One tool that every Walleye angler needs in their rig is a fish finder. But with so many options available, it can be overwhelming to choose the right one.
Do you need side imaging or down imaging?
Should you invest in a unit with built-in GPS and pre-loaded maps?
We understand your struggle, and that’s why we’ve done the research for you.
In this article, we will guide you on what key features to look for in a Walleye fish finder. Explore the best fish finders for Walleye fishing, highlighting their features and benefits to help you reel in the elusive Walleye.
Key Features to Look for in a Walleye Fish Finder
When looking for a fish finder to catch Walleye, it is important to consider several key features. One important feature is sonar frequency, which depends on the depth and location of Walleye in the body of water you are fishing in.
In the spring and fall, Walleye are typically found in shallower waters, such as around weed beds, rocks, or drop-offs. During the summer, they may move to deeper waters, where temperatures are cooler and baitfish are more abundant.
To determine the appropriate sonar frequency, it is important to understand the typical depth and location of Walleye in the body of water you are fishing in.
Lower frequencies, such as 50 kHz or 83 kHz, are ideal for deeper waters, as they can penetrate through the water to reach the bottom and identify any fish or structures present. Higher frequencies, such as 200 kHz or 455 kHz, are ideal for shallower waters, as they provide more detail and resolution on the screen.
A sonar frequency of 200 kHz and above is generally considered to be good for Walleye fishing. It can scan to depths of several dozen feet while also providing relatively detailed images of fish and structures. During the summer months, Walleye can be found at varying depths, depending on the body of water and local conditions. In some lakes, they may be found at depths of 20-30 feet, while in other bodies of water, they may move to much deeper depths of 50 feet or more.
Therefore, a fish finder with a sonar frequency of 200 kHz and above would be suitable for scanning these depths and identifying the location of Walleye.
It is important to note that the actual depth that a fish finder can scan depends on factors such as water clarity and the type of bottom substrate.
Therefore, it is recommended to have a fish finder that offers multiple frequency options and can switch between frequencies to provide the best possible image in different fishing conditions.
Down Imaging Or Side Imaging for Walleye Fishing
Another important feature to consider when choosing a fish finder for Walleye fishing is whether to opt for a down imaging or side imaging fish finder. While both technologies use sonar to produce images of underwater structures and fish, there are some key differences to be aware of.
Down imaging fish finders use a cone-shaped beam of sonar to produce a detailed, high-resolution image of the area directly beneath the boat. This can be useful for locating individual Walleye and identifying the bottom structure in detail.
On the other hand, side imaging fish finders use a thin, fan-shaped beam of sonar that sweeps to either side of the boat to produce a wider, panoramic view of the underwater environment. This can be useful for identifying large groups of fish or structures that are further away from the boat.
When it comes to Walleye fishing, both down imaging and side imaging fish finders can be effective tools. Down imaging can be particularly useful for identifying individual fish and for navigating in shallow water, where a clear image of the bottom is important. It can also help anglers identify specific structures, such as drop-offs or weed beds, which attract Walleye.
On the other hand, side imaging can be useful for locating groups of fish or structures that are further away from the boat. This can be particularly helpful for anglers who are trolling or covering a larger area of water. With side imaging, anglers can quickly identify promising areas and adjust their fishing tactics accordingly.
Screen size is another important feature to consider when choosing a fish finder for Walleye fishing. The screen size can affect image quality and readability, which can in turn impact the angler’s ability to locate and catch Walleye.
I generally recommend a screen size of at least 5 inches for Walleye fishing. This size is generally cheap. It can provide enough space to display the imaging and data without being too small to see. It can also fit comfortably on a small boat.
However, for anglers who require a larger view of the underwater environment or have difficulty reading small text, a screen size of 7 inches or more may be ideal.
The ideal screen size for Walleye fishing also depends on the imaging technology being used. For example, side imaging or down imaging technologies may require a larger screen size to display a wide panoramic view of the underwater environment or a high-resolution image of the area directly beneath the boat.
On the other hand, basic 2D sonar technology may not require as large of a screen size.
When considering the screen size, it’s important to keep in mind that a larger screen does not necessarily mean better image quality or readability. Other factors, such as the display resolution and brightness, can also impact the quality of the imaging and how easy it is to read.
Additionally, a larger screen may be more difficult to see in bright sunlight or may take up too much space on a small boat.
In summary, the ideal screen size depends on the angler’s personal preference, the imaging technology being used, and the space available on the boat.
A screen size of at least 5 inches is recommended, with larger sizes being ideal for anglers who require a wider view of the underwater environment or have difficulty reading small text.
It’s also important to consider other factors, such as display resolution and brightness, when evaluating image quality and readability.
GPS and Charts
The importance of GPS technology in a fish finder for Walleye fishing cannot be overstated. GPS can help anglers mark locations where Walleye have been caught or where promising structures have been located. This information can then be used to revisit these locations in the future or to share with other anglers who may be fishing in the same area.
In addition to GPS, fish finders with built-in maps and charts can provide even more valuable information for Walleye fishing.
Bathymetric charts, for example, show the contours of the underwater environment, including the depth of the water and the location of drop-offs, ridges, and other structures that can attract Walleye. By using this information, anglers can locate specific areas where Walleye are likely to be found and plan their fishing accordingly.
Another benefit of GPS and maps in a fish finder is that they can help anglers navigate unfamiliar waters. By displaying the angler’s location on a map, the fish finder can help guide the angler to specific areas or help them avoid hazards like rocks, shoals, or other underwater structures.
In summary, a fish finder with GPS and maps can be a valuable tool for Walleye fishing. GPS technology can help anglers mark locations and navigate unfamiliar waters, while maps and charts can provide information on the underwater environment and help anglers locate specific areas where Walleye are likely to be found.
When choosing a fish finder for Walleye fishing, consider one with built-in GPS and maps to maximize your chances of success on the water.
Best Fish Finder for Walleye – Reviews
1. Humminbird Helix 7 Mega SI GPS G4
Humminbird Helix 7 Mega SI GPS G4 is a top choice for anglers looking for the best fish finder for Walleye. This device has many features that can enhance your fishing experience and help you catch more fish.
One of the most significant advantages of the Helix 7 is its dual spectrum CHIRP sonar, which combines Mega Down Imaging and Mega Side Imaging. This feature provides excellent details of the underwater environment, making it easier to locate Walleye hiding among structures.
The high-frequency sonar of greater than 1 MHz is ideal for shallow water fishing and can give a clear picture of objects and fish in as little as 10 feet of water.
The Helix 7 is the only 7-inch fish finder in the market with such a high-frequency sonar, making it a powerful tool for anglers.
Additionally, the HD display of 1024×600 px provides clear images of the fish and underwater structures. The screen is also bright enough to view even under sunlight, making it ideal for kayaking and other daytime fishing activities.
Another advantage of the Helix 7 is its pre-loaded Humminbird basemap, which covers more than 10,000 US lakes. This feature is particularly useful for anglers who regularly fish in multiple locations, as it saves time and effort in finding new fishing spots.
Furthermore, the Micro SD card slot allows for upgrading to premium charts like Navionics, providing access to even more detailed mapping data.
- High-frequency fish finder
- Excellent imaging details
- HD display
- Bright screen
- Pre-loaded basemaps
- No touchscreen
2. Garmin ECHOMAP UHD 93SV Touchscreen Chartplotter
The Garmin ECHOMAP UHD is an ideal fish finder for serious Walleye anglers who own fishing boats.
Its upgraded GT-56 transducer provides side imaging (SideVu) and down imaging (ClearVu) at a frequency of 1MHz. This results in picture-like details and superior target separation, helping identify fish-holding structures or bottom transitions where Walleye are likely to be hiding.
The 9” touchscreen display of the ECHOMAP 93SV offers clear images of small details such as a fallen tree or a predatory fish near the bottom, helping anglers to determine the best spot to fish. The programmable keys on the touchscreen also allow quick access to any functionality, which saves time on the water.
Another benefit of this fish finder is its compatibility with Garmin’s live sonar system, Panoptix LiveScope. With this system, anglers can see the fish moving and interacting with the lure in real time.
However, the ECHOMAP 93SV is quite expensive, costing over $1000. Its 800×480 pixel screen resolution is also not in HD, but still functional.
- Upgraded GT-56 transducer with SideVu and ClearVu imaging
- 9” touchscreen display for clear images of small details
- Programmable keys for quick access to functionality
- Compatible with Garmin’s live sonar system
- Quickly scans large areas for fish-holding structures
- 800×480 pixel screen resolution
3. Humminbird Helix 9 Mega SI+ G4N
Humminbird Helix 9 Mega SI+ G4N is another top-notch option for Walleye fishing.
With its networkable unit, you can mount it on the dash or bow of the boat and add more units to run multiple transducers and sonar views simultaneously. This feature is ideal for fishing boats that anglers use to find Walleye.
With the large screen, you can simultaneously run the maps and sonar, allowing you to look for structure, contour lines, drop-offs, and bait schools to cast the bait at the right spot.
One of the standout features of this fish finder is the MEGA Side Imaging+ and MEGA Down Imaging+. The side imaging can display up to 200 feet on either side of your boat with 20% more detail and 60% more range than past models. The down imaging can show clear images up to 200 feet below your boat.
This imaging capability, combined with AutoChart Live, allows you to make real-time maps, including depth contours, underwater terrain, obstacles, and vegetation.
The built-in GPS features a standard base map package that includes 10,000 lakes plus coastal coverage for the continental U.S. Premium options like LakeMaster, CoastMaster, and Navionics products extend its catalog.
The AutoChart Live, Bluetooth, and built-in NMEA 2000 networking are other premium features that help you communicate and find the best fishing spots.
- MEGA Side Imaging+ and MEGA Down Imaging+ provide up to 200 feet of clear imaging on both sides and below the boat
- AutoChart Live feature allows for real-time map-making
- Bluetooth and built-in NMEA 2000 networking for easy communication
- Large screen displays maps and sonar views simultaneously
- Can add more units to run multiple transducers and sonar views simultaneously
- Standard and premium options for base maps
- More expensive than other fish finders on the market
- Not as portable as smaller units
- No touchscreen
4. Garmin STRIKER Vivid 7SV – Best Budget Fish Finder with Side Imaging
The Garmin STRIKER Vivid 7SV is a mid-range fish finder that offers both side imaging (SideVu) and down imaging (DownVu). With its standard GT-52 transducer, the 7SV provides decent target separation and a clear view of underwater structure below and to the sides of your boat.
This fish finder is a great option for freshwater anglers looking for an affordable side imaging unit. It also comes with vivid color palettes that allow you to view fish, structure, and the bottom in different color combinations, helping you identify your target with ease.
The integrated GPS and Wi-Fi connectivity make it easy to sync with the Garmin ActiveCaptain app and mark fishing hotspots. You can also create custom maps with GPS and sonar, giving you a detailed view of the area you’re fishing in.
One downside to the Garmin STRIKER Vivid 7SV is that it does not offer any mapping options or a touchscreen. It also does not have a MicroSD card slot.
- Clear view of underwater structure
- Vivid color palettes for easy target identification
- Wi-Fi connectivity for syncing with the Garmin ActiveCaptain app
- Integrated GPS for marking fishing hotspots
- Custom map creation with GPS and sonar
- Simple head unit installation with tilt/swivel mount and transom or trolling motor mount for the transducer
- Compatible with conventional Garmin saltwater transducers
- No mapping option
- No touchscreen
- No MicroSD card slot
5. Lowrance Hook Reveal 5 SplitShot – Best Cheap
The Lowrance Hook Reveal 5 fish finder is a great choice for Walleye fishing, especially for beginners who want to stay on a budget. It offers a range of features that make it easy to use and increase your chances of catching fish.
One of the standout features is Fish Reveal, which brightens and clarifies fish arches to help you identify fish near structures or vegetation. This is especially helpful for beginners who are still learning to read a fish finder.
Additionally, the autotuning sonar automatically adjusts to changing water depths, making it easier to locate fish without having to manually adjust settings.
The Hook Reveal also features a SolarMAX display that provides great clarity and visibility even in direct sunlight.
The Genesis Live mapping feature allows you to create your own contour maps of unexplored lakes in real time.
The SplitShot transducer provides high CHIRP sonar and down imaging to help you target fish species like bass and crappie.
While the Hook Reveal 5 lacks some of the high-level details of more expensive fish finders, it is still good enough for structure fishing and identifying bottom transitions. The built-in GPS allows you to drop waypoints on potential fishing hotspots and return to them later. Read the detailed Lowrance Hook Reveal review here.
- Fish Reveal technology for clearer fish arches
- Autotuning sonar adjusts to changing water depths
- SolarMAX display for clarity and visibility
- Genesis Live for real-time mapping with GPS plotter
- SplitShot transducer with high CHIRP sonar and down imaging
- 5″ screen is relatively small
- Down imaging lacks high-level details
- No touchscreen