Find Your Best Fish Finder: Reviews of the Top Depth Finders For The Money

Blind casting all day without a single bite is one of the most frustrating and exhausting experiences an angler can have. If you want to consistently catch fish, a quality fish finder is an absolute necessity.

The problem is that wading through all the brands, models, confusing specifications, and marketing jargon can be just as frustrating as not catching any fish! To make the task of choosing a fish finder a little easier, we’ve reviewed the top fish finders on the market to help you find the right one to get more fish in the boat.

The fish finders on this list cover a range of prices and functionality but are generally best suited for small- to medium-sized boats. Whether you fish lakes, reservoirs, rivers, bays or inshore saltwater, the following fish finders will help you achieve more fishing success the next time you head out on the water.  If you don’t like a lengthy read, we’ve listed two of our favorites below – otherwise, we’ve covered our 9 favorite in much more detail and we hope you enjoy the read.

Our Top 2 Picks:

  1. For the tech savvy fisherman:  Deeper Smart Portable Fish Finder
  2. A great stand alone unit: Garmin Striker

Table of Contents:

How Fish Finders Work:

A fish finder or depth finder works by using sonar underwater to detect pulses of sound energy.  It locates the fish by emitting a sonar wave that will register solid mass and can detect schools of fish or the bottom of a body of water if there are no obstructions.

Fish finders are used today by sport fisherman, commercial fisherman and recreational fisherman alike.  They can be used for pike, bass, black or white crappie or just about any other type of fish.

Fish finders are usually mounted to the boat and are run while the vessel is moving at a slower or stopped speed to properly recognize the area and the depth.  Fish finders can be mounted to just about any boat, including fishing kayaks and larger boats or watercraft.  You can even use fish finders when you are ice fishing, provided the hole you dug with your auger is big enough.

Fish finders can be beneficial for many reasons.  They can be used to locate larger and smaller schools of fish and to assist in finding the appropriate depth that schools typically like to dwell at during the different times of year.

Fish finders are becoming widely used by many fisherman across the industry and they are looked at as a “must have” for recreational fishermen looking for an extra edge when out scouting for their next fishing location.

Many modern fish finders are coming equipped today with a GPS.  This is highly beneficial in case you get lost (don’t laugh, it’s happened) and also to help track your locations of your favorite fishing spots.

The Nine Best Fish Finder Reviews for the Money:

We’ve broken our nine favorite fish finders below into more detail.  We’ve taken our favorites and analyzed user feedback to come up with the proper fish finders that will help you on your next outdoor fishing trip.

Keep in mind that some of the models are newer and have more technological features, making them more expensive.  Higher priced or not, they should all make landing your next catch a lot easier.  We will be updating this guide through 2018, making it your most up to date resource and not left behind by 2014 technology.

1. Niceou Portable Wireless Sonar Fishfinder:

Niceou Portable Wireless Sonar Fishfinder Bluetooth Smart...
  • Niceou-5. Widely used:...
  • Niceou-2. Free application for...
  • Niceou-1. Sonar fishing...
  • Niceou-Niceou Portable...
  • Niceou-3. Fish alarm, noise...

Type: Portable fish finder for smartphone or tablet
GPS: Uses GPS from smartphone
Imaging: Down view
Sonar coverage: 15° narrow; 55° wide
Sonar frequency:290 kHz narrow; 90 kHz wide
Power output: N/A
Depth capability: 130 feet
Transducer: Portable floating wireless transducer
Display size: Smartphone/tablet display
Color or black and white: N/A
Screen resolution (pixels): N/A
Unit size: Transducer weighs 3.5 oz

Product Summary & Fish Finder Reviews:

The Niceou Portable Wireless Sonar Fishfinder is a new breed of a fish finder that’s only been available for the last few years. Unlike traditional depth and fish finders that use a transducer mounted on a boat, Deeper uses a castable, wireless transducer paired with the smartphone or tablet you already have to create a highly portable fish finding system. Before, fish finders could only be used on boats, but now with the Deeper, bank anglers get to enjoy the same benefits that boat anglers have been reaping for years.

Deeper can be used by anyone fishing from banks, shorelines, piers, docks, jetties, and can also be used when fishing from a kayak, canoe, float tube, or pontoon boat. Deeper is highly portable, with the transducer being small enough to fit in most tackle boxes, and even comes with a neoprene belt pouch. Since you do have to use your smartphone or tablet with Deeper, you may find it beneficial to invest in a waterproof case or bag to keep your device safe and dry.

2. iBobber Wireless Bluetooth Smart Fish Finder for iOS and Android Devices:

ReelSonar CGG-MY-IBOBBER iBobber Wireless Bluetooth Smart...
Type: Portable fish finder for smartphone or tablet
GPS: Uses GPS from smartphone
Imaging: Down view
Sonar coverage: 42°
Sonar frequency: Not specified by manufacturer
Power output: N/A
Depth capability: 135 feet
Transducer: Portable floating wireless transducer
Display size: Smartphone/tablet display
Color or black and white: N/A
Screen resolution: N/A
Unit size: 3″ x 3″ x 3″; 1.6 oz

Other features: Transducer communicates sonar data to smartphone via Bluetooth and pairs with the free iBobber app for iOS and Android; app displays raw sonar and fish tagging views, bottom structure, water temperatures, and weather conditions; app includes GPS spot tagging with interactive map, trip logging, and social media sharing functions; device is compatible with Google Watch and Apple Watch

Product Summary & Fish Finder Reviews:

The iBobber is another ingenious wireless portable fish finder that pairs with a smartphone or tablet. Like the Deeper Smart Fish Finder, iBobber uses Bluetooth technology to sync with your smartphone, and the free iBobber App gives all the sonar images you need right in your hand. Tie the iBobber onto your fishing line, cast it out, and get a live view of bottom structure and fish below.

The iBobber and Deeper are very comparable which can make choosing between them a difficult task. The iBobber does have some drawbacks compared to Deeper such as shorter casting range and only a single sonar frequency with a 42° coverage compared to Deeper’s dual frequencies with 15° and 55° coverage. But, differences aside, the iBobber is a very handy fishing tool for those who fish from banks or piers and want to know what’s going on below the surface. Anglers in kayaks, canoes, and other small watercraft can also make good use of the iBobber, and won’t have to worry about installing a fish finder that will take up valuable space.

The iBobber App gives you sonar imaging of bottom structure and fish directly on the screen of your smartphone as well as additional information about water temperature, weather forecasts, and moon cycles. Using the GPS of your smartphone, you can mark spots on a map within the app, just like you can on a traditional GPS-enabled fish finder. Social media sharing is built into the iBobber app making it easy to share your trip logs and other data with your friends. Unlike the Deeper Smart Fish Finder, the iBobber is compatible with both Apple Watch and Google Watch, making your on-the-water fish finding even more accessible.

3. Garmin Echomap Chirp 74Cv with Transducer

Garmin Echomap Chirp 74Cv with transducer, 010-01801-01
  • Clearer scanning sonar shows...
  • Chirp sonar Chirp sends a...
  • Preloaded Blue Chart g2 charts...
  • Clear scanning sonar the CV...
  • Best in class Internal 5 Hertz...

Type: Combination
GPS: Yes, with waypoint map
Imaging: Down imaging
Sonar coverage: Not specified by manufacturer
Sonar frequency: 50/77/200 kHz and CHIRP (mid and high)
Power output: 200 watts RMS
Depth capability: 1,600 ft freshwater; 750 ft saltwater
Transducer: Dual beam transducer
Display size: 3.5″ diagonal
Color or black and white: HVGA Color
Screen resolution: 480 x 320 pixels
Unit size: 3.6″ W x 5.9″ H x 1.6″ D

Other features: Uses CHIRP sonar technology; built-in GPS with waypoint map; displays boat speed on screen; built-in flasher mode shows real-time view of fish passing through transducer beam

Product Summary & Fish Finder Reviews:

The Striker 4 packs tons of power and functionality into a well-designed, compact unit. With a 3.5-inch full-color display, the Striker 4 is perfect for smaller motor boats and is a popular choice among kayak anglers where space is at a premium. It’s a combination unit featuring both powerful sonar imaging as well as a robust GPS system that includes a waypoint map allowing you to mark your favorite fishing spots for easy navigation in the future.

The defining factor of the Striker 4 is CHIRP sonar technology. While standard fish finders send a single signal at a time, CHIRP sonar sends a continuous string of signals across a broad range of frequencies. Through these CHIRP signals, more sonar information is relayed, resulting in clearer and more detailed images on the screen.

4. Venterior VT Portable Depth Finder With Sonar:

Venterior VT-FF001 Portable Fish Finder,  Handheld...
Type: Standalone
Imaging: Broadband Sounder
Sonar coverage: 20° (@ 200 kHz), 60° (@ 83 kHz)
Sonar frequency: Dual-frequency operation, 83 kHz or 200 kHz
Power output: Unknown
Depth capability: 328 ft
Transducer: Skimmer transducer with water temperature sensor
Display size: 4″ diagonal
Color or black and white: Grayscale
Screen resolution: Unknown
Unit size: 9.6″ W x 2.2″ H x 5.9″ D

Other features: Product will show you where fish are, sensitivity controls picking up smaller fish sizes

Product Summary & Fish Finder Reviews:

Another powerful compact unit, the Venterior VT gives you dual-frequency sonar readings on a space-efficient 4 inch Grayscale display display.

With dual-frequency functionality, you can switch between 83 kHz sonar which gives a 60° coverage range, and 200 kHz sonar which gives a 20° coverage range, allowing you to adapt to different water depths and conditions for maximum fish-finding potential.

The Venterior VTFF001 is not equipped with a GPS, making it ideal for anglers that already have a GPS device or those who just need a simple-yet-powerful fish finder. A compact design makes it a perfect chocie ideal for smaller motor boats and an excellent unit for fishing kayaks.

5. Lowrance Elite 5X CHIRP with 83/200+455/800:

Lowrance 000-11657-001 Elite-5X Chirp with 83/200+455/800...
Type: Combination
GPS: Yes
Imaging: Hybrid dual imaging with DownScan imaging and Broadband Sounder
Sonar coverage: Not specified by manufacturer
Sonar frequency: 83/200/455/800 kHz
Power output: 500 watts RMS; 4000 PTP
Depth capability: 1000 ft @ 83/200 kHz; 2500 ft @ 50/200 kHz
Transducer: Transom mounted Lowrance transducer
Display size: 5″ diagonal
Color or black and white: Color, 256 colors
Screen resolution: 480 x 480 pixels
Unit size: 6.9″ W x 5.4″ H x 2.5″ D

Other features: Built-in GPS with base map, waypoints, and chart plotter, stores 3,000 waypoints, 100 routes with 100 waypoints per route, 100 retraceable plot trails with 10,000 points per trail; waterproof microSD card slot compatible with Navionics Gold chart cards, Fishing Hot Spots, and Lake Master micro SD cards

Product Summary & Fish Finder Reviews:

Another powerful combination unit, the Lowrance 5X CHIRP gives anglers a clear view of bottom structure and fish using both DownScan imaging and traditional broadband sounding sonar. The built-in GPS with integrated base map displays your real-time location on the water, and with chart plotting functionality, you can mark productive fish-catching spots and routes for future reference.

The unit has a waterproof SD memory card slot that’s compatible with additional navigation software such as Navionics Gold, Fish Hot Spots, and Lake Master in micro SD card format.

The Lowerance 5X CHIRP works well in both fresh and saltwater in depths of up to 1000 feet when using down view imagery, and depths of up to 2500 feet when using the broadband sounder. Unfortunately, the Lowrance 5X CHIRP is an excellent unit, although higher in both price point and quality.

6. Humminbird 409640-1 HELIX 5 SI Fish Finder with Side-Imaging and GPS:

Humminbird 409640-1 Helix 5 SI Fish Finder with Side-Imaging...
Type: Combination
GPS: Yes
Imaging: Side imaging, Down Imaging, DualBeam PLUS
Sonar coverage: 20°, 60°, (2) 85° (180° total)
Sonar frequency: 200/83/455 kHz
Power output: 500 watts RMS; 4000 watts PTP
Depth capability: 100 ft SI; 1500 ft 2D
Transducer: Transom, XNT 9 SI 180T
Display size: 5″ diagonal
Color or black and white: Color, 256 colors
Screen resolution: 800 X 480 Pixels
Unit size: W/ gimbal mount – 7.55″ W x 4.64″ H x 3.3 D

Other features: GPS tracking and chart plotting included with 2,500 waypoints, 45 routes, 20,000 points; built-in UniMap cartography; microSD card slot; side imaging sonar gives an 180-degree side view below the boat

Product Summary & Fish Finder Reviews:

If you’re looking for a fish finder that does it all, the Humminbird Helix 5 SI is for you. It’s a combination unit, meaning it has both sonar imaging (depth and fish finding) as well as integrated GPS. This is by far the most powerful and versatile fish finder on our list, featuring DualBeam Plus sonar as well as down imaging and side imaging sonar.

While many fish finders feature dual imaging and down imaging, it’s the side imaging capabilities of the Helix 5 SI that set this unit apart, giving anglers an 180° side-to-side view of the water below. Side imaging sonar is ideal for lake and inshore saltwater fishing in water depths of 100 feet or less when you want to see a broader swath of water and bottom structure. Down imaging and DualBeam sonar can be used in depths of up to 1500 feet and gives you a narrower scope, displaying what’s directly below the boat.

The integrated GPS of the Helix 5 SI is very powerful and features built-in UniMap cartography with GPS chart plotting, giving you the power to mark 2,500 waypoints, create 45 different routes, and map 50 tracks, each with 20,000 points. It’s safe to say that most anglers won’t use all the mapping and chart plotting points the Helix 5 SI has to offer, but it sure is nice to have the option.

Both the sonar imaging and the GPS chart plotting are shown in vivid color on the 5-inch high-resolution screen. The control buttons are easy to use and you can switch between several different screen views to see exactly what you need to at any given time.

7. Humminbird 409600-1 HELIX DI Fish Finder with Down Imaging:

Humminbird 409600-1 Helix 5 DI Fish Finder with Down Imaging
Type: Standalone
Imaging: Down Imaging, DualBeam PLUS
Sonar coverage: 16°, 28°, 45°, 75°
Sonar frequency: 455/800/200/455 kHz
Power output: 500 watts RMS; 4000 watts PTP
Depth capability: 350 ft DI; 600 ft 2D
Transducer: Transom, XNT 9 DI T
Display size: 5″ diagonal
Color or black and white: Color, 256 colors
Screen resolution: 800H X 480V
Unit size: W/ gimbal mount – 7.55″ W x 4.64″ H x 3.3 D

Other features: Includes transducer with transom mount; water temperature sensor built into transducer

Product Summary & Fish Finder Reviews:

The Humminbird Helix DI is like a stripped-down version of the Helix 5 SI, but still powerful in its own right. Compared to the Helix 5 SI, it’s cheaper, it doesn’t have GPS, and it lacks side imaging. With those differences in mind, the Helix DI is a great option for anglers that simply want a solid and reliable fish finder without all the bells and whistles, or for those who already own a standalone GPS device.

With the Helix DI, you get a high-resolution full color 5-inch display and easy-to-use control buttons. Down imaging can be used in depths of up to 350 feet, and DualBeam sonar can be used in depths of 600 feet. The unit is easy to install with the included gimbal mount or directly into the dash of your boat.

8. Signstek FF-003 Portable Fish Finder:

Signstek FF-003 Portable Fish Finder Outdoor Fishing Tool...
Type: Portable, standalone fish finder
Imaging: Down imaging
Sonar coverage: Not specified by manufacturer
Sonar frequency: 83/200 kHz
Power output: Not specified by manufacturer
Depth capability: 240 ft
Transducer: Portable with a float and 20-foot cable
Display size: 2.8″ diagonal
Color or black and white: Color, 512 colors
Screen resolution: 240 x 160 pixels
Unit size: 4.7″ x 3.2″ x 1.2″

Other features: Bottom contour and water temperature indicator; multi levels depth range; ideal for kayaks, canoes, and other small watercraft; no mounting options, comes with a neck strap

Product Summary & Fish Finder Reviews:

One of the best entry-level fish finders on the market is the Signstek FF-003 Portable Fish Finder. The display unit is lightweight and compact and comes with a detachable neck strap to keep the fish finder close by all times. The transducer is designed to be portable, giving anglers the option to either mount the transducer on a boat or kayak, to drift it alongside using the built-in float, or to cast it out up to 20 feet when fishing from shore.

The 2.8 inch, 512 color screen shows bottom features and fish images in great detail, along with water temperature readings. The FF-003 also has a fish identification feature that distinguishes between small and large fish as well as a fish depth indicator so you know how far down to get your lure or bait.

The Signstek FF-003 may not be powerful enough for anglers that need to cover a lot of water, or fish depths greater than 240 feet, but for those who fish small lakes and rivers, it’s a great entry-level fish finder that will no doubt help you catch more fish.

9. Garmin Echo 551dv Worldwide with Transducer

Garmin Echo 551dv Worldwide with Transducer
Type: Standalone
Imaging: Down view
Sonar coverage: Not specified by manufacturer
Sonar frequency: 77/200 kHz
Power output: 500 watts RMS; 4,000 watts PTP
Depth capability: 2,300 feet
Transducer: DownVu 4-pin all-in-one transducer
Display size: 5″ diagonal
Color or black and white: Color
Screen resolution: 480 x 640 pixels
Unit size: 6″ x 5.9″ x 1.8″

Other features: Smooth Scaling feature creates smooth transitions across depth changes; Fish I.D. feature helps identify fish targets; water temperature sensor included; water speed sensor included

Product Summary & Fish Finder Reviews:

The Garmin Echo 551dv is a standalone fish finder in the same class as the Humminbird HELIX DI and the Lowrance Elite-5 HDI. Featuring DownVu sonar scanning — Garmin’s version of down view imaging — along with HD-ID 77/200 kHz scanning, the Echo 551dv delivers crisp, clear sonar images of bottom structure in depths of up to 2,300 feet on a vivid high-resolution 5-inch color display.

The Echo 551dv features “smooth scaling” which creates smooth transitions between different depths and bottom structure giving you a screen view that’s easier to follow and read. Fish I.D. functionality displays fish as fish icons instead of standard arches to help you identify fish more easily and with more certainty.

Included with the unit is the standard transom mount as well as a trolling motor mount, giving you options for mounting depending on your specific boat setup.

Upsides of The Best Fish Finder and GPS Comb:

Fish finders are a necessity for any fisherman who wants to go on the hunt for the best catch. If you are looking to stay in your local area and take out a little boat or even fish from the shore, you can likely go without a GPS. IF you are an adventurer, the pro fish finder, or the courageous fisherman always looking for a catch that tops the last one, a GPS is really the only way to do that thoroughly.

Plotting Your Course

So what are some things having a GPS paired with your fish finder will do? For starters, it will set the course for your trip. If you like to have a plan to follow, the GPS is able to give you a map going through the prime fishing grounds. Without a GPS, this organized way of traveling by water is not possible. Many of these combos come with maps already loaded, but you will want to look into getting a device that allows you to customize charts and get back to your departure location easily.

Pinning Your Location

There is nothing better than being able to pin down your exact location so you can return. Once you find that ideal spot, your dream spot, going back to it every single time is possible with a GPS on your fish finder. You can make it down as your fishing hole and get pinpointing accuracy.

Finding Depth

Getting the lay of the land is not possible with a regular fish finder. The reason this is important is because seeing the bottom of the waters makes your depth readings easy to figure out, and this will make fishing better in the long run.

Getting Water Temperature

Any expert fisher will know the difference between cold water or warm water species. But knowing the difference doesn’t help you find the fish in the cold or warm areas! Using a fish finder will help you to know where is warm, where is cold, and where both meet. This is surely a handy feature to have in a fish finder!

Tips and Tricks for Results with GPS

Though you can be the most expert fisherman and could have used a fishfinder many times before, getting one with a GPS will change the game. You will have a new level of information about fishing to steward. These new features can be hard to decipher, so it’s good to know some tips and tricks before you start using one!


This feature marks various depths in the ocean as well as shipping lanes. When you get on the water, buoys will plot these for you which is a great help.


It is common for fish to surround a shipwrecked area. A feature of these maps that are plotted with a GPS+fish finder is letting you know where the wrecks are as to be more prepared.

Contour Lines

Did you know hills and valleys exist in the ocean depths? With contour lines, you will be able to see these so you can plan accordingly as you fish.

Seafloor Hardness

Fish finders will help you to determine if the floor you are hovering over gravel, rock, mud, or sand. This happens using colors in shades of red.

Weather Predictor

As this is a GPS, it knows exactly where your vessel is at all times. This means it can get a perfectly accurate prediction of what the weather is like and what it is going to be like later one. You will get basic things like rain, snow, cloudy, and more in-depth things like fast-flowing lakes, aggressive rivers, and ice fishing. Being on the water is an unpredictable thing. Sometimes your smartphones loses signal very quickly and you are stuck out at sea unaware. Being able to check your fish finder’s GPS to predict weather patterns is a blessing.

Bucketlist Worthy Catches

Now that you’ll be able to become an expert fisher with a large advantage seeing as you have the best fish finder on the market, you need to know which fish to make your prey. We want to tell you all about which fish to catch at least once in your lifetime.


In both tropical and subtropical waters you will find the sailfish. This breed is gorgeous, sporting a variety of blue shades. You will need your fish finder to catch this one because they only swim in waters deeper than 30 feet! The reason this kind of fish is a challenge to catch is because they are able to swim up to EIGHTY miles an hour! They are the fastest amongst the aquatic organisms, and as fast as your car!

Yellowfish Tuna

These fish are some of the most beloved catches in the world. They are extremely sought after by fishermen. The reason for this is because of their strength and ability to put up a fight. Only those fishermen determined to fight till the bitter end with their prey will win here. The reason your GPS fish finder works wonders in catching Yellowfish is because they are found in warm waters.



Another name for this type of fish is Dolphinfish or Mahi Mahi. These are very expensive fish, and the reward for catching them is large. But as a fisherman, we know you’re all about the hunt. These gorgeous fish are good at hiding and escaping because they duck under objects such as seaweed, logs, and buoys. It will be a game of hide and seek for you both; are you up for the chase? On top of having to chase and find them, they are also known to leap up out of the water in order to escape your hook. Having these fish to aspire to is a worthy goal!

Having a bucket list for the fish you want to catch in your lifetime is such a fun exercise. With a fish finder, especially one with a GPS, you will be an expert fisher in no time; reaching your goals every step of the way!

Wrapping Up:

A fish finder might seem like just another expense on top of everything else you need on the water, but when it comes to actually catching fish, nothing on your boat or in your tackle box will be as beneficial as a quality fish finder.

Whether you’re a new boat owner or a fish finder veteran looking to upgrade, we hope our review of the top fish finders on the market helped you find the one that’s right for you.

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