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Fishing is an excellent hobby to pick up regardless of where you are, but the experience can often be hampered if you’re not prepared with the right accessories and gear.
People often think about the big important tools like your fishing rod, tackle and your clothing, but there’s also a small lesser-known device that can take your fishing experience to the next level; a fishing watch.
There’s nothing more frustrating for an angler than struggling to locate the fish their after.
While a languid day on the water may be ideal for some fishing enthusiasts, some are keen to adopt a more efficient and effective approach when it comes to finding hot fishing and the best spots to cast their line.
This is where a fish finder can flip the switch and make the action come alive.
Fish finders use sonar technology to provide you with accurate information about what’s around you under the water.
This can be useful for swimmers and kayakers, as well as anglers.
When searching for the best fish finder, there’s a host of factors to take into consideration, including your budget and what you plan to use the fish finder for.
With an array of options available, the Fly Fishing Atlas team has come up with our take on the best fish finders for the money.
Raymarine Dragonfly Pro 7
A brand famed for its high-tech marine electronics, Raymarine is a name you can trust when looking for a fish finder. The Dragonfly series is not the most high-spec range within the collection, but it is a brilliant option for anglers searching for a reasonably priced and highly capable product.
A compact, sleek model with a 4.3” LED screen, this fish finder is designed to weather all conditions and it’s also compatible with Raymarine’s Wi-fish app.
This product is a market leader, and it’s not difficult to see why. It comes with an expansive range of features, it boasts innovative technology, and it’s not out of reach of amateurs in terms of price.
If you’re a keen angler, and you want accurate information with a host of additional perks thrown in, this could be a great purchase for you. Tech lovers will enjoy the connectivity features, and those who like to fish in deep waters shouldn’t encounter any problems.
In short, the Raymarine Dragonfly Pro 4 is a high-spec fish finder, which comes with all the wizardry and gadgetry you would expect from Raymarine. At almost $300, it’s not the cheapest option, but it does represent excellent value for money.
Garmin Striker 4
The Garmin Striker 4 is a useful portable fish finder, which is ideal for anglers on the go. A simple but effective device with a straightforward interface, this is a great option for those who like to fish on the move from kayaks and canoes.
The Garmin Striker 4 has a lot going for it, but it’s not going to be the best option for every buyer out there. It does come with an impressive range of features and it boasts CHIRP technology, but it’s really aimed at those who enjoy fishing from kayaks and canoes and anglers keen on ice fishing.
For some, the price will be appealing, but many may prefer to pay a little more for a more advanced product. One of the best aspects for some consumers will be the portability factor, as this means you can use your fish finder anywhere.
Lowrance Hook 2
Available in a range of sizes from 5-inch to 9-inch, the Lowrance Hook 2 range of fish finders is among the most high-tech on the market. The price will probably alert you to the fact that this product is packed with features and it does offer everything you could possibly wish for from a fish finder.
If you want all the mod cons, but you don’t want to pay the best part of $1,000, you can opt for a smaller size. The price of the unit reflects the technology involved and the undeniable finesse.
The price of this product may put some buyers off, as it is among the most expensive options on the market. Smaller screens are cheaper, but if you’re looking for a basic product that will do a job without blowing the budget, this probably isn’t the ideal option for you.
If, however, you’re searching for a sophisticated, pro-grade product, there’s no doubt that the Lowrance Hook 2 range is impressive. Wi-Fi enables you to connect devices and share and stream content, you can take advantage of a huge selection of pre-loaded maps, and the quality of the sonar images is undeniable.
If you’ve got the money, and you’re looking for a product that will deliver on all fronts, you can’t really go wrong with this fish finder.
Deeper Pro Plus
Ideally suited to shore anglers, the Deeper Pro Plus is a castable fish finder, which boasts wireless capabilities and offers the opportunity to source hot spots in seconds.
A versatile product that will appeal to amateurs, as well as those looking for something a little more advanced, the Deeper Pro Plus has a lot to offer at a reasonable price ($219). If you buy the Deeper Pro Plus, you can enjoy a host of features, most notably:
Versatility: this fish finder is designed to suit every angler, and it’s ideal for all kinds of environments. From shore fishing and hole hopping to fishing from a boat or a kayak, you’ll only need to buy one fish finder.
Built-in GPS for shore-based bathymetric mapping: the Deeper Pro Plus fish finder is currently the only fish finder on the market that gives you the ability to produce bathymetric maps from the shore.
Wi-Fi and app connectivity: this fish finder creates its own Wi-Fi signal, and you can connect with the Deeper app to access and produce maps, analyze data, and mark hot spots.
Strategic planning: with dual-beam sonar and the ability to cast up to 330 feet at a depth of up to 260 feet, you have access to a vast amount of information. Using the Deeper Pro Plus, you can find fish, as well as learning about the depth and water temperature, the vegetation and the structure of the ground beneath you.
If you enjoy shore fishing, this is a brilliant product for you. With the Deeper Pro Plus, you can fish anywhere you like, but this fish finder is geared towards those who tend to spend most of their time on terra firma. This castable fish finder is packed with great features, and at $219 it offers excellent value for money.
Humminbird Helix 5
When it comes to finding the best fish finder for amateurs who want a reliable product at an affordable price, it’s always wise to check out Humminbird’s offerings. The Helix 5 often appears in fish finder reviews, and it’s widely regarded as one of the best options out there in the under $250 category.
The Humminbird Helix 5 rates highly for many reasons. Although it’s priced at around $240, it has features you would expect from higher-priced models, and you can’t help but feel like you’re getting a lot for your money with this particular fish finder.
There’s a 5-inch HD WVGA screen that is clearly visible in any light and you can access pre-loaded maps at the touch of a button. It’s also possible to add maps using a Micro SD card.
With sensitive dual-beam CHIRP sonar, you can be sure of clear, accurate images and you can plot charts and maps thanks to in-built GPS. The SwitchFire feature enables you to add or remove detail to your images, offering you much more than a standard 2D picture.
If you’re looking for a fish finder that is easy to use and guarantees great quality images, as well as the option to access pre-loaded maps and create your own charts with minimal hassle, the Humminbird Helix 5 is a good choice.
This is a solid, reliable product, which offers a lot for the money, and it’s perfect for those who don’t want or need to spend extra on features they won’t necessarily use.
How does a fish finder detect fish?
A fish finder is a device that locates the presence of fish in the water. There are a number of different types of fish finder.
However, they are all able to measure the depth of the water and provide a graphical view of everything under the surface, along with the structure of the bottom of the body of water.
Every fish finder has two key components:
- A transducer
- A display
The transducer sends out an electrical wave that passes through the water. When the wave is interrupted by an object it bounces back to the display.
The size, shape, and altitude of the object are recorded and a graphical display represented on the screen. The distance of the object under the water is also determined.
The display of the fish finder will show the water depth, water temperature, speed, distance, battery voltage, bottom shape and types of fish.
The device is able to differentiate fish from rocks, vegetation, and other objects.
Does fish finder help?
A fish finder can be a huge help in locating fish. It gives you the ability to know what is going on under the water that you simply cannot achieve with the naked eye.
A fish finder is useful in both shallow and deep water. Some wide-angle fish finders will allow you to locate fish in depths as shallow as ten feet.
A fish finder will help you to be more successful when going after trout, salmon, kokanee, carp, walleye, bass and more.
What does a fish finder show?
A fish finder display will use different icons to identify the objects under the water. Fish will be shown in different sizes and lengths.
You will also be able to see different icons for plants, rocks, and schools of fish. An arch fish finder will also display the size of the fish that has been located.
The bigger the arch, the bigger the fish. Baitfish will show up on the display as dots, dashes or even lines.
They will show up in yellow, with vegetation always being green.
To identify the best fish to go for, look to the length and width of the arch that is produced on the display screen.
Is fish finder a depth finder?
Yes, fish finders do have a depth find feature. This lets you know the depth of the water under your vessel.
It is usually shown on the top left corner of the display screen. The scale of measurement that is typically used is meters rather than feet.
On many fish finders, the display will also record the temperature of the water.
To get the most accurate readings of depth and water temperature, make sure that you are trolling over the water at a slow speed.
Top Fish Finders Features To Consider
Larger screens with high definition graphics are going to provide you with more detailed information.
These large fish finders are great for larger boats and watercraft with ample space and mounting surfaces.
All of the technological advantages of GPS on dry land can also apply on the water.
When you find a hot fishing area, a fish finder equipped with GPS provides for plotting charts and keeping record of prior locations so you can easily return to your favorite spots.
Advanced models offer maps and depth charts which can be downloaded and viewed from the water.
Wifi connectivity offers the ability to share and stream your data by connecting to your smart phone or other cellular devices.
Wireless capabilities makes sharing locations and information with your friends and family super easy.
Some fish finders are designed to be permanently mounted and wired into your boat.
Other fish finders remain fairly portable so that moving your fish finder to another boat or into your house is a breeze.
Portable fish finders offer a lot of benefit if you have multiple watercraft and only want to buy a single fish finder.
If you’re on the hunt for a fish finder, hopefully, these reviews will point you in the right direction.