Best Side Imaging Fish Finder: 2020 Buying Guide
Fishing for shallow water fish will become much easier with the best side imaging fish finder. This fantastic device is the most suitable gift for an avid angler or someone who wants to improve the outcome of their upcoming fishing trip. Side imaging fish finders are great for musky, coho salmon, and many other species.
With lots of models on the market, finding the best side imaging fish finder might be a bit challenging. In this article, we’ll review some of the top products on the market. We’ll also help you pick the right one.
Side imaging fish finders provide detailed information about what is going on under the surface of the water. Check out our top picks.
In a Hurry? Here’s Our Top Picks…
1. Lowrance HDS-7 LIVE – 7-inch Side Imaging Fish Finder
Equipped with the most advanced technology, this image finder features the CHIRP Sonar with StructureScan 3D or StructureScan HD to provide detailed images of the fish and structures under and to the sides of the boat. The dual-core processor quickly and efficiently processes the information to offer a clear image that makes your fishing trip more rewarding.
It features a high-resolution 7-inch touch screen. The color-range provides the needed contrast to offer sharp and crisp images with near-photographic images with SideScan and DownScan Imaging, TotalScan, StructureScan with 3D quality.
Thanks to the smartphone notifications, receiving updates about the structures and fish will be easy, and you won’t miss any message or call from your smartphone. The fish finder comes with a built-in map that covers more than 4000 lakes. It’s great for both summer lake fishing and winter ice fishing.
The Lowrance fish finder offers multiple options to download several maps. With built-in Wi-Fi, you can fish in remote areas after downloading the map, so you can use it offline. You can also use the Bluetooth to download a map from another fish finder.
Moreover, you can use the USB cable to connect the device to a laptop or computer to download any map you need. The fish finder features a built-in GPS for smooth performance and maximum position accuracy.
It’s designed to work at great depths, so it’s a good choice for professionals. The down and side scan can reach 300 feet, while the traditional sonar can reach up to 1000 feet. However, some people might find that the screen is too small, especially if they’re avid anglers.
What We Like
- Detailed side and down imaging at greater depths.
- High-resolution touch screen.
- Wide color range with contrast for crisp images.
- Built-in map and GPS.
- Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connections, in addition to a USB cable.
What We Don’t Like
- The screen might be too small for more advanced users.
2. Humminbird Black Fishing Hook Side Imaging Fish Finder
This device features a wide 5-inch screen that displays detailed images of the fish and all the other structures under the surface of the water. The CHIRP Digital Sonar filters all the clutter to provide an excellent image of the fish and other important structures that directly affect the quality of your fishing trip. It’s engineered to help you locate individual fish in all light conditions.
You can switch between the Dual Beam PLUS features to use the wide or narrow beam, according to your needs. The wide beam is used to scan a bigger research area, while the narrow beam shows more details. You can switch between 2 display modes intuitively to create the most appropriate image.
With a built-in detailed base map that covers 10,000 lakes, you can navigate several locations, and create real-time maps of your favorite fishing spots. The fish finder has easy to use buttons that allow you to navigate several features, even if you have no previous experience with fish finders. It can show images up to the depth of 600 feet.
The cords are rather short, so you will have to buy an extension. The initial setup might be a bit problematic for some users.
What We Like
- Decent high-quality image that shows fish and other structures.
- Filters clutter to provide a clear image of the structures underwater.
- Dual viewing modes.
- Easy to use buttons.
- High-quality maps.
What We Don’t Like
- The initial setup can be a little challenging.
- The cords are rather short.
3. Humminbird HELIX 5 Side Imaging Fish Finder
Navigating your way is easy with the help of this fish finder, as it features chart plotting, route planning, and location finding, so you can plan your fishing trip successfully and eliminate the risk of getting lost. At the same time, the fish finder draws detailed information about the fish, objects, and other structures under the water. The CHIRP 2D sonar identifies objects that other fish finders might miss. This makes it especially potent for hunting freshwater bass and musky.
This is an affordable fish finder that doesn’t feature many buttons, so it’s an excellent choice for beginners. The CHIRP Dual Beam PLUS Sonar draws a detailed image on the 5-inch display to locate fish and identify the structures underwater. The device is waterproof with intuitive buttons that make it easy to use and can show images up to the depth of 1500 feet.
Featuring 2 display modes, the Max and Clear modes, you can control the number of details, including fish that will be displayed on your fish finder. If this is your first time to use a fish finder, this one will work for you because it’s easy to install. It’s made of rugged plastic and doesn’t need a lot of setup time before it’s ready for use.
You can create real-time maps of your favorite fishing spots for future reference. There’s a microSD card slot, so you can install additional maps to save waypoints. However, compared to other fish finders, this one has fewer features.
What We Like
- An affordable fish finder with a high-quality screen.
- Intuitive buttons for beginners.
- 2 display modes.
- Additional card slot to upload extra maps.
What We Don’t Like
- Has fewer features than other models.
4. Garmin Striker 4 Side Imaging Fish Finder with Transducer
If you’re on a tight budget, you can still receive detailed images of the fish, structures, and all other objects under the water’s surface with the help of this fish finder. The high-frequency sonar is an excellent choice for beginners, delivering crisp images to help you make the best of your fishing adventure. The Garmin Striker 4 won our best fish finders for kayaks for a reason!
The device features intuitive keys, and the screen comes in several sizes, so you can pick the most suitable one. The whole device has an IPX7 rating, so it will stay functional even in the case of splashes.
Thanks to the CHIRP sonar technology, the fish finder sends a continuous sweep of frequencies for better target separation. This device is an excellent choice for ice fishing and vertical digging, despite its small size. It will show images at a maximum depth of 750 feet in saltwater and 1600 feet in freshwater.
Navigating your way is easy with the Waypoint map to mark, view, and browse several locations. It’s also a great way to find your way back to the boat ramp. This fish finder is smaller than other models, so it’s portable enough for kayaks or canoes.
However, you need to buy an additional piece of accessory to mount it to a kayak because the mount of this fish finder doesn’t have suction. The unit isn’t securely inserted into the base, so it can easily get disconnected. This is fine, however, if you plan on holding it.
What We Like
- Affordable fish finder.
- Compact size to fit into any setup.
- Continuous sonar to deliver detailed images.
- Waypoint map for easy navigation.
What We Don’t Like
- The unit feels a bit flimsy when inserted into the base unit.
- You need a special mount if you want it to be hands-free.
5. Humminbird Helix 9 Sonar with Dual Beam GPS
Featuring a 9-inch TFT display, this fish finder uses side and down imaging to provide details about the fish and structures under the water. The backlit display is visible in all light conditions. It comes with built-in GPS and dual sonar beam technologies to show images at the depth of 1500 feet.
Thanks to the chart-plotting UniMap cartography, you won’t get lost as the device allows you to record your track for maximum safety. There are 2 card slots to upload other maps, so you can have more information about the lakes and other water bodies you’re exploring.
Unlike other devices, this one can use side and down imaging at high speed. It’s also compatible with iPilot. The intuitive buttons are easy to use. However, this device is rather expensive, and the alarm might not be as loud for some users.
What We Like
- Backlit 9-inch display.
- Chart-plotting UniMap cartography to keep track of your movement.
- 2 card slots to upload other maps.
- Can use down and side imaging at high speed.
- Buttons are intuitive.
What We Don’t Like
- Expensive model.
- The alarm isn’t as loud for some users.
What is a Side Imaging Fish Finder?
A side imaging fish finder is a sonar device, designed to make your fishing trip more successful and productive. Thanks to the improved sonar technology and the special transducer, this device will capture detailed images of underwater structures to help you navigate water bodies and locate more fish – especially in shallower water. This makes it really useful when inshore kayak fishing.
The distance covered by the fish finder is affected by the potency of the device and its power. These devices aren’t affected by mud, light, or other factors, and project the images on easy to read screens.
The sonar beams produced by the fish finder travel to the sides of the boat or kayak, compared to down imaging fish finders that scan the water right under your boat.
How to Choose the Best Side Imaging Fish Finder?
There are lots of good side imaging fish finders on the market, so finding the most suitable one can be a little challenging. Here are a few things to think about before buying your device.
The device’s overall size can be a significant factor, depending on where you wish to install it. Some models are as small as smartphones, so they can be successfully used on a kayak or a canoe. Other bigger models are more suitable for bigger boats.
Bigger screens show more details, so they will be more suitable for avid anglers, and those who wish to navigate deeper water. You need to make sure that the screen is easy to use in all light conditions, so picking a backlit display can be a good option.
You need to make sure that the screen has a decent resolution to show the details of the fish and other structures under the surface of the water. High-resolution screens filter clutter to help you locate fish more successfully. Touchscreens are also available and are easy to use.
This refers to how deep the images can be delivered to the fish finder’s screen. If you’re trout fishing in a stream or a lake, the range of 150 feet might be enough. You need to make sure that the device is designed to draw clear images at deeper water if you’re fishing in saltwater.
Most fish finders come with built-in maps that allow you to navigate the most famous water bodies. However, in most cases, you will have a USB cable or a microSD card slot to upload more maps. This is a convenient feature, especially if you’re planning to use your fish finder for a long time.
1. What does a Side Imaging Fish Finder Show?
You will be looking at fish, which appear on the screen as dots or clusters. You might see more shadows, which indicate that you can find more fish. The fish finder also shows the details of structures on lake bed.
2. Side Imaging vs. Down Imaging, Which One is Better?
Side imaging is more suitable for shallow water fishing, or when you’re planning to dive for water fishing. Down imaging works for vertical fishing.
Side imaging fish finders draw detailed images of the fish and structures under the water’s surface to help you navigate several water bodies and locate fish. We chose the Lowrance HDS-7 LIVE – 7-inch Fish Finder as our top side imaging fish finder because it features a high-resolution touch screen and a dual-core processor. It’s also compatible with your smartphone and features several connection options to upload maps.
There are some cool options on our list, so you will definitely find a model that suits your budget and needs. You don’t have to buy a high-end fish finder if you’re only planning to use yours occasionally. If you’re a beginner and need a budget-friendly fish finder, you can take a lot at the Humminbird HELIX 5 Fish Finder.