Side imaging fish finders are here to save the day. It may cost you a little more money to have this enjoyable fishing experience, but who isn’t willing to try out new things every day?
These devices come in different brands, shapes, and prices. It will be so hard to make up your mind about the best side imaging fish finder for you, but that’s why I’m here. I will make your life at ease.
Side imaging fish finders are the cool thing nowadays. I’ll make sure to narrow down your options and walk you through this trip step by step till you buy one of the best side imaging fish finders.
List of the Best Side Imaging Fish Finders:
- Garmin Striker 75V – Best Overall
- Humminbird 410230-1 Helix 5 CHIRP SI GPS G2 – Best for Multifunctionality
- Lowrance HDS-7 – Best for Technology
- Lowrance Hook 25 – Best Rechargeable Side Imaging Fish Finder
- Humminbird 410210 Helix CHIRP GPS G2 – Budget Choice
- Simrad GO7 XSE – Most Reliable
Our Top Picks:
|Fish finder||Weight (Pounds)||Power (Watts)||Frequency (kHz)||Depth (Ft.)||Screen size (Inches)||Mounting options||Warranty (Years)|
|The Garmin Striker 75V||1.7||500||50-800||(1100 in saltwater- 2300 in freshwater)||7||Portable||One|
|The Humminbird 410230||10.1||4000||50-200||400||5||Hull, transom, kayak||One|
|The Lowrance HDS-7||5.85||500||40-200||300||7||Hull, transom, kayak||Two|
|The Lowrance Hook 25||3.6||200-500||200-800||500||5||Kayak, transom||One|
|The Humminbird 410210||2.5||500||50-200||400-1500||5||Transom||One|
|Simrad GO7 XSE||7.7||500||50-800||300-1000||7 (touchscreen)||Transom||One|
The 5 Best Side Imaging Fish Finders in 2020
1. Garmin Striker 75V – Best Overall
The Garmin striker is an attention-seeker kind of finder. It looks so good that no fisher can skip it. It’s effortlessly mounted and can be used in saltwater and freshwater.
It’s impressive how deep the Garmin can go. The device can go to levels more profound than its Humminbird and Lowrance counterparts. It can go deep till 2300 feet in freshwater, and 1100 feet in saltwater.
It has the CHIRP sonar, which can show you a detailed picture of your prey by reflecting its density and shape on the screen. Is that it?
No, there’s more to the Garmin Striker than most fishers think.
The device has two features, particularly tailored for Garmin devices. Firstly, clearVü, which is responsible for giving you a clear image of the moving bodies below your boat. Secondly, SideVü, which provides you with a high-quality picture of marine life on both sides of your boat.
The Garmin Striker weighs about 1.7 pounds, which contributes big time to its portability. It can be mounted on big boats or kayaks.
Another worth-mentioning feature about the Garmin Striker is that it reflects the speed of your boat on the screen. Maintaining slow speed is crucial while using side imaging fish finders because the slower the pace of your boat, the more precise the image of your prey on the screen.
Another advantage is that it comes with a transducer, which forms a high image resolution. The device doesn’t support the Wi-Fi feature, but it works as GPS during fishing trips.
The Garmin Striker has a one year warranty in case of any accidents.
- Embedded GPS
- Loose and unstable cord
This one will work ideally with ice fishers, because of its lightness. Also, the embedded GPS will replace the absence of Wi-Fi and preloaded maps. It’s good quality for money.
2. Humminbird 410230-1 Helix 5 CHIRP SI GPS G2 – Best for Multifunctionality
This version of the Humminbird is the all-around side imaging fish finder. It’s budget-friendly, multifunctional, and beyond description.
It can be used in different seasons throughout the year with no lags. The Humminbirds are made to cope with climate change and different fishing techniques. For instance, if you are an ice fisher, then the device should be on the top of your list because of its buttoned screen.
It’s also provided with an outstanding display that will work flawlessly on sunny days. If you are a night owl, it would also work fine because of its vivid display.
Most of the fishing trips may start at dawn and end in the evening, which makes the Humminbird the right choice because of its nine hour-long battery life.
What comes off like a surprise is that it can do both side and down imaging, which is what any fisher could ever ask for. I know I would!
It can work as a side-scan sonar that forms clear pictures about the world on both sides and still give you an idea of what lies down beneath you till 400 feet deep.
What most people don’t like about this device is its heavyweight, Unlike the Garmin Striker, which could be carried around in your back pocket. It must be mounted on boats or big kayaks to offer a stable balance and proper functionality.
The Humminbird offers a one year warranty to all device holders.
- Weather adjustable
- User friendly
- Long-life battery (9 hours)
- Low in stock
- No touch screen
It’s an all-in-one type of finder. I can’t find one valid reason not to buy it. It suits all fishing techniques and can be mounted on boats and kayaks, although it’s pretty heavy, and some people may consider it a downside. But, its high wattage and long battery life attract a lot of buyers towards it.
3. Lowrance HDS-7 – Best for Technology
The device is so entertaining, especially to technology geeks. It comes with multiple options to make you in control as a fisherman, as it gives you the privilege of choosing between a touch screen or buttoned interface, which wasn’t provided by the Humminbird fishfinder.
The Lowrance is simply adapted to weather conditions. If you are feeling cold and wearing gloves, you can use the physical buttons feature in the device.
Also, the device comes with a vivid HD screen that reflects colors attractively.
It’s user friendly, as it enables you to navigate between applications quickly without missing a notch about the life down there.
The device is provided with the CHIRP sonar, which will offer you a clear differentiation between fish and obstacles.
If you have a compatible transducer to this device, you are good to go. But, if you don’t, then you must buy a transducer which will be of an extra cost.
The Lowrance has a suitable weight for mounting on boats or kayaks. In addition to the fact that the device has internet access, which gives the fisher the privilege of checking online maps, and compensates for the low-quality preloaded maps offered by the device.
On the other hand, the device goes deep to 300 feet only, which may not be satisfactory to many fishers as there are other devices like the Garmin Striker that goes till 2300 feet deep in freshwater.
To all fishermen with trust problems, the Lowrance offers you a 2-year warranty.
- Internet access
- Touch screen and physical buttons
- Easy mounting
- CHIRP Sonar and HD screen
- The transducer isn’t included
- The preloaded maps are low-quality ones
The Lowrance HDS-7 is a technology-loving fish finder. It can access the internet, which could come in handy. The Lowrance proprietary software supports this feature. Also, using the internet allows you to connect the device to your cell phone and download as many applications as you need.
4. Lowrance Hook 25 – Best Rechargeable Side Imaging Fish Finder
The device may not be the best, but it has some worth-considering features. One of them is the preloaded maps of the US and Canada, which is useful if the GPS isn’t working well.
This model can come with three different transducers. Firstly, the triple shot transducer is a game-changer because it automatically refreshes the uploaded images on the screen, which are already clear because of the CHIRP sonar.
Secondly, the split shot transducer, which gives you the best of both worlds, offers you the benefits of having a CHIRP sonar plus the down scanning options for the world down below.
Finally, there is the bullet transducer, which comes in a minimal size and can fit on small kayaks and boats.
The device possesses an autotuning sonar feature that the Lowrance website refers to as: ”Made by the anglers for the anglers.”This feature helps the sonar to adjust to different water changes automatically.
It’s small in size and light in weight, that’s why it can be mounted on kayaks and transoms. Also, it can go to more profound levels than the HDS-7 Lowrance, as it goes till 500 feet deep.
Furthermore, It comes with a rechargeable battery that works for several hours per day. Honestly, the battery can die before the end of your fishing day. So, it’s recommended to bring along a spare battery and a charger, which doesn’t come in handy because no one likes the extra baggage.
This Lowrance device offers a one year warranty.
- Mounted on different boats
- Triple shot transducer
- Preloaded maps
- The rechargeable battery has a short life span
- Hard to navigate
You can buy this one if you go on short fishing trips, you won’t notice the lag in the battery. The reviews mentioned that after a month, the battery would no longer be recharged, and you will have to buy a new one, which can get a little pricey. But compared to all the excellent specs in that device, we can neglect that one demerit.
5. Humminbird 410210 Helix CHIRP GPS G2 – Budget Choice
That model is by far the cheapest side imaging fish finder. It has a good enough display for its cost.
It has a dual-beam sensor, which scans the surrounding space between the angles 20 and 60 degrees. The previous feature makes this Humminbird a keeper.
The device can spot schools of fish, as well as individual ones. It possesses the CHIRP sonar, but it doesn’t offer the best side-scan sonar, so the reflected images aren’t entirely clear.
The 410210 Humminbird can go deep to 500 feet and still gives you a clear image of the fish on both of your sides. But, some fishers claim that the device can go deep till 1500 feet but with a little blur in the image reflected on the screen.
Since it’s a Humminbird, it comes with the standard Humminbird map, which is not as good as the Humminbird 410230. However, it can still do the trick for some beginners.
The Humminbird offers a one year warranty to all device holders.
- Standard Humminbird map
- Dual-beam sonar
- SD card slot provided
- Too basic
- Doesn’t come with a transducer
- Needs software update
- Can’t be mounted on different platforms
- Doesn’t support side-scan mode
It’s not the first pick for any professional fisher, but then again, it’s a good quality for money. A side imaging fish finder for 300$ is hard to find these days. It can still achieve the primary purpose of a fish finder.
6. Simrad GO7 XSE – Most Reliable Fish Finder
Crafted with a rugged, sturdy design and IPX7 waterproof rating, this unit is one of the most reliable side scan sonars on the market. It comes with a CHIRP sonar system that can scan at high speed and penetrate up to 1000 feet below the surface.
Also, its down and side scan reach up to 300 feet, which means you cover a reasonable distance in all directions while you’re patrolling the water. It accommodates a wide range of frequency, from 50 kHz and up to 800 kHz, so that you can plot out the deepest and farthest structures with great details.
Like the Echomap 73SV fish finder, it comes with a 7-inch touchscreen with 480 x 800 resolution for the ease of usage and clear readouts. Its TripIntel software allows you to share routes and paths from past trips or other anglers’ trips so you can easily plan out your next one.
We love that it comes with a TotalScan transducer that can be installed to small and medium recreational vessels. Nevertheless, we’d recommend upgrading the transducer if you’d like to pursue tournament fishing so that you can scan deeper into the body of the water.
- Micro SD card reader
- NMEA 2000 slot
- Wifi with GoFree and Bluetooth
- GPS and Chartplotter
- Come with US insight charts
- Only touchscreen commands
- Cheap quality of bracket mount
- No ethernet
- Poor customer service
All we can say is that this feature-loaded unit will be your best buddy when fishing. Thanks to its versatility and numerous sonar functionalities, we can highly recommend this unit as the best side scan fish finder for pro anglers.
How to Pick a Side Imaging Fish Finder
Fish finders aren’t cheap; if you purchase the wrong one, then you’re definitely losing a good sum of money. In addition to the price, there’re many specs you should take a close look at before you make the purchase. Read this guide carefully and analyze your situation to find how much of every feature should be sufficient for your needs.
1. Transducer and Cone Angle
A transducer is the core system of a fish finder that sends and receives sonar waves. Basically, these waves travel through the water until they hit an object, then bounce back and get picked up by the transducer, which translates them to pictures you can understand on display.
The most important thing you should pay attention to when choosing a transducer is the cone angle. It’s what tells you the width of the beam emitted from your fish finder.
In general, the wider the cone angle, the more depth it covers but at the expense of clarity. That means that wider cone angles at great depths have less sensitivity. Normally, transducers come with cones that range from 9 to 60 degrees. However, most of the units you’ll encounter on the market fall between 16 and 20 degrees.
A good starting point would be to purchase a transducer with a 20-degree cone angle since it’ll cover a variety of water depths.
Besides the cone angle, transducers should be checked for their frequencies. They usually come with 800, 455, 200, 83, or 50 kHz frequencies, and cone angles relate directly to them.
Higher frequencies may give the finest details on your screen, yet, contrary to popular belief, you shouldn’t always aim for the highest frequencies because they don’t penetrate as deep as the lower ones. You should make your choice depending on the depth of water in which you fish.
For instance, when deep-water fishing, opt for fish finders with 50 kHz transducers as they can show depth readings of 3000 feet or more according to the amount of power used. On the other hand, higher frequencies like 455 and 800 kHz, will do the job in shallower water when the main concern is the quality of the returns rather than the maximum depth.
To put it simply, high-wattage fish finders provide you with faster and deeper readings. That’s why if you like to fish in deep lakes or oceans, you should look for the highest power you can get. However, in shallow water, you won’t really benefit from this high power.
A good middle-ground for anglers who fish both shallow and deep water should be 500 watts. Nevertheless, serious coast anglers should look for 1000 watts or more. For shallow rivers and inland lakes, 200 watts should suffice.
4. Screen Resolution and Color
For a detailed representation, you don’t want to compromise the screen resolution since it would render the whole device useless. Yet that depends on the amount of money you’re willing to pay.
A resolution of 240 x 160 pixels is the least you can aim for, but still, it will make you feel like you’re watching a cheap 50s movie!
Higher resolutions come with higher costs, but since the whole point of the device is to be able to locate fish, it’s worth paying more for a better outcome. Starting from 640 x 480 to HD and full HD image resolutions should give you a better view.
Moreover, if you prefer early morning fishing, aim for colored screens instead of black and white ones as they’ll grant you a better display in the sunlight.
5. Screen Size
Pair the right resolution with suitable screen size, and then you have a great combo that’ll change your fishing experience. Like androids and laptops, a bigger screen equates to a better view of structures and digital readouts. Also, maps and plotting charts will be easier to read and recognize.
While a 5-inch screen is a minimum size you can opt for, a 7 to 9-inch screen size would definitely be a better option but within a higher price range.
6. GPS and Chartplotter
Under any circumstances, you shouldn’t go without this feature. GPS features won’t only allow you to track down your location when on the water, but also, you’ll be able to mark the spots where you yielded a lot of catch so you can come back to them many times later.
Moreover, it increases your safety if you like big-water fishing, as you’ll be able to find your way to the shore easily.
Most GPS fish finders come with a Chartplotter that integrates the GPS with navigational charts. Meaning that you’ll be able to display your location on the map all the time.
7. Water Resistance
One more thing you should take into consideration is the degree of water resistance that the fish finder offers. That can be done by keeping track of the IP rating.
Bear in mind that ratings below five won’t do any good to units mounted on top of kayaks and fishing boats. Hence, it would be better to opt for a rating of IPX6 if you’re sure your vessel won’t be subjected to more than simple water splashes.
Nevertheless, with ratings like IPX7 and IPX8, your device should be safe enough even under full immersion in water.
When you are in the water, everything gets slippery. You have to be careful not to break your finder. That’s why you have to be very picky and choose one with supreme durability, to stick with you through thick and thin.
Fishfinders are used in the water. It won’t make any sense if that fish finder isn’t waterproof. Make sure to have a durable waterproof finder.
I believe that human beings think of any massive object as a burden. The same applies to fish finders. The lighter, the better.
But that aspect isn’t that effective anymore because you will mount the finder anywhere on your boat.
Frequently Asked Questions:
How to Interpret Side Imaging Fish Finder?
To understand the image shown before you on display, you need to know that the sonar’s history moves from top to bottom. Meaning that the most recent areas you passed by are at the top of the image.
The dark column in the center of the screen is the area directly under your boat, while everything on the sides of the boat is shown in the right and left side of the image in brighter colors.
Keep in mind that shades have a meaning. For example, deep water appears in darker shades since its return is weak while shallower water appears to be brighter.
As for the fish, if you see a cluster of returns, that probably means you’ve found a school of small fish. On the other hand, larger preys appear as solid marks often associated with sonar shadows at the bottom. The distance between the shadow and the fish indicates how far it’s from the bottom so you can estimate the right depth to place your bait.
Should I Go with Side Imaging or Down Imaging?
The answer to this question should be according to your fishing style and what you’re targeting. Despite being more expensive, side imaging allows you to scan more water quickly, provides more illustrative images, and excels in finding what’s hidden behind shallow creeks and bays.
On the other hand, down imaging should definitely be your choice if you do more deep-water fishing because, unlike side scanning, they cover more water vertically and tolerate the speed of big crafts without compromising the quality of the images.
Is Side Imaging Worth Being that Expensive?
Side imaging technology is considered as an unprecedented discovery in the world of fishing. It’s totally worth every penny paid for it. Not only will it help you find schools of crappies and hidden bass without a hassle, but also it’ll save your kayak from flipping or your boat from crashing against structures you never knew were there.
How Does CHIRP Sonar Differ from the Tradition Sonar?
CHIRP, which stands for “Compressed High-intensity Radiating Pulse,” is a type of sonar that sends waves covering a wide range of frequencies at the same time.
Unlike the regular sonar that emits only a single wave, CHIRP enhances bottom tracking at deeper depths giving more up-to-date information and crispier images.
It’s funny that a side imaging fish finder may be more expensive than all the fishing equipment collectively. But, you need to buy your peace of mind. Save up for a month or two, and get that life-saving device. You will save your time with this amount of money.
I recommend the Lowrance HDS-7. The Wi-Fi feature in the Lowrance device is a deal-breaker for all technology geeks. You can access Google maps using the Wi-Fi feature, which can spare you the con of having low-quality preloaded maps on that fishfinder. However, the fact that a Lowrance comes with no transducer can turn away a lot of buyers.
But it’s nothing a Humminbird 410230 can’t fix. A Humminbird is a multifunctional device that supports side and down imaging, which provides you with a clear cut image that could spare you the absence of Wi-Fi. It may be low in stock, but it is still available at many sellers on Amazon. You’d better fetch yours before it’s all gone.
It all depends on what type of fisherman you are. You have to check all the properties and know if the side imaging fish finder is your go-to fish finder, and then choose one from our list of the best side imaging fish finders.