Fish Finder Vs Depth Finder – Fishing Tips for 2021

Fish Finder Vs Depth Finder
A fish finder and a depth finder are literally the same devices with a few add-ons that make the name difference.
A fish finder is a type of depth finder that uses a similar or sometimes the same transducer to measure the depth of the water, gives a video/image of what’s underneath your boat, and also gives you graphical data of different things such as floor patterns, fish density, etc.
A depth finder, on the other hand, is pretty self-explanatory. As the name implies, this device is used to measure the depth of the water. Take out all the features of a fish finder except the transducer, and you have yourself a depth finder or a digital depth finder.
In simple terms, what a depth finder does is that it gives you an image of depth information. Things get confusing when a lot of anglers use a depth finder instead of a fish finder.
You will mostly see these devices being used for shallow-water depth detection or when someone needs a digital readout of the depth of water under their boat. This device is only used when a graphic display isn’t required.
On the other hand, a fish finder is all about graphic display. This device will show video images of any object, whether it’s a rock, tree, or fish detected by the transducer. This information is often useful for anglers.
Now that you know what these devices are let’s take a deeper dive and see what makes them different from each other.
There are times when you don’t need a fish finder, but it’s difficult to actually find a depth finder because every time you look for one, you will get bombarded with fish finders.
This is because both of the machines serve the same purpose. But you don’t want to spend all that extra money on features that you don’t need. In this case, knowing the difference will sure come in handy.

When You Should Use A Fish Finder Vs. Depth Finder?

Before I get to that, let me clarify something. A depth finder or often called a depth sounder, uses a lower frequency broad beam, whereas a fish finder uses a higher frequency narrow beam.

Understanding Frequencies

The 50 kHz lower frequency of a depth founder can travel deeper to measure the depth of the water. A depth sounder uses a beam angle of ~35 degrees compared to the 6 to 22 degrees beam angle of the fish finder.
Thanks to this narrow frequency and broad beam angle, a depth sounder is only capable of measuring the bottom depth. Plus, it can travel deeper per watt or power.
On the other hand, the narrower high-frequency beam that transmits from a fish finder is in the 200 kHz range. This, in return, provides a higher resolution echo to give you a visual representation of the surrounding area.

Capabilities

This is why a depth finder is only capable of measuring the bottom depth while a fish finder is capable of detecting smaller targets due to the high-resolution echo.
While the depth is reduced on a fish finder, it is able to detect fish and other small objects underwater with less background noise.
There is a third device that’s called a sonar. This is just a combination of a depth finder and a fish finder. I blame the marketing ads for all this confusion. However, the term sonar is mostly used as a feature for fish finders.
When you see a fish finder that is sonar capable, this means that the device has all the underwater imaging technologies, including both fish finders and depth sounders.

Usage

For the best value, I would suggest you go with a fish finder that features dual-frequency 200/50 kHz transducer. This way, you will have all the features of a depth sounder and also be able to locate those hard-to-find fish that are lurking in the depths.
In short, a fish finder will give you more information than a depth finder. Both of these devices have a similar price point, but in terms of value, you are getting more out of a fish finder.
If you just want a digital readout of the depth, you are better off going for a depth sounder instead. Many swear by a depth finder for a lot of reasons, but if you are looking for a device that will aid you in fishing, you better go with a fish finder.

Value

If you are looking for the most economical choice, opting for a depth sounder might be a good choice since they are slightly cheaper than a fish finder. Then again, you can buy really good forward scanning sonar at the same price.
At the very bottom, you can get entry-level fish finders that are under 200 bucks. Those are ideal for anglers that are on a real tight budget. You can check some expensive fish finder here: https://fishingpanel.com/best-fish-finder-under-500. If you can spend a bit more, you might want to consider getting a device that will display temp, depth, and many more.
If you can spend even more than that and something with a lot of features, you can find combo GPS/fish finder units. At this point, it depends on you. When it comes to features, it becomes somewhat silly to buy a depth finder.

The Winner

While both of these devices serve the same purpose, a fish finder is clearly the better choice here since you are getting a lot more useful data that will help a lot during fishing. For a professional angler, a fish finder is a clear choice.
When it comes to usability, a state-of-the-art depth sounder can make a huge difference if you are boating and not fishing. That’s why most boaters use a depth sounder instead of a fish finder.
That being said, an average angler doesn’t have the time to process all the data a high-end depth finder provides. They need something easier to understand, and that’s why fish finders are widely used.
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