For fishing enthusiasts, sometimes just being out on the water is enough to make a perfect day. Sometimes, however, you really want to find the fish.
Most people seem to agree that Garmin makes the best fish finders on the market. These handy tools use sonar to show you what’s under your boat in real time. A Garmin fish finder takes the guess work out of fishing by helping you find the hot spots so you can catch more fish.
However, Garmin makes so many different models that the choices can feel overwhelming.
Here are a few features to consider when looking at Fish Finders:
Sonar Type: Garmin fish finders come with traditional sonar or CHIRP multi-frequency sonar, Garmin DownVu to show depth, SideVu to show the area around your boat, or a combination of sonar tools.
Display screen: Screens vary from 3.5″ to 9″ in diameter. All the Garmin fish finders reviewed below have color screens. Higher-end models provide higher resolution or split-screen options for clearer images.
Depth: These fish finders produce clear images ranging from 1,600′-2,300′ in freshwater and 750′-1,100′ in saltwater.
GPS/Maps: All the Garmin fish finders we review include GPS. You can also use the GPS to mark hot spots or docks to easily find your way back. However, only the EchoMap models come with pre-loaded G2 charts and/or Garmin LakeVu maps.
With those basics in mind, let’s dive deeper with reviews of nine of the Best Garmin fish finders:
Best Garmin Fish Finders Comparison Chart
|Image||Model||Beam||Display Size||GPS||CHIRP SONAR||Price||User Rating (out of 5)|
|Garmin Striker 4||Dual-beam (77/200 kHz)||3.5-inch color display||Yes||$$||4.4|
|Garmin Striker 4cv||Dual||3.5-inch color display||Yes||$$||4.7|
|Garmin Striker 5cv||Dual||Available in 3.5-, 5- and 7-inch display sizes.||Yes||Yes||$$||4.0|
|Garmin Striker 5dv||Dual||5 inch color display||Yes||Yes||$$||4.0|
|Garmin Striker 7dv||Dual||7 inch color display||Yes||Yes||$$$||3.5|
|Garmin Echo 301dv Worldwide||Dual||3.5-inch color||Yes||No||$$||4.5|
|Garmin Echo 551dv Worldwide||Dual||5 inch color display||Yes||Yes||$$$||4.5|
|Garmin EchoMap CHIRP 42Cv||Dual||5 inch color display||Yes||Yes||$$||3.5|
|Garmin EchoMap CHIRP 73SV||Multiple||7 and 9-inch widescreen display sizes||Yes||Yes||$$$$||4.3|
ConsumerExpert.com Star Choice Garmin Fish Finder
As a final note, the transducer lead for the Garmin 4 will work for boats under 18 feet. If your boat is longer than 18 feet, you may want to consider purchasing a longer lead or opting for another Garmin model or transducer.
The Garmin Echo 301dv lets you see what’s under and around your boat with great accuracy and control. This compact unit delivers dual images from the 77/200 kHz sonar and Garmin DownVu transducer simultaneously on a color screen.
The Echo 301dv also features adjustable narrow-to-wide viewing cone angles. This allows you to control your sonar image and see more of what’s below the surface.This Garmin fish finder is easy to install and small enough that it even works on kayaks. Prospective buyers should note that the screen was a little too small for some people to use while navigating the boat.
A few customers also noted that the alarm on the Echo 301dv is rather quiet and can’t be turned up. If you like to blast music while you fish, you may have a hard time hearing the alarm.
The 5-inch vertical VGA screen provides stunning resolution that allows you to see fish arches and bottom features clearly. The CHIRP and Garmin DownVu sonars are effective up to 2,300 feet deep in freshwater or 1,100 feet in saltwater.Customers love the Echo 551dv from its top-of-the-line screen to its ease of installation. This model comes with a swiveling, quick-release mount. The only issue seems to be the inconsistent length of the transducer lead; some customers got a 20’ line while others only report getting only a 15’ line which won’t work on longer boats.
The Echomap CHIRP 42Cv differs from the 301dv with two important features. First, the Echomap 42Cv uses multi-frequency CHIRP sonar to provide sharp, fast-updating images. Second, this model includes maps to help you pinpoint your location and navigate to favorite spots around the world. You can also draw navigation lines to create your own routes on top of existing maps.If you want a lot of tech with a lot of options for customizing, the Echomap CHIRP 42Cv may be the right Garmin fish finder for you. This model will also appeal to people who know they want Garmin’s maps and don’t want to go through the hassle of upgrading later.