Fishing is an incredible sport. It gives you some time alone with yourself and exposes you to the serenity of nature.
However, this otherwise soothing experience can take an annoying turn without the right gear. A fish finder, for instance, is an important tool you can’t do without.
Contrary to what you might think, a good fish finder does not have to cost a fortune. We picked out some of the best fish finders under 500 you can buy today.
Although some people like keeping things old-fashioned, for the rest of us, fish finders are an essential tool to pack.
They are especially important if you want to come home with a healthy catch and a sense of accomplishment. What deters most people from getting a fish finder, though, is the price.
They feel they can’t trust an affordable gadget well enough, and the expensive one sits way out of budget. This isn’t always the case, and we’ll show you how.
Quick Overview – Top 8 Best Fish Finders Under 500
- Garmin Striker Plus 7SV 010-01874-00 – Feature-packed premium fish finder
- Humminbird 410970-1 Ice Helix 5 – Reliable fish finder from a trusted manufacturer
- Humminbird 410210-1 Helix 5 – Best value for money
- Lowrance Hook2 5 – TripleShot fish finder for conclusive detection
- Garmin Striker 7SV 010-01809-00 – Affordable fish finder with advanced sonar detection
- Deeper CHIRP Smart Sonar – Classy, portable and feature-packed
- Humminbird 410300-1 Helix 7 CHIRP DI – Feature-rich detector with CHIRP sonar
- Lucky FFW718 Wireless Fish Finder – Budget fish finder for fishing in lakes
Comparison of Top 8 Best Fish Finders Under 500
Best Fish Finders Under $500 (Reviews in 2021)
Affordable does not always mean cheap. There are plenty of affordable fish finders that do the job just as well as more expensive ones.
We tested several of these affordable gadgets and picked out eight that excel in performance and reliability, despite their low price.
1. Garmin Striker Plus 7SV 010-01874-00 – Upgraded for Better Performance
Garmin markets the Striker Plus 7SV as an upgrade to its highly popular Striker 7SV fish finder with side imaging.
Boasting the same powerful hardware with some performance tweaks and great software to enhance productivity, the Striker Plus 7SV is a noteworthy investment.
The only thing that may deter first-time buyers from picking the Plus 7SV is its lack of sufficient chart plotting and navigation features.
For the seasoned fisherman, however, this fish finder promises tremendous value and extensive control over underwater detection.
The Striker Plus 7SV returns with the CV52HW-TM ClearVü sonar transducer that the original 7SV sported.
The transducer comes in a durable waterproof plastic build with a temperature sensor and impressive sonar output for accurate detection.
You also get three kinds of sonar detection powered by CHIRP technology.
There is the standard 2D sonar along with Garmin’s SideVü and ClearVü sonars for side imaging and down imaging. These modes allow for a better distinction between underwater targets.
The benefit of having a CHIRP sonar is that the device can operate on multiple frequencies.
For the standard 2D sonar, it uses frequencies of 50 kHz, 77 kHz, and 200 kHz. For SideVü and ClearVü, higher frequencies of 260 kHz, 455 kHz, and 800 kHz are used.
Like its predecessor, the Striker Plus 7SV lacks charts but does come integrated with a precise GPS system.
It offers basic navigational capabilities for your trip like marking waypoints so that you can revisit fishing hot spots and other points of interest. Without expandable storage, however, this capability is also limited.
Customers appreciate the several feature upgrades that accompany the Plus model. Even with similar hardware, these additions give the Striker Plus 7SV a decent edge over its predecessor.
The Quickdraw Contours function, for instance, uses sonar and GPS data to generate detailed maps with 1-inch depth contours.
Returning customers of Garmin’s fish finders, especially those who own the 7SV, did not find the upgrades to be sufficient.
This is the only issue that customers noted with the device, and it brings to question whether users of the previous model should invest in the upgrade.
✅ 2D, ClearVü, and SideVü sonar imaging
✅ Multiple sonar frequencies
✅ Upgraded detection and mapping features
✅ Wi-Fi compatibility
✅ Precise GPS navigation
✅ Quickdraw Contours
❌ No memory card slot
❌ Limited charting support
For a first-time purchase, the Garmin Striker Plus 7SV is a great investment. It delivers great value for the price.
The powerful detection capabilities of the device are unmatched at this price point, which makes up for the charting features that this device lacks.
2. Humminbird 410970-1 Ice Helix 5 – Affordable CHIRP Sonar Fish Finder
If there is anything that Humminbird excels more in than its sonar technology, it’s the variation of its product offerings.
Each of its fish finder product lines boasts a number of variants designed specifically for particular fishing situations.
Take Ice Helix 5 for instance. A part of Humminbird’s Helix 5 line of fish finders, the Ice possesses all the core features that make the Helix 5 so popular.
It then offers a few more qualities specifically for ice fishing, which is what this particular model is designed for.
What makes this particular variant special is the included specialized transducer. The Ice Helix 5 ships with a Xi 9 1521 ice transducer with CHIRP sonar.
It is among the best ice transducers we have tested. The Ice Helix remains as accurate as you would expect a Humminbird fish finder to be.
The transducer emits sonar frequencies between 130 kHz and 250 kHz with a bandwidth that can be adjusted between 15-21 degrees.
The device also offers great depth coverage at this price. Sonar imaging works up to a maximum depth of 400 ft.
Owing to the CHIRP technology, the device can easily distinguish between fish and other structures at considerable depth.
Humminbird does a pretty good job with navigation on its devices and the Ice benefits.
The Ice Helix 5 remains just as reliable when the ice melts. You can then make use of the powerful GPS to explore newer waters.
The GPS system carries out map scanning and transmission five times a second. It can also measure the speed your small boat is going at.
The device is made for ice fishing, and it shows. Humminbird did not stop at adding a specialized transducer; it designed the whole experience around ice fishing.
The device’s three-color display renders views of the bottom of the lake, your lure, and the fish underneath.
This is among the best fish finders under 500 for ice fishing. Hardly any customers complain about its performance.
However, a few did express the need for a touchscreen rather than tactile buttons for easier usage with all the winter gear.
✅ CHIRP sonar
✅ Specialized ice transducer
✅ Ice-specific viewing features
✅ Good detection depth
✅ Remains effective in extremely low temperatures
✅ Durable outer shell
✅ Included case
❌ Small tactile buttons
The Ice Helix 5 is the device for those winter fishing trips to the lake. Humminbird has customized each aspect of the device’s usage to perfectly equip it for the harsh winters.
The included transducer is a delight that the ardent ice angler will benefit from.
3. Humminbird 410210-1 Helix 5 – Low Cost, High Performance
The Helix 5 from Humminbird gets the top spot primarily because of the tremendous value for money it offers.
It is an accurate and efficient fish finder powered by CHIRP sonar. Despite its extensive capabilities, it happens to be the most affordable fish finder on this list.
Humminbird continues its history of meaningful advancements in sonar detection with this affordable yet powerful offering.
It packs an impressive catalog of mapping and detection features that you would not expect to find at this price point.
Nothing about the Helix 5 gives away its low price. The build is premium and durable, which users have come to expect from a notable brand like Humminbird.
The device’s waterproof cover also hides a memory expansion slot, which is a useful addition for extensive chart plotting.
The Helix 5 features DualBeam Plus sonar with a maximum power output of 4000W. For most fishing tasks, this is more than enough to deliver clear underwater images.
With DualBeam, the device emits two beams simultaneously to carry out down and sideways imaging.
The device features adjustable CHIRP frequency settings, which can be changed according to the situation.
The 455 kHz frequency of the Clear Mode can be selected to scan over large areas, while the 800 kHz of the Max Mode provides more details over a smaller area.
It also comes with a bright LCD screen with sufficient resolution. Users can review all relevant data with great clarity on a single data screen.
The screen is also sufficiently bright, so it will produce visible displays even in direct sunlight.
Customers love this affordable fish finder for its high productivity/price ratio. Humminbird has made considerable effort to build a premium device at a low price.
The build, color accuracy of the displays, and powerful sonar capabilities all work in sync to deliver a great fish-finding experience.
Of course, with a high-functioning device at this price, the company has to compensate somewhere. This compromise comes in the form of limited accessories.
The accessories included, although reliable, are not of the best quality.
✅ Durable build
✅ Expandable storage
✅ DualBeam Plus sonar
✅ CHIRP sonar
✅ Screenshotting and recording functions
✅ Waterproof exterior
❌ Low-quality accessories
In terms of value for money, the Helix 5 is certainly among the best fish finders under 500. It is an excellent tool for both casual and professional users.
A ton of charting and recording features help you keep track of all your activities on your fishing trip.
4. Lowrance Hook2 5 – Versatile Fish Finder
Lowrance did a lot for budget fish finders with its Hook fish finder series. However, the original line fell short of generating any real excitement.
The Hook2 changes that by delivering a more refined experience with a slew of powerful features.
The Hook2 is everything a good budget fish finder should be. It is low priced and offers accurate navigation, essential mapping and chart plotting functions, and reliable sonar detection. Powered by CHIRP, the Hook2’s 2D, SideScan, and DownScan imaging render clear results.
The Hook2 comes with CHIRP sonar, which has now become an essential tool for accurate detection.
It enhances this offering by including a SideScan feature to reveal more of the surroundings. This was absent from the original Hook models.
For 2D detection, the device can scan to a depth of 500 ft. This reduces to 300 ft for DownScan and SideScan.
Despite the reduction, this is still an impressive range, suitable for sea fishing in considerably shallow waters.
What is unique about the Hook2 is its TripleShot transducer. This transom-mount 3-in-1 transducer delivers a max output of 200W when operating on 2D sonar and an output of 500W with SideScan and DownScan.
The transducer comes with integrated temperature sensors.
Hook2’s navigational capabilities are also impressive. With the chart plotter, users can map up to a hundred different routes with multiple waypoints.
The device comes with preloaded maps for more than 3000 lakes in the country. A number of other mapping systems can also be used.
The Hook2 puts a lot of focus on delivering a streamlined user experience with useful apps and features.
Customers praise the device’s Overlay DownScan feature that overlays the DownScan imaging on the 2D CHIRP. This delivers a clearer view of distinct underwater structures.
Although the fish finder benefits from a good GPS navigation system which many have complimented, customers express disappointment in the absence of network connectivity.
The Hook2 is a powerful device that could have benefitted greatly from this.
✅ TripleShot transducer
✅ CHIRP sonar
✅ Accurate GPS
✅ Comprehensive navigational maps
✅ Compatibility with third-party charting apps
✅ Bright display
❌ Lack of network connectivity
The Hook2 is a mid-range fish finder designed for fishing on the lake and coast, but it is a lot more than just that.
With great detection features and extensive chart plotting, this device won’t look out of place on your boat, even if you’re making a fishing trip out in the ocean.
5. Garmin Striker 7SV 010-01809-00 – Premium Detector with Side Viewing Capabilities
Garmin is among the few fish finder brands that took the market by a storm and stayed.
It has cornered the budget fish finder market with devices that don’t cost a lot but pack a ton of useful features to make fishing trips easier.
The Striker 7SV is part of the company’s 7-inch device lineup. Like most of Garmin’s offerings, the focus here is on impeccable sonar technology.
Garmin’s products have been marked by innovations in sonar with less focus on charting and navigation, and the Striker 7SV is no different.
The Striker 7SV is among Garmin’s premium fish finder models. Despite that, it comes at a reasonable price that won’t break the bank.
As the SV in the name suggests, this model comes with SideVü functionality in addition to Garmin’s ClearVü imaging.
SideVü is Garmin’s term for side imaging, which allows users to scan on both sides of the boat for a more conclusive view of the surroundings.
For this purpose, the 7SV comes with the GT52HW-TM sonar transducer. The device is also equipped with CHIRP sonar technology.
Sonar detection can be used either in conventional 2D mode or with ClearVü and SideVü at frequency ranges of 455 kHz and 800 kHz.
This allows for better target separation, so users can easily differentiate between fish and other underwater structures.
As with most Garmin devices, the display is clear and bright. The 7-inch WVGA display comes with a pixel count of 800 x 480, so images and text look sharp and comprehensible.
The backlight is sufficiently bright and can be adjusted for a clear view even in bright daylight.
The Striker 7SV’s strength is its sonar technology, including ClearVü and SideVü. Sonar detection and imaging leave customers satisfied.
Many have favorably commented on the quality of the images and the reliability of detection.
In terms of functionality, the Striker 7SV’s one weakness is its lack of chart plotting and storage capabilities.
Garmin assumes that users who buy this model will be using a dedicated chart plotter if required. For this reason, this model comes with no expandable storage and limited chart plotting functionality.
✅ Quality exterior
✅ Powerful sonar detection
✅ Dual-frequency operation
❌ No expandable storage
❌ Limited chart plotting features
The Garmin Striker 7SV offers everything a fisherman would require. Yes, it does lack some navigational capabilities that you may find on other devices, but that is hardly a deal-breaker.
The powerful sonar detection and side view imaging reveal the world underwater in vivid detail.
6. Deeper CHIRP Smart Sonar – Portable and Powerful
The Deeper CHIRP castable fish finder is a smart and versatile device that deserves a mention. This spherical device is a modern fish finder for the modern kayaker.
It is one of the first wireless castable fish finders to feature CHIRP sonar. It is a small yet powerful device that does not compromise on performance.
For the casual fisherman, Deeper CHIRP proves to be a better companion than other bulkier and more expensive fish finders due to its versatility.
Deeper CHIRP is made to be an all-season fish finder. This means that it is just as effective for ice fishing as it is for your summer fishing trip. With three sonar frequencies, it provides accurate detections.
The sonar can be adjusted to transmit between the frequencies of 100 kHz to 675 kHz, depending on the width of the sonar beam.
The narrow sonar beam covers a 7-degree angle, the medium covers a 16-degree angle, and the wide beam covers 47 degrees.
The range of the Deeper CHIRP is 330 ft. This would be a vague statement, but it can be cast out to the same maximum distance as its underwater scanning depth.
The 330 ft depth is impressive on a portable fish finder, and it delivers clear views of the bottom of the lake.
This fish finder does not come with a receiver, and it does not need one either.
With a feature-packed smartphone app and a digital log, you can track your activity and assess fishing patterns to improve your fishing skills as well as the size of your next catch.
The Deeper CHIRP is a beautiful piece of equipment that impresses customers from the moment they open the box.
The packaging is neat, and the presentation is impressive. The unboxing experience has been largely complimented and so has the ease of setting the device up for first use.
There isn’t exactly any negative comment about this device, but there have been recurring feedback from users regarding the color.
The device is only available in a military green color which is great as it does not scare fish away, but users would still appreciate more color variety.
✅ Long-running battery
✅ Long casting and depth range
✅ 3 sonar modes
✅ All-season fish detection
❌ Only one color available
The Deeper CHIRP deserves the praise it gets. Lightweight and portable, it works just as well as its larger counterparts.
It also works in all seasons and for most types of fishing, which is an added advantage. For casual fishing, this is certainly worth consideration.
7. Humminbird 410300-1 Helix 7 CHIRP DI – Large Display for Clear Viewing
Humminbird fish finders are known for their reliability and accuracy. The company itself has made a name in the fishing gear market for its innovations in sonar imaging.
The Helix 7 line of fish finders are among the most popular the company has created owing to the situation-specific variations.
The Helix 7 CHIRP DI is a down imaging fish finder designed for detecting and distinguishing underwater structures.
Integrated GPS for navigation, expandable storage, and numerous charting and mapping features make it a great purchase for the avid fisherman.
The Helix 7, as the name suggests, sports a 7-inch backlit WVGA display. The display is large enough to make data interpretation easy.
The high-resolution screen with 800×480 resolution and 8-bit color depth (256 colors) renders sharp images. Covered in bonded glass, the display is water-resistant.
With a bright display, the fish finder is just as usable during the day as it is in darker conditions. This is generally a problem with cheaper models, which lose their usability under bright sunlight.
The transmission power of 500W makes the Helix 7 a powerful fish finder.
With the standard 2G imaging selected, the sonar operates at frequencies of 83/200 kHz. When down imaging is operational, this frequency switches to 455 kHz.
Like many other Humminbird devices, the Helix 7 comes with SwitchFire imaging technology. SwitchFire is Humminbird’s take on the TVG feature that other devices use.
SwitchFire uses 2D imaging to create clear multi-color views. The feature can be used at either Clear or Max settings.
The down imaging capabilities of the device have been praised by multiple users.
The sonar distinguishes between underwater objects quite well and the device renders clear images. This makes it easy to identify fish, vegetation, and other structures.
Where customers are impressed with the fish finder’s performance, some were disappointed with the quality of the bracket and other included accessories.
Some also commented that a protective cover was missing, which they thought would be included.
✅ Bright 800×480 display
✅ Device heat-up alarm
✅ Powerful GPS
✅ CHIRP sonar
✅ Smooth user experience
❌ Limited accessories
❌ Accessories are not the best quality
The Helix 7 CHIRP DI is a powerful fish finder with down imaging and numerous other charting and detection features to help users get a handsome catch.
For both casual and professional users, the Helix 7 CHIRP DI is a device that delivers exceptional value.
8. Lucky FFW718 Wireless Fish Finder – Cost-Effective and Reliable
Most fish finders are corded electronic devices that need to be installed somewhere on your boat. Lucky is a brand that has been changing how people use fish finders.
Its portable fish finders, although not as powerful as corded devices, are cost-effective alternatives for casual fishing.
The FFW718 wireless model from Lucky is an entry-level, pocket-friendly fish finder. This small, seemingly ordinary device packs a number of useful features that let you better control detection.
These include sensitivity settings, an adjustable depth range, and chart speed adjustments.
One of the reasons we like Lucky FFW718 so much is its accuracy. Considering the price, we did not expect great performance but were pleasantly surprised. It works as intended and does the job pretty well.
Regardless of where you are fishing, whether, in a shallow river or a deep lake, the FFW718 consistently delivers accurate readings.
With an operating range of 120m, you can detect most fish even at a considerable distance.
The fish finder comes with a wireless sonar transmitter. If you prefer to fish from the shore, the transmitter can be cast out, and it will send the readings back to the main device.
Having a portable transmitter also helps with getting a good catch as you avoid scaring the fish away with something noisier.
The transmitter is battery operated yet quite powerful. It works on 125 kHz high-pitched sonar waves that accurately detect fish without scaring them away.
The device also offers a sufficient depth range of 45m, which isn’t just great for rivers or lakes as it can also be used to fish in the ocean.
There are also a bunch of other features that make finding fish easier. There are two alarms that go off in different instances. For instance, if the transmitter detects a high volume of fish, the user will be notified.
There is only one recurring complaint that users have had with this otherwise well-performing fish finder. That complaint is with the primary device.
The device, unfortunately, is not waterproof, as waterproofing is limited to the transmitter.
✅ Battery operated
✅ Wireless transmitter
✅ Easy to use
❌ Readings may not be accurate in rare cases
❌ The primary device is not waterproof
The Lucky FFW718 is the perfect budget buy if you don’t want to spend a lot for a casual fishing trip.
This small and portable device has all the features you would look for in a good fish finder. The results are mostly accurate, which is a rare find at this price.
How to Search for the Best Fish Finders Under 500
Buying a suggested product is one thing. We are fully confident that any of our recommendations will leave you satisfied with the purchase.
However, if you wish to have a look around yourself, the following are some considerations you should be mindful of when looking for a good fish finder.
A fish finder is only as good as the hardware it employs to scan underwater and the software it uses to compile and deliver that data to you.
When considering a fish finder, pay particular attention to the transducer it ships with and its sonar capabilities.
Most transducers emit standard 2D sonar beams that detect fish and other underwater structures. Modern transducers also come equipped with down scanning sonars.
Such transducers emit sonar beams in a cone-shaped pattern. As the beams return, an image is rendered of the view directly underneath the vessel.
Down imaging sonars generally come with two operation modes – wide beam and narrow beam. With wide beams, the sonar scans a wider area with less detail.
The narrow beam operation is best for depth fishing as it scans a smaller area, but the high-intensity beams capture more detail.
Some transducers also come with side imaging technology in addition to down imaging. With side imaging, users can scan the area on either side of their vessel.
This gives a more complete view of the surroundings. This option is great for fishing in shallow waters.
Size is another important factor when it comes to selecting a fish finder. Portable fish finders and those with smaller displays will generally be cheaper.
There is no harm in going for a smaller model, but the bigger the display is, the easier it will be for you to read.
Fish finders collect and display a host of information. All this information is delivered to the screen for interpretation. On a smaller device, viewing and understanding this data can become a chore.
On a larger display with a high resolution, all this information can be displayed clearly on a single screen.
High-resolution screens also make it easier for users to distinguish objects in images.
The sharper the display is, the more clearly users will be able to identify fish, underwater structures, and other debris. If the screen is too small to make out what is what, there is no use of the fish finder.
Best Fish Finders Under 500 FAQs
✅ Do I need an expensive fish finder?
Getting the best tool money can buy doesn’t hurt, provided you have the budget for it. However, you don’t always need the most expensive fish finder to get the job done. There are a lot of affordable fish finders on the market that have impressed users with their performance. Our list assesses such devices that offer massive value at a low price.
✅ What features should I look for in my fish finder?
This largely depends on the type of fishing you will be doing and the area where you will be fishing. For instance, for ice fishing, you will need a device and transducer that does not lose its reliability in low temperatures. Similarly, if you will be fishing in a lake, you would need a fish finder with side imaging capabilities.
Thanks to rapid technological advancement, it is now easier than ever to get your hands on great equipment at a price that you can afford.
You no longer need to dish out a few thousand dollars on a good fish finder. A lot of brands have been working tirelessly on making the latest sonar detection technology affordable and accessible.
We absolutely recommend every single one of the products reviewed here. The Deeper CHIRP portable fish finder will be a great addition to any fisherman’s gearbox.
It gives users the versatility of pairing it with several smartphone apps to enhance its productivity.
Our top recommendation, however, remains the Helix 5 by Humminbird. It is one of the best fish finders under 500 owing to its low price and strong feature set.
It packs several productivity features that you would find on more expensive devices and delivers consistently reliable readings.