Choosing the best depth finder for your pontoon boat is crucial to ensuring that you don’t run a ground, and that you’ve always got a good idea of how far you are from the bottom. But with so many types of depth finders on the market, how do you know which one is best for you? From transducer selection to mounting location, we’ve compiled a helpful guide for making sure you find the right device.

1. Choosing the best depth finder for your pontoon boat

The first thing you need to do is figure out what depth you want your depth finder to be able to measure. You can choose from two main types: shallow water depth finders which are designed to measure depths of up to 50 feet, and deep water depth finders which can measure depths of up to 600 feet.

The diagram below shows how they work (source). If you’re working with larger items (i.e. building a structure), you’ll have to determine their depth distance (distance from the bottom of the item to the surface of the water) as well. Initial costs and durability can also be factors, so be sure to factor that into your budget and approach.

Using a Depth Sensor to Detect Depth (method 1): The main idea in the above diagram is to send an electrical pulse to the surface of the item you want to track. This pulse will bounce around in the water until it hits something organic, like a rock or a pin. These pulses can then travel into the deeper parts of the water column and be absorbed by organic material. Depending on the depth of the pulse, the organic material will absorb its energy and emit visible light (i.e. reflect). Additionally, some of this light can penetrate further into the organic material and strike an organic molecule and create a match to the electrical pulse.

In simple terms, this process is a basic computer science algorithm but requires a PC to run on. The more complex the algorithm and PC, the more things can go wrong. Also note that many of the brands make cheaper versions that can essentially be plugged into a universal PCB to create a basic depth detector solution. For this reason, I’ll explain a common method of setting up a depth sensor that runs off a PC, instead.

Our first option, is to use a PC to detect the depth of shallow objects. This will work fine for hallway stones, or plastic bottles, etc.

2. How to find the right transducer for your needs

If you’re a musician looking to buy an instrument, it’s important to know the difference between a transducer and a pickup. A pickup is essentially a microphone that you attach to a stringed instrument so that you can amplify it and play it through a PA system or a guitar amp.Transducers, on the other hand, function through the application of acoustic energy to a string through a diaphragm, often tuned to amplify particular frequencies for instruments such as brass, woodwinds, strings, or string instruments of all kinds.

This type of pickup is typically stuck to the body of the instrument, meaning that the particular resonant frequency of the string will be amplified, referred to as the tuning of the string. Picks and strings are two very different things in terms of their physical properties, so one is going to need to play the other.

The frequency response of pickups will change with the cut-off frequency of the pickup which gives you the mushy middle frequencies that are characteristic of acoustic material. When you combine this with the wavelength of the sound wave, you have a very specific frequency range that the needle will resonate at, and this resonance frequency will dictate how loud the instrument will get.

The headroom provided by pickups is usually very low, which means that you’ll need to plan your live setup a little bit more in terms of distance between your guitar and whatever pickups you’d like to use. If you have a specific application in mind, you should really research what kind of pickup you can get that suits your needs.

On the other hand, just because a pickup line offers both low and high frequencies doesn’t mean both will muddy the sound. Pickup manufacturers will sometimes play them at different amplitudes to give the listener an impression of longer or shorter strings, or create a hum or buzz.

3. How to properly mount your depth finder

One of the most serious mistakes a new boat owner can make is to mount the depth finder incorrectly. This is a lot more common that you might think. The reason is a lot of people think that all they have to do is mount the depth finder to the side of the boat where they normally mount their GPS.That is incorrect.

To create the best depth for your investments, you should always be on the top of the boat. The best way to do that is in a very unobstructed position. In other words, remember that the discovery of the bottom of the water is the most important action you as a buyer can take, even before you purchase the boat.

4. What depth settings are best for your pontoon boat?

If you’re new at boating, you’ve probably noticed that your pontoon boat has depth settings. These settings control the amount of water that comes into the boat. They’re important for getting the boat through shallow waters, but they can also cause problems if you don’t know how to use them.

One of the biggest reasons behind problems with depth settings from the get-go is because you’ve never used the setting on the first try! Take it from us. The first time you take a test dip, you’re likely to misjudge the depth and bend the boat before it even comes close to hitting the bottom. Luckily, most boats have automatic depth controls. When you come to get your vessel serviced, the boat will start to free-rise, and at the bottom of the range you’ll see a series of lights that show how deep the water is and how much stock you have in the tank.

Most boats will have an automatic depth setting that is only affected by the current. Setting the proper depth and tank level is critical for a safe boating trip, and for most new boaters, it can be a big mistake if they don’t figure out how to use the depth and tank level controls from the get-go.

“The first few times you swim in a new lake or river, you’ll see or hear creatures that look rather familiar: birds, turtles and other small aquatic animals. Each of these creatures cheeps (begins to surface) when you get within a few inches of them. A single bird chirps, but a turtle starts to their bebop rhythm. In the beginning, fake it till you make it.” — Rahel Bailie

One of the easiest first-time mistakes is trying to set the depth with your eyes closed! It’s easy to get distracted looking down at your phone, but having eyes in the right place is critical for safe and effective depth setting. Close your eyes and accept that you will need to adjust yourself while moving through the water.

best depth finder for pontoon boat-2021

HawkEye DT1B DepthTrax 1B

HawkEye DT1B DepthTrax 1B

HawkEye ranked 1st position on our top 10 lists. HawkEye has 163 reviews where 137 positive reviews and 26 critical reviews and average rating is 4.1. The product first listed on amazon in August 26, 2008.

The overall feedback of product customers is 70% better than the average satisfaction of HawkEye consumers, 40% of HawkEye customers may be recommend their friends and family to purchase this product.

Less than 2% customers feel that HawkEye does not fulfill their criteria. Some of them feel that the product description missguided them to purchase the product, some of them found broken / damaged product and some of them found the support irresponsive or the warranty is not identical as described. So either they wish a replacement or want to look for another brand.

Raymarine Dragonfly Pro Chirp Fish Finder with Built in GPS and WiFi with Navionics+ Charts and Transducer

Raymarine Dragonfly Pro Chirp Fish Finder with Built in GPS and WiFi with Navionics+ Charts and Transducer

Raymarine Dragonfly Pro ranked 2nd position on our top 10 lists. Raymarine Dragonfly Pro has 135 reviews where 112 positive reviews and 23 critical reviews and average rating is 4.3. The product first listed on amazon in December 23, 2009.

The overall feedback of product customers is 60% better than the average satisfaction of Raymarine Dragonfly Pro consumers, 30% of Raymarine Dragonfly Pro customers may be recommend their friends and family to purchase this product.

Less than 1% customers feel that Raymarine Dragonfly Pro does not fulfill their criteria. Some of them feel that the product description missguided them to purchase the product, some of them found broken / damaged product and some of them found the support irresponsive or the warranty is not identical as described. So either they wish a replacement or want to look for another brand.

Lowrance 000-12635-001 Hook-3X Sonar, W/ 83/200 XDCR

Lowrance 000-12635-001 Hook-3X Sonar, W/ 83/200 XDCR

Lowrance ranked 3rd position on our top 10 lists. Lowrance has 118 reviews where 89 positive reviews and 29 critical reviews and average rating is 3.9. The product first listed on amazon in October 27, 2010.

The overall feedback of product customers is 50% better than the average satisfaction of Lowrance consumers, 35% of Lowrance customers may be recommend their friends and family to purchase this product.

Less than 4% customers feel that Lowrance does not fulfill their criteria. Some of them feel that the product description missguided them to purchase the product, some of them found broken / damaged product and some of them found the support irresponsive or the warranty is not identical as described. So either they wish a replacement or want to look for another brand.

Humminbird 407860-1 HDR650 Digital Depth Gauge (Discontinued by Manufacturer)

Humminbird 407860-1 HDR650 Digital Depth Gauge (Discontinued by Manufacturer)

Do you want a fishfinder that provides the best of both worlds? Then take a closer look at Humminbird’s Helix 7 SI combo. With a variety of outstanding features, this unit is one of the most sought-after fishfinders on the market. Featuring Side Imaging, Down Imaging and Dual Beam Plus capabilities, this combo offers precision GPS and retrieves a depth range up to 1500ft. The 7” display with 480 x 800 pixel resolution provides crystal clear images, making it easier to see fish and structure.

Garmin Echo 551dv Worldwide with Transducer

Garmin Echo 551dv Worldwide with Transducer

Garmin Echo ranked 5th position on our top 10 lists. Garmin Echo has 92 reviews where 78 positive reviews and 14 critical reviews and average rating is 4. The product first listed on amazon in September 19, 2014.

The overall feedback of product customers is 35% better than the average satisfaction of Garmin Echo consumers, 30% of Garmin Echo customers may be recommend their friends and family to purchase this product.

Less than 6% customers feel that Garmin Echo does not fulfill their criteria. Some of them feel that the product description missguided them to purchase the product, some of them found broken / damaged product and some of them found the support irresponsive or the warranty is not identical as described. So either they wish a replacement or want to look for another brand.

Humminbird 409670-1 PiranhaMax 197C Color Fish Finder (Grey)

Humminbird 409670-1 PiranhaMax 197C Color Fish Finder (Grey)

Humminbird 409670-1 PiranhaMax ranked 6th position on our top 10 lists. Humminbird 409670-1 PiranhaMax has 85 reviews where 68 positive reviews and 17 critical reviews and average rating is 4.1. The product first listed on amazon in April 29, 2008.

The overall feedback of product customers is 43% better than the average satisfaction of Humminbird 409670-1 PiranhaMax consumers, 31% of Humminbird 409670-1 PiranhaMax customers may be recommend their friends and family to purchase this product.

Less than 7% customers feel that Humminbird 409670-1 PiranhaMax does not fulfill their criteria. Some of them feel that the product description missguided them to purchase the product, some of them found broken / damaged product and some of them found the support irresponsive or the warranty is not identical as described. So either they wish a replacement or want to look for another brand.

HawkEye D10DX.01T In-Dash Depth Sounder with Air and Water Temperature (Includes Airmar Transom Mount Transducer)

HawkEye D10DX.01T In-Dash Depth Sounder with Air and Water Temperature (Includes Airmar Transom Mount Transducer)

HawkEye D10DX.01T ranked 7th position on our top 10 lists. HawkEye D10DX.01T has 61 reviews where 39 positive reviews and 22 critical reviews and average rating is 3. The product first listed on amazon in December 5, 2008.

The overall feedback of product customers is 38% better than the average satisfaction of HawkEye D10DX.01T consumers, 28% of HawkEye D10DX.01T customers may be recommend their friends and family to purchase this product.

Less than 8% customers feel that HawkEye D10DX.01T does not fulfill their criteria. Some of them feel that the product description missguided them to purchase the product, some of them found broken / damaged product and some of them found the support irresponsive or the warranty is not identical as described. So either they wish a replacement or want to look for another brand.

Humminbird 409850-1 Helix 7 SI GPS/Fishfinder with Side Imaging Sonar

Humminbird 409850-1 Helix 7 SI GPS/Fishfinder with Side Imaging Sonar

Do you want a fishfinder that provides the best of both worlds? Then take a closer look at Humminbird’s Helix 7 SI combo. With a variety of outstanding features, this unit is one of the most sought-after fishfinders on the market. Featuring Side Imaging, Down Imaging and Dual Beam Plus capabilities, this combo offers precision GPS and retrieves a depth range up to 1500ft. The 7” display with 480 x 800 pixel resolution provides crystal clear images, making it easier to see fish and structure.

Lowrance HOOK2 Fish Finder/Depth Finder with Auto-Tuning CHIRP Sonar

Lowrance HOOK2 Fish Finder/Depth Finder with Auto-Tuning CHIRP Sonar

Lowrance HOOK2 ranked 9th position on our top 10 lists. Lowrance HOOK2 has 13 reviews where 8 positive reviews and 5 critical reviews and average rating is 3.4. The product first listed on amazon in April 29, 2013.

The overall feedback of product customers is 25% better than the average satisfaction of Lowrance HOOK2 consumers, 20% of Lowrance HOOK2 customers may be recommend their friends and family to purchase this product.

Less than 10% customers feel that Lowrance HOOK2 does not fulfill their criteria. Some of them feel that the product description missguided them to purchase the product, some of them found broken / damaged product and some of them found the support irresponsive or the warranty is not identical as described. So either they wish a replacement or want to look for another brand.

Lowrance Elite-7 Ti2-7-inch Fish Finder with Active Imaging 3-in-1Transducer, Wireless Networking, Real-Time Map Creation and Preloaded C-MAP US Inland Mapping

Lowrance Elite-7 Ti2-7-inch Fish Finder with Active Imaging 3-in-1Transducer, Wireless Networking, Real-Time Map Creation and Preloaded C-MAP US Inland Mapping

Lowrance Elite ranked 10th position on our top 10 lists. Lowrance Elite has 5 reviews where 2 positive reviews and 3 critical reviews and average rating is 2.6. The product first listed on amazon in September 27, 2018.

The overall feedback of product customers is 20% better than the average satisfaction of Lowrance Elite consumers, 15% of Lowrance Elite customers may be recommend their friends and family to purchase this product.

Less than 15% customers feel that Lowrance Elite does not fulfill their criteria. Some of them feel that the product description missguided them to purchase the product, some of them found broken / damaged product and some of them found the support irresponsive or the warranty is not identical as described. So either they wish a replacement or want to look for another brand.

Buyers Guide

It feels great when you find your best match product which meets all of your criteria and in above we actually tried our best to make a short analytical report for you to make your purchase easier. We believe that will help you definitely but there are also some other factors you should keep on consideration when you are making your final decision to purchase depth finder

Why you should purchase depth finder

Thing twice how this depth finder can help you. If you look carefully then you will find that this depth finder has special features which you definitely need to make your life easier.

Alarm warning system:

This is the first and most important feature when you are going to purchase depth finder. It will vary from product to product and brand to brand but you must choose something which is best and also within your budget.

Price:

This is the second thing which you have to look on. You should select something which has highest possibilities and really helpful for end use.

Display dimensions:

This is the last but not the less feature you have to keep your mind. Sometime people neglect by marking them less important but you should always keep your eye open on small things.

Conclusion

HawkEye is our final choose because we have got all the positive analytical reports and features for this product. If you found any product which is best but still missing on our list please do not hesitate to comment below.