It’s both a privilege and convenient to know the exact location of the fish. And quality fish finder can make the job easier. But a fish finder may stress your pocket with a price tag that exceeds over a thousand dollars for some models.
Such a price tag is a drag for those on a budget. That’s where we come in for those who are looking for the best fish finder under 300 dollars.
Best Pick: Best fish finder under 300
Before we jump into the main article, check out these best fish finder under 500. They offer better features and a few extra upgradeable services. And if you wanna fish on the go, then these best portable fish finder can meet your needs.
Top review teams choice
In terms of practical features, build quality, longevity, customer support and most importantly, value, we found the Humminbird HELIX 5 GPS GP2 takes the cake. But that’s our opinion which might differ with yours.
1. Humminbird Helix 5 GPS GP2 (Best value for money fishfinder)
Sonar & Transducer: What I like about every hummingbird unit, that they compliment the price with really nifty features. Take the 200 kHz dual frequency Sonar for example. It may not have the ability to do 50khz due to the absence of CHIRP. But, the dual beam plus utilizes both frequencies simultaneously. So you can see the returns of both Sonar beam in split-screen.
The basic XNT 9 20 T included transducer can operate similarly as the units 200/83 kHz frequency. You’ll be able to see the top layer water temperature with the help of a temperature sensor in the unit. However, it won’t show you any temperature graph function. Remember that the 83 kHz is the perfect frequency for 60° conical beam.
The transducer is good enough to detect even the smallest detail with wider coverage and greater depth ( Up to 1500 kHz). If you want more sharpness and finesse performance of the transducer, turn the frequency up to 200 kHz at 20° conical beam. It might not reveal a wider array of areas but you’ll have good target separation. But maintain. The recommended boat speed of 10 MPH.
The Humminbird Helix 5 is a simple sonar unit. Yet, you’ll have the ability to use fish ID+ feature. It processes the signal elegantly so the return pulse can replace a specific target picked up by the transducer. Of course, this would happen in the right kind of time. Not all the target shown in the screen would be fish though. But the plus adds depth on each target the go which is quite useful.
There are various alarms available with the Humminbird Helix 5. The fish ID+ can trigger alarms upon detecting medium to the larger size of fish. Along with that, you’ll also have depth, temperature, and a very useful battery alarm.
The unit: First thing you’ll see is that crisp TFT 5″ diagonal display. The resolution is 800×480 with an interested led backlit display offers exceptional visibility under direct sunlight. Along with that, the IPx7 waterproofing will protect your investment from splashes and submersion up to 1 meter of water.
Navigation: Having a reliable and accurate GPS is a must-have feature for a Fishfinder. The GPS G2 Haven’t disappointed. The internal precision GPS/WAAS receiver detects position within 2.5 meters. Although not all Helix 5 models have that. So read each model feature carefully before purchase.
You can add an external GPS unit by connecting them via humminbird’s adapter and the NMEA output. On the other hand, you can also add two fish finders to use a single GPS recover by using the humminbird’s interlink feature.
You can run the Helix 5 on Navionics/Hotmaps or Lakemaster using MicroSD card. Besides, the built-in base map in Helix G2/G2N models provides a detailed view of underwater terrain, daymakers, hazards, identifying buoys, etc.
Mount: You’ll get tilt-swivel, also known as the gimbal mount right out of the box. But the Helix 5 is also compatible with in-dash mounting kit. The absence of unit cover also hurt unit sales.
Our thought: The overall build quality and longevity of the Helix 5 is unrivaled. You can choose one with confidence. The fish finder is worth every penny.
2. Garmin echoMAP 54cv with CHIRP & transducer (Best fish finder for depth scanning)
Description: Although the Garmin echoMAP 54cv may have been 2 years old, it still brings some relevance to fish finding market. The unit’s rebranded term Downvü turned into Clearvü from the previous 54DV model.
Sonar & Transducer: Chirp technology has allowed the 54cv Transducer to utilize 2D sonar at multiple frequencies. The Chirp can modulate the sonar pulse within different ranges of frequency like 50/77/200 kHz for 2D and 260/445/800 kHz for downvü. Or should I say, Clearvü for this particular model? You’ll be having clutter-free images with excellent target separation capability in between fishes.
Those sonar frequencies are the capability of the unit. However, the onboard Transducer is a mid-range one. Its CHIRP can modulate somewhere between 80-160 kHz for 2D and 245-260/455-465 kHz respectively. The advantage you’ll have with the wider Clearvü beam. Good enough in this price range. You can shoot beam as deep as 1,800 ft for 2D and 1,000 ft for Clearvü. The recommended boat speed is 6 MPH but anything higher than 25-30 MPH may ruin your Transducer feedback on the display.
You can also have some additional features like-
- Sonar recording & rewinding
- Data graphs
- Bottom Lock
- Circular Flasher
- Split-zoom etc.
Navigation: You may have guessed it, it’s a good fish finder for maps with Chartplotter. The internal 5hz GPS/GLONASS module delivers accurate positioning data with a total refresh rate of 5 times per second. The preloaded Bluechart g2 HD maps cover the US coastal area along with the West and the East coast. You’ll also have access to the great lakes (US part) and the Gulf of Mexico.
The Garmin echoMAP 54cv also packs features like-
- Today stations
- IALA symbols
- Excellent Zoom & chart boundaries continuity
- Depth colors
- Bathymetric contour
- Can save up to 5,000 waypoints and 100 routes
- The trail recording function allows 50,000 track points and nearly 50 tracks.
- Quickdraw contours and a few more
The unit control features: The first thing you’ll notice is the 5″ WQVGA display. It has a resolution of 480H×480V. You will either choose to view your 2D sonar and Clearvü or to your charts and Clearvü in the split screen system. The display is sharp and crisp with a great viewing angle. It also maintains visibility even under direct sunlight.
The IPx7 waterproofing will ensure the safety of your investment in the rain and even up to 1-meter submersion of the water.
Mount: The Transducer offers transom mount right out of the box.
Other notable features are:
- Built-in temperature sensor
- 30 ft Cable
- MicroSD card reader slot
- NMEA 0183 & NMEA 2000 adapter cable. NMEA 2000 cable is capable to integrate with the boat’s grid system
- 4-pin Transducer
- Included adapter for 8-pin Transducer
- Garmin Connect
Our thoughts: Garmin is a game changer in the Fishfinder industry with the introduction of CHIRP technology. It’s still producing amazing Fishfinder with numerous features with a competitive price tag. To me, the Garmin echoMAP is an excellent choice for those who want a compact unit with good Sonar capability. And with excellent Chartplotters and precision GPS, it’d be hard to pass this one by.
3. Deeper Pro and smart Sonar portable Fishfinder with WIFI (Best castable fish finder)
Description: Deeper is a constable and portable fish finder. It’s unique in its own class and can be joined forces with your regular mounted fish finder to enhance your fishing senses. You’ll find it fitting for trolling from a boat or kayak. Its versatility will allow you to cast it from the shore and even do some quality ice fishing in the winter. Is it worth your hard earned dollars? Let’s find out below.
Build quality: Since you’re gonna be shooting this one, you’d want to make sure that it can handle such impact. The main frame of the unit is ABS construction. Tougher, resistant to impact and shock. The ABS material also limits its weight within 3.5 ounces. And only at 2.5″ in diameter, you can have the power of a Sonar into a small pouch on the go. Don’t worry, deeper has provided a pouch with the box for your convenience.
Sonar: Now comes the fun part. The deeper pro plus utilizes a highly sophisticated Sonar technology. It has the ability to relay data of any objects within 0.04 ft apart. So you’ll be able to detect even the smallest fish. The data feedback is also simultaneous. So you can cast and score without missing the target.
The Sonar shoots a Dual-beam frequency. You’ll have a detailed look in a 15° narrow cone with 290 kHz and 55° wider cone with 90 kHz. The depth is up to 260 ft. Enough to reach even the deepest water across the US. You can cast it both in fresh and saltwater.
WiFi: The built-in WiFi feature is used to connect with your smart devices. Whether you use IOS or Android, it can be synced easily using the Deeper app. The connection range is up to 330 ft, which can vary on different devices.
The App: Depper has some cool modes on offer in the app. Check them out-
- You got the standard 2D Sonar display
- Ice fishing mode will utilize the split-screen function to add a circular ice fishing flasher with the classic 2D Sonar
- Selecting boat mode will enable the bathymetric mapping by syncing with phone’s GPS for continuous tracking
- Once our select onshore GPS mode, the unit will use its own GPS receiver to generate map view instead of the synced smart devices.
- You can also switch between classic color and night or day background color mode for better visibility
Navigation: Whether you cast it from the boat or the shore, the highly accurate GPS will give practical feedback. So you can cast it far away and reel the unit back in to create and save interesting spots to cast back later on. The bathymetric maps play a major role in the deeper pro+. And with the bathymetric management platform from free to access lake book, you can save, analyze any map from any device.
Our thoughts: Deeper has changed the portable fish finding game recently. They’ve produced some of the best castable fish finder lately. And with the latest and updated deeper pro plus with smart Is at version, they are bound to dominate in the best portable fish finder category.
4. Garmin Striker 4cv (CHIRP Sonar & Clearvü imaging on a budget)
Description: You may notice the identical nature of the Garmin Striker 4cv with the Striker 4. But the 4cc also features CHIRP Sonar and Clearvü technology. The Striker 4cv is praised for its affordable CHIRP Sonar and Clearvü technology. I was surprised to see GPS with this one. So this isn’t only a fish finder unit.
Sonar & Transducer: First of all, you won’t find another unit which offers 2D CHIRP sonar and Clearvü at this sort of price tag. Similar to the older Downvü, this latest Clearvü has CHIRP included with wider imaging. The 2D Sonar works at 50/77/200 kHz frequency and the Clearvü operates within 250/455/800 kHz. But the CV-20TM transducer scans at 77/200 kHz for 2D and 455/800 kHz for Clearvü.
Also, you’ll find built-in temperature sensor, temperature log and graph feature included within the Transducer. With the presence of CHIRP, the Transducer can modulate it’s the frequency in Mid CHIRP & High CHIRP in the 2D mode. So you’ll see less clutter in details and more crisp picture quality with effective target separation. Also, the depth scan ability depends on the type of water you’re gonna use it on.
Navigation: You won’t find any built-in charts nor any MicroSD card with the Striker 4cv. It’s not even upgradeable. You’ll find the navigational platform is like a blank sheet of paper. Mark your favorite fishing spot, other landmarks, docks and boat ramps as you go along. With over 5,000 waypoints and plenty decent palette of icons, you’ll have plenty to go on for each place you visit.
Even in so many lackings, you’ll have a highly accurate internal GPS module. The system has the ability to determine your boat speed as well as the longitude and latitude coordination of your location or waypoints.
The unit: The 3.5″ diagonal display size may soundless, but it makes up on quality and sharpness. The unit’s 480V×320H pixel matrix offers amazing details and effective target separation. Also, LED-backlit HVGA color display is bright enough to be visible under direct sunlight.
Garmin Striker 4cv hasn’t left out waterproofing. The IPx7 rated waterproofing is splash proof. So under the rain, you can carry on. Oops, I dropped it into the water. Don’t worry, if it’s less than a meter deep, then your fish finder is just fine. Although I recommend not to get wet with salt water.
It may not have any MicroSD or NVME connector, but you can still transfer data to any echoMAP enabled unit via data cable.
Mount: The Transducer comes with a transom mount right out of the box. Whereas the unit gets a tilt/swivel mount and power cable. It would’ve been brilliant if Garmin included a unit cover for a few extra dollars on the price tag.
Our thoughts: What we really want out of a fish finder? Better Sonar scan with latest CHIRP technology, imaging ability like the one on the Striker 4cv. And a dependable GPS function. Now if you’re on a tight budget, and don’t mind a smaller display, then the Garmin Striker 4cv is your bread and butter.
5. Humminbird PIRANHAMAX 4.3 DI Fish finder (Best Down Imaging on a budget)
Description: The Humminbird PIRANHAMAX 4.3 DI has unrivaled features in its class. The unit offers a sharper image and great target separation. Something not easy to find in this price range. Let’s see if this fish finder is worth your while.
Sonar & Transducer: The unit has an XNT 9 28 T transducer with Dual-beam sonar. The frequency is 200/455 kHz. Dual-beam pulses work simultaneously. So you can see both feedback together. Even blend the data for better fish detection.
The Transducer is capable of Down Imaging as well. The maximum depth is at 320 ft. Down Imaging scans and detect fish within its range. It also shows the density of the underwater surface and replaces suspended fish dots with fish icons, that’s to the Fish ID+ feature. Also, it features a built-in water temperature sensor as well.
The display: The design of the Humminbird PIRANHAMAX 4.3 DI is compact. The LCD display panel with a 4.3″ diagonal 480V×272H screen resolution. You’ll see sharper images at a greater viewing angle. The visibility is also great. Even under direct sunlight.
Our thoughts: It’s a fish finder unit only. No GPS and advance Sonar features are available. If you wanna do some recreational angling on a small boat or kayak, the Humminbird PIRANHAMAX 4.3 DI should be a good buy. Depending on price, it offers enough features. Besides, I don’t think you’ll find another fishfinder with imaging ability with this price tag.
Best fish finder buying guide- 11 steps
Perhaps you don’t like the listings? Then let us show you how you can identify the best fish finder. Follow these 11 steps for your next best thing.
1. Price: Price is an important selling point for any product. And when it comes to a fish finder, you’ll see a lot of fluctuations in pricing. So which one should you go for? It depends on how much data you want to receive from your fish finder efficiently. We showed some amazing products with a price tag between 200-300$ above. If one of these fish finders covers your preference, then you shouldn’t go for expensive models.
Remember, we are here to identify and make a listing of products with good value for money. If you are a veteran angler then this listings may not be for you. After all, I doubt that any pro angler will even acknowledge anything from the best fish finder under 300 bucks. But for those who are on a tight budget, look around. I guarantee that you’ll find something worth your while.
2. Type of Transducer: Again, this also depends on your preference. You’ll see a lot of units comes with a Transducer in the box. But the unit itself can be integrated with more powerful Transducer than the given one. Some manufacturers provide extra adapter and converter so you can use any recommend transducer which is compatible with the device.
Most transducer offers a transom mount. But you can mount them on trolling motors as well with proper kits of course. The upgraded models are mountable in the hull of your boat or kayak. Whereas others require no mounting at all, only casting.
3. Transducer signal type: If you don’t know how the transducer sends a signal below the water, then imagine there’s a triangle into the water. The base is positioned towards the bottom and the tip is right at the water surface. Your boat sits right on the tip of the triangle. Get it?
The signal is a cone type and it sends stiffer and wider pulses or beams however you wanna call it. The standard angle is within 15-20° range but, some transducer may shoot a beam from 9-60° conic angle.
A wide beam may cover more space but compromises on data quality feeding your fish finder display. But with those stiffer pulses, you can not only go deeper but also see each target with less clutter and great separation.
Notice that, some higher prices fish finder shoots several cone angles for deeper and wider data.
4. Types of frequency: It again depends on the type of fish finder. The standard 2D Sonar shoots beams at 50/77/200 kHz frequency. With the presence of CHIRP, the frequency modulation may vary.
5. Downvü & Sidevü: First of all, whether you’re a new fish finder user or a regular one, don’t ever compromise on either of these features. Downvü offers amazing water floor imaging whereas sidevü covers a larger area and let you mark waypoints depending on your interests.
Remember, even if you’re on a tight budget, opt for a fish finder which offers either of these Sidevü or downvü with CHIRP integration.
6. Wattage: In every fish finder feature section you’ll see a wattage rating. This indicates how strong the device can scan. More wattage means your fed data will look crisp and clutter-less on the display. You’ll be able to determine between fish and brush piles. And also identifying structures will be more precise.
If you only plant to roam in the shallows, then 200 watts is your sweet spot. But I’d say stick with 500 wattages. It’ll serve your purpose both on fresh and saltwater. But if you wanna go bigger, then 1,000 watt is your bread and butter.
7. Notification: when you get an email or something else, your phone notifies. Just like that, some models offer fish alarm on detection. This is very handy for recreational anglers. But for serious ones, keep the alarm off. If you don’t then the false alarm will irritate you. Besides, I personally try to stay as ambiguous as possible during the hunt.
8. Navigation: Another important feature of a fish finder. Look for a precision GPS/GLONASS receiver module that refreshes your position up to 5 times per second. Also, it’s important that you choose a unit with Chartplotter maps and also can access Lakemaster or Navionics features for versatile map access within the US borders and beyond.
9. Screen: Another important aspect of a fish finder unit. Because whatever the sonar picks up, will be displayed on the screen. That’s why it’s important to pick up a backlit screen. And don’t compromise on size either. Because size does matter.
If it fits your budget then go for a 5-inch screen with a higher resolution pixel matrix. And of course, the viewing angle is also crucial. A sharper display is the key to the right interpretation of your target. Make sure the display is also visible under direct sunlight.
10. Storage & connection: Does our selected fish finder offer any sort of map storing or transfer option? If not then you’ll feel like stranded in a deserted island. Make sure the unit rocks a MicroSD card reader slot.
Also, see if your unit offers any NVME adapter so you can transfer data with other fish finder units efficiently.
11. Brands: Popular brands have become well known by their good product services, longevity, unique features, durability and reliable after sale customer service. So it’s always safe to go with a known brand than gamble on lesser known ones.
The popular brands for now-
A. For those new users, identifying fish arches might be confusing at first. But with the right kind of info, it’s really easy to understand.
You need to have a fish finder with arch. Such fish finder will send lines and arches from the transducer.
The fish arches give better feedback tan fish iD. The bigger ones indicate bigger fish and the same goes with smaller ones as well.
At first, you may face difficulties identifying fish from plants and other structures. But with the time you’ll get used to it and classify what’s fish or not more effectively.
A. It depends on the fish movement within the sonar cone beam. If the fish swims through the entire Sonar cone then you’ll get a full fish arch on your screen. And if the fish swims part of the cone or stay suspended, you’ll get half arches.
But don’t take the half arch as a medium or small fish though. It still could be a sizable catch. It’s the arch thickness which gives away the possible size of the fish.
A. Yes, it is worth your hard earned dollars if you need it. You may see handheld portable fish finder more fitting than the casting type. However, you may see the absence of a few useful features like-
- High-precision GPS
- CHIRP technology
- Downvü or Sidevü
- Enhanced 2D Sonar Frequency etc.
A fish finder can maximize your chances of hooking the next big catch. So choosing one with a good financial value that compliments some useful features is very crucial.
A little over a decade ago, it would be impossible for us to recommend the best fish finder under 300 dollars. But cost-effective construction method makes sure that necessary techs find its place for individuals on a tight budget.
In this article, you’ll also find a complete buying guide if you want to take your business elsewhere. Our aim is to assist you to find the best fish finder with a competitive price tag. Let us know if our efforts helped you or not in the comment section below.
And as always, Keep up the SONAR Siege.