When one thinks of fishing, an antiquated image of a man waiting patiently with his fishing rod comes to mind.
However, this image could not be farther from the truth. Technology has enabled us to be much more efficient in our fishing.
Now you don’t have to wait hours upon hours on some dock. There are several fish finders on the market which will allow you to pinpoint areas where the fish are abundant. The following article will walk you through the process of buying the best fish finder under 300.
These products can be very expensive. Therefore, we have compiled a list of fish finders that will not be too heavy on your pocket.
Furthermore, we have also talked about some crucial factors one must keep in mind when making a purchase. By considering these features, you can buy the right product for your fishing needs.
Quick Overview – Best Fish Finders Under $300
- Garmin Striker Plus 5cv – It is a high-resolution device that features a GPS as well. Great image and build quality.
- ReelSonar iBobber Bluetooth – A castable device that has a decent range. Good battery life and can be used in multiple environments.
- Lowrance Hook2 5 – This device is extremely easy to set up and uses yet highly customizable. It features a great split-screen function.
- Garmin Echo 301c – It features the premium Garmin image quality with intuitive controls. However, it doesn’t have a GPS.
- Lucky Fish Finder (Model: FF718LiC) – Another castable device on the list. This one features one of the best sonars on the market and has 5 transducers.
- FishHunter Directional 3D – This is also a castable device that has a great build quality. It can be connected to your smartphone.
- Vexilar SP200 T-Box – A good balance between a portable and fixed fish finder. Perfect for small boats, kayaks, and fishing in the shallows.
- Humminbird PiranhaMax 197C – This device features a dual-frequency sonar which makes it a very efficient fish finder. It is durable and can be used in the harshest of environments.
Key Features of Top 8 Best Fish Finders Under $300
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Best Fish Finder Under 300 (Reviews for 2021)
Fish finders can make a world of a difference in your fishing experience. However, these products can make a sizeable dent in your bank account. Some high-end fish finders can set you back a few thousand dollars.
Now, if you are just a regular fishing enthusiast, you shouldn’t have to spend that much for a decent fishing experience. Therefore, we have compiled a list of some of the best fish finders on the market that cost less than $300 bucks:
1. Garmin Striker Plus 5cv – Great for Amateurs and Professionals
The Striker line of fish finders made by Garmin has become quite the favorite among the fishermen community. The 5cv model is no exception to this trend.
Whether you are a professional or treat fishing as a weekend hobby, you would find 5cv among the best fish finders under $300.
This product is available in multiple screen sizes. It can be purchased in 4, 5, and 7-inch options.
However, regardless of size, these fish finders can be easily mounted on boats.
They are very lightweight with the largest one weighing around half a kilo. It is also very compact and comes with a portability kit.
This kit allows you to protect your fish finder while making sudden movements or using it in hazardous conditions such as on ice.
Housed in a tough IPX7 waterproof casing, the 5cv has a powerful sonar unit with a high-resolution display. The characteristic ClearVu scanning sonar and Garmin CHIRP technology provide you with a rewarding fishing experience.
Furthermore, if you buy the 5-inch model, you are striking the perfect balance between price and performance.
The CHIRP transducer emits a broad range of frequencies. It produces signals within the 77 to 200 kHz range and individually analyses each reception.
What does this all mean? It means that you get a much clearer and sharper vision of the fishes.
You will also be able to tell your targets apart more easily. Combined with the ClearVu sonar, this product’s design enables you to observe precise, wind-angle images of the water beneath your boat.
Its GPS is packed with a lot of smart, helpful features. You can mark fishing spots and track your boat’s path so you can return to your favorite location later on.
This device can also give you a live location update of fishes swimming in the path of the transducer beam.
- It is available in a compact 5” display.
- You have the ability to mark the hot spots.
- It comes with GPS.
- It can be a little difficult to install.
Striker 5cv is perhaps the best fish finder under $300. It packs a great technical punch but probably could do with better side support for easier installation.
2. ReelSonar iBobber Bluetooth – Adaptable to Any Environment
This product comes in the category of fish finders known as ‘castable’, which we will learn more about in the buyer’s guide.
Reel Sonar’s iBobber is perhaps the best castable fish finder on the market. It can sync with your phone via Bluetooth so no additional piece of technology is needed to make it work.
The ReelSonar iBobber uses 118kHz frequency sonar and can connect with your smartphone within a distance of 100 feet. The average recharge time of the unit is 2 hours.
The product comes with a zero-cost fish finder app that is compatible with both Google Watch and iWatch.
Furthermore, not only does it provide an interactive GPS map, but also allows you to share your favorite fish spot tags on social media. It features a memory backup system as well.
The app has a very minimalistic and simple display that can be understood very easily.
It displays a wide variety of information including fish depth, size, and bottom contours. It can detect fish up to 135 feet below the surface of the water.
The app allows you to switch between the fish-tagged view and the direct sonar feed. It provides you with a high-contrast display for easy visualization.
Furthermore, the app provides information regarding tides, solar activity, and relevant weather data. The logging feature allows you to record every single aspect of your trip, including locations visited, species of fish encountered and temperatures fished in.
- The castable unit is lightweight and can easily be flung by any user.
- It can be used in a wide range of conditions. Whether you are fishing in freshwater or saltwater, iBobber is there for you.
- The product boasts a rechargeable battery with up to ten hours of life.
- It has an LED beacon making it visible under ice and in dark.
- Some people have complained about the accuracy of the data.
- While 100 ft is a comfortable distance, it is still quite possible to lose sync with the casted unit. However, you can just reel it in, and it would solve the issue.
Whether you are ice fishing, fishing on the shore, or venturing out in a boat, this device will be perfect for you. It is very user friendly and can be used by beginner fishermen as well.
3. Lowrance Hook2 5 – The Best All-rounder on the Market
This is one of the easiest to use fish finders on the market. Lowrance has very smartly tried to maximize the number of features while cutting costs without disrupting the user experience.
Lowrance was one of the first few companies to introduce touch screen fish finders in the market. However, touch screens make products expensive.
Hook2 5 manages to use a cursor-based navigation method that allows it to be used easily without requiring the touch screen. This way the price can be controlled.
This product features a widescreen format, allowing users to have a better display.
There are three different sonar modes (automatic, custom, and ice fishing) that you can sift through based on your needs.
Lowrance has also increased the sonar angle in the device which allows you to see a greater number of fish at once.
Hook2 5 also comes with built-in maps of the more famous US Lakes. Its database contains contour maps of around 12,000 lakes. Furthermore, it features GPS mapping and plotting ability based on the type of model you purchase.
Compared to the previous generations, Hook2 5 is much easier to use, displays much clearer images, and processes all the information at impressive speeds.
This product also boasts a split-screen feature. It allows you to obtain two different types of information about the lake simultaneously which can be very helpful.
Furthermore, it also has an SD card slot so you can save your important waypoints on it.
- Extremely easy to set up and use. The DownScan and SideScan can be done on auto mode which makes it very easy for beginners.
- Highly customizable for expert fishermen.
- It has a very convenient mounting system. The grip is strong and robust, yet it can be dismantled fairly easily.
- Some customers have complained about having power issues.
- It is among the more expensive products on this list.
The Hook2 5 remedies the downsides of the previous models and provides simplicity. No matter what your skill level is, you will find this product useful.
Lowrance has launched multiple Hook2 5 models with slight alterations. This allows the customer the ability to cherry-pick the fish finder suited to their particular needs.
4. Garmin Echo 301c – Precision at a Low Cost
Garmin Echo 301c is a compact and effective fish finder. It provides premium image quality that is characteristic of Garmin. Being an evolution of the Echo 300 platform, this product is packed with improved features that will make your fishing experience easy and exciting.
This product boasts a very precise sonar technology. There are a bunch of patented features that Echo 301c uses to deliver high-quality under-water images.
The famous DownVu technology is responsible for the photographic views of the water beneath your vessel.
Ultrascroll allows the device to produce clear images even if the boat is traveling at high speeds.
Similarly, the Smooth Scaling technology keeps the feed stable as the sonar scanning shifts between shallow and deep water.
Echo 301c has wide-angle viewing, which allows you to observe more simultaneously.
The sonar cone angle is variable as well, so fishermen can observe fish in both shallow and/or deep water.
Furthermore, Echo 301c allows its users to clearly differentiate between their targets in both freshwater and saltwater.
It should be noted that this product can be bought without a transducer as well. If you buy one without a transducer, then you always have the option of installing one later on.
Both Garmin and Airmar transducers are supported by this device, but they should be in the 50/200 kHz frequency range.
Echo 301 has a 240×320 (QVGA) resolution display which is 3.5 inch in size. The display is bright with high contrast so it can be read easily in sunlight too.
The product also includes a trolling motor and helpful mounts which will allow you to install it instantly.
- It is one of the most accurate fish finders made by Garmin.
- The controls are very intuitive so it can be used by beginners as well.
- It comes with a portable kit that allows it to be transferred from boat to boat.
- Echo 301c doesn’t feature any GPS capabilities.
What separates Garmin Echo 301 from almost the same models on the market is the outstanding accuracy and sensitivity of the sonar.
Furthermore, Garmin seems to emerge as the more useful unit because of its greater scanning depth and better fish targeting technology.
5. Lucky Fish Finder (FF718LiC) – Best Sonar in the Castable Category
This product belongs in the castable category of fish finders. It offers great battery life that touches the 10-hour limit so you can use it for long fishing trips.
The Lucky FF718LiC has a lot of features and can be used in a variety of environments. Let us analyze some of these features in the product highlights section below.
The Lucky FF718LiC Fish Finder has one of the best ranges on the market. In the castable category, you will not find any other product that offers a better sonar range.
As any fishing enthusiast knows, a good range is crucial for a comfortable and productive fishing experience.
This device can pretty much be used right out of the box by even the amateur fisherman. It has a very minimalistic and intuitive design that can be understood very easily.
The façade features no more than 5 buttons so the users don’t get overwhelmed when they first see it. Its simplicity is definitely one of its biggest selling points.
Products that need to be used frequently around water have to be durable and reliable. Lucky FF718LiC is no exception. This product will last you a long time.
It has a solid build and can undergo excessive amounts of usage without showing any problems.
Perhaps one of the most prominent features of this product is its versatility. It can be used in both saltwater and freshwater.
It’s ideal for shore fishing, kayak fishing, boat fishing, and ice fishing. In short, it can be used in just about any way you want to use it thanks to its versatility.
- It has a good casting range.
- It is very easy to use, therefore, very amateur-friendly.
- The product is highly durable and has a robust build.
- It can be used in a variety of situations and environments.
- Some reviewers have complained about the accuracy of the fish marker.
- This product doesn’t feature GPS functionality.
This is a great product for amateurs and mid-level fishermen. It offers a great range and can be used in a variety of environments. While it could do with added functionalities to satisfy the veteran fishermen, it provides excellent value for money already.
6. FishHunter Directional 3D – Best Overall Castable on the Market
FishHunter is well-known for its castable, wireless fish finders. The Directional 3D fish finder carries on the company’s reputation by being one of the top products on the market. It has a great build quality and packs a lot of smart features that will enhance your fishing experience.
One of the most unique features of this device is the collection of 5 powerful transducers.
It has a high-frequency range of 381kHz to 675kHz which, as you can tell, is the highest among this list.
Such astounding frequency helps to create the high-resolution maps that this product is so famous for.
It also greatly enhances the device’s scanning efficiency and helps provide highly accurate details about fishes. A large number of transducers also allow the device to cover a large area.
FishHunter Directional 3D can detect fishes up to a depth of 160 feet. This depth is slightly reduced in ice fishing, where it can go up to 100 feet, but it is still pretty impressive.
Another great feature of this device is that it doesn’t feature any additional hardware. The data can be displayed on your smartphone/tablet device. This helps reduce costs and is also more convenient for the fisherman.
While most fish finders have trouble ensuring seamless connectivity, this device has no compatibility issues. Once you download the app, you are good to go.
This device allows you to view the lake by creating 3D topography maps. This feature enables the fishermen to pinpoint the location of fishes.
The contour and depth information this device provides really helps simplify the fishing process. Combined with the 5 different sonar view modes, the level of detail provided by Directional 3D is truly unprecedented.
- The app’s UX design is very user friendly.
- This device is highly durable, waterproof, and has a robust build quality.
- The castable unit is very lightweight so it can be thrown by any type of fisherman.
- It doesn’t have great battery life.
To summarize, Directional 3D is a powerful sonar device that is available at a decent price. It covers almost five times the area of its competitors and is compatible with any smartphone out there. It is also great for beginners.
7. Vexilar SP200 T-Box – Simple and Straightforward
The Vexilar SP200 T-Box is a good balance between a portable and a fixed fish finder. It is the best choice for small boats, kayaks, and fishing in low depths. The SP200 has a simple transducer as well as a range of other features that allow you to have the best fishing experience.
It has a small wireless module that allows you to connect your smartphone to the device and easily view the SONAR, depth, and temperature.
This function supports both Android and iOS. Because you can use your own device to display the fish finder, there isn’t a limit to screen size or color.
The fish finder can give a continuous reading, so you don’t have to cast the finder every time just to get a reading.
However, the device does need to be connected to a 12-volt power supply and this can be inconvenient if you’re on a kayak.
The sonar has a frequency of 200kHz with a dual-beam at 20 and 40 degrees which can allow you to visualize at depth as low at 240 feet in freshwater.
However, the depth is much less in saltwater. When compared to other fish finders in the market, the price of the Vexilar SP200 is mainly for the high functioning sonar device instead of a display screen which is usually already available at home.
- Simple to use
- Better frequency than comparable models in the market
- High-quality components
- Display size and color not limited
- No built-in battery
- Doesn’t feature GPS
The Vexilar SP200 is a great investment considering that the transducer is better than other fish finders in the market.
It gives other fish finders with built-in displays a run for their money as there is no size limit to the screen within the same price range.
This means that you can get a better sonar and save up on-screen price by using any device you already have at home.
However, if imaging and side imaging is important for you, then this might not be the best pick for you. More advanced models in the market have higher functions.
8. Humminbird PiranhaMax 197C – For Action-loving Fishermen
The Humminbird PiranhaMax 197C is a simple yet effective fish finder. With one of the best mounting devices in the market, the PirhanaMax can assist your fishing even under the harshest of weather conditions. The sonar is a dual-frequency which can make your fishing experience much easier.
The PiranhaMax comes with an XPT 9 28 T transducer with a suction cup instead of a transom or trolling mount like other finders in the market. This allows for a more stable mount.
The transducer uses two beams of 16° at 455 kHz and 28° at 200 kHz. (Yes, it is a dual-beam sonar).
This 200kHz frequency can help you visualize objects down to 600 feet underwater.
The 455 kHz, on the other hand, can visualize objects up to 320 feet in the water. This allows you to get a picture of deep as well as shallow depths.
This transducer provides the best results at low speeds so this fish finder might be best for kayaks and boats with low speeds.
This device features a 3.5” LCD color display with a 240 by 320 resolution that can help you clearly visualize the schools of fish. The device has great build quality and is very condition resistant.
It also comes with a tilt and swivels mount so that you can easily change its angle.
Last but not the least, it also features a portable case so you can quickly move it from one boat to another.
- Its battery life is long.
- This product has an admirable build quality and will last you a long time.
- It has a wider and much clearer display than its predecessors.
- No upgrade capabilities
- Lacks some advanced features like GPS.
Although this device is fairly simple to use, it comes packed with a number of features such as a fish alarm. A fish alarm can help you stay on top of where fish of a specific size is.
A depth alarm can alert you when you have reached a previously specified depth. While it doesn’t come with a built-in GPS or Wi-Fi connectivity, it remains a great option on our list.
Buyer’s Guide: Key Features to Look Out for
Buying a fish finder can be a difficult task, especially when you don’t know exactly what you are looking for. The right fish finder can change the way you fish, but your choice depends on the size of your boat.
However, is only one of the factors. To really help you understand what you should be looking for in a fish finder, this guide will narrow down these factors. Thereby, it will assist you in selecting the perfect fish finder.
A fish finder can make fishing much faster and take you directly to where the fish are. This means you can enjoy your trip knowing that you will catch something by the end of the trip.
The fish finder can map out the area which shows you objects under the water. Using sonar, it can tell you exactly where the schools can be found.
Depending on the type of fishing you are interested in, certain fish finders can help you discover new lakes and figure out species.
The following factors will help you pick the right fish finder for yourself depending on your needs. These features are based on user preference as well as technological advancements.
The display of a fish finder can come in various sizes, colors, and orientations. It can be horizontal or vertical and user preference will determine which one is best for you.
However, the size of the display can make a world of difference. If it is bigger, it will definitely help visualize the image underwater better.
Type of Sonar
A good sonar will allow you to discover where the fish are. It needs to provide detailed and accurate results. The CHIRP system is one of the most effective in the market.
For example, the Humminbird Helix 5 G2 Series uses a CHIRP system, whereas the Deeper PRO+ uses a dual-beam sonar.
The maximum depth is the depth to which sonars can provide an accurate reading. Depending on the type of fishing, depth can increase the yield of fish.
Freshwater and saltwater can affect the depth, however, as sonars can’t provide the same depth in salt water as they do in freshwater. Some fish finders have sonars that can scan down to 1,600 feet. A fish finder with such a sonar is the Garmin Striker 4.
MicroSD Card Slot
Some fish finders come with built-in MicroSD card slots. The ability to hold an SD card allows you to gather and save all the information you have collected on your fishing trips.
The water rating tells you how water resistant the device is. Depending on your usage and water splash risk, you can decide if water rating is a determining factor in your purchase.
The screen dimension and overall dimension of the device is important if you are specifically looking for something that is compact.
Depending on your vessel, if you have more space, you can get away with a fish finder that is relatively large in size.
The warranty can be worth the investment given that this is an electronic device that doesn’t need to be bought repeatedly. Going through the manufacturer’s website will help you figure out the warranty of the fish finder.
Best Fish Finders Under $300 (FAQs)
If you have been following along so far then you are probably overwhelmed with all the information. It is natural to still have some questions. Purchasing a fish finder is not an easy decision.
Even under $300, it is a sizeable investment and, should be done after due consideration. In the following section, we have highlighted some of the most frequently asked questions by fish finder buyers:
✅ Should I Get a Castable Fish Finder?
If you are not going too far into the water, then a castable fish finder might be better for you. Fishermen who fish closer to shore can use such devices to map out the area. However, if you are going to be moving a lot then you might have some connectivity issues.
✅ What Is Side Imaging?
It is an additional piece of technology that allows your sonar to be even more precise. It increases the coverage of the device and helps you find fishes that wouldn't have been picked up by a regular sonar. So if it fits in your budget then you should definitely get a device that features side imaging.
✅ Is it Necessary to Have GPS?
While GPS is not necessary for locating fishes, it certainly is a very helpful tool to have. If you are going fishing somewhere you have never been, having GPS can be very helpful in keeping track of your progress. You can set waypoints that you can come back to later. You can also mark areas with a large number of fish so you can enjoy those spots at a later fishing trip.
✅ What Extra Features Are Available?
The more technologically advanced models have Wi-Fi options which can allow you to download the latest mapping tools to your device. Other options include mobile-phone pairing, which allows you to connect your fish finder to your mobile device.
In this article, we discussed an exhaustive list of fish finders. We analyzed each product from various angles. If you have been following along, you would have realized that there is no single product that is best for every fisherman out there. It all depends on your demands and preferences.
So, if your demand is that of shallow fishing and you prefer a castable device, then FishHunter Directional 3D is your best friend.
It provides a decent range and stunning image quality due to high frequencies. It also has amazing smartphone and tablet capability ensuring that you have no issues with connectivity.
If you wish to venture out into the deeper waters, then it would be better to select Lowrance Hook2 5. It is the most all-rounder fish finder on the market. It is intuitive enough for beginners and customizable enough for veterans.
The SideScan and split-screen features allow the users to get the most useful fishing insights on their screen.