The Best Fish Finders Under $400
The ongoing development of state of the art fish finder GPS units that establish way-points and incorporate fastidiously accurate fish finding data continues to change the face of sport fishing as we know it.
Never before has it been so easy to find and pinpoint the exact location of productive fishing spots, and then save that valuable information for future use.
Add to that the ability to constantly monitor the water temperature, locate fish in high definition and also use mapping software showing detailed fishing information for virtually any given locale, and you have the ultimate tool for putting you on the fish in just about any situation.
It is then up to you to actually catch and land them!
Every angler has their own preferences, but when it comes to the best fish finder that sell for under $400, my personal choice is Hummingbird Helix5 CHIRP GPS G2. It offers a degree of sophistication that was previously only available in units that cost much more.
Here are a few things to consider when looking for the right fish finder in this price category to fit your specific fishing needs.
|Hummingbird Helix5 CHIRP||Garmin Striker 5DV||Lowrance Navico Hook 7|
|waypoints: 3,000||waypoints: 2,500||waypoints: 5,000|
|Depth: 1,000 feet||Depth: 1,500 feet||Depth: 750 feet (salt) 1,600 feet (fresh)|
|Display Size: 7”||Display Size: 5”||Display Size: 3.5”|
|Resolution: 800 x 480||Resolution: 800 x 480||Resolution: 800 x 480|
|Frequency (kHz): 83/200/455/800||Frequency (kHz): 83/200/455||Frequency (kHz): 50/77/200|
|RMS transmit power (W): 600||RMS transmit power (W): 500||RMS transmit power (W): 200|
The Best Fish Finders Brands To Consider
While you can certainly find a variety of fish finders on the market these days, there are presently only three major manufacturers that offer consistently reliable units that cost under $400.
They all possess a full range of features that run the gamut from providing basic depth and temperature data, to offering sophisticated side finding capability and detailed 3D images that are portrayed in vivid color.
Key Design Features of Fish Finders
Because of the nature of their design function, several similarities exist between these basic fish finders. They possess 12 channel parallel receivers, can determine, save and recall way-point information and can create routes. A combo fish finder GPS unit is much more affordable than purchasing the two units separately, and it gives you the same operating features and double the technology all rolled into one.
There are basically two important things that you should consider when selecting a new fish finding unit. The first is resolution. LCD screens are made up of numerous pixels that combine to make a single image. Thus, pixel saturation will determine the sharpness of your screen image. A pixel count of 720p is considered High Definition, and will provide you with optimum resolution and detail.
The second is power. For saltwater application, always look for at least 250W of RMS power and 3000W peak to peak, which will allow you to plot deeper water. Another consideration is screen size. While a handheld user may not have a lot of choices in this category, those buying standalone pieces for the console should look for a minimum screen size of 5” and work up from there, depending upon their budget.
Our TOP 3 Picks of The Best Fish Finders UNDER $400
The HELIX 5 CHIRP GPS G2 model features Hummingbird’s heralded CHIRP sonar system, which provides superior fish finding capabilities. Its 5″ diagonal screen offers a pixel resolution of 800H x 480V, along with 16-bit color TFT and an LED backlight. This unit’s 500 Watt (RMS) output allows you to cover depths up to 1500 feet and has a power input of 10-20 VDC. It also features an onboard GPS and a UniMap chart software package to enhance your fishing experience.
- DualBeam Plus sonar equipped with SwitchFire.
- CHIRP sonar technology.
- Powerful XNT 9 20 T transducer complete with transom mount.
- Depth capability up to 1,500 ft with the included transducer.
- Multiple sonar functions available, such as Alarms, RTS, Selective Fish ID+ and Bottom Lock.
- Sonar Screen Snapshot and recording functions.
- UniMap chart software package included.
- Unit cover not included.
Garmin’s Striker 5DV model is a rugged unit that is designed to withstand the rigors of continued exposure to extreme environments. Its onboard GPS system marks your exact location, and even lets you know how fast you are trolling. The sophisticated CHIRP system continually emits variable frequencies from low to high, and lets you know how close you are to the action. It also features a sonar data flasher, which is ideal when you are jigging vertically.
- 2D CHIRP sonar, capable of 50/77/200 kHz.
- CHIRP DownVü sonar.
- Dual frequency capable; allowing you monitor both 2D beams at the same time.
- Wide variety of onboard sonar functions like Split Zoom, A-Scope, flasher, Bottom Lock and Fish Symbols.
- Highly sensitive GPS system
- Can save up to 5,000 waypoints.
- Able to share waypoints with EchoMAP system
- No sonar recording.
- NMEA outputs not included.
- Unit cover not included.
The Lowrance 000-12664-022 Navico Hook 7 offers numerous popular features like an exclusive 7 inch color screen that delivers a high resolution image. It also offers powerful DownScan imaging and CHIRP sonar, which together provide you with exceptional monitoring capability directly beneath and around your boat. In order to reduce the need for manual adjustment, the unit also offers an Advanced Signal Processing system, which quickly allows you to survey bottom detail, submerged structures and, most importantly …fish! A mid-high down imaging transducer is also included.
- Advanced 2D CHIRP sonar
- Crystal clear DownScan imaging system
- Split-screen viewing allows monitoring of up to 3 panels at a time
- Superior sonar recording function
- Automatic noise filtering
- Various functions included, such as Fish ID, A-Scope, Bottom Lock etc.
- Rapid GPS acquisition
- Interfaces with high end charting software, such as Fishing Hot Spots PRO, Navionics +, C-MAP MAX-N and Nautic Insight PRO,
- Advanced unit; may take some time to master completely.
- Basic map charts provided offer insufficient detail.
- Unit cover not included.
Final Note on Fish Finders
In the final analysis, no matter which brand you ultimately select or how much you may decide to spend for any given fish finding unit, there might be a few individuals who view this type of state of the art fishing technology as providing an unfair advantage to the anglers who use them.
Nonetheless, it must always be remembered that these units do not actually catch fish for you; they simply help you locate them. It is indeed up to the individual angler to consistently exercise discretion when fishing, either with or without such electronic assistance, in order to help preserve this vital resource for future generations.