A fish finder is not the kind gadget you would use every day, but if you regularly go fishing or scuba diving, you will be glad to own something like this. This piece of equipment uses SONAR or sound energy to help you locate fish underwater. The fish finder uses a specialized electrical impulse to detect any movement in the water, converts what it finds into graphic images, and sends it to screen on the device. Here, you can determine the shape, size, and composition of the living organisms.
Some advanced fish finder models can even give you a clear picture of the fish and what goes on underwater. This is an extraordinary piece of equipment with incredible technological features.
You may think that owning something like this would cost a fortune. Surprisingly, it will not. At the very least, some affordable choices on the market still get the job done. In today’s article, I will be discussing some of the best fish finders under $200. If you are thinking of purchasing one yourself, and want to find the best deal available, I invite you to read along.
If what you are looking for is an entry-level model with all the basic features and a little extra, then the Striker 4 should be a strong candidate. This device is equipped with a CHIRP transducer, a new technology introduced by Garmin. It gives you a higher image quality and details compared to other models. CHIRP technology sends out multiple frequencies into the water to detect a higher range of movement from fishes.
The Garmin Striker also has a built-in GPS device to help you determine the distance between yourself and your targets, as well as pinpoint their exact location. Additionally, you can assign markers on the map to help you navigate through obstructions like large rocks or docking areas. Having this feature ensures that you have a safe and effective fishing expedition.
- Uses CHIRP technology
- Has a built-in GPS system for easy navigation
- View data in the flasher format for greater convenience
- Can be submerged in up to 1 meter of water for 30 minutes
The best thing about the Garmin Striker 4 is its overall user-friendliness and practicality. The device is lightweight, which makes it very easy to bring around and store. The layout of the dashboard is also easy to understand. Lastly, compared to other options on the market, the Garmin Striker 4 is very affordable, and will not cost you so much to own. This is an ideal option to buy if you are still just trying out the sport. It provides you with all the basic features, while being quite light in the pocket.
- User-friendly interface
- Practical and affordable
- Screen has a very high resolution
- Wires are a bit fragile
- Screen size is too small
- Difficult to install
The Deeper Smart Sonar Pro is one of the first models to combine fish finding with mobile application technology. This device can be easily synced with your smartphone or tablet, through wireless connection. The biggest advantage with this is you can access all the information at the touch of a button. Should you need to go over some details, all you need to do is open your phone, and it’s all there.
This is also very easy to use: no irritating cables, wires, or long installation process. Simply drop the gadget in the water, which can easily be attached to your fishing rod or the side of your boat, open the application, and choose the mode you prefer.
There are three settings you can choose from depending on your need: boat, standard, and ice fishing mode. You can get valuable information such as water temperature, depth, underwater structure, and location of the biggest fish. Additionally, you can even map out your favorite locations and analyze using specialized software that you can download for free.
- Widest reach among all fish finder models
- Store and analyze pertinent information through the Deeper software
- Has three modes you can choose from
- Create Bathymetric maps of the area you are covering
Among all the units on the market, the Deeper Smart Sonar Pro has the widest distance covered, which can reach a distance of 330 feet, and water depths of up to 260 feet. This means that you can cover so much water with this device.
Overall, this particular model is one of the more advanced ones on the market. It is fairly easy to use and bring around, can provide you with all the important information, and has a wide range of uses. It may be a bit more expensive than other options we have on this list, but after going through all its benefits, it truly is a value for money purchase.
- Practical and easy to use
- Compatible with both Apple and Android
- Can be used for all types of fishing
- Lightweight, convenient to bring around
- There are some bugs in the software that needs fixing
Another impressive model that I would like to talk about is the Raymarine Dragonfly 4DV. The first things you will notice when you see this are the controls and the screen. For one, they seem very easy to use. It has a power button, arrows to scroll up and down, and controls for the volume and brightness.
The screen resolution is also very clear. You would think it uses a high-definition camera with the crisp, detailed imageries that it sends. The Raymarine Dragonfly is equipped with CHIRP Down Vision technology that converts sonar signals into clear images. As a result, you can easily see what is happening under water.
- Uses CHIRP technology
- All-weather LED display
- Able to mount the device on any surface and twist it around
- Very basic controls
To be honest, this particular model seems a little pricey for me. Although not as expensive as the Deeper fish finders, it also does not provide as many features. Similar to other options, the Raymarine Dragonfly 4DV is quite easy to carry around and store. Other than that, and the clear images that it gives you, it is a pretty basic fish finder to own.
- Very user-friendly
- Clear imagery at all depths
- Easy to store and bring around
- Sound is a bit hazy and not as clear as the video
- Screen is too small
- Does not offer GPS options
If you are looking for a cheap option on the market, while still providing you with the standard uses of a fish finder, this could be the one for you. The Outlife fish finder can be easily attached to your boat or fishing pole, sort of like how you would utilize a float. Once it hits the water, it emits sonar waves that check if there are any fish in the vicinity. Once it detects something, there is an alarm on the device that automatically alerts you, so you always know the perfect area to catch fish.
Although not totally equipped to handle deep waters and detect obstructions, this can still be used for seas or lakes with up to 100 feet of depth. The LED screen also has night mode you can switch on when you are fishing in the dark. This screen, which is connected to the sensor using wireless frequency, also shows you other important details like the water depth and temperature, which are essential to any fishing experience.
- Sensor and screen use a wireless connection
- Alarm when the device any fish in the area
- Night option
- Comes with a string for convenient attaching
- 1-year warranty
As I have said, the features of the Outlife fish finderare very basic. This is a perfect tool to bring along on your fishing expeditions, but do not use it during extreme situation because it might not work as effectively. However, for less than $70, you can do much worse than this.
- Incredibly affordable
- Provide all the basic features of a fish finder
- Use this at night
- Has a lightweight design
- Screen shows very grainy images
- Cannot identify rocks, seaweed, and other such obstacles
- Can’t be used for deep water
- Batteries for the remote are not reusable
The final item we will be discussing on this list if the Hawkeye 1C, which is the top model in the Fishtrax series. The biggest upgrade this particular model has from its predecessors is the VirtuView HD color display, which allows you to monitor images and data shown on the screen easily.
This device also comes with three distinct settings to choose from: fish finder, data mode, and ice-mode digital flasher. Each of them presents you with valuable information that helps make your fishing experience more strategic.
The Hawkeye Fishtrax 1C also comes with dual frequency sonar, which gives you the option to adjust the sensitivity reading, multi-level depth ranges, and much more. As a result, this helps you adjust to almost any kind of fishing environment. Whether you are on a boat, kayak, canoe, or on the ice, this gadget can help you find, and reel in, your target.
- HD and glare-free LCD screen
- Fishtrax intelligence sonar
- 30 hours of battery life
- 2-year warranty
Buying this kit also includes a slew of different accessories you can use to mount on different surfaces. This shows that the greatest strength of the Hawkeye Fishtrax is its versatility and ability to be taken around in any situation. While medium-sized, this is still very easy to carry around because of its compact design.
- Flexibility to be used anywhere
- Easy to control
- Screen and information on it can be easily read
- Affordable price
- Batteries are not rechargeable
- Slow refreshing speed on the screen
- Occasionally hangs and lags
Factors to Consider When Buying a Fish Finder
Although its main purpose is to locate fish, a lot of models in the market have already expanded to other uses, such as detecting debris and other obstacles in the water. Personally, I feel like having a device that can serve multiple uses gives me a greater value for money. As a consumer, I believe this is a major thing to consider when buying a fish finder.
Distance of the Reach
Similar to the first factor, another major thing to consider is the range that the device can reach. Whether it has an actual distance or depth, you want a gadget that can give you the widest range possible. Having this will ultimately give you an edge in pinpointing where those fish are hiding.
Additionally, fish finders with a wider reach normally come with mapping or GPS features that are very practical to have.
Clarity and Resolution of the Screen
Finally, I would like to talk about the clarity of the screen. Fishing is an unpredictable sport, so being able to see your fish finder from a distance can go a long way in being successful. Having a screen with higher resolution gives you the freedom to monitor pertinent information without having to hold the device.
There is no doubt that owning a fish finder can significantly improve your chances of landing that big catch, but choosing which one to purchase greatly rests on your need and level of expertise. If you are a beginner, I would not suggest that you go for the high-end models. At the same time, if fishing is a passion for you, I would not advise that you cheap out and buy the lower models, just to save a few bucks.
However, if we are strictly looking at the features, and judging them on their affordability, then in my personal opinion, the title of best fish finder under $200 would have to be the Deeper Smart Sonar Pro.
Despite its heftier price tag, I think its abundance of features more than justify it. It is very easy to use and pair with your smartphone, which makes it very practical to use. The gadget also provides you with a range of details you can use when you fish, and most importantly, you will not have to pay a fortune to have it. It is a perfect balance of quality and affordability and a device any fishing aficionado would be lucky to own.