Best Fish Finders For The Money

Fishing: it’s one of the hobbies many find tedious but rewarding when the few persevere. It isn’t just about trying to find the fish: it’s also about being one with nature, enjoying the sound of the water, and trying to find the big catch while being overjoyed about it. Plus, having a boat to ride on is pretty sweet.

But sometimes, just the act of finding fish is already a hassle. You’d likely find yourself just floating over a body of water for several hours and finally catch something, but then you find out you got a can. So how can you make the best out of it? Get yourself one of these helpful tools.

What’s a fish finder, you ask? It’s a device that lets you find fish. But this is not the kind where you’ll automatically have your fishing pole get the fish for you; instead, you’ll be able to identify the location and secure a higher chance of success.

You might think it’s cheating to be even using them, but just the thought of being stuck in the middle of nowhere trying to find fish to eat only to find there weren’t any can be a big waste of time. So it’s okay to shelf the “survival of the fittest” attitude and simply embrace the technology of these awesome machines.

How Do They Work?

In general, fish finders are designed, as their name shows, to help you find fish. But they’re more than that: these machines have a lot of technology that has come a long way to help and aid fishers everywhere.

integrated fish finder

So how do they work exactly? Much like how you’d use an app like Google Maps to find restaurants, stores, and other places for the essentials you need, these machines pinpoint the fish in the area. Equipped with the best tech, it’ll give you an idea on how much fish can be found.

But don’t think it’s an instant radar where you’ll turn it on and get the locations in an instant. What these things can do is use the SONAR feature which emits a sort of sound wave. Then when it comes back to them the screen will come back with a good scan. From there, you’ll be able to see a lot of things such as how long the bottom is from where you’re sitting, how many fish inhabit the area, and so on.

Thanks to the types you’ll be reading about, you’ll be getting a lot more than just readings. You’ll also have a better vision of the overall structure underwater. In many ways, you won’t even need to play the guessing game anymore: you’ll already have better awareness of your fishing game.

How Do You Choose One?

Now that you have a firm grasp on how they work, the next question to ask is how do you choose one. It pays to have some factors checked in before you make a purchase. Here are some to consider:

  • Area

It pays to know the area where you’ll be using the machine. Is it a big area? Small area? Medium? Having awareness will pay off because it can give you a good idea on the right type while also making sure you have enough power to back it up when you’re on your trip.

  • Type Of Fish

For this factor, you’ll need to know the type you’re going to be looking for. It’s subjective, so be mindful. Will it be the types that live in the sea? The kind that frolic in lakes or rivers? Having awareness of the types you’ll be fishing out will be of immense aid.

  • Power

You can’t power up the item you’re gonna get without some power. For this one, it’s a good idea to consider how you’ll power it up. When you learn the different types, it’ll help you in the long run because you’ll know for sure how to power them up.

  • Features

This is a good one to consider because depending on what you’ll get, you need to make sure you have the right one for the job. If you’re more of the person who’s into simple, no-fuzz types, you can go with the machine that isn’t laid out with so many features but can still get the job done for you. But if you’re the one who loves the features with lots of accessories to help you out, you can go with the advanced ones

The Types

When getting the machine, you won’t just look one at one type; you’ll see all types of them. Much like how you’d check for the type of phone you’ll use or the type of computer, you’ll find all types in the market.

So what are the ones you can find out there? Here they are:

  • Down Imaging

In this day and age, it’s not unusual to go with this type. This one is the advanced and modern of them all because they’re built with tech that the standard ones don’t have. You could say it’s upgrading from a flip phone to a smartphone in this case. With this type, you’ll be able to master your area. The downsides for this include the hefty price and it’s only able to tell you what’s underneath you. This means that if you’re trying to find fish beyond your radius, you’re not gonna have a lot of luck.

  • Standard Sonar

Not into the modern stuff? You can go with this one. This type is the basic of them all. Just as the name shows, it does the standard procedure of sending off sound waves and then a reverse until the machine gives you an idea of what’s down in the area. The problem with this is that it isn’t always accurate. So you may find that the machine will not only bounce the waves off fish but also rocks and other items. 

  • Chirp Sonar

When using a standard sonar, it’s a guessing game since it’s as basic as it can be. That’s why with this type, it upgrades it to a new level. How so? This one sends waves at a quicker pace. It even gives you a better awareness of everything around your area. You can say it’s an upgrade. While it may cost a little more than the previous one, you’re still getting something out of this and will be better in the long run.


Biggest brands
Garmin Humminbird Lowrance

Now that you know the types, you’ll need to be aware of the brands. You may assume that these machines are just your run-of-the-mill products that aren’t mainstream. But for the fisher who wants to ace their catch, there’s a lot more going when you look closer. Just as you’d go for the one that spells quality and sophistication with computers, you’ll definitely need to be in the know on who makes the best. Here are the ones to look out for.

  • Garmin  

Garmin is the brand that puts out the best of the best. A look at their site and you’ll see all the features they have installed for their items. From GPS to sonar capability, you’re already getting more value than ever possible. They even have some accessories that’ll make it worthwhile. While most of the traditional types stick with their kind, this brand has some items that can turn your mobile device into a fish finder. Cool, right?

  • Lowrance  

Fancy going for something more sophisticated while having options to go with the ordinary? You can bet on with Lowrance. The ones they offer are fully-featured and serve different purposes. They even point what each and every type they have can do to assist you. Though they may not have the accessories that other brands offer, they make up for it with the quality of their products.

  • Humminbird

As you explore this wonderful world of fish finders, you’ll find you might have the itch to go for it all in. To really be in-depth and have accessories. Don’t worry, you have Humminbird to watch out for you all the way. This brand is known for giving a lot of options for the novice and pro fishers out there with their vast array of items. They’re also well-known among tournament winners, so you got nothing to worry about when it comes to them..

There are other brands out there that make the splash in the market but if you’re not in the mood to go for them, take note of the 3 discussed here.

All in all, these brands and the others serve their purposes proudly. Having a grasp of each one will give you better view on what to get.

Are They Worth It?

sonar system being used

Before you go about getting one, you have to ask yourself: is it worth it? It depends but in the long run, yes, it’s worth it. You may have the skills right from the start and already get a streak but having this machine can truly help you out.

Without it, it may take a while before you really have the sense of finding the fish you’ll need. You may even find that the area you knew that had fish aren’t there because you didn’t take note if there are any. So how can you know when you don’t have the awareness?

It can also help you out when you’re making a sweep of the chosen areas before going on big fishing trips so you’ll be prepared. It can even give you a big heads-up on increasing amounts in places you never thought would have any.

So, is it worth it? Yes, it is. It may feel like overkill at first but you’ll come to find in the long run, it’s going to help you out and will save you from future headaches.

For Kayaks

Fond of riding in kayaks? This one is for you. While it’s not often known, you can fish from a kayak. It may be a little more tight than usual, but it offers a challenge unlike any other. So what should you look for when getting a fish finder for this one? You’ll want to go for the type that mounts easily for you. You can also go for the castable types. These are the items that you can set on water so that when activated, you can view the results with your phone.

Ice Fishing

Ice fishing: one of the types that tests your strength against the cold. You may think it’s just more luck and grit but you can up it up more with a fish finder. For this type, you’ll need to really prep up a lot, so go with the type that’s portable which you can handle nicely. You’ll also want to go for the depth finder. This type will be important because when you’re out in the cold, it pays to know how deep it’ll be in the area you’ll be in. You also want to make sure you have something to warm you and the machine up, so it’s a good idea to get some accessories to handle the extra work you’ll need.

How To Read Them

Made your decision to plan on getting one? Good! But before you really go for it, you have to know how to read them. Depending on the type you’ll be getting, you may find differences but don’t worry, they’re all built with the same fundamental features that won’t be too hard to decipher once you got it. Here are the steps:

  • Activate the machine and wait for the waves to make the course

When you do this step, you’ll need to wait a while and make sure the sonar waves make due. When it’s done, the screen will show up with results.

  • Check your screen and take note of the shapes and lines

Once the results are in, check your screen. When you have the standard ones, you’ll see some blots that might look distorted or warped. This can either mean there are fish there or there are rocks. But when you have the advanced ones, you’ll have a better view, seeing how large some of them are, what isn’t living, and so on.

  • Take note of the colors 

Each type will give you the same results but in different colors. Some may show you what you’d normally see with heat readers and some may look like you’re in night vision but in every case, they all tell you the same thing: the structure, viewpoint, and fish. That’s why it pays to note the colors that will come on your screen.

If a machine tends to show you a strong sense of color in an area, then you can see the bottom and how far it goes from your boat. If you see little blotches of bright color versus the dark or bright color background, then you can see the fish. You can even distinguish the shape of the colors. Some areas may have a lot of underwater grass while some may have more rocks lying around

man fishing off a cliff

  • (Optional) Take note of the extra results 

This one is optional because this is for the more-advanced ones. The extra results that will come in will be more than helpful because they’ll give you an advantage. Some of them will give you a better viewpoint on how to accurately execute a tactic while some can tell you if you need to move your boat a bit more or not. You can even check on how dense some structures will be.

The Best Fish Finders

Now that you’re familiar with them, you’re ready to find the best fish finder for the money. So which one should you go for? Here they are:

  • Garmin 010-01550-00 Striker 4 with Transducer

If you’re shopping for something simpler, then this one is for you. It may look like something someone made in the early 2000s but it’s one of the best options you can find anywhere. Thanks to the tech installed on it, you’ve already got the one thing to help you out.

From its easy-to-mount feature to the tech that helps you find the fish with its screen, this item is as basic as it can get. It’s even got a map that can give you an idea on the structure and location of the fish you want to find.

The downside for this one is that because it’s basic, you can’t expect it to be as good as its competitors, so you won’t get the more-advanced features. Another thing to note is that you may need some extra batteries and equipment, so it may get pricey should you go for those options.

  • Lowrance Elite FS 9 with Active Imaging 3-in-1 Transducer

When you just want the one thing that gets it done in one go without having to fuss about missing out, this one will make your wishes come true. It builds up from the basics and makes it even better than ever by modernizing it to the very core.

Need accurate looks at the structure? This one gives you better image results after sending the sonar waves. Vying for clearer images? You get a bigger screen with a very clear resolution that will dazzle you with utmost clarity. Need more than just one scan function that most models offer? You can do this multiple ways with this.  In short: this item is already what you need with everything built-in just for you.

But then what’s the downside for this item if everything looks perfect? It’s pricey. Unlike most of the ones you’ll come across, this one costs a lot and it’s a big investment. You might even need to buy some additional accessories for it just in case, so be very sure you’re making the right choice before you get this.

  • Garmin Striker Cast

In the mood to kick the old-school and go in with the new-school? Get yourself this one. This is a castable type which means instead of using the usual traditional type, you can get the signal from it when you place it in water and use your smartphone as the receiver.

This makes a great boost because this will be less hassle for you when you go out. Plus, you get to use your phone. Listening to music while having a look at what the fish are up to while balancing some work-life ethic you got going? You can’t go wrong with this one.

The downside for this one is you’ll need to make sure both the machine and your phone have enough juice. If either one is down, you’re not going to enjoy much of it.

  • Humminbird 410220-1NAV HELIX 5 CHIRP DI

Trying to find the one item that falls under a mid-budget category while still giving you the right functions for a smooth experience? You’ll be right at home with this. This machine may look a bit basic, but a closer look shows it’s already equipped with great tech to help you through your fishing spree without hitting it too hard.

Its technology is built to make sure you have not only the clear view on the structure in the area but also a location on the fish. You even get 2 view modes for this, so you’ll be quite pleased at the flexibility.

The downsides for this though? You’ll likely need some extra accessories for making some mounts out of it. Also, the color readings might be a disadvantage for you if you’re leaning more toward the offerings from other items.

Fishing is quite the hobby to have. It may feel boring for some but for those who dare to explore, it’s a glorious thing. But the idea of trying to find the catch when you’ve got no clue if there’s even fish around is a huge waste of time. That’s why with the products covered in this article, it’ll save you a ton of time to check around, see the sights below, and pick the right spot.

From the basic to the advanced, these items will aid you in your quest in making sure you have a smooth experience. Sure, you can just go into Rambo mode and survive by instinct but wouldn’t you like it if you used modern tech and got better awareness of your surroundings so that you can fill the bucket with fish? So don’t be afraid to use the right tool. In the long run, it’ll help you more times than you can count.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *