Best Garmin Fish Finders

Garmin Fish Finder Plus: Best Choice For Kayaks?

The best choice for your fishing needs depends on what kind of kayak you have. If you are planning to use it primarily for paddling or if you plan to spend most of time at the water’s edge, then a top-of-the line GPS unit will probably do just fine. But if you want to go out into the open ocean, where there are no shorelines, then a cheaper option might be better.

Best Garmin Fish Finders Vs Cheap Garmin Fish Finders

There are two main types of fish finding devices available today: top-of-the-line units with built in GPS and those that connect via Bluetooth Smart (BLE). Both types offer similar features but each one offers different advantages and disadvantages.

So which one should you choose?

Top-Of-The-Line Units With Built In GPS

These units come with their own integrated GPS receiver. They usually cost several hundred dollars. These units provide the most advanced features and can track multiple species of fish over long distances. However, they require a battery pack that lasts many hours and requires constant connection to the Internet to work properly. They are also large, heavy, and are not waterproof (although some models offer limited water resistance).

However, they do provide the most accurate and reliable information when it comes to fish finding.

GPS units require a clear view of the sky in order to get a signal. If you go deep into the ocean or even under a dense forest canopy, the device may not be able to acquire a signal at all. Of course, you can use it as a regular GPS when this happens. Of course, the manufacturers are aware of this problem and have come up with a solution: instead of using a GPS signal, they rely on other types of location services that do not require a clear view of the sky (which is useful if you are indoors or in a cave).

A good example of this is Garmin’s Fishfinder 160. It uses the company’s own sonar technology, known as CHIRP. This technology allows you to see fish, plants, and other underwater obstacles in real time. The device can store up to 500 waypoints and has a 2.6-inch screen with a 320 x 240-pixel resolution.

But by using location services instead of GPS, the device will not be able to provide you with useful data outside the water.

Connected via BLE

These devices are significantly cheaper than the ones with built-in GPS. Most of them cost less than a hundred dollars. However, they provide fewer features and are more limited in what they can do. By connecting to your phone via Bluetooth, they provide basic data that updates in real time. They do not offer the same degree of reliability when it comes to long range scanning.

However, these devices are significantly lighter and easier to carry around. Most of them are also waterproof so you can take them with you anywhere you want.

A good example of a connected device is the FishHunter. It connects to your phone via Bluetooth and can be controlled using the company’s app. The app provides an interface that displays information such as depth, fish species, time, speed, and more. The app also allows you to mark locations, record data, and share information with other people.

Best Garmin Fish Finders - Picture

Fish Finding Features To Look Out For

Now that you are familiar with the main types of fish finders and their pros and cons, let’s discuss some of the features you might want to look out for when purchasing one.

Screen size

Obviously, devices with a larger screen will provide a better user experience. However, larger screens tend to be heavier and more expensive. You can choose the screen size that best fits your needs and budget. Most of them range from 1.5 to 7 inches.

Some of the more premium models even allow you to connect your phone or tablet to the screen so you can see a much bigger image.


Most of the devices on the market can be connected to your phone via Bluetooth in order to provide real time data and tracking. Some of the more advanced devices on the market also allow you to connect your phone or tablet to the screen so you can see a much bigger image.

Battery life

As with any electronic device, you are going to need to charge it from time to time. How long a single charge will last you will vary depending on the manufacturer and model. Cheaper models may only last a few hours before needing to be recharged, whereas more expensive models can last up to 20 hours.

Do I really need one?

This is a question only you can answer. If you are an experienced angler who fishes on a regular basis, then it might be worth investing in one. They provide all kinds of useful information and make the entire experience a lot more fun. If you are new to angling or don’t fish too often, then it might not be worth spending the money just yet. As with most things in life, you get what you pay for.

The Different Types of Fish Finders

Before you start looking at specific models and brands, it might be a good idea to see all your options first. There are three main types of fish finders and each one is suited to a different purpose. The type you choose will depend on how and where you plan to use it. We have listed all the types below along with their pros and cons.

Tip: Before you buy a fish finder, you will need to know what type of transducer (transmitter) to buy to go with it. Most manufacturers sell these as a package, so make sure to check if there is one available for the model you are interested in buying. If not, you might be able to buy a separate one from the manufacturer or from a third party seller.

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Single-Beam Sonar

As the name suggests, this type of fish finder uses a single beam of sound to look for underwater objects. It moves back and forth like a searchlight and returns information about anything it hits. It provides low-resolution data, but is good at detecting structure and large objects.

It works well on moving water, especially rapids or fast currents as the constant movement doesn’t allow fish to get accustomed to the noise.

It can also be used on lakes and slow moving rivers. It just isn’t ideal for calmer waters as the sound dissipates too much before it reaches the bottom of the lake or river.

This type of fish finder is also referred to as a transom-mount, push-pole, open-bow, or shallow-beam sonar.


Suited to moving waters, especially rapids or fast-flowing creeks

Low cost

Easy to install and use

Great for detecting structure and large objects underwater

Best Garmin Fish Finders - Purch Marketplace


Poor resolution of smaller objects underwater

Has difficulty with shallow water and can’t be used on deep waters (over 20 ft) due to the sound not being able to reach the seabed.

Not ideal for use in still waters (lakes and slow-moving rivers) as the sound dissipates before reaching the bottom

Not good at detecting cans, logs, and other small objects on the river bed

Down Imaging (Side-Scanning) Sonar

This is the most popular type of fish finder used by anglers. This device works by using a pinger that sends sound waves from right to left, and then left to right repeatedly.

Sources & references used in this article:

A Strategic Audit of Garmin LTD by J Frenzel – 2019 –

Face to Face by DGD Africa –

Combined marine entertainment system and depth sounder by MR Wiegers, B Poindexter – US Patent 6,345,179, 2002 – Google Patents

A novel location estimation based on pattern matching algorithm in underwater environments by KC Lee, JS Ou, MC Huang, MC Fang – Applied Acoustics, 2009 – Elsevier

Combined marine entertainment system and depth sounder by MR Wiegers, B Poindexter – US Patent 6,650,884, 2003 – Google Patents

Generation of lake bathymetry using sonar, satellite imagery and GIS by RJJ Dost, CMM Mannaerts – … of the 2008 ESRI international user …, 2008 –