Home Fishing 7 Best Fish Finders

7 Best Fish Finders [UNDER $400]

Humminbird HELIX 5 CHIRP GPS G2 Fish Finder
Humminbird HELIX 5 CHIRP GPS G2 - image credit humminbird.com

Best Fish Finders Under $400: Exclusive Guide

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.

Now that you have the finder with the best features to track the fish, it is up to you to actually catch and land them!

Every angler has their own preferences, but when it comes to the best fish finders that sell for under $400, my personal choice is Humminbird 410210-1 HELIX 5 fish finder.

Humminbird Helix 5 offers a degree of sophistication that was previously only available in units that cost much more, including a 5-inch color display that is easy to read even in bright sunlight, dual beam sonar for increased coverage, and frequency ranges from 75-225 kHz that can reach a max depth of 1500 feet.

Add in advanced mapping tools and GPS that allow you to track and record your favorite fishing spots, and you have a complete package in a fish finder.

Our Top Seven Fish Finders Under $400 in 2018

Sale Garmin Striker 7SV with transducer,  010-01809-00
Sale Humminbird 410210-1 HELIX 5 CHIRP GPS G2 Fish...
Sale Garmin Striker 4 Built-in GPS Fish Finder
Sale Deeper Smart Sonar PRO+ - GPS Portable Wireless...
Garmin 010-01807-00 Garmin STRIKER 5cv with...
Sale Lowrance 000-12664-002 Navico Hook 7 with Card &...
Lowrance 000-12635-001 Hook-3X Sonar, W/83/200...


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.

They are:

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 a few important features that you should consider when selecting a new fish finding unit.

#1 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.

Lowrance hdi fish finder screenshot

 

#2 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.

The power is measured in wattage, which refers to the amount of power that is supplied to your fish finder. When considering the wattage of your fish finder you want to make sure that a finder is powerful enough to reach the depths you will be fishing at.

Higher wattage in a Fish Finder will result in a finder that is capable of accurately mapping deeper depths, and provide a faster transmission and return of the sonar waves produced by the finder. If you are planning to fish in varied depths, you want to get a finder that can handle from shallow to deep.

#3 Transducer Frequency 

The frequency refers to the ability of your fish finder to produce high detailed images. Lower frequencies are able to penetrate deeper, but also produce lower resolution images. Higher frequencies can give you a much more detailed image, but don’t reach deeper depths.

The best option for a fish finder is a finder that has multiple frequencies to give you the versatility to move from shallow to deep, and have options for higher detail at shallower depths.

#4 Conical Search Area 

The conical search area is where the waves of the fish finder actually search. The cone shape is the most common type of search shape, and expands the deeper it penetrates in the water column.

A wider cone is good for shallow water since it won’t disperse as much, while a narrower cone is better for deep water to reduce the dispersion at depth. Good fish finders will have transponders capable of projecting wide and narrow cones.

For deeper depths, or better coverage in general, look for a finder that has multiple beams. A finder with two beams means that there are two separate cones covering your desired search area, and let you spend less time looking and more time catching.

 

Reviews of Best Fish Finders Under $400


1. Garmin 010-01809-00 Striker 7SV – IMPRESSIVE

Impressive 7-inch full color screen


Garmin 010-01809-00 Striker 7SV Fish Finder
Garmin Striker 7SV Fish Finder – image credit garmin.com

CHECK on Amazon.com

Pros:

  • Transponders cover both sides of the boat.
  • Sharp image definition.
  • Easy to navigate the screens.

Cons:

  • GPS maps are not detailed.

The Garmin Striker 7SV has an impressive 7-inch full color screen that uses the high-frequency CHIRP ClearVü™ sonar to produce remarkably clear and detailed images.

The sonar uses dual frequencies of 77 and 200 kHz to allow you to dial in the finder for the best view of the water, whether deep or shallow. The best part is that the 7SV continually sweeps using data from both frequencies simultaneously to allow the increased image definition. This design lets the user see crisper outlines of the contours, objects, and fish shapes.

The 7SV has a 500 watt power supply that allows it to reach depths of 1,100 feet in saltwater, and 2,300 feet in freshwater. The cone is a dual-beam, so the dual-frequencies cover a wide aware to uncover all the fish hiding places.

The integrated GPS features waypoint markers that map out your entry and exit points, favorite spots, and the best places to find the largest and most trophy worthy fish.

Sale
Garmin Striker 7SV with transducer,  010-01809-00
41 Reviews
Garmin Striker 7SV with transducer, 010-01809-00
  • Clearer scanning sonar - shows you more of what is...
  • The power of simple - offers a keyed interface...
  • Way point map - use the way point map to easily...


2. Humminbird 410210-1 HELIX 5 – Best Overall Pick

Superior fish finding capabilities


Download User Manual here

Humminbird HELIX 5 CHIRP GPS G2 Fish Finder
Humminbird HELIX 5 CHIRP GPS G2 Fish Finder- image credit humminbird.com

CHECK on Amazon.com

Pros:

  • 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.

Cons:

  • Unit cover not included.

Just because you are on a budget doesn’t mean that you have to sacrifice top of the line features.The HELIX 5 CHIRP GPS G2 model features Hummingbird’s heralded CHIRP sonar system, which provides superior fish finding capabilities.

DualBeam PLUS sonar provides a larger coverage area for the transducer that has a variable frequency between 75 and 225 kHz.

The 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.

A 4,000 watt peak power makes the Helix 5 capable of producing rapidly traveling sonar waves to give you quick and detailed images of the water column, and topography of your fishing spot. The Autochart Live feature actively maps your favorite fishing spots to help you get to the fish faster every time you hit the water.

When you’re fishing in new waters, the Humminbird Basemap uses the built in GPS, and data from multiple sources, including NOAA and Lakemaster, to give you topographic, depth, and navigation data to help you make the most of your time out on a new lake.

Sale
Humminbird 410210-1 HELIX 5 CHIRP GPS G2 Fish...
101 Reviews
Humminbird 410210-1 HELIX 5 CHIRP GPS G2 Fish...
  • 5-Inch Color WVGA Display
  • CHIRP Dual Beam PLUS Sonar
  • Precision Internal GPS Chart plotting with...


3. Garmin 010-01550-00 Striker 4 Bbuilt-in GPS – BEST SELLER

Easiest user interface


Garmin 010-01550-00 Striker 4 Built-in GPS Fish Finder
Garmin Striker 4 Built-in GPS Fish Finder – image credit garmin.com

CHECK on Amazon.com

Pros:

  • High accuracy transducers.
  • Map markers make finding hot spots and docks easy.
  • Easy set-up.
  • Color screen.

Cons:

  • Loses accuracy at higher speeds.
  • Transducer leads are a little short for larger boats.

The Garmin Striker 4 is the simple option designed to give you the easiest user interface possible in a fish finder. The keted interface is has dedicated buttons to keep yo0u from fiddling around to figure out how to change settings.

The built in GPS includes a waypoint map that allows you mark your favorite areas, while also setting reminders of hazards common at your favorite fishin’ hole like shallow spots, large rocks, and others. You can even mark the deep spots where you know the big fish like to hang out. All of this is easy to track on the full-color 3.5 inch screen.

The Striker 4 uses variable CHIRP sonar that continually scans the water at frequencies between 77 and 200 kHz. You can even upgrade to the GT8 or GT15 transducers to increase the coverage area, and produce crisper sonar images, to give you more of an edge for finding your prize catch.

A transducer power source provides 200 watts that lets the sonar read up to 750 feet in salt water, and 1,600 feet in freshwater.

Sale
Garmin Striker 4 Built-in GPS Fish Finder
549 Reviews
Garmin Striker 4 Built-in GPS Fish Finder
  • CLEARVÜ SCANNING SONAR - Shows you more of what...
  • THE POWER OF SIMPLE - Offers a keyed interface...
  • WAYPOINT MAP - Use the waypoint map to easily...


4. Deeper DP1H10S10 Portable Wireless Wifi Fish Finder

Companion for almost any kind of fishing


Deeper Pro Portable Wireless Wifi Fish Finder
Deeper Portable Wireless Fish Finder – image credit deepersonar.com

CHECK on Amazon.com

Pros:

  • GPS mapping feature in app.
  • Easy to use.
  • Produces crisp detail of water column.

Cons:

  • WiFi connection is inconsistent in rough water.
  • If your phone dies, you lose your fish finder’s capability.

Even though I set out to give you a strong list of the most common fish finder brands that produce quality finders for under $400. However, I feel impressed that I should share Deeper portable, because of how popular it is, and it turns your iOS or Android smartphone into the screen for your fish finder.

Using a WiFi radio, the Deeper fish finder transmits water data directly to your phone. The portability makes this fish finder a capable companion for almost any kind of fishing whether from the shore, on ice, or on a boat. The finder even has separate mapping modes for the different fishing conditions.

The flexibility of the deeper lets you cast the sonar device like you would your regular line, and has a connection range up up to 330 feet. The depth penetration power is capable of creating definition to within half and inch of object separation down to 260 feet in fresh and saltwater.

You are able to choose between a precise 15-degree narrow cone, and wider coverage with a 55-degree cone. The power source is a rechargeable battery capable of 5.5 hours of continual use per charge.

Sale
Deeper Smart Sonar PRO+ - GPS Portable Wireless...
1,775 Reviews
Deeper Smart Sonar PRO+ - GPS Portable Wireless...
  • Wi-Fi connected wireless, castable, portable smart...
  • Perfect tool for all styles of fishing: shore-,...
  • The only portable sonar on the market with GPS...


5. Garmin 010-01552-00 Striker 5DV

Sophisticated CHIRP system


Download User Manual here

Garmin Striker 5DV
Garmin Striker 5DV Fish Finder – image credit garmin.com

CHECK on Amazon.com

Pros:

  • 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

Cons:

  • No sonar recording.
  • NMEA outputs not 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.

Garmin 010-01807-00 Garmin STRIKER 5cv with...
31 Reviews
Garmin 010-01807-00 Garmin STRIKER 5cv with...
  • CLEARVÜ SCANNING SONAR - Shows you more of what...
  • THE POWER OF SIMPLE - Offers a keyed interface...
  • WAYPOINT MAP - Use the waypoint map to easily...


6. Lowrance 000-12664-002 Navico Hook 7

High resolution image


Download User Manual here

Lowrance 000-12664-002 Navico Hook 7 Fish Finder
Lowrance Navico Hook Fish Finder – image credit lowrance.com

CHECK on Amazon.com

Pros:

  • 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.

Cons:

  • Advanced unit; may take some time to master completely.
  • Basic map charts provided offer insufficient detail.
  • 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.

Sale
Lowrance 000-12664-002 Navico Hook 7 with Card &...
15 Reviews
Lowrance 000-12664-002 Navico Hook 7 with Card &...
  • Lowrance-exclusive, brilliant, high-resolution,...
  • CHIRP sonar plus DownScan imaging provides the...
  • Advanced signal processing (ASP) reduces the need...


7. Lowrance 000-12635-001 Hook-3X

Help you find what you want faster and easier


Lowrance Hook-3X Fish Finder
Lowrance Hook-3X Fish Finder – image credit lowrance.com

CHECK on Amazon.com

Pros:

  • Clear screen, even in sunlight.
  • Easy to install in the boat.
  • Good for finding depth, temperature, and contour.
  • Great for first-time users.

Cons:

  • Loses accuracy at high speeds.
  • 3-inch screen is a little small.

The Lowrance Hook features a 3-inch full color screen that is LED back-lit to allow you to clearly view the images returned to you by the dual frequency transponders running at 83 and 200 kHz. The 80 kHz mode creates a 60 degree cone that is a great option for finding the best fish over a wide area.

The transponders use broadband sounders that relay information back to the screen, and give you a clear picture of bottom contour and hardness, water temperature changes, fish, and underwater structures.

Thanks to the advanced signal processing of the Hook, you spend less time making manual adjustments to improve image clarity.

The fish finder automatically adjusts to changes in the water column and conditions to help you find what you want faster and easier. Page buttons on the body make switching between the 83 and 200 kHz signals quick and simple.

Lowrance 000-12635-001 Hook-3X Sonar, W/83/200...
118 Reviews
Lowrance 000-12635-001 Hook-3X Sonar, W/83/200...
  • Led-backlit 3 inch color display with detailed 320...
  • Broadband sounder detail easily identifies fish...
  • Advanced signal processing (asp) reduces the need...


 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.

Related:  Best Fish Finders For Shallow Water

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As a third generation San Diegan, Tom has spent over half a century fishing in saltwater for a wide variety of gamefish species. He began his career as an outdoor writer for San Diego Fishermen Magazine in 1983 with his popular column, The Bayside Angler. EXPERIENCE For well over a decade, HOOKED ON BAJA author, Tom Gatch, has built a solid reputation as one of the foremost writers and blog columnists focusing on saltwater fishing in southern California and Baja. As former Research Editor for Saltwater Directions/Recon Maps & Charts, he has created detailed coastal fishing charts for various popular angling venues around the entire continental United States and Baja California. His ‘South of the Border’ column appeared for over seven years in southern California’s well-read maritime newspaper, The Log, and his informative articles on saltwater fishing have been published in such popular periodicals as Sport Fishing Magazine and Big Game Fishing Journal.. Tom’s regular blog postings on the Baja.com, San Diego Reader and Baja Bound Websites continue to offer an ongoing resource for those who love and pursue the sport of saltwater angling.

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