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Best Fish Finder GPS Combo Units For 2017 – Comparison Included

Successful fishermen have always depended on good data sources. Weather conditions, air and water temperatures, water depth, bottom conditions, and the location of likely hotspots are just a few of the factors that need to be considered and monitored to ensure a successful fishing trip.

However, it would take years to accumulate that kind of knowledge about even a single lake, river, or offshore grounds—so how can the average fisherman take control of such a range of information?

Fortunately, in recent years, both sonar fish-finding and bottom imaging technologies and the capabilities of Global Positioning System (GPS) equipment have advanced tremendously, and now even the weekend fisherman can have access to sonar and GPS power that was only available to military personnel and well-funded commercial operators a few short years ago.

These days, most of the major manufacturers are making units that combine high-resolution fish finding sonar with GPS that is accurate within a few feet. And you might be surprised at how affordable some of the best fish finder GPS combos are.

Best Fish Finder GPS Combo - Comparison

Best Fish Finder GPS Combo - Reviews

Whether you like to hit the lake on the weekend or run miles offshore chasing saltwater trophies on a daily basis, a fish finder GPS combo rig will increase your success rate and make you a safer boater. It is a must-have, and we have prepared a review of the best fish finder GPS combos to help you find a unit that fits both your budget and fishing style.

1. Humminbird HELIX 10 CHIRP MEGA SI GPS G2N

Humminbird HELIX 10 CHIRP MEGA SI GPS G2N

The HELIX 10 CHIRP MEGA Si GPS G2N by Humminbird gives you the power and screen space needed to run GPS navigation programs to produce amazingly clear images of what is under the boat.

The HELIX 10 Mega Siis packed with features that are normally found in units costing thousands more—we’ve found it to be an amazingly powerful and capable unit for the price.

The HELIX 10 features the CHIRP digital dual beam sonar that is now standard in most high-end fish finders.

The advantage of paying a few extra dollars for this unit is the included Hadis HD transducer that has a dedicated imaging unit, which provides down imaging coverage to 400 feet as well as side imaging to 800 feet on each side. The detailed images are transmitted to an LED-backlit 10.1-inch HD display that has full color as well as 16-bit grayscale modes.

The display is very bright and readable from almost any angle no matter how much sun there is.

This unit comes with a lot of useful features. The Humminbird SwitchFire system that offers detailed MAX and uncluttered CLEAR return modes is standard, and you can take screen shots and record sonar then interface with your PC to analyze and store the data—one downside here is that the PC connection cable is not included with the unit.

Precision GPS with chartplotting and tracking is also standard, and the two microSD slots allow the use of Navionics and other map and chart programs. We liked the ability to mark structures on the sonar.

The real-time sonar along with selective fish ID that lets you see what kind of fish are passing through the beam is also extremely useful and fun to use. Additional options and expansions available include 360 degree imaging and more. Lots of functions and features here, but it was still relatively easy to get up and running with the basics. This unit can mount in-dash or on its gimbaled mount.

The only downside is that the mounting system does not have a swivel function(a problem common with Humminbird fish finders), but despite a couple of minor stumbles, the MEGA Si is a very powerful machine and is one of the best fish finder GPS combos out there for use in larger boats.

What we liked

  • Excellent HD display
  • HD transducer 
  • Down- and side-imaging
  • Built-in Bluetooth connectivity

What we didn't like

  • No swivel mount
  • PC connection cable should be included at this price level

2. Lowrance HDS-7 GEN3 Insight Fishfinder

Lowrance HDS-7 GEN3 Insight Fishfinder

For those who like a touch screen fish finder unit, the Lowrance HDS-7 GEN3 Insight features cutting edge sonar technology coupled with professional-grade navigational capabilities.

The HDS-7 combines the familiar CHIRP sonar functions with StructureScan HD sonar developed by Lowrance. Using the two types of sonar together gives you a near-photographic 180-degree view of structures and a detailed presentation of fish arches below and to the sides of your position.

The toggle function allows you to overlay structure maps on charts and depth contour maps. You can also rewind through the sonar or Structure scan imaging and mark prime spots with waypoints.

We’ve found this Lowrance model easy to get used to despite its incredible array of features and functions. The 7-inch widescreen HD LCD display is bright and easy to see, and the touch screen operates much like a smartphone screen with easy-to-use thumbnail icons.

A nice option was the ability to change to keypad operation for times when you have gloves on or the water is rough, and the built-in WiFi lets the unit connect with smartphones and tablets for remote viewing and operation.

The HDS-7 GEN3 is also a serious navigation tool. Dual microSD slots and support for all the top mapping programs are standard. The unit comes loaded with Insight USA charts of inland and coastal US waters as well as a world reference map. The HDS-7 is plug-and-play compatible with other Lowrance marine electronics units. This allows for expansion of capabilities to include Broadband Radar, SiriusXM Marine Weather and audio, Class B AIS and DSC VHF radio linkage, and automatic steering and wayfinding modules.

One thing we noticed on the HDS-7 was the sturdy build of the mounting bracket—at over a quarter inch in thickness, it puts a lot of the competition to shame. 

We would have liked to see a little more pronounced knurling on the gimbal knobs, but overall this unitis one of the best small-screen fish finder GPS combos on the market. It also has one of the strongest mounts we have seen. It can serve as a very powerful stand-alone GPS fish finder, or it can work at the heart of an extended marine navigation and operations system. 

What we liked

  • Leading-edge technology from Lowrance
  • Intuitive touchscreen functions
  • Some of the best imaging we have seen
  • Video-in lets you set up a back-up cam for your boat

What we didn't like

  • Networking cables and plug accessories need to be purchased separately
  • Gimbal knobs get hard to grip when wet

3. Garmin GPSMAP 741xs

Garmin GPSMAP 741xs

We love Garmin products for their sturdy build and solid brand reputation, and the GPSMAP 741xs is no exception. If having a truly capable marine GPS unit is important to you, the 741xs is the way to go.

This unit has the ability to interface with marine radar systems, and it also supports NMEA 2000 so you can use it to monitor engine and autopilot data, digital weather reports, and other sensors and instruments on your boat.

Garmin’s Auto Guidance Technology can search charts and help you plan routes through bridges, obstructions, and other navigational hazards. Auto Guidance routes can be saved by backing them up on an SD card with the BlueChart or Garmin LakeVu mapping programs.

The 741xs comes pre-loaded with LakeVu HD maps that show more than 17,000 lakes in the US, including 13,000 HD maps with bottoms mapped at 1-foot contour intervals from shoreline to shoreline. Also standard is the Quickdraw Contours program that lets you create detailed HD maps at the 1-foot contour level while you fish.

Along with all of this navigation power, the 741xs has excellent sonar and fish finding functions as well. You will need to purchase the transducer separately, but this also allows you to personalize the setup for the conditions you fish.

The unit supports a range of Garmin transducers such as ClearVu and CHIRP. We recommend the Panoptix Down and Forward transducersthat can send up real-time moving sonar views of targets under the boat, as the sonar imaging with these transducers is detailed enough to show your lure as it is being reeled in. Combine one of these with a CHIRP-enabled transducer for some serious fish targeting power. 

This fish finder GPS combo produces a lot of data, and it is all fed to a 7-inch diagonal measure WVGA display. The display is easy to see in any light condition and has touchscreen functions including pinch-to-zoom.

The Garmin 741xs is a professional-grade fish finder GPS combo, and even with the extra expense of the transducer setup, it is a great value for the money.

What we liked

  • Professional-grade fast 10Hz GPS receiver
  • Full marine system networking capability
  • Deep-water capable
  • Touch screen

What we didn't like

  • No swivel mount
  • PC connection cable should be included at this price level

4. Humminbird HELIX 9 Sonar GPS Fishfinder

Humminbird HELIX 9 Sonar GPS Fishfinder

The Humminbird HELIX 9 Sonar GPS fish finder is a great alternative for those looking for a powerful large-format fish finder GPS combo that does not strain the budget too hard.

The HELIX 9 still gives you a bright, clear backlit 9-inch LED display that operates in full color and grayscale modes. The DualBeam PLUS sonar can operate in two frequencies at once to allow for split-screen or blended display modes, and you can zoom in the image in split screen mode.

Like all Humminbird units, the HELIX 9 has SwitchFire technology that toggles between highly detailed and clear, uncluttered views. The transducer is included with this model, and it provides very clean images at 83 kHz for the 60-degree wide view and 200 kHz for the 20-degree narrow cone.

A nice feature for this price point is the water temperature graph function that expands the capability of the built-in temperature probe. This lets you see the thermoclines, or differences between surface temps and currents that are below the surface, which is something we would normally expect on a multi-thousand dollar unit.

An optional transducer adds the 50kHz frequency and increases the depth capability from 1500 to 3000 feet. A real-time vertical sonar flasher together with the Bottom Lock function and a fish ID feature that shows fish icons and depths is very useful for still fishing. 

The Helix 9 has a precision GPS system that gives your boat speed and generates quick position readings that are accurate to within 7 feet. The two microSD slots will let you run Navionics and other popular charting programs. The HELIX 9 also comes with ContourXD maps included for free to get you started with depth information on over 3000 lakes plus additional onshore information about boat launches, campgrounds, and other points of interest.

A Bluetooth wireless remote comes in handy for deploying the transducer, marking waypoints, and adjusting various sonar and imaging parameters. We were impressed with the selection of features the HELIX 9 provides at a low/mid-price point.

If you can live without side- and down-imaging, this is a great fish finder and GPS combo for the money.

What we liked

  • A good range of included features
  • Very expandable with optional features
  • Super bright screen

What we didn't like

  • No swivel mount
  • Buttons are on the small side for gloved hands

5. Raymarine Dragonfly 7PRO Sonar/GPS

Raymarine Dragonfly 7PRO SonarGPS

If you are looking for a smaller, portable fish finder that still offers powerful GPS functions, the Raymarine Dragonfly 7PRO is one of your best options out there.

The 7PRO is a compact unit that can work with a variety of mounting systems, and it would be fine as a kayak-fishing sonar rig. The Wide-spectrum CHIRP DownVision sonar is standard, and the transom-mounted transducer is also included in the base price.

For a small, low-priced fish finder, the 7PRO generates an incredibly detailed picture of the water column and bottom structure. The CHIRP DownVision wide fan mode can image to 600 feet of depth, while the standard conical beam CHIRP sonar can reach to 900 feet. The DownVision mode also provides for high-speed bottom tracking. The built-in 72-channel GPS receiver has tracking and waypointing functions, and the microSD slot supports multiple chart programs including LightHouse, Jeppesen, and Navionics. The unit comes withthe C-MAP Essentials charts that provide detailed US lake, river, and coastal maps. 

The Dragonfly has onboard WiFi that lets you use Raymarine’s Wi-Fish mobile app to stream and store sonar images directly on your smartphone or tablet. This function works great in larger boats when you want to move out of sight of the main display. It also gives you pause, zoom, and rewind functions and supports online image sharing.

Everything looks good on the 7-inch WVGA display courtesy of the weather-resistant optically-bonded LCD screen that is normally only found on high-end marine electronics. The screen also has antifogging properties and is very durable. We really liked the compact from of the 7PRO, and the overall simplicity of use was great—everything was easy, from mounting and dismounting to operating the functions.

However, the button placement on the bottom of the unit took a bit of getting used to, and one-hand operation is a bit awkward. The buttons are also not backlit for night fishing use. Another minor hitch was the fact that we could not find any way to turn the WiFi off when it was not needed. Other than these couple of small details, the Dragonfly 7PRO is an awesome fish finder GPS combo in the portable class.

What we liked

  • One of the most capable units for its size
  • Very clear display
  • C-MAP essentials included

What we didn't like

  • Awkwardly placed, dark buttons
  • Always-on WiFi
  • Draws power even when turned off

6. Garmin STRIKER 7SV

Garmin STRIKER 7SV

The STRIKER 7SV is the 7-inch display model of Garmin’s very popular STRIKER line, putting together a lot of capability and durability in a very light and compact package. Even with a 7-inch diagonal display, the 7SV comes in at under 2 pounds.

The light weight of this unit combined with a trim profile make the STRIKER 7SV a good choice for those looking to get a compact yet very powerful kayak fishing sonar unit.

The standard transducer generates CHIRP sonar images in Garmin’s CVlearVu and SideVu modes along with a high wide broadband view. The images are amazingly clear and detailed at depths up to 2300 feet in freshwater. The 7SV can also mark targets when the boat is running at speed.

The A-Scope beam lets you see fish swimming through your sonar in real time. Combine that with a built-in flasher and the 7SV works great for ice fishing and any type of still fishing.Its images are clear enough to see the jig lifting and falling near the bottom and fish coming in to investigate and hit it.

The built-in precision GPS lets you track your course and mark waypoints along with fishing spots so you can later use the saved waypoint map to return to good spots or get back to the boat ramp. The ability to split the screen will let you see bottom features in relation to your waypoints, making it easy to target particular structures accurately. The gimbaled mount offers plenty of movement and it does have swivel capabilities.

However, the side beams of the mount could be a little sturdier, as the unit seems to pickup a lot of vibration at speed over rough water. On the plus side, a trolling motor mount is also included in the price. When you get off the boat, the STRIKER detaches in seconds. An optional portability package and the tough IPX7 waterproof housing keeps the unit safe for transport and ice fishing purposes.Our team voted this Garmin unit as the best fish finder GPS combo in what we consider to be the value price range for this type of unit.

What we liked

  • Three sonar functions in one transducer
  • Side-view scanning
  • A-scope moving fish tracking
  • Garmin reputation

What we didn't like

  • Mounting bracket side arms are too flexible
  • No sun hood or protective cover included

7. Humminbird HELIX 5 CHIRP DI GPS G2

Humminbird HELIX 5 CHIRP DI GPS G2

The HELIX 5 is at the bargain basement of our fish finder GPS review series. Humminbird is innovating some good sonar technology and the HELIX 5 has the same powerful CHIRP sonar found higher up the price range. It works to produce good target separation, and down-imaging gives a near-photographic view of the bottom structure.

We are also glad to see the SwitchFire system appearing throughout the HELIX range. This is a very useful feature, especially for kayak anglers or anyone who fishes shallow water a lot. SwitchFire lets you dial in Clear mode to remove a lot of the interference that is often part of fishing the shallows and choppier water. Switching to Max mode generates surprisingly detailed images.

The display of temperature gradients and currents was more than we expected to see in a 2-D fish finder. The basic transducer can produce good images down to 1500 feet depending on the water and bottom conditions, and with the optional transducer, this can be pushed out to 2500 feet.

The GPS on the HELIX 5 will do most everything the average fisherman needs. It will track your route throughout the day and save it along with thousands of waypoints so you can mark and save the best fishing spots. Use the microSD to run map and log programs, then transfer the data easily to your PC using the Humminbird connectivity software. Humminbird has also reworked the HELIX operating system and we found it easy enough to get started on without having to read pages of documentation.

We did not particularly like the tiny function buttons. The HELIX 5 sits in a gimbal frame which, like most of the Humminbird mounts, seems a bit on the weak side to use. But for kayakers and small boat fisherman, the lighter weight is probably more important than extra structural beefiness. Overall, the HELIX 5 is a good choice in terms of value for the money if you are looking for a compact fish finder GPS combo.

What we liked

  • High capability in a lightweight unit
  • SD card and PC software included
  • Easy portability

What we didn't like

  • Mount tilts but does not swivel
  • Small function buttons

Conclusion

Fish finder GPS combo units are very complex pieces of technology. Every unit we reviewed had a multitude of included features and functions, and most of them also had the potential to add optional capabilities.

The power and quality of these GPS and sonar units are quite high in most cases, and are very similar from unit to unit as far as the average user is concerned. In the end, the feature package will be the most important thing to consider when purchasing a fish finder GPS combo. Carefully examine the specifications of your favorite fish finders and decide on the features that are must-haves and the ones that are not particularly necessary.

The next thing to consider is display size and image quality. Multi-screen operating capabilities are a must. My personal advice is that you spend a little more for a larger display because things that look easy to see in the shop are not likely to appear that way out on the water. 

David Valle
 

I started this blog to provide advanced material, guiding you towards a better and more comfortable fishing experience. I deliver more than fishing gear guides, and motivate people to hit the water!

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