Majority of the companies that produce fishing electronics are fully on board regarding the production of full-featured fish finders that sell for less than $300.
In this article, we will try our best to narrow down the buying the process by providing you with a detailed review of the best fish finders that gall under the $300 price point.
Also, get ready to learn new things about the latest solar technologies that are making waves in the market.
We realize one of the most significant factors to consider when purchasing the perfect fish finder is the price. Many units cost upwards of a thousand dollars. Obviously, that isn’t for everyone. However, we will help you choose a dependable fish finder that is low on price, while still providing excellent value for money.
Below, we discuss the five best fish finders under $300. These units make it easier to find fish without putting a dent in your finances.
Top 5 Fish Finders Under $300
|Humminbird 410210-1 HELIX 5 CHIRP GPS G2 Fishfinder|
|Lowrance Hook-4 Sonar Downscan Fishfinder|
|Raymarine E70294-US Dragonfly-4 Pro Sonar/GPS with US C-Map|
|Garmin 010-01807-00 Garmin STRIKER 5cv|
|Garmin Echomap Chirp 43cv|
1. Humminbird 410210-1 HELIX 5 CHIRP GPS G2 Fishfinder – Best Power Performance
This product has garnered a lot of reviews due to the inclusion of CHIRP sonar technology that had the ability to scan up to a depth of 1000 feet.
It also has a waterproof rating of IPX7 that provides adequate resistance to high water pressure and allows full immersion.
Additional features include the robust 15mm transducer that is super easy to mount. You can read the temperature of the water, and the device permits immersion to a depth of 1500 feet. Users also get to keep track of their favorite fishing spots with built-in GPS technology.
The unit is fitted with a 5” ultra HD LED-backlit display complete with 800×480 resolution. This allows you to split images into tow or spread images over a wider area. Furthermore, in Fish ID+ mode, three alarm settings detect the size of fish.
2. Lowrance Hook-4 Sonar Downscan Fishfinder – Best Features
The number two fish finder unit on our list is the incredible Lowrance Hook-4 that packs much punch in a tiny package. It is dual-purpose as it can serve both leisure fishers and it also works as a side bow unit for larger vessels.
It is best used on kayaking fishing trips. Part of the cutting edge features in the unit includes CHIRP and down -scanning sonar functions.
A personal favorite feature for us was the Lowrance’sDownScan Overlay technology that integrates CHIRP sonar readouts with DownScan Images. All images are visible on the tri-split screen.
This find finder is pre-installed with a map of 3,000 lakes which you can visit with the help of the built-in GPS. You can upgrade the charts on the unit with a MicroSD card whenever you want.
The pre-set page layouts are accompanied by a “record and review” function that helps you to rewind the sonar history.
To improve ease of use, the manufacturers added a phone-like configuration pattern that can be operated with your thumb while you fish with the other hand. Although the gloved operation is a bit tricky, we are impressed with the buttons on the Hook-4.
3. Raymarine E70294-US Dragonfly-4 Pro Sonar/GPS with US C-Map – Best Tracking
The third fishfinder device on our list is the unique Raymarine E70294-US Dragonfly-4 Pro, a compact fish finder that guarantees anglers top-notch features. The unit can boast of quality images that relay information efficiently.
The outstanding feature of this unit is its dual channel sonar, a feature that combines both CHIRP DownVision sonar and CHIRP conventional sonar technology to provide photo-like images. The former allows the device to send signals into the water and provides detailed information.
This increases the efficiency of your tracking in deeper waters. Raymarine also favors a 50-channel GPS that heightens the precision of tracking.
You even get to stream live sonar data to other services thanks to the built-in Wi-Fi, with the added option to rewind and share images on different social media platforms.
Users are treated to quality detailed images thanks to the 480 x 272 resolution and 16:9 aspect ratio on the 4.3” screen.
4. Garmin 010-01807-00 Garmin STRIKER 5cv – Best Imagery
Just like the other fish finder units in our list, it has two types of sonar – 2D CHIRP and ClearVÜ. 2D CHIRP is capable of sensing sonar signals of 50/77/200 kHz while ClearVÜ operates at a sonar level of 455/800 kHz.
The unit transducer is fitted with an integrated temperature sensor and a 20” cable. The high-frequency sonar from the CHIRP provides photographic imagery so you can see more of what is in the water.
This feature also gives an accurate representation of fish, underwater structures, and submerged objects. The sonar has an underwater depth cap of 2300 feet and 1100 feet in freshwater and saltwater respectively.
5. Garmin Echomap Chirp 43cv – Best GPS
The 43cv was designed based on Garmin’s CV20 Transducer that incorporates both CHIRP ClearVÜ and CHIRP signals that produce photo-realistic images that the brand is known for.
Both modes operate in three frequencies to provide excellent resolution in any fishing conditions.
This powerful fish finder can reach depths of 1100 feet in saltwater and 2300 feet in freshwater. Additional features include a bottom lock mode that transmits images from the bottom to the surface, water temperature graph and log, and recording/rewinding functions that integrate seamlessly with its PC interface capabilities.
Compared to other fish finder units in its price range, it has one of the best GPS accuracy and can combine with other Garmin products as needed.
The feature that grabbed our attention was the Quickdraw function that allows users to build personalized HD maps virtually. These maps can be shared on other platforms and saved for later viewing.
The only drawback this product has is the lack of swivel function. However, it is relatively easy to set up and disassemble the unit. Its overall capabilities ensure that it gets a spot in our top 5 beat fish finders under $300.
Other Best Selling Options
- Clear Vu scanning Sonar shows you more of what is in the water around your boat; This high frequency sonar gives near photographic images with detailed representations of objects, structure and fish
- The power of simple offers a keyed interface with dedicated buttons; The device is easy to use and easy to install; Available in 3.5, 5 and 7 inch display sizes; Water rating IPX7
- Waypoint map: Use the way point map to easily view, mark and navigate to locations such as brush piles, stumps and docks; Maximum depth 1,600 feet freshwater, 750 feet saltwater; Current draw at 12 volt: 0.23 Ampere
- Chirp Sonar sends a continuous sweep of frequencies which provides a wider range of information; Chirp Sonar is able to create crisper fish arches with better target separation
- Built in flasher: View your sonar data in the classic flasher format; Ideal for ice fishing or vertical jigging. Display size: 1.9 x 2.9 inches (4.9 x 7.3 centimeter); 3.5 inches diagonal (8.7 centimeter)
- 5-Inch Color WVGA Display
- Precision Internal GPS Chart plotting with built-in Anima cartography
- Micro SD card slot for optional maps or for saving waypoints
- Target Separation - 2.5 Inches
- CHIRP Dual Beam PLUS Sonar. Power Output RMS : 500 Watts. Power Draw : 615 mA
- Display Size Diagonal - 4.3-Inch
- Dual Beam Sonar
- 2400 watts PTP/300 Watts RMS
- Depth Sonar 320 ft (20) 455 kHz, 600 ft (20) 200 kHz
- Sonar Coverage 28° & 16° @ -10dB
What Should I Know Before Buying A Fish Finder
A reliable fish finder has certain features that are essential if you want a wholesome experience.
- Transducers are very important as they send out and receive sonar waves. These waves bounce off different objects once they are emitted in the water, and give you a clear direction to fish.
- Transducers materials are essential depending on the type of boat you are using. If you’re a casual fisherman, we advise you to try out the plastic transform mount. They are compatible with virtually every boat.
- The color display in your Transducer is a vital component, as they provide millions of colors and details in comparison with black and white screens that only show 265 shades of grey. A color display function makes it easier to read the information on the Transducer.
- The screen resolution feature should be at least 240 x 160 pixels. Although his resolution might not be the best you can lay your hands on, it should serve as a base value when fishing. We recommend getting a higher resolution display upwards of 240 x160 pixels.
Fish Finder Buyer’s Guide
Fish finders are effective tools that provide clear images of fish and show underwater structures in a way you have never seen before.
However, purchasing the right one can be a tough ask to the untrained eye. One small misstep can least to an unusable device.
Highlighted below are three serious mistakes you should avoid when purchasing a fish finder.
1. Buying a Fish Finder Without GPS
When purchasing a new fish finder, a novice might feel overwhelmed by all the features and options; display screen size, power wattage, Transducer, number of pixels, and many more. But remember that an essential feature you need in your fish finder units is GPS tracking.
2. Picking the Wrong Type of Sonar
The most popular types of sonar are Side Scam and Down Scan. The significant difference between both sonars is that Side Scam broadcasts an angled signal to the side of the boat while Down Scan sends the signal directly below the boat.
The third option is new technologies, like Hummingbird SwitchFire and Lowrance StructureScan that combine both Down Scan and Side Scam.
We recommend purchasing a fish finder that incorporates both of these sonars so that you can enjoy the best of both worlds for a satisfying fishing experience.
3. Picking A Portable Fish Finder Solely for Price
It is usually enticing to choose a portable fish finder when browsing fish finders. They are cheaper than fixed fish finders; however, purchasing a fish finder due to its cheapness can lead to an increase in overall cost in the long term.
Features of a Fish Finder
Choosing the best fish finder to suit your budget is an easy task. Now, you need to learn about essential features.
- Size Of The Screen: A fish finder unit with a broader screen provides an expansive viewing experience which is very important when fishing
- Clarity: The higher the pixels, the sharper the images. The number of pixels that a fish finder has will directly influence the sharpness and clarity of the display
- Symbols: It is important to buy a fish finder that has defined symbols for different functions
- Monochrome: If you have the luxury of spending a bit more, we recommend purchasing a model that is fitted with a color display
- Audio/Visual Alerts: This feature notices you of changes in the temperature of the fishing area
- Backlit Display: This feature provides a better viewing experience in the dark
- Sensors: Shows changes in the surface and underwater
Majority of portable fish finders contain suction cup transducers and a self-contained case. Users can fasten the Transducer for fixed mount models to the boat ransom.
Single/Dual Frequency Transponder
- Single: Single frequency transponders emit 200kHz and operate well in inland lakes and freshwater locations
- Dual: These transponders operate at both 200kHz and 50kHz and are suited to saltwater locations as well as deep-water locations. They can penetrate dark zones and can even send strong signals beyond 200 feet
If you fish in both freshwater and saltwater locations, and both shallow and deep areas, then we recommend purchasing a model with dual frequency. However, if your angling is streamlined to a particular target, you should economy opt for a model with higher frequency
The temperature of the water heavily influences fish behavior. Bait fishes have a preference for warm water since they are cold-blooded animals. The spot where warn levels of water meet cool levels are referred to as thermoclines.
They are prime spots for anglers, and you can see the variance in thermoclines on your fish finder screen. The higher the difference in temperature, the thicker the thermoclines will appear on the display screen.
The global positioning system features are an essential part of any fish finder device, and you will need them to pinpoint the best location to fish.
If you’re a fan of testing uncharted territory, the GPS is a useful feature to help you map your waypoints especially when you’re far from home in the dark.
GPS will also store your favorite fishing spots so you can revisit these places whenever you want. This usually comes in handy during friendly competitions. You get to angle in better slots, thus saving time and effort.
Regardless of the fish finder you purchase, GPS is a useful feature that will boost your angling experience.
Fish Finder FAQ
How difficult is it to change the sonar battery?
It is super easy. Uncork the battery cap, slide the tiny black tab that houses the battery backward and the battery edge so pop up. Remover the weak battery and insert a new one into space until you hear the black tab click. This means it is secure. Don’t forget the silicone lubricant when replacing the battery cap. And make sure you tighten it securely before usage.
What does Side Imaging (SI) Background Pinging setting do?
This is a function in the Fishfinder device that controls the side imaging frequencies and dictates when they ping. They are active even when side imaging view is on sleep on the the screen of your Fish Finder unit
What is MEGA Imaging+™ sonar?
MEGA Side Imaging+ and MEGA Down Imaging+ provides you with a view of the world, and underwater structures with photo-realistic images up to 200 feet underwater on either side of your vessel and downwards.
Our Final Take
In recent years, the quality of fish finder devices has drastically improved compared to first-generation products. GPS and sonar technologies are improving every passing year, and the display screens are more robust and highly durable.
Marine electronics has also welcomed the introduction of touch-screen devices, and fish finders are implementing many high-tech functions for each release.
It takes rigorous searching to find an excellent under $300 fish finder device with updated functions like side vu sonar, down-imaging, and CHIRP. We highlighted the best fish finders under $300 in 2020 in terms of capabilities, price-point, and value.
Our top recommendation is the Humminbird 410210-1 HELIX 5 CHIRP GPS G2 Fishfinder based on its encompassing features, a plethora of functions, and exceptional value for the price.
Now it’s up to you to check out these models and choose the best fit for your fishing situation. Any of the great units we reviewed will do an excellent job to help you find your big catch!
Are you using any of the fish finder devices on our list? Do you have a favorite you want to share?