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Today’s fish finders produce near photo-quality images of the bottom and structure. Not only can anglers see below, but the most advanced fish finders capture the action 360 degrees around the boat. Leading the way into the future of electronics, Garmin has developed some of the most advanced fish finder technology. Not only does Garmin push the edge with their top-of-the-line models, but the innovation trickles down to their least expensive options. Add tough construction and simple operation, and Garmin’s best fish finders are great for anglers and bad for fish.

The best Garmin fish finders take technology to the next level

Fish finder technology has leaped forward in the past few years, from bottom flashers and scrolls of paper to modern digital displays. The most advanced fish finders push the limits of sonar and navigation. The biggest step forward comes in side-imaging and 360-degree imaging, which allows the angler to see up to 200 feet around the boat. Not only do the best fish finders cover more area, but they cover the area better with high-definition signals for an incredibly accurate depiction of fish, structure, and the bottom. For Garmin, the most advanced technology is available throughout their line of fish finders from four-inch to 12. With fish finders changing so fast and advancing so far, the only question is, what will be next?

angler using Garmin fish finder
Garmin fish finders help anglers locate structure and pinch points to find the best spots. Garmin

What is the best Garmin fish finder with navigation charts?

With the current state of fish finder technology, an angler wants every advantage when he hits the water. With custom color combinations, high definition sonar signal, and detailed navigation charts, the Garmin Echomap UHD 94sv is a top-of-the-line fish finder.

The Echomap UHD has a high-definition sonar that captures detailed images of structure and fish around the boat. The SideVu side scanning sonar uses three frequencies to increase the range by 20 percent and improve performance in deep water. Users have a choice of transducers, with the GT56 providing SideVu and ClearVu sonar. The UHD is also compatible with Garmin’s Panoptix LiveScope transducer to capture a video-like image of fish and structure 360 degrees around the boat.

The nine-inch touchscreen allows the Echomap to display multiple functions at one time. In addition to their most powerful depth finder, Garmin installed their best navigation maps in the Echomap UHD 94sv. The preloaded Bluechart uses Navionics data for detailed maps, tides, currents, and harbor information. Combining the best charts with the best fish finder creates a valuable fishing tool to find the fish and find your way home.

For demanding anglers, sonar and navigation aren’t enough. The Garmin EchoMap UHD 94sv can be connected to a smartphone app to take charts and info with you. The fish finder can also connect to RADAR, other Garmin displays, VHF radio, audio systems, and engine information to control all the boat’s functions from multiple locations.

In short, the best examples of the latest fish finder and navigation technology are available on the Echomap UHD 94sv. But you don’t need a degree in Computer Science to use this powerful fish finder and navigation aid. Garmin makes it easy with a fool-proof interface and clear controls backed by responsive customer service and tutorials. Most anglers will simply power on the unit and start pushing buttons, and the Echomap UHD 94sv will do the rest.

The Best Garmin Fish Finders: Reviews & Recommendations

Best Overall: Garmin ECHOMAP UHD 94sv

Garmin’s best bells and whistles available in a user-friendly package. Garmin

SideVu, ClearVu, Panoptix Livescope, and high-definition signals with a custom color display are just some of the features that make the Garmin Echomap UHD 94sv one of the best marine fish finders. Add detailed Navionics charts with tide, current, and harbor information—and the fish have nowhere to hide. On top of the fish finder and GPS, the Echomap UHD 94sv allows the user to control a trolling motor, monitor the engine, and access navigation charts away from the boat.

What if you need a fish finder with a simple GPS?

Inshore and backwater anglers need a powerful fish finder to locate structure and fish, as well as a GPS to mark location and track speed. Garmin’s Striker Vivid 9sv includes many of Garmin’s best fish finding tools with an accurate GPS for basic mapping and marking waypoints. The Striker Vivid 9sv is also popular for a second display to pair with a trolling motor. In addition to traditional sonar, the Striker Vivid 94sv includes Garmin’s best ClearVu down-scanning sonar to see high-definition images of fish and structure below the boat. The Striker Vivid 9sv also includes SideVu sonar to cover the bottom up to 200 feet on either side of the boat. The Garmin fish finder GPS includes advanced side-scanning sonar that transmits signals on three frequencies for greater range and detail. To find structure and fish, use the SideVu mode, then switch to ClearVu to zero in on the target.

While the Striker doesn’t have navigation charts, it does have a responsive and accurate GPS. This allows the user to track speed and mark waypoints. Using the Quickdraw contours, the angler can create custom charts with real-time depth data. Back at the dock, the Striker Vivid 94sv connects with Garmin’s Active Captain app to download navigation and trip information. For anglers fishing inshore, the best Garmin fish finder GPS will locate fish and structure and get them home.

Best for Inshore Fishing: Garmin Striker Vivid 9sv

Get the best Garmin fish finder GPS with an easy user interface. Garmin

The best thing about a Garmin fish finder GPS is getting the most advanced features with any unit in the line. The Striker Vivid 9sv provides industry-leading CHIRP side-scanning and down-scanning sonar with a traditional depth finder for the most powerful fish finder in any condition. Garmin’s responsive GPS is accurate for marking waypoints and tracking speed. Combined with the fish finder, the Quickdraw Contours allows the user to create custom charts. Whether the Striker 9sv is the main unit on an inshore, backwater boat, or a second unit in a Garmin network, anglers get the best fish finder for hundreds of dollars less than a fish finder with navigation charts.

Do you need the a fish finder and GPS with a compact display?

When the boat is small, but the angler’s dreams are big, a compact fish finder and GPS will close the gap. For anglers fishing out of a skiff, canoe, or kayak—adding a small fish finder will make a big difference. One of the best advancements in fish finder design is packing the most advanced technology in the smallest fish finder. 

Garmin’s Striker Vivid 4cv includes a high-definition CHIRP sonar with a traditional depth finder for unmatched accuracy and versatility in a pocket-sized fish finder. The biggest challenge to a four-inch screen is seeing the display. With seven color palettes to choose from, anglers can find the best setting to match the fishing conditions.

The small system also houses Garmin’s best GPS to mark waypoints and monitor speed with the option to create custom charts. Not only does the GPS allow anglers to monitor speed and location, but anglers can create routes and find and mark waypoints. This is especially important for kayak anglers trying to regulate their paddling or pedaling effort. Even though the Striker doesn’t come with navigation charts, the GPS works with the fish finder to allow anglers to create custom charts. The small size and powerful sonar of Garmin’s best fish finder GPS in a small package are perfect for the kayak.

Best Compact with Navigation: Garmin Striker Vivid 4cv

How did Garmin stuff a down-scanning and CHIRP sonar with a GPS in a four inch display? Garmin

With the same features as larger units in a pocket-sized package, cockpit space is no longer an issue when installing electronics.

Go anywhere with the a portable fish finder with 360 scanning sonar

Portable fish finders are popular for ice-fishing, small boats, and kayak anglers. Housing a high-powered fish finder along with a rechargeable battery and the most advanced transducer allows anglers to take the most powerful fishing tool with them.

Garmin set the bar high with their Panoptix Livescope Ice-Fishing Bundle. Like the best portable fish finders, the Ice-Fishing Bundle includes a powerful fish finder and carrying case. But Garmin takes it up a notch by including their best Lakeview navigation charts and the game-changing Panoptix Livescope 360-degree sonar. The most advanced sonar on the market allows the angler to see fish and structure in all directions.

Just because they can, Garmin sweetened the deal with their best Lakeview charts. Detailed navigation charts allow the angler to find structure and map depth contours and determine the best areas to drop a line. The portable Panoptix Livescop package is great for ice fishing and also works well on a kayak.

Best for Ice Fishing, Kayak, and Small Boats: Garmin Panoptix Livescope Ice Fishing Bundle

Garmin’s top-of-the line fish finder combined with the best navigation charts and interactive controls in a lunch-box-size case. Garmin

For anglers on the go, Garmin’s Panoptix Livescope Ice Fishing Bundle includes award-winning Panoptix Livescope 360-degree sonar with CHIRP DownVu and SideVu scanning sonar. Combined with their most detailed LakeVu g3 charts with detailed depth contours for over 18,000 lakes, anglers can find the best fishing locations and then find the biggest fish.

Garmin striker fish finder cast gps
A mobile fish finder for any situation. All you need is a rod and reel to cast it out. Garmin

Castable fish finder and smartphone apps have come a long way

Shore anglers, ice fishermen, and kayak anglers are looking for the smallest, most powerful sonar and GPS they can deploy where and when they need it. The solution is a smartphone-based fish finder app with a castable transducer. Here’s how it works. Open the app on your smartphone, connect the phone’s Bluetooth to the palm-sized transducer, then tie the transducer puck to the end of your fishing line and cast it to where you think the fish are hiding. For years, castable fish finders have strived to keep up with traditional fish finders. Recently Garmin entered the competition with the Striker Cast GPS.

Now Garmin’s best sonar and GPS are available in a pocket-sized package. The high-powered castable transducer sends a signal up to 200 feet from the angler’s phone. The CAST app includes traditional 2-D sonar in bright color options and a flasher display popular with ice anglers. Unlike other castable fish finders, Striker Cast GPS allows anglers to adjust gain and sensitivity to match the fishing conditions.

Cast out the Striker Cast and retrieve the transducer to create custom maps of structure using the Quickdraw Contours feature. With repeated casts in a fan pattern, the angler can map out a fishing area without leaving the bank. 

Using the Striker Cast GPS is easy: download the free app, unbox the transducer, pair with the smartphone, and start fishing. While the Striker Cast GPS is designed to cast out and retrieve, kayak anglers can dangle the transducer over the side of the boat to get a quick reading on structure and fish below.

Best Castable Sonar with GPS: Garmin Striker Cast GPS

Shore, ice, and kayak anglers get Garmin’s best fish finder features on their smartphone. Garmin

Garmin jumped into the castable fish finder pond with both feet by releasing the Striker CAST GPS. A detailed traditional sonar and sounder paired with a powerful, pint-sized transducer allow anglers to find fish anywhere, even from shore. Then, the sensitive GPS and custom mapping feature scout out the territory and share fishing data and maps with other anglers connected to the Quickdraw Contour mapping network.


Q: Which Garmin fish finder should I buy?

With the most advanced features and highest quality construction available across Garmin’s line, the hardest question to answer is which Garmin fish finder to buy.

The biggest determining factor can be price. Adding detailed charts adds a couple hundred dollars to the price tag. Then, enabling SideVu and DownVu sonar requires a special transducer which may cost extra.

If you’re fishing inshore and backwater and need a detailed fish finder and simple mapping, then the Striker series is for you. On the other hand, if you fish competitively or explore big water searching for the biggest fish, you require the feature-rich models with SideVu, ClearVu sonar, and detailed LakeVu and Bluechart maps.

Garmin spreads their most popular features across their fish finder line. Anglers can get a small four-inch fish finder with high-quality side-scan sonar, or they can have a portable fish finder with Garmin’s game-changing Panoptix Livescope forward-seeing sonar. The biggest limitation is the angler’s budget.

Q: Which Garmin fish finders have maps?

Garmin offers two lines of fish finder separated by their mapping software, leaving anglers asking which Garmin fish finders have maps. Striker models have the most advanced sonar with a simple GPS and plotter and no navigation charts. If you’re fishing inshore and backwaters, the Striker GPS allows you to monitor speed, mark fishing spots, and create routes. On the other hand, the Echomap line includes the best-in-the-industry Navionics maps with detailed depth contours and up-to-date navigation information. If you head into the horizon to tackle big water, the Echomap is a powerful tool for navigation and fishing.

Q: What is the difference between Garmin CV and Garmin SV?

Garmin’s fish finders fit in two categories: Striker and Echomap. But each category is further divided between SV and CV. Finding the best Garmin fish finder for your fishing requires you to answer the question: what is the difference between Garmin CV and SV. In short, SV stands for SideVu and CV means ClearVu. The ClearVu transducer produces a high-powered sonar signal across multiple frequencies to create a picture-like image of fish and structure below the boat. SideVu sonar uses a special transducer that transmits signals to the side of the boat to find fish and structure up to 200 feet away. Anglers concerned about the size of the transducer should know the CV transducer puck is smaller than the SV puck. Also, the SV puck is only available as an option on some Garmin models.

Final Thoughts on the Best Garmin Fish Finders

From the top-of-the-line Echomap UHD 94sv to the compact Striker Vivid 4cv, Garmin packs the most advanced features in a tough, easy-to-use fish finder. Whether you choose the Echomap with detailed navigation charts or the Striker with basic GPS, you have the option for the best side scanning and CHIRP sonar. And Garmin’s best features aren’t limited to boaters. The portable Striker Cast GPS and Panoptix Livescope Ice Fishing Bundle allow anglers to take the best fish finder and mapping anywhere. With fish finder and navigation technology changing so fast, the only question remaining is: what’s next?