For many of you reading this, fishing is an escape from reality. The hustle and bustle of suburban life can be exhausting, and catching that next trout or bass can be a make-or-break for any weekend fishing trip. We all know the excitement once we realize we have something nibbling on our bait, but we also know the feeling of disappointment heading home empty-handed. Unless you are a master angler, it's hard to tell whether you’re casting in the perfect spot or wasting your time.
In this article, we will review the best fish finders under $200, minimizing those disappointing fishing trips and helping bring you the next big catch to show off to your buddies.
Comparison Chart of the Best Fish Finders Under $200
Garmin Striker 4 with Transducer
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Lowrance HOOK2 4X
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Deeper Smart Sonar PRO+
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Humminbird 410160-1 PIRANHAMAX 4.3 DI Fish Finder with Down Imaging
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Venterior VT-FF001 Portable Fish Finder
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Why Buy a Fish Finder?
Fish finders are a great addition to any angler's kit. Whether you’re a beginner or an expert, fish finders will help you spot the best locations for your next big catch. There are many benefits to using this piece of tech, the most obvious being that you can locate fish, as well as targeting specific species’ by highlighting structures beneath the water or knowing the different depths.
Some of the more traditional members of the fishing community that prefer to rely on using the naked eye would say that fish finders spoil the fun of the hobby. A large part of fishing is the waiting, and by using a fish finding gadget, the time between each catch would be decreased.
Using a fish finder just depends on the type of fisherman you are and whether you prefer the guesswork involved in catching fish. Or does your thrill come from catching as many as possible?
How to Choose the Best Fish Finder?
Choosing the best fish finder can become quite a technical task, luckily the quality of each finder can be measured by some key features such as the display, ease of use, transducer, GPS, and scanning capabilities. If they are high quality, this can be the make-or-break between a good or bad fish finder.
Display and Ease of Use
For any fish finder, being able to see the data collected by the sonar is a crucial feature. If you’re having to squint your eyes due to the poor screen quality, chances are it's not what you’re wanting. It's important that each finder has a screen large enough to provide you with the data you need. A decent display offers a clear picture of the data gathered; unfortunately, graininess is what many fish finders within the market are known for. It must also be easy for even newbies to use.
This feature is what sends out and receives sonar signals. You’ll need a fish finder with a compatible transducer for that type of fishing. If you’re working in shallow waters, it's better to have a transducer that sends out sound waves at wide angles, whereas deep sea fishing works best with narrow angles.
Side scan and DownScan are the two options that can be found in fish finders. DownScan fish finders are strong and best-suited to smaller bodies of water, as they are more focused on smaller areas, your chances of finding a fish with DownScan are limited, as it would need to pass underneath the boat to show any reading.
Side scan fish finders are used to scan larger bodies of water but aren’t as effective in deeper water. Some fish finders can provide dual scan abilities and this technology has made recent advancements in the past few years. Many fishermen buy two with different scanning abilities.
In most good quality fish finders you will expect to see a GPS option, this can be used to store and collect data from previous fishing trips helping you out for future reference. This can be handy for boat or kayak fishing. Plus, there are also options out there that use mapping cards which can be inserted into SD slots on your device to save you the hassle of mapping it yourself over time.
Review of the Best Fish Finders Under $200
Finding the best fish finders can be a tricky task. Some finders have qualities or features that others don’t. Some might even promise things they struggle to provide. By the end of this review, we hope that you have a better understanding of what the best fish finder is for you.
Garmin Striker 4 with Transducer
The Garmin Striker 4 can come in 3.5, 5, or 7-inch display sizes. Unlike other fish finders, it doesn’t give you that annoying glare on bright summer days as it is equipped with an HVGA color display.
The Garmin Striker 4 packs a punch for a small fish finder. Many similar fish finders provided by other brands don’t include CHIRP technology. CHIRP is a powerful addition to this fish finder as it allows the user to see clearer images and helps spot fish easier. The ability to use the waypoint map which can help navigate and mark up to 5000 waypoints using the system’s GPS is a handy tool for any fishermen wanting to maximize the time spent fishing.
A problem faced by other models of fish finders is that groups of fish swimming closely to one another would read as one large fish, however, this problem no longer exists with CHIRP.
The Striker 4 utilizes two conical beams that can be used for fishing in deep water or medium-sized depths, a maximum depth of 1600 ft in freshwater and 750 ft for saltwater is possible but with only a 50 kHz transducer which isn’t provided in the pack, however, the transducer provided can take you to depths of 750 ft.
The Garmin Striker 4 is a small and reliable fish finder and the CHIRP addition is a great feature to any fish finder, as it provides a clear, easy to read picture of what is going on underwater. Perfect for small boats and kayaks, the ability to hold up to 5000 waypoints will save any user a considerable chunk of time finding that great fishing spot they found months before.
Lawrence HOOK2 4X
The Lawrence HOOK2 4X is an easy to use fish finder with a four-inch screen. Built for speed, the smart design of a phone limits the time you will spend messing around with settings, giving you more time on the water. Just like modern smartphones, the display will also adjust its brightness settings depending on how bright it is outside.
Just like the Garmin Striker 4, this fish finder uses CHIRP technology which is nowadays a must-have for any fish finder, sending out various frequencies to several levels that in the end paint a more accurate underwater picture. This kit also provides a simple yet accurate GPS plotter that can again be used to find old fishing spots.
The Lowrance HOOK2 4X uses a side scan beam, this means you will be able to locate fish within a large area of water, however, it can’t give you any detailed information about the fish directly below you.
A decent gadget for any fisherman’s weekend away, this finder can be a great starting point for anyone interested in taking their hobby more seriously. The easy to use display, along with the powerful CHIRP sonar, make this a decent addition to any fisherman's kit. By streamlining all of the main fish finder features, along with a simple menu layout, the Lowrance HOOK2 4X really stands out from the competition with just one push of a button.
Best for the Money:
Deeper Smarter Sonar Pro
The Deeper Smarter Sonar Pro is different from any other fish finder on this list. This fish finder is a castable sonar ball that you attach to your fishing line. This means that the main gadget is actually cast with your bait. The device operates with dual scan technology, making it useful for all types of fishing, whether ice or boat fishing.
The finder uses WiFi, which provides it a strong, hard to break, connection. With the integrated GPS, it allows you to collect detailed data in real time. You view this data by using your smartphone or tablet to create a truly flawless experience, just download the app and watch the data come up on your screen. You could even attach your device to your fishing rod or boat.
Unlike other fish finders, the Deeper Pro has a rechargeable battery with over five hours of constant use on just one charge, which can operate in both fresh and salt water.
This is a modern and useful fish finder that helps fishermen get into those hard to reach spots with accurate, reliable, and immediate data. The innovative dual scan technology allows for great fishing of many types and in all seasons. The rechargeable battery also sets it apart from other fish finders with a battery life of up to five hours of continuous use.
This fish finder has a 4.3-inch screen with a display that is similar to the Lowrance HOOK4 we reviewed earlier. The LED-backlit screen allows users to read the display like normal even in direct sunlight or night fishing. The finder also comes with a tilt swivel mount and an option for an in-dash mounting kit.
There are a few features that aren’t included in the Humminbird compared to the average fish finder, it doesn’t include GPS or any navigation functions, it focuses on providing a high-quality 2D and down imaging sonar. The 2D sonar can reach depths of 600 ft, with the down imaging reaching levels of around 320 ft. The dual beam sonar is capable of using two frequencies which you can change depending on how deep you are looking to fish.
Although many people will instantly think of this as a useful feature, it does limit you to only using one sonar beam at a time. Despite not having CHIRP sonar technology, the finder does have a 2.5-inch target separation, it's important that modern fish finders provide some sort of solution that helps users distinguish between larger fish and groups of smaller fish swimming close by.
Suitable for both night fishing and bright sunny days, the Humminbird 410160-1 PIRANHAMAX 4.3 DI is LED backlit, the display is easy to use and understand with it being similar to other fish finders currently on the market. Although it also provides dual beam sonar, this is limited to one frequency at a time.
CHIRP technology is also absent from this product but has been replaced with a 2.5-inch target separator that can only be used to display current information without the option of saving previous trips for future reference.
The Venterior is a portable fish finder for beginners, the easy to use display and simplicity of the finder is for those who aren’t used to the technical nature of the more advanced fish finders.
This compact and sturdy device could last a lifetime, and with its simple LCD screen, is a popular one amongst those new to fishing that want to test the waters with these kinds of devices. Even with this basic addition to your kit, it still provides reasonable protection from bright conditions with an anti-UV coating.
The Venterior can work in depths from 3 to 330 ft and doesn’t offer anything as advanced as CHIRP, but it does do its job to a somewhat reliable level. The finder is connected via a cable which is limited to only 25 ft. The finder itself does prove its worth with accurate readings and will provide you with a great estimate of where to cast your line.
This kit addition can work in most climates such as ice fishing, as long as you keep the sensors above 0 degrees. Anything below this will affect the overall performance. Additionally, strong waves and muddy water will make a significant impact on the performance of the finder.
Although a very basic fish finder, it does what it says on the box. A great gadget for newbie fishermen interested in trying out this piece of a fishing kit. It is very easy to use and will give you a great estimate of where to cast your line. Once you are ready to take your fishing to a more intermediate level, it would be best to upgrade to something with more features such as GPS or dual beam sonar.
There are many decent fish finders out there and it's important that you find the one that's best-suited to the type of fishing you enjoy most. Every fish finder has their own unique selling points, some more than others. Remember, the key features when choosing your next fish finder include the display and ease of use, transducer, GPS, and scanning capabilities.