While you have all the best pieces of equipment like rods, lines, hooks baits, you must have the best fish finder in the market. A fish finder is a simple tool that has the ability to see and monitor the fishes underwater. It is equipped with a sonar sensor that uses soundwave and calculates the disturbances of the returned soundwave. In this way, you can estimate the fish activities and other underwater activities.
As a successful fisherman, you must have the top of the line products to boost your performance. Here, we have seven of the best full imaging sonar sensors that will somehow take over your lack of monitoring.
Reviews of 7 Best Side Imaging Fish Finder in 2021
Here is the list of the top 7 fish finder with side imaging with brief reviews, advantages and disadvantages.
Best side imaging fish finder under $500 – Humminbird 410210-1 HELIX 5 CHIRP GPS G2
Best Overall Fish Finder with Side Imaging
At least a hummingbird model has always been featured in the best fish finder in the price range. Humminbird Helix series has been their flagship product line, and their five-inch Helix 5 model has been a recommendation for the beginners. If you want to move from the handheld GPS trackers and move to the high resolution and high-end devices, this is the one for you.
On the front of the device, you will see a vibrant and bright five-inch display. The resolution of this display is 800x 480, which is more than HD. You will be able to see al the details and side images with full colors.
Talking about side imaging, the system gets it to the top level. It represents a clear 3D image that makes sure that nothing is hiding from you. The target separation of the CHIRP sonar sensor is as low as 2.25 inches. This will avoid all the disturbance of small fishes that are not mature enough to catch.
As extra facilities, it has a good built quality, loads of buttons to operate, and a micro SD slot to install maps or update the firmware as Humminbird regularly updates its system according to angler’s needs.
- Chirp sonar sensor provides wide imaging for maximum clarity.
- Best side imaging sonar in 500 dollar price range
- External memory slot can expand the preloaded maps and update firmware
- High-resolution color display represents images precisely
- Installing the transducer is tricky without a proper mount
Cheapest side imaging fish finder – Lowrance HOOK2 4X
Best Side Imaging Fish Finder for the Money
Lowrance HOOK2 is a fundamental looking device that has not been reviewed much, but the performance and features make it a kicker cheap side imaging fish finder among all. Lowrance is known to people for comfortable user experience and reliability of the company.
The reason it is called HOOK2 4X is the sonar sensor. It covers a wide area of the ground that keeps your underwater vision clear. The coverage doubles up in all the way. Your chances of finding the best fish will enhance. The finding algorithm shows more prominent fish arches that reduces your guesses and approximations.
On the face of the monitoring module, it has a beautiful color display, and the interface operates like a smartphone that is easy to navigate. With several buttons on the front, you can tune the sensor to your choice. It is one of the best Lowrance fishfinders for its capacity.
The installation process of this device is straightforward, which includes only plugging two pins to the monitoring module. The value it serves at the price range is incredibly outstanding, and purchasing will not hurt any beginner’s wallet for sure.
- Phone-like easy to use interface
- Best affordable fish finder you will find with such quality
- Easy to tune and target different kinds of fishes
- Small and compact device for small boats
- Split shot side image provides precise targets
- Built quality is not that remarkable
Garmin Striker Plus 4 with Dual-Beam transducer
Best Side Scan Fish Finder
Garmin Striker Plus 4 is a very small and lightweight fishfinding tool that has all the ability to find fishes precisely. This Garmin sonar may look like small and minimal, but the dual-beam transducer has the ability to represent the 3D image of the underwater areas that are missing in the high range fishfinders in the market at this budget.
This unit is as small as the palmtop GPS navigators. On the front, it has a beautiful 4.3-inch display which has vibrant color production. Though this display is small, it can show all the details and fosses underwater. You won’t even have to struggle in the sunlight seeing anything on this display. The whole unit comes with a dual-beam transducer.
A Dual-beam transducer is known as the best option for producing 3D representation underwater than any other device. As this device also has a pinpoint GPS sensor, you can set your waypoints as your needs and locate there easily.
The front has ten navigation buttons for all kinds of users. It takes almost nothing to get used to this device for beginners.
- Small and compact device for traveling
- Easy to operate and get used to the garmin ecomap
- Rugged design to carry out rough journeys
- The display is small for professionals or fishing teams
Best fish finder for small boat – Humminbird 410160-1 PIRANHAMAX
Best Fish Finder with Down and Side Imaging
PIRANHAMAX is another device produced by Humminbird which is small and lightweight like the Garmin Striker Plus 4 with more portability. This device is low as a handheld GPS navigator and does all the essential duties and extraordinary jobs like 3D imaging with the down imaging sensor.
This small boat fish finder has a small yet sharp and beautiful 4-inch display to show all the parameters and objects underwater. You will be able to see all the freshwater fishes on the screen where a good representation is always confirmed. With only four buttons, you will be able to tune the beams differently, like 200 Hz and 400 Hz. At 200 Hz, you will be able to cast the glow to 28 degrees, and at 455 Hz, you will be able to throw it at a 16-degree angle.
Why it is among the best down and side imaging fish finders isn’t very surprising. The capacity of showing the field of view makes it an excellent choice for downside too. With the sonar sensor, you can see things from 320ft to 600ft, which will be more than enough for freshwater. To add more diversity, Humminbird included a tilt and swivel mount that can be adjusted by hand.
This is not the best, but you cannot deny the value you are getting at this price range, which is unbeatable.
- Dual-beam transducer has the diversity to work on any condition
- Small land lightweight device for small boat
- 272 x 480 compact display is perfect for solo anglers
- The built quality is not up to the rugged quality
Fish finder with side imaging and down Imaging – Hummingbird Helix 7
Hummingbird Helix 7 is a top-of-the-line product that has been recommended and used by many professional anglers. The monitoring unit has a big 7-inch display. Through this high-resolution display, you will be able to see all the bumps and 3D representation of underwater situations.
With the mega down imaging system, you will be able to see clearly all the way down to 125 feet, and that is enough for all-water anglers. For the big 7-inch display, it is mostly used by the professional angling teams.
The low-q transducer and CHIRP transducer, you will be able to catch all the images in the side by side view. Hummingbird side imaging fish finder has a dual operation mode that allows this to take images from the narrow field to a vast area. On display, you will see all the information, including depth and movement speed.
With all the buttons on the front, you will be able to tweak and set settings accordingly. For mounting and setting up for a sail, you will get mounting brackets and cables in the box.
- A big 7-inch HD display on the front shows all the parameters and image representation
- Works in both narrow and shallow mode
- A well-known company for the best after-sales service
- The unit is a bit pricy for the beginners
Garmin Striker 4cv with Transducer, 4″ GPS Fishfinder
Best Kayak Side Imaging Fish Finder
If you are on the market for a Garmin item that comes handy and compact in size, then 4cv is the one for you. It is a small and compact unit that you can mount on your fishing deck and monitor through the small and vibrant 4.3-inch display. The superior and top-notch built quality can satisfy all your needs within the budget limit.
With the Garmin quickdraw mapping software, this small device can draw the map of your area with a fraction of time. The efficiency made this item as one of the best Fishfinder for fishing kayaks.
Moreover, the accuracy is as sharp as 1-inch contours, and you can save it up to 2 million acres. As this is a modern device with excellent imaging technology, you can connect other sensors like temperature sensors and many more. The rugged body lasts longer than the average fish finders in the market. This unit can literally take kicks and bumps like a champ.
Some high-resolution displays do not have the ability to perform well under bright sunlight. In this case, this has the ability to outperform in sunny situations.
- Rugged built quality with solid materials
- Equipped with highly accurate CHIRP sensor
- Represents a very accurate image of underwater
- Mapping software runs smoothly
- The display is comparatively small
- The length of the cable can be short for big boats
Best fish finder GPS combo – HOOK2 9 – 9-inch
Best Side View Fish Finder with Bright Display
The ultimate beast in our list is the HOOK2 by Lowrance. This can be called the best fish finder for trolling motor or any kind of big boats. If you are a professional angler, you must have one of these on your boat. It has all the features possible in a fish finder, and the superior 9-inch display maximizes all of them.
Though this is a professional fish finder, it has a well-known easy user interface and easy operational methods. You will get a dual-angle CHIRP sonar sensor. With this sensor, you can deploy your target in two angles.
For deep scanning, you can scan high accuracy in a less wide area and wider area with less accuracy. With all the buttons in front, you can customize the settings with your taste, or you can scan automatically with the best setting that the scanner automatically detects and scans for you.
As this has a bigger display, you can split the display parts to monitor different sections at once. This is highly beneficial for angler teams.
- Easy to use interface
- Big 9 inch bright display that has high daylight visibility
- Tunes and detects fishes automatically
- Built-in world map
- Expandable map using micro SD card
- The GPS calibration is not automatic, and it can be tricky to set up automatically
What is a Side Imaging Fish Finder?
It has always been a hassle to find adequate fish zones that have the right amount of fishes to call it a day. Fishing sonars have always helped us get into the zones, and throughout the twentieth century, the technology has been evolving, and people have found a way to get accountable images of underwater situations through dual beam sonar sensors and side imaging algorithms. Combining this algorithm with the GPS navigators built-in, you can get a dynamic representation of your surroundings with the Best fish finder GPS combo.
The technology and tricks
Side imaging is a real-time scanning technology where the device uses two of the sonar sensors to beam the soundwave to the downward direction, and they do in at a wide range of area. The device catches the soundwave reflected on the receiver as a two-sided image.
There is a simple way of reading the side images and results. You will see immediate black areas around your boat, and that black area is the depth of the water. The images received are super sharp and crisp so that you will be able to see fish heads and tails. You will also be able to know what are the fishes.
The image that is received has details like shadows and landmarks. Reading the shadows, you will be able to see how deep they are. The photos have brighter and darker parts. The more shaded areas are the potholes, and the more vivid images are close distanced terrains.
The method of scanning is different than down imaging sensors. Down imaging sensors create images from the center and generates alongside. On the side imaging fishfinders, the images are created in a parallel line, and from ten upper to lower parts of the screen, the underwater image representations are shown, and these are easier for you to understand and take quick actions.
Why are they better?
- Side imaging sensors have good coverage, and with a dual-beam configuration, you can regulate the monitoring area to your choice
- Image representations are accurate and sharp
- The high-resolution image has better fish detection capacity. You can easily understand what are you looking at
- Has distinguishable figures to identify single to flocks easily
How to Choose the Best Side Imaging Fish Finder?
The market, technology, and companies have thousands of options to offer, and in the meantime, to choose the perfect fish finder for kayak or boat, you have to have some ground rules. These rules and considerations will help you choose the best fishing gear that suits your style and budget.
Why Do you Need the Fish Finder?
This is the most crucial question that you should consider asking yourself. It would be best if you did not have an extra side imaging fishfinder because you can spend that much amount of money. These items are more expensive than the down imaging fish finders.
If you are a total beginner, or you have no idea how a scanned image looks like, you should educate yourself by using a down imaging fish finder. Downscan and side-scan finders have faster-working properties, and they also have an accurate representation.
To understand the image, you must consider doing some research and buy a cheap side imaging fish finder and practice to upgrade your skills. If you already own a big boat and you are a professional angler, you must go for a fish finder to have a better perspective underwater.
Check Transducer Specification
The transducer is a digital sound module which has a soundwave generator and a receiver unit that connects to the primary monitoring device. Gigahertz measure the transducer. The more gigahertz it has, the more it will be able to travel, and the more impact it will have on the generated images. The frequency starts from 200 kHz, and it ranges up to thousands of kHz.
You will not find a transducer with all of the models in the market. Before you make the purchase, you have to take a deep look at the specifications. If it does not come with one, you can purchase one of your own choices.
Screen Size and Visibility
The screen is the main thing that you will always have to concentrate on all the time. You have to have enough viewing capacity to perform outstandingly in hostile situations.
If you get the HOOK2 9, you will get the most visible and most useful screen to watch what’s going underwater, in sunny conditions, you have to have a brighter display to make sure everything is at your sight. Make sure that the fishfinder has excellent sunlight visibility with enough light for low light visibility.
In some cases, the black and white monochrome display has good sunlight visibility. Most of the small handheld fishfinders have that kind of display.
Working Principles and Frequencies
As we have all gone through the working principles from the descriptions. A GPs navigator is placed inside a unit.
The fishfinder detects it’s the location and makes sure that you are getting to your waypoint using the GPS and satellite connection. The higher the number of satellites connected will be, the better the accuracy will be.
The minimum number of satellites is 12, which is found in almost all of the sonar technology in items in the market. If you can extend your budget, you can purchase 24 satellite ones. With a greater number of satellites, the location can be sharp accurate.
Check the Built Quality of the Side Imaging Sonar
These fish finders with with clear image is a tool for your fishing job. Just like all the other tools, it has to have the rugged and tough built quality to beat the hostile situations. But it is not always necessary.
Like if you are buying the side imaging fish finder for kayak, it does not have to be tough built. But if you are purchasing the top quality fish finder for trolling motor, it will be a tough job for the units. For robust and rough journeys, sturdy built quality is a priority.
Almost all of the brands use hard plastics or polymer plastics to make the mainframe or structure. They use rubbers or other hard materials to build separate protection layers that take bumps and vibrations. The mount is also an essential part to consider looking into.
The design and materials vary from brands to brands. Some companies make mounts that are made of plastics, and they are easy to break, but if the mount is detachable from the main unit, it will be beneficial to have one. The metal ones are more solid and not easily breakable.
The portability issue directly connects to the weight of the unit. If you are a lightweight backpacker or a beginner, start with a smaller and lightweight package that you can take anywhere in your backpack or toolbox.
If portability is your issue in any chance, you can get a handheld navigator that does not have a lot of fish scanning techniques and technologies. Lowrance side imaging fish finder is in our list, and this can be called a portable solution for travelers.
Brand and service
A good well-known brand and its reputation greatly depend on their aftersales service. As this is an electronic device, it might get worse in contact with water or humid weather. Purchasing from a good dealer or market and if you can buy one from a good company that has good aftersales service and warranty.
How to Use a Fishfinder?
A side imaging fish finder has several steps to set up, and for proper monitoring, there are some steps to follow.
The first step will be installing your sonar sensors and monitor on the right place. In almost all of the packages, you will find a manual that has all the tutorials and instructions to install the sonar sensors on your boat. You have to make sure that there is nothing in the way of water and the transducer that you are installing.
With some of the fishing sonars, companies include the mounting bracket that you have to use. You can drill a hole under your aluminum or fiberglass hull, which is the most stable method ever.
After you have installed the transducer, you can test run and see that if any part of the boat is in the way or not. If there is not, you are good to go.
Setting the limits and controlling the speed
The perfect side imaging fish finder for trolling motor will not work on any sense if you have not triggered it well enough, it will fail to show you exact data and representations underwater. Your fishfinder will work best if you go for the default setting and start tuning and cranking up things, you will be able to get into the zone of the fishfinder.
You have to start your boat speed from 3-4 mph and slowly start gaining momentum. As you can see that the image is getting blurred or corrupted, you have to slow down the speed. If you are scanning a river, get your boat in the center of the river so that you can cover both ways equally.
You can also adjust the area of scanning, and almost all the sonar gears have the facility. To regulate and tune the sonar to your choice and needs, you have to optimize the kHz rates from 50 to 400.
Reading the images
Reading the image is the hardest part. A sonar sensor works according to the speed of your boat, and using the GPS sensor and satellites; it gets the pinpoint location and speed of your boat.
As you have all the settings default on your sonar and you are speeding from 3 mph to 6 mph, you will see frames and images generating from the top part of the screen.
As the image scrolls down below, it generates color and shadows to represent distance and depth. You can experiment with the color pallet to customize your vision and target.
FAQ About the Side Imaging Fishfinders
What is the primary power source of a fishfinder?
The main power source of a fishfinder is a battery that is regulated and controlled by any kind of relay or voltage stabilizer. Most of the pocket or handheld fishfinders have battery compartments or rechargeable facilities that make them more portable.
The units that have been described here are mostly power supply operated ones. A 12-24volt power supply is enough to power up the display and work under any condition.
What is the working principle of sonar sensor imaging?
The whole process depends on sound travelling and sound reflection. If a sound travels through any medium, it has to come back after any interference or interruption.
In the fish finding device, there is a sound generator that produces sound and sends to underwater. After every time the sound hits the ground, it comes back to a receiver sensor. the sensor then detects the intensity of every sound frequency and creates a real time image or frame.
This process repeats several times in a second and thus it creates a video of moving image of fishes and other bumps underwater.
Can a fishfinder be used on kayaks?
Obviously, yes, a side-imaging sonar transducer can be used on kayaks if the kayak has enough space and mounts to take the sensor mount.
The kayaks do not have a lot of water contact surface touching to the boat. So, the result can sometimes be interrupted. If you have a separate power supply or battery operated finders, it is usable on kayaks.
You can also buy mounts that can attach the sensor to the kayak heel or hull.
A fish finder is a device that works like a tool for finding a better amount of fishes and fishes that are hard to find with estimations. Side imaging fishfinder is the cutting-edge technology that has very few alternatives to help fishing.
Among all of the units that we have described, HOOK2 9 is the clear winner on the display and features, but the price is not low or affordable. Decide according to your needs and consider getting a good value for the money. With the best-suited side imaging fishfinder, you can amplify your success up to several notches.