You should know that almost 60 million American people involved in fishing. But no one can guarantee that you will catch something after a day on the lake or river. At least fish finders should ensure that they work on the basis of echo sounders.
Invest in fish finders and depth finders, you will know if the place where you plan to fish is full of fish or not and start taking out your other equipment. This will save you from wasting time and effort. This is the reason why the wireless fish finders were manufactured.
In our large comparison, we present the top 10 best fish finders under 300 dollars. In the following guide, we provide you with all the important information you need to choose the right fish finder. You will learn the different types of models and manufacturers and learn the most important purchase criteria that you should consider before making the purchase decision.
Best Fish Finders Under $300 in 2021
Particularly high-quality devices have a transmission power of up to 4,000 watts. The higher the wattage, the greater the information density. In order to offer you a comparison of the best products, we have created a complete overview for you. However, the recommendation is based simply on the aggregation of data that has been collected from the various documents.
Checkout: Our Comparison Table of Top 10 Best Fish Finders Under $300 in 2021.
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1. Humminbird 410210-1 HELIX 5 CHIRP Best GPS G2 Fish finder – Our Top Pick
The first product in our comparison is the Humminbird 410210-1 fish finder in black. The device is suitable for boats, freshwater lakes, coastal and ice fishing, and it works to a maximum depth of 2500 feet. There are multiple inputs, and you can connect the underwater camera to the device. This fish finder is ideal for use in any season of use.
It has a detection frequency of 250 kHz with a CHIRP Dual sonar beam. The flasher mode is also very responsive with lots of different screen options. This unit also has GPS feature which helps you relocate spots on the lake. It is also a great choice for beginners and experts alike and the price is quite reasonable.
With 5-inch color display, their enhanced standard BaseMap provides you with a clear view of underwater terrain and surrounding points of interest so you can find fish and navigate with total confidence. The compact portable unit will also fit easily into your pocket or tackle box.
It comes with the transducer as well as the necessary mounting brackets and cables. You could run the wire through the scupper, but the actual transducer will have to be mounted. It also comes with everything needed to mount, except for sealant of course.
2. Garmin Striker Plus 5cv with Transducer 5″ GPS Fishfinder
The Striker Plus Garmin fish finder has a 5-inch bright display and built-in GPS features Garmin CHIRP traditional sonar which provides more precise information. CHIRP ClearVü scanning sonar and Quickdraw Contours map drawing software stores up to 2 million acres of content with 1’ contours.
The high-sensitive GPS will find and maintain your position anywhere you go on the water. The GPS also allows you to mark waypoints for different locations. So, if the fish are biting in 1 spot, you just mark it and return to it on your next trip. This model is extremely easy to use, even you don’t need previous experience.
The bright and sunlight-readable display provides you a clear view of what is below your boat or kayak, even on the extensive sunny days. And the big screen gives you a better view of what is happening below the boat. The intuitive user interface makes this fish finder simple to navigate.
3. LUCKY FF718LiC Wired & Wireless Portable Fish Finder
Lucky FF718LiC is one of the best castable fish finders on the market which contain the wired & wireless modes. It comes floating design, troll from any kayak or boat fishing and rechargeable battery with 10-hours continuous use on a single charge, fresh and saltwater operation. This model is ideal for those looking for a small depth fish finder.
The device is suitable for varied fishing environments. For example, it can be used for boat fishing, ice fishing, lake fishing, marine fishing and so on. The lucky fish finder is also ideal for shore anglers because its unbeatable range and scanning depth help to find the structure to marking fish.
It comes with USB cable so that you can charge it with USB via computer or other electrical devices. It just a small device, but the 2.8-inch LCD screen provides quality images with different screen modes to display. I would highly recommend if you are a beginner or just looking for a cheap good quality compact fish finder.
4. Deeper PRO+ DP1H10S10 GPS Portable Wireless Fishfinder
The Deeper Pro Plus DP1H10S10 fish finder does not need a visual display device at all. You can simply install an app and view the donor’s data on your smartphone. Thanks to the synchronization via Wi-Fi, you do not need Internet access, and the connection is secured up to a distance of 100 meters.
The Deeper fish finder is equipped with a GPS so that you can follow your steps after the day of fishing. The data is saved automatically in a cloud, whereby the device automatically creates an underwater map. The stored information is accessible to you at all times so that you can find the noted hotspots at a later date.
The Pro Plus fish finder is suitable for bank, ice, kayak and boat fishing as long as you do not exceed temperatures of -20 to 40 degrees Celsius. With a maximum depth of 80 meters, even fishing in deeper waters is possible. But you will get the most accurate readings when the depth is between 0,5m to 80m.
You have the choice between two frequencies and the associated radiation angles. The large beam angle is suitable for a rough overview and the acquisition of approximate data. In contrast, the small beam angle provides you with exact information about a small area.
5. Humminbird 410190-1 Helix 5 Series Sonar G2 Fishfinder
If you are looking for a fish finder with all the bells and whistles, then the Humminbird 410190-1 HELIX 5 is for you. With a large 5 inches screen, the HELIX 5 is the first in the HELIX series and includes the 3 types of sonar – DualBeam, Down Imaging, Side Imaging. To ensure a successful fishing trip, this device will provide precise information on your fishing.
The powerful transducer with CHIRP and temperature control makes all aspects of imaging very simple and no fish will be safe from being found. It also comes with two display modes, Max mode, and Clear mode. Huminbird depth finder also uses GPS to track your speed which is very accurate.
You can run your helix off your trolling motor battery it does not require very much power to run. To mount the head unit is simple as well as the transducer. However, you will need to power it with a 12-volt battery. It also comes with an IPX7 waterproof system that is an additional advantage.
The ability to take a screenshot or record sonar is a handy feature, especially if you want to show/revise your images at a later date. The screen has an LED backlight offering great visibility at night or in direct sunlight. All of the Helix series have a port so that you can insert your nav card.
6. HOOK2 5 000-14281-001 Fish Finder with SplitShot Transducer
The next device comes from the manufacturer Lowrance, With a maximum depth of 152 meters, it is one of the most extensive devices in our comparison. The data display device is available with the appropriate mounting foot so that you can attach it near the encoder.
The two components are connected with a 5.5-meter long cable, which guarantees secure data transmission.
A temperature sensor is installed, which gives you the exact temperature. You can also get depth information on the display. The Lowrance Hook2 fish finder is suitable for boat and kayak fishing due to the stationary mounting method.
The encoder sends a frequency of 200 kilohertz and the manufacturer promises wide-angle technology. You can set a depth alarm so that the device informs you when it is exceeded. The temperature sensor always gives you information about the water temperature so that you can find fish more precisely.
The data display device of the Hook2 consists of a 4.3-inch display with a resolution of 480 x 272 pixels. The 1.76 lbs device is very precise and easy to read. The clear menu selection of the Lowrance fish finder promises you easy handling. The unit also has minimal GPS functions which give you the ability to add speed over ground to the overlay data.
7. Garmin Striker 4cv with Transducer 4″ GPS Fishfinder
For those looking to enter the market with a small depth sounder, this model is ideal. It is the perfect fish finder for small boats or kayaks and offers great service at a great price. The Garmin Striker Plus 4Cv fish finder comes with everything you need to install on your boat or on your trolling motor.
It just a small device, but the 4.3-inch screen provides quality images with different screen modes to display both sonar and GPS / maps at the same time. This little beauty works wonders the imagery is sharp the plot Charter is spot-on as well as the waypoints. It also comes with multiple mounting options and 20 ft transducer wire.
The dual-beam transducer is equipped with a temperature sensor, which is always an additional advantage with several assemblies included. It has powerful depth capabilities for such a small unit and can be used abroad, so overall it is a very versatile device.
8. Deeper Chirp Smart Sonar Castable & Portable Fish Finder
The Deeper Chirp Smart Wireless Sonar model paves the way for handheld sounders. It is portable chirp sonar, launchable, and comes with integrated GPS, so you can take it anywhere. Deeper is an ideal fish finder for experienced fishermen looking for versatility. It generates its own Wi-Fi signal to connect to your smartphone.
The three-beam frequencies (47 °, 16 °, 7 °) allow you to scan larger areas first, then get closer to your chosen target or spot. 100 M with stable connectivity. Precise scanning in water from 15 cm to 100 M deep. Precise separation of 1cm targets. It is smaller than a tennis ball and weighs only 10.4 oz.
The integrated GPS also allows you to create bathymetric maps from the edge. Access all your scans, maps, points of interest, photos and notes on lakebook, your personal fishing journal. You can review, analyze and plan your next fishing trip on any device from the comfort of your home.
It displays all sonar readings directly on your phone or tablet and able to see the fish, structure, vegetation, bottom relief and hardness. You will able to know the depth and temperature of the water. It is one of the best portable fish finders on the market, thanks to the quality of its data area.
9. LUCKY Handheld Best Portable Kayaki Fish Finder
First of all, I was very impressed with the Lucky Portable fishfinder, because its price very cheap compared to high-end models. The device is suitable for varied fishing environments. It can be used for boat fishing, ice fishing, lake fishing, marine fishing and so on. There is a backlight built in the handheld fish finder, so it will display the data clearly at night.
The transducer is with 25 feet cable and removable float. The depth range from 3ft to 328ft and it can be shown in both feet and meters. It has also 5 mode sensitivity options; energy-saving mode; backlight mode; fish alarm; and different depth measurement units. To ensure quality, this budget fish finder comes with 12-month warranty.
The fish finder cable is high quality and strong, you can cast it into the river to detect the fish information. It is also working in mirky water. You could adjust sensitivity to make it adaptable for that environment.
It detects and shows the depth of the water, the approximate position of the fish, short and tall weeds, sand and the rocks on the bottom. You can mount the transducer to your float tube hull if there is a position for you to fix it. Once you become familiar with various controls, this device will fully meet your expectations.
10. Garmin STRIKER PLUS 4cv Bundle CV20-TM Fish Finder
A device from the manufacturer Garmin made it into tenth place, you can use the fish finder in various waters such as in the sea, in the lake or in the river. Due to the increased flexibility, the device is suitable for ice, kayak, shore and boat fishing. This device provides precise information for a successful fishing trip.
You can use this high-end fish finder to a depth of 44 meters. The large beam angle and the high frequency enable you to cover a large area so that you are sure to catch a fish in shallow water. Based on real customer reviews, it’s the best model you can buy under $200.
The Garmin STRIKER PLUS 4cv20 comes with a mount that can be rotated both vertically and horizontally. It has a quick disconnect so it can be easily removed. It also comes with a cover, small stand, and transducer.
The transducer cable length is 20 Feet. It has a sonar and traditional fishfinder split screen. It doesn’t have the top-down view. You have to get the 7 or 9-inch ones for that. This does have GPS and you can save waypoints. For a smaller fishfinder, it does a good job to show structure and fish.
As you have already learned, the fish finders show great differences. Therefore, you have to purchase a device that is adapted to the use as well as your ideas and your skills. This results in various criteria that you must take into account when making a purchase.
For each model of fish finder, the manufacturers state to what depth it works and how much good data it presents. For example, if you are traveling particularly in shallow water, you don’t need a professional device that works to a depth of 100 meters.
On the other hand, if you visit the sea regularly and would like to go fishing at great depths, then you should acquire the appropriate equipment.
In the end, you need to know what depth is optimal for you. If you are more of a fishing novice, find out the depths of waters you want to visit before buying. It would be disappointing if you buy a shallow depth model and ultimately it doesn’t work in your favorite water.
The frequency and type
The frequency is automatically related to the quality of the image because the more sound waves a device generates, the more detailed information is possible. The most common models work between a frequency of 50 and 200 kilohertz.
Devices above the value are much more accurate because they send out more waves in a very short time and you also get more data. The type of fish finder and the associated broadcast cones also play a major role in this context. If the frequencies are very high, the device is suitable for deep water, but only registers a small area.
If you want to benefit from both methods, you should opt for a system with dual-beam. This way you can fish in both shallow and deep water and use different frequencies. On the other hand, if you only want to hunt in deep water, the single beam is much better. If you already know that your place of operation only consists of shallow water, then you should prefer systems with Tri or Quadra Beam.
When you buy a fish finder, you sometimes get an indication in watts. The number tells you the transmission power, which is crucial for good work. The higher the power and therefore the wattage, the better results you will get. At that moment, resort to a fish finder that is between 500 and 4,500 watts. However, it should be clear to you that the more powerful the devices are, the more expensive they are.
Underperforming fish finders sometimes have great problems adapting to the respective conditions. So they can already be unsettled by plankton, waste in the water or currents and give incorrect information to the data display device. As a result, you cannot distinguish fish from other obstacles.
Not only objects but also the nature of the water can influence the data. For example, the emitted waves pass through saltwater much more slowly. If you have no such setting options or if the sensor does not automatically perceive the properties, incorrect results can be expected.
The display is your most important source of information, which you must read and understand. There are big differences in the various models in terms of resolution and display. It almost goes without saying that the data is easier to understand if you get a good picture.
Apart from that, there are displays that present the information in colors and others only work with black and white. This is reflected in the price. However, beginners should choose color displays because they are easier to read and understand. Adjustable brightness can also be advantageous on the water in sunny weather.
Not every fish finder has the same functions, so you should take a good look at the different models and also find out about the possibilities. For example, the system side imaging is integrated with some devices, which also enables you to have a side view of the underwater world. In this way, you will also discover schools of fish that are some distance from the boat. Such cones, which only point downwards, would not perceive such fish.
Some fish finders are also equipped with a GPS. So you can save a spot with lots of fish and quickly find it the next time you go fishing. The device also stores distances traveled and enables you to analyze them after your fishing trip.
Apart from a higher success, a GPS offers more security, for example in an emergency you can share the coordinates so that the coast guard can find you. But even shallow spots are easier to remember so that you can avoid the dangerous places the next time.
Some devices already have stored map material for certain regions or countries. For example, if you only want to catch a specific type of fish, the map can show you in advance where you can find suitable spots with the right depth. But the map also knows dangerous places – for example due to its shallow depth – before you leave, so that you are in turn safer.
Another function is the fish alarm so that the device sends an alarm as soon as the encoder registers fish. This allows you to take the fishing trip a little more relaxed and not keep staring at the device. You will be informed immediately if there is something worth seeing on the display. This should not be confused with the depth alarm, which you can usually define yourself.
Many fish finders can also give you the water temperature, so the sensors are equipped with an additional sensor. The temperature can determine success and failure because every fish prefers a certain water temperature for food consumption. If the water is too cold, the metabolism of the scaly animals is automatically reduced so that the fish do not want to eat.
Some species bite better in warm and others in cold water, whereby a temperature of 8 degrees Celsius is usually a prerequisite. If you are interested in certain types of fish, a temperature sensor could be a crucial function.
You can eject some donors with the fishing rod and others must be firmly attached. Both options have their advantages and disadvantages, depending on how you use them.
An ejectable sensor is suitable for shallow water or for fishing from the shore. The encoder usually establishes a connection via Bluetooth or wireless to the data display device or smartphone. This way you can use the fish finder anywhere. With a fixed transducer, you have to mount it on the boat and you cannot fish with it from the shore or on another boat.
The sensor requires more transmission cones because otherwise, the area covered is too small. You don’t normally fish directly under the boat.
The power supply is also an important purchase criterion. Most models use a small battery as a power supply. The same applies to the data display device, although a battery is rarely installed. In this regard, find out in advance how long a battery charge will last.
If you want to spend the entire day on the water, the battery must last at least 6 hours. You should always have spare batteries with you, but it is annoying if you have to replace the batteries three times a day. An alternative is offered by stationary models, which you have to connect to the boat engine.
When using a fish finder, always make sure that both the transmitter and the visual display unit are closed properly. In the worst case, water penetrates and damages the electronics so that the device is no longer functional afterwards.
If you decide to start fishing, you will have to lug a few things like a fishing rod, bait and accessories. It is therefore an advantage if the fish finder does not have oversized dimensions to make transportation easier for you.
Many encoders are already very small, but the display device needs the right size. It should not be too large for good handling, on the other hand, it should not be too small for better recognition.
Here you have to make a few compromises in terms of image or comfort if you want a particularly small or large device. The data display device is ideal when it lies comfortably in the hand and still brings a good and large picture. You can also easily attach some display devices to the boat or fishing rod.
In addition to the size, the weight is also decisive, which should be as low as possible. A light device is particularly advantageous for transport or use. If you choose a model to attach to the boat, the weight doesn’t matter. On the other hand, if you mount the fish finder on your fishing rod, you definitely do not want to lift a 3 kg device. After all, it depends on your use and what weight you can carry.
A final criterion is the processing, which is crucial for a long shelf life. If you notice cracks, bad transitions or cavities when you buy the fish finder, it will not serve its purpose for long. Because electronics are also installed here, which can break due to the influence of water.
Even the data display device can accidentally come into contact with water so that the component should also be waterproof and well processed. Therefore, take a close look at the fish finder and check weak points.
If the manufacturer is convinced of his fish finder, you will receive a guarantee for a few years. Under no circumstances should you waive the warranty claim or the right of return within a few days. Especially from the fish finder, you can buy a model that is too complicated for you or does not show the desired information.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I use the fish finder correctly?
Each model of fish finder works a little differentiated, which is why you must read the instructions at the beginning. Familiarize yourself with the device and study all important information on the promising application.
Only with a good understanding you can use the fish finder properly and really benefit from it. Despite the differences, some basic functions are the same, so we can already give you an important tip.
Some fish finders work to a depth of 100 meters and more. Others can only analyze the environment to a depth of 30 meters because the frequency of the sound waves is too low. With some devices, you have the option of setting the respective frequency. It is important for you to know that a low frequency enables a better overview, but does not provide detailed results.
At a high frequency, you can also see small fish occurrences, but the search angle is much smaller and the overview is limited. A setting with a low frequency is suitable for optimal recognition of the fish. Once you locate fish in a zone, you can examine the area with high frequency.
What accessories are required with fish finder?
Basically, the encoder and the display device are enough for you. The scope of delivery also always includes the necessary batteries or the rechargeable battery and instructions for use. In the case of a stationary fish finder, you may still need fastening material that some manufacturers have already made available to you.
If you want to mount the data display device on the fishing rod, there are special brackets that you have to purchase separately. Otherwise, you do not need any accessories, as you will receive a fish finder in a set with all the important parts.
Is there an alternative fish finder or sounder?
No, because no other device can show you what is in the water. You can only determine the water depth in other ways for example a mechanical depth gauge is also suitable.
The small accessories can be attached to your fishing rod and operated with the line. As soon as you eject the line and the line begins to sink in the water, the mounted counter begins to locate the depth of the hook.
If a fish bites at a certain depth, the clever accessories let you know at what depth you have to fish on the second try. The mechanical depth gauge also makes it easier for you to catch prey, and yet it does not show the fish.
What types of fish finders are there?
Fish Finders come in different colors, techniques and from various manufacturers. For this reason, all models differ from each other and yet the focus of each device is on the sensor. Success or failure depends especially on the donor, which is why we focus specifically on the sensor for the species.
You need to know that each transducer emits the sound waves into the water in a certain cone.
For a simplified introduction, you can compare the transmission cone of the sensor with the light of a flashlight. A flashlight also scatters the light only in the area that the beam angle allows. The wider the angle of the flashlight, the more the light will capture.
The transmitter is like a flashlight and illuminates the water in a cone. As with the flashlight, the beam angle is also crucial for the sensor, because the larger it is, the more the encoder detects it. There are different systems that are suitable for different areas of application.
How much does a good fish finder cost?
We compare fish finders from different manufacturers. The cheapest fish finder currently costs around 100 dollars. If you have more budget, you can grab the most expensive and high quality product for around 300 dollars.
If you know what type of product you want to buy, you can use the brand as the first clue to start the search. For example, if you want to buy a high performance fish finder that can be considered semi-professional, we recommend that you go directly to a well-known brand.
You now know how to choose your fish finder and pick the one that will allow you to fish more.