Modern fish finders have turned the once boring task of fishing into an experience the whole family can enjoy.
However, finding a fish finder that will work in all water conditions can be a job in itself. We have tested several market offerings and shortlisted some of the best side imaging fish finders you can buy that will serve you in more difficult waters.
Quick Overview – Top 7 Best Side Imaging Fish Finders
- Humminbird 409990-1 Helix 10 – Best fish finder with a high pixel density
- Humminbird 410210-1 Helix 5 – Budget fish finder that does not compromise on performance
- Garmin Striker 7SV 010-01809-00 – Affordable Garmin fish finder for both casual and expert use
- Humminbird 409820-1 Helix 7 – Good compromise between features and price
- Simrad GO7 XSE – A modern fish finder for the modern fisherman
- Garmin Striker Plus 7SV 010-01874-00 – Powerful upgrade with more accurate detection
- Humminbird 409640-1 Helix 5 SI – Reliable sonar detection at a reasonable price
Comparison of Top 7 Best Side Imaging Fish Finders in 2020
Best Side Imaging Fish Finders Reviews 2020
The water is a dangerous place with an entire world hiding underneath the surface. Side imaging reveals the world underneath in fantastic detail and gives fishermen more control over their trips. Following our recommendations for the best side imaging fish finders:
1. Humminbird 409990-1 Helix 10 SI – Best Fish Finder for Catfish
The Humminbird Helix 10 SI features the latest innovations in fish finders that are part of the new generation of the Core Series line.
With the Helix 10 SI, you will benefit from a large screen and a ton of features to help you better detect, map, and plan your fishing trips.
The Helix 10 SI takes a lot of the core functions and features from its previous models and builds on them to deliver a revamped experience that does not feel dated.
For previous users of Humminbird fish finders, the Helix 10 SI brings back many noteworthy features, which are now backed with the latest hardware. This means that the same features now deliver more accurate results.
This fish finder comes with a large 10-inch HD screen in a 16:9 viewing aspect ratio.
The impressive 1024x600 resolution is its strength over the previous models which came with fewer pixels. The user experience has also been totally rethought.
Humminbird has graphically updated the experience, but the menus remain very similar to what users are used to.
All the exclusive features such as the LakeMaster function highlighted depth and tide level offset make a return.
The GPS uses wide and narrow beam sonars to offer users a 360-degree view of what’s going on underwater.
With this technology, users can view fish on both sides of the boat within a 300 ft radius extending to 150 ft.
Users can also choose between five beam speed frequencies. The frequencies available to choose from are 200kHz, 83 kHz, 455 kHz, 800 kHz, and 50kHz.
This allows for a lot of control to customize detection according to the water conditions. The maximum detection depth is 3000 ft.
Customers love the design and new look of the Helix 10. While still as sturdy and durable as the previous models, the device no longer feels like you are taking it to war.
This fish finder is a stylish piece of equipment that will look great on any boat.
The Helix 10 also comes with SmartStrike capability, which several users have noted they are excited about.
With SmartStrike, users can enter the desired variable and current conditions, and the program puts an overlay of possible fishing locations on the map.
If there were any complaints about any aspects of the Helix 10, they were few. Some users complained about the high price tag.
At its current price, the Helix 10 is the most expensive recommendation on this list. However, its powerful detection features justify this price tag.
- Bright HD screen with a high pixel density
- Accurate color reproduction
- Side imaging and down imaging
- SmartStrike and LakeMaster mapping
- 360-degree sonar detection and imaging
- Durable build
- Sleek and smart design
- Edge-to-edge glass
- No CHIRP sonar
- A bit expensive
If the budget is not an issue, users can’t go wrong with the Helix 10 SI. It is a powerhouse of features with reliable detection and navigation you can trust.
For a professional, the Helix 10 SI will be the difference between a light catch and a catch that turns a profit. For the casual user, it will mean fun and enjoyable fishing trip.
2. Humminbird 410210-1 Helix 5 – Low Cost, High Performance
Humminbird has a long history of developing increasingly advanced fish finders. The Helix 5 is among the most powerful and affordable fish finders we have tested.
This device has managed to corner the market with its low price and numerous features.
The Helix 5 has been able to keep ahead of the curve and earn a lot of good feedback with the strong combination of SwitchFire, down imaging, and side imaging sonar.
This particular model is the perfect choice for anglers who are searching for a fish finder with sonar.
The Helix 5 features a sturdy exterior. It is sleek, and all the design choices emanate of high quality. Tucked under the durable and waterproof cover is a microSD card slot to store important locations so that they are easier to revisit.
The back of the unit holds three familiar connection ports. The first port is for the power, which connects to a 12V battery source.
The other port connects the GPS output to additional accessories through the provided hardware interface cable. The last port is for the sonar transducer.
The fish finder comes with various modes to choose from. The down imaging option gives a clear view of how deep structures are underwater, while the sonar mode can be operated on two different intensity levels, Clear Mode and Max Mode.
Using the Clear Mode gives a high-intensity target, even down to the seabed. Using this feature will give a sharp focus on bigger fish.
The Max Mode offers the same performance as the Clear Mode but goes a step further. It offers great views with detailed sonar information. You can also see more fish in the Max Mode as compared to the Clear Mode.
This fish finder delivers great value for money. Customers were impressed by the color accuracy and brightness of the display.
Unlike some other cheaper models, the display is sharp and clear, which makes using side imaging easy.
This model also features powerful CHIRP sonar imaging technology with a reliable transducer. The accuracy of the device’s detection has been praised by most users.
The fish finder uses 2D sonar rather than a single frequency to deliver better clarity.
Customers were unhappy that the additional accessories such as mounts and bolts provided to secure the device were not the highest quality.
However, these were discovered to be isolated issues, covered under Humminbird’s generous warranty.
- Sturdy exterior
- Easy to install
- A microSD card slot for expandable storage
- GPS and sonar technologies
- Transducer and CHRIP technology
- Recording and screenshot functions
- Waterproof body
- Some issues with the provided accessories
- Lacks standby mode to save battery
If you are looking for a fish finder on a budget, the Helix 5 is the obvious choice. It has all advanced features such as GPS, sonar, and CHIRP.
Additional capabilities such as charting, recording, and saving locations will make fishing a breeze.
3. Garmin Striker 7SV 010-01809-00 – Affordable Fish Finder
Garmin is a renowned fish finder brand known for its innovations in sonar technology. However, Garmin devices are light on navigation features, and the 7SV is no different.
This does not diminish the value of Garmin’s offerings as its focus has always been on sonar and detection accuracy, and it does a pretty excellent job of it.
Released in 2016, the 7SV was among the first devices to feature Garmin’s new ClearVü and SideVü technologies. Marketed as a mid-range fish finder, it offers a lot more than it costs.
The 7SV was developed specifically for people who are after exceptional sonar capabilities and don’t care much for chart plotting or use a dedicated chart plotter for their trips.
The Striker 7SV from Garmin comes with a large 7-inch WVGA display. The resolution of the display is an impressive 800 x 480.
The adjustable backlight makes it easy to view the screen as clearly during the day as in the darker hours. Unlike some displays, the 7SV can also be viewed through polarized glasses.
The Garmin Striker 7SV really gets to shine when it comes to sonar functions and apps.
It features Garmin’s own ClearVü, SideVü and DownVü scanning sonars powered by CHIRP sonar imaging. The sonars are able to scan with dual-beam at 77/200 kHz.
The 7SV comes with the CV52HW-TM transducer, covering CHIRP High Wide ranges from 150-240 kHz and ClearVü CHIRP ranges at 455 kHz and 800 kHz.
The beamwidth for standard scanning with ClearVü and SideVü is 24-16 and 2.0 x 50 at 455 kHz and 1.0 x 30 at 800 kHz.
The transducer comes with a 20 ft power cable for easy installation anywhere around the boat as well as temperature and depth sensors.
It is suitable for freshwater fishing and owing to its compact size, it can be placed on a trolling motor for easy usage.
Garmin Striker prides itself on its sonar technologies and for good reason. Customers who used the 7SV were thoroughly impressed by the performance of the ClearVü and SideVü sonars.
Both sonar functions allow users to view underwater structures with great clarity.
Customers also had a lot of praise for the fish finder’s standard sonar. The standard 2D sonar does a great job of identifying specific fish in a cluster and figuring out their size and species.
This gives users more control over the type of fish they want to target.
There are some areas where the Striker 7SV does lack. One noticeable area was the depth of the sonar.
Garmin advertises that the device can detect a maximum depth of 2300 ft in fresh and 1100 ft in saltwater. However, users have noted that in real-world conditions, these numbers can slightly vary.
- Durable build
- High-quality materials used for exterior
- Dual frequencies
- Powerful sonar functionality
- Waterproof with an IPX7 rating
- Limited chart plotting capability
- Networking options are limited
The Garmin Striker 7SV is an excellent fish finder with a powerful sonar.
Where it lacks in navigation and chart plotting, it makes up for in a number of useful detection features that allow you to fish easily and with precision. That is what a fish finder is supposed to do after all.
4. Humminbird 409820-1 Helix 7 – Best Value for Money
The Humminbird 409820-1 Helix 7 is among the company’s newer and higher-end models. Fitted with Dual Beam Plus Sonar, this fish finder delivers outstanding performance and a ton of useful features.
With two mounting options and multiple viewing modes, this is a powerful offering from the reliable fish finding equipment manufacturer.
Helix 7 is an expensive device, but it is also one of the best for underwater detection and charting.
Its features are made accessible through a large HD display and easily reachable controls.
Additional functions such as a temperature alarm may not help with navigation but do enhance the experience.
Most Helix 7 models come with SwitchFire Imaging. This is Humminbird’s version of the Time Variable Gain function available on other fish finders.
This function is a form of 2D imaging that produces multi-colored views, improving overall clarity. It comes in two different operational modes: Clear and Max.
Max Mode is good, to begin with as it lets users view the currents, thermoclines, and hot spots. Upon finding a good location, users can switch to the Clear Mode for detailed scanning.
It eliminates much of the noise from other items and provides users with an accurate idea of the type and size of fish.
The Dual Beam Plus Sonar gives users an expansive and detailed view of their surroundings.
Users have the option of using a narrow beam to increase precision or switch to a wide beam for a larger but less detailed search field. The GPS is reliable and renders precise position detection.
Detection depth on the Helix 7 is a decent 1500 ft when operating on regular 2D sonar and 100 ft with side imaging turned on.
This is not the best range on the market, but it is great for the price. A fish finder with a higher range tends to be more expensive.
The Helix 7 has almost everything you would want in a high-end fish finder. You get a large display with HD resolution and brightness that does not leave users squinting at the screen trying to figure things out on brighter days.
Customers have complimented the display for retaining its crispness and color accuracy even under sunlight.
The smoothness of the device’s operation has also been mentioned in particular. Customers comment that the Helix 7 does not hang or require a lot of time to process inputs, even under pressure.
Longer usage does not affect the device’s efficiency and although lags are present, they are so few and far between that it leaves other fish finders in the dust.
The Humminbird Helix 7 is a powerful device with much to like. There were, however, some isolated incidents where customers complained about the device heating up too quickly just after an hour’s usage.
Any such issues may be due to a manufacturing fault, for which the warranty can be easily claimed for a replacement.
- Bright HD display
- Temperature alarm
- Sensitive GPS
- Dual Beam Plus sonar technology
- Smooth operation
- Sufficient detection depth
- Multiple detection modes
- Some issues with temperature
- Accuracy may be compromised if the device is heated
The Helix 7 comes packed with noteworthy functions and powerful performance.
The device’s GPS navigation and detection capabilities will enhance the productivity of any fisherman, whether you are out fishing on the weekend or depend on the catch for your livelihood.
5. Simrad GO7 XSE – Modern Fish Finder with Touch Display
The Simrad GO7 XSE is a higher-end fish finder with a high price tag as well as high functionality.
It is the perfect example of what a modern-day fishing tool should be. It packs a ton of connectivity features, accurate detection capabilities, and powerful navigation.
What makes the GO7 XSE so special despite its high price tag is that it still manages to pack more features than some older fish finders that are priced the same or sometimes even higher than this model.
Thanks to developments in modern technology, users can now experience a more immersive and enjoyable fishing spree.
On the outside, the GO7 XSE looks just like any other 7-inch fish finder out there, but there is a lot more to it than meets the eye.
The device packs state-of-the-art marine technology. The GO7 XSE presents itself as a complete solution for your fish finding and chart plotting needs.
A number of useful features to assist both casual and professional users to sit inside a user-friendly interface.
The GO7 XSE comes with a clear, multi-touch LED screen that does not dim down even in bright sunlight.
The device benefits from a 10Hz high-speed GPS, hi-def StructureScan function, CHIRP sonar, integrated Echsounder, and SonicHub 2 integrated audio.
All these and other features are powered by Simrad’s latest TripIntel software interface. Wi-Fi capability helps keep the device connected with companion apps that enhance its usability.
The GO7 XSE is a powerful and capable device that will fulfill most needs of a fishing trip.
Simrad’s earlier devices have also offered user-friendly interfaces, but the GO7 XSE further streamlines it to deliver a simpler user experience.
Its primary advantage over the earlier models is the introduction of the HEROIC smart interface and its ability to use the new TotalScan sonar skimmer transducer.
Using the GO7 XSE is like using a tablet. This obviously is an experience that many users have appreciated.
As we have become so used to smart interfaces, going back to an older interface sounds like a chore. Therefore, users love how the fish finder employs modern technology to give a much more up-to-date experience.
Customers also appreciate the GO7 XSE’s charting capabilities. The device can scan as deep as 1000 ft with both wide frequencies and short pulses.
This delivers a much clearer picture of the happenings underwater. The Cruise Charting View feature combines collected data with maps so that users can access all information in one place.
The GO7 XSE’s offering is such that we had a hard time finding customers that were not satisfied with the experience.
The only issues customers were found having with this device were with Simrad’s customer service.
Customers have complained that representatives take ages to respond and are not very helpful with issues and returns.
- Bright screen
- CHIRP sonar
- Smooth operation
- Online connectivity
- Poor customer service
There is no reason not to recommend the Simrad GO7 XSE.
Integrated sonar broadband, side imaging, and down imaging, as well as a slew of features available through a responsive touch interface, make this device a compulsory buy for all tech-savvy fishermen out there.
6. Garmin Striker Plus 7SV 010-01874-00 – More Power at a Lower Price
The Garmin Striker Plus 7SV is one of the latest fish finders from the manufacturer. It is the successor to Garmin’s popular Striker 7SV fish finder.
In terms of sonar features, the Striker Plus 7SV is not much different from its older counterpart.
However, it does boast some additional features that give it an edge over the original 7SV. For instance, the newer model offers Quickdraw Contours and Wi-Fi functionality. It can also be used with Garmin’s fishing companion app, the ActiveCaptain.
The Striker Plus 7SV is shipped with the CV52HW-TM transducer. This is the same as the one included with the previous model with slight developments in the ClearVü and SideVü technologies.
The transducer has a plastic build and comes with connection cables and integrated temperature sensors.
This fish finder comes with three types of sonar: the classic 2D sonar, ClearVü, and SideVü. All three sonar types use CHIRP technology, giving it an edge over other models.
With CHIRP, the device can accurately distinguish between targets and identify structures, fish, and vegetation.
The updated Striker Plus 7SV also produces clearer sonar images with less noise with all three sonar operations.
Unlike the older sonar technology that Garmin used, the updated ClearVü offers broader images and clearer views of the underwater environment as well as the seabed.
When it comes to the detection range and sonar coverage, the system uses a conical beam with a range of 24-16 degrees for its conventional sonar.
However, SideVü and ClearVü use fan-shaped beams with a forward angle range of only 1-2 degrees but a wider side-to-side angle.
The side angle of the beams varies depending on the frequency selected. For the 455 kHz frequency, the beam is approximately 50 degrees wide, while the width caps out at around 30 degrees for 800 kHz.
For SideVü, the transducer employs two beams that can expand on both sides of the boat for a few hundred feet.
Although similar in detection capabilities to the 7SV, the Plus 7SV offers better navigation capabilities with a slew of additional features.
One such feature that customers have admired is the Quickdraw Contours function. Although the device still lacks charts, the Quickdraw Contours is a useful alternative.
It works by using both the 2D sonar and GPS information. By combining information from both these inputs, the device allows users to draw maps with the 1-inch depth of contours.
Garmin claims that it will save users a tremendous amount of time on drawn contours.
Although generally satisfied with what the Striker Plus 7SV has to offer, customers only find it to be a minor upgrade to the original model.
This has made some question the investment. However, there is no doubt that the Plus 7SV is a superior device than its predecessor.
Although the hardware is very similar, the newly added features make better use of that hardware to make detection easier.
- ClearVü and SideVü as well as regular sonar
- Upgraded transducer
- High frequencies for detection
- Dual sonar frequencies
- Many useful detection features
- Wi-Fi compatible
- Powerful GPS
- Quickdraw Contours
- No expandable storage
- Minimal accessories
The Garmin Striker Plus 7SV is an upgraded fish finder in some, if not all, aspects.
The integration of more advanced features gives users the ability to simplify their fishing tasks. The new mapping and detection feature also saves users a ton of time.
7. Humminbird 409640-1 Helix 5 SI – Reliable Sonar Detection
Humminbird’s Helix 5 SI is a more feature-packed variant of the affordable alternative we have already discussed.
Priced about two times as much as its predecessor, the Helix 5 SI is bound to give you a healthier catch every time you go out to fish with its accurate detection and easy usage.
The Helix 5 SI is unique in a number of ways. It is more than just a fish finder for hobbyists or casual fishermen.
It is a powerful and reliable detection device that is designed for professional use. Plus, the attention to ease of use means that even new users can use it just as effectively as professionals.
The Humminbird Helix 5 SI comes with a backlit 256-color display. This allows users to view the display clearly regardless of lighting conditions.
A bright screen and colorful graphics make for an enjoyable viewing experience even in bright daylight.
The fish finder also comes with a Dual Beam Plus sonar that has a power output of 4000W PTP.
In addition to the regular sonar, it also has a side image and a down image sonar. However, for these features to work as intended, the boat should be running on calm waters at a speed of 3-4 mph.
The Humminbird Helix 5 SI allows for accurate underwater fish positioning, so users can have productive and enjoyable fishing experience.
With the help of an internal GPS antenna, the device is capable of offering precise readings based on fishing hot spots for better navigation.
The Helix 5 SI also excels in security. This security comes in the form of a powerful GPS navigation system.
Backed by a sensitive GPS, the navigation system allows users to be aware of their position, course, and any obstacles in front of or underneath the boat. Information on the nearest coasts is also available.
This device is a complete fish finding solution. It has wowed customers with its sonar detection capabilities but even more with its navigation and chart plotting.
UniMap chart plotter and a connected GPS system have made this device a customer favorite. The GPS system collects and delivers information from the surroundings so that users don’t have to worry about getting lost.
Other features that customers love in this fish finder relate to the device’s ability to detect and identify fish and obstacles.
The regular 2D sonar that the Helix 5 SI uses for most of its detection is powerful and accurate and delivers reliable results.
Where this device has impressed customers with a slew of reliable features, customers do find the device to be missing some other essentials.
One feature that is missed is the option to detect and view water depth charts. Although the 2D sonar does detect underwater obstacles, water depth charts allow for more accurate detection.
- Accurate 2D sonar detection
- Detecting particular types of fish is easy
- A clear and colorful display
- Chart plotting is easy
- Numerous waypoints can be saved
- Easy to use
- Durable build
- Cheaper than some high-end models
- Specific speed and condition requirements
- Accuracy is affected if the boat is not moving
- Basic geographical mapping only
While it may have its limitations and there certainly are a few things to be mindful of when using it, the Helix 5 SI offers a lot in terms of detection capabilities and navigation.
It is easy to use, and the expandable memory allows for a large number of waypoints to be saved.
Choosing the Best Fish Finder for Catfish
There are plenty of fish finders on the market, some cheap, some expensive, and some with complicated features that may confuse you if you are new to fishing, or fish finders.
We hope perusing through our product recommendations would have left you more aware of what most of these features do.
Even though all the products on this list have been tested for excellence, you don’t necessarily have to pick one from this list.
There are several other products on the market that are great value for money. And with the relevant knowledge, you can easily pick out which ones.
Let’s look at some important features to consider when looking for the perfect fish finder. They will help you choose between the right product for your needs and one that does not serve you well at all.
This is the most boring yet the most important consideration. Detection frequencies are a measure of how powerful a sonar fish finder is.
The easiest way to navigate this consideration is to remember that the higher the frequency is, the more detailed the detection will be.
However, it is important to note that if you will be fishing more in deeper waters, lower frequencies may serve you better.
Similarly, for fishing in considerably shallow waters, a higher frequency will render better results.
High-frequency waves are best at identifying smaller fishes, particularly in shallow waters.
Low-frequency sonar waves are best for the open seas when the intention to catch bigger fish. Newer transducers now come with dual frequencies, which are an ideal consideration for most types of fishing.
This is the equipment that will generate and receive sonar waves that detect the fish. These waves are then translated into information that the device displays on the screen.
Going for newer fish finder models will mean newer transponders, which are more accurate in their detection capabilities.
When selecting a transducer, it helps to consider the type of boat you will be using it on.
This is because different transducers have different cone angles, which function better on different boats. For planning hulls smaller than 28ft, transom mount transducers work best.
Also, consider the type of fishing you will be doing the most. If you will be fishing in deeper waters, you want a transducer with a narrow cone.
Transducers with a narrow cone angle focus the sonar beams on a smaller area, which is best for deep-sea fishing.
Best Side Imaging Fish Finders FAQs
✅ Are more expensive fish finders always better?
More expensive fish finders will be better. The question is whether you need an expensive fish finder. For casual and even some professional fishing, there are a ton of affordable options that do the job tremendously well. Consider your fishing requirements before making the purchase.
✅ Does the display matter when selecting a fish finder?
The device’s display will host a slew of information. Although smaller displays aren’t bad, they generally mean that information will be spread across tabs or pages, which can make interpreting it a chore. We recommend a 7-10-inch screen for a comfortable viewing experience.
Side imaging fish finders are great for detecting a number of fishes including catfish and trout. There is no specific guideline to what the best fish finder for catfish should be like.
Following our guide will help you select a good fish finder that works for a variety of fish.
For fishing on a budget, you can’t go wrong with the Humminbird Helix 5. It is affordable and offers all the core features of the expensive models.
However, there is no beating Humminbird’s more expensive models, the Helix 7 and the Helix 10, when it comes to accurate detection, underwater charting, and GPS assisted chart plotting.