Are you confused about whether to buy a chartplotter or a fish finder for your next boating trip? While both of these devices are designed to help you navigate the waters, they serve different purposes. In this article, we’ll explore the differences between chartplotters and fish finders, and help you decide which one is the best fit for your needs.

Chartplotters and fish finders are both important tools for boaters, but they serve different purposes. Read on to learn more about the differences between these devices and decide which one is right for you.

What is a Chartplotter?

A chartplotter is a device that uses GPS technology to display your boat’s position, speed, and course on a digital map. It allows you to plan and follow a route, mark waypoints, and avoid hazards such as rocks, shoals, and buoys. Chartplotters also provide information about the depth of the water and the location of fish, as well as weather and tide data. They come in a range of sizes and configurations, from compact handheld models to large multi-function displays.

What is a Fish Finder?

A fish finder, on the other hand, is a device that uses sonar technology to detect fish and other underwater objects. It sends out sound waves that bounce off the fish and return to the device, creating a visual display of the underwater environment. Fish finders can help you locate schools of fish, identify the depth of the water, and determine the size and species of the fish in the area. They are available in a range of frequencies and transducer styles, from single-frequency to CHIRP (Compressed High-Intensity Radar Pulse) sonar.

Chartplotter vs. Fish Finder: What’s the Difference?

Chartplotter vs. Fish Finder - Which One Should You Choose

While both chartplotters and fish finders can help you navigate and fish, they serve different purposes. Here are some of the main differences between these devices:

  1. Purpose: A chartplotter is primarily designed for navigation, while a fish finder is designed for finding fish.
  2. Technology: A chartplotter uses GPS technology to track your boat’s position, while a fish finder uses sonar technology to detect fish and underwater objects.
  3. Display: A chartplotter displays a digital map of the area, while a fish finder displays a visual image of the underwater environment.
  4. Features: Chartplotters offer a range of features such as route planning, waypoint marking, weather and tide data, and hazard avoidance. Fish finders, on the other hand, offer features such as fish detection, depth finding, and fish species identification.
  5. Price: Chartplotters tend to be more expensive than fish finders, as they offer more advanced features and capabilities.

Which One Should You Choose?

The choice between a chartplotter and a fish finder depends on your needs and preferences. If you’re primarily interested in navigation, and want a device that can help you plan routes, avoid hazards, and track your position, then a chartplotter is the way to go. If, on the other hand, you’re primarily interested in fishing, and want a device that can help you locate fish, determine their size and species, and identify underwater structures, then a fish finder is the better option.

Of course, you can always choose to have both devices on your boat, as they can complement each other nicely. A chartplotter can help you navigate to your favorite fishing spots, while a fish finder can help you find the fish once you get there.


In conclusion, choosing between a chartplotter and a fish finder depends on your individual needs and preferences. Both devices are valuable tools for boaters, but they serve different purposes. If you’re looking for a device that can help you navigate the waters, plan routes, and avoid hazards, a chartplotter is the way to go. On the other hand, if you’re interested in fishing and want a device that can help you find and identify fish, a fish finder is the better choice.

It’s worth noting that many chartplotters also come with built-in fish finders, so you don’t necessarily have to choose between the two. Additionally, some fish finders also offer basic navigation capabilities, so they can be a good option if you want a device that can do both.

Ultimately, the best choice for you will depend on your specific needs, budget, and boating habits. If you’re not sure which device is right for you, consider consulting with a boating expert or visiting a local marine supply store to see different models in person. With the right device, you can enjoy a safer, more enjoyable boating experience, whether you’re navigating new waters or trying to reel in the catch of the day.

Anthoni Ja
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