I’ve purchased a lot of fish finders over the years. I have very few in my aresenal that come in under $200, but I have had one or two. They are becoming increasingly easy to find as the technology gets better and more affordable.
Fish finders aren’t known for being inexpensive. Usually, they cost hundreds of dollars, and some of the nicer models can even get into the thousands. However, you don’t always need to spend that much.
Many fishfinders these days come at a much cheaper price, giving anglers the opportunity to see the bottom of the lake or river without having to spend a mortgage payment on electronics.
So, below I’ll go over the best fish finders for under $200. Check them out and see which ones are the best for you. Looking for the best fishfinder overall? Check out our full guide to The Best Fish Finders including portable, mounted, fixed, and more.
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Best Fish Finder Video
What Is a Fish Finder?
A fish finder allows you to see what’s either directly beneath your boat or to the side of you. They can show you either a school of baitfish or game fish or a structure laying on the bottom.
They’re a crucial tool for helping you succeed in fishing. Using your eyeballs will only get you so far. There’s a whole world beneath your boat. So, why not use every tool possible?
Types of Fish Finder for Under $200
Below, I’ll go over a few different types of fish finders as well as some different features. Each has its own pros and cons, so take a close look and see which is best for you.
The ones I’ve listed are all under the $200 mark. So, they may not be as high quality as some of the more expensive models. They’ll still put you on fish, though.
A mountable fish finder is great for anglers who have a vessel with an area for it. It may be tough on canoes or kayaks, but you could always rig up a spot where you could mount it.
Usually, they’re made for boats that have an area created specifically for electronics. They usually come with mounting brackets and frames in the package, so you won’t have to purchase any extra items.
These are similar to mountable. They’ll be mounted somewhere on your vessel in a permanent spot that can’t be moved. Thus the term “fixed.”
Again, putting these on a kayak or a canoe may not be the best idea. Typically they’re best used on a bigger boat, such as a pontoon, bass boat, skiff, flats boat, or any other type of large vessel.
Many portable fish finders are in the price range that we’re looking at now. They’re usually not the highest quality, but some companies out there are bucking that trend and making great products.
They’re ideal for anglers in smaller vessels or for ice fisherman. Something that can be easily dropped into the ice or off the side of the boat and then carried with you is ideal for these conditions.
These are also great for ice fishing and smaller vessels. They can be easily carried back and forth on the ice to your car, or from your house to your canoe, kayak, or float tube. They’re one of the best fish finders for a small boat.
The screens are smaller, but that shouldn’t deter you. They’ll still give an accurate picture of the bottom of the lake, allowing you to see fish, drop-offs, and structure.
These are relatively new to the fishing world. However, they can still be just as effective as the mountable, handheld, or portable options out there.
They work exactly the same, except you cast it out to where you want. Then, it sends the signal back to the screen. It’s ideal for anglers who are fishing from shore or who don’t want to spook the fish beneath them.
When to Use a Fish Finder
You can use a fish finder whenever you want. They are made for just about any type of fishing scenario that you can think of. Each of them will help you catch fish.
However, it makes more sense to use a fish finder in deeper water where you can’t see the bottom. It’s ideal for large rivers, lakes, and the ocean. It’s not really needed for shallow and clear rivers, but it can be an added bonus.
Do You Really Need a Fish Finder?
All you need in order to fish is a hook, line, and bait. Everything after that is just gravy. So, you don’t technically need a fish finder. However, it’ll only add to the experience.
Fishing with your eyes will only get you so far. Seeing a fallen tree on the bank and knowing bass hold onto structure is one thing. Seeing a drop off on your radar is another, and it allows you to attack spots you wouldn’t otherwise know of.
Five Best Fish Finders for Under $200
Below, I’ll cover five different fish finders. Each of them has its own pros and cons. So, take a close look and see which one is the best for you.
Also, make sure you take into consideration the style of fishing you plan on doing. If you’ll be fishing from the shore, then a castable finder is best. If you have a bass boat, then a mountable or fixed finder is ideal.
A quick note: This list has been updated for 2023, but I still find that these fishfinders make the list of the best. There were only a couple of upgrades released so far in 2023, and when considering the price, I think these still rank as the best.
When new fish finders under $200 are released in 2023, I’ll add them to this list if I think they’re worthy.
- Pros: Very clear and a strong CHIRP sonar
- Cons: Needs a 12V battery in order to be portable
Despite its small size, it’s not as portable as you may think. It needs to be run on a 12V battery, which adds another piece of gear you’ll need to bring on your boat.
Other than that, the Garmin Striker 4 is a solid piece of equipment for under $200. The screen is very clear, and despite its small size can pick up everything that it shows you on the screen.
It also has a waypoint map, which allows you to easily mark great spots where fish like to hang out or new brush piles that you find while traversing the lake. Also, it may be the best fish finder-GPS combo.
I have a Garmin Striker fish finder on my main fishing kayak and I love it. This thing is the perfect size, the screan is bright and it’s easy to use.
- Comes with GPS
- Easy to use
- CHIRP sonar
- 3.5 inch color screen
- Dual-frequency available, either 50hz or 200hz
2. Lucky Handheld Portable Fish Finder
- Pros: Easy to transport and a great price
- Cons: Great for targeting structure, but locating fish is hit or miss
This handheld device will show you the water depth, fish and structure location, short and tall weeds, and sandy or rocky bottom. It can also be worn around the neck if you don’t want to hold it.
The Lucky Handheld Portable Fish Finder product is great for kayak fishing or canoe fishing. However, it can be utilized for just about any type of fishing. You can easily use it on larger boats, for ice fishing, or when shore fishing to see the water temp.
It can measure distances from three feet to three hundred and thirty feet. It’s extremely versatile and can be used in just about any fishing situation you can think of.
- 2 inch LCD display
- Blue LED backlighting
- 3-330 feet range
- 45 degree beam angle
- 25 foot cable length
- Pros: Auto tuning and easy to navigate the screen
- Cons: Works great for showing depth and temp, but not clear on structure and fish
The device is extremely easy to use. It reduces the learning curve, so you’ll spend more time out on the water fishing and less time figuring out your electronics.
Although it’s so easy to use, it doesn’t do a very good job of showing fish or structure. It’s not very clear. However, if you just want to know the temp and water depth, then it’s ideal.
The Lowrance Hook 2 is also very easy to set up. It has a single transducer that can be mounted on the transom, inside the hull, or on the trolling motor.
- Solarmax display
- Automated sonar settings
- Double the sonar coverage
- Optimized keypad
- One touch access
- Comes with transducer
- Transducer fits any fishing situation
- Pros: Long-lasting battery and brightness adjustment
- Cons: Can be difficult to learn when first starting
This is a great handheld device. It’s easy to carry and bring with you no matter where you plan on fishing. You can also strap it around your wrist for it to be more secure.
It has a five sensor brightness adjustor. So, you can use it in just about any type of light that you may find yourself out in. It’s never too bright to use this.
The Outdoor XF 03 device is waterproof and cold resistant. So, there’s no need to worry about too much water getting on your device and ruining it. The same goes for any cold-weather fishing you plan on doing.
- .6-36 meter range
- 2.4 inch LCD screen
- Can support 3 mobile apps
- 5 gear brightness settings
- Continuous battery life is 8 hours
- Cold resistant
- Pull-resistant cables
- Pros: A free app with 10 hours of battery life
- Cons: Connection consistency
The Ibobber Reel Sonar Wireless Bobber is great if you want to fish from shore but don’t know the depth you’re fishing at or the water temp. This device will give you all of that information, so you can catch more fish. It might be one of the best fish finders for 2023.
All you need to do is download the free app on your smartphone and you’re ready to start using this device. It’s easy to figure out and even easier to carry around with you.
The connection is not great, so if you want to cast over fifty feet away, then be ready for some inconsistencies. However, if you want to keep it close, then it’s a great product.
- Built in LED beacon
- 10 hours of battery life
- Bluetooth smart sync
- GPS tagging
- Trip log
- Social media features
Features of the Best Fish Finders for Under $200
Below, I’ll go over some of the features you should be thinking about when purchasing a fish finder. Each has its own pros and cons, so think about your own style of fishing and which will work best for you.
Having GPS on your fish finder isn’t something you always need. However, when you don’t have it, it becomes glaringly obvious that it’s needed.
Having GPS will ensure you can find your way around the lake, whether to your favorite fishing spot or back to the dock at the end of the day. GPS is something you should look for.
The cone angle determines how much of the water column and bottom of the lake or river you’re able to see. The wider the cone angle, the greater the view and the more fish you’ll be able to locate.
Cheaper models typically don’t have a great cone angle. However, that doesn’t mean they aren’t effective. A smaller cone angle can still locate fish and structure, which will inevitably lead to more fish caught.
Side Scan vs. Down Scan
Side scan shows you what’s to the side of your boat, as opposed to what’s beneath it. This is great when you’re in shallow water and don’t want to move your boat on top of the fish.
Down scan is ideal for deeper water. It allows you to see directly what’s beneath your boat. So, you’ll know the water temp, depth, and if there are any game fish or baitfish in the area.
The mount type all depends on what type of vessel you have. A larger boat, such as a pontoon, flats boat, or bass boat, requires something with a more permanent mount.
Smaller vessels, such as canoes or kayaks, usually don’t have the space needed for a permanent mount. So, something that can be easily taken in by hand or a temporary mount is ideal.
Vessel Specific Fish Finders for Under $200
Like I mentioned above, a permanent mount is better for larger vessels because there’s more space for them on board.
For smaller vessels, it’s better to use handheld or mountable units that can be taken on and off each time they go to the water. This just makes it easier to travel.
A good fish finder relies on the transducer in order to receive good signals. The transducer is the main part of the echo system for the fish finder.
This is the part of the fish finder that changes electrical pulses into sound waves. This allows the whole operation to work. So, a good transducer is very important.
The display depend on the makers. Some brands like to have a smaller screen in order to keep costs down. So, a $200 fish finder will most likely have a smaller screen.
Also, details about the display involve the brightness or whether the screen is LCD or not. You can find great screens for cheap, so don’t assume a cheap fish finder will have a bad screen.
Typically, the frequency for fish finders is somewhere between 15 hz or 200 hz. The majority of fish finders out in the market are either 50 hz or 200 hz.
Some really high end ones can be found at 400 hz. This is rare and is usually only used by professional anglers who are hauling in boat loads of fish and need this high of a frequency.
Who Makes the Best Fish Finders for Under $200?
There are many different companies that make fish finders now. It’s not just the big three that you know. There are many different smaller operations that are now coming out with great fishing electronics.
So, below I’ll go over four different brands that make great fish finders. Check them out and see which one is the brand for you.
One of the most popular names in the fishing world today, Lowrance makes fish finders that are some of the finest out there. They’ve been making incredible fishing electronics for decades. They have a strong reputation and are always leading the pack in fish finder technology.
Most of their products cost more than $200. However, as I mentioned above, they do have a cheaper product. So, check them out, whether you want a premier product or something a little bit cheaper.
This seems to be a new company that only has produced the one product that I posted above. However, it’s a great opening product. It’s easy to lug around and can benefit many different anglers.
Coming in at a solid price point, their fish finder would be great for just about anyone to use. Even someone who only uses the latest and the greatest would be happy using the Outdoor XF03.
With the popularity of the smartphone, it was only a matter of time until someone figured out a way to incorporate fish finding technology into the phone for easy use.
Ibobber was one of the first companies to do so, effectively changing the fishing game for many anglers. This is especially true for many of us who only fish from shore.
Garmin is similar to Lowrance. They’re a very well known brand in the fishing world and have a great reputation. Most of their items are more expensive, although they do have some cheaper items as well.
It’s hard to go wrong with a Garmin fish finder product. So, take your time to figure out exactly what you want in a fish finder, and then apply that knowledge to the products that they have. You’ll find exactly what you’re looking for.
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Table of Contents
- Fish Finders
- Best Fish Finder Video
- What Is a Fish Finder?
- Fly Fishing Gear
- Types of Fish Finder for Under $200
- When to Use a Fish Finder
- Do You Really Need a Fish Finder?
- Fly Line
- Five Best Fish Finders for Under $200
- 1. Garmin Striker 4 (Best Overall)
- 2. Lucky Handheld Portable Fish Finder
- 3. Lowrance Hook 2
- 4. Outdoor XF 03
- 5. Ibobber Reel Sonar Wireless Bobber
- Features of the Best Fish Finders for Under $200
- GPS Integrated
- Cone Angle
- Side Scan vs. Down Scan
- Mounting Type
- Fly Fishing Species
- Vessel Specific Fish Finders for Under $200
- Who Makes the Best Fish Finders for Under $200?
- Ibobber Reel
Fish finders are a great way to get to know the body of water that you’re fishing. They allow you to see the depth of the water as well as what else may lay beneath the surface, such as rock or brush piles.
It can be a little overwhelming picking out your fish finder, though. So, hopefully, the article above gives you the knowledge you need to go out and purchase one yourself.
They can be a great asset, regardless of how expensive they are. Remember, you don’t need to purchase the most expensive fish finder to have success.