It doesn’t matter whether you’ve got a simple fishing kayak, or the finest ocean-worthy vessel. Heading out into the water and wetting a line helps you take a step back from the pressures of modern life, and enjoy a few hours of peace and quiet.
Although fishing has many benefits to your physical and mental health, it’s not simply a meditative activity. Fishing is a sport, and requires both strategy and skill. If you’ve been fishing in the same place for your entire life, you likely know where all the best spots are. But if you’re adventuring out into a body of water that you’re not familiar with, you’re faced with an entirely new set of challenges.
Nobody wants to come back empty handed, so it’s important that we get a competitive edge. Fishfinders allow us to see where the fish are located, and focus on the sporting aspects of our hobby instead of the floating around feeling lost. When combined with GPS technology, we’ll be able to map out our favorite spots, and find our way back to shore.
In this guide, we’ll be taking a look at the four best options on the market. We’ll show you want each model has to offer, and help you decide which one is best for you.
The Top Fishfinder GPS Combos Available in 2017
Raymarine Dragonfly 7 Pro
All fish finders follow the same basic principal. A radio wave is sent down into the ocean, and the amount of time it takes to reflect back is measures. This is how a basic depth finder works. Modern fish finders use a much more advanced form of this known as CHIRP sonar. What chirp does is send a short burst of radio waves, covering a wide range of frequencies. Some of these frequencies bounce up earlier, others later. CHIRP technology provides the fish finder with a ton of data, allowing it to create a rich, vibrant display.
The impressively portable Raymarine Dragonfly 7 Pro is perhaps the best example of what a CHIRP sonar system can do. This is a downvision fish finder, showing you a cutaway side-view of the water below. It produces images that are almost photo like in nature, giving you a natural feel for the geography and life below you.
The Dragonfly 7 Pro has a powerful LCD display that uses a variety of filters. Raymarine calls this “optical bonding,” and it allows the display to remain clear even in bright sunlight. Combined with an advanced Navionics marine GPS system, this is perhaps one of the most fully featured fish finders on the market.
Humminbird Helix 5 SI
Most fish finders use down imaging technology. But when you think of your typical map, you imagine a top-down look. This is what the Hummingbird Helix 5 SI gives you with their side imaging technology.
The advantage of side imaging is that it integrates well with the mapping system. The built in GPS and UniMap system allow this fish finder to overlay a cartographic map on top of the fish location. While a side imaging fish finder will show you the depth and location of fish in relation to your boat, this side imaging fish finder will tell you where the best fishing spots are.
Thanks to the built in SD card slot, you’ll be able to update this fish finder with newer, updated maps. You can also save your favorite places with the waypoint system, making this an investment that can last you many seasons.
Garmin Striker 4
If you’re fishing from a small boat or kayak, portability is essential. And that’s exactly where the Garmin Striker 4 excels. It’s one of the most portable options on the market, but still packs a lot of punch. The Striker 4 is a down imaging model, allowing it to operate as more of a fish “space” finder. This means that it tells you the depth and location of your fish in relation to your boat, so you can plan your casts accordingly.
The keypad control system is easy to use, and the split screen display allows you to use both the GPS and fish finding features at the same time. This isn’t the only GPS and Sonar combo fish finder on the market, but it’s one of the only one that lets you track your location while you keep tabs on the fish below.
Deeper Smart Sonar Pro+
What do you do when you want a high end fish finder, but can’t afford the high cost? Deeper Smart Pro has the answer. The cost was kept low by removing the display entirely.
Instead of including it’s own proprietary monitor, this inexpensive system syncs up with your phone to display all of the relevant information. It fits easily into your fishing tackle backpack.
Once you download their app, you won’t need any WiFi or mobile data. All of the GPS information is stored internally, which serves an important purpose. Seeing as they are waterproof, these can easily be used on fishing canoes or kayaks as long as your phone is protected.
All of the data collected can be downloaded to your computer, and analyzed with a program called “Lakebook.” This is a free program that compares your data with GPS maps, helping you to recreate a 3D model of your favorite fishing spots. You’ll learn the lake as if you’d fished it your entire life, making the Sonar Pro+ a fisherman’s best friend.
Which One’s Right for You?
There are a lot of great options out there, but which one you choose depends on a few factors.
Should You Get Down or Side Imaging?
The first thing you need to ask yourself is if you want down imaging or side imaging.
What is Down Imaging?
Down imaging is like looking at your boat from the side. You’ll see what’s directly below you, and to either side. You’ll know how deep the fish are, and where to cast your line. In this area, the Dragonfly 7 Pro is the most impressive option.
What is Side Imaging?
Side imaging is a top down view, similar to what you’ll see with a GPS map. This tells you where to navigate your boat, leaving your intuition to find the fish in your immediate vicinity. Here, we’d recommend the Humminbird Helix 5 SI. This fish finder also lets you overlay your sonar data over top of built in topographic maps.
Want to Find the Cheapest Fishfinder GPS Combo Under 500?
Looking for an affordable alternative that still provides you with all the features found in high end models? The Garmin Striker 4 is the cheapest option on the list with the Deeper Smart Sonar a close second.
Note: The Deeper Smart Sonar PRO+ syncs up with your smartphone which means you’re not getting an actual screen with the purchase.
No matter which option you choose, selecting a model with both GPS and Sonar technology is a choice you won’t regret. Combining navigation with the location data of fish can drastically improve your chances of a big catch, adding a whole new layer of excitement to your favorite sport.