Imagine how satisfying it would be to return with a sizable load every time you went fishing. Enjoying a good old-fashioned fishing trip is one of the best ways to spend a day, but it can quickly turn sour if you get no bites even after a few hours. With the use of advanced fish-finding technology, you can take the guesswork out of fishing and enhance your chances of a guaranteed catch.
7 Key Considerations
The different models available come with so many diverse features that it might become difficult to choose the right device. Knowing which features will make fishing more enjoyable for you is the key to finding the perfect device according to your purposes. Following are some features that you should keep in mind when looking at the various options:
- Beam Coverage
- Portability (and waterproofness)
There are a number of fish finders, and how you plan on using your device will determine the best fish finder for you. There are castable fish finders that can be attached to a fishing line. You can use these fish finders to scan spots that are hard to access without spooking the fish. Fixed fish finders can be installed on a boat while fish finders with GPS capability allow you to map your route and save your favorite fishing spot.
The operating frequency determines how wide or deep the sonar signal travels in the water. A low frequency like 83 kHz can scan a wide area, while a high-frequency signal like 200 kHz has the capability to transmit a more accurate and detailed image of what’s in the water directly below the transducer. If you plan on fishing both deep and shallow waters, you should pick a model that has multiple or dual operating frequencies.
The wattage of a fish finder determines how powerful it is and how fast will its signal travel through water. A device with a high wattage ensures greater power and will enable the signal to travel faster and deeper. If you prefer fishing in deep waters, you will need a fish finder with a high wattage like 4000 watts as it will be able to send signals to greater depths.
The sonar beam covers the area in a cone shape, which is why it is known as a cone angle. The cone angle refers to the width of the beam sent from the transducer. A large angle will provide a wider beam and help cover a larger area. A narrow beam, on the other hand, penetrates deep in the water. Choosing a device with dual-beam coverage will deliver the best of both cone angles.
Having a GPS-enabled fish finder is highly convenient. It not only allows you to map the coordinates of water bodies in your area but is also helpful in marking the spots with the highest fish densities. As a result, you can come back to the same spot again and again, without any difficulty.
A fish finder’s display is another vital consideration. Before choosing a model, pay special attention to its display size, contrast, color, and detail. Having a good-quality display will make it easier to discern the returning sonar signals.
You should also keep in mind the number of pixels a display has. A higher number of pixels will provide a smoother and clearer image. In addition, a color display makes it easier to decipher sonar signals under the bright rays of the sun. Moreover, a larger screen enhances ease of reading. Ultimately, your decision depends on your budget, preference, and ease of use.
Portable fish finders are becoming increasingly popular among anglers; however, fixed models provide more stability and consistency. Although portable models may seem like a good option, fixed fish finders can be used on both big and small boats.
It’s also important to remember that you’ll be using this device around water. It is bound to be rained on, splashed on, and even submerged accidentally. Therefore, you should pay particular attention to its construction and find out its waterproof rating, if any, before choosing a model.
The 7 Best Fish Finders under $300
#1 FishHunter Directional 3D Wireless, Portable Fish Finder
The FishHunter Directional 3D is an exceptional device that offers an outstanding range of useful sonar view modes. With five highly reliable transducers, this device offers a wider coverage and highly detailed images, thus providing a clear scan of the fishing areas. Starting from 381 kHz to 675 kHz, this device covers five times more area as compared to other fish finders available.
With ultra-high resolution and perfect detailing, it makes it very easy to detect fish in the water.
The maximum depth range of this device during fishing is 160 feet and is 100 feet during ice fishing. Thus, you can go extra deep without facing any problem. Moreover, it’s compatible with smartphones and tablets, which enable you to easily connect it to iPhones or Android devices via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi.
Mapping is another great feature of this fish finder. In addition to excellent coverage and resolution, this device comes with five amazing sonar view options. The 3D structure mapping makes fishing very simple by providing you with the exact location of the fish. It also has an ice fishing flasher view that adds convenience when you are ice fishing. You can easily map your favorite fishing spots, drop-offs, depth, contours, etc.
- Built-in Wi-Fi connectivity range of up to 150 feet
- Can be cast from canoe, kayak, boat, or from shore
- Wide coverage and long battery life
- Suitable or both shallow and deep water fishing
- Relatively heavy and bulky
#2 Humminbird 410210-1 HELIX 5 CHIRP GPS G2 Fish finder
If you want to have a successful fishing trip, then the Humminbird HELIX 5 is not a device to be missed. Its five-inch display has a resolution of 480×800 pixels that makes it easier to clearly identify the shapes and structures under the water. Its vibrant 256-color display makes it easy to distinguish the shapes, thus making it easier to find good fishing spots. Moreover, it is backlit, which allows you to monitor the screen easily irrespective of the weather conditions.
The HELIX 5 comes with side imaging for an area of 480 feet, thus providing you with a good view of everything around your boat. The sonar pulses at 455 kHz on both sides, thus letting you see if there are any fish worth stopping for. Moreover, this device comes equipped with down imaging technology, which allows you to see what’s underneath the boat with extreme clarity. These high-resolution images provide you with a huge advantage when searching for a decent catch.
Another remarkable feature of this device is the SwitchFire sonar. This tool comes with two settings that make it easier to customize the sonar image. Clear mode makes it easier to differentiate between fish and other small objects while the max mode works better and faster for identifying thermoclines or large manmade objects.
Moreover, the objects are color-coded, thus making it easier to spot how far away they are from your boat. For example, objects that are orange-colored are things that are very close to the boat, while the blue color denotes the objects that are far away. If you are not happy with the color-coding system, you can also customize the colors according to your preference.
- CHIRP imaging enhances clarity
- DualBeam technology ensures great images and outstanding fishing spots
- LED display and IPX7 waterproof scale
- Mapping and imaging precision
- No standing mode to save battery life
#3 LUCKY Fish Finder Wired & Wireless Portable Fishing Sonar
The LUCKY fish finder is a versatile device, which is ideal for various fishing circumstances, including shore fishing, boat fishing, kayak fishing, and ice fishing. This budget-friendly option comes with a number of features and settings that increase your chances of catching a sizeable load of fish irrespective of the conditions or your style of fishing. This powerful fish finder features both wireless and wired options and can perform efficiently in both fresh and saltwater.
With an impressive depth capability of 147 feet when wireless and 328 feet with the cable, the LUCKY fish finder boasts sonar coverage of 125 kHz without the cable and 200 kHz with the cable. This ensures that whether you choose wireless or wired, you will have access to some outstanding capabilities. Its floating and waterproof design allows it to be trolled from any fishing boat or kayak. Moreover, it has a continuous battery life of 10 hours from a single charge.
This unit is able to track water temperature, water depth, bottom landscape, and of course, the fish. Its clear color display makes it easy to make out the features and fish easily. Furthermore, you can fine-tune the sensitivity settings and use the zoom function to track even the smallest lure.
- Compact and portable
- Features both a mountable wired mode and a castable wireless mode
- Integrated ice fishing flasher
- Sends both wide and narrow beam sonar
- Not very accurate in shallow waters
#4 Deeper PRO Smart Portable Sonar – Wireless Wi-Fi Fish Finder for Kayak and Ice Fishing
The Deeper PRO smart portable sonar uses Wi-Fi connectivity to ensure impeccable transmission power.
It is able to gather a large amount of data due to its amazing resolution and higher frequency. Its outstanding Wi-Fi connection has a range of up to 330 feet, thus increasing its range of transmission and scanning.
It has a scanning range of 260 feet, which allows you to see the changes in depth clearly and differentiate among objects no matter how small they are. The GPS feature comes in quite handy when mapping fish locations, and this, too, can be done in real-time because of the Wi-Fi connection. It is lightweight and can easily fit in the palm of your hand. Moreover, it can be connected to a smartphone or tablet, which also makes it easier to record relevant data.
This highly portable device operates on dual beam sonar frequencies, which provide you with a highly detailed look in a 15-degree narrow beam as well as a 55-degree wide beam. In addition, the boat mode allows you to download free online maps and mark your position for future reference. Its high-resolution display gives clear, crisp feedback so that you can easily identify the objects on the screen.
- Allows you to scan inaccessible areas with ease
- Versatile device suitable for trolling from a boat or a kayak
- Dual-beam scanning
- Connects to your Smartphone with the help of its Wi-Fi signal
- Wi-Fi connectivity might be an issue
#5 Garmin Striker 4 with Transducer, 3.5″ GPS Fishfinder
The Garmin Striker 4 is an easy-to-use, budget-friendly device that has a number of same features that were present in the popular Garmin striker 7SV. These features include side-imaging, built-in GPS, and a user-friendly interface. Its controls are laid out well and can be used easily, even if you are wearing gloves. This device is not just suitable for experienced anglers but is also ideal for novices.
It can take quite a while to find the perfect fishing spot; however, you do not need to spend searching for it again as you can mark the location with the Striker 4 and simply return at a later time. You can also map the best route to your marked location with this fish finder. This high-quality device is able to store 5000-way points and even allows you to denote certain icons for the locations.
Its dual-beam transducer utilizes Garmin CHIRP, which provides anglers with outstanding target separation and crystal-clear images, thus making it easier and to find fish quickly. Its sturdy construction and waterproof feature ensure that this device will accompany you on many fishing trips. Another convenient feature is its amazing battery life that is sure to last a few trips easily.
- Dual-frequency capability
- Accurate built-in GPS
- Simple interface
- CHIRP sonar creates clear and crisp images
- Not suitable for kayak fishing
#6 Lowrance HOOK2 5X – 5-inch Fish Finder with SplitShot Transducer and GPS Plotter
If you want to spend more time fishing and less time on installation and dealing with the technical aspects of a fish finder, then the Lowrance HOOK 5X – 5-inch fish finder is the product for you. Its easy access to key functions, simple menus, and user-friendly interface is a true game-changer for anglers. Designed with auto-tuning sonar, this device adjusts the sonar according to the changes in fishing conditions.
The high-resolution SolarMax screen makes it possible to view displays easily in any condition. Its sunlight-viewable display delivers crisp and clear displays making it easier to spot fish. This device is equipped with a high-sensitivity GPS antenna that makes it very easy to return to your favorite fishing spot or find a new one.
The accurate and intuitive GPS plotter allows you to save waypoints, navigate to a particular fishing spot, or follow trails with complete ease. This Lowrance fish finder comes with an optimized keypad that provides one-touch access to key features. Moreover, the SplitShot sonar allows you to stay on the fish by delivering lifelike images and exceptional traditional sonar views both beside and below your boat.
- Automated sonar settings
- Transducer options suitable for various fishing options
- Wide-angle CHIRP sonar cone provides greater coverage
- One-year limited warranty
- Lack of features
#7 HawkEye Fishtrax 1C Fish Finder
One of the most powerful units available, the HawkEye Fishtrax 1C fish finder offers numerous fish finding features packed in a lightweight and portable casing. It comes with a high-quality polarized VirtuView TFTN color display and powerful backlighting that makes it very easy to observe the readings even at night or in direct sunlight.
This waterproof unit comes with three viewing modes, including fish finder mode, ice-mode digital flasher, and data mode. The fish finder mode determines the depth of the water, identifies the presence of the fish, and offers information regarding bottom contour and composition.
This device is equipped to produce real-time FishTrax sonar echoes that are similar to the traditional flasher. This makes it easy to target suspended fish when you are ice fishing. Data mode simply enlarges temperature, depth, and battery voltage readings, thus making it easier to view them from several feet away.
- 100 sensitivity settings
- LED backlighting
- Dual Beam Intelligent Sonar
- VirtuView HD color display
- No unit cover
Due to recent advancements in technology and an increase in the popularity of fish finders, there has been a boom in the number of products available. If you want to spend more time fishing and less time cursing and waiting for a bite, then you should invest in a good-quality fish finder. Read the above reviews carefully before making a purchase as they will help you find a device that is best suited to your needs.