Is it every time a good idea to save money when purchasing a fish finder? One school of thought is that “No!” You’ve already spent a significant amount of money on a boat and its accessories, so you want your pride of the sea to have the finest quality. So why not cut corners now? After all, how are you going to catch that silvering if not by going cheap? For some of you, the answer may be “Yes!” And for the same reason. You’ve already spent a significant amount of money on a boat, so should you spend an additional $1000 or more on a fish finder?
The advantages of going cheap
To me, the only benefit to purchasing a cheap fish finder is that you will have somewhat more money in your pocket than you would if you went expensive. It’s not as if a low-cost fish finder is any less effective than an expensive one. Humminbird, Garmin, and Lowrance take pleasure in their products and don’t (usually) produce inferior fish Finders. When you get your fish finder, you’ll be disappointed. Some of the cheapest fish finders, such as the Garmin Echo 100 and Lowrance X-4, are extremely basic. Here’s what you can expect from a low-cost machine:
- The Galaxy S9 has a 3.5-inch touchscreen, which is slightly smaller than the screen on an iPhone (3.6 inches).
- A grayscale display
- A reel with a drag system of two or three keepers, and a large baitfish: This is the premium fishing tackle for deeper excursions.
If this is sufficient for you, by all means, go with the inexpensive option. However, if you require a little more oomph, you’ll have to spend a bit more money.
Advantages of Spending a Little More
As your demand for features rises, so will your budget. Let’s look at some of the various amenities and their benefits.
For obvious reasons, having a color screen is definitely beneficial. When utilizing standard SONAR (arches and blobs), a color display will provide better readings on the hardness of whatever appears on the screen. The colors darker and stronger generally indicate harder things, while lighter and softer colors imply softer things.
Bigger Screen Sizes
However, even with a larger screen, I don’t suggest going above 3.5 inches because SONAR data has to be compressed into it. The bigger your display is, the clearer your picture will be. It’ll also be more comfortable for your eyes. Lenny Rudow, a marine electronics expert, once told me that he believes even 5 inch displays are small. He prefers screens that are much larger than that.
Another great feature to have is GPS. The most basic form of GPS capability will allow you to create tracks and waypoints. This is a fantastic method to make fishing “routes” and “spots” based on SONAR data that you acquire. Some units even have very advanced mapping solutions that can replace any good standalone chartplotter on the market right now.
In Humminbird models, Down Imaging is known as 3D SONAR and DownScan or StructureScan in Lowrance models. If you’re a structure fisherman, 3D SONAR is quite beneficial. While traditional SONAR can’t tell you what type of structure you’re seeing, with 3D SONAR, you’ll virtually get a picture of whatever’s beneath your boat.
In high-end equipment, such as the Lowrance HDS and Humminbird 800 and 900 series, there are a variety of networking possibilities. To share data, you can connect two or more devices together (if you have one on the bow and one on the stern), add radar, connect your engine to view fuel data, and even control your audio system and VHF radio from one screen. All fish finders communicate using NMEA 2000 for data sharing, so as long as your current peripherals support it, they should function properly.