Depth-Fish Finder, What is best?

Ron Olsen

Active Member
Hi all. Thinking of getting a depth/fish finder. Have had a Hummingbird wrist RF that worked occasionally for a few years, but I don't like not being able to charge up the remote unit. So someting better. I use a pontoon, a float tube, and a 12' aluminum. Have looked at Fishin Buddy, the 110, 120, 140C, Piranhamax, Lowrance, etc. "portable" models. Some need an external battery, some come with a battery brick that takes C cells.

So what reports are there from those that have actually used these? And suggestions if you were doing it over?

Questions: is it worth it to go to the 140C? Can you set up a good portable platform, and hang a transducer on a strap under your pontoon of tube? Does more voltage help? Can you really see fish, or just depth?

Thanks, Ronbow

Vladimir Steblina

Retired fishing instead of working
I bought a 120. It actually comes with AA batteries in a holder rather than C, but they last about two or three days before needing replacement.

It does show fish, however, I think the sampling angle is so small that this feature is practically useless at the depths most of us fish. The 120 does have a side view that showed a fish at 20 feet and I though hmm, my fly is about 20 feet and then I had a strike. Most times you I suspect it is showing debris and other stuff as well as fish. It will pick up your woolly bugger at close range.

It has a temperature display and a depth display. I do like the temperature display since I do not have to fiddle with the thermometer. The depth display does come in handy if you are fishing chronomids.

Would I buy it again? Maybe. It is kinda fun to have around. I do like knowing the depth and structure of a lake as I paddle around. Does it make me a better My fishing strategy has always been to cover the lake and see what the structure is like. The depth finder does make this easier and quicker.

I know a couple of lakes where the fish are very concentrated so it will be interesting to see what the fish finder shows there. I think I have figured out what is going on so it will be interesting if I can confirm it.

If you fish lots of NEW lakes it will speed up your learning curve. After 30 years I have pretty much figuered out the structure issues on the lakes I constantly fish.

Oh, buy the fishing buddy holster for the float tube. It is much better than the Cabela's. I also bought the carrying case.

See my posting on my solar powered pontoon boat. Now that made a huge difference. I would do that first.


Active Member
I just got a 120. What I heard is that the extra $ fro the color is not worth it. I used it on a trip trolling flies with my 90 year old dad in BC and it was very useful finding drop-offs, where the fish were hanging out. I like the temp feature, will help find springs and find it useful on the largish lakes I fish around here. I bought a Cabela's holster, which doesn't work very well, but have been clamping it to a 2 x 6 cut to fit in the pocket of my fat cat which works great. I will figure out something similar for my pontoon. It shows lots of fish on the side finder in the waters I have been fishing, but doesn't seem to make them bite any better!


Active Member
I have used my bottom line side finder for at leat 12 years or so and I am up grading this month to a lowrance regular unit with GPS, it also has two settings - one for wide view in shallow water and one narrow view for deeper water. fishing very large lakes I can put GPS points in from sattlelite images and go find them and also put in weigh points of good fishing spots out over large bodies of water a mile from shore. kinda hard to find places 1/2 mile or a mile from shore. making weigh points to go back makes it much easier!

lowrance just came out with a $ 200 model, before they were out of my price range at this time. at that price , for me I think it's worth it.

You can get any adapter for suction cup mounting on boats, the one for this model is $20, to be able to get =
gps plottong
gps tracking
lake maps
dual cone size - one wide view one narrow for both deep and shallow.
put a gps point in at boat ramp and have it take you within 10 feet of that spot is a darn good feature also.

I also have looked at the ice fishing packs for portable-normal finders from hummingbird, they have batteries already in them at small size and protect against water and other damage as well as rechargeable. with plastic see through window built in so you do not have to take the unit out of pack.

3 of My friends have the big color gps-fish finder units we use on the columbia and willy fisheries for chinook fishing. tracking trolling lanes and having maps of columbia channels and making weigh points for anchor fishing with gear in 50 feet of water for upriver brights has helped us get limits time and time again. these water body maps can be priceless, then you have the option of western lake chips for finders now that will have better maps with all depths and shoals so you can do your research before ever leaving the house! this might seem like over-board and I got kinda flamed on the main board for this level of electronics but for $220 which includes suction cup adapter I'M getting one! then I will up grade (packing case with battery-lake chip) as I go.

The lowrance mark 4 (i think that's the model) is the cheapest I have found. most other gps-finder units start at around $350 but the only problem with the lowrance is the screen is only 4 in. it also has been getting great reviews from people and when I went to my local store they were sold-out which kinda tells me they are a good item to have for fishing. I can also take it with any boat I go in like a bunch of friends that do not have gps finders in there drifters.

A couple things about the bottom line and fishing buddies = they find fish better when moving very slow or not at all - not so when moving from place to place, also try and keep the top of the unit dry. they may be better now with water proofing in the new units but I would still carry a big zip-lock for down poor's and not lay it in water. also travel it where it will not get rattled, I have had to send mine in 2 times over the years!

Lowrance Mark™ Series Fishfinders

Humminbird PTC U (406900-1) -

Lake Insight™ PRO 2012 | Lowrance
Fishing shallow lake doesn't require power.... in fact too much power can be a problem.... too me , an extra wide cone is a huge feature.... and you don't need to pay a lot. Recent additions to the marketplace are the Garmin Echo 200 (120 degree cone) and the Lowrance X-4 Pro, also at 120 degrees....these wide cone units give the angler a huge information bump.... Especially in 15-20' or more they will mark many more fish and much further out from the boat and then you know the depth that they are cruising.... a $100 hand held GPS is all you need for waypoints....


Active Member
I have used depth finders for over 25 years and owned a variety of different makes. They have been on boats, 'toons, prams and tubes. I currently own 3 and the newest is the Echo 200 by Garmin. Since I never use them for anything but water depth and temp the Garmin is way overkill but at about $130 it is an awful lot of finder for the money. It provides more information and applications than I will ever use but it has a decent interface and gives me exactly what I am looking for-depth and temp.

On my tube I use a shortened Fishin'Buddy 110 and it has been flawless for several years now. After using so many units I have concluded that less is more for stillwater and the 110 is dead simple and cheap. On the more expensive units you have to deal with feature bloat and unless you have a certifiable need for a lot of that crap don't pay for it. Water depth tells me where dropoffs are and whether to use a Deep 7, Type IV or Intermediate, I have never paid much attention to the fish finder function having figured the less time I spend staring at a screen the better my chances are of catching an actual fish.

For a tube or a pram the Fishin'Buddy is a good way to go since it is self contained. Battery life is good and a big package of Costco AA batteries will last a long time. For a boat or a pram where you have more space for a bigger battery and wires units like the Hummingbird and Echo are a logical choice. They are inexpensive and easy to install and vastly more sophisticated then similar units a decade or two ago. I like the new dual beams with the wider coverage-that seems to be the one big advantage over the FB's.



Active Member
If you mainly care about depth, the
HawkEye Portable Fish Finder

is simple, inexpensive and runs on AAA batteries.

It also finds fish. sometimes I trust it, sometimes I don't.

I take it on my float tube and my pram. the transducer, which connects by long cable to the handheld unit, has a female threaded port so you can attach the transducer onto the threaded poles that are standard for painting tool handles and cleaning tool handles, so I used this feature to rig something for each boat.

If you want to have confidence in fish finding, you may want a much more expensive unit with more power and battery.

I to bought the FB120 when I moved to Washington, my lake fishing experience was limited. I was looking for something simple that gave me temp, structure and fish location and depth. I probably am not catching more fish but I know I am fishing where there are fish. The coast for color and a smaller screen made my decision for me. I too bought the holster from Hummingbird as well the 3rd party holsters don't hold it as well. Now I just need to fish more to put all the pieces together, retrieve, line, fly and depth to get into more fish. Enjoy


Active Member
Using fishing buddies for over 10 years in my brothers boat and mine I have never trusted the fish finding ability except salmon fishing. So I took it with a friend of mines finder and we used them both and found they showed different fish all the time. his not being an expensive model but on board regular transducer unit we found when marking fish up high it was only marking the bubbles from the motor one time and wasted a lot of time fishing for fish that were not even there!

This is what has made me spend the money on a good finder with "SONAR" readings. sonar I believe is much better at showing fish and structure under water, it helps find sparse grass or brush on the bottom that shows as fish on cheaper models . running a drift boat with motor I can fish big bodies of water. I have sent a couple people to crane prairie from this site with all the info I could give them and both emailed back " THOSE LAKES ARE HUGE" crane is almost 5 square miles of water - wickiup is the largest in central oregon, east is also huge but these res. and lakes have rainbows to 20 pounds and browns even bigger.

Having a color screen allows you to turn up the sensitivity and see where the thermal cline is when temps get high at the top of these water bodies, this can tell you where the forage fish are and what level to fish for any minnow eating trout be it browns or tigers or any other predatory fish. Also it can tell you where to fish chironomids! at crane and many other lakes the colder water gets pushed down and is only from 1 to 3 feet off bottom and chiro's get stuck trying to brake through the hard "WARM WATER" and will stay at that depth suspended where the hard warm water and cold water meet for hours. Knowing what this level is can help you tons because this is the level most fish will be at feeding, just cruising sucking in chiro's without a care in the word because they are fairly deep - until he sucks in your fly!

I fished with someone who asked do I really trust a fish finder and with the one I have I didn't know what to say but that we needed to know the depth if we were going to indi fish. I myself am tired of "NOT KNOWING"

As far as gps I have been elk hunting with someone that had one of the hand held models and it was great to see where we went and how to get back to camp or rig when ever we needed, but as far as I know it did not have a area you could type in way points to go find?

I posted this on another thread in a different forum but will post it here =


This is an image of the deschutes river channel under the water at crane, by moving the cursor on this map it shows the way points every where you put it so you can write in the way points of any spot and go to within 10 feet of that spot. this is how the GPS unit in the fish finder can help me go to these turns in the old river channel also the darkest spots in the turns is the deepest water and has the most cool spring water that has been pushed down during the heat of summer! what this pic shows is probably at least a mile long of river bottom, notice how it takes off to the middle of the lake? these "middle of the lake" channels can be awesome fishing "IF YOU CAN FIND THEM A MILE FROM SHORE" I have maps like this of all the areas of the lake and took a flash drive and down loaded them and took the best shots and had kinko's print them out and laminate them for water proofing. like many people have stated it all depends on what you want a fish finder for and how much you want to spend and how much it is worth to you to get that info I guess. Just thought I would share what I plan on doing with a good fish finder - gps combo unit.

I have settled on the 581 color combo from hummingbird at $434 with portable case $102 with its own battery and charger in case for many reasons, the best reason is to be able to take it with any boat I go in! and it already has lake maps down loaded in the finder and you can buy the western lake chip to add to it. And to steal my friends way points I helped him find for salmon fishing the last 5 years. ;-)~ tight lines
I recently purchased my first fish finder, a Humminbird 345c which I mounted to my pontoon boat. I fished a location this last week on Crane Prairie that I had spent time considerable time at in the past. I found it very useful, but it was interesting in that the bottom structure and depth was not what I had imagined. I could use help in better understanding what I am looking at and how to better utilize this. Any good sites out there for this? Can I ask where you got that US Geological Site map? Sorry, I didnt mean to highjack this thread.
Indeed a electronic depth sounder/ fish finder is often a vital tool for fishing lakes....I never "use' maps however....I look at maps and get to "know " a lake over time...
It's great and I am always hoping to see fish rising or actually see fish cruising in clear water..... but if that's not happening I want to mark fish with my electronics and in a depth zone that is practical so I can anchor up set the depth of my fly and begin fishing....A super big cone like 120 degrees just covers so much more area and marks so many more fish than say a 20 degree cone, no comparison..... and let's me know if and how much they are suspended.... That's the kind of info that is tremendously helpful.... trust you electronics....
Curious about 120° beam. At 30' depth it would be a 85.5' circle of coverage. How would you know if the fish are behind your boat anchor or to the left, right or next to your flyline?
I use a ff, this could be confusing but I would still be interested to know how you do. I am not a math whiz so sorry if I am mistaken

Sonar Beam Coverage Area
Below is a quick reference chart for the area covered by the specific cone angle listed. For example, if you are fishing in 10 feet of water and the cone angle on your transducer is 20 degrees, the area across the bottom is 3.5 feet.
  • 20 degrees - 0.35 or roughly 1/3 of depth
  • 24 degrees - 0.42 or roughly 2/5 of depth
  • 30 degrees - 0.53 or roughly 1/2 of depth
  • 40 degrees - 0.72 or roughly 3/4 of depth
  • 50 degrees - 0.93 or roughly 9/10 of depth
  • 60 degrees - 1.15 x depth
  • 70 degrees - 1.4 x depth
  • 73 degrees - 1.48 x depth
  • 80 degrees - 1.68 x depth
  • 90 degrees - 2 x depth
  • 100 degrees - 2.38 x depth
  • 110 degrees - 2.85 x depth
To me it s a simple matter of searching/ sampling the area around your boat for fish. Since they are almost always moving/ cruising while feeding it really doesn't matter what direction they are moving as they come and go. What is important is that there are fish around and their cruising depth is learned. It seems obvious to me that a big sonar beam i.e a big sampling is going to be provide much more information about the presence of fish within casting range than a very narrow beam directly under your transom.