Looking for a new fish finder? Experienced boaters and anglers know it’s not easy. Every brand brings out new models each year. They all have many features. You want the best fish finder for the money. We know the top fishing electronics out there.

We’ll explain the different types of sonar. We’ll talk about Side Imaging, Down Imaging, and Live Sonar units. We also know about Kayaking and Portable units. Our fish finder recommendations will help you catch more fish.

Read on. We’ve got simple info on each type of fish finder to help your fishing trips.

Best Budget Fish Finder 2023: Top Picks


We have top fish finder recommendations for this year. Most are like last year’s choices. We suggest devices with Side Imaging, Down Imaging, and Live Sonar units. There are also ones for kayaking and ones that are portable. They fit any budget or skill level.

  1. HELIX 12 CHIRP MEGA SI+ GPS G4N is the Editor’s Choice. It has a big screen and MEGA+ Imaging. If it’s too costly, try the 10 or 9 models. Garmin ECHOMAP Ultra 106sv has a touchscreen and works with LiveScope.
  2. Lowrance Elite FS 9 Active Imaging 3-in-1 is a good touch screen option. It works with Active Target live sonar.
  3. For down imaging, there’s HELIX 9 CHIRP MEGA DI+ G4N. Garmin ECHOMAP UHD2 73cv is budget-friendly with DownVu and CHIRP sonar. If you need a budget Down Scan, pick Lowrance Hook Reveal 7 SplitShot.
  4. For kayaking, Garmin ECHOMAP UHD2 93sv is the Editor’s Choice. HELIX 7 CHIRP MEGA SI GPS G4 is another good choice. Lowrance Hook Reveal 7 TripleShot is affordable with built-in maps. And for the best portable option, try Garmin ECHOMAP UHD 73cv Bundle.

Best Fish Finders Based on Your Budget

Looking for a fish finder but have a set budget? Don’t worry. We’ve sorted the best ones for you according to different price tags.

  1. Best choices if you can spend up to $3,000
  2. Top options if your budget is $2,000 or less
  3. Great fish finders available under $1,000
  4. Reliable ones you can get below $500
  5. Good picks priced under $200
  6. Affordable options for those with a budget of $100 or less

Choose the best one that fits your pocket!

Recent Reviews on Fish Finders

The marine electronics sector is buzzing with new products. We’ve grouped the latest by brand to make your search smoother:


  • ECHOMAP Ultra: These 10 and 12-inch touch units have Ultra High Def MHz SideVu and ClearVu sonar. They’re ideal for LiveScope.
  • ECHOMAP UHD2: Smaller versions of the Ultra, with Ultra High Def side and down imaging sonars. They’re now replacing the ECHOMAP Plus series.
  • STRIKER Vivid: The series now includes a 9-inch SideVu model, replacing the Garmin STRIKER Plus series.
  • Livescope: Pioneers of forward-facing sonar systems.


  • Elite FS: The new 7 and 9-inch units, affordable and compatible with Active Target live forward-facing sonar. They also feature Active Imaging, Fish Reveal, and Genesis Live mapping.
  • HDS PRO: This luxury series replaces the HDS Live units, boasting up to a 16-inch display and a new comprehensive Active Imaging transducer.
  • HOOK Reveal: An updated version of the Hook series with new SolarMax displays and more. This replaces the Lowrance Hook2.
  • Active Target: A forward-facing sonar similar to Livescope, designed for Lowrance devices.


  • HELIX G4N: Known for its ultra-clear MEGA+ imaging, there’s now a 15-inch model, excellent for simultaneous MEGA 360 and MEGA Live views.
  • SOLIX G3: This series now comes with improved processors, useful for MEGA 360 and MEGA Live transducers. SOLIX is famous for its sharp imaging, and G3 only amplifies it.
  • MEGA 360: A unique system offering a 360-degree view around the boat.
  • MEGA Live: Humminbird’s initial foray into live sonar, although it faced some challenges at launch.


  • Axiom+: Raymarine’s renewed effort in consumer fish finders. They stand out, especially with their 3D imaging.
  • Element: Positioned slightly below the Axiom, but it incorporates many top-notch features from premium brands, including HyperVision and RealVision 3D from the Axiom series.

This is your guide to the latest in fish finding technology. Dive in and find what suits you best!

Exploring the Depths: Side Scan Sonar Review

I recently embarked on a new adventure by installing a Side Scan Sonar system on my boat. My primary goal? To enhance my diving experiences in both saltwater and freshwater environments and aid in underwater search operations.

The Test Dive:

I ventured out to Winnipesaukee (or “Winni” for short) to test the system on underwater sites I’ve previously dived. This hands-on approach allowed me to compare my firsthand knowledge of these targets with their digital representations on the sonar screen. And the results? Quite revealing!

75 Left

Side Scan Sonar Image 1

15o Left

Side Scan Sonar Image 2

Image Interpretations:

I’ve included screen captures of two renowned underwater sites: the Lady of the Lake and the horseboat near Bear Island. While the images might not be perfect in clarity (I’m still honing my sonar skills), they provide a comprehensive view of what lies beneath.

Shadows and Insights:

An interesting observation you’ll notice in both images is the presence of electronic shadows. These aren’t mere glitches but provide valuable information. These shadows, a result of the sonar wave’s angle of attack, can be incredibly useful in determining the height of underwater objects.

What’s Next:

With this powerful tool in hand, my next targets include locating a plane near Cape Cod and exploring some mysteries in the Connecticut River. The potential of Side Scan Sonar in unveiling the ocean’s secrets seems boundless.

Stay tuned for more underwater discoveries!

Top Fish Finders Based on Sonar Types

Today’s fish finders boast an array of functions. While it’s tempting to go for a device that does it all, often what’s needed is specificity.

Here’s a breakdown:

  • At the Console: The primary tool for navigation and spot-finding. You’ll want strong side and down imaging, CHIRP sonar, and top-notch maps here. It’s recommended to use your best unit in this position.
  • At the Bow: As you fish, the requirements change. Here, side imaging isn’t as vital. Regular sonar, MEGA 360, and forward-facing sonar are more beneficial. You can save by opting for a less-expensive fish finder equipped for these sonar technologies.

Let’s delve deeper into sonar types and our top picks for each:

  1. “Live” Sonar: A buzzword among anglers. While the tech has been around for ages, Garmin rejuvenated its appeal with the hit product, LiveScope. Now, Lowrance’s Active Target and Humminbird’s MEGA Live are also in the fray.
  2. 360 Imaging:: Imagine a revolving side-imaging function, giving you a comprehensive circular view around your vessel. It’s been underrated for years, but anglers are now realizing its significance in enhancing fishing experience.
  3. Imaging Sonar:: Using a slender beam, this sonar paints the picture of the underwater world, either to the sides (Side Imaging) or below (Down Imaging). As your boat progresses, these images layer, offering a vivid depiction of aquatic terrain and marine life within a 200-foot range.
  4. Traditional Sonar:: The old-school “2D” type. It emits signals directly below in a cone shape, showcasing what’s within its scope. As time progresses, older data moves left on the display, with fresh data populating the right.
  5. CHIRP:: Unlike conventional sonar that sticks to a fixed frequency, CHIRP spans across, say from 70-110 kHz. This broad range sends more sound waves into the water, resulting in clearer, more detailed feedback.

Selecting the right sonar type for your needs will vastly improve your fishing adventures!

Best Sonar Fish Finders

Live sonar is a tool. You need the right fish finder and a transducer. Transducers have a similar cost. But fish finders have a big price range.

Some fish finders are costly. We list the best ones for each budget.

Garmin Livescope

  • Budget Fish Finder: ECHOMAP UHD2 93sv
  • High-End Fish Finder: GPSMAP 1042xsv

Lowrance Active Target

  • Budget Fish Finder: Elite FS 9 Active Imaging 3-in-1
  • High-End Fish Finder: HDS PRO 10

Humminbird MEGA Live

  • Budget Fish Finder: HELIX 9 CHIRP MEGA DI+ GPS G4N
  • High-End Fish Finder: SOLIX 10 CHIRP MEGA SI+ G3

Tip: Some units, called control head only (CHO), cost less. They don’t have a transducer..

Best Side Imaging Sonar

Side imaging shows the lake bottom on both sides of your boat. It uses two beams, one on each side. The screen then shows a clear image of the lake floor.

All brands have this sonar, but with different names. They work the same way. You should check each brand’s pictures and details to choose the best one.

  • Humminbird calls it MEGA Side Imaging.
  • Lowrance names it Side Scan.
  • Garmin labels it SideVü.
  • Raymarine refers to it as DownVision.

Side imaging helps find where fish are. It’s quick and shows good spots to fish. Want to learn how? Check out our tutorial for easy steps.

Reviews on Fish Finders with Side Imaging Feature

Top Fish Finders with Side Imaging

Ever wondered about MEGA Side Imaging? When you’re hunting for the clearest images from a fish finder, the Humminbird MEGA+ models stand out. They use a frequency of 1200 KHz (or 1.2 MHz), offering incredibly clear views for both side and down imaging sonar. You’ll find MEGA exclusively in the HELIX models (8, 9, 10, 12, and 15) and also in the SOLIX and APEX series.

On the other hand, Garmin also offers megahertz imaging, especially in their ECHOMAP UHD, Ultra, and selected GPSMAP models. To harness the power of the 1.2 MHz SideVu frequency, you’ll need the latest GT56UHD-TM transducers. However, for DownVu, it supports only the 455 and 800 kHz frequencies.

Down Imaging Sonar: A Quick Dive

When you’re out on the water, down imaging is the key. This tech sends a focused beam from a transducer. The result? Sharp, 3D-like views of the world below your boat. What once looked vague in old sonar is now clear: fish, plants, rocks, all seen in detail.

Brands have their spin on this tech:

  • Humminbird: Uses “Down Imaging.”
  • Lowrance: Offers “DownScan.”
  • Garmin: Has “DownVü.”
  • Raymarine: Uses “DownVision.”

Reviews on Top Units:

  • Garmin Echomap UHD2 73sv: Clear, sharp images.
  • Lowrance Hook Reveal 7 SplitShot: High detail in a compact unit.
  • Garmin STRIKER Vivid 7cv: Balanced tech and design.
  • HELIX 7 CHIRP DI Sonar/GPS G3N: Great imaging with GPS.
  • Helix 10 CHIRP MEGA DI: A step up in imaging.

For more, see our Down Imaging Reviews.

Best Down Imaging Fish Finders Guide

MEGA 360: A New View

Both side and down imaging are fantastic. But they’ve got limits. You need to move for a clear shot, and you only see what you passed over. Enter Humminbird’s 360 Imaging. It started with AS 360. Now, we’ve got the enhanced MEGA 360.

What’s the Buzz?

The 360’s transducer spins, letting you see everything around, without moving.

For MEGA 360, a MEGA+ DI fish finder is the cheapest way. Top choices?


It works with Humminbird HELIX, SOLIX, and APEX models with MEGA+ imaging. If you have a fit, just get the MEGA 360 transducer.

More 360 Choices?

Lowrance’s Ghost trolling motor now offers a 360 view. But, there’s a catch: you can’t lock a spot and use this. Still, a neat move by Lowrance.

Kayak Fish Finders

Kayak fishing’s big now. If you’re diving in, good times. Top models now offer great screens with full sonar and mapping. Check our top Kayak Fish Finder picks.

Portable Fish Finders

Only fish now and then? Rent boats? Or got a small boat? Go portable. These easy-to-move units often come with a detachable transducer and battery. Some even sync with your phone. They’re a fun way to fish on the go.

Ice Fishing Fish Finders

Ice fishing’s tech has leaped. Flashers were the norm. Now, we’ve got more:

Flashers: Simple dials showing fish below the ice.

  • Digital Flashers + Sonar: Regular fish finders or digital flashers.
  • 360 Imaging: Great for spotting weed lines, rocks, and fish groups.
  • Live Imaging: Like an amped-up flasher, showing live views under the ice.

Budget decides your pick. A basic one does the job for most. But a high-powered unit with live sonar is a dream for ice fishing. Check the best fish finders for every ice fishing style.

Best Fish Finder GPS Combos

Today, almost every fish finder boasts GPS. The term “Combo” once referred to fish finders integrated with GPS. So, if you’re seeking a “Fish Finder GPS Combo”, you likely desire a fundamental device with a down beam sonar and GPS for pinpointing spots. Given that, here are top picks from prominent brands:

These units are pocket-friendly and efficient. However, be mindful of their constraints. For instance, certain STRIKER and HOOK versions lack map support, offering only GPS. If you’re planning on using Navionics or C-MAP charts, ensure they accommodate SD cards!

Diving into CHIRP Fish Finders

CHIRP sonar, a recent entry, is now affordable for most. Lowrance and Garmin were pioneers, with Humminbird joining with its Dual Spectrum CHIRP 2D sonar.

Wondering about CHIRP? Here’s a quick overview:

Unlike standard sonar that operates on fixed frequencies (like 83 kHz or 200 kHz), CHIRP transducers emit elongated sweeps across multiple frequencies.

These CHIRP models release much more sound energy into the water than regular ones, enhancing object detection.

The result? Better clarity, improved target distinction, and deeper reach.

Traditionally, CHIRP was vital for deep-sea fishing. But now, manufacturers adapt CHIRP signals for freshwater anglers in shallower waters.

FAQs on Best Fish Finder for the Money

Why is it important to compare fish finders before purchasing?

Comparing fish finders allows you to understand the varying features, capabilities, and price points. This ensures you choose a unit tailored to your fishing needs and budget.

What are the primary features to consider when comparing fish finders?

Key features to consider include the type of sonar (e.g., CHIRP, down imaging, side imaging), screen resolution and size, GPS capabilities, map integration, and ease of use.

How do Garmin fish finders differ from Lowrance units?

Both Garmin and Lowrance are leading brands with high-quality fish finders. However, they might differ in user interface, map integration, specific sonar technologies, and price points. It’s essential to review specific models to understand these differences in detail.

Are there significant differences in the sonar technology used by different fish finder brands?

Yes, while the basic principle of sonar remains consistent, brands may have proprietary technologies. For example, Garmin uses ClearVü for its down-imaging, while Lowrance has DownScan. These technologies might offer varied clarity, target separation, and depths.

Can I use fish finder comparisons to decide on the best unit for freshwater vs. saltwater fishing?

Absolutely. Some fish finders are tailored for deeper saltwater environments, while others excel in shallower freshwater settings. Comparing them will help you identify which is best suited for your fishing environment.

Why are Garmin and Lowrance often highlighted in fish finder comparisons?

Garmin and Lowrance are two of the industry’s heavyweights, known for their advanced technologies and reliable performance. As such, they’re frequently benchmarked against each other to help users make informed decisions.

What’s a Fish Finder GPS Combo?

In the past, fish finders and GPS devices were distinct tools. Now, many modern fish finders come equipped with GPS. When you hear the term “Fish Finder GPS Combo“, it typically refers to a device that has both sonar for detecting fish and GPS for navigation and marking waypoints.

How did Fish Finders evolve with GPS technology?

Previously, boats might have separate units, like a 4-inch Humminbird for depth and a Lowrance GlobalMap for navigation. Today, the combo is more common, streamlining fishing and navigation in one device.

Which brands offer the best Fish Finder GPS Combos?

Popular choices include the Humminbird HELIX 7 and 5, Garmin STRIKER Vivid, and the Lowrance HOOK Reveal. However, it’s essential to note that some models might only offer GPS without mapping support.

What is CHIRP in fish finders?

CHIRP, or Compressed High-Intensity Radar Pulse, is a technology where transducers send longer sweeps of varying frequencies, unlike standard sonar that uses a fixed one. This results in enhanced clarity, separation, and depth in readings.

Why is CHIRP better than traditional sonar?

CHIRP transducers emit much more sound energy. This ensures clearer object detection in water, offering a more detailed view of the underwater environment, be it in deep seas or freshwater.

Was CHIRP technology always accessible for freshwater fishing?

Originally, CHIRP was primarily for saltwater fishing, given its depth capabilities. However, manufacturers have found ways to adapt CHIRP signals, making them beneficial for freshwater anglers in shallower waters.

Do all Fish Finder GPS Combos support map extensions like Navionics or C-MAP?

No, not all combos support mapping extensions. If you’re keen on using such features, ensure your chosen model can accommodate SD cards for these charting solutions.

Anthoni Ja
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