The Best Side-Scanning Fishfinders for 2024: Humminbird’s Apex is King of the Hill

Written by: Pete Danylewycz
Last Updated:
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Fishfinding tech improves constantly, and features that were a luxury just a few years ago are affordable tools today.

That’s certainly the case with side-scanning sonar, and there’s simply no denying what an awesome feature it is for weekend anglers and pros alike.

If you’re thinking about upgrading your fishfinder to a model that offers side-imaging, you’re far from alone. But with a wealth of options on the market, it can be hard to know which offers the tech you need at a price you can be comfortable with.

If that sounds like you, we’re here to help!

Below, you’ll find reviews of some of our favorite side-imaging fishfinders, as well as a buying guide that demystifies the tech and focuses on figuring out what you need - and what you can live without.

Quick glance at the best side imaging fish finders:

Related: 

Best Side Imaging Fish Finders Reviewed

Humminbird APEX 13 MEGA SI+ Fish Finder/GPS Chartplotter - Best Overall

Humminbird Apex

Bass Pro

Display Size: 13.3”
Resolution: 1920 x 1080
Frequencies: CHIRPWide Mode (130-250 kHz), Optional Deepwater (28-250 kHz), Full Mode (28-75 kHz), Narrow Mode (75-155 kHz); MEGA DI+ (1100-1200 kHz), 800 kHz SI+ (780-840 kHz), 455 kHz SI+ (405-505 kHz), 800 kHz DI+ (800-860 kHz), 455 kHz DI+ (435-535 kHz), MEGA SI+ (1050-1175 kHz)
Side Scanning: 800 ft (455 kHz), 500 ft (MEGA), 250 ft (800 kHz)
Maximum Depth: 3,500 ft (optional Airmar CHIRP), 1,200 ft (standard transducer); 250 ft (MEGA), 400 ft (455 kHz), 125 ft (800 kHz)
Transducer Angles: 20°, 42°, 60°, (2) 86° & (2) 55° @ -10dB
Target Separation: 2.5”
GPS: Yes
Maps: Yes

Anglers looking for the most powerful fishfinder equipped with sidescanning can stop reading here. 

Hummingbird has taken its flagship line of Apex fishfinders to new heights, improving already incredible screens, boosting range, and improving imaging quality in all modes. And their legendary networking options are among the best on the market.

In our view, that makes the Apex 13 MEGA SI+ Fish Finder/GPS Chartplotter quite possibly the best fishfinder currently available.

Let’s get into the details.

Humminbid’s screen quality has always been top-notch, but the Apex 13 is simply astonishingly good. Offering a resolution of 1920 x 1080 and full HD imaging, there isn’t a sharper image on the water at any price. Legible in full sun and at severe angles, Humminbird tilts the odds in your favor, even when the heat is on and you’re busy fishing.

One critique that’s always bedeviled Humminbird is that the user interface is complicated and a chore to learn to use well. 

That’s effectively a thing of the past.

This Apex sports a touch screen that simplifies the UI and flattens the learning curve. If you can use a smartphone, you’ll find the Apex’s controls intuitive and obvious. There’s also a full keypad to the right of the screen, and if you're already familiar with Humminbird’s UI, and prefer the old-school, the Apex has you covered.

But the screen and UI aren’t the only upgrades over the powerful Solix series. The XM 14 HW MSI T transducer is amazingly advanced tech, offering vastly improved range in CHIRP mode, including down- and side-imaging.

In contrast to the Solix 12, for instance, which offers 200’ of side-scanning range, the Apex quadruples that number! You read that right: the Apex 13 boasts an 800’ at 455 kHz, a 500’ range in MEGA CHIRP frequencies, and 250’ at 800 kHz. 

Those are tournament-winning, client-pleasing numbers, and you’ll find fish with side-scanning that other anglers miss. Not only will that save you precious time, but it’ll also get more fish in your landing net, pretty much guaranteed.

The XM 14 HW MSI T broadcasts on an improved range of CHIRP frequencies as well, offering more info for the control head to analyze and render. The result, in combination with the screen quality, is simply staggering.

Networking options on the Apex are robust through Humminbird’s One-Boat Network, allowing full control of Minn Kota motors and Cannon Optimum downriggers, as well as direct networking with additional fishfinders. For anglers who earn a living on the water, this is essential tech, and there’s no better system on the market right now.

Dual Ethernet ports, HDMI In and HDMI Out ports, Bluetooth, and NMEA 2000 networking complete the picture, offering powerful tools that professionals demand.

Finally, Apex is pre-loaded with charts of more than 10,000 lakes and the coasts of the U.S. In concert with a powerful GPS system that enables chartplotting, you'll find the AutoChart Live system lets you create custom maps that put you on the fish faster.

Yes, Lowrance’s amazing C-Map and Genesis Live features are simply the best in the business, but Humminbird isn’t far behind.

Of course, all this tech doesn’t come cheap, and the Apex wears a price tag that’s painful to consider. But if you’re determined to win tournaments and draw more clients to your boat, this tech might be just what you need.

Pros:

  • Unmatched screen and image quality
  • Unmatched depth and range, especially in side-scanning
  • Amazing CHIRP frequency ranges and power
  • 2.5” target separation
  • Powerful GPS, maps, chartplotting, and autopilot features
  • Lake mapping feature
  • Powerful networking features

Cons:

  • Expensive!

Lowrance Elite FS 9 - Best Budget Choice

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

Anglers for whom the Striker Vivid 9sv makes sense would do well to look at the older - but not outdated - Lowrance Elite FS 9. While certainly not a rial for the ULTRAMAP, Solix, Apex, or HDS lineups, the Elite FS 9 delivers a great screen, powerful CHIRP, and options like side- and down-scanning that leave the Striker in the dust.

Essentially, the Elite FS is the HDS Live without the advanced connectivity features, making it a great option for anglers who don’t want or need that capability. 

This isn't Lowrance’s flagship, obviously, and the lack of advanced networking features is not something I’d consider were I earning my livelihood on the water. But for weekend fishermen looking for a solid fishfinder that won’t leave their wallets empty, the Elite FS is a great choice with amazing tech in its own right.

And despite its relatively inexpensive price tag, the Elite FS is capable of Active Target imaging, which is nothing short of game-changing. Active target is live video produced by Sonar, allowing you to watch moving images of the fish you're after, as well as your lure.

The only downside to this tech is that it’s harder to see in direct sun than the standard imaging.

Lowrance supplies the Elite FS with the Simrad Active Imaging 3-in-1 Transom Mount Transducer. You read that right - the same transducer at the heart of the HDS series. As a result, the Elite FS enjoys the same image quality, target separation, and range as its much more expensive cousin.

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!

When you put that all together, if you can live without networking features and a high-end screen, the Elite FS 9 is simply an awesome fishfinder that’s priced right.

Pros:

  • Awesome price!
  • 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:

  • Can’t compete with the high-end tech of the HDS Live, HDS PRO, Solix, or Apex series

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

Humminbird SOLIX 12 ChipBass 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

Once the jewel in Humminbird’s crown, the Solix series has been usurped by the hyper-capable Apex lineup. But nothing’s changed about the Solix, and it’s as good as it ever was - just more affordably priced.

The best of the Solix series is, in our view, the Solix 12 CHIRP MEGA SI+ G3 Fish Finder/GPS Chartplotter. The king of the Humminbird hill only a year or so ago, the Solix’s only external competition is Lowrance’s excellent HDS Live series.

As the Solix has proven on the water, screen quality, and image sharpness matter. Its 12.1-inch screen offers excellent resolution, comparable to the best Lowrance and Garmin have to offer, but falling short of the amazing new tech in the Apex. 

1280 x 800-pixel resolution, very bright backlighting, and great legibility from extreme angles make the Solix an outstanding choice, and it’s hard to find an angler who isn’t impressed by what they see.

With the MEGA upgrades, which provide fine-grained, very high-frequency detail at the cost of some range, you’ll get image quality that probably edges out Lowrance’s HDS Live series, if only by a slender margin.

Side-scanning range is excellent on the Solix - a full 200’ - but it’s totally eclipsed by the Apex. The SI+ side-scanning system makes use of very high frequencies to produce crisp, detailed images.

Just take a look:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L3HYTI3wAjo&t=2s&ab_channel=HumminbirdTV

The Solix’s transducer angles are varied and specific to its applications, including a sweeping feature called “Mega 360” that provides side-scanning in 360 degrees while sitting still! That’s simply amazing tech with clear utility.

Finally, like the Apex, the Solix series comes pre-loaded with extensive charts and maps, as well as the software to enable your own custom mapping through AutoChart Live. 

Its networking capabilities are powerful as well, offering access to Hummibird’s Minn Kota compatible One-Boat Network and i-Pilot. Easy control over your position, as well as access to the additional transducers, makes a huge difference in the real world, and this tech was once reserved for pros.

Now it can be yours at a pretty steep discount.

Finally, in contrast to the keypad-only models from Humminbird the Solix’s touchscreen dramatically improves the user interface, making it simple and intuitive for smartphone users.

In short, this is an amazing system well worth what you pay for it.

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:

  • Still expensive!

Garmin ECHOMAP Ultra 126sv

Garmin ECHOMAP Ultra 126sv with GT56UHD-TM Transducer, 12' Touchscreen Combo with BlueChart g3 Charts and LakeVu g3 Maps and Added High Def Scanning Sonar

Amazon 

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

Garmin’s ECHOMAP Ultra 126sv rivals Humminbird’s Solix series and Lowrance’s HDS Live lineup and is largely successful in this. But Garmin, like Lowrance, can’t keep up with the tech wizardry of the Apex. That said, Pete loves his Garmin, and we’re sure you’ll be impressed!

Garmin offers the ECHOMAP Ultra with a 12-inch diagonal screen featuring a vivid color palette and 1280 x 800 resolution. The results are clear images, crisp details, and impressive legibility, even in bright sun. Actie anglers will find that a glance at the screen gives them the info they need, even if they’re not standing directly in front of the control head.

As you’d expect from a company with decades of experience with touchscreen tech, this ECHOMAP is easily controlled via a touchscreen, and Garmin simply nails the user interface. If you've struggled with fishfinders before, this might be the best bet for you, because in terms of ease of use, nothing beats the ECHOMAP Ultra.

Garmin pairs this excellent control head with their GT56UHD transducer, which is justifiably loved for its shallow-water performance. Above 60 feet or so, it offers amazing detail, making it ideal for freshwater and inshore applications.

Image quality at depths most anglers fish is simply amazing, though detail drops off as you get farther from your boat.

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, as you’d expect, and we’re pretty impressed with both. Image quality is uniformly excellent.

Networking options for the ECHOMAP Ultra 126sv are extensive. With other ECHOMAP units on board, you'll be able to share information, offering fantastic options for serious anglers. You can also control compatible trolling motors, and access information from many models of Yamaha and Mercury outboards.

Additionally, the ActiveCaptain app unlocks some powerful chartplotting, planning, and navigation options, and is among the best in the business.

Garmin’s top-of-the-line ECHOMAP is also NMEA 2000 compatible, providing you with up-to-date weather information.

Mapping is exceptional with the ECHOMAP Ultra 126sv. Capable of contour mapping in 1-foot intervals, and preloaded with BlueChart and LakeVu maps, offering both salt- and freshwater charts, you’ll have very powerful mapping tech at your fingertips.

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.

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:

  • It simply can’t compete with the Humminbird Apex

Lowrance HDS PRO 12 Fish Finder/Chartplotter

Lowrance HDS 12 PRO

Bass Pro

Display Size: 12”
Resolution: 1280 X 800
Frequencies: CHIRP (83/200kHz) as well as traditional 455/800kHz; DownScan: 700 kHz and 1200 kHz CHIRP SideScan: 455 kHz and 1075 kHz CHIRP
Side Scanning: Yes, up to 600’
Maximum Depth: CHIRP 1,000’; DownScan 300’
Transducer Angle: ?
Target Separation: ?
GPS: Yes
Maps: Yes

Lowrance’s incredible HDS Live 12 was our pick for the best fishfinder money could buy - until Humminbird’s new Apex was released. Now offered at a steep discount, it’s still absolutely amazing tech.

The now upgraded HDS PRO is Lowrance’s answer to the Apex, and while I’d own the Lowrance and never look back, it’s not closing in on the Humminbird in any meaningful sense.

Again, that doesn’t make it a bad fishfinder in any sense at all, it’s just not equal to the unbeatable Apex.

Like the HDS Live series, The Lowrance HDS PRO 12 is marketed to professionals. The upgrades allow for greater control of accessories like Power Poles and outboards, creating a networking station that provides tournament-ready control. Many Mercury, Yamaha, Honda, and Suzuki outboards are compatible, and Motor Guide trolling motors can be micromanaged with a touch of the screen. 

Of course that also applies to Lowrance’s own Ghost trolling motors, too.

And the PRO adds sonar overlays for its ActiveTarget Scout Mode and the Ghost 360 trolling motor mode as well, offering easy-to-read info that will get (and keep) you on the fish.

That’s no joke tech, and effortless control through networking can save time and effort that would otherwise be wasted.

Like the HDS Live 12, the PRO features a very large screen with awesome resolution. Extremely crisp and clear, it’s easy to read in all conditions. Expect a touch screen augmented by the usual keypad, allowing all-conditions accessibility.

Lowrance pairs the HDS PRO with its always impressive Simrad Active Imaging 3-in-1 Transom Mount Transducer, providing CHIRP, traditional sonar, and side-imaging. It even squeezes past the capable Solix 12 in terms of range with its detailed side- and down-imaging, but falls short of the astounding range of the Apex.

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 Simrad Active Imaging 3-in-1 Transom Mount Transducer is a real winner.

Lowrance’s DownScan and SideScan tech are very-high-frequency modes, roughly analogous to Humminbird’s MEGA system, providing incredible crisp, clear images at the cost of range. Lowrance claims a range of 600 feet from its SideScan, running CHIRP sonar from 100 kHz to 500 kHz. That’s impressive but still eclipsed by the Apex’s performance.

Lowrance’s experience in marine navigation is more than evident when you turn to the map and GPS features that the HDS PRO 12 sports. The excellent C-Map US Inland mapping and US/Canada Navionics+ card make navigation and charting a breeze. Like Humminbird, Lowrance offers a real-time mapping feature called Genesis Live. Capable of creating ½ foot contour maps, it’s an excellent tool for careful study of the locations you fish.

And of course, the HDS PRO is NMEA 2000 compatible, with wireless bluetooth connectivity to pair with your smartphone and other enabled devices.

Probably the second-best fishfinder on the market, usurped only by the new Apex, Lowrance’s HDS PRO 12 is amazing fishing tech ideal for those who make a living on their boats.

Pros:

  • Awesome screen and image quality
  • Great depth and range, especially in SideScan
  • Awesome CHIRP and standard sonar options
  • Powerful GPS and maps
  • Lake mapping feature
  • Amazing networking features

Cons:

  • Just a touch behind the Humminbird Apex

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

Smaller boats like jons and kayaks need powerful fishing electronics enabled with side-scanning sonar, too, as do anglers whose pockets aren’t deep enough for flagship models.

Enter the Striker Vivid 9sv.

As with all of Garmin’s Vivid series, a bright, legible screen is enhanced by an amazing range of colors that really make images pop. And within the limits of its transducer and screen resolution, the Striker Vivid 9sv delivers performance that will help weekend anglers catch more fish. 

Garmin’s transducers, even when we’re not considering the very high end, are pretty good, especially when CHIRP is enabled and used in down- and side-scanning modes. A rough equivalent of the still-popular Helix, you can expect a wide range of supported frequencies that punch through the water column and deliver details.

But something has to give for the money, and some imaging issues remain. Shadows plague the Vivid’s side-scanning, and its overall image quality can’t rival the Solix, HDS, and ECHOMAP Ultra - or the unbeatable Apex.

Keep in mind, however, that the Striker Vivid 9sv is fully GPS capable, enabling waypointing and marking, and as you’d expect from Garmin, its UI is intuitive, easy-to-use, and a snap to learn.

True, the bells and whistles like powerful networking and “live” video aren’t here, but for weekend anglers, this is definitely a bargain.

Pros:

  • Awesome price!
  • Very easy to use
  • Great imaging
  • Excellent depth and range
  • CHIRP and standard sonar options
  • Very nice screen
  • GPS

Cons:

  • Screen and image quality suffer greatly in comparison with high-end Garmin, Humminbird, and Lowrance
  • No maps
  • High-tech options are limited

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. 

frequency of sound waves

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.

traditional vs chirp

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 Fish Finder

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:

transducer beam wider angles

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.

transducer beam wider angles dead zone

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-Scanning Sonar

side scanning sonar

Side-scanning sonar is a big deal.

It allows you to see what’s to either side of your boat, getting a good sense of the structure and cover available to fish. Live weed beds, blow-downs, rocks, crevasse, etc.: you’ll know where the fish are hiding and feeding.

side scanning sonar with fish

And if there are active fish on either side of your boat, you’ll know about it!

Side-scanning sonar is like throwing a trolling net to either side of your boat; you won’t miss many fish, and you won’t waste time trying to find them, either.

Maximum Depth

Water penetration is a function of sonar frequency, and with the exception of blue water fishing for pelagic species like tuna or grouper, any of the fishfinders on our shortlist will deliver. 

But if you’re angling in really deep water, this is something you need to pay close attention to, and for some of the models, there are upgrades that can further increase the range of their sonar.

Display Size and Resolution

While bigger isn’t always better, for most anglers most of the time, a larger screen is superior.

Not only does it make the images more legible, but it also gives you the space you need to really use the advanced touch screens currently available.

But resolution matters, too, and here the Apex is just unbeatable. Offering greater resolution than its competition, as well as a huge screen, the Apex provides the very best images on the market, hands down.

GPS and Maps

These are fishing essentials.

GPS lets you know exactly where you are, ending the guessing games I’ve played in foggy marshes that were nothing short of labyrinths. And with waypointing and spot marking, not only will you never be lost again, you'll be able to avoid hazards, navigate to the best spots, and save time and money.

Mapping software is also a must have. From custom contour maps to preloaded charts, knowing the water you fish in detail will get you into the action more reliably.

Networking

side scanning sonar networking

While weekend anglers may not need networking, they sure will enjoy the power to control their trolling motors, outboards, and secondary fishfinders from one control head.

And for professionals, networking is critical, allowing charter captains and tournament anglers to maximize their efficiency, save time, and earn more money.

Final Thoughts

We can’t tell you which side-scanning fishfinder is the right choice for you.

Costs, capabilities, and compatibility with your telling motor and outboard all come into play in this decision, and without specific knowledge of your situation and setup, we can’t make honest recommendations.

What we can say, however, is that Humminbird’s Apex is simply the best tech on the market today, offering more powerful sonar options, better screen, and image quality, and all the bells and whistles pros demand.

But if you’re on a tight budget, Lowrance’s excellent Elite FS 9 is very hard to beat. Pairing the powerful 3-in-1 transducer with a control head that’s packed with excellent tech, it’s a real bargain that you shouldn’t skip.

We hope that this article has helped you make the right choice for your needs, and as always, we’re here to answer any questions you might have.

Please leave a comment below!

About The Author
Born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, Pete grew up fishing on the Great Lakes. Whether he's casting a line in a quiet freshwater stream or battling a monster bass, fishing is his true passion.
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