Fishing is one of those activities that can be traced back to the olden days where people simply relied on a few tools and their instincts to catch fish. Nature cannot be relied upon to maintain the same conditions and that is why we will be reviewing the best fish finders for 2021 with side imaging for maximum catch, because fishing these days without technology can very be challenging.
Sometimes you go out looking for fish and come back empty-handed. However, advancements in technology have enabled people to have easy time fishing and actually catch fish. These advancements in technology include fish finders with side imaging, GPS enabled, ice fishing and many more.
A fish finder is very important because it enables you to know where the fish are. Definitely you will not be able to catch fish if you are fishing where there is no fish.
Fish finders enable you to save time by removing the frustrations that you would otherwise have and making your fishing experience wonderful. A basic fish finder is made of two parts which include the transducer and the display.
Other fish finder models have whistles and bells. The display shows the readings while the transducer is normally attached to the ransom or hull and does most of the work. Some portable models have a transducer that you just place into the water on a cable.
5 Side Imaging Fish Finders Comparison Table
|Product Name||Display||Weight||GPS Feature|
|Lowrance-HOOK2-7||7 Inch Solarmax display.||4.70 Pounds||Gps Only / No Mapping||Check Amazon|
|Humminbird HELIX 5||Color TFT||10.1 Pounds||Built-in GPS||Check Amazon|
|Garmin Striker 7sv||Resolution 800 x 480 7″ Display||1.7 pounds||Built-in GPS||Check Amazon|
|Garmin Echomap Chirp 94SV||9-inch color display||2.3 pounds||Internal 5 Hz GPS||Check Amazon|
|Garmin Echomap Plus 93SV||WVGA, Sunlight-readable 9′ touchscreen|| 2.6 pounds ||Preloaded withLakeVü HD maps||Check Amazon|
This Lowrance HOOK2 7 provides basic navigation with a GPS plotter that allows you to add waypoints, follow trails, and navigate. It is an upgradable fish finder that comes with complete SD card slot for software and mapping upgrades, future features and third-party maps to be added.
This Lawrence HOOK2 7 Fish Finder is an easy to use with features like auto-tuning sonar and phone-like menus giving you more time to spend fishing and less time dealing with settings.
It has a single transducer that can be mounted on the transom, inside the hull, on the trolling motor or through a scupper hole thus making its setting up easy. Simply its a DIY gadget.
With more sonar views the Lowrance HOOK2 7 comes complete with a TripleShot transducer which gives you DownScan sonar (straight down), SideScan sonar (up to 300′ to each side), and CHIRP sonar (fish arch) views.
More Features to catch fish.
Solar Max display with easy to use menus.
Automated sonar settings
Double the sonar of traditional fish finders
Optimized keypad with one touch access to key features
All units comes with transducer
Transducer options to fit any fishing situation.
Water proof IPX-7
Comes with slot card for upgrading
Can also be used for Ice fishing with HOOK 2 ice transducer Lowrance
Excellent customer support
No much flaws so far as this is a new product in the market and upgrade of the Lowrance.
A transducer is any device used to convert energy from one form to another – typically when converting input energy into output energy. For transduction to occur, a change from one form of energy must also take place, such as a conversion from mechanical to electrical energy or vice versa.
2. Humminbird HELIX 5 CHIRP SI GPS G2
This fish finder is the latest 5-inch Humminbird fish finder in the second HELIX generation, released at the beginning of 2018. It essentially has the same abilities as the older HELIX 5 Sonar unit but does come with the improved features. Made in USA.
This product offers a CHIRP Side Imaging/Down Imaging and Dual Beam PLUS Sonar. CHIRP stands for ‘Compressed High Intensity Radar Pulse.’ That is a fancy way of saying it can show you fish that other forms of 2D sonar cannot.
How is that? CHIRP scans the water for fish similar to the way we seek functions on our truck’s radio scans the airwaves for FM stations. By covering a wide range of frequencies, CHIRP produces more accurate, more detailed returns of fish, structure and the bottom.
The HELIX Series has evolved-with new, best-in-class technologies including standard CHIRP Digital Sonar, enhanced networking, and new MEGA Imaging for the most detailed sonar returns that anglers have ever seen. Innovation. Bold styling. Ease of use.
Display Size: 5″ Diagonal
Display Pixel Matrix, type: 800H x 480V, Color TFT
Power Output (max): 500 watts (RMS), 4000 watts (PTP)
SD Card Slots: Micro SD Card Slot
Included: Switch Fire Sonar, Humminbird PC, Split Screen Zoom, Upgradeable Software, Split Screen Bottom, Wide/Narrow Cone Lock Split Screen, Large Digits View, Custom View Selection, Custom Digital, X-Press Menu Readout System, Temperature Alarm, Freeze Frame, Instant Image Update, Selective Fish ID+, Real Time Sonar, CHIRP Side Imaging and CHIRP down Imaging.
Gimbal mount included
Split Screen Zoom
Easy to install.
Split Screen Zoom
Unit cover is not included.
With A DualBeam PLUS™ sonar, you have a narrowly focused center beam, surrounded by a second beam of 60º, expanding your coverage to an area equal your depth – in 20 feet of water, the wider beam covers an area 20 feet wide. The first beam is focused on the bottom, to show you structure, weeds and cover.
3. Garmin Striker 7sv with Transducer-Contours Mapping Software
This Garmin STRIKER Plus 7sv fishfinder makes your fishing incredible, and it’s built to work in any situation. The bright, sunlight-readable display gives you a clear view of what is below your boat, even on the brightest days.
Built with a larger screen that gives you a better vision of what is happening underneath the boat. The intuitive user interface makes it simple to navigate to whatever feature you need, so you are ready for anything on the water.
With an integrated Wi-Fi for access to ActiveCaptain app, you can receive smart notifications, access Quickdraw Contours Community, transfer waypoints, and software update notifications all the time. Another added feature is the built-in GPS that lets you mark waypoints, create routes and view boat’s speed. With a transducer for built-in Garmin CHIRP traditional sonar plus CHIRP ClearVü and CHIRP SideVü scanning sonars.
CHIRP stands for ‘Compressed High Intensity Radar Pulse.’ That is a fancy way of saying it can show you fish that other forms of 2D sonar cannot. How is that? CHIRP fishfinders transmit a longer pulse than traditional sonar, putting more energy into the water column, with a true broadband frequency range of up to 117kHz to improves bottom tracking at higher speeds and deeper depths.
Maximum depth 2,300 ft freshwater*, 1,100 ft saltwater*
Water temperature log and graph
Real time display of fish passing through transducer beam
Measures depth of underwater objects
Fish Symbol ID (helps identify fish targets)
Displays fish targets at higher boat speeds.
Easy to set up
Very easy, install on the trolling motor
Large screen is very bright and clear
Has a worthy side viewing.
Can be used in salt water.
Has a deep reader also
Does not come with GPS
Does not have a SD slot.
Contour mapping, the delineation of any property in map form by constructing lines of equal values of that property from available data points. A topographic map, for example, reveals the relief of an area by means of contour lines that represent elevation values; each such line passes through points of the same elevation
4. Garmin Echomap Chirp 94SV with transducer, 010-01805-01
The performance of this unit is truly amazing because you will experience the clarity and resolution are outstanding. You will find the GPS function to be as accurate as expected because it’s the best in class with internal 5Hz GPS updates position and heading 5 times per second to make marking and returning accurately to waypoints easier.
This Garmin 94sv has a clearer scanning sonar shows you more of what is in the water around your boat. In addition, the high-frequency sonar gives near-photographic images with detailed representations of objects, structure and fish. With LiveVü Forward, your boat can be moving or stationary.
Wherever your trolling motor is pointed, you will see live images of what is happening under the water. Watch your bait as it sinks, and see its depth and movement as you reclaim it. You will see it move in relationship to structures in the water.
You will see also the fish swimming, reacting to your bait; if they attack, you will see and feel the hit. Once on the hook, watch the fight on your screen as it happens. With Panoptix LiveVü Forward, you can see it all come to life up to 100 feet away.
9-inch color display with keypad control
Includes transducer with high wide CHIRP and CHIRP clearVU/SideVU
Panoptix all-seeng sonar support (transducer not included)
Preloaded BlueChart G2 chart for the coasta U.S.
Preloaded Quickdraw contours custom HD map creation software.
Easy to install
CHIRP technology offering superior clarity, target separation and target definition, for 2D, SideVü, and DownVü;
Transducer GT51M-TM (12-pin) included;
Unit compatible with the new, revolutionary Panoptix sonar.
Data graphs and other sonar functions;
Sonar recording and rewind.
Fast and accurate internal GPS;
Preloaded with BlueChart g2 charts.
Quickdraw Contours function, for the possibility to add contours and customize your maps;
Multiple Depth Range Shading;
Compatible with various other chart types, such as
BlueChart g2 Vision or LakeVü HD Ultra;
Enhanced Auto Guidance capable;
Tide tables information;
Supports AIS and DSC-capable VHF radio;
Quick disconnection (tilt-swivel) and flush mount included;
Unit cover included;
Straightforward, comprehensive operation.
Only one microSD card reader for this
DownVü: Garmin DownVü is a high-frequency sonar that provides a near picture quality representation of objects, structure and fish that the boat is passing over. With a finer, concentrated sonar signal scanning a designated area, DownVü provides excellent resolution with great target separation in fresh and saltwater.
5. Garmin Echomap Plus 93SV without transducer
This Garmin has built-in support for Garmin high wide CHIRP traditional sonar plus CHIRP ClearVü and CHIRP SideVü scanning sonars and Panoptix all-seeing sonar (transducers sold separately).It has fish finder/chartplotter that comes with 9 Inch color display.
The device features CHIRP ClearVu sonar technology that provides a clear photographic image view of fish and wide image of what passes below your boat.
The echoMAP has built-in Wi-Fi to pair with your free ActiveCaptain app for access to OneChart, which allows you to purchase and download new charts and instantly create personalized fishing maps on-screen with 1’ contours using Quickdraw Contours mapping software. It also includes preloaded LakeVu HDmap.
MicroSD Card Slot
500 W (RMS) / 4000 W (Peak to Peak)
Color Display with Keypad Control
Wattage: 500 W
NMEA 0183 Compatible
Bail or Flush Mountable
Resolution: 400 x 800
Screen Size: 9 Inch
Quickdraw Contours for Custom HD Maps
Dual Frequency (50/200 kHz) – Sonar Capable
Preloaded LakeVu g3 Maps
This product is new in the market and has a 5-star rating so far. No flaws have been shared.
SideVü: Much like DownVü, SideVü is high-frequency sonar that gives a clear image of fish or structure that are located to the sides of the boat. This true-to-life picture of what’s below the water’s surface helps identify the most ideal spots and structures for fishing. With noise suppression providing for an ultra crisp, high-resolution image, it’s easy to see where the best place to fish will be
Difference between a fish finder and a depth finder.
Fish finders are sonar (Sound, Navigation, and Ranging) units that release high-frequency sound waves into the water which thereafter bounce off any solid objects on the way. These returning waves are gathered by the sonar unit which processes them through a tiny computer circuit. By the fish finder moving across the surface over time, it develops an on-going two-dimensional picture of what lies under the surface.
A depth finder is usually compared to a fish finder because they both use sonar which helps in finding the bottom surface of the water as well as fish. However, those people looking to buy a depth finder are more interested in finding the depth of the water than fish.
These people may not even be fishermen but rather they may be interested in positioning their boats on shallow water. A digital depth finder or a depth finder as the name suggests provides you with a display of depth information. The information shows the depth of the water under the boat which is mostly used to detect shallow water depth when there is no need for a graphic display.
Divers may also need a depth finder to enable them to know about the best water diving spots. Fish finders can also be useful in this case; however, they may not be able to reach certain depths because they are mainly interested in finding fish.
They also will not be able to determine the water depth in certain areas because the areas are very deep. A depth finder can help you catch more fish. They are quite expensive but easy to read and dependable. Depth finders use sonar to measure the depth of a water body and immediately display the information.
What to Consider before purchasing a fish finder
If you are looking for a fish finder and you do not know what to look out for, this buyer’s guide is for you. Here are the major factors you need to consider before purchasing fish finders or depth finders:
GPS Capabilities Fish finder.
There are fish finders without a proper GPS system which we do not recommend. A GPS system enables you to mark return waypoints, download pre-made maps of various water bodies and their topography and others provide you with customized navigation and cartography. Fish finders equipped with GPS give you information about your location and the objects besides and under your boat.
This information is very important especially when it comes to navigating the water, scouting for new waters and finding productive fishing locations. Currently, most fish finders come equipped with GPS. This factor also applies to depth finders because you will be able to find the location of shallow water.
High-Quality Display Screen
No matter the amount of data collected by a fish finder and depth finder, it will not be worth much to you if the information cannot be easily displayed on the screen. You need to choose a fish finder which has the best display screen.
In addition to choosing a display screen with high resolution and full-color images, you need to select a fish finder with the biggest screen. Choosing a bigger screen will enable you to easily view images when you are close to the unit or when you are at the other end of the water body.
Most of the finest fish finders enable you to customize the way the transducer gathers information which is very important when it comes to optimizing the unit and how the information is displayed.
A good example is how some fish finders enable you to change the colors on display. These colors are very beneficial in terms of maximizing the visibility and contrast displayed in dim lighting or bad weather. Most fish finders will enable you to choose different data types to display.
Wireless Device Compatibility
Most modern fish finders are able to connect to other devices like your tablet or smartphone. This feature enables you to control your fish finder and see the images they produce wherever you are on your boat.
You can transfer data which includes custom maps, navigation routes and way-points to any of your other digital devices. Many modern fish finders are compatible with both iOS and Android-based devices; however, it is still important to check whether the one you want to purchase is compatible with your devices.
Fish finders vary in the way they are designed to be installed in your boat and the degree of difficulty they present during the installation process. It is recommended that you choose a unit that you can easily install. This is especially important for those who have to repeatedly mount and remove them. For example, those who rent boats for fishing would want to a fish finder that is easy to install so that they can install it and remove it easily.
Type of Use
One of the main factors that you need to consider before buying a fish finder is what you are going to use it for. You need to determine whether you are fishing offshore or from a lake’s kayak in several meters of water.
You need to determine whether you are looking for a place to ground your boat or whether you want to determine the depth of water for fishing purposes. For example, if you are fishing from a kayak, you do not need a large fish finder because you have to consider the issue of space. In this case, you are better off using a more vertical small fish finder.
Suitability of the Transducer
You should consider the transducer before making a purchase. The transducer is the most important part of a fish finder because it sends the sonar waves to the water and displays what lies below the water surface. It was designed on the mechanism of sending a fishing probe which bounces off the fish or any object and is displayed as an image on the fish finder screen.
If the transducer is weak, you will not be able to locate fish or determine the depth of the water at all. Currently, a wide range of sonar types are available which include sidescan, downscan, different types of sonar frequencies and structure scan. These technologies combined are ideal for different types of fishing and different locations.
You need to pick the right transducer material depending on the type of boat you will be using. A plastic transom mount is ideal for casual and enthusiast fishermen. This material is compatible with almost all kinds of boats. Those who are using a transducer with an in-hull mount or a thru-hull mount, metal hulls or fiberglass require plastic housings.
Steel or aluminum hulls require stainless steel housings. Boats with wood or fiberglass hulls require bronze housings. For recreational users, most fish finders come with trolling motor transducers or transom mounts transducers. These are compatible with almost any type of boat and all you need to do is ensure that you follow the installation guidelines.
Black and White Screens vs. Color Screens
Currently, color screens have become the standard in all electronics. They offer displays of up to millions of colors and so much detail whereas black and white screens only offer 265 shades of grey. The information put out by a transducer is easier to read and understand with a color screen. Black and white screens are harder to read in direct sunlight or during dark or cloudy weather.
With the above buyer’s guide, I guarantee that you will be able to buy the right fish finder. Consider the type of use and your preference to get the one that best suits your needs. All the best!
2 thoughts on “5 Best Side Imaging Fish Finders Review and Buyer’s Guide For 2021”
I have had very good experience with Garmin. My first portable GPS was a Magellan (good) but after that I had a Garmin which I still own (and love) till this day.
I have made up my mind for the Garmin Echomap Chirp 94SV. I like that it has dual-frequency sonar, data graphs and other sonar functions. I have had experience in Lake bathymetry and appreciate these features.
Happy you found this guide helpful, with CHIRP technology offering superior clarity, target separation and target definition, for 2D, SideVü, and DownVü and Dual-frequency sonar helps the fish finder perform as expected.