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Technological advancements have made fishing a lot easier and fun even for amateur anglers. And thanks to the introduction of fish finders, anglers can easily detect a school of fish. Fish finders have evolved over the last few decades into sophisticated units that allow for more precise accuracy and detailed imaging.

However, buying a fish finder is not as simple as going to a store and picking one! These devices have a wide range of features, including temperature probes, custom mapping, and GPS. So, any misstep in the purchasing process can make your new unit unusable and ineffective. So, here are 10 key things you must know before purchasing your first fish finder.

10 Things to Keep in Mind When Purchasing Your First Fish Finder

  1. GPS Capabilities

A device with a reliable GPS can download maps of numerous bodies of water and their underwater topography. Some GPS systems allow for personalized navigation and cartography. You can read more on it on fish finder buyer guides or consult an experienced angler.

A reliable fish finder should also have Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity for easy usability. With reliable WI-Fi connectivity, you can connect your finder to other devices and analyze it from anywhere on the boat. So make sure you get a fish finder with GPS capabilities.

  1. Transducer for the Fish Finder

The transducer is a crucial part of your finder that sends and receives sonar waves. These waves tend to bounce off numerous objects and then back to the transducer. The collected data is sent to the central unit, where it’s processed into an image that you can understand and then displayed on the screen.

Transducers have numerous types of mounts with the easiest one to install being a ransom mount. However, if you have a bigger vessel, you can go for a heavy-duty mount like the thru-hull mount.

  1. Transducer Material

The right transducer material is determined by the type of vessel you will be using. The best material for casual and enthusiast anglers is plastic. And that is because plastic transom mounts are compatible with most boats.

Transducers with a thru-hull mount, in-hull mount, fiberglass, or metal hulls need plastic housing. Bronze housing is ideal for boats with fiberglass or wooden hulls, while stainless steel housings are perfect for aluminum and steel hulls.

  1. Cone Angles and Beams

Cone angle refers to the width of the emitted ray from your boat. When fishing in deep water, the angle tends to increase in size as the beam moves down, but at the expense of your device’s sensitivity. Therefore, wider cones cover larger areas.

The cone angle of most devices ranges between 16 and 20 degrees. In fact, the best cone angle for beginners is a 20-degree cone.

Even with a smaller cone, these devices can still find fish, thanks to the fact that most transducers emit multiple cones from a single point. Some devices have a triple beam, while others have dual beams. Remember, multiple beams can come in handy when fishing large water bodies like lakes.

  1. Color Screens or Black and White (B/W) Screens

Color displays have become a norm for all electronics, including fish finders. Colored screens offer more details and colors, while B/W screens have 265 different shades of gray. Plus, the information displayed on a color screen is easier to understand and read than on a B/W screen.

On the other hand, B/W screens are still in production. So, if a colored screen can’t fit your budget at the moment, you should go for a simpler B/W screen unit. However, B/W can be hard to read during the night, cloudy weather, or direct sunlight.  

  1. Screen Resolution  

Another thing you must consider is the screen resolution and how many pixels your device should have. The more pixels your device has, the more details it can display. Pixels refer to the dots on the screen, so with a 320 X 320 pixels, you have 320 dots going up and down and 320 dots going right to the left in each column.

Therefore, as a beginner, you should look for a resolution of at least 240 X 160 pixels. And if your budget is not strained, try and pay for an even higher resolution and a bigger screen. After all, the quality of the displayed image is determined by the Resolution and the screen size.

  1. Affordability and Brand

The truth of the matter is that there are numerous affordable low-quality devices with bad designs and poor accuracy. So to avoid disappointments, you should stick to popular brands. Some of the most common brands include Hummingbird, Garmin, and Lowrance, among others.

  1. Portable vs. Fixed Fish Finder

What do you prefer; a portable fish finder or a fixed one? Fixed fish finders can be attached to your vessel while the portable one can be taken anywhere you go. Portable finders are ideal for individuals who fish using rented or other people’s boats.

The portable ones are self-contained devices, but you need a reliable battery that can last you longer. They are also quite easy to connect to the transducer, thanks to its easy-to-use suction-cup. There are numerous portable devices in the market, so finding one shouldn’t be an issue.

  1. Water-Resistance Transducer

Water-resistance is essential, especially if you prefer mounting your device on an open boat. So, make sure you confirm a unit’s JIS/IPX rating before purchasing it. A device with a rating of over 8 can stay underwater for a very long time while the one with a rate of 4 can only survive splashing water. A fish finder with a rating of 4 cannot function well with a kayak.

  1. Multiple, Dual or Single Frequencies

Fish finder works with a transducer with a wide array of frequencies (multiple, dual, and single). The cone angle is related directly to these frequencies. A device with higher frequencies can give a detailed resolution, the best outlook, and the least amount of background noises from a fast-moving vessel. However, to infiltrate deeper waters, you need a device with a low frequency. Therefore, if you plan on fishing on shallow waters, look for a device with high frequencies like 200 and 192 kHz. The best device for deep-water fishing uses a frequency of about 50 kHz.

Final Thoughts

Buying a reliable fish finder can be stressful for beginners, especially with the many models in the market. After all, a fish finder is a unique equipment that can determine the success of your fishing trip. And being an amateur, you should look for a reliable fish finder that is easy to use. But make sure you know how to interpret what is being displayed on the screens before heading out.  

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