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The Best Fish-Finders for Boating Trips

a fish-finder next to the steering wheel of a boat that's on a lake
FedBul/Shutterstock

To some, the concept of fishing is all they need. They love lying back on the shoreline in a cozy chair or rocking slowly with a friend or two in a canoe while their line meanders with the current. For others, they’d better catch a fish or they swear it’s the last time they come out to this empty lake again. If you proudly find yourself in the latter category, then here are a few fish-finders we think will improve your casting game.

What to Look for in Your Next Fish-Finder

Consider these factors when making a selection:

  • Depth Detection: Fish-finders are an ideal buy for your boating trips because, among all of their convenient features, they’re capable of discovering and pinpointing objects at varying levels of depth below the underside of your boat. Try to find an option that can map out more than just a few feet around your boat, not because there’s added chance you’ll haul in a big one but to protect you and your boat from what can’t be seen on the surface.
  • Readability: Your convenience and overall safety are reinforced with fish-finders with easy-to-read screen displays and interfaces. A device that’s easy to manage and acquaint yourself with without any fuss saves you from having to run through the settings over and over again.
  • Adaptability: There aren’t many certainties to fishing, except one: no fishing experience is ever the same. That’s why you should seek out fish-finders that are capable of working in a wide variety of settings and weather conditions. Find a device that can withstand peak heat during a summer afternoon or one that still functions at its highest level, even when you’re standing over a frozen lake.

Top Choice: Garmin Striker Plus 4 with Dual-Beam Transducer

A rigged, black and blue fish-finder that features a six button interface and backside for easy mounting.

A rugged little piece of equipment, this Garmin Striker Plus 4 can contour up to two million acres of shorelines and depths. As far as digital tracking goes, this fish-finder utilizes underwater surveillance features that will efficiently guide you wherever a bite is to be had. It includes a dual-beam transducer with Garmin Chirp sonar technology that provides crystal-clear imagery of what lies below. Its built-in GPS also allows fishers to set waypoints, create routes, and even view the speed at which you’re traveling. 

Top Choice

Garmin Striker Plus 4 with Dual-Beam transducer, 010-01870-00

A durable, GPS-forward fish-finder that can map up to two million acres of a user's surroundings.

Best Budget: LUCKY Wired Fish-Finder

A pocket-sized black and yellow fish-finder that is corded and features a three-button interface.

Wired for a constant source of power and pocket-sized for easy portability on and off the boat, this LUCKY Wired Fish-Finder uses a 45-degree detect angle that can read up to 328 feet below and around your boat. It’s an ideal choice for amateur boaters due in large part to its simple home interface, which features just three buttons: Setup, Enter, and Power. And while there is an assortment of details on the screen when in use—from nearby fish and sensitivity to weed and rock indicators—each icon is large, readable, and requires little effort to remember. This all comes to you in one of the most affordably priced packages around.

Best Budget

LUCKY Wired Fish Finder Sonar Sensor Transducer Water Depth Finder Portable Fish Finder for Fishing

A conveniently priced fish-finder that maintains a wired surge of energy and is operational in both frigid and blistering temperatures.

Best Premium Sonar: Lowrance Hook Reveal 5 Fish-Finder

A horizontally-situated fish-finder with a 5-inch screen and an eight button interface on the right side of the device.

A premium choice that employs some of the finest imagery of any available devices, this Lowrance Hook Reveal 5 combines a wide range of qualities to make fish easy to find, day or night. Like the best fish-finders you’ll come across, this option utilizes high-resolution sonar scanning to lead you down the lake. However, it is the implementation of a FishReveal technology, combining the target separation of Lowrance CHIRP sonar with the quality visuals of DownScan Imaging, that will really light up your trip and your fish. Additional perks include the device’s auto-tuning sonar capabilities, which rework your visual settings as the conditions of your surroundings change.

Best Premium Sonar

Lowrance HOOK Reveal 5x SplitShot - 5-inch Fish Finder with SplitShot Transducer, GPS Plotter

This fish-finder utilizes some of the best high-resolution sonar imagery and auto tuning features for the ideal fishing experience.

Best Budget Sonar: LUCKY Portable Fish-Finder

A red and black fish-finder that features a four-button interface and a wired 26-foot transducer.

Easy on the wallet while packing a dependable collection of the same qualities you can expect from top-dollar choices, this LUCKY Fish-Finder offers portability, readability, and great depth detection. While smaller than other sonar tracking devices, this fish-finder treats users to an updated 2.4-inch TFT color LCD screen, allowing for a much clearer display that picks up underwater contour, water temperature, and fish qualities (i.e., big or small, distance below). In regard to depth, this fish-finder uses a 26FT wired operating distance that can reach up to 328 feet of depth detection. It can sustain up to five hours of use on a single charge, but because it runs on a rechargeable battery, users can just as easily attach the device to a portable charging dock for all-day use.

Best Budget Sonar

LUCKY Portable Fish Finder Handheld Kayak Fish Finders Wired Fish Depth Finder Sonar Sensor Transducer for Boat Fishing Sea Fishing

A small device that's mighty in regard to its crystal clear LCD projections and 328-foot depth detection.

Best for Smart Devices: Vexilar SP200 T-Box Smartphone Fish-Finder

A small black Wi-Fi box with a mounting system that features pre-drilled holes for optional accessories.

When it comes to your ideal fishing experience, the name of the game is convenience, and this Vexilar SP200 T-Box Smartphone Fish-Finder understands how to get more out of your everyday phone or tablet. Combining patented Wi-Fi signal technology with the tech you already keep in your back pocket, this option creates a sonar fish-finder out of smart devices through a mounted system and downloadable app that provides a user with all of the same functions they would expect in a traditional choice. Everything from water temperature and depth indicators to surface clarity and fish presence is picked up and transmitted to a user’s device without delay. The mounted T-BOX requires no cell phone coverage to send out a signal, as it creates its own hotspot and is guaranteed to work anywhere in the world.

Best for Smart Devices

Vexilar SP200 T-Box Smartphone Fish Finder, Black

An exceptionally inventive device that creates a fish-finder out of your everyday smartphone or tablet.

Hollis Mills Hollis Mills
Hollis Mills is a freelance journalist and a content writer for LifeSavvy. He has a bachelor's degree in English literature, and as an undergraduate at Texas A&M University, Hollis wrote and edited for the nationally recognized student newspaper, The Battalion. When he's not writing, you can find him complaining about Boston Celtics basketball or giving plenty of peanut butter biscuits to his always-hungry Catahoula dog, Blue. Read Full Bio »

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