A depth finder or fish finder is a tool that anglers and boaters use so they know what depth they are running their boat in. They are also what anglers use to locate fish beneath the surface at nearly any depth range. With today’s advanced technology, most new depth finders allow anglers to see fish, structure and cover that they never knew were there before.
How to Choose the Right Depth Finder
When choosing a depth finder for their boat, anglers have a wide variety of options. Most depth finders these days are built with advanced technology and have features such as side imaging, down imaging, WIFI and GPS.
Choosing the right depth finder will vary from angler to angler. Tournament anglers may want a more high-end unit with additional features that make it easier to find fish more quickly. On the other hand, anglers simply fun fishing may just want a unit that doesn’t come with a ton of extra features, but will get the job done.
Depth finders are a very helpful tool for navigating and finding fish, especially when fishing offshore structure. They are a must have for most anglers. So, to help narrow your search, we’ve created a list some of the best depth finders that can help you find and catch more fish during your future days on the water. We have listed a more expensive option with additional features as well as a budget option for three different depth finder brands.
When it comes to depth finders, my personal favorite brand is Garmin. I use Garmin units on all my boats and really enjoy using them. They are very user friendly and have some awesome features that help anglers find fish more quickly and easily.
Top Pick: https://amzn.to/31LiY3N
My top pick is the Garmin ECHOMAP Ultra. It has a large 10-inch touchscreen, making it more convenient to use and easier to view multiple features at once on the wide screen. This unit is equipped with LakeMaster mapping of thousands of lakes throughout the country. It comes with a transducer that can be connected to your trolling motor. It is equipped with the full line of Panoptix Sonar, including LiveScope. It is easy to use and is a very high-quality depth finder that simplifies the process of finding fish. It shows minor details on the bottom and throughout the water column that other depth finding units do not.
- 10” keyed-assist IPS touchscreen combo with all the built-in tools you need to find and catch fish
- Included transducer provides Garmin CHIRP traditional sonar and Ultra High-Definition ClearVü scanning sonar and SideVü scanning sonar with 20% greater range
- Vivid scanning sonar color palettes make it easy to distinguish targets and structure
- Built-in support for the full line of Panoptix sonars, including the Panoptix LiveScope system (transducers sold separately)
- Share sonar, maps, waypoints and routes with other ECHOMAP Ultra 10” and 12” units as well as ECHOMAP Plus and UHD 7” and 9” units
- Built-in Quickdraw Contours mapping software instantly creates personalized fishing maps on-screen with 1’ contours as you fish
- Quick-disconnect bail mount
- Preloaded worldwide basemap; compatible with optional BlueChart g3 charts and BlueChart g3 Vision cartography with integrated data from Navionics and Auto Guidance technology to be used for planning purposes only
Budget Option: https://amzn.to/3fDxlPT
My top budget pick is the Garmin Striker Vivid. Although this depth finder is a quarter of the cost of the ECHOMAP, it has a good sized 7-inch screen. Anglers can easily see fish and structure, mark waypoints, and view contour mapping. If you’re looking for a reliable, but lowest cost depth finder that will get the job done on the water, this is the unit for you.
- Easy-to-use 7” color fishfinder with new vivid scanning sonar color palettes to easily distinguish fish and structure
- supports garmin chirp traditional sonar plus chirp clearvü and chirp sidevü scanning sonars (requires compatible transducer)
- high-sensitivity gps to mark waypoints, create routes and view your boat’s speed
- includes built-in quickdraw contours mapping
- wi-fi connectivity allows you to connect to the activecaptain app with compatible smartphone to transfer waypoints, receive smart notifications (including software update notifications) and access the garmin quickdraw community
- Included components: STRIKER Vivid 7sv fishfinder; GT52HW-TM transducer; Power/data cable; 12-pin to dual 4-pin transducer adapter cable; Tilt/swivel mount; Hardware; Garmin bumper sticker; Documentation
Another very well-known and reliable depth finder brand is Hummingbird.
Top Pick: https://amzn.to/2PyxyJq
My top Hummingbird pick is the Helix 7 Chirp MSI (Mega Side Imaging). This depth finder is equipped with a 7-inch screen and contour mapping of more than 21,000 lakes and bodies of water. It also had mega side and down imaging, and includes a transducer and mounting hardware. This is a very high-quality unit with many additional tools to help anglers find fish more quickly at any depth range.
- 7-Inch screen with 800H x 480V resolution color TFT display
- Includes Navionics+ (U.S. And Canada) SD card for out-of-the-box map coverage of over 21, 000 lakes and waterbodies
- Mega Side Imaging: see the world below like never before with crystal-clear viewing out to 125 feet on either side of your boat
- Mega Down Imaging: Get unprecedented underwater clarity with coverage down to 125 feet below your boat
- Includes transducer and mounting hardware, power cable and gimbal mounting bracket
Budget Option: https://amzn.to/2R7AFbN
My top budget choice is the Hummingbird Helix 7 Chirp GPS G3. It is similar to the Helix MSI, just less expensive and doesn’t come with mega side imaging. It still has a 7 inch screen and includes lake maps. If you’re in the market for a depth finder that with not a lot of extra features but still gets the job done, I would highly recommend this unit.
- 7-Inch screen with 800H x 480V resolution color TFT display
- Switch Fire sonar with two display modes
- See a clearer view beneath your boat. It’s THE perfect match of CHIRP sonar and Down Imaging detail
- Hummingbird CHIRP digital sonar is engineered to help you see individual fish, clearly identify bait and structure, and REACH greater depths and range
- Includes transducer and mounting hardware, power cable and gimbal mounting bracket.Power Draw: 800 mA
Lastly, Lowrance is another very highly recognized depth finder brand.
Top Pick: https://amzn.to/3dxabI8
My top Lowrance pick is the Lowrance Elite FS 7. It has a 7 inch screen and is equipped with active imaging, as well as chirp, side scan and down scan sonar. It comes with contour mapping of nearly 9,000 lake is the U.S. If you’re in the market to find fish faster with a super reliable unit, you can’t go wrong with this depth finder.
- ACTIVE IMAGING 3-IN-1: See structure and cover with a new level of refined detail with the included Active Imaging 3-in-1 sonar, featuring CHIRP, SideScan and DownScan with FishReveal.
- ACTIVETARGET READY: See high-resolution images of fish swimming around structure and responding to your lure – as it happens – with support for ActiveTarget Live Sonar.
- FULL NETWORKING: Build the complete Elite Fishing System with integrated wireless, NMEA 2000 and Ethernet connectivity – add Halo Dome Radar, Outboard Pilot or share sonar, charting, waypoints, and other user data between displays.
- 7-INCH MULTI TOUCH: The 7-inch, high-resolution, multi-touch screen is easy to use and install.
- C-MAP CONTOUR+: From finding key fishing areas, like ledges, drop-offs and ditches to navigating with precision to fish-holding areas, you will have more success on the water with high-resolution 1-foot contours on 8,900 U.S. lakes.
Budget Option: https://amzn.to/3mlDmBO
My budget pick is the Lowrance Hook Reveal 5 SplitShot. It has a 5 inch screen, is equipped with down scan imaging and chirp sonar, and includes maps of nearly 4,000 U.S. lakes. This depth finder is affordable and gets the job done.
- FISHREVEAL: Fish are easier to find and easier to identify. FishReveal combines the target separation of Lowrance CHIRP sonar and the high-resolution images of structure from DownScan Imaging to makes fish light up on your display.
- HIGH-DETAIL INLAND MAPS: Get high-detail maps of almost 4,000 US inland lakes. Create custom contour maps with even greater detail over any map or GPS plotter with Genesis Live, so you can get onto the fish faster.
- SPLITSHOT TRANSDUCER: Perfect for anglers who want the best views below the boat, SplitShot features the fish-finding capability of wide-angle high CHIRP sonar and the high-resolution images of fish-holding structure from DownScan Imaging.
- AUTOTUNING SONAR: Spend more time fishing and less time reworking your sonar settings with HOOK Reveal autotuning sonar, which ensures you get the best sonar image every time by automatically adjusting settings as fishing conditions change.
- 5-INCH DISPLAY: Enjoy crisp and clear views of your display no matter the conditions – even in direct sunlight – with excellent clarity and daylight visibility of HOOK Reveal’s SolarMAX display.
Back to You
If you are looking to add a depth finder to your boat or upgrade your current unit, be sure to check out one of the fish finders listed above. Each of these units make it easier to locate fish and help simplify an angler’s day on the water. Add one of these units to your boat and I’m sure you won’t be disappointed!