Fishfinders

Fish Finders Under $200

Share the love..

A Complete Review Of 10 Best Fish Finders For Ocean and Lakes.

A fish finder is a device that is used to locate fish in the water. It is all about working smart whereby the fish finder makes use of Sound Navigation and Ranging system also known as SONAR. The device is now more common than ever before and it is not only used by commercial fishermen but also those who do fishing as a leisure activity as well.

Image of two men fishing with help of best fishfinder
Men Fishing

The location of fish can be seen via an LCD or CRT screen. The technology that was developed in the 90s has now been upgraded and even includes systems such as GPS, radar and electronic compasses. This makes the device extremely efficient and precise than before.

The Types Of Fish Finders

There are many types of fish finders. The type you choose depends on the kind of fishing you do. There is the Down Scan fish finder. This finder is normally placed under the boat. This would be great for those who do deep-sea fishing. There is the Side Scan and as the name suggests, it is placed on the side of the boat. Side scans can go up to 240 feet of both boat sides and provide a photo of the area covered. This finder was originally designed to find sunken water vessels and now is used to find fish in areas with plenty of seaweed.

How Does A Fish Finder Work

First and foremost, the ship has to have a transmitter that sends signals in the waves. The waves will be reflected back to the transmitter via the SONAR system. The waves are reflected back via echoes. This reflected waves will be recorded and the signals will be sent to the screen. Now how does the system identify fish? Fish waves are displayed differently as compared to waves from other things in the water for instance corals and other obstructions. Where the fish are found even the echoes differ in size and form. If the waters are clear or have something other than fish then it will be displayed using a different symbol.

To be certain that you have located the fish, the display screen will send a fish symbol. At times you might see arches on the screen if the boat is in an area with fish but the display eliminates any confusion by ensuring the fish symbol is what is accurate.

What To Consider When Buying A Fish Finder

The first thing you need to know about buying a fish finder is that you will come across technical terms. It might be hard to make sense of it all but that is why in this review, we will demystify everything. So here are just some of the fundamental things to consider when buying your fish finder

Transducers and Transducer Material

Transducers are responsible for sending and receiving sonar wave signals. Once the waves hit the water they bounce off different objects. The transducer picks this up and the information is sent to the central unit where the signals are processed into images that are shown on the display. Transducers have different mounts. The transom mount is easily installed but if you have a bigger boat you can opt for the thru-hull mount.

The transducer material also matters. For those who do fishing as a hobby, a plastic transom mount will do. This transom is compatible with almost every boat. If you are using a fiberglass, metal, thru-hull or in-hull mount transducer then plastic housing is okay. Steel and aluminum hulls require stainless steel housing.

Power

If you will be doing your fishing in shallow waters, then you will need moderate power but if you will be fishing in deep waters or saltwater then you should opt for a fish finder with as much power as possible.

Water Resistance

When it comes to water resistance, you will need to check the JIS or IPX ratings. These ratings are similar. The higher the rating, the better the performance underwater. For instance, a rating of 8 means the finder can be underwater for an extended period of time.

Now that you know how easy fishing can be with a fish finder and how to easily purchase one, it is time you know what the market offers. There are plenty of fish finders available but this review focuses on those below $200. This will encourage beginners to use the device and get used to it before moving on to something complicated and expensive.

1. Garmin Striker 4 with Transducer, 3.5″ GPS Fishfinder with CHIRP Traditional Transducer

The Garmin Striker 4 with Transducer, 3.5″ GPS Fishfinder with CHIRP Traditional Transducer is a finder that offers great clarity than other traditional fish finders. It does not just send a single frequency but instead sends several low and high frequencies that are interpreted individually upon return. This allows the CHIRP sonar to create crisp fish arches. The target separation and resolution even at deeper levels are remarkable. The finder makes the bottom contours clearly visible even at greater depths and high speeds.

Garmin Striker 4 with Transducer, 3.5" GPS Fishfinder with CHIRP Traditional Transducer
Garmin Striker 4

You will navigate the waters easily thanks to this finder’s Waypoint map. You will be able to see your position according to the waypoints you have marked. You can control your speed by checking the screen. This comes in handy especially in wake- controlled areas. This is a fish finder that is highly portable.

Pros

  • Easy navigation with a Waypoint map
  • Allows you to troll at the right speed
  • It is a portable kit
  • Very sensitive to depth

Cons

  • No NMEA connectivity
  • There is no unit cover
  • Latitude and longitude information is not availed

This is a small and affordable fish finder that offers more than expected. It currently goes for less than $130 and would be a great addition to your kayak or small boat.

 CHIRP (compressed high intensity radar pulse) techniques have been used for a number of years above the water in many commercial and military radar systems. The techniques used to create an electromagnetic CHIRP pulse have now been modified and adapted to commercial acoustic imaging sonar systems.

2. Garmin Striker Plus 4 with Dual-Beam transducer, 010-01870-00

The Garmin STRIKER Plus 4 With Dual-Beam Transducer is an upgrade of the Garmin Striker 4. It features CHIRP sonar for clear images, a bright 4.3 display, inbuilt GPS and Quickdraw Contours map drawing software. As you troll the waters, the mapping software creates HD fishing maps of your previous locations.

The Garmin STRIKER Plus 4 With Dual-Beam Transducer is an upgrade of the Garmin Striker 4
Garmin Striker Plus 4 with Dual-Beam

The CHIRP sonar clarity ensures that you get a higher level of detail with crystal clear sonar images even at deeper water levels. You can also be able to minimize noise levels at greater depths so as to get the proper interpretation. This finder only offers standard 2D sonar features, for instance, it has the Flasher mode for ice fishing where depth is indicated by the scale that is inside the ring as the sonar information flashes on the ring. Different colors are shown according to the different strengths relayed by the sonar. There are other features such as depth alarm, bottom lock, fish alarm, auto gain, ultra scroll among others.

The 4.3 display size is easy to read even under direct sunlight just ensure the brightness is et at 80%. The water resistance level of this unit is IPX7 meaning that it can withstand splashes and rain.

Pros

  • CHIRP 2D sonar
  • 4.3 display that is an improvement from 3.5
  • Highly sensitive and speedy GPS
  • Has QuickDraw software
  • Easy to install

Cons

  • Has no NMEA port
  • There are no unit covers

The Garmin Striker Plus 4 is a tiny beast. It is a great improvement of its predecessor and can be used on ice and currently one of the most affordable CHIRP fish finders. It is currently selling below $150.

A DUAL BEAM transducer is a single frequency transducer. The difference between a single frequency and dual beam transducer is in the head unit (display). A DUAL BEAN unit is able to listen back to the 83kHz wide beam while a single frequency head unit filters it out. DUAL BEAM is very useful in shallow water, like 30’ and less.Dual frequency is greater for 150’ and more. Single frequency will be great for anywhere in between.

3. Garmin Striker 4cv with Transducer, 4″ GPS Fishfinder with CHIRP Traditional and ClearVu Scanning Sonar Transducer and Built-In Quickdraw Contours Mapping Software

The power of the 4 series keeps on getting better with the Garmin Striker 4cv. This unit comes with the CHIRP sonar and also has ClearVü sonar. We already promised not to bombard you with technical terms so we will explain ClearVü sonar. This is a scanning sonar that offers an ultra-high-definition.

Garmin Striker 4cv with Transducer, 4" GPS Fishfinder with CHIRP Traditional and ClearVu Scanning Sonar Transducer and Built-In Quickdraw Contours Mapping Software
Garmin Striker 4cv with Transducer

It provides clear images even at great depths of even up to 200 feet. You are able to view clear images of fish and other underwater objects. The images displayed can be shared with other networked displays. This unit is not so well endowed when it comes to navigation features but it still has a GPS system. The display size is still 4.3 and is readable even under bright sunlight.

Pros

  • CHIRP 2D and ClearVü sonar
  • High sensitivity GPS
  • Can calculate boat speed
  • Shows coordinates
  • Easy to install

Cons

  • No unit cover included
  • No micro SD card reader
  • NO NMEA connectivity

The Striker 4cv is not only affordable (currently going below $200) but also offers great features that make it highly effective in its functionality. The only problem is that without the microSD card reader, you will not be able to upgrade the charts. It is great for small boats.

ClearVü is designed for freshwater, estuary, inshore and offshore fishing – and available across a range of Garmin products. Garmin ClearVü™ high-frequency sonar provides a detailed picture of the fishing environment around the boat in a detailed representation of structures the boat is passing over.

4. Humminbird 410160-1 PIRANHA MAX 4.3 DI Fish Finder with Down Imaging

The PiranhaMAX 4 DI is a 4.3 color LCD fish finder that offers you sharper images. You will definitely get a fresher perspective as to what is below your boat. It comes with a modern, redesigned easy to use interface that gives you the superpower of Down Imaging, fish alarms, fish ID, depth alarms and zooming.

It has great details that offer variety. You have the Dual Beam Sonar which offers you a narrow and wide beam so that your coverage area is well detailed and so that you easily identify the structure, fish, and contours. The area angle can be adjusted easily thanks to the tilt and swivel mount. This unit does not have CHIRP sonar technology but it still offers great 2.5 target separation. The Down Imaging feature greatly aids in telling apart fish from other objects. This is a small unit that has limited depth capabilities because it does not support 50 kHz frequencies.

Humminbird 410160-1 PIRANHA MAX 4.3 DI Fish Finder with Down Imaging
Humminbird 410160-1

If you are not familiar with raw sonar view then this is the unit for you. The Fish ID assigns symbols where fish are represented by small fish icons.

Pros

  • DualBeam and Down Imaging sonar
  • IPX7 waterproof
  • Color display

Cons

  • No unit cover
  • No upgrade options
  • Use one sonar frequency at a time

The Humminbird PiranhaMax 4 DI is an above-average fish finder that gives you two sonar types. Its transducer supports both frequencies and the unit can go as deep as 600 feet. The current market price is below $200.

Down Imaging, as the name suggests, is the capability on fishfinders to provide comprehensive picture-like images of the bottom and structures directly below the Yacht. The picture-like images are displayed using specific Down Imaging software that symbolizes the return Sonar signal in a more accurate manner

5. Garmin Striker Plus 4 with Dual-Beam transducer, 010-01870-00

The Striker Plus 4 is not only one of the most affordable fish finders but it is also a recent model that was launched in 2018. Its current market value is under $150. This is a basic fish finder and has the capability of using four frequencies these being 50/77/83/200. You will, however, need a different transducer to use the 50 kHz and 83 kHz frequencies.

Garmin STRIKER PLUS 4cv with CV20-TM transducer and Protective Cover, 4 inches 010-01871-00
Garmin STRIKER PLUS 4cv.

This unit also uses the CHIRP sonar technology the only limitation is that the pulse modulation has not been specified. It should be noted that the CHIRP sonar technology is superior as it gives a clear separation between fish and vegetation. There are no charts but with the basic GPS plotter, your current coordinates will be shown. This unit can also measure the speed of your boat.

Pros

  • High sensitivity GPS
  • CHIRP 2D sonar
  • Easy to install

Cons

  • No NMEA port
  • No unit cover

The Striker Plus 4 is a small fish finder with basic features but still is able to perform so well. This is a great unit for small water vessels and with just a bit of improvisation, it can do wonders on ice.

6. Garmin Striker 4 with Portable Kit

The Striker 4 fishfinder with a portable carrying case is the best unit for your small boat, canoe or kayak. This Striker unit is purposefully made for ice fishing. You will be able to easily mark the hot spots and even return to them if you want to. You can help your friends out by sharing your favorite waypoints and routes. This is made possible by Striker and echoMap chart plotters.

The sonar history rewind will let you scroll back through the images and to mark the waypoints that you might have missed.

Garmin Striker 4 with Portable Kit
Garmin Striker 4 with Portable Kit

The unit comes with a carrying case, transducer, rechargeable battery, tilt/swivel mount and a ransom and trolling motor mount.

Simple things can demonstrate immense power and that is what Striker 4 with a portable kit offers. Its keyed interface comes with dedicated buttons. You also get a variety when it comes to display sizes. You can choose between 3.5, 5 and 7-inch display. You will get a wide range of information thanks to the CHIRP sonar technology sending continuous frequencies.

Pros

  • CHIRP 2D sonar
  • Shows coordinates
  • Can calculate boat speed
  • Comes with a portable case
  • Has a suction cup and in-hull mount kit for kayak included
  • Battery and charger are included
  • Easy to install

Cons

  • No unit cover
  • No MicroSD card reader
  • No NMEA connectivity

The Garmin Striker 4 Portable is a great addition to your small water vessel. It is a portable kit that comes with a battery and charger plus it offers the basic GPS features. Even though you cannot upgrade the charts, it operates quite well. Its current market price is under $200

7. Deeper PRO+ Smart Sonar – GPS Portable Wireless Wi-Fi Fish Finder for Shore and Ice Fishing

The Deeper Smart Sonar PRO+ is a fish finder that defeats all odds. It does not matter the depth, water temperature or bottom contour. Even a forest of weeds won’t stop it. This finder will show you the features that fish love, for instance, marginal shelves and depressions. As for the weeds, you will be able to see them and tell their location and thickness. This finder also helps you to get to the bottom of things by informing you of the hardness or softness of the bottom. For those who have baited an area, the Deeper Smart Sonar allows you to monitor if the fish are there or have moved away.

Deeper PRO+ Smart Sonar - GPS Portable Wireless Wi-Fi Fish Finder for Shore and Ice Fishing
Deeper PRO+ Smart Sonar

All your scans and maps are saved to Lakebook which is Deeper’s bathymetric management platform. This will allow you to locate your hot spots faster and even easily target a particular fish species like carp even better.

Pros

  • Wireless
  • Versatile
  • Built-in highly sensitive GPS
  • Powerful connection and accurate scanning

Cons

  • Battery use is little of a year

A small fish finder that can go up to 260 feet and offers accurate readings. For its size, it really displays amazing capabilities.

Bathymetry is the measurement of the depth of water in oceans, rivers, or lakes. Bathymetric maps look a lot like topographic maps, which use lines to show the shape and elevation of land features.

8. Moocor Underwater Fishing Camera, Portable Fish Finder Camera HD 1000 TVL Infrared LED Waterproof Camera with 4.3 Inch LCD Monitor for Ice Lake Sea Boat Kayak Fishing

Bid farewell to squinting and say hello to the Moocor Underwater Fishing Camera. This is a professional fishing camera derived from technology used in Japan and Taiwan. The camera uses a special cable and is pull-resistant. And yes, it cannot be corroded.

Moocor Underwater Fishing Camera, Portable Fish Finder Camera HD 1000 TVL Infrared LED Waterproof Camera with 4.3 Inch LCD Monitor for Ice Lake Sea Boat Kayak Fishing
Moocor Underwater Fishing Camera

This fish finder has infrared LED lights that switch on or off depending on the visibility underwater. The camera can be placed in a horizontal or vertical position depending on which position you want to monitor.

The night lights design ensures that you can observe fish clearly even in a dark environment plus the camera angle of 120° offers an open view. The camera can work up to 8 hours when fully charged thanks to the 3.7 V battery.

This camera is suitable for three types of fishing; ice fishing, kayak fishing, and dock fishing.

Pros

  • Professional fish finder
  • Multi-function LCD monitor
  • Long and strong cable wire
  • Superior underwater lens

Cons

  • There have been complaints about image quality

The Moocor underwater fishing camera is the best go to if you do not understand the traditional fishfinder. Its current market price is under $ 150.

9. Garmin STRIKER PLUS 4cv with CV20-TM transducer and Protective Cover, 4 inches 010-01871-00

The Striker Plus 4cv is a recent release of 2018. It is a basic feature fish finder. It has no charts but still contains the ECHOMAP Plus 43cv. This unit has a bigger display and comes with the Quickdraw Contours feature. There is no chart plotter and therefore there are no charts but you can use the GPS plotter to find your position. You can mark up to 5,000 waypoints then it automatically saves the records. The GPS will show your latitude and longitude coordinates plus even calculate the speed at which your boat is moving.

 Garmin STRIKER PLUS 4cv with CV20-TM transducer and Protective Cover, 4 inches 010-01871-00
Garmin STRIKER PLUS 4cv with transducer and Protective Cover,

The Quickdraw Contours uses the GPS to draw the depth of the contours of the water surface that you are navigating. This means that you can create your own fishing maps. This unit has the ability to record up to 2 million acres of contours.

Pros

  • Quickdraw Contours
  • Routes and track recording
  • Can calculate boat speed
  • Tilt-swivel mount included
  • High sensitivity GPS

Cons

  • No unit cover
  • No NMEA connectivity

A small fish finder that is affordable, easy to use and long-lasting. The Garmin Striker Plus 4cv is suitable for both salty and freshwater and if improved, it can work ice. It is currently priced for less than $200.

 Quickdraw Contours software shows where you have been on the water. You can easily see where you have mapped usable depth information and where you have gaps to fill.

10. Vexilar SP200 T-Box Smartphone Fish Finder, Black

The T-BOX (SP200) is a mounted system that stays in place permanently. It works with a 12-volt power supply which is not included. It uses your smartphone into a functional sonar system. Do not worry, the WiFi signal used is patented and therefore does not require your phone’s coverage to work. The SonarPhone will work anywhere in the world.

Vexilar SP200 T-Box Smartphone Fish Finder, Black
Vexilar SP200 T-Box

The best part of this unit is that you can create a hotspot and share the signal with as many users as you like plus the software is already available for free download for both IOS and Android. It has a water temperature and depth indicator, fish icon, noise rejection among other great features that enhance its functionality.

Pros

  • Can be used anywhere in the world
  • Comes with 25 ft of cable
  • Comes with a 2-year warranty

Cons

  • Might not work with some phones

The T-BOX (SP200) works well with small boats and is easy to install. The fact that it comes with its own WiFi signal saves you a lot when it comes to paying for data plans or when in an area with poor internet connectivity.

SonarPhone turns your smartphone or tablet into a fully functional touch screen sonar system gadget that will rival the performance of sonar systems costing hundreds more. You do not need cell phone coverage to use it.

 Conclusion

If you take look at the collection of these fish finder under $200, it is easy to see that there is a pretty nice range of feature-packed fish finders out there. The units being built today are often under improvement from the latter and are quite similar in performance and build quality.

In most instances, just few functions or features set one fish finder apart from another that costs hundreds dollars or more. They are a great asset to those who love fishing or are doing it commercially. It saves you time and also ensures that you fish responsibly. The kind of unit you buy depends on your experience and budget but as a beginner, it would be wise for you to start with the Top rated fish finders under $200 before scaling up.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.