Best Side Imaging Fish Finder Reviewed (2022 Buyer’s Guide)

Lance Wilkins
Lance Wilkins
Editor @ CallOutdoors. Outdoor gear-head and adventure addict. I fish, camp and enjoy to writing about my adventures.

Share

Share on twitter
Share on facebook
Share on email
Share on print

If you’re in the market for a side imaging fish finder then you already know that side imaging fish finders are incredibly useful when you’re fishing.

But, they are quite an investment and you’re going to want to spend your money wisely on the best fish finder for you that meets your budget.

  • Large crystal clear touchscreen
  • Super detailed Mega Imaging sonar
  • Incredible networking capabilities
  • Durable, portable, and affordable
  • Excellent sonar options including side imaging
  • Perfect size for smaller vessels
Best Side Imaging For Kayaks
  • Large easy to read crisp screen
  • Self-mapping charts with QuickDraw
  • All the sonar tech you need on the water
Best For The Money

I got it wrong the first time I bought a side scan fish finder. I didn’t do much research and ended up with a side imaging fish finder that didn’t work for my fishing situation and had to buy another one quite soon after – what a waste of time!

I’m writing this article to ensure this doesn’t happen to you and have gathered up some of the top side imaging fish finders on the market and reviewed them so you can find the best side imaging fish finder for your needs.

The Best Side Imaging Fish Finders From The Reviews

Top Pick

Humminbird SOLIX 10

The Humminbird SOLIX 10 MEGA SI+ G3 Fish Finder is quite a machine, feature-filled, and is capable of a whole lot to make your boat as high tech as it can be and make fishing as easy as possible.

Humminbird SOLIX 10

This Humminbird fish finder literally does it all when it comes to sonar, navigation, charts, and boat networking.

You can use the sonar to see down and to the side of your boat, and zoom in with higher frequencies to scan fish or structures in detail plus can navigate around the world with the charts and GPS, while the autopilot and radar connectivity make it even easier.

Best Side Imaging Fish Finder For a Kayak

Humminbird Helix 5 SI

The Helix 5 side imaging fish finder is one of the best fish finders out there if you’re looking for an affordable unit that is also portable, has side imaging, and is perfect for small vessels and kayaks.

Humminbird Helix 5 SI

The Helix 5 SI has everything you need to catch fish while being both durable and affordable.

Between the navigation system, the ability to add charts, and the great range of sonar options from side imaging to dual-beam, you are covered for all deep and shallow water adventures.

Best Side Imaging Fish Finder For The Money

Garmin Striker 7SV

The Garmin Striker 7SV is probably one of the top side imaging fish finders you can find as it’s very affordable price. Not only is it affordable but it’s also durable, reliable, and easy to use too.

Garmin Striker 7SV

The Garmin Striker 7SV has everything you need to catch fish from GPS to different sonar features and active mapping, you can’t go wrong especially when you consider how durable and affordable it is.

Between SideVu, ClearVu, the GPS, and QuickDraw, there won’t be anywhere left for fish to hide

Our Best Side Imaging Fish Finders

Top Pick

Humminbird SOLIX 10 Chirp MEGA SI GPS G3

The Humminbird SOLIX 10 MEGA SI+ G3 Fish Finder is quite a machine, feature-filled, and is capable of a whole lot to make your boat as high tech as it can be and make fishing as easy as possible.

Humminbird SOLIX 10 Chirp MEGA SI GPS G3

This Humminbird fish finder literally does it all when it comes to sonar, navigation, charts, and boat networking.

You can use the sonar to see down and to the side of your boat, and zoom in with higher frequencies to scan fish or structures in detail plus can navigate around the world with the charts and GPS, while the autopilot and radar connectivity make it even easier.

The Humminbird SOLIX 10 Chirp MEGA SI+ G3 Fish Finder is quite a machine, feature-filled, and is capable of a whole lot to make your boat as high tech as can be and make angling as easy as possible.

Screen

This fish finder comes with a huge screen size of 10.1 inches and it’s a touch screen too. It provides some of the clearest fish images you can find and you can read it with all no matter whether you’re in bright sunlight or dark clouds.

The handy touch screen is super responsive and it makes navigating through each feature very easy plus with such a big screen you can split it into 4 to see 4 different features at once.

Sonar

The sonar features on this Humminbird fish finder are excellent as they come with mega side and mega down imaging along with CHIRP and Dualbeam plus. This allows you to fish in deep water and shallow water and see incredible details of what’s underwater.

GPS

This Humminbird fish finder also comes with an accurate GPS for knowing where you are, your boat speed, heading, marking waypoints, and planning routes. You can also add charts to this unit too and save all your data on the dual SD cards which makes sharing easier too.

The networking capabilities and extras are amazing too. You can link it to autopilot, radar, weather updates, create your own charts, trolling motors and more.

Price

The only negatives on this Humminbird fish finder are that it’s super expensive and it takes a while to learn how to use, but it’s the best fish finder out there if you want side imaging and all the extras.

Specs

  • Size Display: 10.1 inch
  • Display: Color
  • Touch Display: Yes
  • Waterproofing: IPX7
  • Power: 1000 W
  • Frequency: 50/83/200/455/800 kHz & 1.2 MHz
  • Sonar: MEGA Side Imaging+, MEGA Down Imaging+, Dual Spectrum
  • GPS: Yes
  • Memory: Dual SD Card
  • Transducer: Included
  • Depth: 1,200 ft (standard transducer), 3,500 ft (optional Airmar CHIRP)
  • Wi-Fi: Yes
  • Bluetooth: Yes
  • Water Temperature: Yes
  • Other Features: AIS, AutoPilot, MEGA 360, MEGA Live, Minn Kota Built-In MEGA DI, Minn Kota Built-In MEGA SI, Minn Kota i-Pilot Link, Minn Kota Talon/Raptor, Minn Kota US2 Sonar, NMEA 2000, One-Boat Network, Radar, Autochart Live

Pros

  • Huge screen size and a crisp color display
  • Excellent screen size for split-screen
  • Touch screen makes navigating through features easy
  • Excellent depth coverage of up to 1200 ft with standard transducer
  • Mega Side Imaging for crystal clear pictures of what’s underwater
  • Also comes with Mega Down Imaging and CHIRP digital sonar
  • Amazing add-on features available
  • One boat network support for auto-pilot, remote control, and more
  • Works with GPS charts and maps for you with Autochart live
  • Excellent power and frequency range for great sonar images

Cons

  • It’s very expensive but it does have tonnes of great features
  • Humminbird customer support takes a while
  • Quite technical to use

Best Side Imaging Fish Finder For A Kayak

Humminbird Helix 5 SI Fish Finder with Side-Imaging and GPS

The Helix 5 side imaging fish finder is one of the best fish finders out there if you’re looking for an affordable unit that is also portable, has side imaging, and is perfect for small vessels and kayaks.

Humminbird Helix 5 SI Fish Finder with Side-Imaging and GPS

Between the navigation system, the ability to add charts, and the great range of sonar options from side imaging to dual-beam, you are covered for all deep and shallow water adventures.

The Helix 5 side imaging fish finder is one of the best fish finders out there if you’re looking for an affordable unit that is also portable, has side imaging, and is perfect for small vessels and kayaks, like the ones I’ve reviewed here.

Screen

This Humminbird fish finder comes with a 5-inch color screen that is easy to read and just the right size for a small vessel. You can split it in two for multiple views and seeing in the sun is manageable but not the best, one can’t have it all.

Sonar

The sonar features are great on this Humminbird Helix 5 with Dualbeam plus, down imaging, and side imaging. You can scan fish up to 1500ft down and up to 150 ft on either side of your boat.

The images are very detailed and it’s easy to see fish holding over structure.

There is also a sonar recording and playback feature on these Helix 5 fish finders that lets you see what you went over and then mark a waypoint if you missed it.

GPS

With this Humminbird unit, you also get GPS and a chartplotter. You can add any chart you prefer and then use the GPS to accurately navigate around the world if you want to, but it’s more useful for marking fishing spots and finding them again on another day.

The main thing missing from these fish finders is CHIRP (Compressed High-Intensity Radiated Pulse) but it does have DualBeam Plus which provides pretty detailed images but not quite as detailed as CHIRP.

Specs

  • Display: Color
  • Touch Display: No
  • Size Display: 5 inch
  • Waterproofing: IPX7
  • Power: 500 W
  • Frequency: 83/200/455 kHz
  • Sonar: Down Imaging, Dual Beam PLUS sonar, Side Imaging
  • Transducer: Included
  • GPS: Yes
  • Memory: Internal
  • Depth: 1500 ft
  • Wi-Fi: No
  • Bluetooth: No
  • Water Temperature: Yes
  • Other Features: None

Pros

  • Simple and easy to use
  • Durable and long-lasting
  • Very affordable for the quality
  • Great size for small boat/kayak fishing
  • Comes with both down and side imaging
  • Great split-screen mode for multiple views
  • Excellent depth range and sonar frequencies
  • Accurate GPS and works with lots of charts too
  • Sonar recording and playback for seeing fishing spots

Cons

  • Doesn’t include CHIRP
  • Not easy to read the screen in the sun
  • A little outdated compared to other newer versions

Best Side Imaging Fish Finder For The Money

Garmin Striker 7SV

The Garmin Striker 7SV is probably one of the top side imaging fish finders you can find as it’s very affordable price. Not only is it affordable but it’s also durable, reliable, and easy to use too.

Garmin Striker 7SV

The Garmin Striker 7SV has everything you need to catch fish from GPS to different sonar features and active mapping, you can’t go wrong especially when you consider how durable and affordable it is.

Between SideVu, ClearVu, the GPS, and QuickDraw, there won’t be anywhere left for fish to hide.

This Garmin Striker is probably one of the top side imaging fish finders you can find at it’s very affordable price. Not only is it affordable but it’s also durable, reliable, and easy to use too.

Sonar

This Garmin Striker unit comes with both CHIRP, Clearvu, and Sidevu sonar meaning there is almost nowhere for fish to hide.

You can use CHIRP while cruising to fish good fishing areas and then switch to a different sonar feature like Clearvu to get a more detailed image of what’s below the boat, or Sidevu to see up to 150ft or more on either side of the boat.

GPS

The Garmin Striker also comes with GPS so you can mark good fishing areas, see your boat speed, and plan routes. It will also build 1ft contour maps of where you fish for you using the QuickDraw feature and you can share this data via the Garmin Active Captain app and see other fishermen’s data too.

Flasher

Another great thing about the Garmin Striker fish finders is that they come with a flasher which is great for vertical fishing and ice fishing too.

The main abilities the Striker 7SV is missing are that you can not add any charts to it and there is no SD slot which makes transferring data across fish finders a bit tricky.

Specs

  • Size Display: 7 inch
  • Display: Color
  • Touch Display: No
  • Waterproofing: IPX7
  • Power: 500 W
  • Frequency: 50/77/200/260/455/800 kHz
  • Sonar: Traditional, CHIRP, ClearVü, SideVü
  • GPS: Yes
  • Memory: Internal
  • Transducer: Included
  • Depth: 1100 ft
  • Wi-Fi: Yes
  • Bluetooth: No
  • Water Temperature: Yes
  • Other Features: Quickdraw maps, Active Captain

Pros

  • Simple and logical to use
  • Works at depths up to 1100ft
  • Quickdraw builds contour maps for you
  • Includes a flasher for vertical or ice fishing
  • Super affordable and great quality at the same time
  • Awesome range of sonar technology for fish imaging
  • Wifi for connecting to the Garmin Active Captain app
  • CHIRP Clearvü and CHIRP Sidevü give excellent images
  • GPS plotter for marking fishing areas and seeing your boat speed

Cons

  • No SD Slot
  • No Chartplotter

Humminbird HELIX 7 CHIRP MEGA SI GPS G3

The Humminbird HELIX 7 CHIRP MEGA SI G3 unit is an awesome all-around fish finder that is great for anything from going offshore to fishing shallow water rivers and lakes.

Humminbird HELIX 7 CHIRP MEGA SI GPS G3

This Humminbird Fish Finder is an ideal middle ground for anyone who wants to venture offshore.

You’ll always be able to navigate with the GPS and charts while the sonar shows you everything that is under and to the side of you, plus you can link up Autopilot and Radar for those longer trips at sea.

Display

The 7-inch sunlight-readable screen is crystal clear, large enough to split into 3 views, and the handy keypad makes it easy to navigate through all the features.

The sonar on this unit is excellent as it has everything from CHIRP for cruising and seeing down to 1,200 ft plus Mega side and down imaging which can show you incredible detail around structures like fallen trees and even the size of particular fish that have been picked up.

GPS

With this fish finder also comes GPS and a solid base map plus you can use the SD card slots to add your own preferred charts and any data you have saved from your old unit.

This makes saving fishing areas navigation and getting around safely a lot easier.

While this unit doesn’t have any wireless connectivity you can link it up to autopilot and radar modules and it comes with Active Captain which allows you to create your own 1ft contour maps of where you are fishing.

Specs

  • Size Display: 7 inch
  • Display: Color
  • Touch Display: No
  • Waterproofing: IPX7
  • Power: 500 W
  • Frequency: 50/83/200/455/ 1075-1150 kHz
  • Sonar: Dual Spectrum CHIRP, MEGA Down Imaging, MEGA Side Imaging
  • GPS: Yes
  • Memory: Micro SD Card
  • Transducer: Included
  • Depth: 1,200 ft (standard transducer), 3,500 ft (optional 50 kHz)
  • Wi-Fi: No
  • Bluetooth: No
  • Water Temperature: Yes
  • Other Features: AutoChart Live self mapping, connects to autopilot & radar

Pros

  • Simple to use and update
  • Durable, high quality, and lasts
  • Great maximum depth options
  • Micro SD for easy data transfer
  • Self maps areas you go fishing in
  • Option to add your preferred charts
  • Awesome range of sonar technology
  • Great sized display that is easy to read in the sun
  • Super clear images with mega down and side imaging sonar
  • Accurate GPS and comes with Humminbird’s detailed base map

Cons

  • A little bit expensive
  • No wireless connectivity
  • Can take a while to learn the features

Lowrance Hook Reveal 7

The Lowrance Hook Reveal 7 Fish Finder has it all from a crisp easy to read screen to a GPS Charplotter built in and of course, excellent sonar. Between the wide angle CHIRP, down and side scanning features, there isn’t anything left to find underwater. It does have some issues with usability though and it can be glitchy.

Lowrance Hook Reveal 7

The Lowrance Hook Reveal 7 is great at showing you fish and fish-holding structure in shallow waters making it the type of unit that works best in lakes, rivers, and inshore environments.

Sonar

The reason it is made for the shallows is due to the type of CHIRP it uses, which is wide-angle.

This means it covers a large area but it doesn’t go very deep with a max of 500 ft compared to others which hit 1000 ft with ease.

The down and side scans on this unit are excellent and they will pick up anything that is up to 150ft below or on either side of your vessel in a lot of detail. Structures like sunken trees will be easy to see and when you’re close to them, the fish around them will be too.

Fish Reveal

You can also use Fish Reveal and Split Shot to see fish with ease as it combines both CHIRP and Down Scan into one image to show you immense detail of anything below your vessel.

The screen on this unit is crisp and with a solid size of 7 inches, you can split it into 4 to see multiple data views from which you can plan your fishing accordingly. And the GPS and the ability to add charts make fishing even easier as you can mark hot spots and see depth changes on the charts.

There are some issues with this unit though as it’s not very intuitive to work out, it can be glitchy, plus the customer support is terrible when you do have an issue as they take ages to get back to you.

Specs

  • Size Display: 7 inch
  • Display: Color
  • Touch Display: No
  • Waterproofing: IPX7
  • Power: 500 W
  • Frequency: 200/455/800 kHz
  • Sonar: Wide-angle High CHIRP (2D), Down Scan, Side Scan
  • GPS: Yes
  • Memory: Micro SD
  • Transducer: Included
  • Depth: 500 ft
  • Wi-Fi: No
  • Bluetooth: No
  • Water Temperature: Yes

Pros

  • Excellent CHIRP Sonar for cruising
  • Creates your own real-time maps for you
  • Easy data transfer with the Micro SD card slot
  • Fish Reveal provides excellent target separation
  • Super crisp easy to read display that’s a good size
  • Side and down imaging sonar picks up great detail
  • Built-in GPS and it comes with C-MAP charts included
  • SPlit shot combines CHIRP sonar and down imaging for an excellent view

Cons

  • Can be glitchy
  • Limited depth range
  • No Wifi or Bluetooth
  • Poor customer support
  • Takes a while to work out the features

Garmin ECHOMAP CHIRP UHD 74sv

You have everything from boat networking to GPS, a chartplotter, and awesome CHIRP, down scan, side scan, and dual beam plus sonar that deliver excellent sonar images. This is a fish finder that is not to be missed.

Garmin ECHOMAP CHIRP UHD 74sv

Garmin ECHOMAP CHIRP UHD 74sv is such a pleasure to use and if it’s within your budget, I’d take a good look at this one in detail, as it does it all with ease too.

The Garmin Echomap comes with a 7-inch keypad-assisted touch screen which means you can touch the screen for some things and use the keypad for others. This makes navigating through the features incredibly easy and the screen is super sharp too.

Sonar

The Garmin Echomap comes with all the sonar you could ever need on a fish finder including Dual Beam Plus and CHIRP Sonar for looking down when cruising. Then you have Down Imaging and Side Imaging which work up to 300 feet down and on either side.

The sonar types use an excellent range of frequencies from 50-800 kHz to give you super detailed images so you can fish more easily than ever.

GPS

These Garmin fish finders also come with a GPS chartplotter and BlueChart® g3 (coastal maps) preloaded, ideal if you fish in the sea.

You can use the GPS and charts together to find new fishing spots, mark them, see your boat speed and navigate safely anywhere in the world.

Connectivity

To top it off this Garmin fish finder has great connectivity and you can link it to your engines to see their running data, control Force trolling motors with them, and use the Wifi settings to use the Active Captain app where you can share data with other Garmin users.

The only downside to this fish finder is the price, so if you can afford it, then it’s one worth getting.

Specs

  • Size Display: 7 inch
  • Display: Color
  • Touch Display: Yes – with physical keypad
  • Waterproofing: IPX7
  • Power: 500W
  • Frequency: 50/77/200/260/455/800 kHz
  • Sonar: Dualbeam plus, CHIRP Sonar, Down Imaging, Side Imaging
  • GPS: Yes
  • GPS Memory: Micro SD
  • Transducer: Included
  • Depth: 1100ft
  • Wi-Fi: Yes
  • Bluetooth: No
  • Water Temperature: Yes
  • Other Features: Tide chart, NMEA 2000® Compatible, Active Captain, Engine connectivity, Force Trolling Motor connectivity,

Pros

  • Solid max depth range
  • Sunlight readable display
  • Easy to install, setup, and use
  • Easily create a boat network via NMEA
  • Excellent CHIRP sonar and dualbeam plus
  • Top-quality down and side-scanning sonars
  • Includes an accurate GPS and you can add charts
  • Excellent size screen for seeing details and splitting
  • Comes with BlueChart® g3 (coastal maps) preloaded
  • Wifi for easy updates and accessing the Active Captain App
  • Keypad assisted touch screen makes features easy to navigate

Cons

  • Comes in at quite a high price

Lowrance Elite FS 7 Active Imaging 3-in-1

The Lowrance Elite FS 7 Active Imaging 3-in-1 Fish Finder is great on the surface as it has all the features one could want including CHIRP, side and down scan sonars, GPS, chartplotter, and networking. But, it has some issues with the touchscreen and it’s not easy to understand.

Lowrance Elite FS 7 Active Imaging 3-in-1

Features

The Lowrance Elite FS 7 Active Imaging 3-in-1 is another great side imaging fish finder that is worth paying some attention to as, like the others, it is also the whole package.

This Lowrance unit comes with sonar, GPS, chartplotter, and networking capabilities too. The sonar uses CHIRP and other frequencies including 83/200/800 kHz to scan down and on each side in immense detail to help you find fish.

The sonar images are crystal clear and if you use Active Imaging, you can watch fish follow your lures in real-time.

Touchscreen

This unit features a key-assisted touch screen which makes using the many features a lot easier and with a 7-inch razor sharp screen, it’s easy to see what’s happening on the sonar too.

The GPS provides accurate location info as well as allows you to mark waypoints, plan routes, see your boat speed, and more. When combined with the chartplotter and preloaded C-MAP Contour+ Charts, there isn’t anywhere you can’t navigate safely.

Connectivity

You can also network your boat to this unit and add on features such as autopilot, radar, and link the display to your motors for engine data too.

While this fish finder is great it does suffer from issues that are common to Lowrance units. The touch screen can be unresponsive which gets frustrating and it’s not the easiest unit to install or get to know.

For such a high price, you shouldn’t have to contend with things like this in my opinion.

Specs

  • Size Display: 7 inch
  • Display: Color
  • Touch Display: Yes, keypad assisted
  • Waterproofing: IPX7
  • Power: 500 W
  • Frequency: 83/200/800 kHz
  • Sonar: SideScan, DownScan, ActiveTarget Live Sonar, CHIRP Sonar
  • GPS: Yes
  • Memory: Micro SD
  • Transducer: Included
  • Depth: 1000 ft
  • Wi-Fi: Yes
  • Bluetooth: No
  • Water Temperature: Yes
  • Other Features: NMEA 2000®, Ethernet connectivity, Halo Dome Radar add-on, Outboard Pilot add-on

Pros

  • Easy to read in bright sunlight
  • Super clear side and down imaging
  • Preloaded C-MAP Contour+ Charts
  • Top-quality screen shows excellent details
  • Reliable CHIRP sonar hits depths of 1000ft
  • Connects to your trolling motor for remote control
  • Use Active Imaging to see fish eat your bait in real-time
  • Easy to navigate with the keypad assisted touch screen
  • Excellent networking capabilities to engines, radar, and autopilot

Cons

  • It comes at a high price
  • Issues with the touch screen are common
  • Some find it hard to install and understand

Simrad Go-7 XSE Active Imaging 3-N-1 C-Map Pro

The Simrad Go-7 XSE Active Imaging 3-N-1 fish finder is another solid unit that comes with everything from a GPS to a Chartplotter,networking, and great sonar but it’s quite an expensive option and it does have some glitches too.

Simrad Go-7 XSE Active Imaging 3-N-1 C-Map Pro

I have to say the 7-inch touch screen on these fish finders is immaculate. The touch screen responds well and the images you see are very sharp. Plus at 7 inches you can split it into 4 and still everything that is happening in each view.

Sonar

This unit comes with active imaging which includes CHIRP sonar, down imaging, and side imaging running across 83/200/455/800 kHz frequencies.

This means you’ll get all the detail you could ever want in almost every direction and a solid range of 1000ft down and 300ft to the side too.

There will be nowhere for fish left to hide and you’ll be able to pick up fish-holding structures with ease.

GPS

The GPS on the unit is accurate and connects quickly and then overlays your position onto the charts on the included C-map insight Pro card.

This means you’ll be able to see a bottom contour map of your fishing area, follow yourself on it, and mark waypoints – it’s fishing and navigating made easy.

You can also use the NMEA 2000 connectivity to add Radar, AutoPilot, and Weather Updates to your display.

While this is a great unit, it’s very expensive, has no Bluetooth or wifi (it should at this price) and it’s glitchy meaning it drops out now and then, not something you want to rely on your way out to sea.

Price

The Simrad Go-7 XSE Active Imaging 3-N-1 is an excellent fish finder when it comes to the features it holds. The sonar is excellent with CHIRP sonar, down imaging, and side imaging providing detailed images on a super-sharp screen. The GPS and chartplotter functions are great too but its downfall is how expensive it is and that it glitches out making it unreliable on the ocean.

Specs

  • Size Display: 7 inch
  • Display: Color
  • Touch Display: Yes
  • Waterproofing: IPX7
  • Power: 500 W
  • Frequency: 83/200/455/800 kHz
  • Sonar: Active Imaging 3-in-1 (CHIRP sonar, down imaging, side imaging)
  • GPS: Yes
  • Memory: Micro SD
  • Transducer: Included
  • Depth: 1000 ft
  • Wi-Fi: No
  • Bluetooth: No
  • Water Temperature: Yes
  • Other features: NMEA 2000, Radar, AutoPilot, Weather Updates

Pros

  • Split the screen into 4 views
  • Compatible with all the best charts
  • C-map insight Pro card of charts included
  • A super accurate GPS navigation system
  • Connects to radar, weather, and autopilot
  • Easy to make waypoints, tracks, and routes
  • Amazingly clear super responsive touch screen
  • Excellent CHIRP sonar, side, and down imaging
  • Picks up all the details you need to see to catch fish
  • Excellent depth range of 1000 ft and side range of 300 ft

Cons

  • Can be quite glitchy
  • No Wifi or Bluetooth
  • Comes at a high price for the quality

What is a side imaging fishfinder?

Humminbird Side Imaging
Humminbird Side Imaging

If you’re new to the world of fish finders then you might not know what side imaging finders actually are.

A side imaging unit sends out a sonar beam on both sides of your vessel and then converts the scan into a sonar image for you to see.

Any bottom structures, fish, or vegetation will be shown in the image so you can find fishy spots and hopefully catch more fish because of it.

What are the advantages of having side imaging?

Side imaging has one main huge advantage – it shows you an underwater image of a very large area, much larger than that of down imaging.

Depending on the model you own, side imaging will scan up to 300ft on both sides of your vessel thus showing a picture of a 600ft area underwater. In comparison, down imaging will show you around a 30-50ft area of what’s under your boat.

Thus, side imaging allows you to cover a much larger area a lot faster than with down imaging alone so you can quickly hone in on fish-holding areas without wasting valuable angling time.

Who should buy a side imaging unit?

Side imaging units are most useful when traveling at lower speeds below 5 knots and when angling in shallower water of around 50ft or less.

They tend to give distorted images when you’re moving over 5 knots and their max depth is around 50ft, so when you’re deeper than this they will only show the top 50ft of the water column.

This makes them perfect for freshwater as depths are usually shallow and inshore angling in the sea closer to shore.

When it comes to who should buy a side imaging unit the answer is everyone who can afford it. It’s such a useful tool to have and since it comes with down scan too, when you’re going too fast or in deep water, you can switch to down scan to continue angling with a sonar image.

Things to Consider When Buying A Side Imaging Unit

Side Imaging Fish Finder
Side Imaging Fish Finder

Usability

Side imaging units can be quite hard to understand but some are much simpler than others. If you have owned a fishfinder before and liked how it worked, make sure to stick with the same brand as the features will be similar to set up and use.

If you’ve never owned a fishfinder before, stick to Garmin or Humminbird units as they are the most user-friendly ones out there.

Cost

There is a huge variation in cost when it comes to these units as they range between $500 and $2000.

TIP

Always stick with your budget and don’t get tempted to push it up as they all have the sonar features you’re looking for and the expensive ones usually just have a touchscreen and extra features like autopilot.

Navigation

Most of the units featured have a Chartplotter/GPS built into them and these are incredibly useful as you can see a contour map of where you’re fishing, any hazards, your location, speed, and heading too.

Display

Whatever you do, make sure you get a unit with a good display which you can easily see and is sunlight readable. This will make looking at and using all the information the unit provides a lot easier.

Sounding Out

Here’s a quick look at the best 3 side imaging fish finders from the review.

  • Large crystal clear touchscreen
  • Super detailed Mega Imaging sonar
  • Incredible networking capabilities
  • Durable, portable, and affordable
  • Excellent sonar options including side imaging
  • Perfect size for smaller vessels
Best Side Imaging For Kayaks
  • Large easy to read crisp screen
  • Self-mapping charts with QuickDraw
  • All the sonar tech you need on the water
Best For The Money

Thanks very much for reading my article, I hope you found my fish finder reviews useful and have landed on the right unit for you.

It’s key to make sure you stick within budget and at the same time get all your sonar needs rolled into one fish finder, but it’s easier said than done.

Please share this article with your fishing friends as we all need a little help when investing in such useful but costly technology to help us catch more fish.

If you enjoyed this article, check out my article on down vs side imaging to learn more about.

Share

Share on twitter
Share on facebook
Share on linkedin
Share on email
Share on print
Lance Wilkins
Lance Wilkins
Editor @ CallOutdoors. Outdoor gear-head and adventure addict. I fish, camp and enjoy to writing about my adventures.
New Course: Casting Mastery Blueprint!
Longer, more accurate casting in just 10 days!