Fish Finding Guide – Top 8 Things to Search in a Fishfinder

Planning to buy your first ever fishfinder? You must be feeling overwhelmed and might even get lost in the sea of all the technical talks. Coming across the different functions and features offered by each can be daunting to a first-time buyer. Among the different types of transducers, flashers, echoes, sonars, etc, it’s pretty tough to make sense of it all.

That is the reason we have put together this complete guide on buying the right fish finder to help simplify the process for you. Here, we will demystify some common terms to get you geared up. Once you know what you need to look for, you can be sure you’re picking the right fish finder.

So below are some essential things to search when buying a fishfinder. The checklist will help you filter your search and select a fish finder that will best fit your specific needs.

1: Choice of Transducers

Transducers are a crucial part to every fish finder. These units send and receive sonar waves. The waves, when transmitted into the water, get reflected from different objects, which are then received by the transducer. After receiving the data, it goes directly to the central unit. That’s exactly where all the signals are processed into an image on the display, which you can view and understand.

Transducers are available in different types of mounts. The simplest one to install is the transom mount transducer. However, for the bigger boats or something more powerful, you should opt for other options like thru-hull mount transducers.

2: Transducer Material

Contingent upon the type of boat you’ll use, you should pick the right transducer material. For casual fishermen and recreational use, a transducer with a plastic transom mount will be apt as it is compatible with almost all boats. For those who use a transducer with an in-hull mount or a thru-hull mount, the fiberglass or metal hulls must have plastic housings. Aluminum or steel hulls additionally need stainless steel housings for added safety. Bronze housings are meant for boats with wood or fiberglass hulls.

Talking about the recreational mariners, the majority of Garmin fishfinders, Lowrance transducers, Simrad transducers, Raymarine transducers, and other popular models come bundled with trolling motor transducers or transducers having transom mounts. These units work with almost all types of boats. All you need to do is ensure you take the installation guidelines seriously.

3: Beams and Cone Angles

When choosing a transducer, a key factor to consider is the cone angle. In simple words, this angle is responsible for telling the width of the beam emitted below the surface from your boat. The wider the cone angle, the more coverage you get. A lower beam means an expanded cone angle, at the cost of sensitivity in deeper water. Transducers come equipped with cones ranging from as low as 9 degrees to 60 degrees and above. Most units available in the market range between 16-20 degrees. For beginners, who wish to fish in different water depths, buying a fishfinder with a 20-degree cone is the ideal decision.

While some units have multiple options, others might have single beams. The number of beams shows the price of a certain device. Dual beams are way better when compared to single beams when fishing in shallow water. Thinking why? Because they cover more area without putting extra effort.

4: Black & White Vs Color Screens

Color display screens have gained the prominence in the electronics world, not only the fish finders. These can provide millions of colors and additional details while black and white screens have only 265 shades of gray to offer. A color screen makes the info shared by the transducer simpler to view and understand. Furthermore, more colors makes it better to see what’s going on. Black and white screens are barely visible in direct sunlight. In the dark or poor weather, black and white screens may fall short due to limited readability.

5: Screen Resolution

While surfing through the displays, you need to consider the resolution and number of pixels you expect in your fish finder’s screen. Put plainly, a pixel is a single dot on a screen. The more pixels you have, the better details the display can show. Along with the screen size, the screen resolution will eventually decide the fate of the image you’ll get from your fishfinder.

6: Choosing Between Dual, Single, and Multiple Frequencies

The majority of transducers compatible with dual frequencies have both 20- and 60 degree cones available. Frequencies are one of the key factors for transducers. Transducers generally come with 200, 192, 83 and 50 kHz frequencies and cone angles relate directly to these. For those sailing the shallow water, the ideal choice is high frequencies (192 or 200 kHz). For pro level or commercial usage in deeper waters, 50 kHz transducers are the best fit. Remember a high frequency will offer more details on your display.

7: Power

Before taking a shot, consider the power factor of the shortlisted fish finder. For faster and deeper readings, you would need a high wattage unit. Units with a lower power will work slower and perform better in shallow waters. It happens since a fish finder converts sonar waves received from the transducer. When you have less power, the waves would be slower, and the reading would be much reliable. However, more power produces faster waves and of course, more accurate readings.

8: Waterproof

At last, another important consideration for buying the best fish finder of 2019. When you are planning to mount your unit on a small, open boat, waterproof feature is something that will be essential. Never forget to check the JIS or IPX ratings before pulling the trigger. These will be more or less the same, yet each figure shows a specific unit’s level of resistance to water.

A rating of 4 implies a given unit is safeguarded from splashing water so it won’t be ideal on a kayak, just an example. On the other hand, a JIS/IPX rating of 5 or 6 means fishfinder can withstand low to high-pressure jets of water. A 7 rating means you can even submerge the unit up to 10ft water for 30 minutes or so. Lastly, a rating of 8 is for extended periods of time under the water. These rating are the distinguishing factor and decides how and where you can use the selected fish finder.


So now you know, what does it take to buy the right fish finder for your marine specific needs. From something as common as screen resolution to complex factors like power – everything has a key role in determining how satisfied you will be with your decision. Fortunately, you will find a decent variety of fish finders in the market with different features and specifications to fit your needs. All you need to do is know what you are expecting out of the fish finder, things to look for, and then choose the one that fulfills your checklist.


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