Technology has advanced massively in every industry in the last decade and the prices for different products that deliver conveniences have been dropping significantly. For example, devices that used to cost about $1000 a few years ago now cost about $500, while still delivering the same functionality and performance. That also counts for the fishing industry, which has seen tons of benefits of this advancement, as many anglers are now opting for different technologies, of which the most important is the fish finder gadget, that has managed to increase the performance of many fishermen allowing them to more easily catch fish.
Fish finders are one of my favorite gadgets to use, as they make it effortless to find fish, and you just need to focus on your fishing technique. Fish finders use great sound navigation and range system that is extremely advanced and its benefits are superior. Also with the recent advancement in technology, you can get these devices for pretty affordable prices, and that is the reason that I decided to create this guide about the top fish finders in the market that are under the $500 price.
Nonetheless, I should also mention that different companies have different priorities and qualities when it comes to finding fish, and each has its distinct characteristics that make the device attractive for a specific. For example, there are tons of manufacturers that opt for making super clear display’s that deliver as much detail as possible, while on the other hand there are products that deliver better technological qualities and interesting set of features, and at this price point you will have to sacrifice a little, but not as much as you would think. In my opinion, everyone should invest in a fish finder.
Today I am going to guide you on how to choose the best fish finders under $500. We are going to go through the top picks, what you should look for in a fish finder, some frequently asked questions and a piece of general knowledge about fish finders. If you follow this guide carefully you will find a great fish finder that will fit your preferences. I have written this guide based on my fishing experience, hours of research, and consultation with potential buyers. Without further ado let’s get on with it!
Our Picks For The Best Fish Finders Under $500
7. Deeper PRO+ Smart Sonar
When it comes to fish finders under $500 I want to start this list off with a nice, portable and versatile device right here that isn’t your traditional and classic fish finder, but a little more out of the box and interesting one, the Deeper PRO+ Smart Sonar. This device is slowly but surely has started to become a fan favorite and it has a growing following that swears by this one for all their fishing trips.
The biggest feature of the Deeper PRO+ Smart Sonar is that it is castable, this means that you see the scan of the water in your smartphone, which has a better display than most fish finders in the market. I think that smartphone fish finders give a good advantage to anglers since you can cast your fish finder from the shore. On top of that, these features make the Deeper PRO+ Smart Sonar a great fish finder for ice fishing, and it will deliver super accurate results in those circumstances.
The Deeper PRO+ Smart Sonar is compatible with all modern smartphones and tablets, both on Android and iOS. The downloadable app gives you tons of features you can check and use such as the Solunar Forecast calendar, a Weather Forecast, Fish Notes and so much more. The device works on its WiFi connectivity meaning that you do not need to connect to the internet for the device to work properly. On top of that, it has a great range of about 100 meters which is amazing. In addition to all this, I was impressed with the Boat Mode which allows you to download free online maps to select your location and view them in high resolution.
If you want a solid, portable and versatile fish finder, the Deeper PRO+ Smart Sonar is one of the best available.
6. Garmin Striker 4
For those that look affordable and easy to use a fish finder, the Garmin Striker 4 is there for you. This fish finder is extremely accurate and very useful especially in shallow freshwater, and on top of that it has a great display that offers plenty of resolution and on top of that, it is coupled with tons of interesting features that will make you satisfied with the performance and value for the price of the product. Let’s take it a bit further.
In terms of efficiency the Garmin Striker 4 is pretty amazing as it will help you catch plenty of fish thanks to its excellent scaling, I was also impressed with its ability to smoothly interpret image when moving from shallower to deeper water. It also has a waterproof body as it has an IPX7 rating meaning that it can withstand being submerged underwater for up to half an hour in a meter of depth.
Moving on the Garmin Striker 4 also has a GPS compatibility, that can be used for fishing hotspots as it has tons of them built-in. In addition to that, it also has the CHIRP Sonar transducer, which is responsible for delivering the clearest and smoothest Waterflow picturing to get the best image possible.
The device itself has a very portable design and it looks good, I also like that you can accommodate it wherever you want, especially in smaller boats. The buttons on the device are very intuitive and the whole device is very easy to use. With its ability to deliver Power RMS gives it a great performance for both fresh and saltwater.
With its affordable price and tons of features and performances, the Garmin Striker 4 is one of the most attractive fish finders in the market.
5. Garmin Echo 151dv
Moving on I have another powerful fish finder under $500 from Garmin, the Echo 151dv. This device is also extremely easy to use, very useful and it delivers one of the clearest photographic performances of the fish thanks to its dual beam sonar which works wonders. It is pretty small as well and will into your jacket pocket, it is affordable and it is an absolute bargain.
The display of the Garmin Echo 151dv is an 8 level grayscale one, meaning that it doesn’t have colors but it works pretty well and shows the results pretty accurately overall. It is also worth mentioning that due to the small dimensions of the device, the screen is pretty small as well, however, this is a good thing since the device is extremely portable, measuring 4.1×5.8×2.8-inches in total. Without forgetting I should mention that the 4-inch screen has a resolution of 160×256 pixels.
The biggest selling point of the Garmin Echo 151dv is its DownVu sonar which is capable of delivering excellent detail and sharpness. Like I mentioned, in the beginning, the dual sonar beam is capable of detecting fish to a depth of about 1600 feet, which is amazing. The power output of this fish finder is 1600 watts, and one of the beams is responsible for providing a quality look for depth and the other for width, effectively encompassing everything in the water.
Like every Garmin gadget, this one as well provides the best results in the market and I think you won’t be disappointed with the overall performance and durability of this fish finder.
4. Lowrance HOOK2 7
Next up on this list, we have an ultra-advanced device that is visually appealing, ultra-powerful and a true 3-in-1 device, the Lowrance HOOK2 7. This device is also known as a triple shot, since it uses three types of sonar to deliver a mighty performance, DownScan, SideScan, and CHIRP. It is not expensive and will fit right under $500 price, and you will get amazing value for its price, I wouldn’t recommend missing this amazing product. Let’s take a closer look.
The Lowrance HOOK2 7 has a 7-inch display as its name suggests, but what makes this device extremely attractive is its superb High-Wide CHIRP 200kHz transducer which is capable of catching so much more than your regular fish finder. The TripleShot transducer that I mentioned earlier also has a built-in temperature sensor that has a metallic transom mount included in the package with a 20-foot cable and an 8-pin connector. Complete with the transducer the Lowrance HOOK2 7 is capable of scanning to a depth of about 500 feet and up to 300 feet on wideness.
The GPS plotter feature makes the Lowrance HOOK2 7 simply one of the most attractive fish finders in the market without much competition, and the 7-inch display makes it more than enough for most anglers. The in-built GPS delivers great geographic information about the water you want to fish in and through the microSD, you can upload more than 3,000 waypoints and 100 navigation routes.
A lot of buyers have fallen in love with this device and I can’t complain about everything with this device.
3. Humminbird Helix 5 CHIRP G2
Moving on we have the Humminbird Helix 5 CHIRP G2, which is one of the best in the market since it combines affordability efficiency and versatility in a single body. This is one of the most powerful fish finders in the market, and hands down it are one of our favorites as well. Like the aforementioned device, it uses three sonars and for anglers, it is one of the most attractive choices without crossing the $500 mark.
The Humminbird Helix 5 CHIRP G2’s main selling point is the CHIRP sonar system, like its name implies, which makes this fish finder scan down to 1000 feet in depth, whether you are using, small medium or high frequency at the moment. While the CHIRP system makes this device scan deep it also delivers amazing resolution and detail reproduction to the screen, allowing you to target and decrease the noise in the image.
The body also has an IPX7 rating meaning that it can withstand being submerged. Overall I can say that the device is very sturdy and will deliver amazing value for its price since you can use it for quite some time before it will give up.
However, nothing less of excellence is expected of the company. You will also find a Micro SD card slot on the device which is covered by a waterproof cover.
While testing I found out that the device was perfect at delivering a great underwater picture and it gave a nice idea of what is in the water. The side imaging display was also great and gave a better idea as to what is underwater. With a great battery life of about 7 hours, the Humminbird Helix 5 CHIRP G2 is a beast among men.
2. Humminbird 410300-1 Helix 7
A while ago the Humminbird 410300-1 Helix 7 was a pretty expensive device that was not attainable by everyone, however, with the recent advancements in technology and the release of newer products, this amazing device has fallen right under the $500 price range. This device is a great upgrade from its predecessor the Helix 5 that I talked about earlier and this one is appropriate for both fresh and saltwater, delivering exceptional performance for depths of up to 1500 feet. It is extremely easy to use as well and it is ready to use from the get-go, definitely one of the best.
The biggest feature of the Humminbird 410300-1 Helix 7 compared to its predecessor is its down imaging, side imaging, and SwitchFire sonar technology, it also comes with a pretty large seven-inch display which delivers a split-screen view experience and it has card slot to accept various cartography of your choice.
The 7-inch display of the device has a resolution of 800×480 with 256 colors and has LED backlighting to deliver clarity and visibility even under direct sunlight. It also has a bonded glass cover that makes things clearer surprisingly and the landscape design makes things better as you can excellently see everything scanned properly.
The Humminbird 410300-1 Helix 7 also has onboard memory meaning that it can recreate maps and refresh the screen faster than its predecessor. This means that everything is up to date in real-time as your boat cruises through water and you won’t experience any kind of lag with it.
1. Garmin Striker 7SV
The definite best fish finder under the $500 price is the Garmin Striker 7SV. This fish finder is pretty big as it measures 9.3×5.5×2.3-inches in total and has a large 3.6×6-inch screen that delivers amazing clarity with its 800×480 resolution, with the split-screen feature. The display of the Garmin Striker 7SV is simply excellent and everything on the screen is visible even when the sun is shining directly onto it.
The Garmin Striker 7SV has a pretty rugged and ready to action design, that looks and feels outdoorsy, and on top of that it is extremely durable, the most durable on this list as it can withstand extreme humidity and other factors that may affect other devices on a boat, and if you drop this device, don’t worry as it can take plenty of abuse.
The Garmin Striker 7SV has a built-in GPS receiver in it, which means that you can easily track all your favorite locations and create different spots on the map. So if you find a spot that you like all you have to do is mark it on the map and the GPS will remember it and show you on your next fishing trip. The speed is also displayed on the display thanks to GPS, resulting in a superb all-around device.
The Garmin Striker 7SV has a built-in flasher as well and it catches your atenti0on making it perfect for ice fishing, something not a lot of fish finders can state. The CHIRP sonar also works superbly and if you want to get the best fish finder under $500 this is your best bet.
How Does a Fish Finder Work?
Some people don’t believe that fish finders are functional, but I and thousands of buyers can attest that they are super functional and useful. This device works by transmitting a sound wave, which is converted in the transducer from an electrical impulse. So the sound wave travels around the water and when it hits the fish or the bottom it bounces back. Depending on the model you will see fish finders that display the size, shape and even the composition on the fish.
One quality that separates the best from the worst is the accuracy, and that will depend on the frequency and the pulse that is being transmitted while working, and under the $500 price, a fish finder will deliver reliable and accurate findings without any problem. These devices are ultra-functional and are quickly replacing the more traditional hit and miss methods of fishing, such as large maps, and word of mouth.
Features You Should Consider
Just because it is a small device that isn’t used for many different purposes, doesn’t mean that there aren’t a lot of features to consider when it comes to fish finders. I can say that there is a wide range of features to consider, and they will all affect its efficiency and price.
Display – This is one of the most obvious factors and it is the first thing you will see when it comes to specifications and features. For example, a premium display will help you catch more details on screen since its resolution and detail reproduction will be higher compared to other models. Take all that aside, a better display will enhance the overall fishing experience, because you will get the details much faster and you won’t have to look at the screen for a while to figure out what is going on. Also, I would recommend you to go for the biggest screen you can afford to get the best experience.
Power – The power of your machine will mostly depend if you plan on fishing on fresh or saltwater, and if you are shopping for the latter, you should take a look for models of at least 250 Watts of RMS power and 3000W peak to peak, and the higher the better. The indicator of power when it comes to fish finders is its wattage and the larger the number the more powerful your device is. Consider where you are going to fish and its depth before choosing a more powerful machine because you won’t need a super-powerful fish finder if you will fish in shallow waters.
Frequency – This is another factor that will significantly affect the performance of the product, but like the power, it will also depend on the location you are fishing int. For example, high-frequency fish finders are pretty good for shallow waters and deliver better performance for that issue. On the other hand, deep-sea fishermen, and commercial anglers prefer low-frequency devices, at about 50kHz. However, recently we have seen tons of models that come with several frequencies you can choose resulting in a versatile device.
Wireless Connectivity – Most of the fish finders in the market can be connected via USB cables to your computer or smartphone, the better or more advanced models connect to your phone with Bluetooth or WiFi, which adds to the convenience and you can transfer data super quick and painlessly toy our phone.
GPS – The majority of the fish finders these days rock GPS capabilities, which in my opinion is one of the best features. This is especially true if you tend to fish in large lakes or even oceans, which in turn will make it much faster to navigate back to the coast. Besides, that GPS systems will also allow you to mark favorite fishing places, and even check dangerous areas in the water.
This is it my fellow anglers, this is the guide on how to get the best fish finder under $500, I hope that I have provided a good amount of knowledge to you, and now I feel that you are ready to purchase the best fish finder for your needs. Don’t forget to check the top picks, since all of the models listed here are the best in the market and you can’t go wrong with them. If you have a more flexible budget, you can read our complete fish finder buying guide for more information.