare to the size of a computer monitor. Because of this, the 320 x 250 suffices.

The Disadvantages of the Product

The dual frequency can be a little difficult to read if you aren’t familiar with it. The two different frequencies used to detect everything in the area is great for finding anything beneath your boat. However, it looks more like an infrared reading than a clear image. However, once you get used to it, this is a very effective way to find fish.

Garmin Striker 5CV

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Here we see a highly recognizable name in electronics, especially GPS capacity. The Garmin Striker 5CV goes a little beyond the common fish finder and uses the same technology Garmin uses for its GPSs. Features include the following:

  • Built in GPS
  • CHIRP transponder and sonar
  • Split-screen
  • Mark places on map

The Breakdown of Features

As we mentioned this fish finder comes equipped with the latest in Garmin’s GPS technology built into this system. It also uses CHIRP technology for the transponder and a split-screen for the monitor. It displays a map as well where you can save routes and locations so you can always find the same spots.

The Advantages of the Product

The greatest advantage this fish finder has to offer is the GPS, as we have already mentioned several times. It is worth saying as often as we do because this is one of many technologies Garmin really knows about. Since the GPS is so accurate they went ahead and included a map option for the split-screen. This allows you to save certain spots if you happen to get more bites in one area than you do in another, you will never forget exactly where it is. It also uses a CHIRP transponder for a wide range of accurate sonar and object detection.

The Disadvantages of the Product

As advanced as some of the technologies used to make this device are, you will certainly be paying for them. Jumping up by quite a large margin you certainly get what you pay for in accuracy and the latest the market has to offer. However, if you are limited with your budget or just looking for a basic model there are other options you can consider.

Garmin Echo 301dv Worldwide with Transducer

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We couldn’t stop at just one and decided to add another Garmin product, though this one has some very different options. The aforementioned boasts an incredible number of features, including the following:

  • High definition transducer.
  • Resolution 320 x 240.
  • Swivel mount
  • Dual frequency and sonar.
  • Split screen.
  • Zoom options
  • Water temperature sensor
  • Reach depths of 1750 in fresh water
  • Detects water speed

The Breakdown of Features

The high definition transponder allows for detailed images on the high-resolution screen. It does this by using dual frequency sonar, with uses multiple frequencies to collect data for the transponder. The more data the transponder can collect and interpret, the more detailed the picture and the higher the resolution on the screen the more detail you can easily see. This device also features a zoom option to get a good view of the fish below and also reads the water temperature for you.

The Advantages of the Product

The most impressive aspect of this device is the high-resolution screen and the accuracy of the images on it with dual frequency sonar. The sonar can reach depths up to one thousand, seven hundred and fifty feet for some highly successful deep water fishing. You can see exactly where the fish are and whether or not you are likely to run into any snags while casting, like casting into weeds for example.

The Disadvantages of the Product

The only downside here is that this device does not make any use of the GPS technology that is one of Garmin’s many beneficial developments. However, even without the GPS or the mapping capabilities that come with it the resolution and image quality is enough to seriously consider this fish finder.

Humminbird 409690-1 PiranhaMax 197C DI Color Fish Finder with Down-Imaging (Grey)

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Last on our list is the Humminbird Piranhamax, hardly the least of what the industry has to offer. Features of the HumminBird PiranhaMax include the following:

  • LED backlight
  • High definition transducer
  • Resolution 320 x 240
  • Swivel mount
  • CHIRP transponder and sonar
  • Reads depths up to 600ft

The Breakdown of Features

Back to the basics with the LED backlight, so you can read the images is all types of weather on the high definition screen and accurate transponder. The mount can swivel, which allows you to look at the screen from different positions on your boat. As we have seen many times before on this list it also uses a CHIRP transponder and sonar in order to generate an easy to read image on the screen, reaching depths up to six hundred feet. It is also waterproof to protect against the likelihood of it being in or around water.

The Advantages of the Product

The first thing you might notice about this device is the LED backlight which we have some to recognize as standard a feature as waterproofing with these products. Though that does not make it any less crucial to the use of this machine. After all, a fish finder does you little good if you can’t read what appears on the screen simply because it’s a sunny day. It is also water and fog proof, which further enhances its functionality by its low risk of damage in a wet or damp environment. Finally, the CHIRP frequency, though not far-reaching in its depths, displays an accurate depiction of the world under your boat.

The Disadvantages of the Product

This device would not be ideal for fishing in deeper waters, due to the use of CHIRP transponders, which cannot send sonar as far through the water. However, it does give an accurate image on the screen. For the price, however, there are a few features we might expect to be able to choose from. In this price range, we would think to see some GPS technologies or at least a sensor to detect the speed of your boat. Though both of these are luxury items neither is necessary.

The Final Verdict

Though there is a lot of room for personal opinions here on what the best fish finder is, we have decided the best fish finder on our list is the Raymarine Dragonfly-4DV Sonar due to the reasonable price and advanced features. We know that looking at a list of appealing candidates can be overwhelming when you’re trying to find your first (or 50th) fish finder. By writing this, we hope that this guide was helpful and we wish you pleasant sailing in the days to come.

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