A vow to always know whether there’s a fish in water and in what part of the vast territory is it loitering can only come with the best fish finder under 500.
Why not something under 200 bucks or lower?
Well, no offence to low-costing devices, they might let you know of the existence of fish but the extra details required for going for the kill will be lacking.
The price range of $500 is a safe zone because the devices coming under this cadre will neither be too bland to frustrate passionate anglers nor too superfluous with fancy features to overwhelm them.
The bells and whistles like some advanced Chirp sonars, larger displays with coloured graphics and navigational assistance provided through GPS, built-in maps or customized mapping software will make fishing a breeze.
Best Fish Finder Under $500 in 2023 Reviews
However, finding the best fish finder from a sea of products laden with cutting-edge technologies can throw off even the most seasoned fisherman.
To make sure you don’t waste half a grand of your fortune on a product that will not give you what its pledged to offer, I’ve gathered a list of what I found to be the top 10 fish finders under $500.
There’s a chance that you might still feel lost regarding the selection of the right device that’s why a comprehensive buyer’s guide is also added at the bottom.
Proceed and have your wallet ready for upgrading your fishing arsenal.
Top Fish Finder Under $500 Comparison Table
1. Humminbird Helix5 Chirp SI – Best Top Rated Fish Finder Under $500
There are good quality fish finders, and then there’s Humminbird Helix5 Chirp SI, the epitome of elegance and perfection.
The inclusion of Side Imaging along with Chirp dual-beam sonar and a myriad of other tournament-grade features make half a grand look like a small fortune.
The given sonars will give you a detailed search of a 180-degree parameter to let you know what you’re up against.
To a 400ft distance on sides and a 100ft downwards towards the bottom, everything pops up on the radar so quickly that the cunning targets won’t even know what hit them.
Moreover, SwitchFire sonar gives you free rein over sonar returns; it’s up to you to decide how much details you want the sonar to project on the screen. Speaking of which, the screen also deserves praise because, one, it’s backlit; second, it promises HD quality visuals of the underwater show.
On top of that, you don’t have to restrict your exploration to familiar waters anymore because of the fear of getting lost.
You can broaden your horizon to those uncharted territories that you only dreamt about because its built-in GPS and basemap charts covering over 10,000 lakes will help you navigate like Poseiden, the deity of the sea.
To make it a done deal, you can draw maps and fill them with personal input on routes, waypoints and fish hideouts for future visits.
- Clear screen with backlighting delivers unprecedented vivid pictures.
- Side Imaging blocks all escape routes of fish to a 400ft radius on both sides.
- SwitchFire permits you to exercise complete control over sonar returns.
- Internal GPS and mapping functions help navigate through uncharted waterbodies with ease.
- Manual lacks crucial instructions.
- Plastic mount becomes unsteady when the boat is moving.
If you want the fish to keep popping left and right on your device, come what may, Humminbird Helix5 Chirp SI is the guy equipped for the challenge. Its advance sonar functions and navigational aid make it the best affordable side imaging fish finder.
2. Garmin Striker 7SV – Best Brand Fish Finder Under $500 with Transducer
Garmin has laced Striker 7SV with all the armaments required to fight tooth and nail with our previous product for top place. This is one of the chosen ones under 500 that has a 7” screen and Side Imagining.
So, when the Chirp SideVu provide you with a precise picture of objects passing by and underneath your vessel, not to mention a thorough view of the overall underwater realm alongside through Chirp ClearVu, what possible breach there could be for a fish to elude such an all-encompassing search?
Each object including fish, bottom structure and plantation are identified in a distinguishing manner with no room for ambiguity.
And when such comprehensive information is presented in high-resolution imagery on a large display, only a jinx would keep you from catching the desired target.
It doesn’t make much difference if you’re a mediocre angler, you’ll know where to row to reach fruitful areas without bumping into obstacles because you’ll be armed with GPS and Quickdraw Contours mapping.
These will not just help you steer in the right direction but also permit you to keep a log of important waypoints and routes.
More impressively, the unit has wi-fi connectivity to let you take assistance from ActiveCaptian app or Quickdraw Contours Community to enhance productivity.
- Tough built can defeat marine harshness.
- 7” broad screen with sun-readability portrays an enticing picture of aquatic terrain.
- Chirp ClearVu and SideVu exhibit a thorough view of the underwater terrain with excellent target separation.
- GPS and built-in contour mapping guide towards productive territories.
- Absence of a micro SDcard reader is a slight putoff.
- Nuisance of lack of user’s manual.
Garmin Striker 7SV (010-01874-00) with a transducer is a feast for those mid-level anglers who want a sophisticated fish finder without breaking a bank. Its efficient target detection through Chirp SideVu make it one of the best side imaging fish finder under $500.
3. Humminbird Helix5 – Best Chirp DI Fish Finder Under $500
This model is among Humminbird’s best fish finders under 500 due to its reputation for providing a top-end model like feel at a competitive price.
We came across a huge number of passionate anglers raving about how clearly this dainty model shows the activity taking place directly beneath one’s boat with Down Imaging.
Throw in the Chirp digital sonar that is specialized to highlight individual fish…checkmate fish!
For portability purposes, the screen is kept to a small 5” size which can be a put-off, especially when you want something large.
However, the silver lining is that not only is it backlit, but is also laden with an 800×480 pixel matrix which suggests a crisp and scintillating presentation of the underwater scene.
You can give this even to a newbie without fearing him/her getting lost, both in figuring out the right adjustments and the right route leading towards fish sanctuaries.
Not only the easy controls will have him up and running it in a snap, but the presence of Navionics and SDcard covering over 21,000 waterbodies will also enable him to approach productive fish zones conveniently.
On top of that, you can also sketch maps in real-time of your favourite spots to revisit them whenever you want to.
- Rugged and portable.
- Impressive sonar and navigation features at a competitive price.
- Backlit display with coloured graphics exhibits high-resolution imagery.
- Custom mapping in real-time.
- Uncomplicated operating mechanism.
- Starts hiccupping in tidal waters.
- Appropriate only for lakes and rivers.
For mid-level fishers and enthusiast beginners, Humminbird Helix5 DI, with its compact size and high-precision Down Imaging sonar, proves to be a practical choice. Its admired for offering tremendous performance in shallower waters, making it hands down the best fish finder GPS combo for inland fishing.
4. Lowrance – Best HOOK Reveal 5x SplitShot Fish Finder Under $500
When you want to upgrade your fishing arsenal to a more feature-packed unit without losing the simplicity and a significant chunk of cash, Lowrance HOOK Reveal 5X is the right candidate.
Its undemanding setup offers you a stable platform to polish your fishing skills. Half a grand will not seem a hefty amount when you see the magic that the SplitShot transducer that comes in the package conjures.
It’s endowed with the power of traditional Chirp sonar and DownScan, which familiarize anglers with the world below the water surface by specifying which is fish, which is a structure and which is vegetation?
In case you were wondering how even novices hunt fish left and right; Fish Reveal answers your confusion. It offers a better understanding of fish’s exact spot thereby making it a piece of cake to snag the target. Throw a line and Bullseye!
Another enticing aspect lies in its screen. The combination of Solarmax and the waterproof nature of the display promises a perfect representation of the happenings of the marine world in every weather. Neither sunlight nor rain will impede your visibility.
A small nuisance is the absence of built-in maps, but that doesn’t seem like much of a loss as Genesis Live software and GPS plotter enable you to either create bathymetric contour maps or underline waypoints and routes that specifically lead to your favourite fish-saturated sections.
However, you’ll have to insert an SDcard to store that personal data.
- Weatherproof display offers an epic representation of the underwater view.
- Traditional Chirp and DownScan ensure you get a clear picture of fish, structure and vegetation.
- Fish Reveal expose exactly where fish is loitering.
- GPS plotter and customized bathymetric mapping.
- Simple and basic functionality.
- Requires an external SDcard to store mapping data, waypoints and routes.
- Lack of pre-installed maps is a bit upsetting.
If you’re an entry-level fisher or a weekend warrior looking for an upgrade without complexity-of-use, Lowrance HOOK Reveal 5X fulfils all your demands. Its straightforward operation and DownScan enable users to chase and hunt preys effortlessly.
5. Garmin Striker Plus 7Cv – Best Value Fish Finder Under $500 with Cv20-TM Transducer
Garmin Striker Plus 7Cv stands for reliability and utility. You will be shocked to see how easy its operation is, regardless of the feature-packed design and a bigger screen.
The Cv20-TM transducer with built-in Chirp sonar and ClearVu zero-in on fish like a cruise missile, never missing its target. Error? Zero. Such unerring recognition of fish and detailed depiction of the scenes below the water surface are reasons that ensure your victory.
Another factor that plays a huge part in your victory is its 7” display. Sonar results containing information about fish, landscape and bottom fauna are presented in such a vivid and distinctive manner that you’re able to throw the lure at that exact spot that is bound to ensnare the prey.
What adds to its appeal is the integration of high-sensitivity GPS and custom contour mapping software, Quickdraw Contours, which makes you forget about the lack of pre-loaded maps.
With these at hand, you can save essential waypoints, landmarks and routes to make sure to revisit them without bumping into obstacles.
As if that’s not enough, it even allows you to instantly sync to your phone to explore ActiveCaptain app and Quickdraw Contours Community for additional aid, courtesy of innate wi-fi connectivity. No wonder it enjoys a huge fanbase of anglers, both budding and seasoned.
- Excellent built.
- Transducer has built-in support for traditional Chirp and ClearVu to depict the underwater environment in detail.
- Large and clear viewing window with a simple keyed menu.
- Impressive navigational support.
- There aren’t any preloaded maps.
- Loading maps is beyond its capacity.
Garmin Striker Plus 7Cv has a few drawbacks, yet its utility is unbeatable. Thanks to its powerful transducer, containing Chirp sonar and ClearVu, and navigational support, hardcore anglers consider it as best fish finder GPS combo under 500.
6. Humminbird 410930-1 Helix7 G3 – Top Pick Overall Fish Finder Under $500
If there’s a fish finder that can snatch the throne from our previous product, it’s Humminbird Helix7 G3.
In other words, it’s the best down imaging fish finder under $500. Small or large, you will not miss a single cunning prey because it is not a fish finder, it’s a sonar bomb.
The Chirp digital sonar combined with the magic of Down Imaging not just reveal a crystal clear picture of the world beneath your boat, it goes to greater depths to highlight each fish while at the same time also identifying the structure and the bait.
Like Garmin Striker Plus 7Cv, this also employs a 7” broad screen. TFT coloured display with higher pixels boasts of photographic-like bright viewing of the underwater occurrences.
Although the screen is pretty large, yet Humminbird didn’t want to take any chance. It has incorporated SwitchFire sonar, with dual display modes, so you could decide what information you want to add or remove from the display.
Furthermore, this is a perfect companion to have around when you want to have an adventurous getaway because not only it has built-in charts of over 10,000 lakes, but also has a fully functional GPS and Auto Chart Live for personalized cartography in real-time.
Meaning, whether you want assistance from the already-present detailed charts or draw maps of other favourite fishing spots, it is ready to answer your commands.
- Chirp digital sonar and Down Imaging help track and snag any fish in a jiffy.
- Photographic-like representation of the world beneath the boat.
- SwitchFire sonar allows anglers to decide how much detail should appear on the display.
- Multiple navigational features help explore uncharted territories with confidence.
- False advertisement for SDcard.
- Customer support is a bit upsetting.
Humminbird Helix7 DI 410930-1 work as good as costlier models. It won’t be wrong to call it the best value mid-tier fish finder GPS combo because of its capacity to showcase a plethora of information including depth, temperature, lure position, fish location etc.
7. Humminbird Ice H5 G2 410970-1 – Best Good Looking Fish Finder Under $500
Ice fishing is a nerve-racking ordeal, especially when you are a mid-level fisherman. That’s why fishing gurus recommend Humminbird Ice H5 (410970-1) when asked about the best ice fishing fish finder under 500.
Despite the layers of ice posing a challenge, its 2D sonar paired with flasher will turn the tables by providing you precise statistics about the general aquatic terrain and fish routine.
You get a 5” large clear screen to showcase a vibrant and real-like picture of the territory, giving you a clear indication of where to throw the bait to make the target fall for it hook, line and sinker.
As hinted from the title, the decent 5” width of the screen will keep things clean and orderly, especially when going on a canoe or Jon boat.
To put your mind at ease, the compact size will not bring down the clarity of the view. Rather, the vibrant imagery earns this model some brownie points.
What else will have your mind at peace is knowing in which direction to steer the vessel to avoid bumps to arrive at fruitful locations.
That’s where the GPS butts in with its ability to not just update your coordinates, but also to provide you with a way to remember those crucial waypoints and secret fishing spots that you don’t want to forget.
- Sophisticated and compact.
- Sonar is extremely sensitive to fish presence.
- High-precision flasher and ice fishing mode works exceptionally well in frozen waters.
- GPS rapidly updates coordinates and helps pin crucial waypoints and routes.
- Results are flawed with a small jig.
- Appears a bit flimsy.
Humminbird Ice H5 G2 might seem a bit flimsy for harsh marine conditions, but its fish tracking ability is inch-perfect. Thanks to tremendous sonar performance and special ice features, it’s regarded as one of the best value fish finders for ice fishing.
8. Lowrance – Best Hook Reveal 7x Fish Finder Under $500 with SplitShot
Lowrance Hook Reveal 7x with SplitShot transducer will have you in a frenzy with the list of fancy features and that also without allowing its cost to leave affordability umbrella.
SplitShot transducer encompassing wide-angle Chirp sonar and DownScan Imaging will bring you the best possible views of the overall marine environment as well as of the fish-holding structures below your boat.
Not that you will miss any fish after viewing the sonar information, but Lowrance doesn’t want to take any chance thence why it has employed FishReveal. The said feature makes target identification a piece of cake by highlighting individual fish on the display.
You can spend your energy and attention on the chase and hunt instead of fussing over adjustments because Autotuning sonar takes that burden off you.
It commands the sonar to automatically adapt to the varying fishing conditions, thereby allowing you to spend precious moments on beating the elusive prey on its home turf.
The factor that plays a significant role in the said beating of the cunning opponent is the 7” large Solarmax display. The pictorial representation is so crisp and bright that you instantly discover that vulnerable spot for casting bait that can confirm your victory.
However, there’s one disadvantage though. This model doesn’t have in-built maps nor does it support downloaded ones.
Let’s not dwell on that because we have a GPS plotter here that promises to promptly lead you to your favourite fish-saturated zones, simply by allowing you to use saved waypoints, routes and trails as crumbs.
- SplitShot transducer supporting advanced Chirp sonars expose the world below your boat.
- FishReveal ensures you never miss a single fish.
- Large screen with Sunlight-readability offers a devastatingly bright and beautiful view.
- Built-in GPS plotter makes navigation to favourite fishing spots a breeze.
- Autotuning sonar and intuitive keys make it user-friendly.
- Inability to support mapping functions.
- Installation is a bit time-consuming.
Lowrance Hook Reveal 7x throws light on the manufacturer’s dedication to providing anglers with feature-loaded gadgets at a competitive price. The unit, though a non-mapping GPS plotter, is regarded as one of the best affordable Lowrance fish finders because of tremendous sonar performance and display.
9. Garmin Striker Plus 5cv – Best Affordable Fish Finder Under $500 with Transducer
You are thinking about buying Garmin Striker Plus 5cv? Go ahead, you are several steps closer to becoming a fishing Olympian. The price is good; the quality is equally good. These are some of the worries out of the way. Phew!
Now heading towards the primary task of locating fish…it does catch fish. Rather, it lays the whole underwater realm bare before your eyes. That’s how effective its Chirp ClearVu sonar is.
Speaking of eyes, the screen is a good 5” large with an intuitive keyed interface, which means a few tweaks later, your eyes are rewarded with a scintillating picture of the fish and surrounding area.
Now that the crucial part of accurately tracking a fish is accomplished, the next challenge is to find the perfect spot. Don’t worry, its called the best Garmin fish finder for mid-level anglers for a reason.
The GPS and customized cartography capability implemented in it lets you underline those necessary waypoints, routes and landmarks that you’ve crossed earlier. That way you could easily approach them in future to get victorious once again.
- Portable and robust design.
- ClearVu offers a comprehensive view of the things present underwater.
- Keyed menu is easy to control.
- Display portrays a bright and readable picture even in sunlight.
- GPS and cartography functions help you pin crucial navigational data.
- Lack of instruction manual poses a challenge for beginners.
- Some complaints regarding GPS.
- No slot for inserting SDcard.
There are some less appealing factors about Garmin Striker Plus 5cv’s construction yet a huge population of hardcore anglers and weekend warriors prefer it because of its simple mechanism and effective sonar results.
10. Deeper – Best Chirp Smart Sonar Fish Finder Under $500
Deeper Chirp Smart Sonar comes with a pledge of a successful fish hunt, regardless of your prowess as a fisherman.
Some users find it a bit costly for a portable and castable device, but you’re about to see what the slight price rise is rewarding you.
Besides, the 5-year warranty alone is enough to mute all the complaints and alarm bells arising in your head.
To validate its pledge of a fruitful fishing trip, the unit has acquired the support of triple-beam frequency Chirp. This means you receive 100% accurate and clear information about fish habitat and general bottom terrain.
With a whopping 330ft of casting and depth scope, it’s unfathomable why you will not seize at least one fish unless you are jinxed. Girdle up because the second the sonar waves cross the mark of 1/2ft, they start bearing results.
Anglers love it more due to its flexibility. The unit can act as a notepad for sketching maps as well as a journal for storing memorable waypoints, scans, snaps, maps etc. of previous trips.
In a final convincing move, it has integrated a Fish Deeper App so you could map in advance those waterbodies that you want to explore in future.
- Superb quality.
- Extended castable and depth range.
- Triple-beam Chirp delivers the information with 100% accuracy and clarity.
- Flexible unit supports custom mapping and storage of crucial information.
- Supports mapping of water bodies in advance for future trips.
- A tad bit costly for a castable and portable device.
- Understanding of instruction manual gives pains.
When its a question of the best castable fish finder, no model can outdo Deeper Chirp Smart Sonar. The grievance of the price hike is addressed through the remarkable performance of Chirp sonar and flexible design.
Buyer’s Guide: By Selecting To The Best Fish Finder Under $500 in 2023
You can acquire so much from the best fish finder costing half a grand only if you know what features are indispensable at such price range. Don’t worry, you’ll know them in a minute through the given buyer’s guide.
A transducer is the actual fish tracker so the appropriate power of the gear and sonar frequency is pertinent for successful target acquisition. A transducer, say of 200-300W power, is appropriate only when subjected to shallower water bodies like lakes and rivers. Similarly, devices with higher frequencies are also perfect for shallow terrains as they can search a larger area at once to receive precise information.
On the other hand, low-frequency models with transducer power of over 400W will allow sonar rays to immerse hundreds of feet deep, but it will lack details. Models with dual frequencies are more practical as you could command sonar to adapt according to the territory.
Chirp sonar is to be preferred because it promises extra detail and clarity. Many models supplement it with Side Imaging/Down Imaging. The additional sonars allow you to notice everything present on both sides of a boat and directly underneath it. That way you get a wholesome view of the surrounding territory and promptly adjust your bait to a more favourable position.
GPS & Mapping
When you’re spending a hefty sum of money, choosing a fish finder without GPS and cartography features is a straightforward no. Almost all the above-listed products employ GPS and at least one of the mapping functions. These navigational-related technologies will not only steer you clear of obstacles but also act as a storehouse for housing those routes, landmarks, waypoints etc. that are pertinent to your favourite fishing sections.
The devil is in the details. Meaning, if you ignore the type and quality of the display, you’re bound to face grave repercussions – major of which is losing even the easiest prey and returning empty-handed. At this price range, 5”-7” display is normal, anything smaller than that is deprecated. Also, it is wise to choose screens with a higher number resolution along with LED backlighting and sunlight-readability. That way outdoor lighting condition will not impede your visibility and you will be able to easily distinguish between fish icons and other information displayed while enjoying a captivating view of the underwater scenes.
Types of Fish Finders
You will find an overwhelming variety of fish finders within the $500 cost spectrum. An average angler can easily get confused with such a wide choice range. That’s why our fishing gurus have roughly arranged them into four types. Once you assess your needs, you will know which type of fish finders to search for to locate your desired piece.
These fish finders can be temporarily attached to your small watercraft or kayak. You can detach it from the vessel at the end of your fishing venture. A mountable fish finder is a great choice if you want the unit to stay stable throughout the sport. Besides, they come with brackets that’s why can be conveniently fastened anywhere on your vessel, irrespective of its type.
These fish finders are almost identical to mountable units except for a slight difference. Once you fix them to a boat with brackets and screws, you cannot unfix them after your fishing day ends. These are permanent and definitely NOT portable. Therefore, they are ideal for large and spacious boats and rough environments.
Handheld Fish Finders
These are like cell phones that you can easily put into your pocket or inside a compartment or holder – if your boat has any. Handheld units are best for shore fishing and small watercraft because you will not have to carry a lot of accessories.
Castable fish finders are comparatively a newer invention; they appear like tennis balls. People carrying smartphones prefer this type because it lightens the load significantly. Your smartphone’s screen will act like a display unit once you connect the floatable transducer, via Bluetooth or WiFi connectivity, to an app installed on your cell phone. These units are ideal companions for kayaks, dock fishing and shore fishing.
Just keep in mind that their castable nature restricts your exploring range.
You might have noticed that almost all the units we reviewed above are portable. That’s because mobility with small-footprint portable units is easy. You can comfortably set them on small boats and kayaks without worrying about space. Besides, many of these come with a decent number of bells and whistles; so weekend warriors and passionate mid-level anglers won’t be missing on much.
Anglers who are fond of shore fishing, ice fishing or exploring on kayaks should prefer portable units of Humminbird’s Helix series, Garmin’s Striker series and Lowrance’s Hook series.
Fish finders can be connected to your cell phones or tabs through cords or cables, but this added load becomes a nuisance at times. An ideal unit allows you to access your phones for data transfer via wireless or Bluetooth connectivity. So, if you want a speedy procedure without the hassle of additional hardware, look for devices with connectivity features.
Fish finders usually display small arcs on the screen to indicate tracked fish. There’s nothing wrong with that, just that interpreting them requires a little practice. More sophisticated units like many pieces of the Helix series employ fish-shaped symbols for convenient and quick identification. So, if you can get extra help and ease within the same price range, why not take advantage of it?
Which is the best value fish finder under $500?
The list is too long. But, for your convenience, we can shortlist the names of the top 3 best value fish finders under $500 that are ruling the fishing arena.
- Humminbird Helix 5 Chirp SI
- Garmin Striker 7SV and Plus 7CV with transducers
- Humminbird Helix5 Chirp DI
You can also find the best competing Lowrance units in the same price range.
Do all fish finders under $500 are GPS combo units?
Yes, they almost always do – unless you bring the budget range down to around $200 – $300. If your chosen unit doesn’t employ GPS and mapping features, you are spending half a grand on something that’s not worth the fortune.
Which fish finder under $500 is the easiest to use?
Almost all Lowrance and Garmin units, including high-end models, are famous for their user-friendly and intuitive interfaces. High-end models of Humminbird are comparatively a bit complex to operate.
Lowrance Hook Reveal 5x, Garmin Striker 7sv and Humminbird Helix5 DI are some of the units that mid-level fishermen and passionate beginners find the easiest to use.
Which fish finder under $500 has the best maps?
Top-notch models of Humminbird and Garmin have the best maps and related assistance as compared to Lowrance. Users’ reviews and ratings show that Humminbird Helix5 DI and SI and Helix7 G3 have the best basemap charts and GPS capabilities under the given price range.
You have reached almost to the end of this journey with only one step remaining: choosing the best fish finder that fulfils your demands. Above listed models and the lucid account of key factors elucidated in the buyer’s guide must have given you a clear picture of how much your half-grand is worth. You can pick any of the reviewed products with peace of mind because they all are fully equipped to bear you fruits, plenty of it, on every fishing expedition.
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