5 Best Fish Finders for Catfish: Reviewed & Compared

Be prepared to scout large rivers and main channels when you’re looking for catfish. They tend to love deep waterways or shallow rocky shorelines. Either way, there’s a way to make your trip go smooth sailing, and that’s by adding a fishfinder to your fishing arsenal.

We have reviewed and compared the best catfish fish finders, and we've added everything you need to know on how to use and install them.

Preview

Product

Screen Size

Max Depth

Working Time

Check Price

Humminbird 410210-1 HELIX 5 CHIRP GPS G2 Fish...

Humminbird 410210-1 HELIX 5

5 Inches

1,500 Ft

Connect to 12v battery

Deeper PRO+ Smart Sonar - GPS Portable...

Deeper PRO+

Connects to Smartphone or Tablet

260 ft

5.5 hrs

Humminbird 410170-1 PIRANHAMAX 4 PT...

Humminbird 410170-1 PIRANHAMAX 4

4.3 Inches

320 Ft

7 Hrs

ReelSonar Wireless Bluetooth Smart Fish...

ReelSonar Wireless

Connects to Smartphone or Tablet

135 ft

10+ hrs

HDS-7 LIVE - 7-inch Fish Finder No Transducer...

Lowrance HDS-7 000-14415-001

7 Inches

5,000 ft

6 Hrs


Why Use A Fish Finder When Chasing For Catfish?

Catfish can be hard to find in some shallow feeding spots. They also like to swim in deep-water holding areas, too. A good quality fish finder can scan hard-to-reach or dangerous areas and give you all of the information you need before you take unnecessary journeys. These devices take out a lot of the hard work out of fishing. And can save you a lot of time in return.

Some fish finders may have better features than others, and some brands have new technologies specifically designed to help you catch more fish. So, it’s good to know what you’re looking for before you buy a device. We’ve piled a lot of need-to-know information together so you can narrow down your search for the best fishfinder for catfish.


Important Fish Finder Features For Catfish Fishing

Location & Timing

Rivers and lakes throughout the US offer amazing opportunities for catching blue cats, flatheads, and more. From Lake Arthur in the West to the Potomac River in the East, there’s plenty of places to catch trophy catfish.

In terms of timing and the best season to go, Summer is your best bet. But depending on your area, you could catch catfish all year round. It's not uncommon to even catch channel catfish through the ice! Be sure to check out your seasonal guides in your area, and you should find when and where to catfish.

Mounting Type

Mounting a fishfinder to your kayak or boat may sound like a daunting task, but many fish finders nowadays have easy to install transducers. Most devices are either mounted, completely portable, or castable.

  • Mounted FishFinders
    A mounted fish finder needs to have the transducer added to the boat or kayak. The 3 common ways to mount your fish finder are:
  1. 1
    In the hull (Transom Mount)
  2. 2
    Through the scupper hole
  3. 3
    On the back near the rudder
  • Portable Fishfinders
    These are very common for anglers on the go as they’re small in size and weigh virtually nothing. These fish finders can fit perfectly into the palm of your hand and don’t need to be mounted to get good readings of closeby catfish.
  • Castable FishFinders
    Castable fish finders are new to the scene, but they work very well, especially for catfishing. You can cast this device with a spinning or baitcasting rod, and you’ll receive all of the information directly to your smartphone. These devices can be connected through wifi or Bluetooth and can scan waterways as far as 300 ft.

Power Source

Your new catfish finders battery will vary depending on the size and model you choose. If you go for a bigger model, be prepared to connect the device to a 12 V motor on your small boat. Or you could charge it with an appropriate car charger. Portable and wireless fish finders tend to have chargeable batteries, with some higher-priced models having an additional battery and smart charger.

Transducer Features

The transducer is essentially your fishfinder’s eyes and ears in the water. It sends and receives sonar waves so you can see them on your fishfinders screen.  The three main types of transducers are:

  1. 1
    Cone angle: Sends signals in either large or small cones. The larger the cone, the greater the coverage.
  2. 2
    Beam angle: This is a beam that's measured in degrees. It's a great option for saltwater applications.
  3. 3
    Dual-beam angle: A dual-beam angle can operate on two frequencies at the same time. It picks up double the amount of information and can be used in saltwater or freshwater fishing.

Display Screen

There’s no point in purchasing a fish finder if you can’t see the screen due to sunlight. You’ll want to focus on LED over CCFL screens for day-time fishing. You can also adjust the brightness on many devices to suit your lighting conditions. If you're worried about battery life due to a bright screen, it's best to get an LED-backlit screen. They typically consume a lot less battery, so you can find more trophy fish for longer.

Down Imaging vs. Side Imaging

When it comes to catfishing, both side imaging and down imaging are extremely important. Down imaging sends sonar waves down beneath your boat. It helps anglers find schools of bait or fish species easily in their vicinity to cast and catch.

Side-imaging fish finders direct their beams to the sides of the boat or line. It can help you see rocks or underwater structures in narrow rivers and lakes. You may run into a few of those situations when you search for blue cats, and then you run the risk of damaging your watercraft.

Performance Features

As more and more fishfinders are being released by reputable and new brands, the pressure is on for these devices to be better than the next. Some key performance features to look out for are viewing angles, visibility shots, scanning, extra SD storage, and whether it can be suitably mounted to your kayak or boat. These are all added extras catered to you, so know which ones may come in handy by checking our reviews.

Price & Warranty

The price of a fishfinder can differ depending on its features and functions. Castable or wireless devices are a lot more budget-friendly. Whereas a mounted high-definition 9” (or larger) screened-device could cost you up to $1,000.

Whether you're investing $100 or $1,000 on your new piece of machinery, it's always reassuring to know you're covered if your device malfunctions. Most big brands will cover at least a 1-year limited warranty, and some devices are covered up to 5 years.


5 Best Fish Finders For Catfish Reviewed

1. Humminbird 410210-1 HELIX 5

Our Top Pick

Screen Size

5 Inches

Resolution

800H X 480V Pixels

Max Depth

1,500 Ft

Working Time

Connect to 12v battery

GPS Built-In

Yes

Warranty

1-Year Limited

Whether you’re fishing for flathead fish in riverbeds, or for a trophy-sized blue cat in deep waterways, the Humminbird Helix 5 fishfinder will help you find your way. This nifty 5" WVGA color display shows detailed arches and graphs. It also has a comprehensive mapping system to save more maps through its SD card slot. So, it is no surprise this device is our top pick for the best catfish fishfinder given its excellent performance and variety of features.

This device features a target separation of 2.5 inches, and its dual-beam SONAR sends signals in either a narrow or a wide cone shape. You’ll see a clearer view beneath your boat with down-imaging. And if you’ll be fishing for catfish in waters that are below 1,500 feet, then you can simply upgrade the transducer to reach depths of up to 2,500 feet.

Some anglers will be thrilled to hear that this device runs from a 12V battery, whereas other anglers like to have charged-up, portable devices that require less mounting efforts. The positive of a device like this is that they tend to last longer and are more reliable. The transducer, mounting hardware, power cable, and gimbal mounting bracket will all be included in your purchase.

Like most of Humminbird's premium products, you'll get Humminbird's CHIRP Digital Sonar and Imaging Sonar that will show you the lake bottom, and its surroundings. Match this technology with its GPS mapping, AutoChart Live and Humminbird Basemap, and allow this device to show you the way.

Pros
  • 8-hour recording time
  • LakeMaster Compatible with upgrade
  • Provides down imaging for a clearer view under your boat
Cons
  • Mounting can be tricky - needs to connect to 12v battery

2. Deeper PRO+

best fish finder for river catfishing

Screen Size

Connects to Smartphone or Tablet

Resolution

N/A

Max Depth

260 ft

Working Time

5.5 hrs

GPS Built-In

Yes

Warranty

1-Year Limited

You could be trolling your favorite river or stationed by a lake, and the Deeper PRO+ fishfinder could help you out tremendously when catching catfish. This castable device is connected straight to your line and uses SMART sonar technology to scan the waterway around your line.

It's then fed back to your smartphone or tablet. This device was our number one choice as the best castable fishfinder, and for a good reason. It's extremely versatile and will bring a novice or experienced angler many hours of tremendous fishing.

You won't need to worry about connectivity with the PRO+ fishfinder. The WIFI Technology runs seamlessly and can connect to any android or apple device. It also saves previous fishing trips so you can see where you've had luck before.

The display is clean, and the lack of lag is pretty impressive! Another top feature about this fish finder is that it's exceptionally lightweight and portable. It weighs a mere 3.5 oz and can fit into an angler's hand, or side pocket. So, it's an excellent choice for travelers that are fishing on the go.

Don't underestimate the Deeper PRO+ on its appearance. It may look small, but it can pack a punch. This fish finder has dual-beam scanning abilities, so shallow and deep waterways aren't a problem. And, its built-in GPS allows you to create bathymetric maps from the shore.

This new and improved model is one of the best castable fish finders on the market today. Just pair it up with the right rod and reel, and you'll find schools of catfish in a hurry!

Pros
  • Improved connection that its previous model
  • Versatile to many fishing techniques
  • Dual-beam angle
  • Can save previous trip routes
Cons
  • Scroll speed is rapid

3. Humminbird 410170-1 PIRANHAMAX 4

Best Catfish Fish Finder for the Money

Screen Size

4.3 Inches

Resolution

272H X 480V pixels

Max Depth

320 Ft

Working Time

7 Hrs

GPS Built-In

No

Warranty

1-Year Limited

If you’d prefer a fish finder that’s low on cost and high on performance, then you may be better suited to the Piranhamax 4 PT Edition. It’s the best value for your money if your budget is low, and its portability-to-performance ratio is top-notch. It’s powered by a small 7 Amp Hour battery and mounts quickly and easily with a gimbal. The Piranhamax 4 PT has an in-dash mount available as well in case you need it.

You can easily change the depth mode on this device, or you can use its auto-depth mode. It works reasonably well, but if you shift from deep to shallow in a hurry, it may struggle. The 4.3" color display screen, however, works a treat and can display different display modes to suit you and your fishing preferences.

The Piranhamax has FishID, fish alarms, depth alarms, and zoom, so it does a great job of showing fish, lures, and structures in the water column. Just like a good fish finder should! Not only do you get a great value fish finder, but you’ll also receive a portable carrying case that’s soft-sided for safe transport and storage. You’ll also receive a portable transducer that is sensitive enough to pick up on fish and display them clearly. 

Overall, it’s hard to fault a product that works efficiently and helps you find what you're looking for. So, if you're looking for an inexpensive way to find catfish, this is an excellent choice.

Pros
  • Impeccable sensitivity
  • Wide and narrow beams available
  • Comes with a great case
  • Features an Auto-Depth mode
Cons
  • No GPS

4. ReelSonar Wireless

Best Bluetooth fish finder for catfish

Screen Size

Connects to Smartphone or Tablet

Resolution

N/A

Max Depth

135 ft

Working Time

10+ hrs

GPS Built-In

Yes

Warranty

1-Year Limited

ReelSonar has released its wireless Bluetooth fish finder, and it’s a perfect match for catfishing by a lake. You can simply cast it into the water up to a depth of 135 feet, and get a reading of the water straight to your phone or tablet.

This castable model uses Bluetooth instead of WIFI for connection, and while some anglers believe the connection isn’t quite the same, we say otherwise with this device. The iBobbers connection works well within 100 ft, and as it’s Bluetooth and not WIFI, your android or apple device’s battery will last a lot longer.

This fish finder is one of the lightest and smallest devices on the market today. Its dimensions are 2" x 2" x 1" and weighs a mere 1.6 ounces. It isn't a bother to cast, and once it's in the water, it operates exceptionally. You'll need to download iBobber's smartphone app, and you'll have a ton of information that can really help your fishing.

These include the water temperature, moon phase/rise/set, and your GPS location.  It’s even got a weather report, with current, high, and low temperatures, and information on humidity, wind speed, and direction.

You'll see an LED beacon on the device so you can use it at night with ease. And if you just need a bobber for when you're out at sea, then the 2 Snap swivel connections can be used for just that. From saltwater to freshwater and day and night fishing an option. There’s no way you’ll be missing out on any catfish on your next fishing adventure.

Pros
  • Built-in LED beacons for night fishermen
  • Bluetooth Smart sync uses less energy
  • Fish and strike alarms
Cons
  • Max depth is quite low compared to its competitors

5. Lowrance HDS-7 000-14415-001

best fish finder for blue catfish

Screen Size

7 Inches

Resolution

1024 x 600 pixels

Max Depth

5,000 ft

Working Time

6 Hrs

GPS Built-In

Yes

Warranty

2-Year

If you're hoping to catch some blue catfish, you'll need a device that can read deep waterways with currents and rocky or sandy bottoms. Blue catfish tend to stay in large rivers and main channels in the States, too, so you'll need a fish finder that will be easily mounted to a boat or a kayak. Well, the HDS-7 fishfinder by Lowrance is a perfect solution to these problems.

This fishfinder offers exceptional compatibility to the best technologies that Lowrance has created. It has innovative sonar features like Lowrance's Active Imaging, StructureScan 3D with Active Imaging, FishReveal, and Liveright sonar. You'll see all of these nifty features displayed on the HDS-7's Full high-definition HDS SolarMAX HD multi-touch screen. This 7" screen is easily seen in day or night or even with polarized glasses so you won’t miss a thing.

One of the best features of this device is that it can be hooked up to your phone with WIFI or Bluetooth. The device shows on-screen text messages and calls notifications. It can also display videos, Google Maps, and various fishing data on your fishfinder display.

The HDS-7 also provides you with ultra-accurate trails, smoother performance, and maximum position accuracy thanks to its internal GPS antenna. And with a ton of options to upgrade maps to C-MAP, Navionics, and more, you’ll never have to worry about getting lost at sea.

Pros
  • High-performance dual-core processor
  • Shows smartphone notifications
  • Built-in CHIRP and Broadband Sounder
Cons
  • Active Imaging 3-in-1 Transducer required (not included)

How To Find & Identify Catfish On A Fish Finder

Finding and identifying catfish on a fishfinder may seem like a daunting task, but it's easy once you understand each graph. You'll have a graph of the signals being sent and received by the transducer on your screen. Once there's some movement, you’ll see white dots appearing on the graph. The more white dots, the more fish there are, and the bigger the dots, the larger the catfish are in size.

If you're entirely new to fishfinders and you'd like a more visual representation of fish species, choose a model with FishID. It shows each movement in a fish icon, so it's a lot easier to read. There are plenty of YouTube tutorials on identifying catfish and these can be very helpful to any novice angler and are worth checking out.


Frequently Asked Questions

Which brands make the best fish finders for catfish?

Some of the biggest brands in fish finders for catfish are Humminbird, Garmin, and Lowrance. They continue to improve their scanning technology with each new model, so they tend to stand out above the rest. In terms of castable fish finders, Deeper is ahead of the game over its competitors.

Which fish finder reviewed above is easiest to use?

The Lowrance HDS-7 is a great choice if you’re looking for a fish finder that’s user-friendly. It has the biggest screen size with adjustable brightness. It also features Lowrance's FishID technology, which shows you symbols of fishes in unique icons.

What fish finding technology is best for finding catfish?

One of the best and most cost-efficient fishing technology is 2D or broadband sonar. Most fish finders will have this, and some higher-priced models have picture-like images on its screen displays. Having down and side imaging is also important as you'll get a bigger picture of what’s going on around and under you.

Is it necessary to buy fish finders for catfish?

Absolutely not. You can enjoy a beautiful day on the water and fish for catfish the old fashioned way. But expect to bring home a lot less catfish for dinner. When you are using a fish finder, your chances of finding a school of fish increases massively.

What are the best lures for catfish?

Catfish are bottom feeders and are attracted to food by both smell and bright colors, like red, orange, or yellow lures. A bright nightcrawler would be a choice here. Another great option is Cheeto Puffs. Yes, you read that correctly. The bright color and cheese scent brings them to bite, making them a fantastic lure.

What is the best time of day to fish for catfish?

There are no cold, hard facts on which hours of the day are best for catfishing. But there are some critical timeframes when catfish are more willing to bite. In Spring and Summertime, it's usually best to fish right before sunset and 2 hours after sunrise. In Winter, it's best to catfish from the late morning until sunset. 

Can you see catfish on down imaging sonar?

Down imaging sonar can receive information on interferences to its signal when reading below your watercraft. If you're in deep-waterways, then it can show areas where there is a lot of movement. Once you accomplish reading each graph, you’ll be able to identify large flows of movement to schools of catfish using down imaging.


Conclusion

Fishing for catfish can differ from species to species. Make sure you're prepared with everything you'll need in your fishing arsenal, including a good fishfinder. The Humminbird Helix 5 is an excellent choice for its versatility and reliability. It can also scan as deep as 5,000 feet, making it the top pick for the best fishfinder for catfish on the market.