Best Side Imaging Fish Finders

by John Wren
lake_mountain

If you’ve decided to get a side imaging finder for your next fishing trip, first of all we commend you on your decision.

Fishing without a fish finder is mostly guesswork and hope, and using a fish finder gives you an unparalleled advantage, and will make your fishing trip significantly more productive.

And side imaging finders have a lot of advantages that down imaging fish finders lack.  Side imaging fish finders effectively “look” in two different directions at the same time, so can cover twice as much area as their down imaging counterparts.

Side imaging fish finders can also come in particularly handy for scanning in shallower water, such as rivers or shallow creeks and bays, since their orientation provides a better image there than a down imaging fish finder would.

We’ve had a good scan at the best side imaging fish finders, and have whittled the numerous options down to a Top 5.  We’ve also got a buying guide for you which should give you some direction for making your decision.

On Amazon, you will find fish finders for every budget, but reading our buying guide should help ensure you get value for money.

Bestselling Side Imaging Fish Finders – Reviews

Bestseller No. 1
Garmin 010-01550-00 Striker 4 with Transducer, 3.5" GPS Fishfinder with Chirp
  • Clear Vu scanning Sonar shows you more of what is in the water around your boat; This high frequency sonar gives near photographic images with detailed representations of objects, structure and fish
  • The power of simple offers a keyed interface with dedicated buttons; The device is easy to use and easy to install; Available in 3.5, 5 and 7 inch display sizes; Water rating IPX7
  • Waypoint map: Use the way point map to easily view, mark and navigate to locations such as brush piles, stumps and docks; Maximum depth 1,600 feet freshwater, 750 feet saltwater; Current draw at 12...
  • Chirp Sonar sends a continuous sweep of frequencies which provides a wider range of information; Chirp Sonar is able to create crisper fish arches with better target separation
  • Built in flasher: View your sonar data in the classic flasher format; Ideal for ice fishing or vertical jigging. Display size: 1.9 x 2.9 inches (4.9 x 7.3 centimeter); 3.5 inches diagonal (8.7...
Bestseller No. 2
Lowrance HOOK Reveal 5 Inch Fish Finders with Transducer
  • FISHREVEAL: Fish are easier to find and easier to identify. FishReveal combines the target separation of Lowrance CHIRP sonar and the high-resolution images of structure from DownScan Imaging to makes...
  • GPS PLOTTER: Navigating to your favorite fishing spot is simple with the GPS Plotter, which makes route, trail and waypoint navigation easy. HOOK Reveal "x" models do not include a map or support...
  • SPLITSHOT TRANSDUCER: Perfect for anglers who want the best views below the boat, SplitShot features the fish finding capability of wide-angle high CHIRP sonar and the high-resolution images of...
  • AUTOTUNING SONAR: Spend more time fishing and less time reworking your sonar settings with HOOK Reveal autotuning sonar, which ensures you get the best sonar image every time by automatically...
  • 5-INCH DISPLAY: Enjoy crisp and clear views of your display no matter the conditions – even in direct sunlight – with excellent clarity and daylight visibility of HOOK Reveal’s SolarMAX display.
Bestseller No. 3
Lowrance HOOK2 4X - 4-inch Fish Finder with Bullet Skimmer Transducer
  • EASY TO USE: The Lowrance HOOK2 4x Fish Finder features auto-tuning sonar and phone-like menus giving you more time to spend fishing and less time dealing with settings.
  • WIDER SONAR COVERAGE: The HOOK2 4x offers a wide-angle sonar cone giving you double the coverage of traditional fish finders.
  • EASY SETUP: A single transducer can be mounted on the transom, inside the hull, on the trolling motor or through a scupper hole.
  • TRANSDUCER INCLUDED: The included Bullet Skimmer transducer gives you traditional 2-D sonar (fish arch) views.
Bestseller No. 4
Humminbird 410150-1 PIRANHAMAX 4 Fish Finder,Black
  • Dual Beam Sonar: Choose from a narrow and a wide beam for great detail or a generous coverage area, helping you identify fish, structure and contours.
  • Tilt and Swivel Mount: Quickly adjust your viewing area angle.
  • 1-Year Limited Warranty
  • Includes: PiranhaMAX 4 fish finder, Tilt and Swivel Mount , XNT 9 28 T transom-mount transducer
Bestseller No. 5
Garmin Striker Vivid 7cv, Easy-to-Use 7-inch Color Fishfinder and Sonar Transducer, Vivid Scanning Sonar Color Palettes (010-02552-00)
  • Easy-to-use 7” color fishfinder with new vivid scanning sonar color palettes to easily distinguish fish and structure; tilt/swivel bailmount bracket included
  • Includes a GT20 transducer for built-in Garmin CHIRP traditional sonar and CHIRP ClearVü scanning sonar
  • High-sensitivity GPS to mark waypoints, create routes and view your boat’s speed
  • Includes built-in Quickdraw Contours mapping
  • Wi-Fi connectivity allows you to connect to the ActiveCaptain app with compatible smartphone to transfer waypoints, receive smart notifications (including software update notifications) and access the...
Bestseller No. 6
Humminbird 410190-1 HELIX 5 SONAR G2 Fish Finder
  • 5" widescreen display
  • Features DualBeam PLUS and SwitchFire
  • SwitchFire Sonar: Take command of how your sonar returns appear. With two display modes, you can add or remove detail, account for water depth, temperature and turbulence, even watch lure...
  • Dual Beam PLUS Sonar: Two beams combine for great detail and a generous coverage area, helping you identify fish, structure and contours. Use the narrow beam for high-accuracy returns of fish,...
  • 1-Year Limited Warranty
Bestseller No. 7
Reelsonar portable fish finder accurate fish depth finder with Depth range of 135 feet 10+ hours battery life with IOS & Android App Wireless
  • 【𝐄𝐚𝐬𝐲 𝐭𝐨 𝐔𝐬𝐞 】 Reelsonar portable fish finder is Easy to use, With a depth range of 135 feet and rechargeable battery life of 10+ hours, IOS and Android apps Bluetooth...
  • 【𝐕𝐢𝐬𝐮𝐚𝐥 𝐢𝐦𝐚𝐠𝐞𝐬 】 Sonar signals that are integrated find and reflect visual images of both static and moving objects beneath the water's surface. Depth-tagged...
  • 【𝐅𝐢𝐬𝐡 𝐀𝐥𝐚𝐫𝐦 】To be alerted when fish congregate under docks and piers, turn on the fish alarm when using iBobber's fishfinder feature. With the strike alert, iBobber can...
  • 【𝐑𝐞𝐠𝐚𝐫𝐝𝐥𝐞𝐬𝐬 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐰𝐞𝐚𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫 】 With a fish finder, you may go out anytime you choose to test the waters. Regardless of the weather,...
  • 【𝐆𝐢𝐟𝐭 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐅𝐢𝐬𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐠 】Great Gift for Fishing Whether you're looking for a present for your husband, father, friends, or any angler, reelsonar fish detector...
Bestseller No. 8
Humminbird 411660-1 Helix 5 Chirp GPS G3
  • Keypad control: Master HELIX at the touch of a button. Access the pre-loaded views from the user-friendly menu system, operated by softkey controls that allow you to reliably operate your fish finder...
  • Dual Spectrum CHIRP sonar: Before you cast, know what's down there thanks to highly-detailed fish arches and a clear view of fish-holding structure and the bottom. Powered by our proprietary, Low-Q...
  • Internal GPS and Humminbird Basemap: Our enhanced basemap provides you with a clear view of underwater terrain and surrounding points of interest so you can fish and navigate with total confidence....
  • Premium Chart Compatible: Humminbird provides the most complete offering of premium chart options to anglers everywhere. Get a complete view of the world below with optional charts from Humminbird's...
  • AutoChart Live: Create real-time maps of your fishing spots, with access to patented Humminbird LakeMaster features. Map depth contours, bottom hardness and vegetation as you drive your boat. Comes...

Best Side Imaging Fish Finders – Buyers Guide

There are few things to think about before making your final decision, we’ll walk you through each in turn.

Transducer

It is the transducer that sends the sonar beam into the water, so it’s an absolutely essential piece of kit.  However not all fish finders come with transducers, so remember to always check if the transducer is included.

You can buy the transducers on Amazon if need be, but it’s nice to receive all of your equipment in one go, if you intend to head out sooner rather than later.

Screen size

If you can, go for a big screen.  When it comes to screen size, as a general rule, bigger is better.  Wide screens tend to have a higher resolution and improved color contrast, so they’re particularly handy for giving you accurate readings.

Backlight

A backlight on your fish finder is once again absolutely essential.  Without a backlight you won’t be able to see the screen when you’re in sunlight.  Not the best when you’re in the middle of a lake and there’s no foliage to provide shade!  We strongly recommend that your fish finder has a backlight.

Battery Life and Power

Where power is concerned, it’s simply a case of the greater the wattage the better.  And fishing is usually an all day job, so look out for a fish finder who’s battery is rechargeable or easily replaceable.

Sonar Frequency

When it comes to frequency, it kind of depends on the depth of the water you’re fishing in.  A 50 kHz unit would be ideal in deep waters, whereas in shallower water a 200 kHz unit would be much better.

IP Water Rating

An IP Water Rating is a measure of how water resistant or how waterproof an item is – pretty important for a fish finder!

Frequently Asked Questions

Do fish finders work in shallow water?

If you want to fish in shallow waters, your first port of call should be a fish finder that gives you side imaging, as this will be more useful to you than down imaging.  That said, there are a lot of models out there that will give you both side imaging scanning and down imaging scanning, so you get a lot more data, and a better picture on the screen.

Some of our Top 5 fish finders have both side imaging and down imaging functionality, specifically our Number 1, our Number 2, and our Number 3.

Is side imaging worth the extra money?

Side imaging fish finders are absolutely worth the extra money – once you tune it in and learn what to look for, the fish are in trouble!  Side imaging will let you ride down a bank and see which docks have fish under them, all the while showing where all the brush piles and stumps and drop offs are and whatever else may be down there.

Once you get the hang of it, you’ll wonder how you ever managed without it.

How does a sonar fish finder work?

Sonar communication is based on echolocation, whereby what you see on your display are the contours and shapes that reflect some amount of the sound released by the transducer.

Inanimate objects like stones or large underwater rocks at the bottom of the river will completely reflect the sound, sending it straight back to the receiver, and this is represented on the screen as clear flat lines.

Fish and other living things like underwater algae and seaweed on the other hand don’t fully reflect the sound.  Due to their movement and unique shape, any fish in the vicinity will obstruct the sound wave path, and change the direction of the sound wave.

Any underwater activity will show itself as small curved lines on the screen.

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