Looking for the best fish finder for shallow water?
The most productive inshore fishing is done in shallow water. Right?
When I first started fishing, I would simply follow the boats and anchor up or drift in spots where other boats were also fishing. I quickly learned I was in the wrong spot. I needed to be where elsewhere.
Luckily, many of my neighbors have much more experience than I do. I started to pick their brains on what I was doing wrong and where I needed to be. While they didn’t hand over their exact coordinates, it quickly became obvious that I needed to be in more shallow water.
While I moved into more shallow water, I noticed my fish finder and, more importantly, my transducer were not the correct ones for shallow water. So, I went back to the drawing board and started researching and testing the best fish finders for shallow water.
The point of this post is to help you narrow down your search without all the testing and research that I went through years ago.
We’ll look at what makes side imaging so important for shallow water, and then we’ll discuss three of the best options on the market today.
After testing displays from all the best fish finder brands, I noticed how superior the Humminbird models are for shallow water. I found that the best fish finders for shallow water are the Humminbird SI Series, which has fantastic side imaging.
Let’s take a deeper look into why these Humminbird units are the best fish finders for shallow water.
With a built-in base map, the Helix 5 is ready to fish as soon as you open the box.
Best Fish Finder For Shallow Water Reviews
Hummingbird SOLIX 10
Who wouldn’t want a 10″ screen with MEGA side imaging?
MEGA Side Imaging provides spectacular views up to 200′ on both sides of your vessel
MEGA Down Imaging adds excellent underwater clarity up to 200′ below your boat.
CHIRP sonar provides long, easy-to-see fish arches and a clear view of the structure and the bottom.
SwitchFire Sonar allows you to customize by adding or deleting detail within 2 display modes, factoring in water depth, temperature, and wind.
The built-in Humminbird Basemap gives you a clear view of underwater topography and surrounding points of interest, so you can fish and navigate with total confidence. Identify buoys, hazards, and more.
NMEA 2000 networking connects your SOLIX to an NMEA 2000 backbone to gather a complete view of your vessel, including available information like engine gauges, fuel information, and other NMEA 2000 connected accessories.
Share this information with any other Humminbird unit onboard connected via an Ethernet network. Built-in Bluetooth connectivity enables wireless software updates from the Humminbird FishSmart App, and also helps you keep your phone out of the water and in your pocket by displaying notifications directly on your Humminbird.
The Humminbird SOLIX 10 CHIRP MEGA SI+ G2 includes the transducer, mounting hardware, power cable, gimbal mounting bracket, and cover.
We found that the screen was sometimes hard to read due to its design, which does not allow different colors on different objects like many other models.
Need any more reasons to be convinced that this is the best fish finder for shallow water?
Humminbird HELIX 7 CHIRP MEGA SI
This 7″ display provides all of the clarity and features one could ask for.
MEGA Side Imaging provides crystal-clear views out to 125′ on both sides of your vessel
MEGA Down Imaging provides a visual down to 125′ below your boat.
CHIRP provides long, easy-to-see fish arches and a clear view of the structure and the bottom.
SwitchFire Sonar allows you to fully customize both of the display modes by adding or deleting certain details while taking into account water depth, temperature, and wind.
Humminbird Basemap provides a clear view of underwater terrain and surrounding points of interest so you can fish and navigate with total confidence, identify buoys, day markers, and more.
Includes charts of more than 10,000 lakes, plus coastal coverage for the U.S. Other map packages are available.
The Humminbird HELIX 7 CHIRP MEGA SI GPS G3 Fishfinder/Chartplotter includes the transducer, mounting hardware, power cable, and gimbals mounting bracket.
Considering the price point and performance, this is the best fish finder for the money.
Humminbird HELIX 5 CHIRP SI GPS G2
With a built-in base map, the Helix 5 is ready to fish as soon as you open the box.
The Humminbird HELIX 5 CHIRP SI GPS G2 packs a whole lot of power into a 5″ display.
Built-in CHIRP SONAR allows the unique selection of Low, Medium, and High-frequency ranges, giving clean returns and exceptional target separation.
MEGA Side Imaging extends up to 240′ on each side of your vessel
MEGA Down Imaging delivers depths down to 100′
SwitchFire sonar makes it easy to customize your display modes
The built-in high-sensitivity GPS saves rigging time and makes installation easy
If you’re looking for the best fish finder in a compact design, you just found it. The Humminbird HELIX 5 raises the bar for displays in this range.
Frequently Asked Questions
Will a fish finder work in shallow water?
A fish finder will work in shallow water, but you may rely on the sonar’s side imaging for better results. Side images provide more area coverage, a clearer view of what is beneath the boat, and can spot schools of baitfish that are hiding just below the surface.
Side Imaging provides wider coverage than down imaging because it shows two separate views simultaneously, as opposed to just a single cone below. This allows us to see fish that might be trying to hide by swimming away towards the bottom of your screen.
We recommend dual displays or split-screen to have the ability for down and side imaging together.
Does Side Imaging Work in Shallow Water?
While not the best for deep water fishing, side imaging is perfect when you want to fish the flats.
To visualize what side imaging is and how to read it, watch this video below.
Why is Side Imaging Important for Shallow Water
Advantages of Side imaging are:
- You scan more areas at once with two separate views
- If you buy a fish finder with side imaging, you will almost always have down imaging as well
- Resolution tends to be clearer when compared to down imaging
Disadvantages of Side Imaging are:
- Forced to move at slower speeds to achieve clear scans
- Does not provide images beneath the boat
Side imaging is also the best way to spot schools of baitfish and chase them down with your boat. This is because it can show you where they are on a horizontal plane, making sense if you think about how far away those fish might be from your vessel when you’re trying to catch them.
For more on this debate, check out: side imaging vs. down imaging where I take a deep dive into the differences.
What is the best transducer for shallow water?
This is a difficult question to answer because it depends on what you are looking for. There are many types of transducers available, and each one has its strengths and weaknesses.
Some have better depth capabilities while others provide higher resolution imaging that can show more detail in the underwater environment.
Transducer for HELIX models
We recommend a Humminbird 710282-1 XM 9 HW to pair with the HELIX series. This ducer will help you get the most out of your HELIX fish finder, as it will give you better target separation in shallow depths and offers the best sonar frequency for shallow water. Pair this shallow water depth sounder with a Solix 10 and boom you have the best fish finder for shallow water setup.
Transducer for SOLIX models
We recommend a Humminbird 710292-1 XM 14 HW. This transducer will help you get the most out of the 10″ screen for both side and down imaging.
Best Transducer for Trolling Motors
If you are using a trolling motor in shallower water this is the transducer you will want to pair with your HELIX.
Additional Humminbird Products
Which Fish Finder Should you Buy?
It’s all about value, right? Yeah, we think so too. Without breaking the bank, this fish finder checks all the boxes and has a transducer included. If money is an afterthought for you, and you drool when you think about MEGA SI on a 10″ screen, then opt for the SOLIX 10. If you think ah I don’t know about spending over $600 on a fish finder then choose the Helix 5 or check out our guide on the Best Fish Finder Under $500.
Best Fish Finder for Shallow Water Conclusion
All in all, when fishing in shallow water is your focus you should go with a fish finder that has side imaging capabilities and fits your budget
It’s important to consider all these factors before choosing what setup might work best for your needs!
We hope you’ve found this article helpful in your search for the best fish finder
There are many models, so it can be difficult to know which one is right for you. So we’ll leave that decision up to you!
If your criteria are all about budget, then check out our guides based on price.
For even more reviews on fish finders, check out the pages below:
- Best Fish Finders By Category
- Best Garmin Fish Finders
- Best Fish Finder for Small Boats
- Best Fish Finder For Catching More Bass
- Best Fish Finder GPS Combo | How to Choose
- Best Fish Finder Brands
- Best Fish Finders for Kayaks
- The Best Ice Fishing Fish Finders and Flashers
- The Best Portable Fish Finders | Reviews & Buyers Guide