Howdy partners, surfing for the best fish finder under 400 bucks eh? Well, I’m glad that I’ll be at your service. We made a list that has plenty of useful features with a competitive price tag.
Perhaps you’re a new angler and this is your first fish finder. Or maybe you are a veteran expert angler who knows how to use a fish finder like the back of your hand. But we are confident that this article will serve you both, efficiently.
Quick Pick: Best fish finder under 400
But if this list fails to meet your preference, then perhaps these best fish finder under 500 will suit you best. And if you wanna fish on the go or looking for some of the best fish finder for kayak, then one of these best portable fish finder would be your cup of tea.
Top Review Team’s Choice:
If you ask us what’s our pick from the best fish finder under 400 bucks? We’ve picked the Humminbird Helix 5 CHIRP GPS G2
- Powerful Dual-Beam plus Sonar
- Accurate GPS with Chartplotter
- Switchfire & Digital Chirp
- Down imaging and side imaging
You may also like some of these additional fish finder accessories to go with your next fish finder.
1. Garmin ECHOMAP CHIRP 53cv ( Best for dual-frequency Sonar & GPS )
Description: Just like the ECHOMAP CHIRP 53dv, the Garmin ECHOMAP CHIRP 53cv is similar in specs and design. This compact unit has 2D sonar and Clearvü Sonar capability. The working depth is also enough to attract any regular user.
At the end of the day, I’ve found only 1 significant difference between the 53dv and 53cv models. And that is the changed name of Clearvü instead of downvü. The unit we’re gonna review now comes with a transducer and US lake view charts.
Sonar & transducer: As you’ve already realized, the 53cv comes with both 2D and Clearvü Sonar. And the CV22HW-™ Transducer comes with the GT22HW-™ Clearvü version.
- 4-pin connector
- Mount: Transom & troll motor
- 20 ft (6 meters) cable
- Temperature sensor with log & graph function
Even though the unit has 50/77/200 kHz capability, the given transducer can do high wide 2D Chirp at 150-240 pulse rate. Same with the Clearvü CHIRP Sonar scan too. The given Sonar can do 455/800 kHz but the unit has modulated the capacity of 425-485 kHz and 790-850 kHz.
That’s why the Garmin ECHOMAP 53cv has better image quality, good target separation, and less clutter. The unit’s wide range of scan capability really puts it at par with some of the top-notch systems in the market today.
GPS & Navigation: The ECHOMAP 53cv offers a staggering number of US lakes, reservoirs, and rivers. All 17,000 of them! You’ll also find some point of interest spots such as docks, camping spots, boat ramps, suitable camping spots, and marinas. It even has highways, general roads, and bridges available.
My unit also allows marking shallow waters for safe navigation which also helps locate the certain fish location and their possible holding spots. You’ll get a cool Quickdraw contour with the 53cv. Just like the auto chart lives, it draws the contour of a specific watersport using the 2d Sonar data feedback.
Also, the ECHOMAP 53cv features a powerful 5hz GPS/GLONASS. This internal GPS is so powerful, that it refreshes your location up to 5 times per second. You’ll also get 5000 waypoints with 100 routes and 50k track points with 50 tracks.
The unit: The first thing you’ll see is the display. It’s 5″ WQVGA display with 480×480 resolution. The IPx7 waterproofing is very handy. Other than splashes, the unit can take up to 1 meter of water immersion. Unfortunately, no wireless connectivity is given but you can transfer data via MicroSD card.
If you want to use an 8-pin connector Transducer, the 53cv got out covered with an adapter.
Our thoughts: The unit is good for only two-panel views. In split-screen mode, you can view chart Clearvü, dual-frequency, 2D Sonar, etc. GPS is accurate. Besides, Garmin echomap chirp 54cv review has been positive from its user. It’s a good buy if you are just trying to locate fish with minimal features at a reasonable price range.
2. Humminbird Helix 5 GPS GP2 (Best value for money fish finder)
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.
Did you know that 83 kHz is the perfect frequency for 60° conical beam?
This frequency is so good that it’ll reveal 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.
3. Lowrance Hook2 with SplitShot transducer (Powerful, featureful, superior Transducer with a reasonable price tag)
Description: It has been a year since Lowrance has introduced the Hook2-5 SplitShot. But in reality, they just re-designed the Hook-5 and upgraded Sonar & navigation features to meet the demands of modern-day anglers. Also, you’ll have the SplitShot transducer and US IN-land maps with the Hook2 as well.
Sonar & SplitShot transducer: This re-designed HDI skimmer known as the SplitShot Transducer can produce greater wide-angle CHIRP (2D 200 kHz) and DownScan (455/800 kHz). Although the CHIRP technology is only accessible with 2D sonar. But the DownScan overlay system will help you combine both Sonar function. This will greatly improve the fish arches positioning in contrast to those vegetations, brush piles or any sort of bottom structures.
But the lack of SideScan will discourage a lot of anglers from buying this one. Instead, they’ll go for the Hook2 triple-shot I reckon. But don’t this lackings let you down. The Hook2-5 SplitShot offers other features like-
- Fish ID
- Ice Fishing Mode
- Amplitude Scope
- BOTTOM Lock
- Temperature graph
- Sonar recordings
- Circular Flasher
- Multi-purpose alarms
Navigation: Nothing fancy with the GPS, but it comes equipped with US inland charts. Based on C-Map charts, the detailed US inland mapping with 1-foot contours for over 3k lakes. What they lack in details makes up with accurate border and landmarks in between land and water. The Hook2-5 SplitShot also compatible with C-Map Genesis, Navionics and others. Now, these charts offer detailed mappings and other useful functions like tide info, contour shading, etc. The features I really admired are-
- High sensitive internal GPS
- CAN use information from MSAS/ WAAS & EGNOS satellite ( depending on availability)
- Top speed detection with coordinates (latitude & longitude)
- Can save up to 3,000 waypoints
- Make & customize up to 100 routes
- Track plotting features with 100 track recording capacity (10k plots per track)
The unit: The Hook2-5 SplitShot has no touchscreen. The entire unit is operable with keypads and has a 5″ TFT led backlit diagonal display. The quality and display detail are brilliant. The 800H×480V pixel matrix display produces sharp and accurate data. And of course, it is visible enough under direct sunlight with a Top-70°/Bottom- 50°/Left- 70°/Right- 70° viewing angles.
It also comes with IPx7 waterproofing. So your investment can be safe under 1 meter of water just in case. Even the connectors are protected with a tight seal.
Networking & mount: Unfortunately, Hook2-5 SplitShot has no networking ability. It doesn’t come with NMEA nor with an Ethernet port. You’ll only find two ports for the Transducer and the power cable. But it does have a MicroSD card slot.
The Hook2 SplitShot can be mounted with a trolling motor. Because it has two cuts out spaces atop of the transducer. But you’ll have transom mount option right out of the box.
Some of you may be tempted to use triple-shot Transducer instead of the SplitShot included with the Hook2. Since both have 8-pin connectors, it may not be impossible. But I haven’t done it. So, check with Lowrance and see if they approve.
Our thoughts: I know, by now you’ll be wondering, why haven’t I wrote about SideScan! Because it doesn’t have one. So, the decision is yours. Personally, I think the Hook2 SplitShot is a great fish finder for beginners. But who knows, veteran anglers may find the transducer capacity more appealing.
4. Garmin echoMAP 54cv with Transducer ( Best for accurate GPS & Greater depth scanability)
Description: Garmin introduced the ECHOMAP CHIRP 54cv nearly 2 years back. Basically, it’s a rebranded version of echoMAP CHIRP 54dv. They just changed the tile of downvü into Clearvü. Also, this one has a transducer included.
Transducer & Sonar: The GT23M-™ 4-pin Transducer with a transom mount has a built-in temperature sensor. The transducer has CHIRP technology which helps it to modulate a variety of Sonar pulse over a range of frequencies. Such as, the 2D sonar can do 50/77/200 kHz whereas the Clearvü can operate 260/455/800 kHz.
Like every CHIRP enabled fish finder in the market, the ECHOMAP CHIRP 54cv has less clutter in details and better target separation. The fish finder has a maximum depth capacity of 2300 ft (701m). But the included transducer can go as deep as 1,800/ ft (548m) with 2D and 1,000 ft (348m) with Clearvü. Which is pretty impressive.
The recommended boat speed is 6 MPH but the unit can pick up data at 25-30 MPH. Although the quality isn’t that great.
The Garmin ECHOMAP CHIRP 54cv has some pretty nifty features.
- Sonar recordings with playback option
- Bottom lock
- Data graphs
- Circular Flasher
- Split-frequency Etc
Navigation: This where the ECHOMAP CHIRP 54cv dominates the rival unit. You’ll find super accurate positioning with GPS/GLONASS module. Along with Chartplotter, the ECHOMAP also comes with preloaded Bluechart G2 HD map feature.
You’ll see smooth transitioning between zoom levels and exceptional consistency across chart borders. BlueChart G2 map covers the US coastal areas and Bahamas. Even the East and West Coast with the US area of the great lakes and the Gulf of Mexico. Just like the NOAA chart, the bluechart G2 map system features ILALA symbols, currents, tidal stations, and depth contours. Also, it’s upgradeable to the latest lakevü Ultra HD or Bluechart g2 vision.
Other features are-
- Can save up to 5,000 waypoints and 100 routes
- Can save 50K track points with up to 50 tracks
- Tracks are convertible into routes for adding waypoints and retrace later
- Can add depth contours while navigation via Quickdraw Contours feature
The unit: The first thing you’ll see is the square 5″ WQVGA 480×480 screen. One thing really disappointed me is that there so only 2 split screen available. Either you have to go with Clearvü and Charts, and 2D and CV in dual panel views.
Like any other fish finder, the ECHOMAP CHIRP 54cv is also IPx7 waterproof. Which means you can use it in rough water or rain without any damage. The unit can dive within a meter of water if required.
Mount: The unit has a mount style of tilt-swivel type. Which is easier to disconnect whenever you please. Although a flush mount is included with the box. And if you want to use an 8-pin transducer, it’s possible with the included adapter.
Network: The ECHOMAP CHIRP 54cv doesn’t have any wireless capacity. But thank heavens or Lowrance for the MicroSD card reader slot. You can easily transfer or import data with a simple data cable or the card.
Our thoughts: Apart from small display and lower screen resolution, I like the Garmin ECHOMAP CHIRP 54cv. Good GPS performance and solid sonar depth frequency. A perfect combination of plentiful features and proper pricing.
5. Humminbird Helix 5PT (Best portable fish finder for Kayak)
Description: Yes, my friend. PT stands for portable. And the Humminbird Helix 5 PT is exactly the same as the Helix 5 unit, only portable. This is solely aimed at a fish finder unit. So don’t expect any heavy navigation features. However, you’ll get a portable kit and a suction cup do the Transducer right out of the box.
Transducer & Sonar: The first convenience you’ll feel is the easier removal of the Transducer. The suction cup made this possible. The XPT 9 20 Transducer has a water temperature sensor. The easier extraction of the Transducer allows the user to lower it up to 15 ft (Cable Length) deep into the water. So you can have some extra data.
The Transducer uses two conical beams 60° wide for 83 kHz and 20° for 200 kHz with the support of both the unit’s sonar frequencies. So, the two beam works together. Therefore you can not only view their feedback in split-screen but also blend the images together for detailed information. This is the beauty of Dual-beam plus feature.
The depth capacity of this transducer works differently for fresh and saltwater. The system can scan up to 1,500 ft in freshwater and 800 ft in Saltwater using 83 kHz frequency. For the best imaging and data feedback, the recommended boat speed is 10 MPH. You can go faster than that but the overall sonar feedback may worsen in the process.
The Helix 5 PT has other features that you may also like-
- Fish ID+ replace the suspended target with a fish icon (There’s no guarantee that the suspended target will be fish)
- Depth data for the individual fish icon
- Multi-purpose alarms- Fish, large fish, temperature, depth
- Switchfire: Can swap between Clear or Max mode
- Circular Flasher
- Vertical Flasher (Also known as Real-time Sonar or RTS)
- White line, Bottom view, Structure ID Etc
Navigation: The Humminbird HELIX 5PT is portable sonar only fish finder. It doesn’t have any GPS positioning function.
The unit: The Humminbird HELIX 5PT has a traditional keypad control panel, no fancy touchscreen technology. But still, the screen resolution is 800×480. For a 5″ diagonal TFT LED backlit display, that’s plenty sharp. You’ll have great target separation and good viewing angle. Besides, visibility is also good even under direct sunlight.
Hummingbird didn’t forget to make their HELIX 5PT IPx7 waterproof. That means you can use it in the rain, snow or even drop it under 1 meter of water.
Battery & backup: The Humminbird HELIX 5PT is after all a portable fish finder. So, battery capacity and performance will matter. It comes with a 12V 7AMP AMG battery that can juice up your fish finder for a day. The charger is also included with the box.
Mount: The transducer uses a suction cup to mount and dismount efficiently. It could be the best portable fish finder for Kayak.
Our thoughts: Look, portability will come at a cost. And in the case of the Humminbird HELIX 5PT, it has. The unit has no GPS, Charts, Ethernet, MicroSD card reader slot, Side imaging or downvü and it can’t even get updates from other Charts or navigational systems as well.
And to top it off, it’s not that cheap. But, portability. A word that can adjust in any anglers tackle box. So for those who are interested in this one, this will be perfect for IN-land, offshore fishing on the go.
6. 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.
7. 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 a 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.
What is CHIRP?
Howdy, to the new blocks out there must be wondering what is CHIRP? Well, CHIRP technology changed the game for fish finder units. The introduction of this technology was implemented on a larger scale from 2013. Fishfinder priced as little as 200 bucks offer this rapid pulse wonders nowadays.
- Traditional Sonar: Sends a single yet powerful tone burst. Despite such power, the brief duration followed by inconsistent signal results in limiting the portion of energy. This greatly affects the ability of the sonar to transmit into the water column.
- CHIRP Sonar: Not only this technology increase the pulse duration, but it also puts more energy into each signal. Chirp Sonar can achieve broadband frequency up to 117 kHz.
CHIRP frequency variables
Not only this portion of the article will show you different frequency strength, but it’ll also help you to pick your preferred CHIRP Sonar as well.
High Chirp: (150-240 kHz)
- Best for detecting big game fish, baitfish targets, spotting game fish close to any bottom structures or lure tracking
- Best for freshwater and inland scanning
- Highly accurate within the 600 feet depth
Medium Chirp: ( 80-160 kHz)
- Ability to scan large areas more efficiently
- Fewer details for smaller targets than High CHIRP
- Detects standard to large sized fish effectively
- Wider coverage area
- Like the High Chirp, it also has an effective depth capacity of fewer than 600 feet
Low CHIRP: (Less than 80 kHz)
- Ability to scan well beyond 600 feet
- Over 10,000 feet of depth performance (depending on model)
- Detects each target within the entire depths in the water column
Difference between Clearvü & Sidevü
Clearvü CHIRP Sonar:
The CHIRP technology was developed by Garmin. It generates more accurate data and displays a clear target on your fish finder screen. The image quality is crisp, smooth like a photograph with wider areas. Apart from getting a clear and distinct fishing image, you’ll also have clear views of underwater structures and vegetations. Also, you will have a better perspective of underwater surface density.
Sidevü CHIRP Sonar:
This function lets you see image both sides of the boat. The straight line portrays your boats already traveled location. And you’ll have a better view of underwater structures, channel creek, depth and flock of fish with Sidevü Chirp Sonar.
A. First of all, both transducers have an 8-pin connection hub. So you won’t need any adapter or converter. But the issue remains with compatibility. I have the SplitShot version but not the triple shot. So I recommend you to contact Humminbird for safety and confirmation.
A. Fish arches: Misinterpreting fish arch data causes confusion amongst anglers. You have to understand that to form a fish arch, it’d have to behave like the movement of a fish. So the fish just need to go across the entire diameter of the cone beam. A fish with partial traveling won’t form a fish arch.
Contour: As a word of advice, go for a fish finder with quickdraw contours feature. You can select quickdraw contours from the settings. After enabling it, you simply need to drive your boat around the lake or river or wherever you are. Not only it’ll create custom maps with depth details but also lets you mark your favorite spots.
A. First of all, you better test just below the thermocline to avert decreasing sensitivity.
- You’ll find it much easier to detect fish from a stationary position rather than staying mobile.
- Good target separation
- Reasonable spotting power with a broader range
- The water column below the thermocline is crisp even with 3X
There used to be a time not too long ago when thinking about the best fish finder under 400 dollars was considered a fairy tale. But now, manufacturers are more competitive than ever.
In this article, we’ve made this list out of a bunch of fish finder, so you can choose from some of the best, the market has to offer today. How convenient it is, that you can get a CHIRP enabled fish finder with as little as 200 bucks!
That’s it for today folks. Hope you’ve found your desired product and some answers as well. Scan with fun people.