You’re a fisherman and you are roaming around in the lake with your pontoon boat to catch fishes. The casting rods and reels you’ve are perfect for a big catch. But most of the time you fail to locate fishes in the lake. And so you fail again and again and become frustrated. So it’s very much important for you to have a depth finder set for your pontoon boat which will help you to find fishes.
But there are a lot of depth finders in the market and it becomes very confusing while choosing the best depth finder for your pontoon boat. To make your task of finding the best depth finder easier we have sorted out five best depth finders available in the market.
FISH FINDER VS DEPTH FINDER
A depth finder does the job of displaying the depth. It only shows the depth of the water reservoir under the pontoon boat in the digital system. It is used to determine shallow depth where graphical information is not needed.
A fish finder does the job of depth finder and many other things. The transducer that is used by the depth finder is also used in it. The fish finder gives a graphic and video display of the bottom of the boat and under the water. It shows anything that is detected by the transducer. It also stores a history of several seconds or minutes.
TYPES OF FISH FINDERS
Fishing without a fishfinder is totally impossible nowadays. So the use of fish finders has become widespread. As a result manufacturers have developed a vast variety of fish finders.
Different models of fish finders starting from low price to many thousand dollars high-end models are available in the market and every single of them has their own attributes and uses. As a result it is easy for the buyer to decide which one to buy depending on the methods of his fishing and other uses.
There are different types of fish finders available in the market.
- 2D fish finder
- Sidescan fish finder
- Downscan fish finder
- GPS combo
- Ice fish finder
There are also some fish finders which use a combination of many other technologies and do a variety of jobs. But in general the technologies of different types of fish finders are also different. Their jobs are also not the same. So it is very much important for the buyer to know the functions of different types of fish finders.
By knowing the uses and function of the fish finders they can determine which one will meet their demands and which one to buy. So for the convenience of the buyers the details of all the types of fish finders are given below.
2D FISH FINDERS
2D fish finders use a 2D display. The display may be black and white or colorful. But the video scrolls from left to right. It displays hardness of soil, rough texture and fish when fishing. With the help of powerful electronics and experience a fisherman can recognize large fish by seeing the swim bladder as a symbol, usually dot or dash.
SIDESCAN FISH FINDERS
Sidescan Fishfinder gives a perfect display. It not only covers the bottom of the boat but also the two sides of the boat. These are perfect for sampling large lakes and open water. They give a photorealistic display of adjustable range from 1 meter to 30 meter in each side. But it is more costly than the 2D fish finders and downscan fish finders.
DOWNSCAN FISH FINDERS
For being cheaper than the sidescan fish finder, its popularity is increasing among the fishermen. They give a photorealistic display of anything below the bottom of the boat. They have a smaller range and are not adjustable. So they are applicable only for shallow water.
Its detection area is narrow. But it gives a vivid picture and gives a perfect representation of objects under water. But fishes are only visible in good visibility conditions. The soil hardness is not displayed in this device and if anything moves very fast it is no longer detected by the downscan fish finders.
It’s the economical and solid choice of yours if you are fishing in island lakes and have a standard size vessel. It is better for simple scouting and shows you whatever is around your boat during fishing.
It is better for medium sized boats. It helps you to get navigation data along with fishing data. The data of GPS and SONAR can be shown in the same display or in separate displays in split screen mode.
These fish finders are units with all the bells and whistles. They are data friendly and equipped with GPS, radar, video, and also SiriusXM radio. They give these facilities with the help of a data network.
The CHIRP version is also named as the broadband version. This version of fish finders emits much lanthier pulses. This will give 50 times more pulse energy. The pings it creates will pulse through water with different frequencies. This helps the fish finder to get a more detailed picture of the bottom of the boat and anything under it.
These fish finders are for those who take fishing as a hobby not as a livelihood. These fish finders have a monitor, a transducer, a mounting part and a battery all in a case. These are easy to move from one place to another.
ICE FISH FINDER
These types of fish finders are used in icy regions. Most of their types use flashers to show the things below the pontoon as graphs. Some of them use flashier and show real time images of what is happening below.
POPULAR FISH FINDER BRANDS
It is more wise to buy a fish finder from a more popular brand than cheap uncommon brands. One will get better sales service from a popular brand and also the maps are updated regularly in them. The most popular fish finder brands available in the market are humminbird fishfinder, lowrance fishfinder, the eagle fishfinder, garmin fishfinder, and furuno fishfinder. Each of these brands are unique.
They offer a different depth which their technologies can penetrate and can detect the presence of fish. For example, only the humminbird fish finders can locate fish in ice and cold water.
HOW TO INSTALL A FISHFINDER ON A PONTOON BOAT
Here we are discussing 5 simple tricks to mount a fishfinder on the pontoon boat.
STEP 1: CHOOSE THE PLACE WHERE THE TRANSDUCER WILL BE INSTALLED
A transducer is a very important part of a fish finder. It is a device that sends and receives the data that is displayed on the fish finder screen using sonar technology. It sends sonar waves in a cone pattern below your boat’s bottom.
In most of the pontoon boats there is a bracket on the back of one of the toons. It is a classic place to install the transducer. But it’s best to install the transducer on the starboard side of the boat.
It is not necessary to parallel the transducer with the water label. But it should not be installed too low or too high.
STEP 2: CHOOSE THE PLACE TO INSTALL FISH FINDER MONITOR
It is most common to install the fish finder monitor on top of the cockpit console. Sometimes it is installed on the side of the actual instrumentation. But it should be done keeping in mind that there should be enough space to run the wiring and cables.
It is better to run the cabling through the place where the pontoon manufacturer has run the wiring. The underneath of the monitor mounting place should also be observed carefully.
STEP 3: PLACE AND INSTALL THE TRANSDUCER
Two holes should be drilled in the mounting bracket. It should be ensured that the drilled holes are in such a place where the transducer can be mounted correctly. Then the transducer should be mounted by using nuts and bolts. Electrical conduit should be used to ensure safety of the transducer cables.
Then the cables should be taken around the side of the boat to the cockpit. If there is a cable gully then that should be used to run the cables.
STEP 4: INSTALL THE FISH FINDER MONITOR
The monitor bracket should be placed exactly where the monitor would be placed and the drilling point should be marked with pencil. The holes should be drilled in the marked position. It will be better if rubber washers are used while screwing the nuts and bolts.
This will prevent the console from getting scratched. Another little bit bigger hole should be drilled in the console to run the monitor cord and the transducer cables.
STEP 5: CONNECT TO THE POWER SUPPLY
It is better to use a fuse box to connect the monitor and transducer to the battery. The cables can directly be connected to the battery also. While connecting the cables it should be kept in mind so that the cables don’t collapse with each other. Many boats have extra plugs where the cables and sockets can be connected using sockets.
HOW DOES A FISH FINDER WORK?
Fish finders work using SONAR technology. SONAR is the abbreviation for SOUND NAVIGATION RANGING. A sonar device sends sound waves down through the water. After that sound waves hit any object like fish, plants or wrecks or any other objects or the bottom of the lake or river the pulses are reflected back.
The sonar calculates the time interval of sending and receiving the sound waves. The echolocation system used by the sonar is the same as that of the bats and dolphins. This information received by the sonar helps to measure the depth of the object from the water surface.
The sonar also measures the strength of the reflected sound waves. Strength of the sound waves received determines the hardness of the object it is reflected from.
After receiving a pulse the sonar sends another pulse of sound waves exactly at the same time. Because sound waves can travel a distance near about a mile in the water. Sonars can send multiple pulses in a second.
The received sound waves are converted into electrical signals then displayed in the monitor showing the depth, hardness of the bottom and anything in between.
It is to be kept in mind that sound waves sent by the sonar are in cone shape. That’s why objects just below the bottom of the boat are not sometimes detected by the sonar. The same thing also happens due to surface clutter. Surface clutter is common for all sonars. This happens due to sonar noise and algae and other garbage present on the water surface.
HOW TO READ A FISHFINDER?
You have the best fish finder mounted on your pontoon boat but you don’t know how to read fish finders. Then it will of no benefit to you. So it is very much necessary to learn to understand the readings of fish finders. And to know that you should know how to study sonar.
So we have given the beginners guide below so that you can read the fishfinder and make more benefit from it. Here we will tell you how to use a fish finder and detect fish, weeds and other structures under water.
FISH REVEAL IN TRADITIONAL AND DOWNSCAN SONARS
For picking up fish arches and baiting balls traditional sonar is better and downscan sonar is better to find drop offs and sunken trees. On the sonar fishes appear like arches. The bigger the arches are, the bigger the fish are. You can see the arches on the bottom left of the screen.
It is harder to find smaller fishes using traditional sonars. Downscan sonars give more detailed reading. Downscan sonars give dots for fishes. The more the dots are, the larger the fishes are. Most people run their fish finder in split screen mode assuming that they would see the fishes and other objects in two different screens. The larger fishes appear as blobs on the right side of the fish finder display.
DETERMINING THE SIZE OF FISHES
Generally the large fishes give thick arches. Length of the arches can give an idea about the size of the fishes. But the depth of the river or lake should be adjusted. Because with the increase of depth of the water body the return would gradually become smaller.
STRUCTURE DOWNSCAN AND FISH REVEAL
A bright colored highlight is added to the picture shown in the display by the fish reveal to differentiate between fish and objects in structure downscan sonars.
SIDE SCAN SONAR
Sidescan shows a view of the port side and starboard side of the pontoon. It will be better to use split screen setup while using sidescan.
FEATURES OF GOOD FISH FINDER
Fish finders nowadays have many features like structure downscan, sidescan. The range of fishfinder depends on the transducers one chooses. Latest models of fish finders have fish reveal technology. With the help of fish reveal technology, fish hidden under structures and weeds can also be located.
ARE FISH FINDERS WORTH THE MONEY?
To put it simply, for a fisherman fish finders are worth the money. If you pay a visit to boat launch, or any other places where fishermen are with their boats you will see that every boat is equipped with a fish finder. Fish finders help a fisherman to locate the habitat of fish and help them to get a big catch.
A fisherman who has a fish finder mounted on his boat and can use it effectively will never have to return from fishing empty handed or less fish. The fish finder will find fish for the fisherman. Fishermen who use fish finders can make a lot of money by selling fish.
A fish finder also ensures a fisherman’s safety not directly but indirectly. The GPS of the fish finder will make him alert from any incoming natural calamities.
THINGS TO CONSIDER BEFORE BUYING A FISHFINDER
A vast variety of fish finders is available in the market from which you can choose one. But if you want to make profit from it then you can’t choose the fish finder randomly. You have to consider many pros and cons before buying a fish finder. You will be benefited by buying the product which meets all your demands.
We have discussed some of the factors you must consider before buying a fish finder.
Alarm Warning System
Fishfinders must have an alarm system to warn the fisherman whenever it detects any fish. The alarm system must be the latest model. Nowadays fishfinders have an alarm system with three settings. They give three different types of alarms for small, medium and large fishes. So before buying the fish finder it must be noticed carefully whether it has any alarm system in it or not.
Dimensions of Display
Larger display gives extra advantages. Larger displays give a more clear view than the smaller ones. Displays of different sizes are available ranging from 3.5 inch to 12 inch. Display of the fish finders are measured diagonally. So it is seen that a 10 inch screen is nearly four times of the 4 inch screen. So it will be better to buy a larger display if within budget.
Usually a fish finder uses 5 frequencies 50 kHz, 83 kHz, 200 kHz, 455 kHz or 800 kHz. Lower frequency goes more deep than comparatively high frequencies. But images of high frequency are more clear than images of comparatively less frequencies. For different purposes fish finders use different frequencies.
Like for scouting 50 kHz or 83 kHz, for zooming 200 kHz and 455 kHz and 800 kHz are 3D frequencies. Fish finders have 4 frequency pairings 50/200, 83/200, 83/200/455, 455/800.
Power of a fish finder is measured in watts. The sonar pulses of fish finders of more power can penetrate more depth. So the fish finders with more power have more detecting range.
The size of your boat
Before buying fish finders the size of boat must also be kept in mind. It should be ensured that after mounting the fish finder on your boat you have enough space to run between the Monitor and the transducer and also have enough space for fishing.
GPS or not
Fish finder is a device that works using sonar. But modern and updated fish finders have integrated GPS navigation, marine radar and compasses. Modern fish finders not only help you catch fishes but also show you the way. So before buying a fish finder we should keep in mind whether the fish finder has GPS or not.
Right Sonar or not
Sonar is the main part of the fish finder. Without sonar fish finders are nothing but scrap. Fish finders find fish habitats and other objects under water using sonar. So before buying the fish finder its SONAR must be checked thoroughly. If the sonar does not work properly then it should be replaced immediately.
The monitor is one of the most important parts of the fish finder. It shows the information collected by the transducer, GPS, marine radar and compasses of fish finders information in an organized way. By reading and realizing the information from the monitor you can understand where to go to catch fish and what pattern is to be followed.
If the resolution of the screen is very low then the data on the screen will not be seen clearly. Then the effectiveness of your fishing will decrease. So the fish finders whose monitor has the most vertical and horizontal pixels must be selected.
Does it have a color screen
Almost all of the modern fish finders have a color screen. But some versions with black and white displays are also available. Those versions with black and white display must be avoided.
The location of your transducer
The transducer must be placed near the centerline. It must be placed low enough so that it remains under water all the time. The location of the transducer depends on the shape of the hull and how the water passes around it.
Best Depth Finder for Pontoon Boat
From all the things discussed above it is clear that a fish finder is a must to be an expert fisherman. And it is also a must to buy the best fish finder. Because if the fish finder you bought does not fulfill your demand and the criteria it needs to do fishing in the region you are in then it will not come to any benefit.
So choosing a fish finder is a very toilsome and confusing task. So, in this section we have tried to lessen your tension. Here we have done a little survey for you and find the best five fish finders available in the market.
HawkEye DT1B DepthTrax 1B is a depth finder available in black and white color variants only. It’s screen size is 1.86 inches. It has an LCD display of dimension 2 x 4 x 6 inches. No battery is included in its purchase. Its battery life is 60 miles per hour. It uses a North America type map for its navigation.
DT1B DepthTrax 1B is one of the best depth finders of the Hawkeye brand. It has an automatic ranging and sensitivity device which delivers uninterrupted depth readings from 2.5 feet to 200 feet depth. The depth sounders of HawkEye DT1B DepthTrax 1B will keep the fisherman worry free.
It has a three stage advanced warning system. This will let you know how close you are to your preferred depth. This can even show you the depth when your pontoon is at 63 mph speed.
It has a Keel Offset system which automatically adjusts displayed depth readings for vessel draft requirements. This product’s faceplate is black or white colored and has trim rings which let it match with a variety of helm stations.
They have EasyTouch User Interface and Marine Grade plug and play connectors. This made the setting up of depth finders easy and fast. The display of the depth finder is Glare free display along with soft glow back lighting.
With the help of this backlighting the readings of the display are visible even in the brightest daylight.
This product has a warranty of 2 years. They have a color coded user and installation manual along with a 24 hour online tech support centre.
FEATURES TO BE EXCITED ABOUT
The HawkEye DT1B Depth Sounder gives precise depth readings from 2.5 to 200 feet, at speeds over 63 mph. This depth finder also has a 3 stage warning system which will allow you to know how close you are to your preferred depth.
In addition to all this, this fish finder has an operation system which allows it to differentiate depth signals from fish signals. This is one of the best depth findrrs for pontoon boats.
CONS TO CONSIDER
The size of the display of this product is comparatively smaller.
- Adaptive Software Programming Minimizes False Readings.
- Dual Depth Alarms Warn of Shallow or Deep Water.
- Keel Offset adjusts depth readings for vessel draft
- Glare-Free Display with SoftGlow Backlighting.
- Interchangeable Face Plates & Trim Rings
Fishing with Garmin 010-01550-00 Striker 4 is much easier tgan any other fishfinders. The fisherman can mark the hotspots, docks and can also share the path he want to go through or like to go with other Striker fishfinders and Echomap combos. When switchong from depth -range scales it gives uninterrupted images using smooth scale imaging.
You can find out the way points you missed with tge help of sonar history rewinding system. It can display speed data with the help of built in flashers. In the purchase, it includes swivel mount, CHIRP (77/200 kHz) transducer with transom and trolling motor mounting hardware and cable.
Garmin 010-01550-00 Striker 4 is easy to use. It is a color fish finder with a monitor of length 3.5 inch. It has built in high sensitivity GPS navigation system. It can show your position with respect to the way points you have marked.
It can show you the speed data. So you can be sure at which speed you’re trolling and is the speed correct to lure the particular kind of fish you are fishing. It has a portable kit along with it. Using tge ki one can easily transport the fishfinder to the place he wants safe and fast.
STRIKER 4 fishfinder includes a Garmin CHIRP (77/200 kHz) transducer which uses different frequencies ranging from high to low and gives uninterrupted and crisper fish arches with greater target separation.
FEATURES TO BE EXCITED ABOUT
The most exciting fact about the fishfinder is that it uses Clear Vubscanning SONAR which gives photographic images of any thing under the boat. This fishfinder is ideal for ice fishing. The SONAR of this fishfinder can traverse to a depth of maximum 1,600 feet freshwater, 750 feet saltwater.
CONS TO CONSIDER
For high performance CHIRP needs to be upgraded with a GT8 or GT15 transducer. GT8 and GT15 transducers are not included in the purchase. They need to be bought seperately.
- It is easy to install and use
- It has monitors of size 3.5, 5 and 7 inch
- Its sonar has a range maximum depth 1,600 feet freshwater, 750 feet saltwater
- Current draw at 12 volt: 0.23 Ampere
- It is ideal for ice fishing and jigging.
Lawrence Hook Reveal 5 fish finder is one of the best fish finders among the Lawrence family. It has some best fish finding technologies and systems installed in it. Lawrence Hook Reveal 5 fish finder has a 5 inch screen with transducer. It also has a C-MAP Preloaded Map option.
Fish reveal is one of the most upgraded systems of fish finders. Many fish finders don’t have it installed in them. Luckily, Lawrence Hook Reveal 5 is equipped with the Fish Reveal technology. With this Fish Reveal it is possible to locate fish under any structures and weeds.
Fish Reveal in combination with the Lowrance CHIRP sonar and the DownScan imaging has made it the fish finder for pontoon boats. Fish targets light up the display of Lawrence Hook Reveal 5 fish finder.
This fish finder is also equipped with Hook Reveal Autotuning sonar which adjusts the sonar settings with the change of the conditions and ensures the best fish images. It also has got Split Shot features. This enables the fisherman to get a clear view of whatever there is under the pontoon.
FEATURES TO BE EXCITED ABOUT
The Lawrence Hook Reveal 5 fish finder has autotuning sonar installed in it. The autotuning sonar installed in it is Hook Reveal Autotuning SONAR. So with this fish finder you can spend more time fishing as you don’t have to spend your valuable time in adjusting the sonar range whenever the depth and other conditions change. The fish finder will do it itself.
Lawrence Hook Reveal 5 fish finder also has C-MAP preloaded map options. The map has high resolution 1 foot contours on 8,900 US lakes. Thus the fisherman finds it easier to look for the hot spots with the high-resolution detail of C-MAP Contour+ US/CAN inland and coastal charts.
CONS TO CONSIDER
The Lawrence Hook Reveal 5 fish finder is the latest product of Lawrence manufacturers. So it’s likely to have all the modern and upgraded features and technologies installed in it. But this fish finder is not portable. So one has to face difficulties while transporting the fish finder from one place to another.
- Has Fish Reveal technology.
- Installed Hook Reveal autotuning sonar
- C-MAP Contour
- HDI transducer
- 5 inch display
Humminbird 410210-1 HELIX CHIRP GPS G2 fish finder is a new product of Humminbird. This fish finder has got all the modern and upgraded features and technologies installed in it. This makes it the best fish finder of the humminbird series.
This fish finder has a 5 inch WVGA display. The dimension of the display is 1.13 x 7.55 x 4.28 inches.
HELIX 5 fish finder is equipped with a 2D sonar. This sonar is far better than other 2D sonar. This is perfect for any fishing environment, icy water, fresh water or salty sea water.
Switch Fire is the display mode used in the HELIX 5 fishfinder monitor. It’s a 2 display mode- Max Mode and Clear Mode. With this you can choose which information and data you want to see in the monitor.
Dual Beam sonar shows you fish and the bottom. Wider beam is used for more search area and narrow beam is used for more precision. These two beams can be combined together with the help of Dual Beam Plus sonar of HELIX 5 fish finder.
Helix 5 fish finder has both sidescan and downscan imaging systems. So fish can’t hide from the fishfinder.
The Humminbird Basemap is built into all SOLIX Series and GPS-equipped HELIX Series G2/G2N models. These maps provide you with a clear view of underwater terrain based on the freshwater data from LakeMaster and NOAA.
Humminbird fishfinders have a powerful GPS/WAAS receiver which fixes position accurately within 2.5 inch. One can also use Humminbird’s Interlink to allow two fishfinders to access one GPS receiver.
FEATURE TO BE EXCITED ABOUT
The most exciting feature about the HELIX 5 fish finder is that it has CHIRP Dual Beam Plus SONAR. This means the sonar of this fish finder uses two types of beams- wide beam and narrow beam. Wide beam increases the area of search and the narrow beam makes the image more precise. Using Dual Beam Plus the two beams can be used in combination. Thus the search area would increase at the same time the imaging will be more precise.
CONS TO CONSIDER
The HELIX 5 fish finder is equipped with a lot of modern and upgraded features so it is not that easy to use and implement. Again the system needs to be upgraded from time to time.
- Downscan imaging
- Sidescan imaging
- CHIRP digit sonar
- Built-in Humminbird Basemap
- AutoChart Live
Humminbird Helix 7 fish finder has a 7 inch ultra wide screen which gives you enough space to view all the preloaded split screen options. HELIX 7 Mega Down Imaging giv3s you unprecedented underwater clarity within a depth of 255 meter. With this Down Imaging 3× more information can be unlocked than any other standard down imaging sonar.
Dual spectrum CHIRP gives well defined fish arches and clear view of fish holding structure and the bottom. The Dual Spectrum helps the fisherman to search two ways – 2ide mode for maximum coverage area and narrow mode for more detail. It has Switchfire SONAR which takes command of how you want the sonar returns to appear.
It has two display modes with which you can add or remove details about water depth, temperature and turbulence, and even watch lure presentations – all at the push of a button. Lake master maps help you to find hotspots of fishing.
You can completely rely on the Humminbird HELIX 7 fish finder to make every minute of your fishing time count. This fish finder will give you many features starting from easy-to-read contours, to highlighted depth ranges, to scrollable lake lists.
FEATURES TO BE EXCITED ABOUT
The most exciting thing about this HELIX 7 fish finder is that it has Mega Down Imaging. With this technology the fisherman will get unprecedented clarity with coverage of depth 125 feet below the boat. This product is not a Minn Kota i-Pilot Link compatible.
CONS TO CONSIDER
The monitor of the HELIX 7 fish finder is a touch screen. So scratch marks of finger nails will be visible on the screen after a few days’ use. Again if used roughly the touch screen might be damaged.
- Wireless connectivity technologies and other display features.
- Touch screen Monitor
- Mega Down imaging
- Low Q CHIRP transducer, Dual Spectrum CHIRP
- Watts RMS: 500
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQ)
What is a fish finder?
Answer- A fish finder is a device that works using SONAR technology and locates fish and other objects under water.
What is a fish finder flasher?
Answer- A fish finder flasher is a device that shows the objects detected by the device in a circular screen.
What is a fish finder rig?
Answer- The fish finder rig is a popular surface fishing rig used to catch a variety of fishes like redfish and stripers.
What is a fish finder transducer?
Answer- A fish finder transducer is a device that sends and receives the data that is displayed on the fish finder screen using sonar technology.
What is a portable fish finder?
Answer- By the word portable means the thing that can be transported from one place to another easily. The fish finder that can be moved from one place to another easily is called a portable fish finder.
In the above sections we have tried to make you clear what a depth finder is. The things like beginners guide and installation process and many other things that would help you to buy the best depth finder are discussed in the above sections. We have also sorted out a list of the best five depth finders available in the market so that you can buy the perfect depth finder of your choice. Hope that you would find our writings helpful.