When you daydream about being on the lake, you probably don’t daydream about having to run around finding fish and only catching two tiny minnows all day.
Instead, you have dreams of lunker after lunker, the moment you get into the boat. This is a tough order but the best fish finder for the money is going to go a long way to help you load the boat down with plenty of fish.
Summary: Top 5 Best Fish Finders for the Money
What You Need & What You Don’t
Getting a good deal on a fish finder is pretty easy if you do a few things.
- Determine what you actually want and need
Poke around and see what level of quality and what features you need. It’s always tempting to buy things because you “might” need them. It’s also very expensive to shop on “might” though. Make a list f things you need, and are willing to pay for, and don’t pay extra for “nice to haves” unless it’s well within your budget.
- Setting a firm budget
This is simple but people lose sight. Make sure you know exactly what you want to spend and don’t spend more than that. It’s easy to start shopping and lose sight of what you really need and over spend, but there’s plenty of serviceable equipment for almost nothing. There’s little reason to go outside your budget.
- Reading reviews
Imported electronics are hit and miss. Especially on the internet, you can get burned if you decide to buy a model from an off brand or at a severely discounted price. Reading reviews and taking recommendations from verified purchasers is extremely helpful for buying the right product.
The electronics markets these days is littered with awesome products. Many of these products are every cheap because they use slightly dated technology. This isn’t to say that the technology is bad, just older. These days if features have been out for 2+ years, it’s old but often 80% of the brand-new gizmos that come out.
You don’t necessarily have to have the absolute best when it comes to a fish finder. Especially if you don’t travel much with your boat. Once you learn your local lakes or stretch of river, you’re set. A fish finder just allows you to learn it faster.
Value Fish Finder Reviews
This is an excellent fish finder because it comes in cheap with excellent features and offers room to upgrade later on. The screen is 3” across and is backlit LED and sunlight readable quickly and accurately. The included GPS is accurate enough to get you around the lake for fishing but only works well if you’re moving.
The layout of the buttons is intuitive and you can toggle through the screens very quickly and easily with one hand while driving or using a radio. The hardest thing to do with this unit is getting it mounted where you can easily see it, the swivel mount is hard to move around.
The CHIRP sonar built into the unit can be upgraded with one of two transducers sold separately for accurate down viewing.
Pros: Upgradable CHIRP sonar, Full color display
Cons: Screen is on the smaller side can be hard to see while multi-tasking
This unit won’t win any awards, except partially a value award because this unit does its job very well for very cheap. End of story.
This is made by Lowarance, who makes a huge range of fishing and outdoors electronics at all levels of budget. This unit is at the bottom of their lineup but sacrifices nothing, it just comes with slightly dated technology and fewer features. That technology, by the way, allows you to do everything you’d need to find fish no matter what.
The screen is a full 3” LED backlit display that is sunlight readable and is easy to read quickly and displays the data accurately. The sonar unit has two different frequencies and an advanced reader that can tell you very detailed information about the bottom structure, fish in the water, and water structure.
Pros: Dual-frequency sonar, low price
Cons: Backlit display can be hard to read in full sunlight
This is an excellent fish finder for the money because it brings a ton of features to the table without trying to blow the budget by being a super high-end product. Everything about this fish finder is good, and it does a lot. That is what makes it such a good value.
This unit especially does on the go automatic chart mapping and save sit to the internal memory so you can map the bottom of the lake or river so you know exactly what is under, and what will be under you as you move to your next waypoint.
It has a built-in GPS with base maps and includes a micro SD slot so you can add an infinite number of maps and waypoint at your disposal. The fish finder includes a CHIRP Sonar system to paint an accurate picture and the full-sized color screen is very good for quick readings while driving or making quick decisions.
Pros: Built-in GPS, Expandable memory, CHIRP sonar
Cons: Bulky design
This is a good fish finder because you get the quality of Garmin electronics combined with a color display and very accurate sonar. Nothing here is new technology, all of it is from yesteryear but it all works extremely well.
The 3-inch screen is color and reads very well in sunlight and the buttons on the unit are intuitive and easy to understand under pressure and quickly. The down view sonar paints a crystal-clear picture of fish and tells you where to cast and when to move on.
This is a good compromise unit as a backup or a for a casual primary. If you‘re fishing a lake you already know the bottom structure or are just interested in finding fish as fast a possible and nothing else, this is the highest quality unit you get for cheap and one of the best for the money.
Pros: Full-color screen, Down view sonar, Included transducer
Cons: Screen is a little on the small side
All of the units on this list do one thing, bring as many usable features to the table for the least amount of money. This unit is slightly more expensive than the others here but deserves honorable mention for the guys who have a little extra cash for their set up.
This is a great unit because of its versatility. It has two different sonar systems a CHIRP system and a Clear VU system to read both what is under and what is around your boat with an extremely good definition. The GPS can be viewed at the same time as the bottom reading because of the huge 5-inch color screen.
This unit combines everything you could want on your boat with everything you may want for ice fishing or jigging off a pier or dock. You can really use this unit for just about anything you might need and never want anything more.
Pros: Upgradable sonar, Huge full-color screen
Cons: More expensive, The larger screen make sit bigger unit that is take sup more space on the console
If you’re serious about a decent solution to quickly find fish on the river lake or bay, you needn’t spend a ton of money. There’s plenty of models from the major manufacturers that come in at an excellent value and give you most of the benefits of one of the high-end models for sometimes fractions of the cost.
The clear winner and runaway favorite is the Garmin Striker 4, an excellent fish finder, built in GPS unit, and options to upgrade it later on. This is about as good as it gets.
More popular guides: GPS Fish Finders