The 5 Best Side Imaging Fish Finders in 2022 – Buyers Guide

best side imaging fish finder
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Side imaging fish finders come with all the features one could ever need out on the water and they certainly help you find and catch more fish. But, which is the best side imaging fish finder for you?

Image Product Details  
flyfisherpro-table__imageBest Side Imaging Fish FinderHumminbird SOLIX 10 MEGA SI GPS G3 Fish Finder
  • LED backlight 10-inch screen
  • Touch screen and keypad
  • Crystal clear images
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flyfisherpro-table__imageBest Side Imaging Fish Finder On A BudgetHumminbird Helix 5 SI
  • Excellent Display
  • Sonar recording and playback
  • Easy to learn how to use
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flyfisherpro-table__imageBest Fish Finder For FreshwaterHumminbird HELIX 7 CHIRP MEGA SI GPS G3 Fish Finder
  • Easy to read 7-inch display
  • Reliable and accurate GPS
  • Easy to Learn Features
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flyfisherpro-table__imageBest Fish Finder For SaltwaterGarmin ECHOMAP CHIRP UHD 74sv Fish Finder
  • Durable and long-lasting
  • Excellent CHIRP sonar
  • BlueChart® G3 Preloaded
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flyfisherpro-table__imageBest Sonar FeaturesLowrance Elite FS 7 Active Imaging 3-in-1 Fish Finder
  • Quality CHIRP, Side & Down Imaging
  • Super Accurate Sonar Images
  • C-MAP Contour+ Charts preloaded
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Join me as we take a look at some of the best side imaging fish finders on the market so you can spend more time catching fish instead of looking for them.

Our Best Side Imaging Fish Finders

Humminbird SOLIX 10 MEGA SI GPS G3 Fish Finder

Humminbird SOLIX 10

Best Side Imaging Fish Finder

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 CHIRP Sonar
  • GPS: Yes
  • Memory: Dual SD Card
  • Transducer: Side imaging 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, Switchfire sonar

The Humminbird SOLIX 10 MEGA SI GPS G3 is the best side imaging fish finder you’re going to find in my opinion and it’s perfect for everything from chasing bass in shallow water lakes to going offshore and looking for pelagics.

The reason these fish finders are so good is that they have all the features you could ever need, they’re reliable and intuitive to use, but the one drawback is that all this greatness comes at a high price.

This fish finder comes with a 10-inch touchscreen display that is about as easy to read and as crisp as they come. Plus there is even a keypad for when your hands are wet and the touch screen won’t respond – great design. You can also split the screen into up to 6 different views allowing you to see multiple data points at once.

The sonar technologies on these fish finders are state of the art and feature CHIRP sonar technology as well as down imaging sonar, side-imaging sonar, and mega imaging both down and to the side.

This makes finding fish about as easy as possible since you can search for good areas at speed with the CHIRP traditional sonar and then switch to down or mega down imaging to see if the spot is worth fishing. You also have the option to travel slow and use the side imaging and mega side imaging sonar technology to scan large areas and find fishy spots up to 300ft on either side of your boat.

On top of the many sonar settings, this fish finder also comes with GPS and charts for navigation as well as Autochart live which actually builds custom charts of your fishing areas for you. And to top it all off, the networking is insane.

You can add features like AutoPilot and radar, share the screen with your phone, link it to a Minn Kota trolling motor for remote control, and you won’t need a trolling motor mount for the dual-beam transducer since you can get a Minn Kota motor with it built-in.

The possibilities are endless with these side imaging fish finders and you’ll never be held back by technology again.

Pros

Cons

Humminbird Helix 5 SI

Humminbird Helix 5 SI

Best Side Imaging Fish Finder On A Budget

Specs

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

If you’re looking for a side imaging fish finder on a tight budget that will have you catching fish anywhere from shallow water in lakes to deeper water in the ocean then the Humminbird Helix 5 SI is the one for you.

This particular fish finder has all the imaging features you need to identify fish. It has excellent target separation and accurate readings down to 1500 ft with dual-beam plus, downscan imaging for honing in vertically on fishing spots, and the side imaging feature for seeing what’s to the side and searching wide areas. Fish finding will become easier than even with this unit.

All this imaging technology is pushed out through the included side imaging transducer which is easy to mount to your transom, a troll-motor, and it would even work well on a kayak.

In addition to all these features, you also get sonar recording and playback, GPS and charts for accurate and easy navigation, marking fishing spots, knowing your boat speed, and lots more.

All the data is displayed on the crisp 5-inch screen, the software is simple and intuitive to use, and these fish finders are super affordable. If you’re looking for your first fish finder and you want side imaging technology this is a great fish finder to start off with.

Pros

Cons

Humminbird HELIX 7 CHIRP MEGA SI GPS G3 Fish Finder

Humminbird HELIX 7 CHIRP MEGA SI GPS G3 Fish Finder

Best Fish Finder For Freshwater

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

The Humminbird HELIX 7 CHIRP MEGA SI GPS G3 is pretty much an upgraded version of the fish finder above so it’s a little more expensive but it’s one of the best fish finders around for freshwater fishing thanks to the inclusion of the Mega Side imaging features.

The mega side imaging on the Humminbird Helix 7 will allow you to switch from standard side imaging on lower frequency sonar waves to the mega version which uses higher frequency waves. This allows you to search for fishing spots using sidescan imaging and then switch to mega to see if fish are holding there, where they are holding, and even what size or species they are!

In addition, like most fish finders with side imaging, this unit can also pump out multiple frequencies using CHIRP in one sonar beam, and it does down and mega down imaging too. This allows you to cover all parts of the water column down to 1200 ft and 300 ft on either side leaving nowhere for fish to hide.

You can use the split-screen mode to see multiple sonar views at once, link the unit to radar and autopilot, load up any charts you like and navigate with the GPS, and lots more. The only downside is it’s a little expensive but it’s worth it for the features.

Pros

Cons

Garmin ECHOMAP CHIRP UHD 74sv Fish Finder

Garmin ECHOMAP CHIRP UHD 74sv Fish Finder

Best Fish Finder For Saltwater

Specs

  • Size Display: 7 inch
  • Display: Color
  • Touch Display: Yes – with physical keypad
  • Waterproofing: IPX7
  • Power: 500 W
  • 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, Panoptix all-seeing sonar, including Panoptix LiveScope sonar technology

If you’re looking for a side scan fish finder that is ideal for offshore fishing then the Garmin ECHOMAP CHIRP UHD 74sv Fish Finder is a great option.

This side scan fish finder comes preloaded with BlueChart® g3 coastal maps and together with the accurate GPS plus the ability to link the unit to radar and autopilot, there isn’t anywhere you can’t go! It also comes with Quickdraw which will build customer 1ft contour charts of your fishing areas for you.

You can easily add and remove charts plus move data from unit to unit via the Mirco SD slot and the Wifi connectivity allows you to link the fish finder to trolling motors and via NMEA you can see all your engine data too.

The sonar features on these side imaging fish finders are excellent and you have everything from DualBeam Plus to CHIRP, Down, and Side Imaging. The sonar images provided are crystal clear and you’ll be able to see baitfish, fishing hold strictures, depth changes, and pretty much everything else too.

This fish finder also supports Panoptix all-seeing sonar, including Panoptix LiveScope sonar technology which takes sonar to the next level as you can see live video-like images and even look in front of your boat but it does require an upgraded transducer to work.

All this data is displayed for you on the amazing 7-inch touch screen and the unique color pallets in the images make the sonar images very easy to read. The only downside of this fish finder is the high price but it’s worth it for the quality in my eyes.

Pros

Cons

Lowrance Elite FS 7 Active Imaging 3-in-1 Fish Finder

Lowrance Elite FS 7 Active Imaging 3-in-1 Fish Finder

Best Sonar Features

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

The Lowrance Elite FS 7 Active Imaging 3-in-1 Fish Finder is an excellent side imaging fish finder when it comes to its feature set but its tricky usability is something to be wary of – more on that later.

The sonar features on this Lowrance unit are phenomenal as with the included transducer you can use CHIRP, Downscan, Sidescan, AND ActiveTarget Live Sonar. With ActiveTarget Live Sonar you can actually watch fish swimming around your boat live and even see how they react to your bait.

This means you can change tactics if your offering isn’t quite good enough or enjoy the excitement of seeing a fish come and inhale your lure – how awesome is that.

The sonar images are excellent and you’ll be able to see everything from structure to where fish are holding next to the structure, depth changes, all in photo-like images.

In addition to the great sonar features, you also get an accurate GPS, it comes with C-MAP Contour+ Charts pre-loaded, you can add your preferred charts via the SD card slot, and you can even add AutoPilot, radar, and control trolling motors from it – driving your boat safely will be easier than ever.

All this great data and features are displayed on the super crisp 7-inch touchscreen which you can split into multiple views so you can see your GPS & Charts as well as multiple sonar scans at once.

Where this fish finder falls apart is in the usability. The touchscreen often doesn’t respond, Lowrance customer service is awful and thus fixing anything takes weeks, Lowrance’s software is very un-intuitive and takes ages to learn, plus the installation of this unit isn’t easy either. All of this at a very high price too!

It’s a bit of a shame as it could have been a great unit but it’s not worth the hassle that comes with it.

Pros

Cons

Can you see fish on side imaging?

Can you see fish on side imaging

Yes, you can see fish on side imaging. Side imaging, depending on the unit, allows you to scan up to 300 ft on either side of your boat. The image the unit shows you will include fish, brush piles, rock piles, and lots more.

The fish might not look like fish when you first spot them as they can look like shadows at distance but as you get close to them or change the sonar wave frequency you’ll be able to see fish, where they are holding next to the structure and even their size.

What fish finders have side imaging and down imaging?

All side imaging fish finders also come with down imaging and either CHIRP and/or DualBeam. Since side imaging is the top of the line in terms of sonar, all the more affordable sonar features and included with fish finders that have it.

Is side imaging worth the money?

To work out if side imaging is worth the money, we first have to discuss how side imaging works and its limitations. If the limitations and within your regular fishing methods, then yes it will be worth it.

For side imaging to work properly and produce a decent image of what is swimming underwater it requires you to do three things.

  • You will need to drive the boat in a straight line as any turns will distort the image
  • You will have to drive at speed of 5 knots or lower or the image will be distorted
  • You will need to fish in depths of 50 feet or less for side imaging to pick up what is on the bottom in addition to the side

So what fishing situations are side imaging good for and thus worth spending the extra money?

If you fish in shallow and calm areas at speeds under 5 knots such as inshore or in bass lakes, then side imaging is excellent.

Imagine you’re in a bass lake you have never fished before, with one pass using side imaging, you’ll be able to see all the fish up to 300ft on either side of your boat and go and catch them. Without it using regular CHIRP or down imaging, it would take you 10-20 passes to see the same data.

If you fish offshore, chances are you’re going 6-8 knots trolling for pelagics, the swell doesn’t allow you to go in a straight line, and you’re almost definitely in over 50 ft. Using side imaging, you might spot a large pelagic like a marlin to the side now and then but it’s not going to be that useful.

But, I would recommend having side imaging if you can afford it as there will always be times when it comes in handy, like catching bait for the pelagics in the shallows.

Which is the best side imaging fish finder?

Which is the best side imaging fish finder

Thanks so much for reading my article! I hope you enjoyed it, found it useful, and have found the right side imaging fish finder for you. If you haven’t and are still struggling to choose, then here are the three I’d recommend from the article and for different reasons.

If you’re on a tight budget then the Humminbird Helix 5 SI is the best option for you. It has great sonar features including side imaging, it’s simple to use, easy to install, and you get all the features you need for navigation too such as GPS and charts. This is also the best option if you’re looking for a portable side imaging fish finder for a kayak or a small boat.

If you fish in the ocean more than anywhere else then you should consider the Garmin ECHOMAP CHIRP UHD 74sv Fish Finder. It comes preloaded with coastal charts, has a GPS, links to radar, Autopilot, and VHF plus it has excellent sonar features too including CHIRP, Down, and Side-scan. The display is also excellent and the unit is reliable and durable.

If money was no object I would buy the Humminbird SOLIX 10 MEGA SI GPS G3 Fish Finder. This unit does everything from connecting to radar, autopilot, and trolling motors to providing mega side imaging, GPS, and chart for navigation. It’s easy to use, super reliable, and you can go anywhere with it.

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