With the recent technological trends, fishing is becoming easier courtesy of the invented tools that simplify the process. Among these tools include the fish finders which aid in locating fish underwater using the sonar beam. If you, therefore, want to advance in the fishing trends as an angler, then this buying guide is an ideal resource for you.
What are the types and how to select the type that suits you?
Whether you are a professional fisherman or just want to fish casually, having the right tools for the job is a guarantee of success. The best fish finders are an important accompaniment for anglers who want to have a view of the underwater and enjoy fishing. The recent developments in technology have seen these finders advance in their make. Fish finders come in three major types namely the standalone, network and combo fish finders.
Standalone fish finders: If as an angler your goal is simply to see what is below the water surface, then this is the ideal choice. Standalones are convenient where the fishing territory is unfamiliar to you. This is especially the case if you are a weekend angler in unmapped water mass. They are cheap compared to other types of fish finders for their limited features. However, this notwithstanding, you can get these types of fish finders with bigger display screens for a wider view.
Network system fish finders: These finders are an advanced type of fish finders offering superior qualities on bigger display screens. These fish finders also feature satellite radios, GPS charts and videos that make them support a wide range of data sources. Moreover, with their Wi-Fi and Bluetooth features, these finders can connect to different devices for control hence efficient.
Combo fish finders: These finders are ideal for finding fish as they offer more options compared to the standalone. These options include the depth, speed, temperature and the size of fish. Other technical features they offer include the navigation GPS as well as split screen option that allow you to observe the fish during fishing.
Special Features that we need to consider
Upon knowing the types of fish finders in the market, it is up to you to make your decision on what to purchase. As a smart angler, among the special features you should consider before making your purchase include:
Transducer: Transducers emit and receive sonar waves and translate the signals into pictures that are easy to see and understand. As a smart buyer, you should understand that not all fish finders come with a transducer. In most cases, fish finders come with transom mount transducers which are easy to mount and install on smaller boats. These transducers are however limited to the small size boats. Thus, if your boat is big, you will have to purchase your own resulting in extra expenses. Also of importance is the transducer cable length which is subject to the size of your boat. With a bigger boat, you will require longer cables. In some cases, you will embrace the need for extensions for the wires to work well with your boat. Finally, it is worth noting that the style and shape of the transducer you select, whether Thru-Hull, In-Hull or Transom-Mount should match your boat type.
Display screen colors: Display screens either come in black and white or colored screen options. The black and white options are the oldest in the market and not as efficient as the colored options when it comes to offering enjoyment and view. These models are also cheap. On the other hand, colored screens offer greater color detail and are easier to see in both bright and dark lightings. Thus, if you are not tight on your budget, consider buying the colored display screen units.
The transducer material: Besides the transom mount transducers that are compatible with any boat type, it is important to select your transducer material wisely. Where you are using an in-hull or thru-hull transducer, consider plastic housings where the hull’s material is metal or fiberglass. Where the material is either steel or aluminum, opt for stainless steel housings. Bronze housings will work well with wooden hulls since wood expansion can damage plastic resulting to leakages.
Portability: Fish finders are somehow complicated unlike other products. For this reason, finding the best portable fish finder may be difficult. This is because; their portability implies their availability in one single complete unit which is usually not the case. Despite this, if you still want your finder to be portable for your convenience needs then you might as well consider selecting devices that are easy to attach to the transducer which is the device’s primary unit. While doing this, also ensure that the elements are easy to detach from the primary unit anytime you want to transport them. However, if space is not a limitation for you, then consider other options.
Design and durability: As a smart buyer, go for finders whose shapes and sizes suit your space. To ensure durability, select finders with water resistance capabilities as well as non-corrosive material especially when you are fishing on salty waters.
Price: While price is an important element of purchase, it should not solely dictate your purchase decision. Thus, when making your purchase decision, ensure you factor in your budget without compromising on quality. This will entail reviewing the top brands and visit different shops to ensure you gain value for your money.
The technical specifications impact greatly on the functionality of your finder. Among the specs you should consider include:
Frequency: The frequency of a fish finder takes two approaches including the fish finder frequency and the transducer frequency. Selecting the former frequency involves making a choice among the single, dual and multiple finders. On the other hand, transducers will come in the 50, 83, 192 and 200 kHz frequencies from which you will make your selection. With transducers, high frequencies offer the finest detail of the underwaters. Transducers with high frequencies feature low background operating noise and are suitable even for fast-moving boats for their quality view. However, while you may consider buying a finder with a high frequency, it is important to note that these fish finders cannot penetrate deep into waters. Thus, if you want to have a view of the deep waters, a low-frequency transducer is ideal.
Wattage: This indicates the power your finder emits. As a rule, with high power, you will be able to view more clearly through the waters deeper depths and be able to distinguish your targets. Thus, finders with 500 watts or more will be ideal if you want to fish in the coastal areas, saltwater masses and other deep water fishing. Alternatively, if you intend to use your finder on shallow waters, then purchasing fish finders with lower wattage is ideal.
Display screen resolution: This resolution, measured in pixels, dictates your chances of getting the best sized and quality fish. With more dots and hence more pixels, you will be able to view more detail on your screen. At a minimum, you should consider display screens with a 240(v) x 160(h) pixels. Despite this giving you a bigger display, the images will be blocky hence, the need to factor in the screen resolution. Combining an excellent resolution display screen with the screen size will result in clear images. Thus if you are a professional angler, bigger screens with high resolutions are the ideal selection.
Cone angles and beams: This spec is significant in selecting a transducer for your finder. The cone angle is the beam’s width sent from the bottom of your boat into the water. This angle ranges between 9 degrees up to above 60 degrees. At the transducer, the angle is pointy and widens as it goes down. Thus, if the cone degree covered by the water is large, the sensitivity of your device will reduce. As a smart buyer, therefore, consider purchasing fish finders with a cone angle of at least 20 degrees for greater performance.
Despite the limiting feature of the cone, transducers feature beams that allow for more than one cone. The standard transducer will feature one beam. With advanced transducers, however, the beams are more hence a wider coverage of the cone angle.
GPS systems: With the current, developments in technology, purchasing a finder with a Global Positioning System (GPS) is ideal to ensure your traceability as you navigate through the waters. With this feature, you can go fishing on your own, resting assured that your paths are traceable in the event of a security threat. Also, while considering this feature in your purchase decision, ensure that the software supporting this feature is upgradeable to meet the constantly evolving technology to cut down on costs in the long run.
Choosing the Right fish finders for Your Lifestyle
As a smart buyer, your decision to purchase a finder will solely depend on your lifestyle. For this reason, you will need to do a perfect match between the qualities and the products to arrive at the best choice. The list below comprises of the three outstanding products and their features to guide you in your selection:
Quality display in deep waters: When fishing in the deep waters, unlike shallow waters, it is difficult to see the underlying mass. You, therefore, need a finder with a high-quality display to attain this. Thus if you are a deep water fisherman, then Humminbird 410300-1 HELIX 7 CHIRP DI GPS G2 Fish finder is the ideal solution for you. This equipment features a big display screen of 7 inches with a 1500-nit brightness that allows you to view your targets even where the sunlight is indirect. The finder also has a built-in GPS receiver that offers 2500 waypoints and 50 routes enabling you to not only navigate through your fishing spots faster but also accurately. With this feature, it is easy to track the movement of your fish underwaters. The result is a save up on time you take to return to your most productive spots in the water mass.
To ensure an exceptional separation of the target from the background and other obstacles, this finder features a CHIRP Down Imaging Sonar which ensures the selection of the Low, medium and high-frequency ranges for clear image output. Additionally, for an accurate discernment between the fish and the water, the finder features SwitchFire sonar. The finder also has a single Micro SD card that allows for usability with compatible cards like the Hummingbird Lake Master, Navionics + and Auto Chart.
If you want a small size finder and still enjoy the quality display benefits, then the Garmin Striker will be an ideal option. The finder has CHIRP sonar which aids in frequency transmission. The CHIRP also aids in creating clear fish arches hence separating the target from the bottom structures. With the Waypoint map on this finder, you can also locate the most productive points on the lake as well as the docks and stumps to ensure you maneuver through the most productive points without getting lost saving up on time.
High sensitivity GPS: As an angler, if you want a small size finder, then the Garmin Striker 4 Built-in GPS Fish Finder will be an ideal selection. This finder is available in the 3.5, 5 and 7-inch display screen sizes. Unlike the Humminbird model, this finder features a higher sensitivity GPS that ensures you easily mark and utilize your most productive hot spots. Moreover, with this feature, you can also mark other locations on the lake such as the boat ramps and docks enabling you to go back and forth without getting lost. Additionally, the Garmin Striker has a high-frequency Clearvu Scanning Sonar that enables you to get detailed near-photographic images of the components inside the water that is around your boat.
Vertical fishing: vertical fishing unlike horizontal requires the right technology to view the unseen. If you, therefore, practice vertical fishing, then the Garmin Striker, unlike the other two finders should top on your purchase list. This finder features a built-in flasher that ensures viewing of the sonar data in the flasher format hence the ideal finder for ice fishing. With the built-in flasher, you will be able to view the bottom of the water, your bait and the depth of the fish. Additionally, you can observe the movement of the fish with respect to your bait movement.
Portability: While some finders are difficult to transport, the Garmin Striker model features a portable kit that ensures its safe transportation making it the best portable fish finder. The finder’s portable kit also includes a rechargeable battery and charger that ensures your finder continues to serve you for a longer time. Other elements in this kit include a built-in transducer cable and the storage and suction cup transducer mount and float.
The best fishfinder for the money: If you are want to enjoy a good return for your money as an inshore angler, then Lowrance 000-12635-001 Hook-3X Sonar, W/ 83/200 XDCR is the ideal selection. This finder, while it lacks a GPS unlike the other two products will save you much especially where GPS is not your top preference. It is power efficient, operating at 12 volts with a transmission power of 100 W RMS. Its dual frequency of 83 and 200 kHz maximizes the view beneath the boat. And its sonar operation offers up to 60 degrees of cone angle making it ideal for searching large areas while offering a maximum display of fish arches.
The finder works best with in-depth, graphics and temperature analysis. For an excellent display and an all-round view, this finder has a 3.5 inches display screen. This feature, backed by its 320 x 240 screen resolution ensures a clear view of the images even in full sunlight. Lowrance finder also features an advanced signal processing (ASP) that automatically adjusts the settings for a clear view of the fish structure and bottom. This feature, combined with the broadband sounder detail ensures the easy identification of the targets, structure detail and bottom hardness among other features.
The best fish finders FAQ
What is the difference between the narrow and wide cone?
Transducers with wide cone angles scan more water and gather more elements including the rocks and fish together. Narrow cone transducers, on the other hand, can detect small details and structures at a great depth.
What is the ideal choice between flashers and LCD?
While many people opt for LCDs for their readability efficiency, there is no major difference between them and the flashers. LCD’s, unlike flashers, do the processing in real time before you see the details.
Which settings should I select to enhance my spot fishing ability with 360 imaging on Humminbird?
While the 360 imaging remains is ideal for viewing targets and the bottom, you can consider setting it on low to enhance spot fishing. The low-speed setting will dictate the rotating transducer speed. Alternatively, you can also turn the sharpness setting on either Medium or High or play around with your contrast and sensitivity; setting the sensitivity values between 2 and 6 and the contrasts high between 11 and 15.