Best Fishfinder GPS Combo - How to Choose the Best One?
With so many similar models on the market, it is sometimes rather hard to pick the right fishfinder GPS combined unit. There are several important features which one has to consider when buying such unit, including personal preferences and of course, the budget. Buying the most expensive one in the nearest store is rarely a proper solution ...
Things that one has to consider when buying good fish finder GPS combo include benefits of such combined units, operating frequencies, unit's sound power, power requirements, types of beam, size and type of display, controls, user friendliness, simplicity of use, available charts, software updates etc.
Expensive fishfinders and GPS combos cost thousands of US$, but can do wonders when used properly. However, for most fishermen, combo units below $1000 are more than acceptable, especially when used to the fullest - i.e. read the manual and keep the copy of it on the boat! Seriously!
Following table list the best fishfinder GPS combo units under $1000:
Best Fishfinder GPS Combo under $1000
|Lowrance HDS-7 Gen3||7-inch, WVGA color TFT LCD 800 x 480, backlit, multi-touch, 16:9 widescreen||500 W Max. RMS, built-in CHIRP, StructureScan requires optional HD transducer, 750 feet max. depth (3000 feet with optional transducer)||built-in 10Hz GPS antenna, stores up to 100 tracks, 10,000 points, 200 routes and 5,000 waypoints; 2 micro-SD card slots, ethernet connectivity, GoFree Wireless connectivity||Lowrance HDS-7 GEN3 Fishfinder/Chartplotter|
|Humminbird HELIX 9 Sonar GPS Fishfinder||9-inch, color TFT, 800x480, backlit||500 W max. RMS, 4000 W max PTP, DualBeam PLUS, 83/200 kHz, 50 kHz optional, 1500 feet max depth, 3000 feet max depth optional||built-in GPS, stores up to 2750 waypoints, 45 routes, 50 tracks, 20000 points; 2 micro-SD card slots, ethernet connectivity||Humminbird Helix 9 Sonar GPS Fishfinder|
|Raymarine Dragonfly 7 PRO||7-inch display, 800 x 480 WVGA, 15:9 screen||CHIRP sonar, 2 channels - sonar conical beam + DownVision wide fan beam, 183m (600ft) CHIRP DownVision and 275m (900ft) CHIRP Sonar||15 tracks, 3000 waypoints, NO routes(!), IPX6 and IPX7 waterproof, MicroSD slot||Raymarine Dragonfly 7 Pro with US Navionics|
|Garmin Striker 7sv||7 inch display, 800 x 480 WVGA||CHIRP sonar, traditional frequency: 50/77/200 kHz; ClearVü: 260/455/800 kHz, SideVü: 260/455/800 kHz, 500 W max. RMS, max depth 2300 feet freshwater, 1100 feet saltwater (depending on bottom type and other conditions)||IPX7 waterproof, built-in high-sensitivity GPS and CHIRP sonar, including Garmin CHIRP ClearVü™ and Garmin CHIRP SideVü™ scanning sonars; find fish, mark and return to hot spots, docks and ramps||Garmin Striker 7SV|
|Humminbird HELIX 5 CHIRP GPS G2 Fishfinder||5-inch, 800 x 480 color TFT color display||CHIRP Digital Sonar/DualBeam PLUS, 500 W max RMS, 4000 W PTP, standard transducer - 83 kHz: 75-95 kHz, 200 kHz: 175-225 kHz, maximum depth: 1500 feet, optional transducer - low: 28-75 kHz, med: 75-155 kHz, high: 130-250 kHz, maximum depth: 2500 feet||built-in GPS, stores 2750 waypoints, 47 routes, 50 tracks, 20000 points; micro SD card slot||Humminbird Helix 5 Chirp GPS G2 Fish Finder|
Note: Amazon affiliate links open in the new windows - feel free to check the latest prices of these models. Since there are many similar models on the market, we will mention few of the most popular once at the end of this article. Also, things change over time without warning, so before buying actual unit, be sure to check if the features you need actually come with the desired model.
1. Lowrance HDS-7 Gen3
With so many similar fishfinders and GPS units, it was rather hard to find out 'the best' of them all. You can agree with us, or not, but Lowrance HDS-7 Gen3 is excellent unit and it costs less than $1000. However, it is not cheap, to say the least! :)
Display: Lowrance comes with 7-inch touchscreen display, which is large and easily to use and read. Display resolution is WVGA color TFT LCD, 800 x 480 pixels. Display is LED backlit with adjustable display and keypad.
Maximum output power is 500 W RMS. Unit comes with 2 MicroSD card slots, 32GB max size. Also, Lowrance HDS-7 Gen3 has single ethernet networking port, micro-c connection for NMEA 2000 devices. Video input is possible via optional adapter cable.
Sonar: built-in CHIRP sonar, StructureScan HD sonar imaging, Broadband Sounder, comes with StructureMap HD capability, DownScan Overlay technology, TrackBack, SpotlightScan Sonar ready etc.
Note: certain features require optional transducer.
Navigation: built-in internal GPS antenna, with 10 Hz position update frequency. Supports WAAS/EGNOS/MSAS corrections.
Mapping: Lowrance HDS-7 Gen3 fishfinder comes with built-in Insight USA charts for Coastal and Inland US waters. Also, it features a world background reference map, but it is also compatible with Insight HD, Insight PRO, Insight Genesis, Navionics, C-MAP MAX-N+, Insight TOPO etc.
Thanks to the Insight Genesis, one can create personalized maps, download them to SD card and use on the water.
Although 7 inch display doesn't look large, it can easily show two charts simultaneously, in 2D or 3D perspective view, with independent control, range and overlay capabilities etc. Also, one map from the card can be viewed on all Ethernet networked HDS Gen3, HDS Gen2 or Gen2 Touch chartplotter displays, which is very useful on larger fishing boats with several fishing stations.
Lowrance HDS-7 Gen3 comes with 2-Year warranty.
Lowrance HDS-7 Gen3 is excellent fishfinder/GPS combo unit. It comes with numerous features and if you are not accustomed to such units, read manual several times and keep one copy on the boat. Many people 'ignore' advanced options, but they can be very useful and since you payed for them, why not use them? :)
For more reviews and recommendations, check Lowrance HDS-7 GEN3 Fishfinder/Chartplotter Amazon link (link opens in the new window).
2. Humminbird HELIX 9 Sonar GPS Fishfinder
Humminbird HELIX 9 Sonar GPS Fishfinder is excellent fishfinder/GPS combo unit and one of the best buy units in its price range. It has large backlit display, good sonar capabilities, accurate GPS, support for various transducers, etc.
Display: Unlike Lowrance HDS-7 Gen3 which comes with 7 inch display, Humminbird HELIX 9 Sonar GPS Fishfinder comes with 9 inch display.
Although the resolution (800 x 480) and screen ratio (16:9) are the same, 9 inch display allows better detail visibility when keeping the track of activities around the boat from some distance.
Whole unit is IPX7 waterproof - it can withstand water splashing and short underwater submersion, but IMHO, keep the unit dry :)
Sonar: maximum RMS power is 500 W and PTP up to 4000 W. Unit has DualBeam PLUS sonar with SwitchFire and standard working frequencies of 83/200 kHz, with 50 kHz being optional. Maximum standard depth is 1500 feet, with 3000 feet max depth being optional.
The sonar covers a 60° using 83 kHz frequency and 20° using 200 kHz. Also, thanks to the DualBeam PLUS function, sonar can use both frequencies at the same time and create blended or split-screen images on the screen.
Actually, even with the 'basic' package, this unit is excellent fishfinder/GPS device, but there are many options available that enable the user to adjust the unit to his/her individual needs and preferences.
Other features include Bottom Lock function (the view under the boat only), SwitchFire (for clearer images), Selective Fish ID+ (show fish icons instead of 'fish arches') etc.
Navigation and Mapping: unit comes with built-in internal GPS, and is capable of storing up to 2750 waypoints, 45 routes, 50 tracks, 20000 points. Also, it accepts 2 micro-SD cards, and support ethernet connectivity.
Humminbird HELIX 9 Sonar GPS Fishfinder comes with ContourXD maps, but it is also compatible with Autochart Live, Navionics Gold/HotMaps, LakeMaster charts and Navionics Platinum+.
For more reviews and recommendations, check Humminbird Helix 9 Sonar GPS Fishfinder Amazon link (link opens in the new window).
3. Raymarine Dragonfly 7 PRO
Raymarine Dragonfly 7 PRO offers almost photo like images of what lies beneath the boat, while being very simple to use. Although some fisherman even claim that manual is not required, please, do yourself a favor and if you get this fishfinder, read the manual thoroughly :)
Display is 7 inch, offering 800 x 480 WVGA screen resolution, but with 15:9 ratio, sharp contrasts and bright colors for use during the day, night and in low light and foggy conditions.
Whole unit is IPX6 and IPX7 waterproof, but again, keep the unit dry, if possible. Due to the small dimensions, low power consumption (9 W at maximum brightness), it can be even used as high-end fishfinder on kayaks and other small fishing boats!
Sonar: Raymarine Dragonfly 7 PRO features CHIRP sonar with 2 channels, and with sonar conical beam + DownVision wide fan beam. Maximum depth is 183m (600 feet) with CHIRP DownVision and 275m (900 feet) CHIRP Sonar.
Mapping and Navigation: unit has built-in GPS antenna. It is capable of storing 15 tracks, and 3000 waypoints, but the building of routes is not supported. Also, it has one MicroSD slot.
Dragonfly 7 Pro comes with built-in Wi-Fi to stream Dragonfly sonar data right to smartphones or tablets with the Raymarine Wi-Fish mobile app.
Depending on the model, Dragonfly 7 PRO comes with various builtin maps like C-MAP US Essentials, Navionics+ North America Charts, C-MAP ROW Essentials, Navionics ROW Silver etc.
For more reviews and recommendations, check Raymarine Dragonfly 7 Pro with US Navionics Amazon link (link opens in the new window).
4. Garmin Striker 7sv
Garmin Striker 7sv is rather affordable (affordable, but not cheap!) fishfinder/GPS combo with many very useful features. It comes with everything what mid-range fishfinder/GPS should have and acts as a great aid for any fisherman, regardless of weather, sea or bottom conditions. Just be sure to know its limitations ...
Display is 7 inch, WVGA color, 800 x 480 pixels. Display is easily visible regardless of light conditions, it is clear and easy to read.
Whole unit is IPX7 waterproof, which is very important when used on small fishing boats and even kayaks.
Sonar: Garmin Striker 7sv comes with 'standard' CHIRP sonar with traditional frequencies of 50/77/200 kHz, but it also features ClearVü sonar with operating frequencies of 260/455/800 kHz and SideVü sonar operating at 260/455/800 kHz.
Maximum RMS power is 500 W, and maximum depth 2300 feet (~700 m) freshwater, 1100 feet (~335 m) saltwater (depending on bottom type and other conditions, of course).
Mapping and Navigation: Striker 7sv comes with builtin high-sensitivity GPS. Some of the unit's features include find fish, mark and return to hot spots, docks and ramps, history rewind, routes and waypoints sharing with other Striker and EchoMap units split-screen zoom, Ultrascroll (displays fish targets at higher boat speeds), fish symbol ID (instead of 'fish arches'), AutoGain Technology, Adjustable depth line (measures depth of underwater objects), A-scope (real time display of fish passing through transducer beam) etc.
Also note that water temperature sensor is included.
Power consumption is acceptably low - 12V and 0.67A, enabling the unit to be used even as portable fishfinder on fishing kayaks and smaller boats and be powered with smaller and lighter fishfinder battery.
For more reviews and recommendations, check Garmin Striker 7SV Amazon link (link opens in the new window).
5. Humminbird HELIX 5 CHIRP GPS G2 Fishfinder
Humminbird HELIX 5 CHIRP GPS G2 Fishfinder is smallish, but excellent fishfinder/GPS unit. It is also the cheapest unit in this list, but it is very versatile unit, comparable with its 'bigger brothers'.
Display: Humminbird HELIX 5 comes with 5 inch backlit display, providing 800 x 480 resolution. Display is easily readable in high and low light conditions, but when compared with 7 and 9 inch displays, everything is smaller :)
Sonar: Unit comes with CHIRP Digital Sonar/DualBeam PLUS, with maximum RMS power of 500 W and maximum PTP power of 4000 W. Standard transducer operate at 83 kHz (75-95 kHz) and 200 kHz (175-225 kHz) with maximum depth of 1500 feet (~460 m). Optional transducer operate using different frequencies: low 28-75 kHz, medium 75-155 kHz, and high 130-250 kHz, with increased maximum depth of 2500 feet (~760 m).
Navigation and Mapping: HELIX 5 CHIRP GPS G2 comes with built-in GPS, and it stores 2750 waypoints, 47 routes, 50 tracks, and 20000 points. Also, it supports one micro SD card slot.
Other features include GPS Tracking, GPS Chartplotting, SwitchFire Sonar, Humminbird PC, Upgradable Internal Software, Split Screen Zoom, Split Screen Bottom Lock, Large Digits View, Wide/Narrow Cone Split Screen, Custom View Selections, Custom Digital Readout, Temperature Alarm, Freeze Frame, Instant Image Update, Selective Fish ID+, Real Time Sonar etc.
Also, many other features are optional, like Humminbird Mapping, Navionics+ etc.
Although this is very simple unit to operate, be sure to read the manual thoroughly.
During operation, unit requires 12V and 0.6 A, making it suitable for use on fishing kayaks and smaller boats, too.
For more reviews and recommendations, check Humminbird Helix 5 Chirp GPS G2 Fish Finder Amazon link (link opens in the new window).
What To Look For When Buying Fishfinder/GPS Combo?
When buying a good fishfinder/GPS/chartplotter, there are few things to consider:
Display: 7 and 9 inch displays are excellent choice for medium fishing boats. Smaller, for example, 5 inch displays are harder to read, especially from the distance, but are good option for smaller boats and kayaks.
Good display should have resolution of at least 800 x 480 pixels, should have backlit LED screen to be easily readable during the night, day or in foggy conditions.
Whole unit should be waterproof up to certain point. Note that IPX6 means that the unit is resistant to water jet from a 12.5 mm nozzle, with the rate of 100 liters per minute, for at least 3 minutes and that IPX7 means that the unit is resistant to immersion in water, up to a meter deep, for 30 minutes.
IPX7 waterproof level is very important for fishing kayaks and smaller boats!
Sonar: Higher frequencies enable good separation and high detail view, but their range is limited. Lower frequencies increase the range of the sonars, but their target separation is not as good as with higher frequencies.
Good fishfinder/GPS unit should have split-screen display and blended display options. Also CHIRP sonars constantly change frequencies for best possible target detection and separation and for bottom mapping and display.
Note that many units come with 'standard' transducers and in order to achieve longer ranges and more detailed view, more expensive transducers are required.
Navigation and Mapping: Built-in GPS antenna is norm for good fishfinder/GPS combos. Higher GPS frequencies often provide higher accuracy and enable good route plotting, even at higher speeds.
Use of maps and their display on the screen depend on the model, but investment in good maps is always 'money well spent' - such maps enable the fisherman to accurately position the boat, to add his/her own remarks or comments etc. Also, thanks to WiFi, network connectivity, memory card etc. it is now possible to share these data in real time on smartphones, tablets, networked computers, other displays etc. or to check them later.
Power consumption: depending on the size of the unit, included options, light conditions etc., fishfinder/GPS combos consume anywhere from 0.5 Amps to 2-3 or even more Amps.
Smaller units in this article during operation 'at full throttle' consume easily 0.6 - 0.7 Amps max, while power consumption of larger units varies on available options and should be checked individually.
However, larger units are designed and built for use on larger vessels where 10-20 Ah of 12 V battery (enough for hours of constant fishfinder/GPS combo operation) is not an issue while main engine(s) is off, especially for vessels having solar panels and/or wind turbines.
Good deep cycle fishfinder battery in 7 - 12Ah range can easily and safely support 7 - 10 hours of operation of smaller fishfinder/GPS combo requiring up to 0.7 Amp max.
There are many other potential features unit of this type can have. Some of those features are waste of time and resources for some fishermen, but for other fishermen, such features can be of utmost importance.
Thus, be sure to know what you need and in the end - read the manual/instructions of your unit(s)... :)