Facts About Depth Finders and Fish Finders

Fishing is an activity that involves lots of fun and enjoyment but for others, it’s a form of livelihood. But this activity can be quite hectic and frustrating if at the end of the day you’re unable to locate and catch fish. The good news is technological advancements have made fishing a lot easier than ever before for even amateur anglers. We are talking facts about depth finders and fish finders. These devices are among the most useful fishing tools available in the market today.

Humminbird fish finder

These two essential accessories for fishing have evolved over the years into sophisticated units that give more accurate, precise, and detailed imaging so users can have an effective yet stress-free fishing experience.

Depth finders and fish finders are often used interchangeably, especially in marketing ads, when the truth is they are two different devices, of course with some similarities. In this article, we are going to explain the basic functionality of each device and some major facts you need to know about them so you can make an informed choice when you go shopping. Without further ado, let’s get right into it:

What Is A Depth Finder?

As the name suggests, it’s a device that simply displays the depth of water under a water vessel in a digital read-out. It uses sonar to send out signals underwater and measures the time it takes for a sonic pulse to return from the depths of the water. A depth finder is commonly used when detecting the depth of shallow waters and a graphic display is not needed.

There’s a wide variety of depth finders that are available for different fishing needs. A basic model can measure the depth and temperature of the water. If that is all you need to make your fishing experience fruitful, then, by all means, get a basic depth finder as it’s much cheaper and simple to use.

However, for novice anglers who may need more data than that, consider a more sophisticated depth finder. These top-notch models have multiple features and a variety of settings that provide all sorts of data. You can also choose from different fishing modes, whether shallow water, slow trolling, fast trolling, or ice fishing.

While you can achieve any of these fishing modes by simply adjusting where you point your depth finder, different settings on the high-end models can allow you to adjust your device to focus on the types of data retrieval you want.

What Is A Fish Finder?

The main purpose of a fish finder is to reduce the number of time anglers spend looking for fish and increase the catch rate. This device utilizes the same sonar technology but actually gives a graphic image/video of what’s happening under the water, including what the bottom looks like and any objects present like fish, wrecks, etc. Modern fish finders include features like radar and electronic compasses, GPS capabilities, and more, all aimed at making them more effective at showcasing the exact location of fish.

Understanding Fish Finders

There’s so much to know about fish finders and in the following texts, we are going to cover as much as possible so you can know how to choose the best fish finders. Let’s start with how does fish finder works. This device consists of two major parts: a head unit with a screen and a transducer. The latter generates a sound wave underwater.

When this sound wave encounters something solid like fish, rock, or even the bottom of the water column, it reflects back to the transducer. The return time and strength of the signal speak to the distance and hardness of the object, respectively.

The waves reflected from fish are often displayed differently from those coming from corals, rocks, and other obstructions, so are the symbols displayed on the screen. This allows users to know exactly what underneath the water for a successful fishing experience.

How Accurate Are Fish Finders

Most anglers will agree that this is an extremely effective tool that allows users to see what’s underneath the water, among other data, thus improving your chances of catching fish. With that being said, it all comes down to your particular device and how you install and configure it. This is what will determine how accurate a fish finder is. The first step to getting the most out of your device is buying the right one in the first place.

There are several things to consider when buying the best fish finders, and they include:

Type of fish finder in the market

These devices can be categorized into several different types based on how they function and some extra and important features they possess. Here are the common categories for fish finders:

  • Standalone fish finders: These units collect the basic data about the world underwater, including structural features, water depth, and water temperature and display it on the screen to help users. They offer the most performance and biggest display for the least fish finder price. Therefore, if you have a small boat that you use to fish mostly on inland lakes and are on a limited budget, standalone fish finders is your go-to.
  • Combination fish finders: Combo units are ideal for mid-sized boats and if you want some navigating component. They feature a good GPS receiver for navigation to the fishing grounds with some even creating a map of the unmapped water areas, all of which can make your next fishing trip less of a hassle. You can either view the sonar and the GPS on the screen simultaneously or independently.
  • Networked system: These are fish finders with all the bells and whistles as they support a huge range of data sources, including GPS, SiriusXM radio, radar and video. Many support WiFi and Bluetooth functions, allowing you to control them from your smartphone.

For those who are wondering, “Do I need 2 fish finders?” Well, this may be necessary if you are a serious fisherman who wants to take advantage of all the help they can get.

The problem is it is not easy to manage both devices at a time, which is where the networking mechanism comes in. These networked systems can be linked directly within themselves or using a hub, which allows users to share screens and even the functionality of your fish finders.

Features available for fish finders.

A transducer is said to be the heart of a fish finder as it’s the part that generates and receives the sonar waves. There are different types of transducers with varying cone angles and beams, frequencies (single, dual, multiple, or CHIRP technology), power, and so on. Other things to consider when choosing the right transducer are the imaging technique (down-scan or side-scan imaging), water-resistance, and compatibility with your boat/kayak in terms of mounting technique.

When it comes to the head part of the fish finder, it’s important to consider the screen size, color, and resolution.

While these are the main things to look for in a fish finder, modern models come with several add-ons to help make your fishing trip easier and unforgettable. Common additional features of a fish finder include GPS capabilities for navigation, as well as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth functions for more synchronized operations.

Portable vs. fixed fish finder

Do you want your fish finder to be mounted permanently to the water vessel or the portable ones? There are pros and cons to both options. For instance, portable fish finders are ideal for rented boats while the permanent ones are always ready for use at any time and don’t require much time to setup.

Ease of use of fish finders

What is the easiest to use fish finder? Well, most fish finders are built with low learning curves so users can get to fishing as soon as possible, but there are a few that might take more time to get a hang of. Consider one with an intuitive design, easy to install and configure, and features a quick-start and off option.

Cost of fish finders

Fish finders are available at different price ranges to suit every budget. There are units as low as $50 or below and as high as $300 and above. The higher the price, the more features a fish finder will be and the better it is for your fishing experience. So, do cheap fish finders work? Yes, they do although they offer only the basic information that is still pretty helpful to anglers.

The price of a fish finder will also depend on the brand. There are several different brands of fish finders with the most popular ones including Hummingbird, Raymarine, Garmin, Furuno and Lowrance. Each of these brands is unique and offers a wide range of fish finders at different price points to suit every consumer’s needs.

One size does not fit all fish finders

It’s pretty clear that there are different options to choose from when it comes to the best fish finders. One thing is for sure, different lifestyles, fishing situations, budgets, and so on; all determine what unit is best for you. By reviewing what previous users have to say about a particular fish finder, you will be well on your way to making the right choice that will ensure greater effectiveness and fun on the water.

Are There Any Differences Between Fish Finders, Sonar And Depth Finders?

From the information given above, it’s clear that a depth finder is not the same as a fish finder. While both devices can provide enough data that an angler needs, the former is used for depth information while the latter is used to determine the exact location of fish.

Fish finders provide a range of data that can be used by any angler for either shallow or deep water fishing. Depth finders, on the other hand, are more extreme when it comes to usability. Users only have two options, either get a basic model that provides just depth information or a more sophisticated model with more settings and more data to provide. There’s no middle ground!

Furthermore, a fish finder is more ideal for a bigger boat or yacht while a depth finder is the best choice if you have a smaller boat.

Sonar is basically the technology that a fish finder uses to determine what underneath. But some people tend to use the words interchangeably where they may mean two different things. A conventional fish finder only searches vertically below the kayak/boat while sonar is used to describe a high-performance horizontal fish finder that can scan around the boat in all directions. This makes the sonar the most efficient and valuable tool for anglers.


Fish finders and depth finders are such unique pieces of equipment that one article is not enough to describe what they entail. We have written a number of articles about them on this page, perhaps you can check them out to learn more facts about these two.

Like this article? Then you would definitely love our other article about Kayak Fish Finders.

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Matink is a "Jack Of All Trades" writer and admin at thegadgetsjudge.com. Matink love writing, and reading more about Technology, origin of life and understanding the universe. He is a qualified Master Electrician, Welder, Safety Professional and currently doing SEO and Google IT Support Professional Certificate at coursera.org. Follow Matink on twitter @thegadgetsjudge


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