Advantages of a fish finder with a GPS
Firstly, it is important to understand the benefits of having a fish finder that has a GPS built in. While it is possible to find decent fish finders that don’t have a GPS, it is recommended to have this extra functionality, and there is so much more you can do with your fish finder if you do go ahead and buy one with GPS.
Many of the models on our list feature maps, which are already inbuilt and can help you to find a route even through new lakes. Products such as the Lowrance HDS-9 Live can have a huge amount of maps inbuilt, and this particular unit has 4,000 maps built in. Some others have the ability to make marks on the GPS, things like hazards can be marked, as can some of the more fun things we look out for such as spots we’ve found to be successful in the past. Some fish finders also allow you to put maps online and share with others (or take advantage of the maps others have created).
GPS mapping can give far more of an overview of the area you are fishing. Maps can be generated in real-time ahead of you and give you much more power and knowledge of the water than a fish finder without a GPS.
Features to consider when choosing a fish finder GPS combo
The following features are the ones you’ll find discussed over and over again when you are looking at fish finder reviews. We’ve explained what all of these features mean, what sort of things to look out for and why they are vital for choosing a fish finder. Some features will be more important to you than others.
The display is where you see the information the fish finder is giving you. If the display is not good enough or isn’t easy to see then it is useless no matter how much information it is showing. There are many different sizes of screen, which is one of the first things to consider. If you need a smaller screen to fit the size of your boat or kayak then you might want to opt for something like the smaller Lowrance HOOK2 5 which has a small five-inch display and can fit into small spaces. If you are the sort of person who can’t see a small phone screen very well then you might want to go for something bigger.
Some great features are included with better fish finders, such as backlit or glare-resistant screens so that you can still see even if there is a lot of sunlight about. The Garmin ECHOMAP Plus 64cv is an example of a product which you can see even if there’s a huge amount of direct sunlight glaring off the screen.
Though all of the products on the list have some form of GPS, the reliability and quality of the GPS within can vary. Products such as those that are made by Garmin use an excellent worldwide GPS network which you can be sure to rely on.
Type of sonar
The vast majority of the products on this list use CHIRP sonar. CHIRP is the best of the sonar technology that is commonly used in fish finders. It is an acronym for Compressed High-Intensity Radiated Pulse and it gives a lot more of an effective sonar signal for detailed mapping. Other types of GPS are not quite the same. Though the Deeper PRO+ model on this list has dual beam sonar which is not sonar, it is good quality but not quite as effective as the CHIRP model, which means it cannot scan as far or with as much detail.
This is a pretty self-explanatory feature, and it is obvious to work out why it is important, too! If you’re fishing in shallow water all the time then you don’t need a fish finder to be able to work thousands of feet deep, but if you are in bigger lakes and bodies of water then you might need something with a higher maximum depth.
The maximum depths can also vary a huge amount. Some of the products are only able to work up to 500 feet, whereas others, such as the Garmin ECHOMAP Plus 64cv can work over a couple of thousand feet. Our top choice, the Lowrance HDS-9 Live, scans a depth of up to 5000 feet.
These figures are based on freshwater, in which your fish finder can usually work to a greater depth. In saltwater, the depth may be a little lower.
How waterproof is your fish finder? If you’re going out on a kayak all the time and you are aware that you might get some water splashing up into your kayak (or boat) then it might be wise to opt for a product with a high rating in terms of being water resistant or waterproof.
Where will you be fishing?
You should think about the locations in which you plan to fish – do you need something that can stand up to the depth of great lakes? Do you need something that you can use from inshore such as the Deeper PRO+ Smart Sonar? The type of angling and fishing you do will dictate what features to look for.
On top of this, think about the geographical locations. Some fish finders are great for use in the USA, but will not be expandable to use in other countries due to the GPS coverage or data that is built in. If you regularly go abroad, opt for a fish finder that can support you worldwide.
You need to evaluate the size of the fish finder. If you are on a small boat then you might need something that can fit into a compact size. Alternatively, if you are planning to transport the fish finder around in a tackle box, for instance, something smaller is better. However, ensure it is big enough to clearly see the data it is providing.
A warranty is always a bonus when you are buying an electronic product. The warranties on these products are not the most generous as they are subjected to a lot of tough conditions. A 12-month warranty is not unusual, though, and this gives you some level of protection as a consumer.
As there are a lot of different fish finders out there on the market, manufacturers have tried to add their own unique features so that they stand out. Look out for features such as inbuilt Wi-Fi, the ability to connect to your smartphone and the maps which are included within your fish finder. These extras can make all the difference, and newer models tend to include more high-tech features.