When we see the Humminbird name, we always get excited; these guys are known for making some of the best fish finders on the market. They always find a way to improve the quality of life and usability of their finders while keeping the price competitive, and the PiranhaMAX 4 is no exception. For the price, this is one of the best fish finders you’ll find.
We like the PiranhaMAX 197c, but we’d never recommend it. A bit strange, right? There’s a good reason, though - Humminbird has released a fish finder that’s strictly better, the PiranhaMAX 4.
You can get the PiranhaMAX 4 for the same price as the PiranhaMAX 197c. It comes with a larger screen with a better resolution. There are two versions of the unit - one with down imaging and one without. The price point for the base unit is around $100 - and for down imaging, you’re only paying about $50 more.
There’s no compromise being made, either. The base units come with the exact same transducer - that means the PiranhaMAX 4 operates at the same frequencies and the same range as the 197c.
We’ve written a full review of the PiranhaMAX 4 - if you want to compare technical specs and our thoughts on each product, we encourage you to take a look. All in all, there’s a lot to like about the PiranhaMAX 197c - but the PiranhaMAX 4 does everything better.
|Transducer||XNT 9 28 T|
|Screen||TFT with 256 colour range|
|Resolution||272 x 480 pixels|
|Imaging||DualBeam, 28 / 16 degrees|
This model offers a fantastic upgrade to the older models in the PiranhaMAX series; we can’t overstate how much easier it is to read the display with a 12% increase in screen size, coupled with 70% more pixels. Despite this increase in size, the unit remains small and light (only 2 pounds!), ideal for small boats or kayaks, where space is often an issue.
We hope everyone reading this has had the chance to use a fish finder with an LED backlight; if you haven’t, you’re missing out. A backlight means you get a clear reading of your display rain or shine, in the fog, and at night. That means no matter when you want to go fishing, your PiranhaMAX 4 can go with you.
There are a couple of handy ways to change the display in order to read it more easily. The standard features are all here: you can zoom into parts of the sonar return for a clearer reading, and you can up the contrast between the colours in order to create a more obvious distinction between the light and dark parts of the sonar. An additional display option this unit offers is the WhiteLine function; this allows you to replace one of the colours with white, providing a stark contrast. Let’s say you’re fishing for bottom feeders; you can replace the hard bottom with a white line, so the fish will be incredibly visible.
PiranhaMAX 4 is incredibly affordable; that makes it a good model for fishers who have never purchased a fish finder before, but want to try one out. That means it’s important to understand what sonar does, and how to read it. Here’s how it works: the finder automatically determines depth. It sends out sound waves from the transducer into the water; when those sound waves hit objects, they bounce back, and you get a reading. That means your sonar readings are happening over time; the transducer is continuously sending out sound waves for reading.
This device has a DualBeam sonar; you’ll get a 16° wide, 455 kHz cone for clear bottom imaging, and a 28° wide, 200 kHz cone. The different colours will indicate how strong the sonar returns are; blue is weak, yellow is medium, and red is strong. The ground will always be red; that’s where the WhiteLine feature comes in handy.
Reading sonar accurately can take a little practice; don’t worry, after a short time, it will be like a second language to you. Until that time, we highly recommend using the unit’s Fish ID+ feature. This simple, nifty feature changes the display so when it picks up what it identifies as a fish, it replaces the sonar image with little fish icons; no guesswork here! The icons are even different sizes depending on the size of the fish, so you can avoid small fry.
When you’re out on the water, you don’t want to miss an opportunity to catch a fish. You might, however, have days where the fishing isn’t so good, and your mind starts to wander; and when your mind is wandering, fish might be passing you by. That’s where our nifty little unit’s first alarm comes in: the Fish Alarm. The Fish Alarm will sound when the transducer detects a fish, and you can set size requirements for the alarm to ring: small, medium, or large. That means if you’re only looking to catch trophy fish, you can set it on large and get ready for a wild day of fishing.
The Depth Alarm is as straightforward as you might imagine: when the sonar hits a particular depth, or lower, it sounds. The final alarm is great for when you’ve spent a long day out fishing: the Battery Alarm will let you know when your fish finder is running low on juice.
For the price, we can’t find enough good things to say about the PiranhaMAX 4. It’s incredibly portable, easy to use, easy to read, and incredibly affordable. Perfect for kayaking, canoeing, or other small boats, perfect for aspiring hobbyists. For those willing to spend a bit more, there are models that come with down imaging or CHIRP sonar, but for those looking for a simple, effective, small fish finder, the PiranhaMAX can’t be beat.