Gone are the days when you had to pick a spot on the water and hope there were fish nearby. Revolutions in technology have done more than give us smartphones. Marine electronics like fish finder displays have been developed to help you find scores of fish beneath the water; but when it comes to the price? There aren’t enough reasonably priced fish in the sea, that’s for sure. That’s why we’ve done the searching for you and found the top 5 best fish finder for under $500.
The 5 Best Fish Finder under $500
1. Raymarine Dragonfly 7 Pro
- 7” widescreen monitor
- Screen stays clear and visible even in direct sunlight
- Small mount footprint
- Simple, user-friendly functions
- Sleek form
- Built-in GPS with preprogrammed Navionics+ (and other downloadable programs are available)
- See crystal clear imagining up to 600 feet below
- MicroSD slot
- DownVision, CHIRP, Sonar
- Some users report that the mount is difficult to secure
The Raymarine Dragonfly packs power and technology into a small, portable device that fits anywhere on your boat. The mount is even small enough for a kayak, which makes this our number one pick for the best fish finder under $500. The Thule locking cylinder will hold the mount in place while you swivel and tilt the screen to get a clear picture of where the fish are.
The unit also has an impressive dual channel wide-spectrum CHIRP sonar that reaches to about 600 feet below. Images of fish come in clear and let you split the screen for two targets simultaneously. Further, the Dragonfly 7 Pro uses LCD technology that usually costs thousands and is even compatible with smartphones when using the WiFish mobile app.
Note: You can also purchase earlier models, like the Dragonfly 4 Pro or 5 Pro for a fraction of the original cost on Amazon, but the features will be limited.
2. Garmin STRIKER Plus 7sv
- Full color 7-inch WVGA displays
- CHIRP ClearVu and SideVu transducer for stunning images of fish
- Built-in flasher for vertical still fishing or ice fishing
- Built-in GPS with waypoint marking
- Highly portable – weighs about 1 pound
- IPX7 waterproof rating
- No microSD slot for increased memory
- Gimbal mount bracket vibrates
The name “Garmin” is trusted by many to guide them successfully from Point A to B. Thus, the Garmin STRIKER Plus 7sv has become a coveted piece of fishing equipment by many. The STRIKER Plus 7sz has a gorgeous 7” 800×480 pixel display, SideVu imaging sonar, ClearVu (for detailed pictures), CHIRP, and a standard 2D sonar.
The size and capabilities of this model are a clear choice for those who want to search the waters in real time, due to the powerful depth finder. However, one downside is the lack of a microSD memory slot—in other words, no maps. That said, the Garmin STRIKER Plus 7sv has side scanning and a humongous screen to make up for it.
3. Lowrance ELITE-5 TI (000-12421-001)
- 5” touchscreen
- Depth and shoreline information of over 3,000 lakes already stored in the memory
- High definition imagining
- Includes a MicroSD card slot (32GB)Track back feature to see sonar history
- Smartphone and tablet compatible
- CHIRP Sonar
- Multiple control modes
- Internal GPS antenna
- No backup button
- Post mount vibrates and can be difficult to secure
For those seeking something with a variety of mode options to choose from, as well as CHIRP sonar technology and a Hybrid Dual Imaging Transducer with Downscan Imaging, then the Lowrance ELITE-5 TI packs a serious punch. Since the CHIRP frequencies work at 455/800 kHz, you can get very detailed pictures of the fish even in choppy water.
Plus, the touch screen stays bright and visible, and the display can be streamed to a tablet or smartphone via wireless or Bluetooth connections. There is also cartography included on the device, but it supports charts from Navionics Gold, Jeppesen C-Map, and so on.
4. Humminbird Helix 7 CHIRP DI GPS G2
- 7” screen with split screen capabilities
- CHIRP Down Imaging Sonar – clear images up to 600 feet deep
- GPS Plotter200/455 kHz 2D sonar
- One microSD card slot for Navionics or Lakemaster maps
- Simple control and intuitive functions
- Sturdy construction
- Highly portable
- Mount doesn’t swivel, only tilts
- Buttons may be too small for something
- SD card must be purchased separately
- PC kit not included
For the past 40 years, Humminbird has been a coveted brand, and the Helix line has awesome technology to suit your budget. The Helix 7 CHIRP GPS G2 continues to uphold tradition and has great features, such as the 7” WVGA color widescreen display.
You can also split the screen between the chart plotter, 200/455 kHz 2D beam, and the CHIRP Down Imaging Sonar. On the left side of the screen, depth, speed, and temperature are displayed.
There’s a handful of features, too, but even if you’re not technologically literate, the functions are highly intuitive—so you’ll be finding fish in no time.
5. Garmin ECHOMAP Plus 63cv
- 6” screen that stays readable in direct sunlight
- Preloaded with maps for over 17,000 lakes; 13,000 of those come with 1’ contours
- Built-in quickdraw mapping software to create personalized fish maps that contour as you fish
- Built-in Wi-Fi and installed Active Captain app for One Chart access, notifications, and Garmin Quickdraw Community data
- Lightweight – 1.4 pounds
- Waypoints can be shared between other units, making fishing with friends more productive
- Mounting can be difficult on kayaks
- No SideVu technology
The second Garmin fish finder on this list is also one of the best. The echoMap Plus 63cv is a compact device with a 6” screen that packs a serious punch. This fish finder comes with built-in CHIRP, ClearVu Down Imaging Sonar, and a 77/200 kHz transducer.
Though the screen is smaller than other models on this list, it has the same number of pixels as the rest, so you get crystal clear pictures. The thousands of pre-loaded maps are also a fantastic selling point, especially if you plan on travelling and angling around the world. The echoMap Plus 63cv also has a microSD slot.
Note: There are several other echoMap models, such as the Garmin echoMap CHIRP 53cv, that are slightly older but carry many of the same capabilities, if you are looking for an even more reasonable price tag.
Nowadays, you can rig your canoe, kayak, or boat with one of the best fishing tools around—a fish finder with navigation technology. Though some models can be exceptionally expensive, this list proves that you can balance quality with a bargain price. Remember to look for lightweight, user-friendly, durable models and choose the one with features that suit your needs. I hope you are able to find the best fish finder under $500 from our list. Whichever fish finder you choose, you are bound to reel a big one.