Focus, patience, technique, and perseverance, are some of the qualities that one must practice to be an ideal or successful angler. Fortunately for us who love to fish, technology has evolved and presented us with almost everything that we need to aid ourselves if we want to catch a good amount of fish every time we set out. Today you are going to read our complete best side imaging fish finder reviews.
Not everything can do manually especially for advanced fishermen. Our eyes and attention can only do so much and so we must find ways to augment such capabilities. Some fish are just hard to detect, find, and eventually catch and so a fish finder should be the best friend you should always have by your side.
There are a few types of these fish finders, if you want to see wider make sure to have these best side imaging fish finders available in the market today.
What is the Best Side Imaging Fish Finder?
As the name implies, a fish finder is a device that uses Chirp Sonar technology or Sound Navigation and Ranging system utilized by boatmen to find fish in the waters. One might expect that a fish finder may only utilize by a pro or hardcore fishermen but it can also be beneficial for leisure fishing as it adds to the experience and joy of the sport or should we say hobby.
A fish finder displays its findings on a digital display usually in LCD or CRT types. This technology ain’t new either as it was probably first utilized in the 90s but then constant upgrade to the technology has brought about many benefits and improvements to accuracy in fishing.
Modern fish finders have GPD technology infused in them with electronic radars and compasses to even make it more accurate.
So, How does it Work?
Fishfinders will differ in the way they work depending on how sophisticated a certain device can be. But here’s how one works in its very basic state.
Usually, a transmitter is located right on-board the ship and then that transmitter sends signals to the waves. Remember SONAR? The SONAR system utilizes echoes, reflects them back to the waves, and then back again to the transmitter.
The reflected waves are then recorded and that is what is sent back to your screen. So how do these devices deal with false signals? Yep, it detects all sorts of signals and that’s also transmitted on the screen.
These are signals sent from corals, stones, and other things from the sea. But, as we’ve mentioned, these are advanced devices and that reflect the signals from fishes differently on the screen as opposed to the others to minimize if not eliminate false signals.
Thus successfully differentiating the echoes sent in form and sizes. And what better way than to show echoes from fishes than with a fish symbol on the screen, right? You don’t want to find out that what’s detected was just seaweed or any underwater plants too.
Different Types of Fish Finders
There are a few types of fish finders and we‘re not talking about the technology on-board it but its purpose. Each type will have its pros and cons and so knowing which one to bring or use in certain situations will prove to be advantageous in your fishing expedition.
First is the 2D Fish Finders
This is should we say that most basic of them all. You might already be familiar with it, or not. It can come with a black & white or colored display. It will have images moving from left to right and will display rough textures, soil hardness, and fishes as they swim.
Experience anglers can even identify the type of fish sometimes with these devices. Fishes are usually symbolized as a dot or a dash on the screen of the transmitter.
Second is the Down Scan Fish Finders
This is a popular type of fish finder. This device can give a photo-realistic view of what’s immediately underneath it. But one downside to it is that its detection range is relatively smaller and is not adjustable.
But the vivid picture that it shows you make up for its weaknesses. That’s accuracy like no other. Take note though that the picture-perfect display can easily be affected by poor visibility conditions. With a down-scan fish finder, you really need to take what you can get and live with the result. This one should be perfect for deeper waters.
Lastly, the Side Scan Fish Finders
Our featured fishfinder type in this article. Perhaps the most functional of them all this device will also provide a picture-perfect display of the waters. You will have wide coverage of the area and the setting of what‘s within its range is adjustable to boot.
Depending on the brand, you may cover an area of about 1 meter from right to left or an impressive 30 meters. Each with almost a photorealistic display. This type of fish finder is perfect for sampling larger bodies of water. The downside? It can be pretty expensive compared to its counterparts.
So, Which one’s the Best Side Imaging Fish Finder for me?
So again, which should you go for? Down scan or side scan? Let’s break down their pros and cons further to give you a better perspective of things.
- Superb details, you’ll see fishes individually or if they are part of a structure or a school. Reliable and increased accuracy of your readings in about 40 feet deep. This is valuable when out surveying or when pattern running.
- However, within its limited range, a down scan fish finder can be too powerful for its own good. It’s not to say that it ain’t adjustable for it is so you’ll get better results. But sometimes, shallow waters may result in an unreadable blur so do be wary of this.
- Limited range, may miss some of the things going on in its sides.
- With limited range being said and the primary weakness of down scan fish finders, side scan fish finders will solve that problem for us. You can scan a vast amount of area with the side scan fish finder in just a single pass. With an average of about 100 feet on each side, enjoy great details each time.
- You can get more accurate readings on the area of your choice to survey. This is because you don’t have to be where you want to read due to its range. That means you won’t disturb the area of interest at all.
- Side scan fish finders have relatively lower noise levels
- Less accurate readings might be experienced in deeper waters.
But what if you want the best of both worlds? Why not? Due to advances in fishing technology, it’s now possible that you get to purchase a device with both down and side scan technology. And the best part of it is that it’s not that pricey either for the function that you’re getting.
But take note that hardcore fishing aficionados will always tell you that when it comes to fish finders, one size will not really fit all. So survey what you need and buy what’s right for the job.
Top 8 Best Side Imaging Fish Finder Reviews
The Garmin Striker 7SV is the first entry on our best side imaging fish finder review. As we all know, Garmin is a giant in the GPS technology industry and it’s no surprise that they have some of the most advanced fish finders in the business. And they do have a few entries on our review alone.
This 7-inch fish finder is imbued with a top of line GPS technology and comes with a transducer. You’ll get to take advantage of industry-leading SONAR and Quickdraw Contours Map software.
This unit can handle 2 million acres of map content and the screen is bright enough to ensure crystal clear images at all times. The unit is also capable of the much-needed target separation.
The Quickdraw Contours software will make sure to draw HD maps wherever you may go plus it’s easy to set it up to do so and the device is also quite user-friendly. You can then connect it via Wi-Fi to check with the ActiveCaptain application for your smart notifications. The unit is also infused with the CHIRP ClearVu and SideVu for photographic images.
Truly top of the line, this unit should be seriously considered.
- Sends you smart notifications as you go
- Marking waypoints, creating routes, viewing your boat’s speed is a breeze
- User-friendly device
- Bright display and very intuitive interface
- Quickdraw contours software is a great add-on for advanced fishermen
- Some issues about its durability have been floated around reviews
This next unit the Humminbird helix 5 chirp GPS g2 is armed with a 5-inch WGVA colored display and will set your standards about fish finders to a high level.
The primary feature that powers the Helix 5 series is the combination of Digital Sonar as well as imaging sonar to reveal what’s in the bottom of the lake and then its GPS mapping, Humminbird Basemap, and AutoChar Live features to show you where you are and where you are going.
This unit comes with a transducer, mounting hardware, power cable, and a gimbal mounting bracket for your added flexibility and convenience. The imaging capability of this unit is off the charts and we’re not even exaggerating.
Its side imaging function will make sure that your target will have nowhere to hide and its down scanning abilities will make sure to give you a clear picture of what’s below.
The built-in Basemap will make sure that you can fish right on the get-go. The AutoChart live will give you the chance to create your map and turn it into your very own masterpiece. Lastly, the GPs technology onboard will give you an accurate location no matter where you are.
- Versatile down and side scan fish finder
- Have access to details that other SONAR fish finders won’t normally show you
- The built-in Basemap is truly impressive
- Real-time map making at your convenience
- LakeMaster compatible
- The same as our previous unit, the hardware on this one is not as durable
If you’re on a bit of a budget then try this Garmin Striker 4 out. While about 4 times cheaper than the previous Garmin striker unit we reviewed this one does not come short with useful features.
It’s got a 3.5-inch color display and comes built-in with GPS technology. Finding fish, returning to your hotspots, ramps, and docks will be a breeze. The unit also comes with a conventional keypad.
This side imaging fish finder then comes with the CHIRP 77/220 kHz sonar transducer and can be upgraded to a high-performance CHIRP with either a GT8 or maybe a GT15 transducer.
You can navigate easily with this unit using a waypoint map. You can also check your speed on screen and this is one portable kit so you can take it anywhere and put it on any boat that you rent.
Clarity is one of its best features and if you think you can’t have that with a cheaper unit then rest assured that you CAN now.
- Guaranteed audible alarms
- Dual frequency sonar capability
- Dual beam sonar capability
- Multiple frequencies supported
- Desirable maximum depth capability
- The screen is too small for some users
4. Humminbird HELIX 7– Side Imaging Humminbird
The next product under review is perhaps one of the most advanced and sophisticated gadgets on our list and we’re talking about the Humminbird HELIX 7. Garmin to Hummingbird to Garmin you see a trend, right?
This unit comes with a wide 7-inch screen that’s just appropriate for the details that can project. It does not only have a color TFT display but a resolution of 800H x 480V. They like to call what it can display mega side imaging and rightfully so.
You’ll get a crystal clear view of what’s under you (125 feet) as well as 125 feet on either side. All of that with clarity like no other. This unit also comes with a patented low CHIRP transducer and the dual Spectrum CHIRP that offers searching capabilities in two different ways. That’s the wide mode for max coverage and maximum detail with narrow mode.
The unit comes with mounting hardware and a gimbal bracket.
- Perhaps the most advanced unit on our list
- Maximum clarity
- Top of the line features with superb adjustability
- Versatile fish finder
- Extremely durable
- Very pricey gadget
From one pricey but multi-functional gadget, let’s move on to another consumer-friendly fish finder from Garmin the Garmin Striker Plus 4. This unit is actually one nifty handheld side imaging fish finder and you can take it with you wherever you may go. It’s got an impressive and bright 4.3-inch display and it also comes with a built-in GPS.
Don’t worry as it also features CHIRP sonar for the much-coveted crystal clear images as well as the Quickdraw Contours software we discussed earlier. It can also store 2 million worth of acres of content and the built-in GPS will no doubt let you create waypoints as well as show the speed of your boat.
This unit also comes with a rugged design and construction that is sure to withstand all the elements and harsh weather conditions that fishing might bring. Don’t worry about image resolution as it can provide that and target separation no matter if the waters you are treading are deep or shallow.
Talk about great value for money, huh?
- Portable and convenient to use
- Very ergonomic
- Great durable construction for its price
- Best in its price category
- Wide enough screen with great details
- Don’t expect it to come with the latest most advanced features
6. Humminbird Fishing Hook-Humminbird GPS
Most of the side imaging Humminbird gadgets we’ve discussed by far are quite on the hefty price tag category. Worry no more. If you’ve been wanting to get a device from this awesome and innovative brand but don’t have the budget for it then the Humminbird Fishing Hook may just be what you’ve been looking for.
Just slightly affordable than the ones above this unit still comes with most of the brand’s top of the line features. The unit comes with a 5-inch screen that’s no doubt displays crystal clear images. It’s a color display to boot.
The CHIRP down imaging makes sure to filter out noise as well as clutter to provide the clearest view possible. You have access to SwtichFire Sonar that’s got two display modes. And then the Dual Beam Plus feature gives the wide beam or narrow beam options with the former giving you more range and the latter giving you more clarity.
This unit is super versatile and one that you must have with you on your fishing expeditions. This unit of course comes with a transducer.
- Solid construction
- Advanced features for a cheaper price
- Comes with Humminbird Basemap feature and AutoChart
- LakeMaster compatible
- Crystal clear images and very wide range
- The screen gives up rather prematurely
We have discussed devices so far that are either cheap or expensive but this one the Garmin Striker Plus 5cv we promise to be right on the sweet spot.
This device comes with a 5-inch display and a built-in GPS. It also features Garmin’s CHIRP sonar as well as its CHIRP ClearVu scanning feature. Of course, it still comes with the much-coveted Quickdraw Contours software so you can also draw HD quality maps on the go.
Navigating waypoints is always a breeze with this unit and it can also store up to 2 million acres of map content. The display is bright enough and can be easily read even in the brightest rays of sunlight. It’s got multiple frequencies supported and has a resolution of 800 x 480 pixels.
The unit has an intuitive interface which is not too overwhelming even for someone who just started using a fish finder. It’s also wrapped around a durable and rugged layer of hardware to protect it at all times.
- Great price point
- Will have all necessary advanced features
- Durable construction
- Nice display and resolution
- Operates in multiple frequencies
- There’s really not much reason why you shouldn’t get the much cheaper unit
The last entry on our best side imaging fish finder review is none other than the Humminbird HELIX 5 CHIRP GPS G2.
This unit comes in a black design and is portable enough for you to have with you at all times. It’s got rugged construction too that you may use in hot, humid, or wet conditions.
It’s got a 5-inch color display with backlit that gives you visibility at all times. This unit is built to make sure that you’ll get the depth and range that you need and deserve.
And that’s all possible with its onboard CHIRP side imaging and digital Sonar. The former make sure to filter out all that noise and clutter and give you the clearest view possible while the latter makes sure to give you either great detail or superb wide range.
Comes with GPS tech onboard and all the Humminbird features. Now that’s something that could really be worth the investment!
- Built-in Basemap and AutoChart features
- LakeMaster compatible
- GPRS onboard
- Solid construction and ergonomic design
- Extremely portable
- Its depth readout may not be as accurate when you’re going faster than 10mph
Best Side Imaging Fish Finder Buyers Guide
Here are some of the aspects that you should watch out for if you want to get the best side imaging fish finders in the market now that you’ve determined that it’s what you needed to take your angling game to the next level.
Make sure to check the Transducer Specifications
The transducer in a fish finder device is one of its most important components. It is a digital sound module that contains a soundwave generator as well as a receiver unit that then connects to its primary monitoring device.
The soundwave generated is measured in Gigahertz. The higher the GHz the further it can travel and the more impact it will have on the images that are generated. A side scan fish finder can have a frequency of 200 kHz to thousands of it.
To find something, visibility is of utmost importance. And so the next aspect that you should look out for is the screen size. Your screen size should work perfectly with a display that’s visible enough even in the harshest of conditions.
That’s not to say that you should only consider screens that will perform under when it rains but also should have enough brightness to deal with harsh sunlight but won’t compromise on low light visibility.
Smaller fish finders that are handheld and mostly with black & white displays are pretty good under harsh sunlight.
GPS and Frequencies of Best Side imaging Fish finder
Please be wary that there are fish finders, down scan, or side-scan that has no proper GPS technology. We do not in any way recommend this. A GPS technology on-board does a lot of things.
It can mark your waypoints, help you download maps that are pre-made for various bodies of water that you may be interested to explore and take advantage of customized cartography as well as navigation.
Fish finders with GPS technology will give you info about the objects surrounding you and your location. This will prove valuable as you can then travel or navigate with confidence in the waters, scout new locations, and have a productive time. Some devices will even enable you to find shallow water locations.
When it comes to frequency, the number of satellites your device is connected to also matters. Fish finders will have 12 satellite connections minimum but you can go for those with 24. Of course, an increment in satellite connections also gives you more accurate locations.
Lastly, we would like to discuss hardware quality for this leads to the devices’ design, usability, and how ergonomic it will be. In short, what’s the point of a high-tech fish finder with the latest software or technology imbued if its hardware is not durable enough to last for a long time or withstand the elements or even be useful in any situation.
Take note, that when you’re fishing anything can happen and you’ll be exposed to the extremes and it can get messy. It should be robust enough and sturdy that it won’t break on you in the middle of the trip.
What we recommend is getting a unit made of polymer or hard plastics. It can also then be protected by rubber to withstand bumps and bruises. Devices that have metal attachments or components are also recommended.
How to Properly Utilize a Side Imaging Fish Finder?
Here are just a few tips and tricks so you may use your side imaging fish finder properly and maximize its potential.
- Make sure to install your fish finder at a strategic and the right place. Make sure that there should be little to no objects that may obstruct it from the water. Follow the instructions that come with the manual.
- Set your limits and your controlling speeds. For accuracy in your readings, start adjusting from its default setting and then crank it up from there. Boat speed must then be around 3 to 4 mph and then slowly gain your momentum.
- Practice reading the images. There’s nothing more to this than just constantly practicing using your fish finder to be an expert on it.
Frequently Asked Questions
What’s the Power source of Side Imaging Fish Finders?
Simple, most fish finders will have a 12-24 volts power supply. Portable ones will have battery compartments or any rechargeable facility.
Should I Choose a Side Imaging Fish Finder as Opposed to a Fixed or Mounted one?
This is also one hot topic when it comes to fish finders. Would you want a portable one or a fixed unit? Let’s do the math then. Portable ones also are super convenient to use. They are perfect for those who only rent boats. They have multiple transducers, require no drilling, and are also cheaper. But if you want stable and more consistent performance and functionality, then go for fixed or mounted fish finders.
How do I Clean my Side Imaging Fish Finder?
Maintaining your fish finder is key to its longevity. There’s no special way to do it too. Just make sure to always clean the screen using a soft and dry cloth. Spray some Windex to it and gently rub until dry. Vinegar and water solution should also work.
There you have it, these are some of the best side imaging fish finder when you need to see wide. Durable, functional, advanced, and have everything that you need onboard. These are the modern devices suitable for modern fishermen.
For best results, arm yourself with one of these for your expeditions and it will all be worth the investment. You’ll see how it will improve your experience and your efficiency in your trips.
In conclusion, what are you waiting for? Treat yourself to one of these side imaging fish finders and upgrade your fishing to the next level!
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