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Choosing the Right Fish Finder - A Buyer's Guide

There aren’t many areas of life where technology hasn’t appeared and vastly improved every aspect of living. This is true for work, lifestyle, leisure and even sports. Here we will present you a guide that will improve and modernize your fishing experience in the best possible way.

For those already acquainted with the fish finder equipment - continue reading to find out what to look for in current models on the market available now.

Why Should You Use Fish Finders?

The main function of fish finder device is to show the representation of the water area beneath the vessel used for fishing in order to achieve fish identification. The sonar operates by sending electric impulses towards a transducer.

The transducer then sends the converted impulses in a form of sound waves in a downward cone shaped direction into the depths of waters. These sound waves travel through water and keep going till they reach the bottom structure and then bounce back and return to the transducing unit. Sound waves can pass through all objects in their path of travel and thus the objects in the way get presented on the screen of the fish finder. The screen will then show info such as depth, structures beneath the surface and of course fish that are swimming underneath the boat.

Now let’s go into detail on what specs are important before deciding to buy a certain model.

Choosing the Right Type of Fish Finder Device

Depending on the type of fishing you will be doing you can choose between standalone, combo and network type fish finders.


Standalone fish finders

Standalone fish finders offer basic functionality for viewing the area beneath them via the included screen and offer an excellent cost-to-performance ratio.

They often come with large displays and are suggested for fishermen that only need basic functionality and also offer modularity with an ability to add a GPS sensor units and thus expanding their functionality. If you use a small boat and have a limited budget - the standalone fishfinder makes for a very good choice.


Combination fish finders

Combination fish finders are recommended for use on bigger vessels with higher catch demands at the end of each day of fishing.

They can include a chart plotter, thus the combo in the name, which provides enhanced tracking data and navigational functionality for guidance towards the fishing area.

The information is viewed on multiple displays or it can be viewed separately just on the fish finder screen.

Network Type

Network type fish finders

Network type fish finders are used by professionals that require a great deal more information from the added functionality. This type of network system shows data collected via radar, video, raster and vector displaying of GPS charts and even Sirius XM satellite radio.

They use Wireless data and Bluetooth technology for communication and they can be also controlled and used via included smartphone and tablet apps both for Android and iOS operating systems. These types of networked fish finder systems are best suited for use on large vessels and offer the best functionality on the market.

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Choosing the Correct Display Specification

Choosing the correct display specification

Since you will be spending most of the time looking at the display it is important to choose the one best suited for your intended use. Things to look out for before buying include the display resolution, type of display in terms of colour representation and lastly the size of the display showing data.

When looking at the display resolution it is important to know that it represents the amount of detail each display shows.

That detail depends on the number of pixels (tiny dots on screen) that emit light and show the image or video. Depending on the number of pixels on the screen the picture can be detailed or blurry. The higher the pixel density the more the quality of picture and of other information that is being shown. More pixels per inch show better detail of the area underneath the boat bellow while the high count of pixels on a big screen offer finer detail and enable better fish and object recognition.

Displays can come in colour or without – called monochrome displays. Pay attention for contrast specification of the display as it also presents an important factor for seeing a good quality data on screen especially if using fish finder in an area filled with strong light.

Choosing the Right Transducer

Transducers are an essential part of any fish finder system. They perform the task of sending sound waves through water and then send that data to be viewed on the fish finder display.


 We mentioned that transducers send sound waves in a cone shape path beneath the boat. The angle of that cone is what defines the wideness of the sound waves being sent for imaging the area of the water being scanned. When the cone angle is wide you get a larger area view than when the angle is narrow. When the sound waves go deeper through the water they lose power so it’s important to know this before choosing the type of the transducer.

The transducers available today offer cone angles from as low as 9 to 60 degrees’ range. For the undemanding user, a range between 16 and 20 degrees is the most recommended.

Selecting Fish Finder Power and Frequencies

The transmit power is defined in Watts and it represents the ability of fish finders to gather data from the water depending on depth and water clarity. High wattage means that the data is gathered faster and in greater depths. The lower wattage is best suited for shallow waters. The power affects the sound waves and their ability to pass through the water efficiently. For the most demanding of users and the highest data gain we recommend using 1000 Watt models and for those intending to do inland lake fishing - 200 Watt models will provide more than adequate functionality.

fish finder power and frequencies

Transducers come in 50, 83, 192 and 200 kHz frequencies. Frequency plays a major role in the transducers ability to scan the water surface and all objects in it. High frequency represents more sound waves being sent out of the transducers. The rule is – the higher the frequencythe more details is shown on the display.

There are transducers that offer dual mode scanning when dual and even multiple frequencies are being used for scanning. Based on the requirements – higher frequency transducers are good for use in shallow waters while low-frequency ones’ work best in deeper waters.

Transducer Material

It is important to select and adequate transducer based on the type of vessel you use in order to gain the highest efficiency of use. Transducers come in various different materials and the most often used type is the one having an all plastic housing. A great choice for any type of casual fishing it is easy to mount all types of vessels.

For use off in-hull transducer, we can only recommend plastic housing models that will be mounted on vessels with fiberglass or metal hulls. The same is valid for thru-hull transducers. For use of a through-hull transducer, we recommend bronze which is great for hulls made of wood and fiberglass.

GPS and Mapping Systems

lowrance poduct image

For those wanting to track locations where fish is plenty and prefer to come back – use of a GPS system is highly recommended. These GPS systems can be internal or external and add an important functionality to the fish finder equipment. By mapping and charting, you can record your movement and keep a record of good spots for fishing in order to find your way back for a successful catch.

Hope we helped you with our guide how to make a decision for  finding the right fish finder for you. Remember that functionality and quality are dependent on the cost so do not decide to buy a fish finder which functions you do not intend to use. Choose based on your fishing requirements and most importantly based on the type of locations you intend to do the fishing. These devices are guaranteed to help you increase your amount of catch and offer an even more relaxing experience out on the open water.

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