Last updated on April 17th, 2021 at 03:18 pm

By the end of this review, you should know:

  1. What fish finders are
  2. What functions fish finders carry out
  3. Top qualities to look for in a fish finder
  4. Some of the best fish finders for the money

What Are Fish Finders?

Fishfinders help you discover fish underwater by detecting and interpreting sounds generated by the fish. If you’ve seen a good number of modern sea voyage movies, you will be familiar with the term ‘SONAR.’ Sonar is used to map out nautical charts but is also used to detect sound waves in the water. All fish finders have a sonar device with which it reflects sound waves back to the fish finder’s central unit.

When you throw a fish finder in the water, the sonar device takes note of all soundwaves and then transmits them to your fish finder screen in the form of signals. The strength of the waves produced determine what the screen shows you it has found. There can be several objects in the water, ranging from debris, to sea creatures and mosti mportantly, fish. Basically, the fish finder device determines which soundwaves are produced by fish and then translates the results to you.

Fishfinders work best in deep waters. However, this is not to say that they can’t work in shallow waters. If you want to use a fish finder in shallow water bodies, you must ensure that your fish finder’s frequency is above a certain level. Be sure to check out the frequency level before you make your purchase. We will talk more about this later in the article about the best fish finder for the money. 

What is a Fish Finder Used for?

As you must already know, fish finders are fish locators. They save you the time and stress of having to wait hours before making a single catch. Some of the best-rated fish finders are portable fish finders, so you can easily carry them around.

Some other important functions of fish finders include the following:

  • It helps you mark regular fish spots: Most manufacturers offer a GPS fishfinder combo that will mark and record certain spots where you have regularly found fish. Think of these places as hot spots where you get a never-ending supply of fish. A fish finder with GPS allows you to return to the river or sea with an exact destination in mind.
  • It saves time for Kayak divers: Fishfinders are not a great tool for just fishermen. Divers also have Kayak fish finders that help them determine a good reef spot to dive in. These GPS depth finders can locate the bottom of the river within seconds of being thrown in. You won’t have to spend too much time studying the depth of the river before you dive in. All you need to do is have fun!

What Qualities Should I Look for in a Fish Finder?

Buying a fish finder can be pretty frustrating, especially if you are an amateur. There are a lot of technicalities involved in choosing the best fish finders for the money since there’s a lot of competition on the market. However, you don’t have to feel overwhelmed.

Here are a couple of pointers to help you get started.

1. Choose Suitable Transducers

Transducers come first on the list of features to note before getting a fish finder. The transducer is that part of the fish finder that sends and receives sound waves. Choosing a suitable transducer primarily means that you select a transducer mount that matches the size of your boat. If you have a big boat, you can get a thru-hull or in-hull transducer mount. On the other hand, you can go with the transom mount for smaller boats.

Other factors to consider before selecting a suitable transducer include:

Transducer Materials: If fishing is a just a hobby, we recommend that you choose a cheap fish finder transducer mount. You can go for a plastic transom mount since you only plan to use it on the occasional getaway.
The industrial in-hull and thru-hull mounts never come in plastic. They are made of metal, steel, aluminum, or fiberglass with wood inhulls. Although metal and fiberglass hulls work great in plastic housing, you might want to get something more suitable for other materials. For example, if you use a steel transducer hull, you’re better off getting a stainless steel housing.

Beams and Cone Angles: The cone angles and beams of transducers are yet another feature to consider. The cone angle refers to the width of the beam your fishfinder passes into the water from your boat. The size of a cone angle dictates the width of the water area that will be covered. For instance, a wider cone angle will cover a larger area of water.

Cone angles range from 9 to 60 degrees. Most transducer cones have angles that fall between 16 – 20 degrees. If you’re a newbie who likes to explore varying water depths, you should get nothing less than a 20˚ cone.

Also, note that some transducers produce more than one beam. The dual-beam transducer is more suitable if you like fishing in shallow waters. Dual beams cover a larger expanse of river area.

2. Color Screens

If you’re on the lookout for cheap fish finders, you might not get one with color screens. Fishfinder models have black and white screens, as well as color screens. Naturally, color screens cost more than black and white models.

For ease of use and quality service, you might want to try out a color screen instead. Black and white screens lose efficiency under extreme weather conditions like bright sunlight and stormy weather. However, with color screens, there’s no stopping you. Color screens offer a variety of colors and shades which you can easily adjust to suit your reading conditions.

3. Screen Resolution

While choosing a fish finder, you should also consider the number of pixels the screen has. Pixels determine how clear, crisp, and detailed the screen’s images will be. In any case, don’t settle for less than 240×160 pixels. In fact, you should get a screen with higher resolution, so you can get an accurate interpretation of the sound waves reflected by your fishfinder.

4. Power range

If you intend to use your fish finders in deep waters, you need a fish finder with a high wattage unit. Fishfinders with low wattage units work more slowly and are less accurate in deep waters. They would, however, work fine in the shallow territory.

Our Top 6 Best Fish Finders for 2021

Here we are! Our review of the best fish finders for the money for 2021! We’ve curated a list of some of the best fish finders that are currently available for sale. Read carefully and make the best choice for you!

The best quality of the Garmin fish finder is its highly sensitive GPS. You can never get lost at sea with this one. It is particularly great for those who like to explore on boating trips.

You can plot routes, show details of your bearing to the way point, and also features some other unique features. Let’s take a look at some product specifications and features below.

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Product Specifications/Features:

  • Features ClearVu technology
  • Has a display resolution of 480 x 320 pixels
  • Uses a CHIRP transducer
  • Shares routes with other Striker 4 fish finders
  • Features indicator flashers

Pros:

  • Easy to use
  • Portable
  • User-friendly color screen
  • Monitors boat speed and indicates sea depth
  • CHIRP sonar sends multiple frequencies into the water
  • It has a highly sensitive GPS that marks exact locations

Cons:

  • Small screen
  • Requires a power source
  • Does not indicate latitude and longitude
Remember what we said about technological advancements? This device lets you find fish with your smartphone. Also known as the iBobber, the ReelSonar fish finder works with an Android or iPhone app that makes the entire fish-finding process seamless.

Connectivity is top-notch, so with just the iBobber, your phone, and a few fishing materials handy, you’ll be ready to go.

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Product Specifications:

  • Uses an LED lighting beacon
  • Includes a rechargeable battery with 10+ hours battery life
  • Free Android and iOS app
  • Bluetooth smart sync between phone and fish finder
  • App features a trip log, so you can save time, locations, conditions, and fish species for future reference

Pros:

  • Great value for your money
  • Portable
  • Social media sharing feature
  • Works great with GoogleWatch and iWatch

Cons:

  • Too sensitive, and may record unnecessary spots
  • Takes longer to find sound signals, compared to other fish finders

This is by far the most expensive fish finder on the list, but it is PACKED with features!

The display is 7 inches and it looks great. The picture quality is very good. The Navionics+ card (included in this model) was VERY helpful. The marketing claims over 21,000 bodies of water are included. 

The Mega Side Imaging is pretty cool. The clarity is excellent and we found the spread to be extremely wide at 125ft down and to the sides of the boat. 

This model includes transducer and mounting hardware, power cable and gimbal mounting bracket, making getting started very simple. 

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Product Specifications:

  • Includes GPS and Nav+
  • Ball and socket technology that lets you adjust the mount as much as you like
  • MSI includes down and side imaging
  • 7″ monitor
  • Dimensions: 10.54 x 3.68 x 5.8 inches

Pros:

  • Ultra clear imaging 125′ down and to the sidess
  • Very accurate
  • Abundance of options and features
  • Pre-loaded with over 21,000 lakes and rivers

Cons:

  • Pricey

With its 4.3’’ color LCD, the Humminbird Piranhamax promises you the most precise images of what’s happening underwater. The screen is backlit, so you can always read the screen easily, in the day or at night. On the screen, you get information about the fish depth, its temperature, and its location. See some more features below.

The screen also provides Fish ID+ information. This means that it not only detects the fish’s location, but also its possible size. The screen can tell you whether you have a small, large, or medium-sized fish. The fish finder also has a zoom feature, which lets you look closely at a particular area, and increase your knowledge of the underwater condition.

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Product Specifications:

  • Dual Beam Sonar which operates at 28 degrees on 200kHz and 16 degrees at 455 kHz
  • Down Imaging
  • Tilt and Swivel Mount
  • Keypads to slide through screens
  • 12-Volt Rechargeable battery
  • Display size diagonal – 4.3’’
  • Display Pixel Matrix – 480 V 272 H
  • Display Color – 256 Colors
  • Power – 300 Watts
  • Depth Capability – 320’ (Down Imaging) and 600’

Pros:

  • Very affordable
  • Portable and flexible. It can reach as far as 600 feet
  • Easy to install
  • Easy-to-navigate interface
  • The fish finder’s screen has a backlit display, which improves its readability

Cons:

  • The receiver is not fully waterproof
  • It has no Wi-Fi or SD card slots to help you add more information
  • Even though it can reach as far as 600 feet, its transducer cable is only 20-foot long.
  • It doesn’t have a split-screen

The Garmin Striker Plus 5 fish finder kit is perfect for all fishing conditions. It consists of a GPS, which lets you mark regular fish habitats and share routes with your friends. It also offers a smooth scaling graphics that show clear images of fishes and the bottom of the water.

Also, you have sonar history, which allows you to scroll back and mark major spots you slipped.

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Product Specifications:

  • 3.5 inch-color screen with a built-in high-tech GPS
  • Waypoint map: Lets you view, mark, and navigate a water area.
  • Chirp Transducer: Sends sound frequency to the water and interprets them when they are reflected back.
  • Transom mounting kit

Pros:

  • Waterproof
  • Long-lasting battery life
  • A backlit screen that increases readability with bright sunlight

Cons:

  • Low pixel counts and smaller-sized screen
  • No SD card reader to store excess information
  • The wire clamps holding the transducer are weak

Throw in your Deeper Smart Sonar PRO+ into the sea, and you’ll get accurate readings of the fish species underwater, water depth, and temperature. This device also tells you whether the bottom of the river is solid or muddy. Just like every other fish finder, the Deeper PRO+ helps you discover and monitor fishes so you can capture them easily.

The Deeper Smart Sonar works with an app you can download on the Google PlayStore. The app opens up immediately you cast the Deeper into the water. Then, it begins to display depths, fish species, the temperature of the water, and the fish located in the area.

Read the full product review here.

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Product Specifications:

  • Google App Sync
  • Wi-Fi to connect the fish finder to your phone
  • Bathymetric Maps to record fishing spots and other important information for future reference.
  • 3.7-volt battery with up to 4 hours of battery life
  • GPS
  • Dual-beam

Pros:

  • It is portable
  • It is easy to operate
  • It is suitable for all kinds of fishing
  • It offers GPS and Wi-Fi to create and develop maps
  • Indicates the temperature of the water

Cons:

  • You need to place half of the Deeper outside the water to make the Wi-Fi work
  • You need a huge fishing rod to cast the fish finder into the water

Conclusion – The Best Fish Finder for the Money in 2021 is…

 

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In this fish finder review, our top pick is the Humminbird Helix 7 MSI fish finder . It has a higher price tag, but the huge array of features more than offsets that. It is easy to use, efficient, and has a long-lasting battery capacity.

The preloaded 21,000 rivers and lakes make it very valuable right from the start. Combine that with the crystal clear MSI down and side imaging, and you’ll see success quickly. 

Honorable Mention – Best Fish Finder for Ice Fishing

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Our honorable mention for the best fish finder for the money is the Deeper Pro + Sonar fish finder. This gets the nod for honorable mention because of how much it shines when it comes to ice fishing. 

It easily gets 4-6 hours of battery life while ice fishing, it does a good job of scanning the sea floor, and it conveniently fits in your pocket! 

FAQ 

Are fish finders that effective?
Absolutely. If you’re a newbie to fishing, a fish finder will come in handy. You’ll significantly reduce the chances of becoming frustrated by not catching anything on your first trips.
How do I choose the best fish finders for me?
First, you need to highlight your needs. Do you need a fish finder for kayaking, small, or large scale fishing, or ice fishing? Once you’ve decided on this, the rest is easy. Take a look at the informative content above to get started.
How do I know where to fish?
If you stay in the United States, you can look through your state’s fishing maps. They will show you where fish finders have located many schools of fish. Don’t forget to comply with state laws!
Can I paint my transducer to prevent mold?
Most transducers can be painted with the right equipment. Check through your manufacturer guide to make sure you’re on the right track.
Do all fish finders have GPS?
The best-rated fish finders possess a lot of amazing features, including GPS. GPS depth finders are an essential component of the best fish finders.