Five Best Fish Finders

Anglers who take their fishing seriously will no doubt want the best fish finders aboard their boats, and while we’ve already looked at some of the best depth finders of 2022, if locating those finned critters is job number one some specific functions and features are in order. But there are so many choices out there that figuring out which to buy is no small task. To make things even more confusing some systems are better for one type of fishery than another. So, how are you supposed to know which to get? A big part of the decision depends on how you fish and what you like to fish for. But no matter what sort of angler you are one or more of these five best fish finders is sure to be a top contender.

furuno navnet tztouch3 on viking yacht
The Furuno NavNet TZtouch system is commonly seen on big oceanic sportfishing machines. Photo via Off the Hook Yacht Sales.

Furuno NavNet TZtouch3

The Furuno TZtouch3 is a heavy-hitting system appropriate for offshore anglers and serious sportfishing machines. It punches through the depths with 1kW dual channel TruEcho CHIRP pinging through 50- to 200-kHz or 40- to 225-kHz and can put out 300 or 600 watts or one kilowatt. CHIRP side-scan is an option with the proper transducer, with range out to 750 feet. The Personal Bathymetric Generator lets you create color-shaded relief charts including depth contours, and this system is completely expandable with options for radar, autopilot, and additional instrumentation. As one might expect from a system with this sort of fish finding potency, it doesn’t come cheap and the base 12-inch model (16- and 19-inch displays are also available) starts at slightly over $4,000. But if you want to be able to spot everything from swordfish swimming in the canyons to tunas prowling over sea mounts, the Navnet TZtouch3 is going to be one of the best fish finders around.

garmin livescope bass boats
Serious anglers outfitting a bass boats with an electric trolling motors on the bow often opt to get a Garmin LiveScope system. Photo via Lowe.

Garmin LiveScope

The LiveScope system is a “real-time” fishfinder, providing you with a view of the underwater world that’s almost like a video. Detail levels are so high it’s sometimes possible to differentiate between fish species, and since the transducer mounts to your bow-mount trolling motor, you can aim it wherever you’d like. The system includes the LVS32 transducer and a GLS 10 black-box that projects the view to Garmin ECHOMAP, ECHOMAP Plus, ECHOMAP UHD, ECHOMAP Ultra, and GPSMAP MFDs. (See Best Multifunction Displays for Boats in 2022 for more information on these and other MFDs in general). Maximum range for the LiveScope is 200’ but the newest XR version (which boosts cost from $1,199 to $2,999 at the time of this publication) increases range to 500’ in freshwater or 350’ in saltwater. Between the range limitation and the need for a bow-mount trolling motor, it’s generally considered best for freshwater and some inshore saltwater fishing applications. Largemouth hunters looking for fish hiding near structure while fishing from bass boats, in particular, utterly rave about this system.

humminbird apex
A Humminbird Apex 16 gracing the helm is a welcome sight to any angler. Photo via Lenny Rudow.

Humminbird Apex

Humminbird is known for offering unbeatable side-scanning utility with MEGA SI+ Side Imaging, which is built into their latest line of MFDs, the Apex series. Starting with a 13-inch unit (at a $4,300 base price with transducer), 16- and 19-inch models are also offered. The Apex s a fully-expandable system with dual ethernet ports, and MEGA Down Imaging plus dual-channel CHIRP sonar (28- to 75-kHz, 75- to 155-kHz, or 130- to 250-kHz) come in addition to the Side Imaging abilities. Unlike most systems the angler can fine-tune their side-finding abilities on the spot to match depth and conditions, with 455-, 800-, and MEGA-kHz settings that can boost detail for shorter ranges or gaze clear out to 800’.

humminbird apex side imaging
Humminbird is famous for their MEGA side imaging abilities – and this is a screen every angler dreams of seeing. Photo via Lenny Rudow.

Note that the Apex is also compatible with Hummnbird’s MEGA Live Imaging real-time fishfinder and the radar-like MEGA 360 system.

lowrance hook reveal
The Lowrance Hook Reveal packs gobs of tech into an inexpensive package. Photo via All Out Marine.

Lowrance Hook Reveal

Anglers looking to maximize their fish finding bang for the buck will likely want to look at the Lowrance Hook Reveal line, which delivers a rather shocking level of fish finding tech in a standalone fish finder/chartplotter that’s far more affordable than most. Available in 5-, 7-, and 9-inch units (starting at under $400 with a SplitShot transducer), it delivers both CHIRP sonar, DownScan imaging views, and in the case of a 7 or 9 paired with the TripleShot transducer, side scanning abilities. The upgrade to include side-scan raises price to a hair over $700, still a major-league bargain and one of the least expensive ways to gain this critical fish-finding feature. This is also about as inexpensive a unit an angler can find which offers the ability to combine the pings of sonar with GPS positioning to provide custom mapping abilities (which Lowrance calls Genesis Live). If you don’t need an expandable system, you want side- and down-imaging abilities, and you want the best value for the dollar spent, this one will be tough to beat.

Raymarine Element HV

The Element is Raymarine’s base unit and comes in the HV version with features tweaked to maximize fish finding abilities. There are 7-. 9- and 12-inch versions, (starting between about $500 and $800 depending on transducer and mapping options) which are ready for 200 kHz CHIRP, 1.2 megahertz CHIRP HyperVision down- and side-imaging, and RealVision 3D fish finding. The HV series isn’t fully expandable but is NMEA2000 compatible and can display engine and tank data, and it also has WiFi built in. The Element HV units also support Raymarine’s RealBathy custom mapping and Navionics SonarChart Live.

Which of these options will be the best fish finder for your own personal needs? That’s a question only you can answer. We can say for sure, however, that each of these units have their own distinct advantages, and with any one of them aboard your catch rate should soar.

Written by: Lenny Rudow

With over two decades of experience in marine journalism, Lenny Rudow has contributed to publications including YachtWorld, boats.com, Boating Magazine, Marlin Magazine, Boating World, Saltwater Sportsman, Texas Fish & Game, and many others. Lenny is a graduate of the Westlawn School of Yacht Design, and he has won numerous BWI and OWAA writing awards.

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