What Is the Best Side Imaging Fish Finder? [TOP 6 Products in 2024]

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Have you ever thought to yourself, “Fishing would be much more fun if I could see what was underwater?” Yes, we’ve all been there. I find that I can’t enjoy myself as much without having a few tools with me. Of course, side imaging is new technology that is so amazing; you’ll be shocked and wonder how you ever could have fished without it. I know I did! The feature has to be used correctly, but it will help you pinpoint some fantastic fishing locations. You just have to make sure you find the best side imaging fish finder on the market, and my easy-to-read guide can help.

How to Choose the Best Side Imaging Fish Finder

These products aren’t cheap, so it is important that you research them thoroughly to find the best one for you and your budget. I know exactly what you’re thinking: “I don’t want to spend more money on my hobby.” I felt the same, but when you get the right one, you’ll never even think about the price. You’ll be so impressed with what it does! Here are a few things to consider:


The product should have a big enough display so that you can see what’s in the water. Wider screens mean you can see everything more clearly. With that, though, comes pixels. It has to have a high number of pixels so that the image isn’t blurry. That way, you won’t end up running into debris in the water because you can’t tell if it is a fish or structure.

It’s also important to think about where the screen will be installed on your boat.


If you want to find fish, you have to make sure you’re on the right frequency. Shallow waters require higher ones, and deep water fishing requires lower ones. It’s best to choose a locating device that allows you to switch between them so that you can always find what you want. Without frequency, you won’t have any direction and may as well throw the line over and wait.


A transducer sends the information from the device to the display. Sometimes, this device isn’t powerful enough to give you a decent reading. Size is also a factor here. If you can’t fit it on the board, it’s not going to help you find fish. The transducer’s job is to pick up the signals that the device sends out. One tip I can give you from personal experience is not to put this device near the boat blades. It will throw everything out of whack, and you’ll get a wonky reading.


Of course, the fish finder itself is the feature here. However, the buttons and dials should be easy to use. If you haven’t used one before, it’s best to take some time and read through the instructions. You may have LED lights, special mapping apps, and a variety of custom settings. These might come in handy while you fish, but they won’t do much good if you can’t use them.

However, you shouldn’t go overboard with the features, either. Many times, fish finders go up in price with more bells and whistles. If you can’t afford one that is high-tech, you might be able to work around it. Plus, something that’s complicated to use means that you’re less likely to get your money’s worth. Believe me; you don’t want to spend all that money, fiddle with the product for months, and still have no headway. My advice would be to start with the basic fish finder, get used to it, and then consider upgrading.


There is no magic number that tells you if a fish finder is a good deal or not. Sure, you have to figure out your budget and make sure you don’t go over that price. However, it’s better to focus on the pros/cons, ease of use, and other aspects of the product because they add value.

I recommended that you spend a few hundred dollars and choose from reputable brands. Keep in mind that there will be fewer features at a lower price. I know it’s exciting to see so many buttons and settings, but you may not need them. My advice is to focus on the basics and make sure it does what you need, and you should be okay.

Benefits of Side Imaging

You may not realize it, but side imaging is a powerful technology. The transducer produces sound waves on both sides of the boat, which means you can cover more area and see what’s all around you. Down imaging can’t do that and can only point directly downward from the boat.

The goal here is to make a few runs on the lake to map out the area. That way, you know where everything is and how the bottom is contoured. It also points out debris and other obstacles, which could damage the boat or cause you to break the fishing line.

You’ll be able to get a more accurate reading. With down imaging (which is still better than nothing, I’ll admit), you might see a bunch of trees, but you don’t know where each one is because it’s a flat image. Side imaging, on the other hand, allows you to see specific items and their position so that you can go between them.

Best Side Imaging Fish Finder: Products Reviews

#1 Garmin Striker 7SV with Transducer

If you’re interested in a name brand that is affordable and high-tech, the Garmin Striker 7SV with Transducer might be right for you. It features clear scanning sonar to give almost photographic images of the structure, fish, and objects. That would have been very helpful when I was on a lake in the middle of nowhere. The fish finder I was using gave me blurry images, and I almost capsized! Plus, the interface is easy to use and has dedicated buttons. Another feature that you’re sure to like is the chirp sonar, which continuously sends frequency sweeps to give you more information.

While most people worry about the ability to load maps, you’ll find this product to be different. It creates a map of the terrain you are currently in, so you always have something that is topographically correct. As such, you can use the ‘way point map’ to view, navigate to, and mark locations you want to remember in the future. I really appreciate such a feature because I tend to fish in the same areas. It would let me easily find that spot again.

The built-in flasher is also a great feature. You can view the sonar data using the classic flash format. This is ideal for vertical jigging and ice fishing.


  • Well thought out interface
  • Kit includes mounting hardware and line fuse
  • Impressive photo-like images
  • See screen in sunlight
  • Creates maps
  • Easy to install
  • Amazing graphics


  • More features than necessary for most people
  • Might not work correctly
  • Depth information incorrect
  • Plug not snug; doesn’t fit right
  • Cords not long enough
  • Limited placement on the boat
  • Can’t load maps

#2 HDS Live

The HDS Live Fish Finder doesn’t contain a transducer, so you will need to buy your own. That’s a little annoying, but it is compatible with the StructureScan 3D or the Active Imaging Sonar. You can also integrate it with your smartphone, getting the information directly to your favorite device. I, for one, never leave home without my smartphone, so this would be pretty amazing to have. Plus, it comes preloaded with a map of the US and allows for enhanced mapping in the field.

One feature that is sure to impress is that the sonar is in color. Sometimes, it’s hard for me to see black-and-white images. I have to squint. It has a dynamic color range that provides high-visibility contrasts that haven’t been seen before in the fish finder world. With more colors on the screen, you can see an almost photographic image. While it is considered a side-image finder, it also offers TotalScan, DownScan Imaging, and more.

Those in the know understand that the processor inside the fish finder is just as important as the graphics. This product uses a dual-core processor, which gives it enough power and speed to allow for re-draws and get a fast response.


  • Multi-touch screen
  • Preloaded C-MAP US
  • Live onscreen mapping
  • Smartphone notifications
  • Bluetooth and wireless connectivity
  • Dual/Quad core processors available


  • No transducer included
  • Might not be ideal in low lights
  • Only reaches 300 feet deep

#3 Humminbird HELIX 5

If you’re looking for something stylish, high-tech, and impressive, the Humminbird HELIX 5 might be right for you. Depending on the option you choose, you can get it with a carrying case, portable transducer, sonar, or CHIRP options. Regardless of the one you pick, it will include a five-inch color display.

For side- and down-imaging, you will primarily use the CHIRP feature, though sonar is available for dual beams and other needs. Of course, it might take some time to learn how to use it, but that is the case with any new electronics. I remember when I bought my first fish finder. It took almost a full week to learn all the functions, but it was worth it!

While sonar is present, you can also take command of this feature and customize the way the sonar returns appear on the screen. I like this option because I enjoy changing the layout based on my situation.

It’s also possible to integrate your micro SD card with this product. Therefore, you will be able to save your waypoints and have more space for created maps.


  • CHIRP digital sonar
  • Basemap included
  • Create real-time maps of your location
  • Includes transducer
  • Many mounting options
  • Compatible with LakeMaster using upgrade
  • Options for side imaging and down imaging


  • No screen cover
  • Cable clips can break
  • Unexpectedly turns off at times
  • Waypoint memory stops when product is off

#4 Humminbird Helix 7

You can find a variety of Humminbird Helix 7 models available on the internet. If you are interested in something particular, such as side imaging, you will need to check the description of the product. This would be listed as “SI” while down-imaging would show as “DI.” It’s also possible to find MSI and MDI, which stands for mega side or down imaging. That just means that you get a crystal-clear view of out/down to 125 feet.

Some Helix 7 versions come with GPS and G3. This only allows you to see down-imaging details. It will not work for side-imaging. I know it’s hard to learn the lingo, but it helps to understand what these things mean so you can choose the right product.

You’ll find that all of the models come with CHIRP technology. Compressed High-Intensity Radiated Pulse means that it combines radar and sonar. It’s only been around on a commercial level for about 10 years. Therefore, it will emit a noise whenever a fish is present. Some products allow you to customize the sound based on what is picked up.


  • Transducer included
  • Easy to understand instructions for installation
  • Adequate screen for sporting boats
  • Almost 180-degree side imaging
  • Screen works in direct sunlight
  • Appropriate functions


  • Must be programmed before first use
  • Programming instructions challenging
  • DVD assistance not useful as set-up guide
  • Mounting hardware lacking
  • No protection from the cover

#5 Lowrance HOOK2 5

I like having a product with everything I need, including the transducer and many features. The Lowrance HOOK2 5 Fish Finder might be right for you if you’re like me. It comes in four sizes, ranging from five inches to 12 inches. It features smartphone-style menus and auto-tuning sonar. This would have been helpful on my last fishing trip because I like using my phone. The touchscreen is ideal, and I would have been on the water fishing that much sooner.

This product also has a wide-angle sonar cone with CHIRP technology. Therefore, you get double the coverage without having to do anything. Of course, the set-up has to be easy. I like that you can mount the transducer inside the hull, on the transom, and through a scupper hole. It would have been excellent for my kayak I had a few years ago, but it also works on small fishing boats with limited space.

You’ll also be able to experience more sonar viewing options. It comes with a TripleShot transducer, which allows for CHIRP sonar (fish arch), down imaging, and side imaging. Choose the one that best fits your current needs.

Of course, you’ll need some maps of the terrain you’re in. The product comes with preloaded options featuring significant details. You’ll find 4,000 lakes included, and you can narrow the search to find more fish by locating structures, such as drop-offs, cover, and ledges. With the GPS included, you can follow fish trails, navigate almost anywhere, and add waypoints.


  • Transducer included
  • Easy-to-use menus
  • One-touch access to favorite features
  • Automated sonar settings
  • Doubled sonar coverage than traditional products
  • Built-in maps
  • Micro SD Slot


  • Plastic mounting hardware
  • Must buy new transducer if mount breaks
  • Pressure builds up in unit with time preventing power and connection to transducer

#6 Simrad GO7 XSE Fish Finder

The Simrad GO7 XSE Fish Finder is very easy to use and features a multi-touch interface. I needed the ability to touch the screen and set the device when I went fishing a few weeks ago. I wouldn’t have spent half the trip trying to figure out the fish finder.

This product is also a Chartplotter, which means you have Navionics, CMAP, and Insight. The screen is seven inches wide and comes with a bracket or flush mount. Plus, it is a widescreen product and features an LED backlight. When I went on that 3-day, all-hour fishing trip, it would have been perfect. I could have seen the screen in direct sunlight and at night.

You will receive the TotalScan transducer with this product. Therefore, you will get higher frequency CHIRP sonar, as well as StructureScan imaging. It also features built-in Wi-Fi, which means you can use it no matter where you are and expect the best results.

While the design and technology were originally for sailors, anyone can now have this product. You will find that the TripIntel option allows you to plan your course more easily. As such, it is compatible with NMEA 2000.


  • Accurate GPS
  • Detailed charts
  • Down and side imaging available
  • Easy to install


  • Speeding up/down requires recalculation of depth/bottom
  • Mount isn’t sturdy/strong
  • Hit-or-miss Wi-Fi
  • Screen can lock up at times


With so many exciting products from which to choose, we realize it can be tough to pick one. I believe that the best side imaging fish finder is the Lowrance HOOK2 5 for many reasons. Of course, we talked about how to select one earlier and mentioned that the transducer, sonar, and features were essential.

I felt that this product had it all. It came in a variety of screen sizes, had a transducer, and had many more features than we bargained for initially. Not only does it come with side imaging, but it also features CHIRP and DownScan (down imaging) options. As such, we liked that it was upgradable. With the SD card slot, you can upgrade the maps and software and use your own third-party mapping applications, as well.

David Linsmeyer Avatar


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