Fish finders are critical equipment if you’re exploring a new lake or area and don’t have a honey hole or favorite spot. Fish finders, just like all other technology, get updated every year and it’s possible to find slightly dated technology for next to nothing. Look hard enough and reviews will point you toward the best fish finders under $200 that will serve you all year long. Or save yourself some time and go with one of the top 5 models that we have pre-selected and reviewed here. Any of these will work well and will save you money.
Summary: Top 5 Cheap Fish Finders
|Model||Key Features||Editor's Rating (out of 5.0)|
|Garmin STRIKER 4cv with transducer||-CLEARVÜ SCANNING SONAR|
-3.5” Color Screen
|Humminbird 409690-1 PiranhaMax Fishfinder||-Wide Readout|
-Not 100% accuracy
|Garmin Echo 301dv Worldwide with Transducer||-Transom Mounted|
-Accurate to 1750’
|Lowrance Hook-4X Sonar||-ASP Software|
|Lowrance Hook-3X Sonar||-Inexpensive|
-Backlit Color Screen
Key Considerations when Looking for a Cheap Fish Finder
Fish finders do an important job of saving you time and money by getting you onto fish quickly and accurately so you don’t waste time and gas riding around the lake endlessly casting. The hardest part is getting a quality fish finder without dropping a ton of money.
This is especially good news, for anglers with a tight budget or buying back up equipment. Many fish finders can be bought for under $200. The best fish finders under $200 that we have reviewed will leave little to be desired and function just fine for a day out on the water.
A few things to look for in a fish finder are things like, a swivel mount, a long enough transducer cable, a broad frequency range for the sonar and extra features like computer software or CHIRP technology on board.
When you start shopping around make sure you know what you’d like to have, and more importantly what you don’t want. In a price range like $200 having down imaging and a large screen, and CHIRP isn’t realistic so make sure you know what you want.
Fish Finder Reviews: 5 Best Models
This is a runaway favorite online because of how well it performs in the field. Coming from the electronics giant Garmin this is an excellent value. Combining GPS, the only unit capable that has it in this price segment, with reliable and accurate sonar called “CHRIP” this is an ideal and potent fish finding tool.
It gathers the information and displays it on a color screen that is disappointingly tiny, larger screens are available but will cost much more. The screen is only 3.5” and has 480×270 resolution. If screen size and features are your goals this isn’t your unit. It is a great model but you don’t have an SD card slot so while you can save waypoints you’ll eventually run out of space.
Pros: Combines GPS with Fish Finder for Cheap, Full Color, CHIRP Sonor
Cons: The screen is a little on the small side
This is the fisherman’s fish finder. If you’re into high-end electronics this isn’t your unit. The screen is larger than most other’s and is also colored with decent resolution. It’s waterproof and accurate to 600ft with Dual Beam and 320ft with Down Imaging. With the high quality that rivals models out of in this price range.
The screen is certainly readable, with 256 colors, and mounted on a tilt-mount base. The dual beam sonar in the unit works at better frequencies and deep than other models, perfect for large lakes and saltwater fishing. The unit uses dual beams to give a high-degree readout coving everything under your boat.
Pros: Wide Readout, Color Screen
Cons: Can give inaccurate depth reading
Want a compact, full-color display with down view imaging? This might be your best bet. Coming from Garmin this is an excellent model that combines technologies without making them too expensive. Th hallmark of this unit is the down view sonar accurate to 2750ft. and the small full-color readout.
The maximum resolution of the screen is 240×320 and is full color with an easy to read layout. This is a fantastic quality fish finder. All its features are easy to use and high quality, and leaves off anything that you don’t absolutely need.
If I were going to outfit a small bay boat with an inexpensive fish finder, this would be my choice.
Pros: Color screen, High quality construction
Cons: Screen is bit hard to read in sunlight, Screen is small
The CHIRP sonar in this unit is just as usable as other units and is easy to use because of the high-quality display. The difference this unit makes is by adding Advanced signal processing to allow you to easily see the differences between debris, the bottom, and the fish.
The final trackback features this unit has allows you to see what the unit has processed before and compare the areas you’ve passed over. This is excellent to judge bottom structure and make decisions about where to fish.
Overall this is an excellent package and should be looked at with high regard
Pros: CHIRP Signal, Advanced Computer, Good Display
Cons: Hard to see in bright sunlight
This is an inexpensive unit but can compete with others in a high price range. This is an excellent backup unit at any price because of how inexpensive it is and the features it brings onto your boat.
The 3-color, 3” backlit display is easy to read and sunlight readable from wide angles. The resolution OK at 320×240 but makes up for it with good color and backlighting.
The dual frequency sonar sends out pulses in a 60-degree conical shape and is accurate at the bottom reading at speeds up to 75mph. A great unit for a small boat or casual fishing on ponds. This unit shouldn’t be cast aside just because of its price.
Pros: Very Inexpensive, Backlit Screen, Very Quick Bottom Reading
Cons: Materials feel Cheap in Hand, Screen can be hard to read when moving quickly
If you’ve got a shoe string budget and need a cheap fish finder for under $200 don’t be discouraged. There are dozens of serviceable units that will be fine for recreational fishing out on the water and almost all of the models on the market for cheap will serve great backup units.
If you stick to the major brands that we’ve reviewed it will be hard to end up with a bad unit these days. Especially when most of the manufacturers we pre-selected provide replacement and warranty services if something goes wrong. No matter what you buy though, get out on the water and get fishing!
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