Best Fish Finders 2021 – Reviews, Types and Buying Guide

In the market for a new fish finder? Want to catch even more fish? We’ve gathered up the best fish finders out there in 2021.

Any fisherman or woman is always trying to catch more fish and have more fun. It’s why we do it and is what we seek as anglers. We check on lake water temperatures and try and learn how they influence fish behavior. We check the weather, the moon phases, wind direction & speed, we take our lucky lures and do our best to outsmart those fish so we can enjoy our sport more.

But perhaps the biggest factor in helping you catch more fish is by using a quality, technologically advanced fish finder and associated GPS equipment. Find the best fish finder isn’t always necessary – finding the best finder for you is what you’re after – in my opinion. Do need a fish finder for freshwater or saltwater? Downscan? Sidescan? Livescope? Or a portable fish finder for the fishing dock or a fish finder for ice fishing? We’ve broken out the huge topic of fish finders into easy to digest sections in hopes to make your journey to purchasing a fish finder easier.

*Note: all products on this website are linked to other websites. Should you purchase something from there, we may earn a small commission. This doesn’t influence our ranking behavior, we utilize ranking data from the source where we find the products.

Anyways, let’s jump right in!

Top 10 Best Selling Fish Finders

According to Amazon.com, these are the Top 10 Best Selling Fish Finders. There are some things to consider. Keep in mind that these are scattered throughout the various types of fish finders. We go into each type later in this guide. Check the Table of Contents to more quickly locate what you’re looking for. These are likely the best selling items because they are a great area where price and quality meet. This is simply a starting place for you and to show you what the fish finder market looks like right now.

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Types of Fish Finders

There are generally 3 types of fish finders out there: Portable or Handheld, Wireless or Castable and Fixed Mounted fish finders. We’ll explain a bit below.

Portable or Handheld

These are going to be fish finders that are entirely self contained and are easily portable for ice fishing or dock fishing, or are even small enough to be handheld and easily carried to your fishing location. Some examples of the best selling handheld or portable fishfinders are:

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Wireless and Castable Fish Finders

These little things are neat, especially if you regularly fish from shore, a kayak or the dock. These are lightweight wireless fish finders that report their readings via bluetooth back to an app on your smartphone. You can attach them to a line on a dedicated fishing rod, cast it out, and get back sonar images, depth, temp and other data right in your palm. Pretty dang neat. Overall, if you’re a kayak angler or bound to the shore or fishing dock, these would come in quite handy, especially for the price.

Pros

  • Completely wireless
  • Easily portable
  • Convenient for kayak fishermen
  • Simple All in One solution for some anglers
  • Inexpensive

Cons

  • Limited data and battery life
  • Less features than mountable units
  • No GPS capability typically

 

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Fixed Mounted Fish Finders

These are what you would consider you’re classic boat mounted fish finders. They are powerful units that have a separate transducer (sometimes multiple) and provide a plethera of data about the lake and the bottom composition. Most often they also have GPS technology with lake maps and navigational features including the marking waypoints to aid in getting home or to mark a hot fishing spot. These are computers for you boat!

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Fish Finder Features & Core Parts

Fish finders these days have so many bells & whistles it will make your head spin. They are full blown computers – essentially electronic brains for your boat. The features that are right for you may not be perfect for another angler. As with everything, the “best fish finder” isn’t best for everyone. It all depends on the features you want & need for the type of fishing you most often do, and of course cost is always a factor for most.

Many fish finder features are neat, but are just added to spruce up offerings and attract more fishermen with the marketing around those whizzy-but-useless features, so keep an eye out. If a feature seems like it is overkill, it probably is overkill. Understanding the core features that are offered is important in your decision.

Displays

Which display you choose for your fish finder is important because your display is where the rubber meets the road. It is how you interact with your equipment. It is what you look at and use to control options and is how you actually use your fish finder. When choosing a display, keep some key items in mind. Basic things relating to all electronic displays come into play here: the size of it, color ranges, contrast, brightness, touchscreen and level of detail that you will be able to discern on the screen. Anti-glare coatings are something to consider as well.

The number of pixels in your display is the most important factor in determining the level of detail it will be capable of displaying. If you add color to that display, it will produce highly crisp and detailed images and other information. Most anglers agree that color displays instead of black & white make things easier to see, especially when out in the sun.

The bigger the screen, the easier things will be to see. Pretty simple there. Overall, a color display with high pixel amount and a larger screen size are some key things to shop for when finding your next fish finder.

Transducers

The transducer part of your fish finder it what allows you to…well…actually find fish. It is the eyes and ears of your unit. To get a bit deeper, it is technically the ‘ears’ of your fish finder unit, since it uses sound waves to create an image of what is beneath the water – including the bottom composition, depth, and any lunkers that may be lurking. The transducer unit typically has a temperature sensor coupled with it so that you can be aware of the water temperature near the surface where you’re fishing. If you’re curious about water temperatures, we publish many current lake water temperatures for select lakes around the country, as well as water temps for the Gulf of Mexico.

 

GPS

Many of today’s modern fish finders feature GPS technology that is inbuilt within the unit. The global positioning system that allows us to navigate roadways with accuracy throughout the United States and around the world is also incredibly useful for us anglers. Not does it allow for basic navigation that can help you get home safely in unfamiliar waters or in the event of heavy fog (I’ve been there – very scary!), they also allow you to set waypoints and markers when you find a honey hole.

Using GPS on your boat, this will allow you return to those productive spots again and again. On some inland lakes and reservoirs that are used for flood control purposes, the rising and falling of the water level throughout the season or from year to year can impact your ability to accurately find the precise location where you caught fish the last time.

Scanning Directions

In general, fish finders use one or both methods of scanning that produce the image you see on your fish finder display. These two methods are sidescan and downscan.

Sidescan scans to the side of the boat, which produces an image of the water and bottom of whatever is to one or each side of the boat. This method requires you to be near the area you are wanting to scan for fish. It also allows you to scan water that you have no driven over with your boat – so there is less disturbance from your engine and craft. This works better in shallower water. Sidescanning while fishing under docks near the shore would produce a great image of what you’re casting towards.

Downscan scans directly beneath the boat. If you bottom fish frequently, you would get good use out of a downscan transducer unit. It produces an image of the water column and bottom composition you are fishing over. It can produce very detailed images, especially in deep water. Over more shallow water, downscan can get distorted with “noise” fairly easily.

Finding a fish finder with both sidescan and downscan would be ideal to fit all scenarios you might encounter.

 

 

 

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