We may earn a commission if you make a purchase through one of our links. The LA Times newsroom or editorial staff was not involved in the creation of this content. Learn more

See Below the Surface with the Best Fishfinder

In a lake, river or even in the sea, its not always possible to see below the surface, and that is why a fishfinder is a necessary item among serious anglers. What is the Best Fishfinder? These are pricey, so you will want to make sure you purchase the right one the first time. If you want to catch more fish while in a boat you need to know where the fish are. You'll want to figure out the underwater terrain in your favorite fishing spot so you can avoid the debris under the surface and get to the big fish. Check out our list of the best fishfinders in 2021.

What is the best fishfinder of 2021?

Humminbird HELIX 7 CHIRP MSI Fishfinder - Top Pick

If you are looking to get your first fishfinder or want an reasonably priced upgrade to enjoy new technologies the Humminbird 345c Color Fishfinder is the model for you. You get a narrow view and a larger view of the water, that can be viewed individually or together on a split screen.
A little more complex than a simple fish finder, but one that isn't so complex you can't figure out how it works. The ability to see underneath with 20 degree and 60 degree angles, allows you to see fish an older model fishfinder couldn't.

Garmin Striker Vivid Fishfinder - Runner Up

The Garmin Fishfinder 90 is perfect for the casual inland angler. If you want great shallow water performance and don't want a huge locator, or an expensive one in your boat, you have found the best fish finder for you. This basic fish finder gives fish alarms along with shallow water alarms on a black and white screen. If you just need the basics because you know how to catch fish on your favorite lake, the budget friendly Garmin Fishfinder 90 is your best bet.

Humminbird Combo Color Fishfinder - Honorable Mention

If you have a big boat that you use on large areas of open water, the Humminbird 1157c Combo fishfinder is the best fish finder for you. This model is standard with a ten inch plus wide screen and all the bells and whistles you could want. You have the performance and technology at your finger tips to find big fish in the ocean or a deep inland lake. With a split screen option, GPS technology, and a built in mapping system, all you will need to worry about is catching fish.

Lowrance HOOK2 12 - 12-inch Fishfinder - Consider

The Lowrance HDS_10 Multifunction Fishfinder is the next generation of fish locators. The high-def screen gives unparalleled viewing quality. Some features include charting sonar that makes the water bottom 3D, plenty of maps for every body of water. Also included are the Sirius Satellite Radio & Weather capabilities for your safety. You can be safe on big water with either an inland, coastal or offshore with the weather service package for added safety. IThe Lowrance HDS High-Def fishfinder is the new age of fish finders.

Buyer's Guide

A fishfinder is a crucial instrument that anglers use to find the exact location of fish in seas and oceans. They are loaded with advanced features, starting with LCD screens to the digital graphical representation of the sea and ocean beds, leading to the skyrocketing demand and availability of a plethora of similar options. That’s why choosing a proper fishfinder from the list can be baffling and difficult. So, the ultimate solution will be to compare all the products you have shortlisted based on a few factors. This will help you eliminate the fishfinders that won’t meet your requirements and reach an informed purchasing decision.

How Does A Fishfinder Works And Displays The Results?

The backbone of a fishfinder is the SONAR or Sound Navigation Ranging device. It will send sound vibrations in the form of pulses into the water. These vibrations will travel in a diverged conical beam form through the water. Once they hit something in the way, like a plant, a fish, and more, they will be reflected. A receiver in a fishfinder will collect the sound vibrations and convert them into electrical signals for further processing. Once the processing is done, the results will be displayed on the screen of the fishfinder.

What Should You Take Into Account To Choose The Best Fishfinder?

Cone Angle

The cone angle of the fishfinder is defined as the width of the beam emanating from the sonar. Since these beams diverge, the angle will continue to increase in value till the maximum allowable scan depth. Thus, to have widespread coverage of the seas and oceans, you need fishfinders with a 16-degree to 20-degree cone angle. On the contrary, for smaller or detailed scanning, you can go for lower values. However, it isn’t possible to scan the trenches, craters, and other such terrains because the sound waves cannot reach these places.

Number Of Beams

A traditional fishfinder transducer will emit only one cone beam, due to which the scanning area will get restricted. This instrument can display the results of some specific areas under the water, so it is good for inland or shallow water fishing. But when it comes to deep-sea fishing, a single scanning beam won’t be of much help since it won’t offer a wide coverage area. It’s better to choose a product that can generate two or more cones in multiple directions for better scanning.

Screen Color

The screen color of a fishfinder plays a very crucial role in determining how accurate and clear the graphical data is. A black and white screen fishfinder is less priced, but it doesn't offer an exceptional view. Reading data using such devices is very hard, and the risks of misinterpretation increase. That's why you should look for a fishfinder with a colored screen to read the electrical as well as thermal signals displayed on the screen.

Picture Quality

If the fishfinder has a poor image quality, you won't understand the graphs, scales, and several other displayed data. Reading and marking the maps will also become difficult, which is why choosing a proper screen resolution is important. The basic pixel resolution that you can go for is 240X160. But for much clearer and sharper images, you should choose a fishfinder having 320X320 pixel resolution.

Operational Frequencies

Usually, the fishfinders send sound signals having a frequency range of 50 Hz to 2 MHz, which is not audible to the fish. You can decide how deep the sound vibrations will travel under the water and the coverage area based on the frequency range. For example, if your chosen product operates at a frequency of 200 kHz, a larger area will be covered by the scanner. On the contrary, the cone angle will decrease if a fishfinder can produce sound waves at 400 kHz.

GPS And Mapping

If you have a fishfinder with GPS and a mapping sensor, it will become much easier for you to know the exact location of fish, plants, trenches, and so on. The GPS will help in tracking your course in the seas or oceans along with marking the fishing spots, learning about underwater hazards, and so on. Also, this technology will allow you to read the maps properly and pinpoint locations using the latitudes and longitudes.


The advanced fishfinders come with temperature or IR sensors so that the heat spectrum of every living and non-living object can be displayed on the instrument's screen. Such sensors are crucial when you are in unknown water and don't know about the fish habitats, ocean beds, and more.

How Can A Fishfinder Help In Locating The Fish?

A fishfinder can help you locate the fish in several ways in seas, oceans, and even inland water bodies. In this below section, we have explained a few ways in which the device helps in finding the marine organisms effortlessly.

  • It can help in locating the fish in different types of waters.
  • Some products have high water resistance so that they can be used in kayaks or under the water.
  • With noise reduction technology, the fishfinder can easily capture any fast-moving prey.
  • You can even use a fishfinder in different weather conditions to have the best fishing experience.

How To Interpret The Fishfinder Results?

  • If multiple fish images are displayed on the screen with certain numbers above them, you will be able to know the depth and size of the object based on the Fish-ID.
  • In some fishfinders, the fish and other animals are displayed as arches. If the arch is bigger, it represents a bigger fish.
  • Mountains, trenches, and a plateau will also be shown based on the surface temperature.
  • Sometimes, the arches appear completely on the screen, signifying that the fish is within the cone area. Half-structured arches mean that the fish/object is along the edges of the beam cone.

Fishfinder FAQ

Q. What kind of maps are there in a fishfinder?

A. In a fishfinder, you will have topographical and geographical maps that allow you to see mountains, trenches, volcanoes, plateaus, and so on.

Q. Which fishfinder is perfect for a kayak boat?

A. When you are on the kayak boat, water splashes will be common. Hence, you should get a fishfinder that can withstand salty water and resist corrosion and damage.

Q. For deep sea fishing, what kind of fishfinder should I have in terms of beams?

A. When you will be fishing in the deep sea, it would be better to have at least two beams in the fishfinder because it will allow you to cover more area.

bestcovery team.jpg
Our research team searches out the best of everything so that you can confidently pick the perfect products and services for your needs.
Related Content
Go to top