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An echo sounder is a device designed to determine the depth of a reservoir, study the structure and topography of the bottom, and search for fish. The very first echo sounders were designed for military use, to detect enemy submarines. Later, echo sounders became widespread and were widely used for fishing and control of river and sea vessels. Echo sounders can be used both when fishing in summer and in winter, both when fishing from a boat and from the shore. There are a huge number of echo sounder models on the market, differing in functions, characteristics and cost.

In our publication, we will try to understand the principles of operation of echo sounders, their technical characteristics and parameters, we will talk about the principles for choosing a specific echo sounder model, we will give a rating of the 10 best echo sounders in terms of price-quality ratio.

What is an echo sounder for?

One of the main tasks of the angler on a fishing trip is to find the places of fish parking. Experienced anglers use various methods for this:

  • The parking place is evidenced by fish coming to the surface, accompanied by splashes
  • Flocks of gulls circling in one place, indicating the presence in this place of large concentrations of fry, and hence predators
  • Favorite parking places of predatory fish associated with the bottom relief: pits, whirlpools, coastal and channel edges, zones with a reverse flow, areas with branches of trees and shrubs hanging over the water.

echo sounder

It can be useful for a fisherman to know in what depth horizon the fish is on the day of fishing: the fish can stand at the bottom, is at half water or at the very surface.

A modern electronic device, an echo sounder, helps answer all these questions. The use of fishfinders by fishermen has changed fishing in many ways. Detailed information gives the fisherman a huge advantage.

The echo sounder allows you to:

  • Determine, with high accuracy, the depth at the place of fishing
  • To study the general topography of the bottom, to detect the presence of edges, depressions, ridges on the bottom
  • Detect large concentrations of fry and small fish serving as food for predators
  • Locate a large fish site

Some anglers mistakenly think that using a fish finder is the easiest way to catch fish. In fact, this is not the case, the echo sounder allows you to find promising fishing spots, but in order for fishing to become effective, the angler must be able to catch it.

The principle of operation of the echo sounder

All echo sounders have a similar principle of operation. The echo sounder transmitter generates an electrical pulse that is converted into an ultrasonic signal. The ultrasonic signal beam is directed towards the bottom.

The ultrasonic signal freely passes through the water column, is reflected from the bottom and any other underwater objects, including fish, and returns back to the echo sounder, where it is captured by its receiver.

The data from the receiver is sent to the processor, which processes it. The echo sounder processor analyzes the time during which the signal reached the obstacle and returned back. Since the speed of sound in water is constant, the processor calculates the distance to the object based on the signal transit time in milliseconds.

The processor displays on the color or black-and-white screen of the echo sounder a graphic image in the form of bottom contours and conditional images of fish that have fallen into the zone of the echo sounder beam.

AMAZIN FishFinder FF777W

innovative model. The kit includes a wireless sensor and a main unit equipped with a color display. The fish finder combines a well-thought-out set of features with an affordable price. The head unit is equipped with a modern processor with precise signal processing. Operating range – 100 m. The case is made of waterproof rubberized material. Thanks to the bright inserts, the device is noticeable and it is unlikely to lose it. The device draws the bottom relief, measures the water temperature, determines the location of the fish.

The block and sensor are equipped with lithium-ion batteries. The maximum depth of the reservoir is 45 m. The echo sounder is equipped with rubber anti-slip inserts. The display is color, allowing you to assess the density of the bottom, to distinguish vegetation.

Advantages:

  • excellent workmanship at a relatively low price;
  • case made of rubberized material, colored inserts;
  • information content;
  • well thought out menu;
  • the possibility of convenient installation on a watercraft;
  • bright color screen;
  • lithium-ion batteries in the block and sensor.

No deficiencies found.

The price is 10.9 thousand rubles.

What are echo sounders

echo sounder

All echo sounders that are currently on the market can be divided, depending on the purpose of their use, into three groups:

  • Echo sounders for winter fishing
  • Echo sounders for fishing from the shore
  • Echo sounders for fishing from a boat

Echo sounders of all three groups have a common principle of operation, but each type has its own design features and differences.

Echo sounders for winter fishing

echo sounder

An echo sounder for winter fishing is needed no less than for summer fishing. Finding fish in winter is more difficult than in summer, and there is much less time for it.

The echo sounder allows you to find fish by making fewer holes. To use the echo sounder, you do not need to drill a full-fledged hole, it is enough to make a small depression, collect water there, the echo sounder sensor can work through the ice.

An echo sounder for winter fishing should be: compact, reliable, in the most extreme conditions, waterproof and frost-resistant. Recently, many models have appeared that satisfy all these conditions, and are sold at quite reasonable prices.

Fishfinders for ice fishing are lightweight, compact and fit easily into a small case. Winter echo sounders run on batteries or an accumulator. Such an echo sounder can be used not only for winter fishing, but also in summer, when fishing from a boat or from bridges. The disadvantages of echo sounders designed for winter fishing include small screens, which are not very convenient to use.

Top 2. Garmin STRIKER 7sv

Rating (2021): 4.82

Most popular model The device is most often used by professional fishermen and becomes a participant in various tests. It is often bought by ordinary users, so many detailed reviews can be found on the net.

A large number of rays The echo sounder uses 6 beams at once with a maximum frequency of 200 kHz. The ratio of power and hertz allows you to view the water area at 700 meters with an angle of 180 degrees.

A high-power device that scans the water area at a distance of 700 meters. This is one of the biggest values, especially given the relatively low price tag. The combination of these factors makes the echo sounder popular among both professionals and ordinary fishing enthusiasts who want to improve their performance. 6 rays at once look through the water in all planes, giving a clear picture on a 7-inch high-definition display. Also, the screen is equipped with anti-reflective protection and is able to work in the widest temperature range. The device definitely deserves attention, and if you doubt its quality, it is easy to find detailed reviews from experts and ordinary users on the net.

Pros and cons

  • Lots of working beams
  • High scanning range
  • Display with anti-glare protection
  • Few memorable routes
  • No speed sensor

See also:

  • 10 best budget fish finders

Echo sounders for fishing from the shore

Sonar Deeper Smart Sonar CHIRP

Echo sounders for fishing from the shore are a new type of devices that have appeared quite recently and are gradually becoming popular among anglers. Such echo sounders are a ball of small diameter, inside of which there is an echo sounder sensor and a wireless communication module (Bluetooth or Wi-Fi). The echo sounder is cast with a rod for a certain distance and then evenly pulled towards the angler with a reel. A special program is installed on the angler’s smartphone or tablet, which displays information coming from the echo sounder: the depth of the reservoir, the bottom topography and the presence of fish. When choosing a wireless fish finder, keep in mind that a fish finder with a Wi-Fi module operates at a greater distance than with a Bluetooth module. A wireless fish finder is a great helper for the angler fishing from the shore.

LUCKY FF518 – like a wrist watch

LUCKY FF518 - like a wrist watch

Compact device for sonar. Feature – wearing on the hand. It has a compact size and low weight. A successful technical solution allowed the angler to move from place to place, constantly having a sonar with him.

Steady scanning up to a depth of 40 meters. Allows you to fix the depth of the fish, to capture the overall size of the underwater inhabitants. The device has GPS-navigation, Wi-Fi function. The case has a high degree of moisture protection. Built-in temperature sensor.

Pros:

  • A high degree of mobility, you can move from place to place, while exercising control over the reservoir.
  • Compact, lightweight. Low price.
  • Convenient, just turn your hand with the display towards you and watch the underwater world.

Minuses:

  • Convenient, but very small screen, sometimes it is difficult to make out the image.
  • You can accidentally bend the antenna.

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Echo sounders for fishing from a boat

Boat fish finders are the largest group of fish finders and were the first to hit the market. The boat echo sounder consists of a sensor and a head unit, which are connected to each other by a cable.

The sensor can be mounted on the bottom of the boat or on a special bracket on the boat transom. The sensor can only be fixed to the bottom if the boat is made of polymer materials that allow ultrasonic waves to pass through. When the sensor is attached to the bottom, errors occur in determining the depth and topography of the bottom, due to the attenuation and distortion of the signal passing through the hull of the boat, so mounting on the transom of the boat is preferable. An external mount on the transom is more reliable, you just need to make sure that the operation of the propeller does not interfere with the operation of the sensor.

echo sounder

The head unit of the echo sounder is fixed in the boat in such a place that it is convenient for the fisherman to observe its screen, most often on motor boats it is placed at the stern of the boat.

When the boat moves, the angler sees a picture of the bottom of the reservoir on the screen, and chooses a promising place for fishing.

Boat echo sounders are stationary devices and are not designed to be moved from one boat to another. The case of such a fish finder is usually larger than the cases of other fish finders, so they often have a larger screen and more functions.

Practitioner 7 RF Station wagon – practical station wagon

Practitioner 7 RF Station wagon - practical station wagon

Wireless device for finding suitable “fish” places when fishing from the shore or boat. Designed for year-round use. It consists of a sensitive sensor Mayak and a receiving unit. Communication is maintained via Bluetooth.

Automatic activation is provided when it hits the surface of the reservoir. Supports up to seven modes of playback of received information on the screen. It has the ability to work in tandem with a smartphone.

Pros:

  • Easy to learn, suitable for beginners.
  • Unpretentious, you can safely work at low temperatures.
  • Zoom function, captures the movement of the fish.

Minuses:

  • Two buttons to control the menu – very inconvenient.
  • Drains the battery in storage, even for a week.

Technical parameters of echo sounders

Emitter frequency

The pulses sent by the echo sounder can be of different frequencies – 60 Hz, 83 Hz, 200 Hz, etc. The signal sent by the echo sounder is a cone having a certain angle.

The higher the frequency of the signal emitted by the echo sounder, the narrower the beam. A beam with a higher frequency gives a more detailed image of the bottom of the reservoir and objects in the water column, but at the same time captures a smaller area. Low-frequency beams have a wider angle, thereby capturing a larger area, but at the same time give less detail.

echo sounder

The lower the frequency of the signal, the deeper it can penetrate the water column. The most versatile will be an echo sounder with an operating frequency of 50 to 200 kHz.

An angler planning to fish at shallower depths should choose a higher frequency sonar, but if an angler plans to fish at greater depths, they should choose a lower frequency sonar. More versatile echo sounders have several beams, each of which operates at its own frequency.

Number of beams

An important characteristic of the echo sounder is the number of rays directed to the bottom of the reservoir. Echo sounders can be with one, two or more beams. The more beams a sonar has, the better, but devices with more beams are more expensive.

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Different beams of the echo sounder have different frequencies and different angles, on the screen of the echo sounder you see the result of their combined action. Narrow angle, high frequency beam, well suited for close examination of bottom structure. A beam with a wide angle and lower frequency is good for detecting fish.

echo sounder

When choosing an echo sounder by the number of beams, it is worth deciding on the goals and tasks that the device has to perform.

  • For winter fishing, the simplest single-beam echo sounder at 83 kHz is enough
  • For fishing from a boat, an echo sounder with two beams of 83/200 kHz is better suited, such a device both allows you to see the overall picture of what is happening under the boat, and carefully view the structure of the bottom of the reservoir
  • 83/200/800 kHz three-beam echo sounders are suitable for fishing on large and deep rivers and lakes
  • Echo sounders with 5-6 beams are used for sea fishing, to search for large schools of fish

Power

When choosing an echo sounder, you should pay attention to the power of the device. The higher the power of the echo sounder, the greater the depth it will be able to work.

The power of the echo sounder affects the quality of the picture it displays. An echo sounder with low power can work well in shallow areas, but when working at great depths and in pits, it will not be able to display them with sufficient clarity, much less detect if there are fish in them.

The power of the echo sounder is directly related to its sensitivity, a powerful echo sounder with poor sensitivity will not be able to produce a high-quality picture. Sonar power is measured in watts.

echo sounder

As you know, the unit of power is watts, so when buying, pay attention to this parameter. But even if a high-power echo sounder is purchased, this is not enough for the picture on the sonar screen to be clear and understandable. Power without sensitivity means nothing and these characteristics are directly related.

  • For fishing at shallow depths, a 150 W echo sounder transmitter power is sufficient.
  • For fishing at medium depths, echo sounders with a transmitter power of 200-300 watts are used.
  • For sea fishing, at great depths, echo sounders with a transmitter power of 500 W are used, with the ability to briefly increase the transmitter power to 2400 W.

Max Working Depth

The maximum operating depth of an echo sounder is directly related to its power. The more powerful the echo sounder, the greater the depths it can work.

echo sounder

  • For fishing in small reservoirs, a maximum depth of 25 meters is enough.
  • For fishing on lakes and large rivers, echo sounders with a maximum working depth of 35-80 meters should be used.
  • For sea fishing, the echo sounder must have a maximum working depth of 365 meters or more.

Viewing angle

The echo sounder beam can have a different angle, this parameter depends on the frequency of the emitter. The higher the frequency of the sonar transducer, the narrower the beam angle. The size of the echosounder beam angle determines the area covered.

  • 16-20 degrees – a low-frequency beam that allows you to examine the bottom of the reservoir in detail
  • 40-50 degrees – an echo sounder beam with this angle allows you to consider not only the bottom of the reservoir, but also a large area of ​​​​the water column
  • 75-90 degrees – an echosounder beam with this angle allows you to cover a large area of ​​\u200b\u200bthe water column

Currently, many echo sounders have several beams, each of which operates at its own frequency and has its own angle.

Sensitivity

Sonar sensitivity is an important parameter that affects the clarity of the image and the amount of noise on the screen. It is best to purchase an echo sounder, the sensitivity of which is adjustable.

Sonar Screen

The quality of the echo sounder screen has a direct impact on the information content and quality factor of the information display.

Echo sounders can be color and black and white. The color screens of echo sounders better display the nuances of the bottom topography, but at the same time they are much more expensive.

Image quality depends on the number of colors in color echo sounders and the amount of grayscale in black and white. The more these parameters, the better.

echo sounder

The sonar screen with good brightness and image contrast allows you to get a high-quality picture, even in bright sunlight. It is good if the echo sounder screen has an anti-reflective coating.

The diagonal of the sonar screen can be from 2 to 10 inches. The larger the screen, the better you can see everything on it. On a sonar with a small screen, you will often have to zoom in and drag the picture to figure out what is shown on it. Everything is visible on the big screen. The wider the beam angle of the sonar, the larger the screen needed.

Sonar screens differ in resolution, that is, the number of dots on the screen that determines the clarity of the picture. The more pixels on the screen, the more detailed the picture. On a low-resolution screen, a school of fish looks like a blur; on a high-resolution screen, each individual will be visible. The simplest echo sounders have a screen with a resolution of 240×240 or 240×270 pixels. Mid-level echo sounders are equipped with a screen with a resolution of 320×320 or 320×480 pixels.

Frame

The case of the echo sounder must have high-quality protection against water ingress into the device. The reliability and durability of the device directly depends on the degree of moisture protection of the echo sounder housing.

echo sounder

There are two most common hull protection options:

  • IP x6 – Allows sea spray to reach the surface and even drips to enter the instrument. The echo sounder remains intact. Models with this degree of protection can be mounted on the boat away from the side.
  • IP x7 – case protection option protects the device even if it falls into water for a short time to a depth of 1 m. Such protection is especially relevant for portable echo sounders that can accidentally fall out of hands into the water during rocking or a sharp gust of wind.

Additional features of the echo sounder

echo sounder

Modern echo sounders have a large set of additional features that can be very useful to the angler in certain conditions:

  • GPS receiver
    – can be used to mark points and record the route of the boat, remembering the fish finder points in the memory of the echo sounder, the angler can easily return there again, this function is especially useful for anglers who prefer to fish in large expanses of water.
  • Chartplotter
    – an echo sounder with a chartplotter function allows you to install electronic charts with navigation data (designation of ship passages, buoys, shoals)
  • temperature sensor
    – shows the number of degrees at a certain depth. Knowing the temperature of the water at a certain depth, the angler can predict the degree of activity of fish in a given area of ​​the reservoir.
  • Determination of the distance to the fish
    – the function can be useful if you need to determine in which layer of water the fish is standing, at a given time, in a given reservoir
  • Determining the size of fish
    – the function is useful for anglers catching trophy fish so that they do not waste time catching fish that are not trophy sizes. Despite the fact that the algorithms for the operation of echo sounders are constantly being improved, you should not trust one hundred percent of this information. The echo sounder may mistake snags or debris floating down the river for fish.
  • flasher
    – A sonar sound alert function that alerts you when a fish appears in the beam area.

Top 9. Simrad GO7 XSE

Rating (2021): 4.31

Outwardly, this echo sounder resembles a tablet computer. Even the operating system is special here with intuitive controls. Approximately the same layout of icons will be on the car navigator, which can be considered a plus, since it will not be difficult even for a beginner to deal with the interface. Most likely, this is what the manufacturer was focusing on, but if you think that the Simrad GO7 XSE is just an expensive toy, then you are mistaken. Before us is a full-fledged echo sounder and navigator with side scanning and a lot of additional functions. It explores the space of the water area at 200 meters, operating at a peak power of 800 watts.

Pros and cons

  • The most intuitive interface
  • Touch control
  • Very bright display
  • Low level of security
  • Operating system is not updated

Bottom scan echo sounders

echo sounder

The principle of operation of echo sounders with the bottom scan function is different from the operation of classic echo sounders. Bottom-scan echo sounders send out a large number of high-frequency pulses that scan the underwater space. Instead of a single beam, the space is scanned by several narrower beams. The image resulting from the bottom scan function is much clearer and more detailed.

Side scan echo sounders

Side scan fish finders are the next step in the development of fish finders. In such echo sounders, the beams are directed not only down under the boat, but also to the sides of it. Echo sounders with a side scan function have the ability to scan the underwater space, to the left and right of the boat, for tens of meters. The most complete picture of the situation under water is given by combining the information received from the side beams with the information from the lower beam.

echo sounder

The difference in operation between classic and scanning echo sounders is that the projection of the beam of a classic echo sounder on the bottom is a circle, the diameter of which depends on the angle of the beam and depth, and the projection of the beams of a scanning echo sounder is a narrow strip. Therefore, in order to immediately cover the area, a boat with a scanning echo sounder needs to move.

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echo sounder

Lucky FF718Li – comes with a casing

Lucky FF718Li - comes with a casing

Compact, lightweight, with the presence of basic functions, echo sounder with a wireless sensor. The instrument comes with a protective cover for convenience and protection against drops.

The sonar has built-in automatic adjustment programs. The bottom scanning mode is provided within a radius of up to 50 meters, with a maximum depth of 40 meters.

The tool is designed for operation in winter and summer, that is, fishing in any weather season. Adjustable color display with backlight reflects all processed data transmitted by the wireless sensor.

Pros:

  • Easy to use, clear interface, Russified menu.
  • Protective cover, float, acceptable operating range.
  • Built-in memory, fish depth, air and water temperature.

Minuses:

  • A small cartoon screen.
  • A lanyard wouldn’t hurt.

Which echo sounder to choose

The angler should choose his echo sounder depending on the type of fishing he prefers.

echo sounder

  • An angler who fishes from a motorboat or boat in a large body of water, with great depths
    , you should choose a fixed echosounder, with a large maximum working depth, with a large screen with multiple beams, preferably with bottom and side scan functions. For example:
    Garmin Striker Plus 7sv, Humminbird Helix 5 Sonar G2, Lowrance Elite-7 Ti2.
  • An angler fishing from a boat in a medium-sized body of water with normal depths
    , a stationary echo sounder of the middle price category is quite enough. For example:
    Garmin Striker Plus 4cv, Humminbird PiranhaMAX 4, Lowrance HOOK2 4x GPS Bullet
  • For the angler who loves ice fishing
    , a single-beam handheld sonar with a small black-and-white screen and a wide beam angle is sufficient. For example:
    Praktik 6M, Lucky FFW 718
  • For the angler who mainly fishes from the shore
    , the most preferred instrument would be a wireless echo sounder. For example:
    Deeper Smart Sonar PRO, Deeper Smart Sonar CHIRP+

Top 6. Humminbird ONIX 10cxi SI Combo

Rating (2021): 4.55

The most powerful echo sounder An echo sounder with a peak output of 8000 watts and a scanning range of one and a half kilometers. Features are twice as high as those of the closest competitors.

Quality display The high-resolution 10-inch display delivers the clearest possible picture, while the anti-reflective coating ensures perfect reading of data in sunny weather.

If you want your fishing to be as productive as possible, and you are not used to half measures, then the Humminbird ONIX 10cxi SI Combo is exactly what you need. Apparatus producing 8000 watts of peak power. A huge figure, as well as a scanning range exceeding 1.5 km. With this sonar you will explore the water area as much as possible, as the viewing angle is 180 degrees, and side scanning is provided by 5 beams with different frequencies. The display of the device deserves special attention. Here 10 inches and high-quality anti-reflective coating. Even if the sun shines on your back, the picture will be read comfortably and accurately.

Pros and cons

  • Large display
  • High peak power
  • Far Scan
  • Anti-glare screen coating
  • Very expensive device
  • Quite complex controls

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