Best Garmin Fish Finder – FULL Features Guide & Comparison
Trying to choose a new fish finder is not always the easiest task. Many of them have similar features and technologies, with different models and brands offering different advantages. And Garmin, known for its GPS technology, can be one of the top brands to choose.
So to help you narrow down your search for the best Garmin fish finder, we’ve put together a list of our top picks, whether you have a large boat, a small boat, a kayak, or you plan to set up on the ice.
At A Glance:
Top 7 Best Garmin Fish Finders
1: Garmin Striker Vivid 7sv (best overall)
The Garmin Striker Vivid 7sv features a 7-inch vivid color screen that can be a decent size for most anglers. The display is clear with buttons that are designed to be easy to use, even with gloves on, which can sometimes be better than touchscreen controls.
The fish finder features incredible sonar technology, including Garmin’s traditional CHIRP sonar. But it has the added benefit of both ClearVu and SideVu sonar technology. ClearVu allows for high definition images of what’s below your vessel.
SideVu gives you images of the sides of your boat, so you can get a clearer picture of fish and structure all around your boat instead of just underneath. This can be great for lakes you’ve never fished before, as it can save you time and energy. You can also adjust the distance of the sonar to suit the lake, anywhere up to 300 feet.
This excellent fish finder benefits from having Wi-Fi and Quickdraw Contours technology. This lets you map where on the lake you’ve been and where you still need to go - ideal for large lakes.
Video: Mapping With Quickdraw Contours
It also features GPS and waypoint marking so you can easily track your route and find your favorite fishing holes. And it comes with a tilt mount and a transducer.
2: Garmin Striker Vivid 9sv (runner up)
This Garmin Striker Vivid 9sv is a top of the line fish finder with a large 9-inch color display. It can be a great choice for fishing kayaks or bass boats and comes with a swivel mount and trolling motor mounting hardware to let you install it easily on your vessel.
This is the largest size of fish finder in the Striker range, so it can be ideal if you prefer to see and work with bigger displays for ease of use. But it might be on the large side for use on small kayaks.
The Vivid 9sv comes with all the bells and whistles you’d expect, including Wi-Fi and waypoint marking. It also benefits from having high-sensitivity GPS so you can keep a note of your boat’s speed and plan or save your route.
A great feature of this one is the built-in sonar. It offers CHIRP sonar as well as ClearVu and SideVu sonar technology, showing you highly detailed images of what is below and to the sides of your boat to help you find fish more easily.
It also benefits from having Quickdraw Contours technology to help you map out your fishing spots with 1 foot contours. This can enable you to cover more water when looking for fish, as you can see where you’ve been and where you haven’t.
3: Garmin Striker Vivid 7cv (best value)
The Striker Vivid 7cv is a durable fish finder that can be great for scouting out fishing holes in deep lakes and bays.
This is packed with features and is actually similar in features to the Vivid 7sv but without the SideVu sonar, which is reflected in the lower price tag. It does, however, have the benefit of the ClearVu technology in addition to the more traditional CHIRP sonar.
The 7-inch vivid color display can be easy to read in all lights. And the buttons at the side let you navigate the features more easily. Like all the Garmin Striker series fish finders, this one comes with an included transducer and a water temperature sensor.
Another great feature of 7cv is the UltraScroll technology. This can be useful for ocean fishing if you’re traveling at higher speeds as it can let you see the target fish on the screen despite your speed.
It also has the added benefit of built-in Wi-Fi, GPS and Quickdraw Contours so you can create maps, pinpoint your location and upload your charts and maps to your phone or tablet at the end of the day.
4: Garmin Striker 4 Portable Bundle (best compact and portable)
This Garmin Striker 4 Portable Bundle can be ideal if you’re looking for the perfect fish finder for your kayak or canoe. This package features the compact Striker 4 fish finder as well as a portable carrying case.
The carrying case is designed to make it easier to take with you on any fishing trip. It can also be ideal for kayaks and canoes that don’t have mounting points, as the fish finder can be mounted to the case and kept in the case while you’re kayak fishing.
Alternatively, it comes with a suction cup mount. This means you can move it easily from boat to boat and you could even use it on rental kayaks or for ice fishing.
The Striker 4 features a color screen with a split-screen zoom function and fish symbol ID to show you the locations of the fish. It also benefits from having CHIRP sonar with the ability to upgrade to a higher performance CHIRP sonar with upgraded transducers (sold separately). Dual-beam transducer included.
This can be an ideal fish finder for various fishing locations, with built-in GPS and waypoint marking to help you find your way to the fish and back home again. It also has a built-in flasher for jigging or ice fishing that will kick in when you’re stationary, showing you the bottom as well as the depth of the fish and your lure or bait, making it easier to target specific fish.
5: Garmin Striker 4 (best budget)
The Garmin Striker 4 is essentially the base model of the Striker series and can be great if you’re on a budget and looking for an affordable fish finder with a color screen. One of the best things about this one is that it’s compact, so it can be convenient to travel with.
It’s also the ideal size for using on a fishing kayak and comes with a mount to let you install it easily on your kayak.
This budget-friendly fish finder has some excellent features, including built-in GPS and waypoint marking, so you can map your route and find your way back to the dock.
It features CHIRP technology sonar for improved details of the landscape and fish under your boat. It can show depths of up to 1,600 feet in freshwater and 750 feet in saltwater, as well as water temperatures and fish symbols to pinpoint fish.
It can also be used for ice fishing, with an integrated flasher feature for stationary fishing that can alert you to the depths of the fish as they pass through the sonar beam.
6: Garmin Striker Vivid 4cv
This Striker Vivid 4cv is a compact fish finder that can make it a fantastic choice for fishing kayaks and small bass boats. It has a 4-inch color display with high quality images showing you details of the underwater landscape.
One of the main features of this fish finder is the ClearVu sonar, which can show you clearer pictures of what’s underneath your boat, such as fish, structure and other objects. Another highlight of the Vivid 4cv is the Quickdraw Contours feature, which can be handy for showing you which parts of the lake you’ve missed.
It benefits from having high-sensitivity GPS so you can keep a note of your speed and location. It also offers waypoint marking for convenience in larger bodies of water, storing up to 50,000 points and 100 routes.
Another nice feature is the UltraScroll technology that can identify fish targets even when boating at high speeds. It can also show you the depth of underwater objects.
7: Garmin Striker Vivid 5cv
The Striker Vivid 5cv is the only fish finder in the Striker series with a 5-inch screen. This one features the Vivid color technology for improved image clarity to give you a better picture of what’s underneath your boat and the location of the fish.
It has easy-to-use buttons at the side of the screen so you can navigate through the features without having to touch the screen.
A great feature of this fish finder is the ClearVu sonar, found on many Garmin fish finders. This can let you see the underwater contours more easily with the color options to identify fish and structure. It also has CHIRP sonar.
As with many of the CV models, the Vivid 5cv benefits from having integrated GPS and waypoint marking, which can be essential for finding your way back to lucrative fishing holes or the launch.
It comes with a transducer, swivel mount, plus transom and trolling motor mounting hardware so you can attach it to your boat right away.
Features You Need To Consider When Choosing A Garmin Fish Finder
Wi-Fi may not be an essential feature for all anglers, especially if you’re looking for a more basic fish finder. But having Wi-Fi connectivity can let you pair your fish finder with your phone or tablet using the Active Captain app. The app is free to download on both Apple and Android devices.
By pairing your fish finder with your phone you can download all your charts, maps and waypoints to your phone and access them anywhere. You can also receive alerts and install software updates from your phone to your fish finder through the app.
Note that because a device is Wi-Fi enabled, it doesn’t mean you can access the internet through that device. It simply means that the device can connect to other devices wirelessly.
Size can be an important consideration when it comes to fish finders. While it will probably come down to personal choice, you might want to take into account the available mounting space on your boat, particularly if you have a fishing kayak.
Larger fish finders will tend to take up more space on your vessel, which could make them less suitable for kayaks and small boats. But the advantage of these larger ones is that the screen can be easier to read, which may be more important to you.
All of these Garmin fish finders feature color screens so you might find smaller ones are still clear and easy to read. Smaller fish finders can be more portable and better for ice fishing, for example.
Remember to take into account that the size of the screen will generally not be the size of the fish finder, so the actual fish finder dimensions will be larger than the screen dimensions, which could influence your decision.
If you’re planning to permanently install a fish finder on a large bass boat, then portability will probably not matter much to you. But if you want to be able to take your fish finder on different vessels or go ice fishing then you may prefer a more portable fish finder.
Handheld fish finders can be a good option. And these often come with different mounting options so you can mount it temporarily to a kayak or other vessel, sometimes using a suction cup mount. The Striker 4 Portable Bundle, for example, lets you carry and use the fish finder inside a handy case.
All of the fish finders in our list include mounts.
CHIRP, ClearVu Or SideVu Sonar
All of these Garmin fish finders include CHIRP sonar as standard. This can be better than single-frequency traditional sonar because it can give more detailed results and improved target separation. This essentially means you could locate fish more easily.
Garmin also has the added benefit of ClearVu and SideVu sonar technologies. But these are not available on all fish finders. Both of these technologies can give you even more detail than CHIRP alone.
ClearVu sonar lets you see an in-depth view of what’s beneath your boat, with images that have a higher quality, almost like a photograph. This means you can identify objects and structure, and importantly, fish.
SideVu is an additional sonar technology that’s included with some of the top-spec Garmin fish finders. This is a powerful sonar that scans both sides of your boat, giving you additional information about the body of water that you wouldn’t otherwise know with only downview sonar.
Video: Catch More Fish With Garmin SideVü
This can let you easily scope out fishing holes on bodies of water that you’ve never fished, which can save you time. It can also scan up to 300 feet on either side of your boat so it can be perfect for large lakes or bay areas.
GPS can be an essential feature for many anglers. But what is GPS? Global Positioning System (GPS) is owned by the U.S Government. It is used in various consumer devices, including phones, watches, vehicles, and, of course, fish finders.
It can let you find and map your location using the GPS satellites. This technology works without cellular signal so it can be vital for backcountry uses and marine navigation.
Having GPS on a fish finder can let you map your routes, mark the location of a honey hole, using waypoints, and find your way back to the dock after your trip. It can be a convenient feature and means you don’t need to have a separate GPS device on board.
Quickdraw Contours is a feature that’s found on many Garmin fish finders. It can be a really useful feature to have, as it can let you create your own maps. This can be easily done, as the software automatically creates the map for you as you travel over the lake, so you don’t need to be an expert cartographer to draw your own maps.
With the Quickdraw feature you can see where on the lake you’ve been and where you haven’t. And you can also see submerged structure and underwater contours so you can scope out new fishing holes.
Additionally, this feature lets you share your maps with other users so they can see the underwater landscape of the lake or bay, along with launches. But your waypoints remain private.
Garmin Fish Finders: Frequently Asked Questions
Are Garmin Fish Finders Better Than Other Brands?
That depends on what you’re looking for. Garmin are probably best known for their GPS so it can be the better brand if you want precise GPS. Garmin fish finders also have high quality screens and powerful sonar.
Do All Garmin Fish Finders Have Transducers?
Yes, all Garmin fish finders come with transducers. With some models you can upgrade the transducers to higher quality ones for better imaging.
Do Fish Finders Actually Show Fish?
Yes, most fish finders will show fish. If the fish finder has fish ID technology it can show you specific fish and display them as a fish icon (in various sizes) on your screen. Some budget fish finders may show you arches instead of icons to show you fish.
Is Chirp Better Than Sonar?
CHIRP is a type of sonar. It stands for Compressed High-Intensity Radiated Pulse and transmits longer pulses with more variable frequencies than traditional sonar. It can highlight individual targets more clearly with higher quality images than traditional single-frequency sonar.
How Do I Mount A Fish Finder On My Kayak?
Some kayaks will have scupper holes for the transducer and mounting points for your fish finder. A flat spot on your deck can be a good place to attach the fish finder mount, but this may include having to drill into your boat. Alternatively, you can mount it to existing accessory tracks on your kayak for easy no-drill installation.
The best Garmin fish finder, in our opinion, is the Striker Vivid 7sv because it has all the features and technology that you’d want in a fish finder. The screen is of a decent size that’s easy to read, with excellent clarity and image quality. It also benefits from having ClearVu and SideVu sonar for all-around underwater imaging and increased fish finding.
An excellent runner up is the Striker Vivid 9sv. It has all the incredible features found on the 7sv but with the added advantage of a larger and clearer display which can be easier to see details.
However, if you’re after a more compact fish finder for kayak fishing, the Striker 4 Portable Bundle can be a great option and ideal for installing on a kayak or taking on an ice fishing trip.
Since everyone’s fishing game is different, the model of fish finder that suits you best will likely be different too. Think about the features that you’d use most and the type of water you plan to fish, or even the frequency of your fishing trips.