Fish Finder: History, Types & Development

Fish finders are a type of electronic fishing gear that is used to locate and catch fish. These devices are used worldwide, such as on lakes and tributaries, rivers, and waterways.

Fish finders use radar to detect fish in their path, which makes it easier for fishermen to catch more of them.

They can be used not only by individuals but also by commercial fishing operations. Fish finders help fishermen to identify the type of fish they’re looking for before they set out.

They also provide essential information about the fish and their location and display a map showing where they are.

There are many types of fish finders on the market. Some record live video or audio, while others only use sonar to locate fish.

Others still only use sonar and do not have any type of camera or microphone built-in.

Fish Finder Types

History of Fish Finder

Fish finders have been around for centuries and are still used today. Fish finders are valuable tools that you can use to locate fish in various water bodies.

Even though these devices have been around for centuries, they are still popular today.

They can be found at high-end boat stores, on fishing trips, and at local tackle shops.

In Japan in 1948, a device for signaling underwater fish was developed by the Furuno brothers, Kiyotaka and Kiyokata.

The Furuno brothers, Kiyotaka and Kiyokata, were two small electrical merchants in a port in Japan.

They created the first device for signaling underwater fish that would change the lives of fishers and engineers worldwide.

The first device was a 12-volt battery connected to three lights on an acoustic horn. They then came up with a model that increased its range and was sold in 1960 as “The Furuno F50”.

Today’s fishfinders have more in common with declassified CIA technology than with early cable fishing implements.

The Global Positioning System technology is widely used for customers purchasing fishing equipment from $200 to $2000.

Mini Marine Charts illustrate fisheries down to the foot, and fishfinders can locate a trolling motor’s path through the device’s guidance.

You can use fish finders for commercial purposes, recreational or commercial fishing.

Commercial fishermen use fishfinders to determine how close the boat is to the fish and to estimate how long before an area will produce a catch.

Recreational anglers use them for navigation and finding out what species of fish are in a place so they can catch them.

Commercial fishers also use them for navigation and finding when a particular area will produce a catch and locating big.

Development of Side Imaging Technology

The development of today’s fish finders dates back to 2005 when Humminbird introduced Front Side Imaging technology to serve the general public.

Once limited to narrow beams of sonar, anglers could see purchase around 150 feet on either side of the boat.

This was the very first-time fishermen got a lucid image of an underwater environment rather than a vertically designed image.

Introducing Touch Screen

Additionally, the manufacturers were still split on whether customers would like touchscreens or tactile fish finders as late as 2017.

Since users had come to expect lag-free touchscreens from smartphones, it took a long time for marine electronics to catch up.

Some people still experienced difficulty with the early surge in the variety of products with touchscreen functionality, push-button control, and related media products that offered one or the other.

Real-Time Sonar

In 2015, Garmin provided anglers with a breakthrough in the field of fish finders.

Sonar-based fishfinders rely upon displaying an underwater glimpse of what the bottom has given looks like when a probe scans it.

Garmin’s Panoptix enabled those images to come through real-time feedback with a search capable of providing real-time data.

Fish Finder Types

There are different types of fish finders based on their functionality.

Based on Functionality


The transducer is a device that sends a signal into the water and reflects it.

It can be attached to a boat or other type of vessel and can be used for finding fish at great distances.

The transducer is connected to a radio receiver and a GPS unit.

The transducer sends a signal that is then reflected the receiver. You can then use the receiver to find the exact location of the fish.


The sonar is an instrument that emits sound waves and listens for their echoes. Commercial fishermen commonly use this type of device.

During World War II, the U.S. Navy developed the sonar to detect and track submarines.

The acoustic signals sent out are bounced off the ocean floor, which then returns to the device.

Fish Finder Combo

Fish finder combos include both the sonar and transducer, making them more effective in locating fish at greater distances than either alone would allow for.

As with any other tool, they are not foolproof and are only as effective as the fisherman.

Based on the device types, there are different types of fish finder.

Based on Imaging

Let’s take a look at some of the standard and most-known fish finders;

Down Imaging Fish Finder

A down-imaging fish finder works with a sonar beam shot straight down into the water, but the shaft is skinny and does not widen as it travels through the water.

Because of its narrow cone of sight, down imaging provides a limited view of the water’s surface and the bottom beneath your boat.

As a result, it produces a high degree of accuracy.

Side Imaging Fish Finder

Side imaging fish finders, which use transducers that shoot side-mounted sonar cones at each side of the boat, typically have “side imaging” in their names.

When using this tool, you cover larger areas full of fish than the conventional tape or cord-mesh fishing arrays.

Side imaging is the optimal choice for scanning large lake areas to find fish-holding structures, which is why it is also often referred to as a structure scan.

Based On Latest Technology

Live Sonar

Live sonar is one of the recent technologies that make sonar more effective. This contrasts with other kinds of fish finders, which show the image of historical data obtained with sonar.

Live sonars have become increasingly popular in the fishing community, with Garmin LiveScope, Lowrance Active Target, and Humminbird MEGA Live among the most popular.

Live sonars aren’t helpful for fishing in huge areas, but they are pretty beneficial once you locate a fish and see precisely where it is and how the species of fish react to your lure or lure.

3D Fish Finder

A 3D fish finder converts the side imaging data of a transducer into a 3D image that makes it possible to see precisely where fish lie in the water.

This is accomplished by comparing side imaging underwater data with software algorithms that are absent from other types of Fishfinder.

360 Imaging Sonar

360 imaging is similar to flatbed sonar imaging, but the transducer rotates 360 degrees, and unlike sonar, it allows you to capture all types of images.

360 imaging is best for shallow watercraft, as you see the structure and fish in all directions.