Fish Finder Buying Guide

Nothing beats the instincts of a seasoned angler, but a fish finder can help you find the best spots to use them. This fish finder buying guide outlines the various features and benefits.

Fish finders 101

A fish finder can pinpoint the exact locations of all the fish swimming within a set distance and depth from your boat. It's almost magical to see, and quite literally allows you to fish where the fish are. Fish finders also promote boating safety by alerting you to the presence of rocks and other underwater obstacles. With a good fish finder, you'll have a better chance of meeting your daily quota, and more big fish stories to share with family and friends.

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Fish Finder Safety Tips:

• In case of emergency, a GPS system in your fish finder will help you navigate home easily and safely
• Never install a plastic in-hull fish finder if the hull of your boat is wooden, choose a bronze fish finder instead
• Always use your fish finder within the confines of your boat (so if you drop it, you won’t lose it)


Transducer +

The transducer is one of the most important features of a fish finder. It sends sound waves into the water, which bounce off fish and other objects and then return to the transducer as echoes. These echoes are interpreted by the fish finder and displayed on screen, so you can know what’s happening underwater at a glance. Transducers with wider cone angles cover a larger area of water but lose sensitivity and effectiveness in deeper water. Conversely, transducers with narrow cone angles cover a smaller area but are more effective in deeper water.

Transducer Housing Materials +

Transducer housings come in a variety of materials, including plastic, stainless steel and bronze. You should choose your transducer based on the material of the boat hull you intend to mount it on. Plastic housings are best suited for fibreglass or metal hulls, stainless steel housings are best for steel or aluminum hulls, and bronze housings are recommended for fibreglass or wood hulls. Installing a plastic transducer in a wood hull might cause leak because wood expands. It could also damage the transducer.

Frequency +

The frequency of your transducer determines the amount of detail in the image that shows up on your screen, with higher frequencies generating more detail. For shallower waters, high frequency settings in the 192 kHz to 200 kHz range are your best bet. In deeper waters, a setting of 50 kHz is generally preferred.

Display +

The display of your fish finder presents a visual representation of what’s happening underwater. When choosing a display, the most important thing to look for is the number of pixels. The higher the number, the more detail the display will show. Color displays make it easier to see the fish and other objects detected by your fish finder. Some fish finders can share data with your smartphone, allowing you to save the information gathered and compare the amount of fish detected on different fishing trips.

Power +

The power of fish finders is measured in wattage. The greater the wattage, the deeper the sonar will penetrate into the water and the faster the unit can display readings. For shallow-water fishing, lower wattage fish finders are adequate. In deep waters, it’s best to go for a higher wattage fish finder. If the wattage of two fish finders is the same, then the unit with the lower frequency will produce readings at greater depths.

Temperature & Speed +

Some fish finders monitor temperature and boat speed. Being aware of these factors while you're fishing, and saving the data, should help you catch more fish in the long run. Through trial and error, you can determine the best temperatures and speeds for catching your preferred fish species in your favourite fishing spots.

Fixed or Portable +

Fixed fish finders attach permanently to your boat. If you've bought a boat and intend to keep it, a fixed model might be your best option. When you install a fixed fish finder on your boat, you should consider hiding the wires under the bow and floorboards to create a safer, neater boat environment. With a portable fish finder, you have the convenience of bringing your device along with you when fishing from a friend's boats, or when renting a boat. Portable fish finders can be used in a variety of different situations because they’re easy to install and remove. You can also take them on ice fishing trips.

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Fish Finder Maintenance Tips:

• Lubricate the connections of your fish finder at the beginning of the fishing season with silicon grease
• After every fishing trip, clean your fish finder of the salt and debris it has picked up from the water
• Make sure to charge your portable fish finder before every trip, especially if it has a GPS system that you might need in an emergency
This article is intended as general information. Always be sure to read and follow the label(s)/instruction(s) that accompany your product(s). Walmart will not be responsible for any injury or damage caused by this activity.



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