October 1, 2021


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In Canada, we are lucky to have access to a vast array of lakes and rivers that offer an almost infinite number of possibilities for fishing. Some bodies of water are not well mapped or even unmapped, which could make fishing in those areas more challenging and navigation riskier. Learn about the advantages of using a fishfinder to maximize your catches, and get tips for choosing the one that suits your needs.

In this article, you will learn more about fishfinders and how to choose the right model to make the most out of your fishing trips:

  1. The Advantages of Using a Fishfinder
  2. Determining the Location and Frequency of Your Fishing Trips
  3. Understanding Different Sonar Technologies to Choose the Right Model
  4. Checking Whether the Fishfinder Includes a GPS System
  5. Assessing the Specific Features and Benefits of Fishfinders for Ice Fishing

The Advantages of Using a Fishfinder

Lowrance Fishing Sonar

A fishfinder, also known as fishing sonar, is a must for easier navigation on the water and optimal fishing experiences. It works by emitting waves that bounce off the bottom and any objects within its range under the water’s surface. The waves are then reflected back to the transducer, which converts them into images that provide useful data.

A fishfinder has three main functions that can help enhance your fishing experience:

  • Indicating water surface temperature
  • Estimating water depth
  • Identifying what’s below the surface (bottom and structure topography, fish, etc.)

Other benefits of using a fishfinder include:

  • Maximizing the chances of catching fish
  • Having access to a GPS navigation system (when included)
  • Knowing the boat’s speed so you can adjust it (when the device is equipped with a GPS)
  • Keeping a record of your routes on the water and the best spots for catching fish (when the device is equipped with a GPS)
  • Avoiding obstacles or structure where the boat might get stuck

Over the years, technologies have continued to develop and become even more accurate. The process of choosing a fishfinder is now a bit more complicated than it was a few years ago. That’s why it’s important to consider a number of factors before shopping for the model that suits your needs.

Determining the Location and Frequency of Your Fishing Trips

Your needs will vary depending on the location where you plan to fish (and whether the area is mapped or unmapped).

If you plan to fish in a familiar lake, you may only need to focus on accurately locating the fish to increase your chances of making successful catches.

If, on the other hand, you enjoy exploring new fishing spots, a fishfinder with advanced features will be your best ally, giving you information on bottom topography, water depth and temperature, etc. Efficiency is guaranteed with this handy tool by your side, no matter where you choose to fish!

Considering the Type of Watercraft

The type of boat you are fishing in is an important factor to consider when selecting a fishfinder. For smaller watercraft such as kayaks or canoes, there are lightweight, portable, and energy-efficient options powered by a rechargeable battery that are also easier to attach to your craft. For larger watercraft, fixed fishing sonar models that can be connected to the boat’s power supply are a great option.

Understanding Different Sonar Technologies to Choose the Right Model

To better understand how fishing sonars read the bottom topography, structure, and objects in the water, let’s explore the specific details of each technology.



2D – The most common technology

The two-dimensional system is the most common and most fishfinders are equipped with it. The images it produces may not be the most precise, but they will help you identify the type of seabed you’re dealing with. This system is recommended for occasional anglers or those familiar with the area where they’re fishing.


Fishfinders that are equipped with Compressed High-Intensity Radar Pulse (CHIRP) rely on the same principle as 2D technology but emit higher frequencies. The result: a clearer and more detailed image with a wider and deeper coverage of the water beneath your boat.

Down Imaging


Down Imaging – Great quality image, covers more depth

This system provides a high-quality image of the bottom structure, nearly as sharp as a photograph. It surpasses CHIRP technology in both radius and depth coverage, offering a clearer vision of vegetation and fish.

Side Imaging


Side imaging – View on either side of the boat

This sonar system is also highly accurate, but contrary to down imaging (and as its name suggests), it provides images of the areas on both sides of the boat.



Panoptix – The most detailed real-time view

With this system, you can get an ultra-precise and detailed real-time view of what is going on beneath the water’s surface. Panoptix technology allows you to keep an eye on your bait, the fish that are swimming around, and the underwater structure near your boat – all in 3D. It is by far the most advanced technology, and it truly makes a big difference.

Checking Whether the Fishfinder Includes a GPS System

Another useful feature to consider when choosing a fishing sonar is the inclusion of a GPS system. This can greatly improve your navigation precision and efficiency. It also allows you to monitor your boat’s speed, and the detailed maps it provides can help you avoid rocks and other obstacles that might be near the surface.

In addition to helping you determine your position and find your way back, a fishfinder with a GPS navigation system can save you a lot of time locating potentially productive fishing areas like humps, points, channels, and other types of structure. You can even save prime fishing spots on your device when you find them to return more easily next time.

Assessing the Specific Features and Benefits of Fishfinders for Ice Fishing


Humminbird Ice Fishing Sonar

For those of you who like to fish all year round (or would like to give it a try), it’s worth discussing fishfinders with specific features for ice fishing.

In ice fishing scenarios, it’s essential to have a portable fishfinder with a rechargeable battery. You probably won’t have access to a motor battery to power it, and you may need to move around frequently to drill multiple holes in the ice in search of fish.

The main advantage of ice fishing sonars is that they detect water depth and the presence of fish. Their technology is different from other fishfinders. Some models feature an adjustable rotating circular display; red indicates water depth, green indicates your lure, and a sensor flashes when fish are approaching. The reading is immediate and in real time, which allows for great accuracy but does not enable the identification of fish species.

Choosing the right sonar for ice fishing can be complicated, especially with the wide variety of models available on the market. Check out our article on the best fishfinders of the year to simplify your search.

Happy fishing!


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2. Is a fishfinder really worth it?

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