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Best Fish Finder Under 300: 5 Budget Sonar Models Reviewed

For anyone who loves fishing, or spending time out on the water in general, a fish finder is a handy piece of technology to have. Not only can it help you find your next big trophy catch by locating schools of fish in the area, it can also accurately map out the terrain under your boat well below the surface of the water.

A luxury fish finder can cost thousands of dollars and offer features only high end professional anglers may benefit from. But for those just stepping out into the world of fish finder technology, a more affordable unit may sound much more appealing than breaking the bank on a high end gadget you may not even get the full use out of.

For the best fish finder under 300, we took a look at a variety of models on the market and narrowed it down to five excellent choices to consider. 

Depending on what you specifically may be wanting in your fish finder, there is sure to be a model here that will help make your fishing trips much more enjoyable.

Best fish finder GPS combo under $300: Full Reviews

When you’re out on the water casting your bait into a dark or muddy area, a fish finder can help maximize the effectiveness of your time by letting you know if there’s even anything living there. 

The sonar can easily be your eyes below the water, sending back real time data on schools of fish, single fish, and underwater terrain.

Budget fish finders under 300 are those that are much more in reach of the average angler. No one wants to spend upwards of a thousand dollars on a piece of equipment they might not get full use out of. Instead, you will find a variety of high quality fish finders on this list which are all under $300. 

No matter which model you may choose, all of them can help increase your odds of landing that next trophy bass. There are a variety of small and easy to use fish finders under 300 on the market. 

Below, we will look over five unique models and see which might be best suited for your needs. Whether you fish from a kayak or from the shore, there’s an affordable fish finder for you.

Lowrance Hook Reveal 5 Fish Finder SplitShot Chartplotter

When it comes to ease of use and preferable features, the Lowrance fish finder has you covered. The unit includes a 7 inch display with a high color image that gives you a very detailed look at what’s around you. 

Additionally, the unit is equipped with CHIRP sonar technology which can offer more than twice the reflective coverage of similar sonar technology options. This is usually pretty standard in most fish finders under 300, but some may not carry it as a feature.

The Hook Reveal 5 is a versatile fish finder with a 7 inch display screen. Using a down imaging sonar it provides a great view of what’s in the water around you and under you, no matter how murky the water may be. Additionally, the interface and control buttons are very intuitive and easy to understand. You’ll be mastering the use of the fish finder mere minutes after unboxing it. 

The down scan gives you real time sonar data results on the display to within 1 foot of actual contour. Included you’ll find a database of more than 10,000 lakes and inland maps already preloaded into the fish finder for your convenience. 

As well as being easy to learn, it has the capabilities of a GPS fish finder. You’re also able to increase this with an SD card of your choice. Additionally, it is one of the portable fish finders and can be mounted almost anywhere on your boat with its included attachments, whether you want it on the hull, railings, transom or elsewhere.

  • Thousands of Maps Already Included
  • Beginner-Friendly User Interface and Buttons
  • Versatile Mounting Options Anywhere on the Boat

Garmin Striker Vivid 5cv Fishfinder with Transducer

When compared to the price, the Garmin Striker Vivid has some incredible features for a budget fish finder. It’s an excellent entry level sonar technology to get started with before investing in a more expensive bit of technology for your fishing excursions. 

Being a Garmin brand product, you can rest assured knowing that the GPS functionality is second to none. In fact, Garmin is well known for the accuracy of their GPS system no matter what technology it’s attached to.

The Striker Vivid has a 5 inch screen, which is somewhat small but the clarity and definition you will notice might surprise you. This fish finder includes CHIRP ClearVu sonar technology that you usually find on higher priced technology. This allows it to deliver an excellent quality of scan results on the display, which can easily be read in all light levels. 

The scanning depth range of this Garmin fish finder will vary, however for a budget scanner it’s pretty powerful. If you’re fishing in clear freshwater, the sonar technology can pinpoint stumps, docks and ground contours up to 1600 feet deep.  

For saltwater you will be limited to a 750 feet distance potential. Once scanned, the display on the screen is shown in vertical format which many anglers say is much more desirable than horizontal.

Being an entry level fish finder under 300, you won’t have the best of the best features around every corner. But for a basic technology or for someone who is just starting out with fish finders under 300, the Striker Vivid is an excellent choice to consider and has some of the most useful standard features for a budget fish finder.

  • Extremely Reliable GPS 
  • Very Beginner Friendly User Interface
  • Scan Depths of up to 1,600 Feet in Freshwater

Garmin Striker Plus 5cv with Transducer

As with the previous entry in this list, the Garmin Striker Plus offers unrivaled GPS capabilities. The extremely accurate GPS has been one of Garmin’s shining accomplishments for years, and you’ll find no less than the best when it comes to GPS capabilities in their fish finders under 300 as well. 

You’ll easily be able to mark your favorite fishing locations and return to them anytime without having to wander around trying to pinpoint the specific area. The highly accurate GPS coordinates will take you right to it.

The Striker Plus is built inside an extremely rugged external case which gives you a very rough and tough fish finder that can be used on kayaks and other more up close and personal type vessels. 

You’ll also be able to see your current vessel speed which helps with net and line fishing. Additionally, the GPS and scanner combination can let you accurately mark waypoints or water hazards so you can easily avoid them on a return trip.

For a budget fish finder, the Striker Plus offers CHIRP sonar technologies with both low and high frequency bands. You’ll notice an improvement in data received over various frequencies depending on your location and your specific needs. 

Additionally the transducer allows the use of both CHIRP traditional and CHIRP ClearVu sonar technologies so you can pinpoint groups of fish or a single trophy target.

  • CHIRP ClearVu Sonar Technologies with Single Fish Abilities
  • Highly Accurate GPS with Waypointing
  • Extremely Rugged Exterior and Display

Humminbird HELIX 5 CHIRP GPS G2

If you’re looking for an incredibly useful fish finder while still remaining within a reasonable budget, the Helix 5 dual beam sonar from Humminbird is the perfect example (for our full review of the HELIX range click here). 

As with few other fish finders in this price point, you’ll be pleased to see the Helix 5 has both down scan and side scan capabilities, which together can give you an incredibly detailed view of your immediate surroundings leaving fish nowhere to hide. 

The side scan can cover an area of up to 350 feet easily, sending you real time results when you need them most.

The display is split screen capable, meaning you can enjoy the combined view of both down scan and side scan results at once. Both of these windows can give you an excellent view of the area to help you land that next trophy fish. The CHIRP dual beam sonar also includes a very accurate GPS that allows you to place up to 2700 individual waypoints. 

With dual beam sonar signals you can track out the contours and return to the fishing spots or areas you want to return to.

The impressive amount of features the Helix 5 has also includes the AutoChart software, letting you map and view premade charts in real time to a depth of up to 1500 feet. 

Additionally, you can use a micro SD card to use and save your favorite maps to the best fishing locations you know. This fish finder is also fully compatible with LakeMaster software, as well as Navionics software.

  • Reliable and Accurate GPS
  • Split Screen Capabilities on the Display
  • Can Store up to 2700 Waypoints for Route Planning

Deeper Chirp Castable and Portable Fish Finder

Finding a highly portable fish finder that also falls under the $300 price point may be difficult. However, the Deeper CHIRP Smart Sonar fish finder is exactly that. 

Made to be extremely portable with no permanent mountable version, you will instead cast this ball into your fishing area from your fishing pole or simply toss it into the water while it’s on a tether. 

The Deeper CHIRP Smart Sonar is shaped like a compact plastic bobber and it measures only 2.5 inches, or 6.5cm. It’s extremely durable so you can rest assured knowing it won’t crack easily if you make a bad cast with it. 

You’ll find this to be one of the best CHIRP sonar fish finders under 300 for use with ice fishing as you can simply cast it with your rod or drop it into your fishing hole. You can be standing on a boat, on the shore, on a pier, or go ice fishing and still get full functionality from this castable fish finder (read more about ice fishing sonar here and click here for our review of the best castable fish finders).

Once placed in the water of your chosen fishing area, the Deeper CHIRP Smart Sonar can instantly start to send data back to your smartphone up to 330 feet away from the Smart Sonar unit. 

The sonar itself can provide clear and accurate scans up to 260 feet deep, and offers both a wide beam scan of 90 kHz or a narrow beam scan of 290 kHz to help you pinpoint the exact location of your next trophy fish. 

Due to the limitations in depth scanning capabilities, it’s not made for offshore use. It does, however, shine as a shore fishing or ice fishing fish finder.

Since the Deeper CHIRP Smart Sonar fish finder will be relaying information back to your smartphone, the better quality phone you have, the better image results you will receive. 

Your screen resolution or pixel capabilities will directly relate to the quality of sonar images you get back from the Deeper CHIRP unit.

  • Perfectly Suited for Kayak and Ice Fishing
  • 100% Portable and Small Enough to Fit in a Pocket
  • Lithium Ion Battery has 6 Hours of Runtime with 2 Hour Recharge

RELATED: Fish finders under $200Sub $500 sonar optionsFish finders for $1000 or less

What to look for in fish finders under 300

Brand

A number of beginner and professional anglers will find one brand and stick with it. If you enjoy their products, there is very little reason to go elsewhere. With fish finders under 300, there are a number of different brands on the market today. 

Whether you are looking for a budget model or are prepared to splurge for the perfect technology for your next fishing expedition, some of the most well known names in the industry today are Humminbird, Lowrance and Garmin.

Each has their strong suits, and a few weaknesses, so be sure to take into account their other products in higher and lower price points to see how they stack up. For example, if highly accurate built in GPS is your main goal, Garmin should be considered. 

If instead you would like to focus on the clearest sonar imaging available, Humminbird should be your go to.

There are some lesser known brands as well which have not yet made a solid name for themselves in the fish finder market. This includes Vinterior and Phiradar to name a few. You may end up loving the features one of these less represented brands offer, so don’t be afraid to give them a try.

Sonar

The two standard options you will find on most fish finders are Down Scan and Side Scan. These both offer a unique but highly detailed view of the underwater world to help you gauge whether or not the location you are in is worth remaining in for a day of fishing.

Side scan is sonar that scans either side of your boat or vessel at an angle towards the bottom or the lake or waterway. 

It is great for giving you a view of the ground contour as well as underwater obstacles such as stumps, pylons, and more. Additionally, it can help you locate schools and arches of fish that may not be directly below your boat, letting you know whether or not you should cast off one side or the other when fishing.

Down scan is sonar that scans directly beneath your boat or vessel in a cone or triangle shape. It helps build a detailed picture of the potential fish below your boat as you move forward, especially if it’s paired with side scans. 

The down scan sonar is sent in small bursts rapidly and as the data returns to your fish finder receiver, it forms images of underwater objects and fish on the display screen. The better the resolution on your fish finder display screen, the better the results of your images and 2D radar results helping you decide which location is a promising fishing spot.

Most anglers, both novice and experienced, will try to find a fish finder that offers both scanning options. Being able to use both side scan and down scan data when compiling your waypoints is highly valuable in finding the perfect fishing location.

Transducer

A transducer is the part of the fish finder that makes everything work together. It is the main piece of technology responsible for sending and receiving the waves of data from the sonar pings. 

As the waves bounce off fish, objects and the ground that are under the water, they return to the transducer to create an image of the item or contour of the ground to help you know where to turn for finding fish. 

As you adjust the frequencies of the sonar, the picture you receive can become much clearer and easier to decipher. 

A transducer is installed on your boat, and there are various kits on the market to help you install it in a suitable place. Depending on your specific transducer, some installation locations may be better than others. 

Be sure to check the manual and see what it suggests. Transducers are made in a variety of materials, but for most budget fish finders you will see high durability plastic as the material of choice.

Navigation Features

When it comes to the most affordable and budget friendly fish finders, finding one that does not have built in GPS capabilities and vast amounts of preloaded charts may help save some money. 

However, there are still a wide range of affordable and extremely versatile fish finders under 300 that do include built in GPS and preloaded chart features. Some lesser known brands such as Vinterior and Vexilar can offer standard GPS with less accuracy than better known brands such as Garmin and Lowrance. 

Additionally, some of the better brands to search for with navigation features that still stay under the $300 threshold are the Lowrance Hook Reveal or the Garmin Striker line of fish finders. You’ll find accurate and reliable real-time GPS tracking, waypointing and a variety of bathymetric mapping options including QuickDraw or Genesis.

Networking Features

Finding networking features on budget fish finders, such as WiFi, ethernet, NMEA support, or other online connectivity may not be the norm within this current price scale. You may be able to find one or two models with basic NMEA 0183 networking features but it will be right at the higher end of the $300 limit.

Final thoughts on Best Fish Finders under 300

The quality and reliable nature of fish finding technology has improved by leaps and bounds over the past several years. Compared to some of the earlier fish finding options, today’s selection is vastly improved. 

Better and more accurate GPS pinpointing is improving as time goes on, as are the CHIRP sonar technologies and distance they can reach to the sides as well as below your vessel. You’ll also find a wide range of fish finders that offer some of the most capable down imaging and side view sonar available today, even on the budget models. 

Regardless of your chosen price range for fishing technology, there are many devices that can offer the high tech capabilities you want to help improve your angling results. Whether you go with the Helix 5 or a Lowrance model, you are sure to notice improvements in your fishing locations as well as the fish you are able to land when using the devices.

For shore fishermen, kayakers, and ice anglers, using a fish finder that works in your chosen location can be an outstanding benefit. For one, you’re able to see exactly what’s under the water or ice, as well as how productive your fishing trip may be.

Once you know what features you are looking for, and what is most important to you when it comes to the right fish finder, getting one that meets your exact needs without going over your budget is very possible. 

Hopefully one of the above reviewed fish finders on this list helped you make your selection, or at least point you in the right direction for a different model.

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