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.
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.
The Axiom 9RV from Raymarine is a top of the line 9” Multi-Function Display with RealVision Sonar and comes packed with an RV-100 Transom Mount Transducer. The included RV transducer will provide CHIRP DownVision, CHIRP SideVision, High Frequency CHIRP and RealVision 3D all in one. Detailed U.S and Canadian Mapping for Coastal and Lake water is also included with Navionics+ Mapping.
1 Based on the level of net new purchases (purchases less credits) that are posted to your Gas Advantage Mastercard account in any monthly billing period, you will be entitled to a discount on each litre of gasoline or diesel fuel that is purchased for a motor vehicle at Canadian Tire Gas Bars during the following monthly billing period and that is charged to your Gas Advantage Mastercard. The discount that you receive in a billing period will be reduced to 2¢ per litre after you have made purchases of more than $500 for gasoline, diesel fuel or any other sundry items at Canadian Tire Gas Bars during that billing period using your Gas Advantage Mastercard. For complete program details please read the Canadian Tire Gas Advantage Mastercard Terms and conditions.
Thru-hull: This means a threaded bronze, nylon or stainless steel shaft passes through the bottom surface of the hull. You have several styles to choose from: external football-shaped head with water flow smoothed by a fairing block that also corrects for the dead rise (sideways slope of the hull); or round mushroom head thru-hulls, either semi-flush or flush mounted. These are the most challenging to install, but likely to provide the best signal quality. Displacement power and sailboats generally use thru-hulls.
There are plenty of different things you want to keep in mind while searching for the perfect GPS fishfinder for you. First, keep in mind that not all models are created equal. Some will clearly be more useful than others. You will also find that different boats call for different fish finders. Many times ditto depending on the style of fishing or information most important to you.
The thickness of the line representing the bottom is also a great clue to bottom hardness. Here the rule is simple – the thicker the line, the harder the bottom. But, be careful – sonar sensitivity can affect how thick the line is. The Deeper display has adjustable sensitivity. So if you turn up the sensitivity to 100%, the bottom line may appear thicker, if you turn it down to 10% it may appear thinner. So practice adjusting the sensitivity and get used to judging how much the bottom thickness varies based on this.
A fishing line is a cord used or made for fishing. The earliest fishing lines were made from leaves or plant stalk (Parker 2002). Later lines were constructed from horse hair or silk thread, with catgut leaders. From the 1850s, modern industrial machinery was employed to fashion fishing lines in quantity. Most of these lines were made from linen or silk, and more rarely cotton.[3]
Thru-hull: This means a threaded bronze, nylon or stainless steel shaft passes through the bottom surface of the hull. You have several styles to choose from: external football-shaped head with water flow smoothed by a fairing block that also corrects for the dead rise (sideways slope of the hull); or round mushroom head thru-hulls, either semi-flush or flush mounted. These are the most challenging to install, but likely to provide the best signal quality. Displacement power and sailboats generally use thru-hulls.
The 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.

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.


The side scan will scan much more around the boat but are not as effective, especially in deep water. For this reason alone, you may feel the need to buy two seperate fish finders but some premium models have both side and down scanning capabilities. This means you can usually view both at the same time for a very detailed scan around the boat in all directions.
ONE SMALL STEP FOR MAN, ONE GIANT LEAP FOR PADDLING_KIND: In the 2009 ICAST article, I mentioned a combo system that was in the new products exhibit, but wasn't available at the time of the show. It's most certainly available now, and that unit is the Humminbird 385CI. Like us, fish seek comfort, safety, and food. This unit will allow you to gather "data" that you can process in to fish finding "information".
Networked system: Fully networked systems are available from all the major suppliers, and usually will support a huge range of data sources including radar, raster and vector GPS charts, video, and SiriusXM satellite radio. Many allow Bluetooth/WiFi, and you can control them from your iPhone or Android smartphone. Your fishfinder, often an external “black box” module, is just one of these sources of data. Multiple-display network systems are great for medium-sized or large vessels. Capabilities get more amazing every year.
LCD displays are made of a grid of “picture elements,” tiny dots that individually darken when electrical current is applied, with their name shortened in common usage to “pixel.” More vertical pixels mean higher depth resolution, as each pixel represents less depth. The number of pixels in a screen’s horizontal axis determines how long objects stay onscreen before they scroll out of view, of significant importance with split-screen displays showing narrow columns of side-by-side information.
With the Fish Symbol feature disabled, an angler can learn to distinguish between fish, vegetation, schools of baitfish or forage fish, debris, etc. Fish will usually appear on the screen as an arch. This is because the distance between the fish and the transducer changes as the boat passes over the fish (or the fish swims under the boat). When the fish enters the leading edge of the sonar beam, a display pixel is turned on. As the fish swims toward the centre of the beam, the distance to the fish decreases, turning on pixels at shallower depths. When the fish swims directly under the transducer, it is closer to the boat so the stronger signal shows a thicker line. As the fish swims away from the transducer, the distance increases, which shows as progressively deeper pixels.
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.
CHIRP fishfinders transmit less peak power than a conventional fishfinder, but their wide-band, frequency modulated pulses (130-210kHz, for example) can be very long in duration and put 10-50 times more energy into the water. Using digital pattern matching and signal processing, CHIRP devices achieve unprecedented resolution and target detection. Your ability to resolve individual fish, or separate fish from bottom structure, is now a matter of inches, instead of several feet with traditional fishfinders. See individual fish in groups, instead of a single mass.
Gear up from Cabela's for the fishing trip of a lifetime! No matter what type of fishing you enjoy, Cabela's offers a large selection of quality and dependable fishing supplies. Shop online today for fishing rods, reels, or rod & reel combos. Whether you enjoy fly-fishing, saltwater fishing or are just learning to fish, Cabela's has all the gear you need from the top brands.
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