Fishing finders have quickly become somewhat of a necessity when taking on a fishing trip adventure.
It’s no fun when you’ve been on the water all day and night but still don’t come back with a single prize, not to mention slightly embarrassing when you have to answer the dreaded question from your peers: ‘did you catch anything?’
Take the awkward and ashamed sounding ‘no’ and change it into a proud ‘yes!’ with a fishing finder. It does exactly what it says on the tin and can help you locate schools of fish underwater in a breeze, making your fishing trips much more fruitful.
Fishing finders are technological pieces of equipment that can cost more than a thousand dollars, however many brands have begun offering great models for under $300 to cater to people with smaller budgets.
These can put out almost a photographic image and let you identify fish and the types of structures they may be hiding in. They can come with GPS to help you navigate unfamiliar waters and mark lucrative spots to return to.
Whatever your priorities are when fishing, our list of the best fishing finders under $300 will make your next fishing trip much easier and enjoyable.
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This is our Winner!
Why it’s Our Top Pick
Stop looking for your fish and find the great deal Garmin is offering with their Striker 4 model!
With a price point comfortably under $300, this fishing finder is perfect for multiple types of fishing and anglers at all skill levels.
Here are just a few of the reasons why the Garmin Striker 4 is our favorite fish in the sea:
Offers an amazing 1,600 feet of depth in freshwater and 750 feet in saltwater, making it versatile for different types of fishing.
Clear VÜ scanning sonar gives great detailed images of what’s beneath the surface of the water, making your fishing experience easier and more rewarding.
Best Fish Finders Under $300 - Comparison Table
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Best Fish Finders Under $300 - Reviews
Garmin Striker 4 offers amazing functionality for such a reasonable price point, making it an excellent contender for the best fishing finder for under $300. The 3.5 inch model is lightweight and easy to travel with and has built-in GPS for peace of mind.
The versatility is through the roof with this one as it works great on any type of boat and ice fishing excursions.
The clear VÜ scanning feature makes it seem like you’re under the water yourself with amazing detail of any object the sonar runs into. The depth readings are extremely accurate in both shallow and deeper waters, as well as displaying useful information such as the speed you're going and the current temperature.
The Garmin Striker also boasts a great GPS system, enabling you to record your favorite fishing spots and routes. The sonar chirp sends continuous frequencies so you can get a wide range of useful information, giving you a better idea of where you’re fishing.
The built-in flasher makes this model perfect for vertical jigging and ice fishing. You can get a maximum depth of 1,600 feet in freshwater and 750 in saltwater, which is impressive for a fishing finder at such an affordable price.
Hummingbird is an established name in the fishing world and they produce many other premium fishing finders with higher price points, so it makes sense that one of their budget models would live up to their reputation with still an impressive amount of features.
The five inch display can switch between color and grayscale and the backlighting makes it very easy to see in deep water.
Like their other models, Hummingbird have given this model their impressive SwitchFire sonar system, letting you change the display view from clear mode to max mode.
The former removes a lot of the clutter and interference so it’s easier to see the fish, whereas the latter gives amazing detail for a 2D fish finder.
The Helix 5 can show temperature gradients and currents with its CHIRP sonar system, which has the power to go 1500 feet deep. The GPS receiver is for tracking and chart plotting so you can save your routes and information gathered on your trip.
The dual beam sonar will send signals both deep and wide, giving you a much clearer image of what’s under your boat.
The Helix 5 is top rated for how easily it is to use, the display readability, its accuracy and unmatched ability to find fish, making it a great contender for the best fishing finder for under $300.
The Deeper PRO+ fish finder has the ability to tell you the depth of the water, the bottom contour and how grassy it is, leaving little to the imagination. Simply cast the clever little sphere out into the water to get instant recordings of the depth and temperature.
On retrieval it’ll then inform you of distinctive features such as lumps, bumps and growths. You’ll see how thick the greenery is, if there’s any, and whether the gravel is soft or hard. As the Deeper PRO+ is a sonar model, you can even see where the fish themselves are residing.
Casting this model out causes less disturbance than a marker float and gives you instant readings and the scanner locates different features of each area. You can find out how the depth changes in different spots and all of your scans and maps can be saved so you can find hot spots quicker and locate your desired species easier.
The Deeper PRO+ uses a smartphone or tablet to display the sonar images and you can use it for many different types of fishing. It sends down a dual beam sonar frequency of 260 feet and can be cast up to 330 feet.
Casting it out multiple times will enable you to make an accurate map which you can save to your phone easily. This is an excellent fish finder for under $300 and any fishing trip is sure to be elevated with the use of the Deeper PRO+.
The Fishtrax 1C is great for beginner anglers looking for an easy to use fish finder that won't break the bank. Using VirtuView icon LCD it can depict sonar data in a series of icons, providing valuable data in an easy to read layout that you can save for your future trips.
The Fishtrax 1C also comes equipped with five levels of sensitivity which you can adjust between, an audible fish alarm and a backlit display for use in any lighting conditions.
The Fishtrax 1C sends a dual beam sonar that returns a detailed view of the happenings below your boat. It can show the number of fish there are, their size and how far below the surface they are. You can find out the depth and water temperature easily as well as the terrain and texture of the bottom surface.
If you’re looking for a fish finder with ease of use, then you can stop looking right now. The readings are displayed clearly in high definition on a color display, and there are many different settings you can tweak to finetune the Fishtrax 1C to your individual method of fishing.
You can also choose which display you’d like before you purchase, which gives you the option to lower the price if display isn’t your main concern.
Another well known brand in the fish finder market is Lowrance. They make a number of premium models but also a few more inexpensive versions which only sacrifice some of the features rather than the quality.
You’ll likely forget about the lacking GPS feature as it’s one of the simplest products to use due to user friendly menus and an auto-tuning sonar. It comes with a skimming transducer that sends a broadband sonar, providing wide coverage of the water and offering traditional images with 2D sonar.
Its small and compact size is perfect for kayaks, canoes and smaller sized boats that don’t have much console space. This model is more basic than the others on this list but the high resolution display will show you all the information you’ll need.
The Lowrance HOOK2 4X is a great fish finder for beginners and excellent if you’re wanting an inexpensive one to test out before investing in something a little more extravagant. The auto-tuning sonar automatically adjusts to your situation and scans the water, so all you have to do is mount it and be on your way.
The reliability of this cheaper model makes it an excellent fishing finder and fits well in this list.
Best Fish Finders Under $300 - Buyers Guide
Sonar type is an incredibly important factor when looking for a fish finder as it determines how clear the images are. If you’re looking for a model with crisp and clear displays, you’ll want to compare the different types of sonar used.
Standard sonar beams a cone downwards into the water, giving you an image of below your boat formed by the waves that bounce back. This type is typically more of an affordable and viable option if your main concern is finding fish. These types are not as accurate in depth readings than down-imaging types.
Down-imaging sonar types can provide you with an actual underwater image, enabling you to detect things such as marine weeds and water depth. These models offer the best accuracy and therefore have a higher price point and are less user-friendly than standard sonars.
Side-imaging systems send beams to the side of the boat so you can see what is surrounding the finder rather than just downwards, as you could be missing the rarest fish ever swimming past with these massive blind spots.
All the bells and whistles on your fancy new fishing finder don’t mean a thing when you can’t see the information being displayed on the screen, making this an important factor when choosing your new model. The higher the screen resolution, the better the image quality and clarity.
A color screen also helps readability and shows more detail than a black and white screen. The best fishing finders under $300 are often able to display in color, however the screen size is often smaller than more expensive models.
The transducer is a technical component to fishing finders, sending waves below the surface which sends information back to the angler when they find fish. The transducer will calculate the distance between you and the object with the time the wave took to return to the surface.
Different transducers receive data at different speeds and cover different areas underwater. The main aspects to consider are its wattage, frequency and cone angle.
The wattage tells you how fast the signals a fish finder emits travel through the water. A higher wattage means the signal will travel quicker and further, showing you more useful information. Deep water fishing will need a powerful fishing finder with a higher wattage to send signals far below.
The frequency of the fish finder will tell you how far the solar signal is able to travel through the water. This will indicate the nature of underneath the surface. A higher frequency signal transmits a more detailed and accurate image of the area, whereas a lower signal scans a wider area. Dual frequencies are best when you want to switch up your fishing areas.
The sonar beam from the transducer is shaped like a cone. The larger cone means the larger area is covered and the smaller the angle means the beam will penetrate further into the water. A dual-beam will let you experience the best of both worlds.
The type of fishing finder you’ll get will depend on important factors such as the type of places you like to fish, whether it be deep waters or shallow lakes. Decide on where you’re going to use your fishing finder most and decide on the best model for you. Bear in mind that these factors could drastically increase the price of your fishing finder, so you may have to sacrifice some quality or features to keep the price lowered.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do fishing finders work?
Fishing finders use Sonar technology, with the transducer sending waves into the water which, when they’ve found an object such as fish, bounce back to the transducer which calculates the distance from the object. Using this information, images of what’s underneath the surface are then displayed on the fish finder.
Why do I need a fishing finder?
There’s no reason that you need a fishing finder if you like the guessing game that comes along with old school fishing. However, if you’re after an easier and more enjoyable experience, a fishing finder can help make the trip more efficient. It’ll also show you the contour and structure of the bottom surface so you know more about your fishing spot.