What Is The Best Fish Finder Under $300 In 2021?

UPDATED 29 JANUARY 2021

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by Robert Ceran

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Fish finders are extremely useful for catching more fish, but many anglers don’t want to use them because they think they are difficult to use, and expensive to boot. 

However, with a little practice, it’s not that hard to use a fish finder (for example, check out our article on how to read a fish finder). Also, while the high end models definitely aren’t cheap, you can get excellent fish finders that are quite affordably priced at less than 300 dollars.

So, if you’re thinking of buying a high quality fish finder that covers all important functionalities  without costing a fortune, keep on reading. We’ve tested the top 10 models that cost less than 300 dollars, and in this article we review the best fish finder under 300.

 

Best fish finder under 300 reviewed:

1. Humminbird HELIX 5 CHIRP GPS G2 Fish Finder

Photo of Humminbird Helix 5 CHIRP GPS G2

This Humminbird fish finder has an impressive array of features, while still being a surprisingly small model, which makes it ideal for kayaks and small boats. It has a large 5 inch screen with 800×480 pixel resolution and 256 color display, which together generate a high quality user experience.

This model combines all three main types of sonar technology: CHIRP, down imaging, and side imaging. The powerful side imaging can scan an area of 350 ft. width without a problem. And since its display is split screen enabled, you can look at two of them at the same time, which really helps to improve the ability to detect fish and other objects with great accuracy.

The state of the art sonar technologies are combined with a powerful GPS functionality, which helps both with navigation, and to place markers on specific locations, or even on individual fish that you want to track.

Another advantage of this device is that it’s compatible with both Navionics and LakeMaster mapping software (for more details check our article on Navionics vs LakeMaster – what are the pros and cons).

In our opinion, this is the best fish finder under 300 out of the ten models that we tested, with the Lowrance Elite-5 TI coming in as close second.

Features:

  • 5” display with 800×480 resolution
  • 3 different types of sonar: CHIRP, down scan, and side scan
  • SmartStrike functionality calculates where fish are most likely to be found
  • GPS with 45 routes or 2500 waypoints that can be stored

 

2. Lowrance Elite 5-TI Fish Finder

Photo of Lowrance Elite 5-TI

The Lowrance Elite-5 TI is another very high performing fish finder. It combines CHIRP sonar, down scan imaging, side scan imaging, GPS, chartplotting, and wireless technology to provide a very impressive array of functionalities for a fish finder in this price class. 

It has a 5 inch display screen which is enabled for split screen view, allowing you to compare two different types of imaging next to each other. Fish ID technology helps to identify signals as fish if you’re not quite sure how to read a sonar display.  The Elite 5-TI also comes with WiFi and bluetooth functionality included. This enables you to connect it to your other devices, and to download genesis insights maps to help with navigation. 

One of the most impressive features of this fish finder is that it comes with 3 different types of sonar imaging: CHIRP, down scan, and side scan. Each of these has its own strengths and weaknesses, and having all three of them is extremely useful for getting the maximum benefit from a fish finder. To learn more about the advantages of different types of sonar, check out our article on how fish finders work

The embedded GPS technology is very advanced and can easily map out your route for you. Also, the chartplotting function allows  you to create custom maps from the recorded sonar data, which you can review at a later time. Finally, Advanced Signal Processing allows adjustments to be done automatically within seconds, with no need for manual tweaking of every detail.

Features

  • Large 5” display with 800×480 resolution
  • GPS and advanced chartplotting functionality for creating custom maps
  • 3 different types of sonar: CHIRP, down scan, and side scan
  • WiFi functionality
  • Advanced Signal Processing

 

3. Deeper Smart Sonar PRO+ Fish Finder

Photo of Deeper Smart Sonar Pro+

This fish finder is unique in that it’s the only one in this group that can be used from shore. It has a compact round shape designed to be cast out by anglers from the shore, and to float on top of the water to conduct its sonar reading. This is in contrast to all other models, which have to be used from a boat, or on ice. The Deeper Smart Sonar Pro+ can be used from a boat, on ice, or from shore.

This fish finder is designed to be cast out with a rod, and then used to create a live bathymetric map that’s streamed live to your smartphone screen, as well as detecting fish located underneath the floating fish finder unit. 

Its broadcasting range is 330 ft., which gives you a lot of distance to work with. The WiFi functionality is an upgraded version of bluetooth, which explains why it has a longer range compared to the 140 ft. maximum range of bluetooth. 

It has a dual frequency sonar, with a wide scan option that has a frequency of 90 kHz, which allows you to scan broad areas, as well as a narrow beam option that has a frequency of 290 kHz for more focused scanning in a small area. And while its dual frequency sonar has a maximum depth range of only 260 feet, that’s plenty for most shore fishing applications.

The design of the Deeper Smart Sonar Pro+ is highly robust and works flawlessly in harsh conditions, which also makes it an ideal choice for ice fishing. You just need to dunk the floating ball with the transducer into your ice fishing hole and you’re good to go.

It runs on a lithium battery that has enough juice for 6 hours at a time, and then needs to be recharged for 2 hours before being used again. If you plan to fish longer, it’s probably a good idea to get a reserve battery.

Features:

  • Can be used from shore, boat, or ice
  • Maximum WiFi range is 330 ft.
  • Maximum depth reading is 260 ft.
  • GPS functionality plus custom map creation
  • Compatible with iOS and Android devices

 

4. Raymarine Dragonfly 5 PRO Fish Finder

Photo of Raymarine Dragonfly 5 Pro

The Raymarine Dragonfly Pro is another excellent fish finder in this price class with built-in GPS technology, plus WiFi functionality. Compared to other fish finders it is proven to be quite advanced. It includes wide-spectrum CHIRP sonar, which gives even more detail than other CHIRP transducers, due to the fact that it covers more wavelengths. If you’re interested to learn more about how you can use CHIRP to catch more fish, check out our top tips on how to read a CHIRP fish finder.

This model also includes an optical bonding LCD display, which Raymarine used to reserve for the more high end models until recently. This LCD technology delivers very bright colors and sharp contrast, which helps to read even faint signals.

With the WiFi function you can connect the Dragonfly Pro to any other gadgets, including your smartphone or your tablet. And with the  integrated Wi-Fish mobile app, streaming live data is possible. This way you don’t need to put in a lot of effort to view the screens display, and can keep a recording on your mobile device. You can even control the fish finder from your smartphone.

Also, with the Navionics Boating App plus GPS functionality, you can create maps and bathymetric charts with either the Dragonfly Pro or the WiFish app on your phone. The GPS has a lot of way points, which helps to plot your location, your speed, and where you want to go. You can rewind the chart to any point you like, and that way you can keep track of your sonar charting data on your mobile device, even when you’re at home after a fishing trip.

If you purchase this powerful fish finder, make sure you don’t run the CHIRP transducer out of water, as it overheats very fast, which can damage the piezoelectric crystals (for more details on this, check out our article can a fish finder work out of water?).

Features:

  • Wide spectrum CHIRP
  • Split screen functionality
  • Compact ball and socket mounting
  • Zoom in/zoom out option 
  • Navionics app & sonarchart enable live streaming to your mobile device

 

5. Garmin Striker Plus 5CV Fish Finder

Photo of Garmin Striker Plus 5CV

The Garmin Striker Plus 5CV is a definite upgrade from the Striker Plus 4 series. With a 5 inch display it is significantly larger, and with 800×480 resolution and increased color intensity, it generates the user experience of a mini computer.

Similar to the 4CV, the 5CV also includes ClearVu sonar technology, which generates extremely accurate down scan images, and is one of Garmin’s flagship features that has helped to build their reputation as some of the best fish finders on the market.

The maximum depth range on this device is an impressive 1100 ft. of water (and even more in freshwater). The increased size comes with increased power, which enables deeper readings compared to the 4CV. 

This model also includes GPS, and with 5,000 way points, this feature is very helpful for navigation. However, there is no charting & mapping functionality. But overall, the increased power and larger screen give a great user experience, and very precise readings based on the high accuracy of the Garmin ClearVu CHIRP technology.

Features:

  • 5” screen with 800×480 resolution
  • Dual-frequency traditional and CHIRP sonar
  • GPS with 5000 waypoints
  • Fish ID technology
  • 1100 ft. maximum depth

 

6. Humminbird HELIX 5 DI G2 Fish Finder

Photo of Humminbird Helix 5 DI G2

The Humminbird Helix-5 includes some of Humminbird’s top features. The down imaging sonar  can scan more than 800 feet of depth with ease, and Humminbird DI technology allows you to get better object separation than traditional 2D sonar. This model also offers you the chance to use down imaging and dual beam sonar combined, which many fish finders in this price category aren’t able to do, making it the top favorite of many anglers. 

The fish finder has a 5 inch display with a resolution of 800×480. The high resolution display includes split screen functionality, allowing you to juxtapose two different types of sonar, such as down imaging and dual beam sonar, to get a better overview. 

It comes with GPS functionality included, which makes navigating dead simple. The GPS also allows you to track all locations you go to. In addition, it has a charting function, which allows you to create a custom map of a new location after scanning it.

Features:

  • Down imaging and dual beam sonar
  • Can create and store chart data
  • Alarm setting that alerts you when fish of different sizes are detected
  • Ability to make screenshots to record your readings

 

7. Raymarine Dragonfly 4 PRO Fish Finder

Photo of Raymarine Dragonfly 4 Pro

The Raymarine Dragonfly 4 Pro is a completely different fish finder that stands out the most in terms of usability and features. It is designed to provide the best imagery and high-quality experience at the lowest cost possible. 

One of the strongest features is the dual-channel sonar technology, which includes regular CHIRP sonar technology for finding fish in a relatively broad cone. The second sonar channel is CHIRP DownVision sonar technology. which is used to produce very high precision images of a small section when you’ve found a promising spot. The sonar of this device is surprisingly sensitive and can detect fish even at 700 feet underwater. 

The 4.3 inch screen has a resolution of 480×272 pixels, which is wide enough for great user experience and high quality images with super bright colors. This fish finder also incorporates a GPS that works with high accuracy. Similar to the Dragonfly 5, the WiFi functionality of the Dragonfly 4 makes live streaming of data possible to your phone. You can rewind and share images on social platforms as well. 

Features:

  • Dual channel CHIRP includes 2D and DownVision functionalities
  • GPS included
  • Display with 16:9 aspect ratio
  • Reliable readings even at great depth
  • Navionics app & sonarchart enable live streaming to your mobile device

 

8. Lowrance Hook2 4X All Season Pack

Photo of Lowrance Hook2 4X

The Lowrance Hook2 4X has been popular for several years as a very reliable and solid fish finder. While it only has basic fish finder features, based on traditional 2D sonar, and a relatively small display size, it offers a solid and reliable performance at an affordable price.

This is a simple fish finder that offers DownScan sonar technology which functions at two separate frequencies, 83 kHz and 200 kHz. The lower frequency is used for a broad scanning cone, while the higher frequency is used to generate more detail in a small section.

The maximum depth range is 300 ft., maybe a little less in conditions that are unfavorable. This depth range is sufficient for most freshwater scenarios, but might be insufficient for saltwater.  The display also has a zoom in/zoom out function, which is great for focusing on specific details. The transducer can provide correct readings up to a speed of 55 MPH, but it does perform better at slower speeds. If you think your transducer isn’t performing correctly, check out our article on how to tell if the transducer is bad.

This device offers Fish ID technology, which can be useful for beginners, since it saves you the trouble of having to identify fish arches, by directly labeling them with a fish icon.

If you’ve read our article “can a fish finder work through ice?” you’ll know that you can use most regular fish finders for ice fishing. However, if you purchase the Lowrance Hook2 4X All Season Pack, this includes an ice fishing transducer that’s specifically designed for that purpose. The all season pack also includes a 12V battery with charger, 2 mounts, and a portable pack you can use to carry it around easily. 

While it has no GPS, and the 4-inch LED screen is a little on the small side, its performance is nevertheless good enough to give you reliable readings of the essential information you need – depth, bottom structure, and fish location.  All in all, this is a good compact fish finder, which is especially well suited for kayak fishing and ice fishing, and is excellent value at less than 300.

Features:

  • Dual frequency sonar: 83 kHz & 200 kHz
  • Advanced Signal Processing helps to identify bottom structure and fish
  • Broadband sounder
  • Fish ID technology
  • The “All Season Pack” includes an ice transducer, 12V battery plus charger, 2 mounts, and portable pack

 

9. Garmin Striker Plus 4CV Fish Finder

Photo of Garmin Striker Plus 4CV

The Garmin Striker Plus 4CV is an upgraded version of the Garmin Striker 4. While it’s similar in many respects, it has several key features added to it, most notably ClearVu sonar technology, which is a type of down-scan sonar that focuses on a small section of the water under the boat. Unlike the broad sonar cone of traditional 2D sonar, this can give you crystal clear object resolution, which can be accurate enough to identify fish resting on the bottom.

With 3.5 inches the display is a little on the small side, but is still big enough to accommodate split screen functionality. You can use two panels side by side, one for sonar and one for GPS. The GPS doesn’t have advanced functionalities, such as charting & storing maps, but it does work well for navigation.

The CHIRP ClearVu sonar is the most impressive feature of this fish finder, and enables you to get highly accurate readings at a very affordable price. It also has Fish ID technology, which is ideal for beginners who aren’t sure how to identify fish with sonar.

Features:

  • 3.5” screen with a resolution of 480×320
  • Dual frequency for both traditional and CHIRP sonar
  • Fish ID technology
  • 800 ft. maximum depth
  • GPS included

 

10. Lowrance Elite-3X Fish Finder

Photo of Lowrance Elite 3X

Lowrance Elite-3X is a basic model that’s great for beginners who want to explore using a fish finder without spending a fortune. It has a dual frequency broadband sonar. The 83 kHz frequency produces a broad cone that’s useful for scanning a wide location, while the 200 kHz produces a narrower cone that focuses on a smaller section below the boat, and provides more detail with less clutter. It’s accurate enough to track individual fish, and even your lure in the water.

The 3.5 inch screen has 320×240 resolution with LED backlighting and 256 color display, which is fine for most readings. The LED backlighting enables accurate readings at night, or in dim conditions.

Similar to other Lowrance fish finders, this model comes with their patented Skimmer Transducer, which in addition to its sonar function also measures water temperature reliably, and tracks the bottom even at high cruising speeds.

If you’re a beginner, the Fish ID technology can help you to interpret sonar signals as fish easily. When enabled, this technology automatically labels the display with fish icons. This device also has the ability to track fish and set alarms. The Advanced Signal Process feature can help you easily view precise and accurate imagery.  

Features:

  • 3.5” screen with 340×240 resolution
  • Advanced Signal Processing
  • Skimmer transducer
  • IPX7 waterproof rating
  • Easy to use

 

Final remarks

As you can see from this list, there are several high quality fish finders on the market that check all the boxes if you’re looking for the best fish finder under 300. Two of the fish finders discussed here include all the most powerful features, including CHIRP sonar, side imaging, down imaging, GPS, and chartplotting. Both the Humminbird HELIX 5 CHIRP GPS G2 and the Lowrance Elite-5 TI cover all of these features.

In other words, it’s possible to get a top notch fish finder without breaking the bank, if you know what you’re looking for. 

If you’ve decided to get a new unit, you might be interested in our review of the best fish finder under $200, for the best low budget solutions. Alternatively, if you’re interested in looking at more high end models that offer state of the art sonar technologies, check out our Lowrance Elite 9 TI review, as well as our Garmin Striker 7SV review.

Finally, if you’re planning to go ice fishing, our review on the best ice fishing flasher may help you find the right solution. And when you buy your new fish finder, you may also be interested in looking at our article on the best fish finder battery to power it on your fishing trips.

Robert Ceran

Robert Ceran

Robert grew up fishing for crappie and bluegill as a young boy, and later graduated to the pursuit of bigger game. He loves participating at bass tournaments all over the country, whenever he’s not on one of his fly fishing trips to Canada. Robert started writing when he was just 17, and is now our chief wordsmith at Sport Fishing Buddy.

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