These days, electronic devices are seen almost everywhere and are used daily as tools to make our everyday lives a little bit easier. The world of fishing is no different when it comes to embracing technology, and in a lot of ways if you aren’t utilizing these tools, you are putting yourself at a disadvantage when it comes to finding fish, and getting a good read on your fishing area.

A fish finder (or fish locator) is a tool that you can use on your boat that will serve as a virtual crewmate, helping you search the water for fish under and around the boat, where you are unable to see for yourself. They are extremely useful tools that every modern fisher should have on their boat.

Determine how you will use your fish finder

The features you’ll need on your fish finder will depend on where and how you plan to fish. The first thing you’ll want to figure out is what type of waters you plan to fish in, and what the depth levels tend to be in those areas.

Essentially, smaller and more shallow lakes or ponds require less work to search, so you won’t need a high-level fish finder. For those that are braving the deeper waters in some of the great lakes or oceans, you’ll need a higher frequency level out of your finder with the water being much deeper and having more depth to search.

Frequency is what determines how deep your finder will search, and how detailed the information will be. This will help in those deeper, darker waters so you’ll get the full picture on whether or not you’re in a good spot.

Your fish finders’ transducer will be the piece that actually sends out and receives the sound waves used for tracking. There are a few different setups when it comes to transducers, allowing you to choose from a single frequency, to having dual or multiple options. Most finders these days also feature CHIRP technology, which sends out sweeping waves in a range of frequencies, allowing you to get many results at one time using more than one frequency.

While the main duty of a fish finder is to search below your boat, you can also choose one that has side-imaging as well. These are good for shallow water fishers, as sometimes fish won’t be below your boat but instead swimming alongside of you. This helps give you a full view of everything going on, and not just what’s below you.

Display & Screen Size

Having a high-definition display will show you all your important info, no matter what the natural lighting may be.

When choosing a display, it’s easy to go with the same line of thinking as when you’re shopping for a new TV or smartphone. Bigger the screen, the better, right?

That’s not always the case when it comes to fish finders. While a bigger screen might make it easier to read your data, those units aren’t always the easiest to read for beginners, and may not fit your needs. If you plan on keeping it unmounted and portable, a smaller, more handy display size might be the one for you. However, if you’re mounting your fish finder, it’s recommended to go with whatever the biggest size is that your budget will allow.

A larger mounted display gives you a good-sized screen that will show you all the vital information you’re looking for at a glance: Water depth, boat speed, signal frequency, and most importantly, what’s going on underneath your boat. Higher screen resolution is a nice plus to have in a fish finder, but ultimately you should choose the one that fits your budget best.

Best Fish Finders: Entry, Mid & Top Level

Let’s take a look at some of the best fish finders on the market, whether you’re a beginner looking to get started with one, or you’re ready to take the next step up and need something a little more sophisticated.

Entry Level

Humminbird PiranhaMAX4 Fish Locator

The Humminbird PiranhaMAX is a great entry-level option into the world of fish finders.

With its modern frame and 4.3 inch color LCD display, the PiranhaMAX is a great starter fish finder that will give you a great view of what’s below your boat or fishing kayak. This comes loaded with the easy-to-use Fish ID+ interface, and has minimal display buttons, making it simple and accessible for most fishers. This fish finder has range and versatility for almost any depth of water that you’ll be in. The PiranhaMAX will give you a wide coverage area, helping you find fish everywhere you go.

Mid Level

Humminbird HELIX 7 CHIRP MEGA D1 GPS Fish Locator

If you're looking for a little more out of your fish finder, The HELIX 7 is a great option with its 7-inch HD display.

The HELIX 7 from Humminbird is a fish finder that will do it all for you, making your life on the boat that much easier. Featuring MEGA down imaging, Dual Spectrum CHIRP Sonar, AutoChart Live, and an Internal GPS, you won’t miss a thing when you’re out on the water. Plus, with the upgraded high-definition 7-inch display screen, you’ll have a great view of the various pre-loaded split screen views that show you all the important data you need. This is a great option for the more seasoned fishers that are looking for just a bit more out of their fish finders.

Top Level


A must-have for any serious anglers, the HELIX 12 gives you the some of the best all-around performance you will find in a fish locator.

This Humminbird fish finder is one of the best for elite fishers looking for that unparalleled performance and unprecedented accuracy. This fish finder gives you a stunning 12.1-inch display, that’s readable even in direct sunlight. It comes preloaded with MEGA Side Imaging+, MEGA Down Imaging+, Dual Spectrum CHIRP Sonar, and Internal GPS. These all come together to give you an unbeatable complete picture of everything that’s going on deep under and all around your boat. You’ll get the best readings on water depth and overall surroundings of your fishing area, and with Autochart Live, you can even create your own richly-detailed maps of your favorite spots to fish. Nothing will get past you with the HELIX 12. It’s a must-have for any serious fishers looking to master the game of fishing.

Fish finders are an essential tool that any modern fisher should have on their boat. They can go a long way when it comes to finding the right spots, eliminating a lot of the guesswork and time you might spend casting out in areas where there aren’t any fish in the first place.

If you’re unsure on which option is the best for you, use your resources! Ask around, whether it’s friends and family, or a Team Member at a Fleet Farm store near you, there are many excited fishing enthusiasts that would be happy to help you find the perfect fish finder for you.

Find the one that suits you best, and get out there to reel in more fish than ever before.