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Best Fish Finder GPS Combo for 2022 - Reviews & Buying Guide

Written by: Pete D
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GPS tech has revolutionized how we fish. Not only does pre-season scouting pay off like never before, but the ability to mark waypoints and critical features like docks or hazards also makes GPS a must-have game changer.

For 2022, virtually all the high-end fish finders incorporate GPS, allowing you to network with your motor to maintain position or navigate via waypoints. For pros and charter captains, that’s something that can really pay off.

But even anglers on a budget can take advantage of GPS, and there are reasonably-priced units that bring the power of way pointing and marking within reach of pretty much everyone.

If you’re in the market for a fish finder with GPS capability, we’ve got you covered. Below, you’ll find reviews of some of the best fish finder gps combos on the market, as well as a complete buying guide:

Related: 

Best Fish Finder GPS Combo Reviewed

Lowrance HDS LIVE 12 Fish Finder/Chartplotter - Best High-End Fisher Finder GPS Combo

Lowrance HDS LIVE 12

Bass Pro

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

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.

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!

Lowrance Elite FS 9 - Best Mid-Range GPS-Equipped Fishfinder

Lowrance Elite FS 9 Fish Finder with Active Imaging 3-in-1 Transducer, Preloaded C-MAP Contour+ Charts

Amazon 

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

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.

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:

  • ???

Humminbird SOLIX 12 CHIRP MEGA SI+ G3 Fish Finder/GPS Chartplotter

Humminbird SOLIX 12 Chip

Bass Pro

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

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.

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!

Humminbird HELIX 10 MEGA SI+ GPS G4N

Humminbird Helix Chirp Mega SI plus GPS G4N Fish Finder

Bass Pro

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

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.

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

Garmin Striker Vivid 9sv

Garmin Striker Vivid 9sv, Easy-to-Use 5-inch Color Fishfinder and Sonar Transducer, Vivid Scanning Sonar Color Palettes, 9 inch (010-02554-00)

Amazon 

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

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.

Garmin has retired the Echomap series, leaving the Striker Vivid 9sv with the GT52HW-TM transducer as their high-end model. That positions Garmin pretty well at the lower-mid end, but this isn’t a fish finder that Humminbird or Lowrance need to worry about.

Let’s discuss why in depth.

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.

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

Garmin Striker 4 - Best Small GPS-Equipped Fish Finder for Kayaks and Canoes

Garmin 010-01550-00 Striker 4 with Transducer, 3.5' GPS Fishfinder with Chirp Traditional Transducer

Amazon 

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

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.

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

Sonar is just sound. It’s beyond the range of human hearing, but in principle, no different than any other noise.

Sound takes the form of a wave, with crests and troughs or peaks and valleys. Higher frequencies pack more of these oscillations into a given span of time than do lower frequencies. 

Low frequencies - penetrate water better than high frequencies. Fish finders with very low-frequency transducers can “see” through the water better, allowing them greater depth.

The weakness of low frequencies, however, is that every oscillation provides data, and with fewer crests and troughs per second, they can’t provide as much information as high frequencies.

Think about your mobile phone for a second. It works much the same way, which is why 4G can carry more information--more data per second--than 3G. Higher frequencies equal more information.

High frequencies - offer greater detail, allowing your fish finder to “find” fish and tell you their size and location.

They can’t penetrate much water, however, and they can’t tell you much about the bottom, including details like structure and cover.

Dual sonar - Most fish finders use dual frequencies, pairing a high and low frequency to provide the best features of both. For instance, when you see a fish finder that lists two frequencies, such as 77/200 kHz, that means that its transducer broadcasts at both 77 kHz and 200 kHz simultaneously.

The low-frequency signal reads the bottom, while the high frequency finds the fish.

Fish Finder Basics: Sonar Pings or CHIRPs

“One ping only, please.”

The Red October’s sonar used “pings,” bursts or pulses of noise that it sent into the water, striking objects and returning to its transducer for analysis. When the sonar was active, it wasn’t constantly transmitting sound.

Most fish finders aren’t much different. They use dual frequencies in pulses: short “pings” like the one you heard in the video. These short pulses are transmitted together, providing enough data to give the fish finder’s electronics a picture of the bottom and anything suspended in the water column.

But military tech has advanced a long way from the Cold War, and modern sonar systems use something called CHIRP, or Compressed High-Intensity Radiated Pulse.

CHIRP sonar uses much longer pulses than standard systems, starting at the low frequency and moving quickly to the high frequency. These longer bursts, and the range of frequencies between the lowest and highest, provide much more information than standard sonar systems.

As you can see, there are many more peaks and valleys in the CHIRP signal, and each and every one carries information. The military uses CHIRP sonar because it’s simply far more effective than dual frequency sonar, and the good news is that so can you!

Some fish finders now offer CHIRP sonar. It provides better imaging, greater accuracy, and more information.

This isn’t a marketing ploy--it’s real, it’s a fact, and in our opinion, it’s worth paying for.

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
Pete D
Born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, Pete grew up fishing on the Great Lakes. When he’s not out on the water, you can find him reading his favorite books, and spending time with his family.
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