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10 Great Fish Finders (Sonar Units) Today

10 Great Fish Finders (Sonar Units) Today

Fish finders Sonar (fish finders) has been a mainstay of serious anglers' strategies ever since Lowrance launched the Little Green Box back in 1959. Now, thanks to a steady stream of technological advancements, fish finders offer a wider window than ever into the mysteries of the underwater world.

While you can find fish with one of those original units, today's sonar systems — coupled with GPS navigation — offer imagery, functions, and overall performance unparalleled in fishing history. Our list (presented in alphabetical order) includes a variety of choices in sonar at different price points, so you can match our picks to your style of fishing, without breaking your budget. To spice things up, we included a few chartplotting options, along with a fine camera combo. Fish finders, sonar, are a must have for ever angler.

Furuno FCV-587

One of our favorite features on this new dual-frequency sonar unit is the Accu-Fish function, which not only recognizes whether it's pinging individual or multiple fish, but also computes echo strength to estimate fish size from 10 to 199 cm at depths of 2 to 100 meters. Also cool, the FCV-587's Bottom Discrimination feature tells you if the major bottom composition is rocks, gravel, sand, or mud. We also like the White Line technology, which distinguishes fish from bottom by changing the strongest signal color to white. It also helps judge fish school density. Other nice touches include a bright, 8.4-inch color LCD that you can see even at odd angles while wearing polarized glasses. [imo-slideshow gallery=39],695.

Garmin Echo 550c

More than just another fishfinder, Garmin's completely redesigned Echo family offers an array of features, power, and performance, at a fisherman-friendly price. All feature the company's acclaimed HD-ID target-tracking technology, which delivers crisper arches, improved image separation, and better structural detail. Of the lineup, we like the patriarch — the 550c — for its 5-inch, 640 X 480 pixel, 256- color display, dual-beam 120- and 60-degree transducer, 500 watts of power, Smooth Scaling depth transitioning, and pause-and-rewind capabilities. $349.

HawkEye F33P

On the entry level of the sonar spectrum, but nonetheless handy for dock- and bank-bound anglers, this handheld unit relays depth, fish, and structure readings from a remote floating sensor via a 30-foot cable. An adaptor allows rudimentary side-scanning applications by mounting the transducer on a pole or piling and aiming it in the direction you want to check. Runs 30 hours on four AAA batteries. $89.

Humminbird 360 Imaging

We're stoked about the ability to see fish and structure up to 150 feet in front of the boat, or within a 300-foot diameter circle of the transducer, with this slick new sonar system. Compatible with ethernet-ready, Side Imaging-equipped Humminbird fishfinders, 360 Imaging features four beam speeds and adjustable 10- to 360-degree sweep areas, so you can tailor scans to any situation. Other amenities include split-screen views with SwitchFire sonar or GPS cartography, eight color palettes, and adjustable beam sensitivity. Another plus: the transom- or jackplate-mounted Transducer Deployment System silently drops the module beneath the hull and prop for unobstructed scanning. [imo-slideshow gallery=39],999.

Lowrance Elite-7 HDI

This new sonar/chartplotter merits mention in any top 10 list, thanks in part to something called Hybrid Dual Imaging, which blends Broadband Sounder and Downscan Imaging to provide beefed up traditional sonar views plus picture-perfect images of fish and structure. To help you process it all, the 7-inch, 800 X 480 pixel widescreen displays map, traditional sonar, and down-view images simultaneously. On the plotting front, the unit's built-in GPS antenna powers high-definition mapping, and is compatible with the company's breakout Insight Genesis system, which lets you create your own hydrographic treasure maps. $699.

Lowrance HDS Gen2 Touch

When Lowrance expanded its HDS Gen2 lineup last summer with a high-octane trio of wide-format, high-definition, touchscreen displays, the company again raised the bar in fishing electronics. Available in 7-, 9-, and 12-inch sizes, the HDS Gen2 Touch sonar/chartplotting units offer simple and easy fingertip operation on their icon-driven screens. The list of amenities is ample, but key features include built-in Broadband Sounder and StructureScan HD sonar imaging, for three-dimensional, picture-like views of bottom, plus the ability to scan 600 feet side-to-side. We really like the TrackBack function, also standard, which lets you scroll back in time on the display for a second look, and plot a return trip if you so desire. The mapping options (both built-in and optional add-ons) are epic, too, offering a host of additional reasons to give the HDS Gen2 Touch a try. [imo-slideshow gallery=39],549-$3,399.

MarCum LX-9 Sonar/Camera

Camera buffs have a lot to like about this combo from MarCum. A hit on ice, but easily adaptable to open-water action, it displays underwater happenings via sonar and video on an 8-inch color flatscreen LCD. Plus, a built-in DVR offers instant playback. These features aside, we also appreciate that the display is a snap to customize, provides four color palettes, and offers a user-defined 'dashboard ' with all kinds of pertinent data. Serious sonar features include dual-beam 8- and 20-degree transducer cone angles, advanced zooming, bottom lock, and interference rejection, all fueled by 4,800 watts of power. On the video side, the LX-9's Sony Super HAD II CCD camera offers high-tech optics and Darkwater LED lighting. You also get a padded case, rechargeable battery, charger, automatic panner, and more. [imo-slideshow gallery=39],199.99.

Raymarine Dragonfly

The terms high-tech and low-cost rarely coincide, but Raymarine makes it happen with its new Dragonfly Sonar/GPS, which delivers the down-scanning imagery of the company's big-boat ClearPulse CHIRP sonar to the small-craft scene. In a nutshell, the CHIRP system uses a spectrum of signals — unlike traditional single-frequency sonar — to boost detail and accuracy. Talk about high-fidelity. Plus, thanks to dual dedicated channels, you can see photo-like images of the sunken landscape on the high-resolution DownVision display, while simultaneously marking fish with traditional sonar views. Other features include dual-beam CHIRP transducers (60-degree fan beam for DownVision, plus a 25-degree beam for marking fish), built-in 50-channel GPS sensor, Navionics mapping, optically-bonded, backlit 5.7-inch display, and easy-to-use Uni-controller interface. $649.

Si-Tex SVS-750

With 600 watts of digital output power and advanced operating modes including Bottom Discrimination, Bottom Lock, Bottom Zoom, A-Scope, and more, the dual-frequency SVS-750 packs professional grade performance in an affordable package. While widescreens are great for monitoring multiple windows at once, the 7-inch 480 X 800 pixel LED display packs a lot of data into its vertical format — which Si-Tex says improves resolution and target separation. Available as a fishfinder (SVS-750F, $899) or sonar-chartplotter combo with external antenna (SVS-750CF, [imo-slideshow gallery=39],189). Both are base prices, not including transducer.

Vexilar FL-12

Vexilar flashers helped usher in — and continue to fuel — the ice fishing revolution. But they have a place in open water as well. Their instant readouts are perfect for high-speed scanning, for example. Flashers also excel in a host of other applications, such as shallow water, when fishing bass in thick grass, and for plucking crappies from flooded tree branches. The good news is, the FL-12 is a stellar performer on hard and soft water. Infinitely easier to operate than some LCD systems, it offers a large, tri-color flatscreen display, 10 interference-rejection settings, 400 watts peak-to-peak power, five depth ranges down to 200 feet, plus a low-power option for skinny water or thick cover. Base price on the head and a 12- or 19-degree transducer of your choice is $379, and open-water conversion kits (including an additional transducer) start at $80.

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