FISH FINDER Performance7.0/10
GPS / MAPS5.0/10
- Dual Frequency CHIRP Sonar
- Accurate Internal GPS
- IPX7 Rating
- Low 0.23A Current Draw
- 200 W RMS Max Transmit Power
- No Actual Map / Chart
- NMEA Connectivity not Available
- Limited GPS Data
- No SD Card Slot
- Cover Not Included
If you’ve seen our Kayak Fish Finder Guide, you’ve seen this fish finder. It’s one of the most popular small affordable units you’ll find for personal watercraft. So with that in mind… we had to do a more detailed Garmin Striker 4 review.
The Striker 4 is Garmin’s base fish finder in the Striker line. Other models in the line include a number of upgrades, but the most notable are an available 5 or 7 inch screen. For a kayak or canoe though… we recommend sticking to the smaller model. Even though the 4 is a base model it has all the features you really need at a great price point.
Speaking of price… the Striker 4 is even more affordable now that the Striker Plus fishfinders are available. The recent introduction of the Striker “Plus” line brings welcome improvements, but the older “4” is still a great option. Especially if you’re trying to save a few bucks.
Specifications and Key Features
|Display Size (Diagonal)||3.5 inches|
|Display Resolution||480 x 320|
|Unit Weight||8.1 oz|
|Water Resistance||IPX7 (Splashes / Rain / etc.)|
|Current draw @ 12V||0.23A|
|Maximum Freshwater Depth||1,600 feet|
|Maximum Saltwater Depth||750 feet|
|Unit Dimensions||3.6” x 5.9” x 1.6”|
|Frequency||50 / 77 / 200 kHz|
A-scope: This feature facilitates real time feedback so you can see fish passing through the transducer beam.
Tilt Swivel Mount: This is a must when fishing from a small boat. Tilt only is really only something you could live with on a large boat with a traditional console.
Color Display: The display is small but the screen and color actually look pretty good. HVGA isn’t super impressive by today’s standards, but you’re paying more money for the stuff behind the screen. And, that’s a good thing.
Water Temperature Sensor and Logging: This budget friendly device has a pretty good temperature sensor and logging function. Which as any angler knows is one of the most important bits of data you can have at your disposal.
Ease of Use
The Garmin Striker 4 is a pretty simple device. And, that means there aren’t a lot of menu items and features to navigate through. If you’re familiar with fishfinders or other tech you’ll have zero problems. However, if you struggle setting up a phone or email account there will be a bit of a learning curve. But, nothing too serious.
That’s the thing about Garmin. They have a lot of experience in making devices intuitive and user friendly.
Compared to high end fish finders or cheap no name units… this device is very easy to use.
The buttons / controls are also laid out well and easy to use; even if you’re wearing gloves. The buttons themselves are large and provide a bit of resistance or feedback that is quite satisfying. It really adds to the perceived quality.
Build Quality, Fit and Finish
Again this is where Garmin’s reputation, size, and experience comes into play. The quality of their devices is outstanding. If you’ve ever owned one of their watches, GPS devices, or fishfinders… you know exactly what we’re talking about.
This is a small, budget fish finder so it’s important to set your expectations accordingly. It’s not a multi-thousand dollar side imaging fishfinder you’d find on a $500,000 offshore fishing boat. It’s an affordable little tool you’re going to mount on a sub 17′ vessel. Expect good things out of the Striker 4, just don’t go overboard.
With that said… don’t assume that you’re getting a featureless or useless fishfinder. There are actually plenty of options and customizations available. You can customize the main screen to display not only fish, but an array of data points from voltage to water temp. And while the imaging is not no par with higher priced devices… it does do a good job of depicting what lies below. Even when you’re moving along at a decent clip.
The transducer that spearheads the fish finding efforts employs CHIRP. That means you can expect better detail that will get you into fish better than those old school units. It’s actually pretty strange to think about how much CHIRP cost just a decade or so ago. A fishfinder that could transmit and receive these frequencies would set you back thousands.
Now you can buy one for one or two hundred bucks and mount it on your rotomolded fishing kayak. Pretty amazing.
GPS and Navigation
So the big shortcoming on this device is that the amount of data available from the GPS is pretty limited. The newer “Plus” models are better, but the wayfinding abilities in this particular fishfinder are pretty limited. Which is surprising considering that Garmin’s bread and butter is satellite navigation.
Despite limited data, no charts, and a kind of clunky approach to route tracking… the Navigation is good enough. It will retrace your route and get you back to the dock, shore, or boat ramp. However, on any substantial body of water we’d be sure to have a stand alone GPS or something like Gaia downloaded on a tablet or smartphone. We use Gaia a lot and think its a must have for any outdoor enthusiast.
Back to the Striker 4, the GPS is accurate and “good enough.” But we really see it as more of a backup than a feature worth bragging about.
Striker 4’s Modes
- Traditional Mode – This is the mode you’re definitely familiar with. Basically shows depth and little arcs that represent fish (or debris) below you.
- Flash Mode – This is especially useful for ice fishing. It’s basically a updated version of the really old school fish finders. You get a circle display at 12 o’clock you have the surface and as you sweep in a clockwise direction the water gets deeper. Anything between the surface and the bottom shows up as a tick on the “clock.”
- Split Frequency Mode – This mode allows the unit to receive multiple transducer frequencies giving you greater detail and more info about what’s beneath the surface.
- Waypoint Map Mode – This is a nice way of saying that there really isn’t a map per se. Rather you make the map as you go with waypoints (like breadcrumbs). The Striker 4 will store up to 5,000 waypoints.
- Split Screen Mode – This mode displays the waypoint map alongside the fishfinder screen. With a rather compact display you’ll probably use this mode one or twice… if not never.
How long does the rechargeable battery last? For the average angler; probably a couple days. Maybe three depending on how long you’re on the water looking for fish. It’s more than adequate for most of us who get out on the weekend or take our kayak to the lake for a holiday camping trip.
Variants and Accessories
The first accessory you’ll want to add to your cart is the cover. We think it should be included, but it’s not. Fortunately, it’s not expensive.
Next, if you’re kayak fishing there’s an optional kayak transom mount. Like the cover, it’s pretty affordable.
Aside from the newer generation Striker Plus Line, there are few different variants of the good ‘ol Striker 4.
Topping the range you can get a kit that’s suited for ice fishing or kayak use. It includes things like a bag, a transducer float, the kayak in-transom mount, various brackets, and suction cup mount.
At the other end of the spectrum you can get just the fishfinder. No transducer… no cool gadgets.
In between the high and low end you’ll find the unit that’s the subject of this review as well as the DV (DownVü) version. The DV add some extra frequencies (260/455/800 kHz) compared to the standard CHIRP’s mid and high (50/77/200 kHz). There’s also a bit more oomph in the DV… 300W instead of 200W. And that adds a bit of depth (up to 1,750 feet in perfect freshwater conditions).
Buy the Striker 4 if…
You’re looking for a deal on a really good fish finder for kayaks, canoes, or ice fishing. It’s a great value that offers Garmin quality and essential features while keeping costs low by cutting higher end features and functionality.
If you have a few extra bucks, however, we think it’s worth spending a little more to get the newer plus model. Not that you’ll be disappointed in this one, there are just a few updates that we’ll cover in another review.