7 Best Fish Finder for Catfish: Buyer's Guide & Reviews
Catching catfish is fun but challenging, depending on the water you’re in. This is why anglers shop for good catfish fish finders to help them on their hunting.
I tried several models over a few years I spent targeting catfish. Some work better than others, especially if you’re in shallow waters.
My personal favorite is the Humminbird 410950-1 HELIX 7 CHIRP MSI. It features Mega Side Imaging and Mega Down Imaging, so nothing can pass your boat without you noticing it.
The Garmin Striker 4 with Transducer and RICANK Portable Fish Finder are closely behind with their features and user-friendliness.
But let’s break this down into more details so you can understand why we chose the Humminbird Helix 7 as the best fish finder for catfish.
Humminbird 410950-1 HELIX 7 CHIRP MSI
Best For Beginners
Garmin Striker 4 with Transducer
Best by Budget
RICANK Portable Fish Finder
1. Humminbird 410950-1 HELIX 7 CHIRP MSI
This Humminbird Helix 7 is the top-of-the-game fish finder for catfish enthusiasts. First, it’s easy to set up and use regardless of your experience or skill level. It has a huge 7’ color image display that shows everything in detail.
And, thanks to Mega Side Imaging, you can see up to 125 feet of both sides of the boat. With Mega Down Imaging, you can see up to 125 feet below the boat as well.
The 800H x 400V resolution display is sharp and crystal clear. It makes it easy to spot catfish and whatever else is around your boat. And, the finder features more than 10,000 lakes in the USA, making it easy to use across America.
You can also make your map with information you find important. This includes vegetation, terrain, and the bottom.
2. Garmin Striker 4 with Transducer
Garmin Striker 4 is a popular option for many species. Moreover, it’s one of the best for beginners since it’s user-friendly and easy to set up.
GPS technology allows you to mark spots of interest on the map. Plus, it comes with a Waypoint map, easy for navigating and checking your speed as you go.
This is particularly interesting because it alerts you if you stroll too fast. This way, you’re unlikely to disturb the water and the fish.
The easy-to-use 3.5-inch display is crystal clear and easy to read. Plus, it only has a few buttons that are equally easy to operate.
We should also mention the CHIRP 77/220 kHz sonar transducer. The combination of its features and specifications helps to navigate waters and spot catfish with ease.
The Garmin Striker 4 is also a great fish finder if you’re also trolling for catfish.
3. RICANK Portable Fish Finder
Ricank is a portable fish finder designed for kayak, off-shore, lake, ice, and river fishing. It detects and displays water depth, fish location and size, weeds, rocks, sand, and much more.
It has a depth range of 3 to 328 feet, allowing you to spot pretty much anything lurking under and around your boat. And, it comes with a sonar sensor, a 25′ cable, and a removable transducer float.
You can choose whether you want info displayed in feet or meters. And, you can also choose between five modes and sensitivity options, depending on the water conditions.
It can work for four to five hours with new batteries, but there’s also the battery-saving mode. Although it limits you from using some features, it helps extend the battery life.
4. LUCKY Portable Sonar
This is another excellent option for catfish you can also use for other species. It’s useful and versatile for ice, bank, boat, and kayak fishing.
The first thing that stands out is the design itself. It’s made from anti-corrosive materials, so you can use it in both freshwater and saltwater conditions.
And, it’s waterproof, which means it doesn’t matter if you drop it into the water. Or you can use it from the shore, depending on what you prefer.
It comes with a transducer ball equipped with a wireless range of 328 feet. This makes it easy to scan the depths at 147 feet. Its 125 kHz ball transducer works at an angle of 90°, while the alarm system alerts you when you come across catfish or catfish schools.
5. Lowrance HOOK2
Lowrance is a well-known brand with many excellent fish finders. However, their Hook2 works best for catfish thanks to DownScan, SideScan, and CHIRP sonar.
What stands out the most is the ease of use. This one has 4,000 US Inland Lake Maps installed, so you can easily find the one you’re fishing in.
And, you can also add your waypoints, trails, and points of interest.
Plus, it comes with auto-tuning sonar and user-friendly menus. So it doesn’t take long to figure everything out, even without reading the instructions included in the package.
The CHIRP sonar cone gives you double the coverage most traditional finders offer. And, the DownScan and SideScan sonar makes it easy to scan up to 300’ on each side.
It’s compact but has a large display that’s easy to read.
6. Deeper PRO+ Smart Sonar Castable
The Deeper PRO+ is probably the most unique fish finder for catfish I had a chance to try. I’d like to say that it’s one of the best castable fish finders with built-in GPS and a rechargeable battery.
It casts up to 330ft, scanning down to 260 feet with precise 0.5-inch target separation. This means almost no room for error, making it easy to tell fish apart from other things in the water.
It connects to iOS and Android devices, but most importantly, it doesn’t require any cellular data or internet. Overall, it’s easy to use thanks to its user-friendly software with maps, photos, scans, notes, and points of interest.
On top of that, it makes it easy to see bottom structure, vegetation, fish, depth, and bottom consistency. It takes seconds to install since it doesn’t require cables, external batteries, or wires.
7. Humminbird 410230-1 HELIX 5 CHIRP SI GPS
This is another excellent option from Humminbird, featuring a 5-inch LED-backlit display. It has everything you’ll need for catfish and other species and fishing techniques.
What stands out the most is CHIRP Side Imaging that filters out the noise and clutter. As a result, you get a clearer view of what’s underneath your boat.
There’s also the CHIRP Digital Sonar engineered for deeper depths. It provides a better range and makes it easier to tell fish apart from other things below the surface.
This one comes with more than 10,000 charts and coastal coverage in the USA. Plus, you can add your maps, waypoints, and points of interest.
It has Dual Beam Plus Sonar which combines two beams. This gives you a more generous coverage area with greater detail.
Buying Guide: Fish Finder for Catfishing
Catfishing is a bit different because of the way that catfish behave. But, this doesn’t mean catching catfish is difficult, especially with an adequate fish finder.
What constitute these models as the best fish finders for catfish? Well – it’s a combination of factors for catfish fishing, so let’s break it all down.
Fish finders for catfish come in all sizes, so you can find screens of all sizes as well. However, it’s best to go for a screen at least 4 inches large.
A large screen makes it easier to read the information and date displayed. This is especially the case if you’re interested in images.
In this case, make sure the display has high resolution and can display images in color. Also, check if it’s backlit. Backlighting makes it easy to read data at night and under the sun.
Catfish fish finders are usually powered by an integrated battery. The size of this battery depends on the model and size, so make sure to check before buying.
However, bigger models have to be connected to a 12V motor on your boat. If not, you’ll have to charge it with a car charge of similar power.
Some brands make portable and wireless models. These are somewhat easier to use because the batteries are rechargeable.
In this case, you should learn how long the battery lasts and whether you can charge it on the boat.
The transducer sends and receives sonar signals to find fish under and around your boat. For this reason, it’s always important that it’s a quality-made one.
When looking at a transducer, you should check its power and frequency. The power determines the depth it can reach, while the frequency determines how detailed the image will be.
Transducers usually have several technologies like Down Imaging, Side Imaging, and 2D Broadband.
The three main transducer types are cone angle, beam angle, and dual-beam angle. All three work well for catfishing, depending on where and how you fish.
Type of Mount
Most fish finders come with mounting hardware. You might also receive instructions on how to mount the transducer using the hardware included.
A mounted finder requires a transducer added somewhere to the boat. And, you can do this in three different ways, depending on the setup of your boat.
You can mount it through the scupper hole, in the hull (transom mount), or on the back where the rudder is. All three ways work equally well, but check what fits your boat the best.
Wireless and portable fish finders usually don’t require any mounting.
Fish finders that have GPS systems incorporated are excellent for catfish. These are also helpful in avoiding certain dangers and going back to points of interest.
It’s probably the best option for navigating and finding catfish. This is especially the case with finders utilizing topographic maps.
Sadly, not all finders have GPS, so make sure to check this before buying. Those without GPS might not be so efficient and useful in finding big catfish in certain waters.
Accuracy is a big factor to consider when buying a fish finder for catfish. However, there’s a trick.
You might want to check the beam width because those covering a larger area are usually less accurate. Still, this doesn’t mean these finders are bad. It only means they’re better for shallow water.
It might not work so well in deep water because the image wouldn’t be as detailed. In this case, you should look for one with a dual-beam system.
These are better equipped in handling different depths, but they might also be more expensive. The more accurate a fish finder is the higher your chance of spotting fish.
As said, some fish finders have a larger screen than others. However, it’s not so much about the size as the screen resolution.
It’s another vital factor you might want to consider before purchasing any particular model. A higher resolution allows for a better image, making it easy to tell fish apart from vegetation and rocks.
However, there are no rules, so it’s hard to tell which resolution is the best. In any case, you want a good fish finder that gives precise and easy-to-read information with crystal clear images. But, of course, this is only possible with high resolution.
You’ll come across many different catfish fish finders, some of which are quite large. However, I prefer smaller models that don’t get in my way when fishing.
A large fish finder will take up quite some space, so you’ll have to get used to being extra careful. This is especially the case if you go for a fragile one that’s not waterproof, for example.
Although a large model might appear like a better option, it can be inconvenient if you have a small boat.
However, a small fish finder will have a smaller screen. This can be a problem when reading data and looking at images. For this reason, it’s best to weigh the pros and cons of both options.
Frequency is equally important in determining the quality of your image. As said, high frequencies mean better quality and more detail.
However, high frequency comes at a cost. It’s usually the water depth and power that decrease with higher frequencies.
But, because all of these things work in harmony, it’s best to look for a middle ground. You need frequency and moderate power to get a high-quality picture, so think about starting from there.
As always, you’ll come across several manufacturers offering more or less the same thing. Most fish finders for catfish operate similarly, so the difference between these brands is minimal.
However, the difference still exists, so make sure to check all the pros and cons. Some brands are more expensive, but it’s often worth paying a few bucks more for a higher resolution or a longer-lasting warranty.
Hummingbird, Lowrance, and Garmin are the most popular options. These are reliable names in the industry, offering warranties and customer support.
The price usually varies, depending on the features and manufacturers. However, the most popular brands are often the most expensive as well.
Portable models with CHIRP sonar systems can be quite pricey. Castable models are often more affordable but possibly not as convenient.
In most cases, it’s best to think about your needs and preferences. For example, if you’re a beginner, you probably don’t need the most expensive option. In this case, you can wait until you’re a bit more experienced.
Types of Fish Finders
As mentioned, there are several types of fish finders. But, finding one doesn’t have much to do with choosing a size or design.
Although these things are important, you should focus more on the type of transducer. It’s what separates fish finders, making the best stand out from the rest.
Standard sonar operates by sending waves down into the water to bounce off something. What they usually bounce off is fish or some structure.
You’re supposed to determine where to throw the line only using this information. So it does work, but it’s not the most accurate option.
What makes it challenging?
First, it doesn’t tell you what exactly the waves are bouncing off. It could be fish, but it could also be a patch of grass, stump, rock, or anything else of that sort.
There’s also an issue with location accuracy. It might tell you the depth of the fish, but there’s no saying how accurate the information is.
This type might be a good starting point for beginners who won’t use a fish finder that frequently. However, you’ll want something more efficient as you gain more experience.
Chirp sonar works similarly to standard sonar with the difference in sonar frequencies. However, it doesn’t send equal waves in the same pattern. Instead, it sends quick bursts of sonar waves to increase accuracy.
And, it works exactly so. These fish finders are much more accurate and faster. They tell us more about the water structure, showing a clear difference between things that move and those that don’t.
This makes it easy to tell fish apart from rocks and grass.
A fish finder with Down Imaging is much more expensive. However, it’s also much smarter as it paints a detailed picture of what’s below the water surface.
The picture it provides is easy to read, showing everything from fish, stumps, greenery, grass, trees, and more. And, it always refreshes, so you’re essentially getting real-time information about what’s beneath you.
These are accurate and will help you catch catfish with ease. The only problem is that they tell what’s under the boat. Unfortunately, you can’t know what’s around you, so distance-casting is out of the picture.
Side Imaging is the solution to the problem mentioned above. It helps to tell what’s around your boat so that you can cast at a distance.
It works in deep and shallow waters and is great for distinguishing catfish and greenery. However, you should check the radius it can read.
And, you might also want other sonar technologies like down imaging and sonar along with side imaging. This way, you’re equipped to know exactly what’s under and around you.
Tips For Using A Fish Finder for Catfish
First and foremost, you should take the time to read the user manual if included. This is where you’ll learn how to properly use the product.
And, it’s also where you’ll find how to set it up and install. It’s an important step to avoid potential damage.
Keep in mind that you should never rely solely on the information a fish finder provides. The truth is, even if it doesn’t show any catfish, that doesn’t mean there are none.
It’s best to use a fish finder to learn about the structure below and around you. This will help you locate holes, steep ledges, and depressions ideal for catfish.
Final Thoughts on the Best Fish Finder for Catfish
Which one do you think would work the best for your needs and preferences? Again, think about the Humminbird 410950-1 HELIX 7 CHIRP MSI if you can’t make up your mind.
It’s user-friendly and accurate, offering detailed images of everything under and around you. It works in both shallow and deep water, which is another plus.
Others work equally well with a slight difference in features and, of course, the price.