5 Best Fish Finder for Catfish (Top 5 Picks for 2021)

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Catfish fishing has grown immensely in the U.S. in recent years. From new catfish anglers to professional trophy cat hunters, everyone wants a taste of this feisty fish. But many beginners come home disappointed because they couldn’t reel in a single cat. This is exactly where Fish Finders slide in. To see what are the best fish finders for catfish and find out more about them, stay with us.

Here are the list of Top 5 fish finders for catching catfish :

1. Garmin Striker 4 GPS Fish finder

Garmin’s Striker 4 comes with a CHIRP transducer, with a frequency range from 77kHz to 200kHz. This means it provides a noticeable improvement when it comes to visibility and detail, compared to traditional 77/200 transducers. It’s easy to use the 3.5-inch colorful display with built-in GPS systems that ensure better navigation and more convenient handling. Waypoint map allows you to mark your fishing spots and see your position relative to your mark. This option is invaluable in larger water bodies. Information about your current speed is always displayed in the top left corner, to make you never go too slow or too fast.  The fish finder itself is lightweight, sturdy, and portable, making it your most loyal companion everywhere you go. This is a go-to fish finder for beginner catfish anglers since it’s intuitive to use, powerful and durable while maintaining an affordable price.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Compact size
  • Easy to use, good for beginners 

Cons

  • The screen could be bigger, and it’s hard to use it in the sun

2. Humminbird 410950-1 HELIX 7 CHIRP MSI

Humminbird Helix 7 is a cutting-edge CHIRP Mega side imaging fish finder, for true catfish enthusiasts. The giant 7 Inch color display allows you to view the water like never before. With its Mega side Imaging, you’ll be able to see a crystal clear image up to 125 feet of either side of the boat. In Combination with Mega Down Imaging, you’ll be able to see the bottom sharply, all the way to the depths of 125 feet. Its Dual Spectrum Chirps offer you the choice between two modes – one for maximum coverage and the other that shows maximum detail. Helix 7 will give you an outlook of the underwater terrain, so you’ll always know what’s down there before every cast. Potential fish-holding structures and well-defined catfish arches will help you choose the best spot to drop your bait. It includes an amazing chart base with more than 10 000 lakes in the U.S. together with Auto Chart Live. With Helix 7, you can create your map with information about the terrain, vegetation, and the bottom, as you cruise with your boat.  The package includes the transducer, mounting hardware, gimbal bracket, and power cable.

Pros

  • Large high definition screen 
  • Both side and down imaging options
  • Preloaded chart base 
  • Live map recording option

Cons

  • It’s a bit more complicated to set up
  • Preloaded charts lack information

3. LUCKY Portable Sonar Fish Finder

Lucky’s design makes this one of the most useful gadgets for anglers. Its unbelievable versatility allows you to use it for bank fishing, ice fishing, boat fishing as well as kayak fishing. Sturdy anti-corrosive materials make ideal for both freshwater and saltwater use. The display is waterproof, so you won’t have to worry even if you drop it into the water. But the most valuable feature of this fish finder is the ability to use it remotely, from the shore. The sonar comes with a transducer ball with a wireless range of up to 328 feet. With this sonar, you won’t need a boat to scan the depths of up to an incredible 147 feet.  The ball itself is lightweight and compact and can be easily cast with your rod. The 125kHz ball transducer operates at an angle of 90 degrees, covering an even wider area. The alarm system will let you know when the transducer ball detects catfish or catfish schools. This fish finder also comes with an additional glowing transducer ball cap, to make it easier to spot when fishing for catfish at night. You’d expect to pay a fortune for something like this, but this fish finder stays in the affordable range, battling Garmin’s striker 4.

Pros

  • Inexpensive
  • Accurate 
  • Versatile

Cons

  • Battery won’t last you a whole day, spare batteries are a must

4. Lowrance HDS 7

If you’re after trophy-sized blue catfish, you’ll need a device that can scan deep waterways and underwater passages, sometimes with rocky bottoms. Chance’s are you’ll use a boat, so easy mounting will also be at the top of your list. This is where Lowrance HDS comes in.

This cutting-edge CHIRP fishfinder comes with many useful features such as a preloaded high definition chart of more than 4000 U.S. lakes. C Map Genesis Live onscreen mapping lets you record the layout in real-time and use it whenever you want. All the other options such as SideScan imaging, DownScan imaging, Total scan, Structure, and 3D imaging work seamlessly on the 7 inch HD SolarMAX screen. High-performance dual and quad-core processors ensure quick response times and smooth transitions. You’ll never miss an important call or message again since HDS 7 has the option to connect with your mobile device and display notifications.

Navigating rivers and lakes have never been so effortless, using automatic route planning, that show the shortest and most secure paths to your desired location.

Pros

  • High quality 7in display with great detail 
  • Preloaded charts
  • CHIRP sonar for better accuracy 
  • Various imaging options
  • Device connectivity

Cons

  • Maybe too complicated for beginners
  • Definitely on the higher end, significantly more expensive

5. Deeper PRO+ Smart Sonar

Deeper Pro plus is a castable wireless fishfinder with a built-in GPS. Its design is what makes it useful for kayak/boat fishing, bank, and ice fishing. All of the imaging, together with temperature and depth information is available on your phone or tablet. All of your scans can be saved on Deeper’s cloud in just a few clicks. This is the only fish finder that lets you create a bathymetric map from a shore a bank. A powerful connection with your device is secured by using Wi-fi. The Pro Plus has a range of 330ft, which is far more than other fish finders that use Bluetooth. The 90kHz beam with a 55-degree angle covers a wide surface and the narrow 290kHz 15-degree beam offers detailed scans for pinpointed locations. It shows vegetation, humps, depressions, and marginal shelves, ideal for a catfish hideout. You’ll get detailed information about the type of bottom and its layout. If you’ve already cast your bait, you can even observe the fish approaching it. This Fishfinder will free up your search time so you can sit back and enjoy your fishing. But don’t let its size trick you, the Pro Plus may be small and handy but it sure brings in a lot.

Pros

  • Lightweight and handy
  • Carefully designed App
  • Durable

Cons

  • Not too good when used in deeper waters

What to look for while buying a fish finder for catfishing

Searching for catfish can sometimes be a long and demanding task, which makes using a fish finder a  sensible choice. As with any modern gadget, fish finders offer a lot of different features and options. Some of them are important and the others are not deal-breakers. To understand what to look for in fish finders when it comes to catfish fishing take a look at the points below.

Type of mount

This is the first thing you should pay attention to. Choosing the right type of device can make your experience a lot more convenient. There are three different types of fish finders from this perspective:

Mounted finders

Designed to be fixed on a boat or a kayak

Portable finders

Easy to hold and carry, convenient to use

Castable finders

Compact, versatile and don’t require a boat to be used

Transducer (Sonar)

The transducer is the fish finder part that’s responsible for sending out and receiving signals that are used to compose an image that is displayed on the screen. There are several different technologies on the market:

2D Broadband

These are traditional, old-school sonar that shows you the image of what’s directly beneath you. 2D’s offer less information than any other type of sonar.

Down Imaging

Down imaging technology is the evolution of 2D sonars, with the image composed from below you, but with greater detail and definition.

Side Imaging

Similar to down imaging when it comes to improvement in image detail and quality, but Side imaging sonars cover way bigger surface. It shoots the beam at an angle, also covering the area around the boat.

GPS

Fishfinders that incorporate GPS systems are very useful for finding catfish, avoiding dangers, and revisiting specific spots. In combination with topographic maps, they become second to none when it comes to navigating and finding big catfish.

Transducer frequency is also an important factor. We’d recommended a frequency range from 200kHz to 800kHz for shallow water use, and 50-100kHz for deeper water.

Accuracy

The accuracy of a fish finder is something that will make it very useful or almost useless when catfishing. Beams that cover wider areas are usually far less detailed, which makes them great for shallow waters, but not if you target greater depths. Many fish finders come with dual beams systems, and in that case, you won’t be limited by water depth as much.

Manufacturer

As with most technological devices and gadgets, saving a couple of bucks on purchase can prove to be a more expensive option in the end. We recommend you stick with reputable Fishfinder manufacturers such as Humminbird, Garmin, Lowrance, or others from our list. With these brands, you’ll get support, a warranty, and more device reliability.

Price

The price of a fish finder can go up significantly, depending on the features it comes with. Mounted or portable high definition CHIRP finders can cost even in the excess of $1000. Castable fish finders are usually more budget-friendly, starting at just about $100. We recommend you start with this type of sonar, before transitioning to high-end ones when you gain more experience.

Side Imaging fish finder for catfish

Side imaging fish finder is a useful tool, especially for catfishing. They differ from traditional sonars because they show a much wider picture of the water below you. Down sonars or 2D finders show a small area directly beneath, which would make it practically useless for scanning large surfaces with shallow water. They are excellent for exploring underwater structures such as logs, rocks, and others. In addition, they are also used for tracking down fish schools of shad or herrings, so you won’t have to waste time searching for the bait either. Finding big schools of blue catfish in the big lakes won’t be a problem with a side imaging fish finder.

Down Imaging Fishfinder for catfish

Down imaging is more detailed than older 2D technology.  It allows you to see what’s straight below your boat or a kayak. They are inferior to modern side imaging and 360 degrees sonars since the range is too limited. But you can definitely use them to catch catfish. You can even see them on the screen, usually as big arches. They will also show you shapes below, which is useful when searching for catfish hideouts.

How do you find a catfish with a fish finder?

You can use your fish finder to locate catfish, but it won’t be too easy. Fishfinders can never tell certainly what’s below you. You’ll see various contours and shapes on the screen, which makes mixing up a log with a catfish pretty easy. Since they are usually so vague, even if you guess right, and it is a fish, it may not be a catfish. So we generally recommend you use your fish finder to locate schools of blue catfish since they are easier to identify. The best way to find catfish with a fish finder is by observing the underwater layout, for potential catfish hiding places like holes, structures, steep depth changes, etc.

Tips for Using a Fish finder for catfish

Here are a few useful tips you should know, after purchasing your first fish finder for catfishing :

  • The first thing we would suggest you do after purchasing a fish finder is to open a manual and install it properly. Place the screen in a handy place where it will be safe from potential damage. Don’t mount the transducer too high on the haul, to avoid “cavitating”.
  • Read the manual and familiarize yourself with various options, images, and functions
  • Remember that even if the finder doesn’t show catfish, that doesn’t mean there is none there
  • Use the finder to learn about underwater layout, rather than chasing the fish itself. Underwater logs, holes, depressions, and steep ledges are ideal places for catfish.
  • If you find the spot you want to fish in, anchor slightly above and cast the bait down the current

We have also covered in-depth buyers guide on the following catfishing gear on our website

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How can fish finders find catfish?

Fish finders find catfish by emitting a signal from its transducers. The signal travels through the water and bounces back when it hits an object. This reflected signal is then processed and shown as an image on your screen.

2. Will a fish finder pick up catfish?

Yes, fish finders can pick up catfish. But they won’t always pick them up, depending on the transducer strength and accuracy and water depth. Even if they don’t pick them up, it doesn’t mean there aren’t any there.

3. Do fish finders show catfish?

Fish finders can display catfish on the screen. They usually look like thick arches. The bigger ones are easier to spot, especially on traditional fish finders. Advanced fish finders show a more detailed image, so you’ll be able to identify them more easily.

4. What is the best screen size for a fish finder for catfish ?

When it comes to fish finder screens, it’s simple – the bigger the better. A large screen will let you see things and detail you’ve never seen before. Even if you have an accurate sonar, with a high resolution screen, it won’t matter unless it’s big enough to display all the information. We recommend you to go for at least 4in screen.

Final Verdict

Fishfinders are certainly a great addition to your catfishing gear, especially if you choose the best fish finder for you. There are many things you need to consider before purchasing your first fish finder for catfish. But we are confident that you’ll choose the best fish finder for catfish, after carefully reading this article. If you have more questions on the catfishing topic, be sure to check out some of our many articles about it.

Additionally, if you are looking for perfect rod and reel combination for catfishing, you may have a look at our content on best rod and reel combo for catfishing

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