The freshwater sonar market has become very competitive in the last couple years with Garmin and Raymarine becoming major players. If you’re looking for a fishfinder/GPS combo for under $700, you have three great choices: Lowrance Elite-7 HDI, Garmin echoMap 50dv and Raymarine Dragonly. Let’s put them all to the test and find out which one is the best.
Our Editor’s Choice Award for the Best Side-Imaging Fishfinder goes to the Humminbird Helix 5 SI GPS. The Helix 5 series offers anglers a range of pricing and options to fit any need without breaking the bank. No other manufacturer can match theses versatile units on functionality and value.
Lowrance Mark-4 CHIRP is a great choice for everyday anglers who are looking to gain an upper hand on gamefish without spending a lot of money. The new Mark 4 is an inexpensive addition to any angler’s toolbox. However, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t come with some excellent fish finding features.
The Helix series features affordable, compact fishfinders that offer all of the features of the larger, more expensive models at the fraction of the cost of similar, older units. The Humminbird Helix 5 DI GPS in particular comes loaded with features that rival the Humminbird 859.
echoMAP 43dv is the new addition to the Garmin’s growing line-up of sonar products. Upon opening the box, anglers find the head unit, the power and data cable, the quick-release mount, GT20-TM/4-pin transducer, a trolling motor mount and all of the necessary mounting hardware in addition to the manual.
Dragonfly 5PRO is Raymarine’s latest offering and it comes with all sorts of bells and whistles such as CHIRP sonar. CHIRP is a wide spectrum sonar technology. It basically means more signals are sent into the water, resulting in better detail coming back to the unit. The end result is better clarity to help you distinguish what you are seeing.
Lowrance recently announced the addition of the affordable Elite-4 CHIRP series of fishfinders to the company’s lineup. The Elite 4 CHIRP comes equipped with all of the bells and whistles of the Elite-4 HDI series with the addition of CHIRP. CHIRP emits a modulated pulse via the transducer.
Every angler would rather be fishing than messing with equipment or trolling around looking for a good spot. Thankfully the folks at Lowrance kept this in mind when they designed the Elite 9 CHIRP fish finder and chart plotter. The simple set up, bright HD display, and easy operation make it a huge time saver.
In November 2014 Humminbird introduced a new series of fishfinders – Helix 5. The units feature a brilliant, extra-wide, 480 x 800 resolution display that depicts 256-colors on a 5-inch screen complete with backlighting that ensures clear, crisp images in all types of lighting conditions day and night. The new display is essentially the main innovation in the Helix series, the transducers and the software are borrowed from the predecessors – 800 and 600 series.
The fully waterproof Humminbird 999ci HD SI Combo sonar fish finder has a wide variety of features for finding fish in multiple locations. The screen is eight inches wide, and consists of a 480V x 800H pixel high definition full-color LED display that is in a 16:9 ratio. Side Imaging Sonar and Down Imaging Sonar allow for clear images of structure and fish
It has become increasingly difficult since the advent of the modern wireless-equipped fishfinder for manufacturers to strike a balance between largely unnecessary features and vital, meat and potatoes fishing tools. The most important single asset for a finder is easily visible and accurate imaging, which is sometimes lost in favor of bells and whistles.
When the goal is to catch as many fish as possible, the right equipment is crucial. Rods, reels, bait and boat can take a fisherman far, but to truly catapult to the next level it’s important to know where the fish are in relation to one’s location. To make sure they know where the fish are biting, more anglers are turning to the Humminbird 859ci HD DI.
GPSMAP 840xs is a part of the new series of fishfinders from Garmin that support down imaging as well as side imaging (Garmin branded those technologies as DownVü and SideVü). Down imaging is built-in while side imaging requires a GCV 10 module that is sold separately.
The Lowrance Mark 4 HDI comes with a 4.3 inch greyscale screen. HDI stands for Hybrid Dual Imaging and provides both the Broadband Sounder and DownScan. HDI was first introduced by the Elite7 model and it provides extremely accurate fish markings and is capable of tracking bait movement.
The Humminbird 688 ci HD DI offers anglers a combination of down imaging and GPS. The 688 has a 640 x 480, five inch display with 256 colors and a backlight. Note that this display has lower resolution than the one found in the older 5 inch models that had 640 x 640 resolution. As the result the output is not as crisp and clear.
Lowrance Elite-4 HDI is a new generation of compact fishfinders ideal for kayaks and small boat where room for mounting electronics is at premium. Despite of its small footprint Elite 4 HDI has almost all the features found in the larger Elite HDI models, yet it’s moderately priced. It will be a very popular model among those looking for smaller, budget priced units.
Humminbird 899ci HD SI features the 480′ Side-Imaging technology, which Humminbird began and has mastered. It uses the XHS-9-HDSI-180-T transducer, the same one that was used by the older side-imaging models. The 1000W transducer supports 800/455/200/83 kHz frequencies, and it reaches the depth of 150’ in side imaging mode and 1500’ in broadband mode.
The Garmin GPSMAP 527xs combined sounder and chart plotter permits clear and easy visibility during both the nighttime and the daytime. This will be the main attraction of the angler’s helm, regardless if it is swivel, flush, or flat mounted. The unit includes a worldwide base map as well as a user-friendly interface.
The a68 fishfinder by Raymarine features CHIRP DownVision built right in with a full featured multifunction display. The CHIRP DownVision channel on the a68 model fishfinder delivers some amazing images of wrecks, fish, and underwater structure with photographic quality. There is also a CHIRP fish targeting channel on the a68 model fishfinder for easy identification of predators and baitfish.
The Humminbird 698ci HD SI features a brilliant 640V X 480H, backlit, five inch, 256 color display. It offers precision GPS chart plotting, as well as Down Imaging and Side Imaging sonar. This unit has a tilt and swivel mounting system with quick disconnects and built-in Humminbird UniMap cartography. You can also save your favorite views with three preset buttons that are programmable. The Humminbird 698ci HD SI fishfinder GPS system will enhance the fishing experience for any angler.