Fish are rarely visible from the water surface, so you’ll likely struggle to see them clearly from where you stand on the water vessel that’s on the surface of the water.
From time immemorial, angling has always required a lot of keen observation since one has to really outwit the fish to be able to catch them. But with technology making our everyday lives better, anglers have not been left behind.
They no longer need these unreliable skills all thanks to the invention of fish finders. These devices started by helping users to determine water depth and water body structures but have since evolved to include sonar capabilities.
Today, they can tell you where fishes are located, how many they are, and show everything underwater. Whether you are an amateur or a professional fisherman, this piece of equipment has some really advanced features that will allow you to make the most of your fishing trip.
The market of fish finders has truly grown over the years that getting a good-quality one within your budget will require careful research. There are so many things to consider when selecting the best fish finder, and one of the most important ones is the manufacturer of the fish finder.
The market is filled with so many brands pushing their latest models that it can be truly difficult to choose which one to choose from. Fish finders do the same job and may seem similar at first glance but their differences become apparent once you start digging through each brand and seeing what they have to offer and what they specialize in. Each fish finder brand has specific characteristics that make their products more appealing like:
The number of products they offer
Having more products means a particular brand reaches more markets and as such, there will be more options to choose from. This means you’ll have an easier time finding a product that works well for your needs while falling within your budget or preferences. It will also be easier to find replacement parts when the need arises.
As mentioned earlier, modern fish finders have advanced features. You can get traditional sonar or CHIRP, side imaging, down imaging, dedicated GPS units with maps, multi-panel displays, and so on. But the exact model you choose will determine what features you get and at what price.
Money is a great determinant when it comes to making any kind of purchase. Much like the overall features, some brands are more budget-friendly than others. And, while it’s true that cost and quality go hand in hand, it is possible to find good inexpensive models that will give you value for your money.
Ease of use
How quickly can you pick up a fish finder and install it for use? No one wants to spend hours reading manuals and figuring out buttons. Anglers just want to get that sonar running and be able to switch between tools as soon as possible so they can get to the most important job of the day, which is to catch fish.
Most fish finders are built to have low learning curves so users can immediately start using them without any hassles. There are, however, a few huge, premium units that might take you more time to get a hang of.
For some brands, it’s offering stellar customer service. Understanding these differences will help you narrow down your search and find one brand that you can stick to. Some fish finders brands stand head and shoulders above the rest. Today we’ll be breaking down five of the biggest fish finder brands.
Each one has proven that they can create amazing fish finders that cater to the needs of commercial and recreational boaters. From small basic units to high-end ones with have half a dozen imaging types, these brands serve multiple markets.
That being said, let’s get right into what these top five fish finders brands in the market have to offer:
Garmin was founded in 1989 as a maker of GPS navigation devices and many types of wearable tech. But over the years, they have evolved into producing a wide variety of handy outdoor products for anglers, including fish finders.
Building upon their GPS expertise, they have integrated this technology into their fish finders to create suitable products for beginners and professionals alike.
Anglers will find both handheld and fixed-mount units that combine ease-of-use and innovative technology that will help them get the most of their time on the water. Here’s a look at the different aspects that this brand has continued to stand out in over the years:
It goes without saying that Garmin’s fish finders come with a built-in GPS. Their GPS combo fish finders are unrivalled as their mapping applications have been fine-tuned to make finding and marking the best fishing spots as intuitive as possible. Some Garmin marine GPS for sale comes with several preloaded maps and charts to help create your own maps. They don’t, however, work well with map software, meaning you’ll have to rely more on waypoints than pre-made trails.
A good number of their units are also equipped with CHIRP sonar, which provides better clarity of their displays, as well as SideVu or ClearVu scanning sonars. You will find a few of their models that can offer both SideVu and ClearVu functions in addition to CHIRP sonar. These are usually high-end units with 7-9 inches display screens. The CHIRP sonar is perfect for those planning to fish in variable conditions where great precision is required.
Other common features that are available for these fish finder include sophisticated Garmin Chartplotter, high-definition radar, touchscreen multifunction displays ranging from 4-9 inches, autopilot, and included single/double frequency transducers.
These products also have a user-friendly interface that needs no steep learning curve to use. The settings are easy to learn and change and the menus are easy to scroll through. Last, but not least, Garmin produces a wide array of aftermarket sensors that can help those using their fish finders for specialized applications.
Number of products
Garmin doesn’t offer as many products as other top fish finder brands but they still offer world-class quality. All of their fish finders are built to last and can withstand extreme wear and tear, as well as severe weather conditions.
Their STRIKER and EchoMAP series are particularly known for the quality of their screens, strong build, and the number of features one can get for the price. With only a few series, Garmin is less complicated and the easiest brand to sort out. Garmin strike 4 built-in GPS fish finder is one of the top Garmin fish finder GPS combo products, complete with a lot of premium features that give the best bang for your buck.
Anglers will find an unrivalled combination of performance and value in Garmin’s state-of-the-art fish finders. The excellent GPS technology on these fish finders is usually a step up from some of the lower-priced models. In short, Garmin’s fish finders generally have a high pricing mark.
There are, however, some entry-level models that don’t come with a lot of frills and are therefore a lot cheaper. There are also several products in between with great mid-tier prices so customers of all budget ranges can find their fit.
Over the years, this brand has proven that cheap doesn’t always equal low quality. They continue to produce several models that boast a good combination of conservative price point and unparalleled quality. Take the case of the Garmin Striker 4. This is one of the most affordable fish finders with GPS capabilities, yet it is packed with prime features that you won’t likely find with its price point.
This company was founded in 1957 by Carl Lowrance after noticing that most fish were found in specific areas. He set out to create a lightweight, compact, and portable device that could make it easier for fishermen to locate fish in these fish-heavy locations. This was the first instrument to use sonar technology for sport fishing.
The Lowrance brand not only invented the precursor of modern fish finders but has also monopolised the SONAR devices market for the last 60 years. This company has been a marine technology leader since its inception, having already created a plethora of fishing products such as Lowrance chartplotters, fish finders, castable electronics, radar devices, autopilots, and other sonar units.
Today, it has an established global distribution network that includes over 1,500 domestic dealers, distributors, mass merchants and OEMs, as well as sales distribution outlets in over 50 countries worldwide.
All these years of experience have paid off as Lowrance is likely the most trusted name in the world of fish finders. Their products are among the most effective in the market. And, although they don’t focus on a specific area of the fish finder market, their deepwater fish finders are the most popular.
Lowrance doesn’t shy away from the latest technologies. In fact, the main reason they have remained highly competitive over the years is by adopting new trends and imaging techniques that make it much easier to locate fish underwater.
This includes side and down imaging technologies, award-winning Broadband Sounder technology, and customized maps, among other things. They were also the first fish finder manufacturers to adopt HD multifunctional screens back in 2008. Their line of fish finders that feature High Definition Systems (HDS) comes packed with additional advanced features such as NAIS Collision Avoidance system, Sonic Hub Audio, etc.
This brand offers a ton of basic to high-end or advanced features and innovative solutions that are targeted towards helping both inland and coastal fishermen. Their TotalScan transducer can handle CHIRP, as well as side and down imaging all together using a single connection to a compatible device.
Sizes range from 4-16 inches, and you’ll get all kinds of features depending on the model and size. Most of their technology is placed in units up to 7 inches; after that, you’ll start noticing no additional features with units bigger than 7 inches.
Smaller models generally feature CHIRP and down imaging technologies while larger models include side imaging and more features. Other great features of Lowrance fish finders include HD color, GPS with included maps, etc.
Most of their models come with button-based interfaces, although some higher-end ones have touch screens with wide viewing angles. Refer to the Lowrance fish finder manual to ensure proper installation and use.
Number of products
This fish finder brand has the most products with more screen sizes and more options overall. You will not only find a wide variety of products that are smaller and meant for personal use but also larger units to fulfill professional needs. They have manufactured different fish finder lines, including HOOK, HOOK2, Elite Ti, HDS Gen 3, and HDS Carbon series.
The first two are targeted towards the entry-level anglers. The HOOK series feature units with screen sizes ranging from 3.5-9 inches. The smaller models are awesome for their prices. HOOK2 is more focused on providing easy-to-use units at great prices, thus minimizing Lowrance hook 2 troubleshooting needs.
HOOK 4 combines a fish finder with Lowrance chart plotter for under $300. HOOK 5 is available in several different models, from a simple fish finder/chart plotter with just basic features to one with down imaging, as well as one with an advanced Navionics plus mapping package.
Elite Ti series is designed to suit the needs of intermediate anglers. The Elite-9x CHIRP is this manufacturer’s most impressive model. It features a 9-inch screen with CHIRP sonar and down imaging technologies and multiple options for transducers. It is also fully equipped with GPS technology.
Both HDS series are more ideal for advanced anglers since they include more high-end features like 3D imaging.
Lowrance offers some of the best budget-oriented fish finders in the market that bring excellent value for money in terms of features available. A lot of their options are in the lower price range, although they still have great features, including CHIRP, DownScan, and Built-in GPS with maps. There’s also the possibility to upgrade to Lake Insights and Navionics with their mid-priced units.
These fish finders are generally ideal for those who want small to mid-tier units without breaking the bank. That being said, Lowrance has a fully-stocked line of premium units with luxury features such as touch-screen buttons, 3D imaging, bigger screen sizes, color screens, waterproof housing, and more durability.
Durability and Lowrance customer care
This brand backs up its products with excellent durability and customer service. Their fish finders are available for every skill to allow every user to keep up with their pace when fishing. The Lowrance fish finder manual should always be your first reference point in case of any problems. There are also several discussion threads online with expert advice to help with Lowrance products.
Humminbird was founded in 1971 and their goal has since been to create the best fish finders in the market. It has been marked by a willingness to try new technology and ultimately produce unique products. In fact, many of the exciting innovative products and features available in the fish finders industry today are Humminbird’s creation.
They were the first to introduce a waterproof depth sounder, the first to use 360-degree sonar technology, and even one of the first to use LCR screens that have since evolved to modern LCD screens.
With a history of over 40 years, this company continues to provide top of the line depth sounders, fish finders, radios, and handheld marine GPS systems. They have stayed on the leading edge of technology and they still have that classic Humminbird dedication to quality, excellent craftsmanship, and attention to detail.
Humminbird doesn’t target a specific market group; instead, they manufacture a wide variety of fish finders for different uses. It’s one of the fish finder brands that can offer a unit for any kind of fishing task so users can get the most out of their fishing adventures.
You’ll find units that are suitable for big and small boats, shallow and deep water fishing, freshwater and saltwater, as well as a fish finder for ice fishing.
This brand stands out as one that provides a diverse range of innovative features for each of the fish finder products. Several of their series feature GPS capabilities, but keep in mind that you may have to download the maps before setting out to use this technology.
The good news is downloading maps is rather easy and straightforward. Seeing as these products are made by sonar and boaters experts, users can expect nothing short of excellence and precision. Humminbird fish finders will operate optimally no matter what the conditions are.
The built-in GPS will allow you to chart routes, set waypoints, and navigate effortlessly while saving the best fishing spots so you can return to them later. The microSD card slot and Wi-Fi connections on larger models take your fishing expedition to the next level.
Humminbird fish finders also come with advanced imaging technologies like CHIRP and traditional scanning sonars, and are known for their patent for side-imaging. Their maximum depths are amazing, allowing you to easily make out vegetation, objects, and everything else around your kayak/boat.
The display screens range from 4-12 inches with an easy-to-use interface. A touch-enabled screen with a bright backlit allows users to spend less time figuring out settings and more time fishing.
Humminbird is also known for its excellent customer service. Their products are supported by dedicated customer service reps, without forgetting online discussion threads that offer a lot of help to users. You will be able to learn how to read hummingbird fish finder among other things.
Number of products
Humminbird takes more risks in product innovation to try and bring the next best fish finder to the market. They have managed to produce several different fish finder lines. Their ICE series is unlike most fish finders that function on boats in open water as it’s designed for ice fishing.
While this fish finder for ice fishing is arguably Humminbird’s unique product, the most popular lies in their Helix series that comprises of mostly mid-level models. The Piranhamax line features several entry-level products like the Humminbird piranhama x4. The Solix series has the most feature-packed fish finders while the Fishin’ Buddy series comprises of a few portable units.
Humminbird fish finders are available in any pricing mark. However, the overall price tags tend to be high. That’s because Humminbird doesn’t offer many models below the 5-inch size and most of their products are packed to the brim with innovative features that naturally makes them costly. Although many of their products are geared towards the premium market, there are still a good number of budget-friendly options and mid-tier items.
Furuno USA created the world’s first practical fish finder in 1948 and has since been responding to the needs of the marine industry by creating various types of marine electronics.
From bass boats to commercial seiners, this company has a piece of equipment that will fit any vessel. Talk to any sports or commercial fisherman and they will attest to the fact that the finest depth Sounders and Fish Finders on the market are found at Furuno.
Furuno fish finders are built like a tank. They are of high-quality and can easily last for years without needing any upgrade. They have a solid build and are prepared for rough use. These fish finders have very graphic and vibrant displays and are unbeatable when it comes to creating integrated navigational marine systems.
Customers will find both commercial and recreational monochrome/colored fish finders for any size water vessel with power output ranging from 300-3,000 Watts. There are even high-grade units that come with a good range of boating accessories like Furuno GPS, among other things.
Another impressive reason why you should consider a Furuno fish finder is the company adheres to the highest standards in the marine industry. This is evidenced by the annual awards they have received from the NMEA in various categories.
NMEA contributes to the development and popularization of the marine electronics industry by setting standards for several aspects of marine electronics, including communication protocols, electronic interfaces for navigation equipment, etc.
Every year, the association recognizes new products with the best designs, performance, and that are reliable. The fact that Furuno USA has won over 150 of these awards is proof that their products are truly high-quality.
As if that wasn’t enough, this brand cares for the environment. They strive to conduct environmentally friendly business activities at their business sites, thereby contributing to the society’s efforts for a sustainable planet.
Raymarine is the leading manufacturer of Recreational Marine Electronics in the world with a legacy spanning over 80 years. They manufacture the most comprehensive range of electronic equipment for light commercial marine markets and recreational boating.
Their products, which include Raymarine depth finders, fish finders, autopilots, marine radar, satellite television, navigation devices, multifunction displays, and other marine electronics, are renowned today for their reliability, ease of use, and rugged design. This brand is also the leader in networking these products to produce truly integrated systems.
As another long-reigning brand of fish finders, you will find entry-level units that boast basic functionality and portability, as well as expensive models with some of the most high-end luxury features in the industry.
The success of this brand is thanks to its shared principles of product innovation and excellence in engineering, without compromising attention to product quality and customer service. Whether it’s a stand-alone unit or fully integrated systems, Raymarine offers it all.
In short, when you take a company with over 80 years of experience in the marine world and an explicit passion for fishing, their fish finders are naturally a notch above the rest. This brand understands what it takes to make fishing safer, easier, and more enjoyable.
If you’re looking for units with advanced features and advanced sonar technologies, then Raymarine might just be the right brand for you. The brand is also notable for the variety of accessories and add-ons they offer to help customize your fish finding set up.
This includes individual transducers, chart plotters, GPS antennas/sensors, and more. Another notable feature is their optically bonded LCD technology. This ensures very high-quality images that can easily be seen in all weather conditions. Plus the screens are guaranteed to never fog up. All of their fish finders are easy to use, have a durable design, and offer overall reliability.
Number of products
Raymarine offers a sheer variety of fish finders that is easy to become overwhelmed when making a selection. Their Dragonfly series is the most popular. These fish finders pack a lot of technology into a small package and are incredibly easy to use.
They are available in 4-7 inches screen sizes and have a really high-resolution 2D and 3D SONAR that uses CHIRP technology. You’ll also find an accurate GPS chip that you can use with optional mapping packages to get an all-in-one-unit.
That being said, it’s their eS Series that stand out with a performance that’s high above the rest. These fish finders come with built-in GPS, up to 12 inches HD touchscreen displays, sounder module, Wi-Fi, and other useful features. Their main selling point is the built-in CHIRP DownVision. With such a powerful technology, you will spend less time looking for fish and more time catching them.
A majority of Raymarine fish finders are high-end hence the high price tags to match. They do, however, have more basic options with great features at affordable prices. This brand leaves little room for in-between units. Therefore, if you consider them, you’ll likely have to choose between entry-level fish finders or go for the best ones in the market that will set you back hundreds of dollars. Their high-end models are worth the investment as they have all of the best features possible.