A successful journalist and news reporter in the past, George is now focused on freelance work to be able to dedicate more time to the most important things in his life: family, friends, his dogs, and fishing.
John is an avid traveler, hiker, and RVer. Moreover, it seems like he knows everything when it comes to fishing and hunting: his father started sharing all the tips and tricks he knew when John was a kid. No wonder we trust his opinion every time a new article is being created.
Last updated: March 25, 2021
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GPS fish finders are a great way to make your fishing trips more successful. They’re help locate fish in big or small groups and can mean you don’t spend lots of time out fishing with no chance of finding anything. It can be very frustrating if you aren’t fishing where there are potential catches, but with the best fish finder GPS combo you can make sure you are giving yourself a very good chance.
In this article, we’ve looked at many of the top options on the market and which might be the best for your own specific needs. We’ve looked at the top features such as the type of display, the type of sonar that is used, the maximum depth, the reliability of the GPS and whether you can expand the fish finder with a Micro SD card. We found the top choice overall to be the Lowrance HDS-9 Live, but there are plenty of other good options on this list in various price brackets to suit all your uninque needs.
Our team has spent weeks researching these fish finders, and our reviews are based on other consumer opinions as well as first-hand experience and more information provided by the manufacturer. The information is presented first in a simple overview table of the models, and then we’ve also included detailed reviews of all of these models. Finally, we’ve written a buying guide to help you to make the right choice for you and fully understand fish finder technology.
Lowrance is something of the ‘Rolls Royce’ of fish finder manufacturers, and the HDS-9 Live is virtually impossible to find fault with, other than the fact that it is a very pricy model, designed for truly professional anglers.
This model allows you to look with 3D or HD modes and maps out a perfect view of both the sides and below the boat using amazing CHIRP sonar technology and a high definition display.
It has a quad-core processor, which means it has the computing power of a laptop! This allows for speed and means it can draw out live imaging and provide the high-tech features with ease.
It has a color range which can allow you to better see the imaging provided and easily navigate to targets, so you never miss potential catches. It even has Wi-Fi and Bluetooth compatibilities and can connect with an app for your smartphone to give you notifications.
Cleverly, the GPS has route-planning, a feature which can help you to find the right spot for your fishing while minimizing obstacles and keeping you safe, as well as actually being able to find fish when you go on your trips! There are over 4,000 pre-loaded maps of fishing lakes which are popular, and the option to save details onto the GPS data of the maps.
This is such a powerful model of fish finder, which has some brilliant features for more serious fishers.
Garmin is a brand that lots of people around the world have heard of, and when it comes to GPS they offer some very reliable products including fish finders for anglers. This is the best fish finder GPS combo under $500 and has a a lot of features considering the price, and how much cheaper it is than our best-rated fish finder GPS combo.
This model has a six-inch screen which is designed to be readable even in bright sunlight. Like most of the best GPS fish finder combos out there it uses CHIRP technology, which uses a CV23 transducer.
This is expandable with SD cards and has Wi-Fi connectivity. The fish finder is preloaded with lots of charts for around the coast of the USA.
The WiFi option connects to an app made by Garmin and their community which can give you access to all the data which has been collected by other users. You don’t need to rely on this, though. Garmin have “quickdraw” technology which creates the fishing map ahead of you on screen as you are fishing.
Garmin is a product range a lot of people trust for everything GPS related. Their community is huge and with this model you can rely on the community data.
This small, compact model by Humminbird is a great option, brought to you by one of the top manufacturers in this field. It is fantastic for taking on a small boat or a kayak due to the fact it is so small and easy to attach to a number of different surfaces on your boat.
CHIRP technology gives a huge amount of detail in the 2D sonar display and the dual beam technology uses a lot of frequencies which provide fuller displays and a lot more data than some other CHIRP models.
It also has AutoChart live which can plot out the area while you travel, which is another reason why it is so good for those on boats or kayaks. It is very fast to give this display and the Anima cartography makes it easy to visualize where fish may be. It also has a switchable setting for how the visuals are displayed, and you can choose the one you like best and can see clearest.
This model is expandable with an SD card, and is built with data including freshwater and lake details from around the USA.
What makes it stand out?
Loads of data for freshwater and saltwater fishing
Quickly maps out the local area in real-time
Works up to 1,500 feet with sonar
Which disadvantages must you keep in mind?
Smaller screen display than some people like
Some people have reported this model turning off randomly after a while, but this isn’t a common issue
This is a brilliant, affordable model which is able to be expanded to work in countries other than the USA. We’ve named it our best portable fish finder GPS combo for use around the world.
One big disadvantage is the fact this isn’t expandable with an SD card, but it does have Wi-Fi and access to the active captain app. Impressively, this can store maps for millions of acres of space over the waters, so you may not need the extra expandability of some of the other fish finders.
The seven-inch display is very clear and has been designed to be readable even in bright sunlight, and avoid glare that can make having a fish finder pointless! You need to be able to see what is happening!
The GPS which is built-in allows you to create specific routes for avoiding hazards and finding plentiful fish. It is very simple to use and pretty reliable, as this model has over 2,000 feet of range.
Why is it special?
Works up to 2,300 feet down with CHIRP sonar
Has a clear display which is easy to view even when it is bright and sunny.
Affordable at under $500
Can be used with maps all around the world so it is great even if you plan to travel
The Lowrance HOOK2 5 is just five inches in terms of screen size, which is about the size of a relatively small smartphone and is perfect for those who don’t have a lot of space but still want the functionality of a fish finder. Say you are out on a kayak and space is at a premium. The Lowrance could be for you. This model does have seven-inch and nine-inch options but these cost more.
This model is incredibly simple to set up and use, it does feel a lot like using a smartphone. You just need to mount a single transducer and you are ready to go. It is great for compact boat and kayak setups.
The intuitive design of the user interface means even if you aren’t tech-savvy, you should have no issues with this GPS. CHIRP sonar is included, which is pretty standard for the best rated fish finder GPS combos. The mapping allows you to view straight down, side scan or even ‘fish arch’ views of the fishing area.
This is great for US users and as well as having 4,000 lakes already mapped out, it can provide you with the option to follow trails and give basic navigational functions.
This is simple, hard-wearing and compact, and also doesn’t cost a huge amount of money, especially in the smaller space. For deeper lakes it may not plot as deeply as some would like.
Why are we impressed?
Compact and easy to install and use.
Comes loaded with 4,000 GPS maps.
Allows for routing and plotting through lakes
What negatives must you be aware of?
Only works at up to 500 feet depth, less than ¼ of some other GPS fish finders.
This is the best of our options if you plan to fish inshore and want a fish finder which you can cast out and map the lake or body of water in which you are fishing. The idea behind this is that it can sync with a smartphone and relay information back to shore so that you can better your fishing experience and make for a more successful trip.
The compatibility of the Deeper PRO+ Smart Sonar is vital due to the fact you need to access the information. It is important that you can use this with a variety of different devices. Fortunately, this has iOS and Android support so whichever smartphone you’re using you should be able to get the most out of the Deeper Pro+. It even generates its own Wi-Fi signal so that you can always connect.
It allows you to access Lakebook which is a kind of software that allows you to analyze data and even see saved maps and information for you next trip.
This model can be used in saltwater or fresh water. Though it is exceptionally good for inshore fishing, it also has the ability to be used from boats or kayaks.
The dual beam sonar is not as good as CHIRP, but still does a decent job up to 330 feet.
Why did it make our list?
Allows you to cast from the shore and use with your smartphone
The Garmin Striker Plus 4Cv is undoubtedly the best fish finder under $200 and makes the list as our value pick. It has some impressive features for such a cheap model, and though it does of course have some limitations, it is still a useful and helpful product for fishers and anglers.
There is no micro SD card slot for allowing additional memory and installations and the display is only around four inches which is quite small, this means it can be hard to see, especially if your eyesight is not the best.
In terms of benefits, though, it has many. An IPX7 rating for water resistance means that the model can stack up to having a few splashes on the water!
There is access to the ActiveCaptain app included to help you to plot routes and find other maps.
In spite of the affordable nature, this still has CHIRP technology which is one of the most reliable sonars you’re likely to get at this price point.
The contour mapping software allows you to create GPS markers and can cover millions of acres of water space.
Why did it make our list?
Reliable CHIRP sonar technology
Works up to 1,750 feet
Great value for money
Access to an app to help plot routes and update your data
Buying a fish finder isn’t a case of just picking an item with good reviews and going ahead with the purchase. It helps a huge amount if you take some time to find out which features are going to be the most important for you, and our buying guide will show you how you can decide what you need a fish finder to be able to do, and how you can find out which model is likely to be perfect for your own needs. Different anglers need different things, so we’ve created this buying guide to help you to fully understand all of the options and most vital features.
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.
Side imaging uses more than one sonar beam which are usually mounted on the sides of a boat in order to give a more thorough image and overview of what is around you when you are out on the water. It provides more detail from these extra angles.
A side imaging fish finder is a bonus for a small boat and can provide a lot more in the way of detail. We recommend CHIRP sonar and a relatively compact, easy-to-mount fish finder if you are looking to install on a small boat.
The Lowrance HDS-9 Live is our editor’s choice model, with some top features earning it a 9.9 rating. It has a high resistance to water, is loaded with lots of US charts and data and also has wireless and bluetooth connectivity. It is a truly pro option.
Garmin ECHOMAP Plus 64cv makes the second place on our list with a rating of 9.7, the ActiveCaptain app for sharing data is a big plus and this also has expandable memory as well as Wi-Fi connectivity.
At 9.5, we have the Humminbird 410210-1 Helix 5 G2. Humminbird is another huge brand of fish finder manufacturer and this is their top model, it has pre-loaded maps, is expandable with micro SD cards and is easy to mount with a thin design.