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Best Fish Finder GPS Combo for 2024 - Reviews & Buying Guide


Reviewed by: John Baltes
Last Updated:
best garmin fish finder


Summary
Specifications
Pros & Cons

A trusted name in marine electronics, Lowrance’s high-end fish finders rival, and in some cases surpass, the performance of the outstanding Humminbird Helix and Solix series.

The Lowrance HDS Live 12 is clearly designed for anglers who make a living on the water, whether that’s tournament fishermen or chapter captains. A head-to-head competitor with the Solix 12, this Lowrance features remarkable bleeding-edge tech.

In short, feature for feature, it meets or exceeds the performance of the Solix 12, with the exception of overall image quality. There, Humminbird reigns supreme.

The HDS Live 12 sports a 12-inch diagonal screen with awesome resolution. Crisp and clear even in bright sun, it’s touch-capable and augmented by the usual keypad, enabling accessibility no matter the conditions.

Powered by the amazing Simrad Active Imaging 3-in-1 Transom Mount Transducer, expect CHIRP, traditional sonar, and side-imaging. Offering a bit more range in side-scanning than the Solix, it probably surrenders the ultra-high frequencies to Humminbird, perhaps explaining why its image quality can’t quite compete.

That’s not saying the HDS Live doesn’t provide good images - they’re amazing!

Some specifications are not available from either Lowrance or Simrad Yachting (the same company since 2006), such as transducer beam angle or target separation. Normally, that would give us pause: if you’re proud of a product’s performance, you’re going to offer that info! But real-world performance has demonstrated the HDS Live 12’s abilities beyond doubt, and we wouldn’t hesitate to use this fish finder.

In CHIRP mode, water penetration is awesome, punching down to 1,000 feet. DownScan is a very-high-frequency mode, roughly analogous to Humminbird’s MEGA system, providing incredible crisp, clear images at the cost of depth.

But where Lowrance kills its competition is the integration of GPS and mapping tech. Here, their experience in marine navigation is more than evident. The excellent C-Map US Inland mapping and US/Canada Navionics+ card make GPS plotting and charting a breeze. And like Humminbird, Lowrance offers a real-time mapping feature, Genesis Live. Capable of creating ½-foot contour maps, it’s tournament-winning and customer-pleasing tech at its best.

And of course, the HDS Live series offers outstanding connectivity options, including SmartSteer control for the Xi5 trolling motor and Outboard Pilot, an aftermarket course-plotting system for single and dual outboards.

Does the Lowrance edge out the Humminbird, recapturing the top spot in our reviews?

We think it does, and if you can afford it, it’s simply the best fishfinder on the market this year.

Display Size: 12”

Resolution: 1280 X 800

Frequencies: CHIRP (83/200kHz) as well as traditional 455/800kHz

Side Scanning: Yes, 150’

Maximum Depth: CHIRP 1,000’; DownScan 300’

Transducer Angle: ?

Target Separation: ?

GPS: Yes

Maps: Yes

PROS:

  • Awesome screen and image quality
  • Good depth and range
  • CHIRP and standard sonar options
  • Powerful GPS and maps
  • Lake mapping feature
  • Pairs with your mobile
  • Powerful connectivity options

CONS:

  • Expensive!
Summary
Specifications
Pros & Cons

Garmin’s new ECHOMAP ULTRA 2 is its current flagship, unseating the discontinued - but far from obsolete - ECHOMAP ULTRA 126SV.
And while Garmin isn’t disclosing much in the way of technical specifications, you can be pretty sure that those numbers match or exceed the published info on the ULTRA 126SV.

So let’s get into the details. The ULTRA 2 comes in two screen sizes: a 10-inch and a 12-inch diagonal. For a flagship purchase, we’d opt for the larger screen for better legibility.

Garmin’s screen tech is outstanding, and the color palette is vibrant. It’s also easy to read in full sunlight, and legible at relatively extreme angles.
Like the ECHOMAP ULTRA 126SV, you can count on legibility that allows more than one angler to share this 12-inch screen without compromising the ability to notice details at a glance.

As you’d expect from Garmin’s extensive experience designing easy-to-navigate UIs, they’ve really nailed this one, and if there’s any one dominant selling point for Garmin, it’s that their fish finders are the easiest to use on the water, hands down.

In the real world, this means that after a few minutes familiarizing yourself with the touchscreen - another reason to go big - you won’t need to study the manual or bring it with you fishing. The UI is intuitive, simple, and no more challenging than your smart phone.

The ULTRA 2 comes equipped with the GT56UHD-TM transducer, also available for the ULTRA 126SV. It provides outstanding performance in water less than 60 feet deep, making it an ideal choice for freshwater fishing.

It also supports the Livescope system, Garmin’s answer to Lowrance’s LIVE and Humminbird’s Live Target. Able to capture live video with amazing detail, this is a game-changing tool.

The GT56 is equipped with a variety of CHIRP sonar options, including ClearVu down imaging and SideVu side imaging.
On the big 12-inch screen, down- and side-scanning CHIRP sonar become your best friends on the water, and in most places you’ll fish bass, crappie, walleye, or perch, you’ll be able to side scan for fish as you move, covering lots of water really quickly before moving in for the kill with down-imaging or the optional Livescope.

Garmin’s industry-leading mapping software, pre-loaded maps, and GPS tech will revolutionize the way you fish.
And robust networking options allow you to control Garmin Force trolling motors directly from your screen.

A direct rival for the best Humminbird and Lowrance have to offer, the Garmin ECHOMAP ULTRA 2 is a tournament-winning piece of fishing tech.

Display Size: 12”

Resolution: 1280 x 800

Frequencies: single channel CHIRP, 70/83/200 kHz, L, M, H CHIRP; ClearVu 260/455/800/1000/1200 kHz; SideVu 260/455/800/1000/1200 kHz

Maximum Depth: ?

Transducer Angles: ?

Target Separation: ?

GPS: Yes

Maps: Yes

PROS:

• Awesome screen
• Very easy to use; excellent UI
• Excellent depth and range
• ClearVü and SideVü
• CHIRP and standard sonar options that cover a very wide range of frequencies
• Powerful networking options
• Quickdraw Contours mapping
• Built -in maps and GPS

CONS:

• Adding the Livescope system raises the price quite a bit

Summary
Specifications
Pros & Cons

Garmin’s ECHOMAP Ultra 126sv is marketed as a direct rival to Lowrance’s HDS Live and Humminbird’s Solix, offering competitive cutting-edge tech, awesome networking, mapping, and chartplotting.

And in shallow water - less than 60 feet - its very high frequency sonar offers better, crisper images than the competition, no question about it!
Garmin equips its flagship fish finder with a 12 inch diagonal screen that’s big, easy to read, and easy to adjust for any conditions. Expect awesome and a vivid color palette supported by powerful back lighting. In short, not only are the images it displays very nicely drawn, but they’re also completely legible even in direct, bright sunlight.
It makes us slightly nervous that Garmin doesn’t report its maximum viewing angles, buyt real-world use relieves this fear. Whatever the actual numbers, standing off to the side or sharing the view with a buddy won’t cause any problems.

As we’ve come to expect from Garmin, the UI is incredible: intuitive, clean, and easy to learn. Especially iIn comparison to Lowrance and Humminbird, you’ll find you’re up to speed much, much faster.

The touchscreen’s controls are functionally identical to those on your smartphone, too, so if you’re used to scrolling and magnifying with the swipe of your fingers, you’ll know exactly what to do.

Garmin equips the ECHOMAP Ultra 126sv with the awesome GT56UHD transducer, probably the best option for “shallow” water. At the depth that its 1200 kHz penetrates, roughly 60 feet or so, it’s unrivaled in its detail.

That’s a big deal.

Images and detail are first rate on the ECHOMAP Ultra.

And the GT56UHD transducer is “LiveScope” capable, meaning that it can provide video-like images in real time. That’s game-changing tech that rivals the HDS Live, and it really can change the way you fish.

SideVü and ClearVü are supported as well, and we’re pretty impressed with what each of them has to offer, especially given the supported frequencies. “Impressive” is the best word for them.

Networking options for the ECHOMAP Ultra 126sv are powerful and easy to pair, allowing you to link your trolling motor or other supported electronics, including a smartphone, via the ActiveCaptain app. This unlocks some powerful chartplotting, planning, and navigation options, and is among the best in the business.
Garmin’s Quickdraw Contours is an exceptional addition to the ECHOMAP Ultra 126sv. Capable of contour mapping in 1-foot intervals, and sharing these maps with the Garmin community, you'll always know where to fish. Add to this preloaded BlueChart and LakeVu maps, and you’re covered pretty munich anywhere there’s water deep enough to float your boat.

Taken together, the features of the ECHOMAP Ultra 126sv are impressive, and there's little question that Garmin has closed the gap with Lowrance and Humminbird.

Display Size: 12”

Resolution: 1280 x 800

Frequencies: 70/83/200 kHz CHIRP; ClearVü and SideVü 260/455/800/1000/1200 kHz

Side Scanning: Yes, 500’

Maximum Depth: Traditional: 800 ft freshwater; ClearVü: 400 ft

Transducer Angles: Traditional CHIRP: 24-16; ClearVü 0.52 x 52 @ 1000 kHz, 0.64 x 35 @ 800 kHz, 1.1 x 52 @ 455 kHz; SideVü 0.52 x 52 @ 1000 kHz, 0.64 x 35 @ 800 kHz,

1.1 x 52 @ 455 kHz

Target Separation: ?

GPS: Yes
Maps: Yes

PROS:
• Awesome screen
• Very easy to use; excellent UI
• Excellent depth and range
• ClearVü and SideVü
• CHIRP and standard sonar options that cover a very wide range of frequencies
• Excellent networking options
• Quickdraw Contours mapping
• Built -in maps and GPS

CONS:
???

Summary
Specifications
Pros & Cons

Lowrance’s Elite FS series is a direct competitor for Humminbird’s Helix series, and in our opinion, it’s a very worthy rival. Essentially similar to the HDS Live, minus some of the more advanced connectivity features, it’s an excellent buy for serious anglers who demand superb sonar and screen detail, great UI, and options like Active Target.

I think the 9-inch screen is the better buy of the two options. Of course, it’s more affordable, and while not as readable as the HDS Live 12 - nor blessed with extreme-angle legibility - the Elite FS 9 is remarkable in its own right.

Screen and image quality are excellent, falling a tad short of the Humminbird Helix, and legibility suffers a tad in direct, bright sunlight while using features like Active Target.

But Active Target is itself an awesome feature that Hummibird doesn’t offer, providing live, full-motion video produced by sonar.

Nothing short of amazing, it’s only available on the HDS Live and, now, the Elite FS series.

Active Target is maybe the most incredible addition to fish finders that I’ve seen.

This fish finder is powered by the same awesome transducer as the HDS Live, and image quality, target separation, depth, and range are just as good. In the real world, that makes it an awesome choice on lakes and rivers, inshore and offshore.

Moreover, Lowrance includes the same excellent mapping, course charting, and GPS software, making this a very full-featured option for every serious fisherman to consider. And with access to the C-Map Genesis website - where you’ll be able to download tens of thousands of accurate topo maps of water near you - well, that’s a game-changer!
So is the Elite FS 9 really outgunned by the HDS-12 Live?

For anglers who make a living on the water, yes. Many pros run more than one unit and need networking, including trolling motor and outboard control. Especially for charter captains running inshore and offshore trips in big boats, this tech really pays off.

But for 99% of anglers, the Elite FS 9 is an impressive, capable fish finder with the features that matter. And now that it sports Active Target, too, it’d be the fish finder I’d reach for myself.

Check out our full review: Lowrance Elite FS 9 Review

Display Size: 9”

Resolution: 800 x 480

Frequencies: CHIRP (50/83/200kHz) as well as traditional 455/800kHz

Side Scanning: Yes, 150’

Maximum Depth: CHIRP 1,000’; DownScan 300’

Transducer Angle: ?

Target Separation: ?

GPS: Yes

Maps: Yes

PROS:
• Excellent screen and image quality
• Good depth and range
• CHIRP and standard sonar options
• Powerful GPS and maps
• Now with Active Target!
• Lake mapping feature
• Pairs with your mobile

CONS:
• ???

Summary
Specifications
Pros & Cons

The new Solix series may be the most powerful fish finders Humminbird has ever offered.

Loaded with ultra-high-end electronics, the Solix 12 CHIRP MEGA SI+ G3 Fish Finder/GPS Chartplotter is a mouthful, but it really helps Humminbird position itself as a constant innovator.

Head-to-head, the Solix’s only real competition is Lowrance’s excellent HDS Live series, which, in our view, maintains a narrow lead with its GPS and mapping edging out Humminbird.

Humminbird is well known for its screen and image quality, and this Solix sports a 12.1-inch diagonal that’s simply outstanding, even when the sun does its best to make the screen illegible. Crisp and clear, it makes the most of the Solix’s sophisticated electronics, providing sharp graphics and unparalleled images. And even the awesome Lowrance HDS Live gives up some ground to Humminbird on this front.

There is a larger screen offered in the Solix series, and for pros who make a living on the water, that might be a sound investment. For serious anglers with day jobs, the 12 is about right, offering plenty of screen and saving considerable cash over the larger model.

As I mentioned above, image quality is one of the Solix’s selling points, and with the MEGA upgrades, you get ultra fine-grained detail created by very high-frequency sonar. Now, this will reduce the Solix’s range a touch, but that’s a trade I’ll take any time, given that you're still looking out to about 200 feet with any MEGA-equipped feature.
This particular Solix is just as capable of unbeatable image quality in side imaging, as indicated by the SI+ abbreviation.

Just take a look:
Much of this performance is due to the top-notch transducer Humminbird uses in tandem with the Solix, and you’ll find that its beam angles are tailored to its tech offerings. For instance, this Solix offers a sweeping feature called “Mega 360” that provides side-scanning in full 360 degrees while sitting still.
That’s a feature every high-end fish finder should offer.

As you’d expect at this price point, the Solix uses CHIRP as well as standard sonar, providing both high and low frequencies as well as hitting all points in between. That spectrum provides the amazing image quality we’ve already covered, as well as plenty of depth penetration.

That transducer delivers 2.5-inch target separation as well, and with great range, fantastic imaging, and easy fish identification, it’s easy to see why pros choose the Solix.
And while the user interface is a bit complicated, Humminbird is working to correct that flaw. For example, at the push of a button, you can switch viewing modes, giving you the information you want without the distractions of things you don’t. But learning the complete UI will be time-consuming, so be prepared to sit down and study the manual.
That time will pay off, as the Solix series provides charts for no less than 10,000 lakes, as well as the coasts of the U.S. And with two SD slots, it’s easy to add even more. Its powerful GPS system enables chartplotting as well as marking points of interest like honey holes, dangers, and docks, so this fish finder has you covered from the beginning to the end of your angling adventure.

Add to this the powerful AutoChart Live system that lets you map the bottom in detail, accounting for everything from hardness to cover and structure, and you’ve got a winning combination driven by GPS tech.

It really will make a difference in how you fish - and how successful each trip is.

That said, I think Lowrance offers better mapping tech. Their amazing C-Map and Genesis Live features are simply the best in the business.

Display Size: 12.1”

Resolution: 1280 X 800

Frequencies: Dual Spectrum CHIRP, MEGA Down Imaging+, MEGA Side Imaging+; Full Mode (28-75 kHz), Narrow Mode (75-155 kHz), Optional Deepwater (28-250 kHz),

Wide Mode (130-250 kHz

Side Scanning: Yes (up to 200’)

Maximum Depth: 200’MEGA Down Imaging+; 1,200’ CHIRP (3,500’ with an optional 50 kHz transducer)

Transducer Angles: 20°, 42°, 60°, (2) 86° & (2) 55° @ -10dB

Target Separation: no greater than 2.5”

GPS: Yes

Maps: Yes

PROS:
• Awesome screen and image quality
• Fantastic depth and range
• CHIRP and standard sonar options
• No greater than 2.5” target separation
• Powerful GPS, maps, chartplotting, and autopilot features
• Lake mapping feature
• Pairs with your mobile

CONS:
• Expensive!

Summary
Specifications
Pros & Cons

Until the arrival of the Solix and Apex series, Humminbird’s Helix was top dog in its lineup of fish finders. And despite newer, more powerful options, the Helix is still outstanding fishing tech for anglers who don’t earn a living on the water.

Priced to sell, I think the Helix is perhaps the best fish finder for the money, offering what was until last year or so the best tech on the water without rivaling a new outboard in price. For the vast majority of avid anglers and weekend fishermen, this fish finder is a great option, and I wouldn’t feel under-gunned at all running the Helix.
As you’d expect from Humminbird, the 10-inch diagonal screen provides brilliant resolution and image quality, even in direct sunlight, thanks to 1500 nits of brightness. In its price range, nothing else comes close.

Armed with the MEGA and SI+ image upgrades, it provides game-changing details.

I don’t say that lightly.

To my eye, the Helix 10 supports imaging that’s as good as the Lowrance HDS Live for a fraction of the cost.

That’s not unearned praise. Just take a look:

Game-changing: that’s how good the Helix SI+ is.
Powered by the incredible XM 9 HW MSI T transducer, the Helix 10 offers powerful CHIRP sonar with ridiculously high-frequency side scanning. That’s why the image quality is so high, and it’s just ridiculous on a fish finder at this price.

To make our shortlist, every fish finder had to be equipped with GPS, and of course, the Helix makes the most of this tech. Detailed maps are built-in, and you’ll have access to AutoChart Live, allowing you to create and share your own contour maps.
Those are game-changers, and increasingly, basic demands from serious fishermen.
The standard fishfinder view is great for locating schools of predators and prey.

As with all advanced fish finders, you’ll want to spend some time with the manual learning the ins and outs of its abilities, and Humminbird isn’t known for the friendliest user interface.

Finally, as you’d expect from a unit that used to be the cream of the crop, the Helix 10 MEGA SI+ G4N offers robust networking options, including navigation and accessory units. While not every angler needs or wants these, if you run more than one control head or want the option to operate a compatible trolling motor from your fish finder, this is a very cost-effective way to get hold of these high-end features.

Check out our full review: Humminbird Helix Review

Display Size: 10.1”

Resolution: 1024 x 600

Frequencies: CHIRP Full Mode (150-220 kHz), Narrow Mode (180-240 kHz), Wide Mode (140-200 kHz; soA Downar 50/83/200/455/800 kHz and 1.2 MHz)

Side Scanning: 800 ft. (455 kHz), 250 ft. (800 kHz), and 400 ft. (MEGA) (up to 800’)

Down Imaging: Yes; MEGA Down Imaging+

Maximum Depth: 1,200’ (3,500’ with an optional 50 kHz transducer)

Transducer Angle: 20°, 42°, 60°, (2) 86°, and (2) 55° @ -10dB

Target Separation: no less than 2.5”

GPS: Yes

Maps: Yes

PROS:
• Powerful CHIRP sonar
• Awesome down and side imaging
• Amazing image quality
• Offers a wide range of transducer angles
• Excellent screen
• Excellent target separation
• Powerful GPS and mapping options, including pre-loaded maps
• Solid networking options

CONS:
• Complicated UI

Summary
Specifications
Pros & Cons

Garmin began as a GPS tech company, and it’s no surprise that they incorporate satellite location in their line of fish finders. Known for budget pricing, the question is whether Garmin can deliver the kind of full-featured performance that rivals the Humminbird Helix and Lowrance Elite, offering serious anglers a reason to give the Striker Vivid 9sv a closer look.

Featuring a 9-inch diagonal screen, expect reasonable resolution and a bright, seven-color palette. But image quality can’t rival either big-name competitor, something that comes as no surprise when you consider that the Helix and Elite are about twice as expensive.

Sonar performance is acceptable, and the Striker Vivid 9sv makes use of CHIRP as well as standard sonar, providing excellent range and depth for both bottom-scanning and side-scanning applications. The transducer is actually very nice, providing ultra-high frequencies that match the Helix number for number in side imaging, but that performance never really translates to Humminbird’s awesome image quality.

Garmin is pretty hush-hush about what the Vivid 9sv’s actual specs are, and we can only assume that its electronics just can’t do the transducer’s high frequencies justice.
That said, the old and much-maligned “calculated” ClearVü is gone.

Garmin’s initial downward-facing system was ruled a copyright violation of Lowrance’s DownScan, and rather than purchasing the license to the tech like most other companies, Garmin chose to use side-scanning to simulate a downward-facing image.

Now, Garmin uses a true down-scanning system. The problem is that it’s nothing to write home about.

Shadows plague the Vivid’s side-scanning, and overall image quality is the poorest of the Big Three, a reality of the price of this fish finder.

To be clear, the Striker Vivid 9sv has a very readable screen, even in bright sun, and its controls are perhaps the easiest to master. It’s also quite affordable for CHIRP-enabled sonar.

But in terms of overall performance, Garmin simply isn’t trying to keep up with Humminbird or Lowrance, as is clear by the absence of pre-loaded mapping. The onboard GPS is excellent, however, and you can mark waypoints and locations of interest with ease.

Display Size: 9”

Resolution: 800 x 480

Frequencies: 50/77/200 kHz CHIRP (mid and high); ClearVü and SideVü 260/455/800 kHz

Side Scanning: Yes, 500’

Maximum Depth: 800 ft.; ClearVü: 500 ft.

Transducer Angles: Traditional: 24°-16°; ClearVü/SideVü: 2.0°x50° @ 455 kHz and 1.0°x30° @ 800 kHz

Target Separation: ?

GPS: Yes

Maps: No

PROS:
• Very easy to use
• Excellent depth and range
• CHIRP and standard sonar options
• Good screen
• GPS

CONS:
• Screen and image quality suffer greatly in comparison with high-end Humminbird and Lowrance
• No maps
• High-tech options are limited, and this unit is in no sense a competitor with Humminbird and Lowrance

Summary
Specifications
Pros & Cons

We can’t recommend the Garmin Vivid as a rival for Humminbird and Lowrance, but we love the Striker 4. For kayak and canoe anglers and fishermen on a very tight budget, the Striker 4 is a great buy and definitely worth considering.

And unlike the larger Garmin units, the Striker 4 is a true rival for Humminbird.

Let’s start with the screen.

The Striker 4 offers a 3.5-inch diagonal that’s a touch smaller than its Humminbird rival. And without question, the Humminbird’s down imaging provides a clearer image.

So why do we like the Striker 4 so much?

CHIRP and GPS.

Powered by an excellent CHIRP-capable transducer, broadcasting on frequencies ranging between 50 and 200 kHz, the Striker 4 provides great depth and range. Target separation is pretty good, and actual fish finding is excellent, in no small part because of the CHIRP tech.

Yes, image quality isn’t top-notch - but then this is a small unit that’s only a fraction of the price of the Helix or Elite.
And the Striker 4 works like a charm, is easy to navigate, and provides excellent budget-priced GPS features. GPS is nothing to scoff at, and if you’re willing to give up image quality to the Humminbird, this Garmin might be the best budget fish finder for you.

Display Size: 3.5”
Resolution: 320 X 480
Frequencies: CHIRP 50/77/200 kHz
Side Scanning: No
Maximum Depth: 1,600’ freshwater; 750’ saltwater
Transducer Angle: ?
Target Separation: ?
GPS: Yes
Maps: No

PROS:
• Awesome price!
• Acceptable screen size
• Good depth and range
• CHIRP
• GPS

CONS:
• No side-scanning
• No maps
• Image quality is lower and suffers in comparison to the similar Humminbird

Fish Finder Basics: Frequency Demystified

If you want to know more about why CHIRP is superior to standard sonar, or if you’re curious about the science behind fish finder tech, check out this article.

What We Consider When Selecting a GPS-Capable Fish Finder

GPS and Mapping

Satellite location tech does a lot more than let you know where you are on the water - though that’s nothing to sneeze at! With the right maps and charts, and with mapping, chart plotting, and way pointing software, GPS enables game-changing opportunities.

Not only can you scout and mark ideal spots to fish, you can note hazards like shallows or rocks, locate docks, and create contour maps that revolutionize how and where you fish.

GPS and mapping aren’t gimmicks - they’re tournament-winning tech that’s within reach of every budget. But especially at the high-end, the software is simply amazing, offering contour map sharing that can get you up to speed in new locations quickly or turn you on to the best spots in no time.

Target Separation

Target separation is simply a measure of how precise the fish finder’s sonar is at distinguishing individual fish from one another. Smaller numbers mean better performance.

Transducer Beam Angle

Often a selling point, this is not nearly as important as marketing leads you to believe.

All other things being equal:

Wider angles let you see a greater area below your transducer.

But, and this is a big but, the “specified cone” isn’t the actual area the fish finder reads. Instead, it’s shaped more like this:

Moreover, for a specified beam width, the structure of the bottom can greatly affect performance. And the greater that width, the more likely this problem is.

As a general rule, the shallower the water you fish, the wider the transducer beam angle you want. Too much will create problems, and if you fish in deeper water, you want a tighter, more focused beam angle.

Side Imaging Sonar

This is exactly what it sounds like. Some advanced fish finders offer specialized transducers that transmit and receive off the starboard and port sides of your boat. The result is a 2-D image of the water column to either side.

Some brands sport a range of as much as 800 feet in either direction!

Obviously, this can be incredibly useful for locating fish, and it’s an increasingly popular option. Be aware, however, that the depth of these side-facing transducers is limited. Side imaging sonar won’t be penetrating the water column very far, though it’s an awesome compliment to a traditional transducer.

Maximum Depth

You want a fish finder with good maximum depth, and you want to match this rating to your actual use. Especially if you fish deeper water, like the Great Lakes, or if you’re a saltwater angler, this is something to consider carefully.

Display Size and Resolution

Larger displays are easier to read and use, but of course, they cost more, too.

And bigger isn’t always better.

Resolution is a measure of how much detail a fish finder’s screen can provide, and a small screen with great resolution can be easier to read than a large screen with only average resolution.

Final Thoughts

Which GPS-equipped fish finder is best for your needs and budget is only something you can decide, but we’re confident that you’ll be happy with whichever Humminbird or Lowrance model you choose from our shortlist.

For the pros out there, the Humminbird Solix and Lowrance HDS Live are simply excellent, with the overall performance - especially the mapping software - of the Lowrance really impressing us.

For serious anglers, the Helix and Elite are very hard to beat, and unless you need networking to control your trolling motor and outboard, the Elite FS 9 is impossible to beat.

Finally, if you’re looking for a budget-priced, small fish finder, Garmin’s Striker 4 is impressive, offering GPS features that no competitor does.

As always, we’d love to hear from you if you have a question or comment. Please leave us a message below!

About The Author
John Baltes
Chief Editor & Contributor
If it has fins, John has probably tried to catch it from a kayak. A native of Louisiana, he now lives in Sarajevo, where he's adjusting to life in the mountains. From the rivers of Bosnia to the coast of Croatia, you can find him fishing when he's not camping, hiking, or hunting.
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