We have outline a few points to consider before deciding which fishfinder best suits your requirements and to make sure that you get the most out of your unit. Spending more is not always the answer and similarly, the most expensive unit on offer may not be right for you!
Ask yourself a few basic questions before deciding on a product and think about where, how and how often you will use your fishfinder.
Remember not to overlook your future requirements as many new models have modular expansion capability and this could mean starting off with a unit that only has the functionality that you require today and adding additional functionality to your unit later – as and when you need to or can afford to!
WHERE DO YOU FISH?
The type of water you fish in largely determines what frequency, power and beam angle your transducer requires for the most efficient performance from your fishfinder. ( refer to our how to choose a transducer page for an in-depth explanation)
Generally speaking, if you fish in muddy salty or deep water a high powered dual frequency fishfinder is recommended. Where possible a through the hull installation should be considered for optimal performance from your fishfinder.
When fishing primarily in shallow clear waters a single 200 kZh beam is sufficient and the transducer can be installed in the hull or on the transom where possible.
With the advanced sonar technologies being used by manufacturers today there are plenty of variations to consider. You are able to view structure and fish targets in front of and to either side of your boat in real-time 3d images. These new technologies are a great advantage to any fisherman, and we highly recommend their consideration for both deep and shallow water fishing.
WHAT TYPE OF BOAT DO YOU HAVE?
The type of boat you have will determine how best to mount your transducer for the optimal performance of your GPS fish finder.
There are three main methods of installation: through the hull, in the hull or transom (back of the boat)
Thru-hull: a flush through the hull installation is recommended for sailing vessels or high speed boats as this minimizes the drag factor. Smaller boats that are often trailer transported should consider a flush mount, in hull or transom mount so as not to damage the transducer during transportation.
An external thru-hull installation is recommended for larger vessels.
In-hull: not all hull types are suitable for this type of installation – wood, cored fiber-glass, aluminum or steel hulls act as a barrier against the acoustic signal. This method is recommended for solid fiber-glass hulls with sufficient space inside the hull for mounting.
Transom mount: this method is generally preferred for smaller outboard motors that do not regularly exceed 40MPH (35 knots) This method is not recommended for inboard motors as the turbulence at the back of the boat affects the performance of the transducer.
Although the above three methods are the most common ways to mount your fishfinder transducer there are other options available too. These include a portable option using a heavy duty suction cup which temporarily holds the device in place (at trolling speeds only). A stick on option is also available using very high bond tape for a super-easy installation. Additionally some fishfinder transducers are designed for mounting on a trolling motor.
WHICH TRANSDUCER BEST SUITS YOUR FISHING STYLE?
Choosing the right type of transducer is the key to getting the best performance out of your fishfinder and maximizing your fishing experience. With numerous variations and factors to take into consideration it can be quite challenging choosing the transducer that perfectly suits your needs. We have outlined a few points for you to consider before you buy yours.
Please refer to How to choose a transducer page for detailed information.
WHAT STRENGTH POWER DO YOU REQUIRE?
The strength with which the transducer sends the signal is referred to as the power and is measured in watts. “Peak to peak” is the term used to describe the overall output power of the transmitter.
The higher the power the more efficient the overall unit will be and the better your chances of getting a good return echo in deep or muddy water conditions. It also allows for better detail and structure definition.
Low wattage ultimately returns slower readouts which generally means the screen will be displaying the information of a spot you have already traveled over.
If you fish in deep, salty or muddy water a high wattage is recommended, the shallower and clearer the water the less power you will need.
Marine GPS fishfinder screens are getting bigger, tougher and better as technology advances. High definition, high resolution, bright colored, sunlight viewable touch screen technology is now being used.
With the fantastic split screen feature available on many of the modern fishfinder units (allowing you to view dual sonar frequencies, or chartplotting maps and sonar capabilities simultaneously) a large screen is handy and far more beneficial. A larger screen is particulary useful if you are considering a marine GPS fishfinder.
Colored screens make it easier to interpret fish targets and structure, they are generally clearer in glary conditions. Sunlight viewable, fully waterproof screens are a must if you are mounting your unit exposed to the elements.
The bigger, brighter and higher the resolution the bigger the price tag. Many manufactures are still producing great marine GPS fishfinder units with monochrome screens which do not compromise on features.
Models either come with tilt and swivel bracket or a flush mounting kit/template (some are optional) Ensure the units dimensions fit your mounting preference and location.
DO YOU WANT A MARINE GPS FISHFINDER WITH CHARTPLOTTING CAPABILITIES?
There are many marine GPS fishfinder combos on offer which have great navigational features without compromising your fishing system.
Each marine GPS fishfinder model offers various different features, so whether you just want to plan routes and mark waypoint so that you can return to great fishing spots again and again, or make use of satellite imagery, graphical weather data and auto guidance technology there is a marine GPS fishfinder for you.
Many of these marine GPS fishfinder combos come pre-loaded with either US coastal area or US inland lakes and are ready to use straight out of the box.
When you are mounting your marine fish finder unit, take your antenna into consideration. Sometimes metal or fiber-glass cabins reflect the satellite signal and would perform better with an external antenna, alternativly wood or canvas cabins allow the signal in and an internal antenna (built into your marine GPS fishfinder) would be sufficient.
DO YOU WANT A SYSTEM THAT IS UPGRADABLE?
Do you want to start out small and upgrade your system as your budget allows? Plenty of the newer marine GPS fishfinder models on offer are customizable, completely upgradable and expandable, offering you advanced fishing and navigation capabilities from bow to stern. This allows you to choose the networkable capabilities you want and easily connect them to your marine GPS fishfinder system.
Be sure to get an affordable model now that you can customize to suit your future needs and build up a complete helm system.
DO YOU NEED TEMPERATURE, SPEED & DISTANCE FEATURES?
These features are standard on many GPS fishfinder models, however some of the lower-end fishfinder units will offer these as optional extras. They are either nice to have or mandatory; depending on your particular fishing style.
For drift fishing and trolling it is very handy to know the distance covered and the speed you were travelling when a fish strikes so as to replicate the catch. To help you locate a preferred range of fish the temperature gauge is essential for finding warmer waters.