Fishing is either truly invigorating or incredibly boring, depending on who you ask. Maybe the people who don’t like it don’t go at it with the right tools. After all, you can’t carve a sculpture without a chisel. The same logic applies to fishing.
Many people are under the impression that fishing is all about spending a day with your line cast in the water, waiting for fish to miraculously appear.
In theory, there is a lot more to it than that. Successful fishing requires a reliable fish finder to get you to your catch.
However, buying a fish finder can be a complicated task for new users. With so many different options available at so many different price points, it can be difficult to determine what to buy.
We filtered out ten of the best fish finders for the money from an extensive list of similar products.
Quick Overview – Top 11 Best Fish Finders for the Money
- Lucky FFC1108-1 Handheld – Inexpensive fish finder for casual fishing
- Garmin Striker 4 – Reliable fish detector at an affordable price
- Garmin GPSMAP 78S 010-00864-01 – Powerful marine chart plotter and navigator
- Humminbird Helix 7 DI G2 410300-1 – Offers great value for money
- Garmin Striker Plus 4 – Best affordable fish finder for the money
- Deeper DP2H10S10 Start Smart – A smart fish finder that is great for casting
- Humminbird Helix 5 G2 410260-1 – An entry-level detector for professional use
- Humminbird Helix 5 SI 409640-1 – Offers a good balance between price and functionality
- Garmin Striker Plus 7SV – Upgraded fish finder with contour mapping
- Lowrance HOOK2 7 – The best fish finder money can buy
- Garmin ECHOMAP Plus 73cv – Great fish finder and chart plotter combo from Garmin
Key Features of Top 10 Best Fish Finders for the Money
Best Fish Finders for the Money Reviews in 2020
We set out to answer a simple question: what is the best fish finder that will give users the best value for their investment?
What we ended up with is a list of 10 devices that we consider to be the best fish finders for the money. These devices perfectly balance their offerings against the price you pay for them.
1. Lucky FFC1108-1 Handheld –Best Portable Fish Finder
A relatively new company in comparison to some of the other players in the market, Lucky has quickly made a name for itself in the portable budget department.
A Chinese manufacturer, Lucky has an impressive range of sonar detectors in its lineup.
Many users have made a point of not trusting Chinese companies as they are notorious for dishing out half-cooked products that stop working mere months after purchase.
Lucky changes that perception with its affordable selection of fish finders which are just as reliable as they are cheap.
This model by Lucky is a versatile offering that does what it says on the box and does it pretty well.
It detects a range of underwater information including the depth of the water and underwater structures such as rocks, vegetation, and marine life.
Display: It communicates all this information to the user through a colored but basic 2-inch TN LCD display.
The display is backlit by a blue LED that ensures visibility in all conditions. The display remains comprehensible, even in direct sunlight.
Unlike other bulkier fish finders that need to be set up on a boat with a power source, the Lucky portable fish finder proves itself handy anywhere.
Whether you lack a sea vessel and want to fish by the shore or you want to go kayak fishing, this fish finder works in all environments and situations.
The fish finder can also be used for ice fishing, which is a considerable advantage over other offerings at a similar price.
The sonar transducer can withstand very low temperatures and does not lose its efficiency even under ice. It also detects fish density, so users can drill a hole in the best possible location.
The FFC1108-1 is simple yet accurate. This is why it has become quite a favorite among fishing enthusiasts.
Available at a very low price when compared to other detectors, this is a great purchase if you are just getting into fishing. The readings are clear and easy to understand.
Despite being a great entry-level fish finder, the FFC1108-1 does not compromise on accuracy.
Lucky does target the inexperienced fisherman for this offering with its ease of use, but even more experienced fishermen will find it to be a great tool for its accuracy and reliability.
The transducer emits sonar waves in a 45-degree cone. The sonar can reach a maximum depth of 328 ft below the surface of the water.
This means that the device is perfectly capable of detecting aquatic life closer to the seabed, whether you are fishing in a lake, a river, or out in the open sea.
- Accurate sonar detection
- Sufficient detection depth
- Suitable for ice, sea and lake fishing
- Integrated alarm for fish detection
- Needs to be still for accurate detection
Lucky’s FFC1108-1 portable fish finder is a budget offering for casual fishing.
Users new to fishing will find it to be a reprieve from other more complicated models as it presents all readings on a simple and easy-to-understand display. Professional users will be impressed by its detection accuracy.
2. Garmin Striker 4 – Best Budget Fish Finder
Garmin has a long history of manufacturing increasingly innovative sonar detectors. Counted among the most reliable companies in the market,
Garmin has crafted a reputation for providing industry-leading sonar detectors at a highly competitive price.
It achieves this low price on its Striker 4 fish finder by focusing on the device’s detection capabilities.
It does not overload the device with extensive navigation and chart plotting capabilities that other manufacturers use to justify the high prices of their fish finders.
Garmin brings the clarity of CHIRP sonar and the simplicity of its user interface to this portable and affordable fish finder.
CHIRP detects more efficiently than regular sonar by emitting sonar pulses at a range of frequencies. This type of detection achieves a clearer reproduction of the underwater environment.
This portable sonar comes equipped with Garmin’s ClearVu scanning technology. ClearVu scans more of the surroundings, showing users more of what is around their vessel.
This information is delivered in the form of images that highlight underwater structures, objects, and fishes.
The device can perform scanning on two frequency modes. The low 77 kHz frequency scans a larger area with less detail to gives fishermen a general idea of the vicinity.
This is great for spotting schools of fish in the area. Low-frequency scanning can be used in conjunction with a high-frequency mode.
The high-frequency mode that operates at 200 kHz scans a smaller area with more detail.
This can be used to carry out a deep scan to identify fishes and structures closer to the seabed. It also delivers a much better distinction between fish, vegetation, and debris.
All this information is delivered through a 3.5-inch touch-sensitive screen. During a standard scanning operation, users can switch between three viewing modes.
Either of the two frequency images can be viewed on the screen alone or side by side for better clarity.
Although the device lacks more advanced navigation and chart plotting features, it does come equipped with a powerful GPS.
Along with providing basic navigational capabilities, the GPS allows users to keep track of their speed as well as save activity hotspots as waypoints.
When scanning at a high frequency, the CHIRP transducer can emit waves up to a maximum depth of 1600 ft.
This depth, however, is for freshwater. When scanning in the sea, this is reduced considerably to 750 ft.
This is sufficient for most casual fishermen, but professional fishermen may find this to be a limitation.
- Good value for money
- Powerful scanning capability
- Accurate GPS navigation
- Uses CHIRP sonar
- Various scanning features
- Small display size
The Garmin Striker 4 provides premium scanning capabilities at a price that is far less than some of the high-end offerings on the market.
It is accurate, portable, and durable. The rugged exterior and IPX7 protection will ensure that it serves users well for many years after purchase.
3. Garmin GPSMAP 78S 010-00864-01 – Best Navigator Chart Plotter
Anyone who has had experience with Garmin Striker fish finders knows that these devices excel at sonar detection but leave much to be desired in the navigation department.
This is due to Garmin’s decision to keep them focused on their purpose.
With its fish finders, Garmin assumes that users will be using a dedicated chart plotter or a marine navigator like the GPSMAP 78S. The 78S is the much-awaited upgrade to Garmin’s wildly popular 76 lineups of marine navigators.
It develops on much of the original features to deliver more control over wayfinding.
The 78S comes after Garmin’s 4-year stint with some of its other product lines. Since the original GPSMAP 76 was such a success,
Garmin thought it wise not to undervalue the offering with a non-substantial upgrade. It, instead, it continued its value innovations on other lines.
The result of these innovations is the new 78S upgrade. With this model, Garmin brings back all the features of its original line and enhances them with some of the features it has been developing on its more recent GPS navigators.
The display on the 78S is as bright as users have come to expect from Garmin devices. A TFT screen features a pixel density of 160 x 240 pixels, which is the same as the previous models. So is the display size, which comes in at 1.43” x 2.15”.
This is still a better display than that found on its predecessor. This is due in part to its high color range.
Where the 76 series came with a 256-color display, the 78S comes with an upgrade of 65,000 colors. This means that the display is brighter and more visible in direct sunlight.
Another improvement that the 78S features come in the form of its user interface. Despite being a non-touchscreen device, Garmin does a great job of making the menus work.
The new interface brings all the important menu items to the main screen, and it is now easier to navigate between them.
The 78S also comes with Garmin’s BirdsEye imagery and custom maps. With expandable storage, the device allows users to load almost any map in any format onto the device.
After being loaded, the map works the same as other preloaded maps and can be easily used for navigation.
BirdsEye aerial imagery is a relatively new addition to Garmin’s navigators. This feature comes in the form of an annual subscription.
Upon subscribing to the service, users can add aerial images to the maps on the 78S. This is helpful, especially when navigating coastal areas.
- Bright screen
- Streamlined user interface
- Durable build
- BirdsEye and custom maps
- Geocaching and tri-axial compass
- Low-resolution screen
- No-touch capability
Regardless of whether or not you are a Garmin loyalist, the GPS MAPS 78S will prove to be a great tool on your fishing trip.
What gives it additional value is that it doesn’t limit its navigational abilities to the coast and is also an incredibly powerful inland GPS navigator.
4. Humminbird Helix 7 DI G2 410300-1 – Best Value Fish Finder
Humminbird, as we have seen, dominates the fish finder market with only a few other manufacturers that can compete with its offerings.
Humminbird achieves this by giving customers what they want – devices that act as complete solutions for the average fisherman’s needs.
The Helix 7 DI G2 is an upgrade to the company’s successful Helix 7 line of fish finders.
The Helix 7 received much praise from consumers due to its many variants crafted specifically to fulfill particular fishing needs.
The Helix 7 DI G2 comes with down imaging, as the DI in the name suggests. The device brings back multi-frequency CHIRP sonar scanning, as a premium device at this price should.
All the rich data collected through the device’s sonar is delivered through a bright HD LCD.
The device also brings back all the sonar scanning functionalities that returning users of Humminbird have come to expect, including CHIRP Dual Beam PLUS and SwitchFire viewing.
Dual Beam sonar operates at two frequencies of 200 kHz and 83 kHz. The higher frequency works best for deep-sea scanning, while 83 kHz scans well in shallow depths.
The latter covers a wider area and reveals more of the surroundings, albeit with much less detail. Dual Beam PLUS allows scanning to be conducted at both frequencies concurrently.
All the advanced scanning modes are made possible through the use of CHIRP sonar technology. It is a military-grade multi-pulse detection technology that emits sonar pulses at varying frequencies.
The different frequencies do a better job of capturing surrounding structures with more clarity than just a single frequency on conventional sonars.
The down imaging on the Helix 7 DI G2 scans on two dedicated frequencies – 455 kHz and 800 kHz.
When operating on the lower frequency, the transducer generates pulses between the frequency ranges of 420-520 kHz. At the higher frequency, the range lies between 790 kHz and 850 kHz.
For this device, Humminbird also puts a lot of focus on GPS navigation. A precision GPS/WAAS receiver accurately determines your position within seconds of being switched on.
The location is accurate to 2.5m. The device comes preloaded with UniMap charts for easy plotting.
If this isn’t enough, which it may not be for some professional users, the Helix 7 DI G2 also offers expandable storage.
This means that users can load additional maps to use them with the device’s navigation system.
It will also enable users to save more than 2500 waypoints, which is the default amount on the internal memory.
- Crisp display
- CHIRP Dual Beam PLUS Sonar
- Down imaging
- Scanning depth of 2500 ft
- Powerful GPS and UniMap charts
- Limited mounting options
This fish finder sits at a lower price point than a few other recommendations on this list.
The reason it is our top recommendation is the value it provides for the money you spend, making it the best value fish finder we can recommend.
5. Garmin Striker Plus 4 – Best Buy Fish Finder
Garmin returns with a more powerful but only slightly more expensive upgrade to its popular Striker 4 lineup.
Much like its predecessor, the Plus 4 delivers powerful scanning with clear distinctions between all underwater structures and aquatic life.
The impressive scanning performance is to be expected from Garmin fish finders as the company excels at its sonar integration.
However, finding such premium scanning features in a device that sits relatively in the affordable range is a feat the company must be commended for.
The base model of the Plus 4 now comes with a larger display of 4.3 inches. This is a considerable upgrade over the display sizes of the original Garmin Striker 4, which came with a 3.5-inch display.
Like the previous model, the display is bright enough to be completely visible even in broad daylight.
When it comes to fish finders, especially those that don’t cost a lot, manufacturers don’t pay much attention to the device’s aesthetic.
Garmin, however, does not neglect this aspect. The exterior of the device is rugged to provide extra protection and is layered in a beautiful matte finish.
The sonar transducer Is probably the device’s most attractive offering. The dual-beam transducer comes with CHIRP sonar technology.
Unlike the earlier model that only generated two frequencies, the Plus 4 is capable of generating four-wave frequencies of 50 kHz, 77 kHz, 83 kHz, and 200 kHz.
The dual-beam allows users to make maximum use of the CHIRP sonar. The device can scan at both a high frequency and a low frequency at the same time.
The low frequency captures an image of a wide area, while the high frequency scans a smaller area within that region to get a more detailed image.
The Striker Plus 4 performs slightly better than its predecessor in terms of GPS navigational capabilities.
The original series featured a highly sensitive GPS with accurate tracking but lacked several important features such as chart plotting.
Although chart plotting is still missing, the Striker Plus 4 comes with Quickdraw Contours.
Quickdraw Contours is Garmin’s answer to chart plotting features on other fish finders. It works as a smart GPS scanner, generating HD maps of areas where the device has been.
Generating these maps is easy; users simply have to enable the recording feature in Quickdraw Contours as they fish.
Garmin’s Striker Plus 4 is its answer to both budget and premium fish finders. Sitting at a price that is right in the middle of these two price points,
The Plus 4 attracts buyers through a mix of strong sonar detection capabilities and navigational features that make fishing a breeze.
- Crisp 4.3-inch display
- GPS navigation with Quickdraw Contours
- Dual-beam sonar transducer
- Multi-frequency CHIRP sonar
- Durable exterior
- NMEA port not present
Garmin’s Striker Plus 4 may not be the most highly equipped fish finder in the market, but it certainly is the best buy fish finder.
The value delivers to buyers in this price range is unmatchable by some more expensive and even some affordable offerings in the market.
6. Deeper DP2H10S10 Start Smart – Best Castable Fish Finder
Deeper is a brand that has been redefining budget fishing for the modern era. Its line of portable fish finders is not only powerful and reliable, but they are also some of the smartest we have seen on the market.
It also helps that they come at a price that does not break the bank.
With Wi-Fi connectivity and support for almost all smart apps, Deeper fish detectors are the perfect tool for the tech-savvy fisherman.
The DP2H10S10 Start Smart fish finder is no different. It is a small but accurate tool that will prove to be a great companion on your casual fishing trip with friends.
The Deeper Start Smart fish finder comes as a small, castable, pear-shaped device. The detector transmits data wirelessly to a mobile or smart device through a dedicated app.
No internet connection is required for the transfer as the device generates its Wi-Fi network.
The dedicated smart app is intuitive and easy to use. It displays the transmitted data on a clean and comprehensible interface.
Even new users will not require much time to get acquainted with the app. Deeper also makes it easy to understand the data by filtering out complicated technical information.
With the help of the included cord, it can be cast out to a distance of 165 ft.
Although you can use other cords, 165 ft is the maximum distance at which the detector will retain its connection to your smart device.
It also scans and detects fish up to a maximum depth of 165 ft. This might not be deep enough for sea fishing,
Especially if you go out into the sea a lot, but the detection depth is more than sufficient for casual fishing on the lake. In deeper bodies of water, it will detect aquatic life that does not live too close to the bottom.
Deeper Start Smart detects many useful details that will help you get an enviable catch. With the help of sonar waves that it emits in a 40-degree radius, the fish finder detects fish, their size, and other underwater structures and vegetation.
The paired display will depict fish in three different sizes along with a number that denotes their relative depth from your position.
An integrated fish alarm goes off whenever fish are near or when the device detects a school of fish.
Another area where this Deeper fish finder impresses is its battery life and charging capabilities.
The battery requires roughly 2.5 hours to acquire a full charge. Once charged, you can use it uninterrupted for 6 hours. This is long enough for the average fishing trip.
- Stylish design
- Smart device pairing
- Accurate readings
- Long-running battery
- Data signals can affect connectivity
This smart device from Deeper is exactly what a modern fish-finding tool should look like. It’s sleek and compact and works with your smart device.
If you are someone who does not have the patience for devices that feel old and operate as such, Deeper Start Smart is the fish finder for you.
7. Humminbird Helix 5 G2 410260-1 – Best Entry-Level Professional Scanner
The Helix 5 G2 is a relatively bare-bones variant of Humminbird’s Helix 5 lineup. Despite that, it is still a capable device that renders accurate sonar imagery.
It also doubles down as an effective GPS navigator and chart plotter. Humminbird packs the device with several useful features that will come in handy on your next fishing trip.
When it comes to fish finders, Humminbird is one of the most trusted names in the market. Over the years, the company has established its position as a manufacturer of premium fish finders.
Its devices deliver a good balance of both detection and navigational capabilities and are among the best-rated fish finders that you can buy.
The Helix 5 G2 comes with a standard 5-inch WVGA HD display that you will find on the rest of the Helix 5 lineup.
Compared to other devices in this price range, the Helix 5 display packs a tremendous number of pixels. With a resolution of 800 x 480 pixels, the display is sharp and delivers crisp images.
Although the G2 does not offer much of the scanning options of its more expensive counterparts such as side and down imaging, it does come with the CHIRP Dual Beam PLUS sonar.
Utilizing CHIRP’s variable frequencies, the Dual Beam can work either separately or in PLUS mode.
When operating with a wide beam, the sonar transducer discharges a low-frequency sonar wave to capture a large area with average details.
The narrow beam works on a higher frequency and a much smaller area to capture more details. The PLUS mode merges these two images for greater clarity.
Users will find that even without CHIRP sonar scanning, Humminbird’s 2D sonar is quite effective as well. When compared to the regular sonar on some of its competitors,
Humminbird’s 2D sonar detects and captures clearer images regardless of the environment you are fishing in.
CHIRP, of course, enhances the device’s scanning capabilities. 2D scanning works on a single frequency, which is often enough for casual fishing, but the G2 is not made for just casual fishing.
CHIRP scans the waters on multiple frequencies to return more detailed results.
These results can be viewed on the 5-inch display in two viewing modes. Helix 5 comes with Humminbird’s SwitchFire image viewing capabilities.
The viewing mode can be switched between Clear and Max. Users can select any of the two modes according to their fishing requirements.
The Clear mode filters out much of the unnecessary detail from the returned image, showing a larger area in much less detail so users can get a sense of their surroundings.
The Max mode lets users hone in on an area of choice and explore it in greater detail to distinguish between the various underwater objects.
- HD display
- CHIRP Dual Beam PLUS sonar
- SwitchFire image viewing
- GPS navigation and chart plotting
- Preloaded maps with expandable storage
- No standby mode to conserve battery
The Helix 5 G2 sets the stage for your foray into serious fishing. With unparalleled sonar detection and useful navigational features, this portable device is the best offshore fish finder you will get at this price.
8. Humminbird Helix 5 SI 409640-1 – Best Offshore Fish Finder
Helix 5 is one of the most popular fish finder lineups from Humminbird. These devices offer a good balance between price and functionality.
They are also available in many different variants for different types of scanning tasks.
The Helix 5 SI comes with side imaging capabilities. Side imaging enables users to scan on either side of their vessel, generating a clear view of their surroundings.
This makes it easier to detect aquatic life without having to go over the same area multiple times.
The device comes with a CHIRP Dual Beam PLUS sonar transducer with a power output of 4000W. The transducer emits two beams simultaneously for conventional and side-scanning.
It can be mounted on the outside of your vessel with the help of an accompanying transom mount.
The transducer allows you to adjust the CHIRP settings. The wave frequency can be changed as required for wide or narrow scanning.
When operating at 455 kHz, the transducer will emit wide pulses that scan a wider area with less detail. At 800 kHz, the device will scan a smaller area but record more detail. This is also used for deep scanning.
For deep-sea scanning, the device sends out 200 kHz pulses downward in a 20-degree cone.
Although this mode covers a considerably less area than other scanning modes, it can travel to a depth of 1500 ft. The narrow beam also allows for clear and detailed pictures.
The Helix 5 SI also brings back Humminbird’s SwitchFire viewing mode. It allows users to switch between two viewing modes according to the type of scanning they wish to conduct.
The Clear mode works best when carrying out the initial search for bait and areas populated by marine life.
The Max mode delivers a lot more information. It highlights detailed structures, both natural and man-made, as well as debris and wildlife.
All this information is delivered in the form of color-coded pictures to determine the distance objects are from the vessel.
The Helix 5 SI’s GPS navigation system is the same as that on the other Helix 5 models. It uses a sensitive GPS receiver that determines your location with considerable accuracy.
The device comes with plenty of preloaded maps that can be used for navigation and for setting waypoints.
With its large touchscreen and a range of scanning features to keep you occupied, the Helix 5 SI has plenty to keep the casual fishing enthusiast engaged.
It also offers plenty to professional fishermen so that they can achieve a bigger catch at the end of the day.
- Durable water-resistant build
- Intuitive user interface
- CHIRP with ClearVu sonar scanning
- Side scanning capability
- SwitchFire viewing mode
- GPS navigation and chart plotting
- Limited mounting options
Fishing can be an extraneous sport if you don’t know where to look.
Although any old fish finder will do a decent job of getting you some catch, the Helix 5 SI makes it even easier to score a healthy catch with less effort.
9. Garmin Striker Plus 7SV – Best Freshwater Fish Finder
Garmin’s product lines have been marked by consistent innovation. The manufacturer markets the Striker Plus 7SV as the upgrade to its now discontinued but highly popular 7SV.
This particular variant comes with CHIRP sonar as well as Garmin’s ClearVu and SideVu scanning capabilities.
The Striker Plus 7SV brings back much of the same hardware that made its predecessor popular.
The upgrades come in the form of better software, performance tweaks, more mapping functionality, and a newer transducer. With the 7SV now out of business, the Plus 7SV is a worthy successor.
The Plus 7SV now comes with a CHIRP sonar transducer along with ClearVu and SideVu scanning.
The transducer is an upgrade over the previous model and benefits from better power efficiency and detection accuracy. It also has a temperature sensor to prevent it from overheating.
The transducer allows three different types of scanning operations, all of which make use of different frequencies.
The standard 2D scanning works for most fishing tasks and reveals much of the surroundings.
ClearVu scanning scans directly below the boat for marine life as well as any underwater structures that could prove to be dangerous.
Garmin’s series 7 fish finders come in a variety of variants. This one is the side-scanning model.
SideVu scanning scans on higher frequencies to determine what is on either side of the vessel. This helps limit the number of times users would have to pass over a certain area to scan it.
All the multi-frequency scanning that the device makes use of is made possible by CHIRP sonar technology. For traditional 2D scanning, the transducer uses lower frequencies of 50 kHz, 77 kHz, and 200 kHz.
Low-frequency waves are used to get a general idea of the underwater environment. However, they capture less detail.
The ClearVu and SideVu scanning modes use frequencies of 260 kHz, 455 kHz, and 800 kHz. These frequencies travel a shorter distance but capture more detail.
Therefore, this scanning mode is used to scan specific areas to distinguish between sea life and other structures.
Where the Plus 7SV inherits many strengths from its predecessor, it also inherits some shortcomings.
The most evident is the lack of sufficient chart plotting capabilities. Garmin likes to streamline its devices and refuses to add too many features so that it can keep its devices affordable.
The Plus 7SV does come with Quickdraw Contours, which was absent from the previous model.
This is a great mapping feature that automatically maps the lakes and shorelines you have been to in great detail.
You can benefit from these detailed maps when you revisit the same area.
- Traditional CHIRP, ClearVu, and SideVu scanning
- Multi-frequency sonar scanning
- Upgraded transducer
- Quickdraw Contours mapping
- Compatibility with ActiveCaptain app
- Wi-Fi compatible
- Lacks expandable storage
If you like your fish finders to deliver precise and accurate readings and don’t care much for chart plotting, the Plus 7SV is for you.
The absence of chart plotting isn’t too much of a let-down as Garmin makes it up with HD mapping as well as several advanced scanning features.
10. Lowrance HOOK2 7 – Best Fish Finder on the Market
We review Lowrance fish finders all the time. when the original Hook fish finder first came out, it took the market by a storm.
Lowrance was one of the first manufacturers to offer market-leading scanning features at an affordable price. The original Hook was appealing due to its high performance-to-price ratio.
The HOOK2 is a much-awaited upgrade. Unlike some manufacturers that dish out a new variant every year, the HOOK2 took some years and it shows.
Lowrance markets the device as a complete solution for casual and professional fish finders with CHIRP sonar detection, GPS navigation, and detailed maps of thousands of lakes across the country.
Right out of the box, the first thing you will notice about the device is the build quality.
The HOOK2 looks and feels like a premium device and weighs like one too. Made out of sturdy and durable materials, the device has a matte metallic finish.
The second thing you are going to notice is how easy the device is to use, from the installation of the transducer to the main display itself.
The device auto-tunes the sonar according to several presets so you don’t have to mess around with the setting if you don’t want to.
This device has some special sonar scanning capabilities as well, which we will come to in just a moment. All those functionalities are based on the wide-angle CHIRP sonar built into the transducer.
The wide-angle cone that the transducer generates covers more area than many other fish finders we have seen at this price.
The transducer itself comes with a variety of options for mounting. Not many fish finders offer more than one or two mounting options for their transducers.
The HOOK2’s transducer, however, comes with a transom mount, a trolling motor mount, and a hull mount. It can also be mounted through the scupper hole.
Lowrance also ships the transducer with TripleShot sonar scanning. This is a considerably premium device that comes at a high price tag, so triple-beam sonar scanning is expected.
However, a few other devices at the same price only feature dual-beam scanning, so the HOOK2 certainly gets points in this department.
TripleShot scanning allows for three simultaneous scanning modes. The DownScan mode scans directly underneath the vessel,
The SideScan feature scans the underwater area on either side of your boat, and the conventional CHIRP 2D sonar detects fish arches. The SideScan sonar scans in a 300-degree angle on either side of the boat.
When used together, the different scanning modes ensure that there is no blind spot left when you are searching for the perfect catch.
- HD display
- TripleShot CHIRP sonar scanning
- Detailed maps for navigation
- Expandable storage
- Easy setup and usage
- A bit expensive
Powerful sonar scanning with various scanning modes, preloaded maps, expandable storage, and a crisp display to deliver all the relevant data – this device has it all.
If the price isn’t too much of a concern, the HOOK2 is the best fish finder on the market.
11. Garmin ECHOMAP Plus 73cv – Best Combo of Scanner and Navigator
Garmin’s product lines have been marked by consistent innovation. The ECHOMAP Plus 73cv is a prime example of what the company can achieve when it pushes its products into the high-price category.
Garmin’s affordable product range delivers more value than its worth, and its premium lineup blows the competition out of the water.
The ECHOMAP Plus 73cv is both a fish finder and a chart plotter. This is something that you don’t get to see in almost any of Garmin’s more affordable models.
This is complemented by a durable design, a responsive touch screen, and a beautiful HD display for sharp image viewing.
The ECHOMAP Plus 73cv comes with a CHIRP sonar transducer with Garmin’s ClearVu scanning capabilities.
The two types of scanning modes, regular 2D scanning, and ClearVu scanning, make use of different frequencies to scan and return images of varying intensities.
Frequency: For CHIRP 2D imaging, the transducer emits wave pulses between frequency intervals of 150 kHz and 240 kHz. For ClearVu scanning, the device operates at either 455 kHz or 800 kHz.
When scanning in ClearVu, the frequency interval at 455 kHz is 425-485 kHz and 790-850 kHz at 800kHz.
Although the frequencies may seem complicated, how all this translates to sonar imaging is quite simple. The device’s regular 2D sonar scanning mode is a great starting point.
It scans the general vicinity for fish clusters and gives users an idea of what they are working with. ClearVu scanning can then be employed to explore the area in more detail.
ClearVu does a better job of detecting and distinguishing between underwater vegetation, structures, and sea life.
A variable intensity level, the scanning can be focused on either a narrow area for deep scanning or a wider area for less detailed scanning.
All the information that the ECHOMAP Plus 73cv is capable of collecting would have lost its effectiveness had it not been for the large 7-inch WVGA screen.
With a high pixel density and a backlit panel, the screen contents are sufficiently visible even during the day.
As far as navigational capabilities are concerned, the ECHOMAP Plus 73cv packs quite a lot. A 5Hz GPS receiver works at pinpoint accuracy.
The device also comes preloaded with Garmin’s LakeVu HD maps of over 17000 lakes across the country.
- CHIRP and ClearVu sonar
- Variety of sonar scanning features
- LakeVu charts
- HD touch display
- Compatible with the ActiveCaptain app
- The included manual is not unit-specific
Garmin’s ECHOMAP Plus 73cv is a powerful and versatile offering that brings together the best of Garmin’s scanning and navigational functionality.
Much cheaper than some of the more premium offerings in the market but offering similar capabilities, it is easily the best value fish finder you can get.
Guide to Getting the Best Fish Finders for the Money
The list is extensive, and we have only covered a few of the best fish finders for the money. Several other products offer similar or better value, but the art is to pick out the best from the rest.
To select the best portable fish finder or any kind of fish finder that suits your needs, you need to be aware of the primary features it offers.
When you know the different features available, you will be able to match them to your requirements and pick out the best tool for your particular needs. Following are some of the features that you should assess:
Every fish finder that you will buy consists of two components: the display and the transducer. The transducer is the most important component of any fish finder.
It emits and receives the sonar waves that bring back data from the surroundings. This data is translated into information that you see on your screen.
Transducers come with different sonar scanning capabilities, which we will explore under the Frequencies section of this guide. First, let’s have a look at the type of transducers that you can get.
This is probably the most common transducer mount type that you will find. These transducers attach to the transom behind the hull with a bolt and a bracket. The bracket has an adjustable angle.
Installing the transducer on the transom mount is fairly easy. This type of mount is best for transducers that don’t require the boat to be steady to achieve accurate results.
These transducer mounts are probably the most common after transom mounts. Such transducers have to be permanently attached in the propeller hub of your boat’s motor.
This setup requires more effort, which is why it is considered to be a more permanent installation.
This type of transducer needs to be attached with nylon, stainless steel, or bronze shaft through a hole in the bottom of the hull.
It can be cumbersome to install, but it will produce the best results in terms of signal quality. It is often used on powerboats and sailboats.
These transducers are easier to install but also the least effective. They do not need to be in direct contact with water to detect. They can be placed on the inside of the boat against solid fiberglass holes.
This does affect accuracy to a certain degree, but some transducers of this type are known to produce fairly accurate results.
This is the second most important consideration when purchasing a sonar fish finder. Entry-level sonars come with single-frequency sonar detection, while more advanced transducers can emit dual and even multiple frequencies.
The most commonly occurring frequencies that you will find on transducers are 50 kHz and 200 kHz. with newer devices, it is also common to find additional frequencies such as 192 kHz or 83 kHz.
Higher frequencies work best in shallow waters, while lower frequencies are great for deep waters.
Frequencies of 50 kHz or Lower
For deep water fishing, these frequencies work best. They travel to greater depths and bring back more information from the seabed.
There are some additional considerations for deep water fishing. Transducers equipped with CHIRP sonar work better than regular sonars when scanning in deep waters.
You should also ensure that there is a minimum power output of 1 kW.
Frequencies Between 80 kHz and 160 kHz
These are medium-range frequencies for regular fishing. These frequencies work best in waters that are not too shallow or too deep.
Fresh water fishing in lakes benefits the most from these frequencies. When used in the right conditions, they deliver accurate and sharp images of the underwater environment.
Frequencies of 160 kHz or Higher
Higher frequencies will produce the sharpest and clearest images of the underwater environment. However, the higher the frequency is, the shorter the distance it can travel.
Therefore, such frequencies are best suited for shallow waters where it is imperative to make correct distinctions between underwater structures, vegetation, and sea life.
Sonar Beams and Cone Angles
Every transducer will have a minimum and a maximum cone angle. This is essentially the area the sonar beams will cover.
A wide-angle will scan a larger area, while a narrow-angle will scan a smaller area.
However, the wider the cone angle is, the short the distance the beams can cover. A narrow-angle, therefore, is best for deep-sea fishing.
If you are not sure what kind of fishing you will be involved in the most, just go for a transducer that achieves a standard 20-degree cone angle.
This should be sufficient enough to cover your initial fishing needs.
Display and Pixel Count
All the data that your transducer collects will be delivered to the main display of the fish finder.
This is the medium through which you will receive and interpret all the information. Therefore, the display must be capable enough.
More affordable transducers come with monochrome screens, while newer models come with color TFT displays.
Regardless of whether the display is colored or non-colored, it should be bright enough to be visible in daylight.
It should also be sharp enough for you to make out the information presented on the screen. The display’s sharpness is determined by a high pixel count.
Some lower-end fish finders come without a GPS system and navigational capabilities.
Although you might think you don’t need a GPS-capable device, having GPS integration does help. The few extra dollars that you spend on a fish finder with GPS navigation will render long-term returns.
Most of us have GPS navigation on our phones, so you might think having it on one device is enough.
However, a GPS-capable fish finder has its benefits. For one, you are conserving your phone’s battery for crucial tasks like staying in touch with people back home.
Additionally, GPS-capable fish finders come with many useful features such as marking locations and saving waypoints.
If you find a spot that is promising for catching a healthy amount of fish, the chances are that you might want to return to it on your next trip.
Best Portable Fish Finder FAQs
What are the most important features to look for in a fish finder?
Fish finders come in many variations, each with its own set of specific features. Not all fish finders, even in the same lineup from the same manufacturer, will be best suited to your specific needs.
The features that you should look for are those that fulfill your specific needs. For instance, if you are going out in the ocean to fish, you would probably want a fish finder with side imaging to cover more area. Go through our comprehensive buying guide to understand the various features and how they will work for you.
Do I need an expensive fish finder?
As with most things, investing in a top-of-the-line device does not hurt if you have the budget for it. However, this is an ideal scenario, which is hardly ever the case. The more expensive the fish finder is, the more scanning features it will offer and the more user-friendly it is going to be.
More expensive devices come with a bigger screen, which makes data interpretation easier. However, there are plenty of affordable devices that offer an incredibly convenient user experience, even with smaller screens. Some manufacturers have made a name for themselves for making capable devices at low prices, as will be evident from our recommendations.
Can I test a fish finder before purchasing?
Fish finders are among the few electronic devices that you can’t test before purchasing, even if you walk into a fishing store and demand to do so. This is because you can’t really test a fish finder without a considerable body of water, like a lake. You can’t test it without fish either.
Unless you’re buying your gadgets from a store right next to the dockyard and the owner is understanding enough to take you on a ride on their boat, you will have to make do with what you get. Do your research before you go buy this device. Assess your requirements and determine which features are most important to you by going through buying guides like this one.
Although all of our picks are best-rated fish finders, not all of them will be suited for your specific needs.
We did try to include a diverse selection of devices to cover a range of functions and fishing needs, so we do hope all our readers will find something of value.
For casual fisherman just getting into the hobby, nothing works better than the castable Deeper Start Smart fish finder.
With its inviting blend of modern technology and reliable fish detection, this inexpensive device will capture the interest of all new users.
For users looking for something more substantial at an affordable budget, the Garmin GPSMAP 78S is among the best finders for the money and certainly the best value fish finder on our list.
It couples a range of high-end detection features with Garmin’s reliability and a price that won’t leave a lasting impact on your bank account.