Consider the following to get the best fish finder for your needs.
Portable vs. Permanent vs. Castable
Portable fish finders can go virtually anywhere, making them a great choice for kayak fishing, ice fishing, fly fishing and boat rentals. If you’re a boat owner, you may prefer a permanent model that you can mount securely in a convenient location.
If you primarily fish from the shore, you should consider a castable fish finder. These units include a small, castable transducer that attaches to the end of your fishing line. You simply cast your line as you normally would, and the transducer will collect data from the water below and transmit it back to your smartphone or a handheld device, letting you know if your bait is in a productive spot.
Sonar & Transducers
How exactly do fish finders work, anyway? It’s all about sonar — an acronym for “sound navigation and ranging.” The fish finder sends an electronic impulse through a transducer, which the transducer then converts into a sound wave. This wave passes down through the water and through any objects in its path, namely fish and structure. The sound wave ultimately travels back up to the transducer, at which point the fish finder unit will interpret the findings on your screen. Most fish finders sold at DICK’S include the transducer, but check the product details to make sure.
Color screens are the new norm on today’s fish finders. A color screen enables you to more easily decipher objects in the water, giving you valuable insight into your game fish. Also consider the amount of pixels on your screen — the more pixels, the greater level of detail you can see. LED backlit screens provide brilliant visual display, particularly for fishing in low-light conditions.
Some fish finders include GPS technology. Most GPS models will allow you to mark your favorite fishing spots and other points of interest so that you can find them quickly and easily. A GPS fish finder also adds an element of safety, allowing you to quickly navigate your way home in the event of an emergency.
Many of today’s fish finders have wireless capabilities, allowing you to sync the unit with other devices like your phone, laptop, etc. This gives you the ability to view fish finder images from any spot on your boat.
What is CHIRP?
The most advanced fish finders typically feature a relatively new type of sonar called CHIRP — Compressed High-Intensity Radiated Pulse. Where traditional fish finders emit one, two or three frequencies, fish finders with CHIRP technology emit a sweeping range of frequencies to provide the user with more information and more detailed imagery.
Think about these factors when selecting your fish finder:
Transducers are the heart of your fish finder. This is the component that emits and receives sound waves. The transducer sends a signal into the water, where it bounces off various objects. The signal is sent to the main unit of the device, where it is translated into a picture.
Screen Color & Resolution is an essential factor in your selection. Color screens are the new norm on today's fish finders. A color screen enables you to more easily decipher objects in the water, giving you valuable insight into your game fish. Also consider the amount of pixels on your screen'the more pixels, the greater level of detail you can see. LED backlit screens provide brilliant visual display, particularly for fishing in low-light conditions.
Usability includes the design of your fish finder. Waterproof, shock-proof devices are highly durable. Choose a fish finder that's sleek, lightweight and compact, so it fits comfortably on your vessel.
Your device's transducer emits sound waves at a cone-like angle. The cone angle of your device refers to how wide a beam is projected from the bottom of your boat into the water.
The sound wave spreads as it gets further from the transducer. The wider the cone, the larger the coverage area, but the as the cone angle spreads, sensitivity diminishes. A 20-degree cone is considered a versatile angle for fishers who frequent different water depths. More advanced devices come with double and triple beams, ideal for scanning deep water depths.
For seamless use, choose a fish finder that can connect to available WiFi. Some devices come with apps that let you wirelessly synch waypoints and hotspots. Built-in Bluetooth technology lets you remotely operate your fish finder, while GPS technology provides added functionality.
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