Getting yourself the latest fish finder can up your fishing game in a matter of days.
Instead of burning daylight speculating or relying on guesswork, you will be led to the fish or an entire school of fish in no time— with minimal effort from your part.
However, a fish finder does not always come cheap. As a matter of fact, after a fishing vessel, a fish finder is the second biggest investment for an angler. Some can also cost up to 600 bucks.
Fish Finders Under $400
Thankfully, manufacturers like Garmin and Humminbird have made it possible for anglers to get on with their hobby without breaking the bank.
In this post, I have listed the best fish finders under 400 bucks.
Deeper Pro Smart Sonar
The Best Fish Finders Under $400
Among all the fish finders below, this is the best one overall. It is affordable, feature-rich, and also offers additional smartphone apps like Lakebook.
Garmin is an industry leader in GPS navigation systems. This Switzerland-based tech firm produces distance measuring devices in the automotive, aviation, marine, outdoor, and sports niche.
American fishermen have always benefited from their GPS navigation systems.
Now since Garmin has arrived into the fish finding equipment market, there is no reason to ignore this particular product. As a matter of fact, Garmin Striker Plus 7 is one of their flagship products.
From the entire Garmin Striker series of fish finders, Striker Plus 7 has the biggest screen (7-inches wide). With a smaller screen, it becomes difficult to read the screen in bright sunlight. Such is not the case with Striker Plus 7.
Further, the single-transducer is a traditional CHIRP Sonar. Plus, this fish finder also has a 2D flasher or sounder.
CHIRP Sonars do a great job of locating hard to find and deep-lying fish, whereas a 2D flasher can be used for fishing in shallow or muddy waters.
Frequently ranked as the best fish finder under 400, this unit comes with all advanced features needed to up your fishing game.
Before heading out to fish, you can mark waypoints and create the most likely route so you can forget about navigation once you begin fishing.
Garmin Striker Plus 7 is Suitable For:
This product works best for those who love fishing during the daytime. You will find that most other fish finders have a 5-inch display screen.
Also, they have a vertical orientation with no option to switch. Striker Plus 7 has a phone-like horizontal screen — which allows you a better view of the map.
So, the wide display screen, combined with the built-in Garmin Quickdraw Contours mapping software, makes it one of the best fish finders in the market.
Pros for Fish Finders Under $400
The Striker Plus 5 from Garmin is the best fish finder under $400 for ice fishing. Since this fish finder is meant for ice fishing, its range of operation is slightly lower than that of Striker Plus 7.
Nevertheless, this fish finder comes with a GT8HW-IF single transducer capable of locating fish even in dense and thick snow.
The CHIRP Sonar sends electromagnetic waves of varying frequencies. Depending on the exact location of the fish, you are supposed to set the frequency range (low, medium, or high).
In addition to that, this fish finder has a built-in flasher to help you observe the fish's activity as it enters the sonar range.
Furthermore, just like the Striker Plus 7 model, this fish finder lets you map out the water body with the help of a built-in Garmin Quickdraw Contours mapping software.
With time, you will find the map getting more accurate. You can store up to two million acres of surface area.
Garmin Striker Plus 5 is Suitable For:
This fish finder works best for those who wish to up their ice fishing game. Without proper tools, ice fishing is not as productive. A successful ice fisherman should have the necessary information needed to get to the fish before someone else does.
In the United States, there are some spots where you can only enter for a limited number of hours. The Striker Plus 5 improves your location awareness as you repeatedly traverse through a map, plotted by yourself. You can get more done in less time.
Humminbird is an American fishing equipment manufacturer. Fishfinders in the G2 series are equipped with the advanced Humminbird Imaging Technology. This particular model is known to work best in muddy or murky water.
For accurate reading in murky water, the DualBeam Plus feature combines outputs of both Digital CHIRP Sonar and traditional 2D Sonar.
The 2D Sonar is perfect for fishing in freshwater lakes, coastal waters, or the ice. Its primary task is to let you know the exact location of the fish. For a more accurate understanding of the water body, you can switch to the CHIRP Sonar.
Further, you can also zoom in and out with Max Mode and Clear Mode. This feature is known as SwitchFire. It's no wonder this unit is often ranked as the best fish finder under 400.
Humminbird HELIX 5 CHIRP GPS G2 is Suitable For:
As I mentioned earlier, this fish finder works best in muddy or murky water. The high-powered CHIRP Sonar shoots high-frequency beams into the unclear water to reveal the structure, cover, and contours with utmost clarity.
Having said that, this feature-rich device is more than capable of functioning in deeper water and ice.
A new-age dual beam sonar is not for everyone. Some anglers still fancy the old-fashioned way of finding fish within the ice.
Moreover, even some young folks would want to avoid dealing with the latest equipment as it would hinder their natural ability to learn this craft. Humminbird ICE-45 is a traditional flasher used exclusively for ice fishing.
For ice fishing, you don't need a long fishing line. The Humminbird ICE-45 can scan the water about 200 feet deep.
Furthermore, you don't need to mount the sounder on a vessel. Simply toss the sonar into the ice hole, and adjust the gain until the sonar appears as a clear and thin line on the screen.
The analog screen will show the depth of water, location of fish, and the seabed structure.
Your job as an angler is to keep an eye on the activity happening between the bottom of the water body and the surface. As soon as you spot fish, bring the jig closer (by lifting the jig), so it can bite the lure.
Humminbird ICE-45 is Suitable For:
The Humminbird ICE-45 flasher is suitable for those who wish to keep ice fishing as straightforward as possible.
This product is not for tech-savvy anglers who want to see pictures of fish. With Humminbird ICE-45, there is a learning curve, but it won't take longer than a week to get good at it.
Cons for Fish Finders Under $400
Searching for the best fish finder under 400 bucks? The echoMAP CHIRP 53CV is another fish finder from Garmin.
This device is perfect for small and medium-sized pontoon or tug boats. The primary purpose of this product is to help you locate the fish and familiarize you with their habitat.
On the 5-inch digital screen, you can clearly see the fish swimming around the water. The CHIRP Sonar also brings you clear and concise images of the plantation on the bottom of the lake/river.
Furthermore, unlike the Striker series, the echoMap comes with preloaded maps. You have instant access to 17,000 total lakes, out of which 13,000 are in high-definition.
The 5Hz internal GPS updates the current location once in five seconds. Whether you are out alone or with a partner, you will never lose track of the position.
Garmin echoMAP CHIRP 53CV is Suitable For:
This is one of the best fish finders for small and medium-sized fishing vessels. As the name suggests, this device is designed to arm the angler with an excellent navigation system. The echoMAP CHIRP 53CV model is made exclusively for freshwater.
Pros for Fish Finders Under $400
The Striker Plus 4 from Garmin comes with a compact-sized handheld display.
The product and its components (which include the sonar, connecting cable, mounter, cover, and AAA batteries) are designed for fishing in adverse weather conditions. The chassis is made from ultra-durable military-grade material.
The screen is smaller (4.3 inches) than other Striker series fish finders. In fact, it is the smallest of all. This product features a powerful dual-beam transducer, built-in Garmin quickdraw contours mapping software, and a built-in GPS.
Furthermore, to protect the handheld device, Garmin also provides a protective cover.
Garmin Striker Plus 4 is Suitable For:
Thinking about buying the best fish finder under 400 for rough use? The Striker Plus 4 is perfect for anglers looking for a pocket-sized fish finder.
The robust design features of this product make it suitable for every fishing environment. It works great in freshwater, saltwater, ice, mangroves, etc.
Pros for Fish Finders Under $400
Are you into shore fishing? Do you wish to up your shore fishing game immediately?
Deeper PRO+ Smart Sonar is a small-sized portable fish finder. It is shaped like a small tennis ball. With the latest sonar technology, Deeper is able to bring to you a product capable of providing depth and water temperature readings within seconds of tossing it into the water.
The transducer is connected to your smartphone via Wifi (and not Bluetooth). As a result, you can expect a faster data transfer rate.
Within one second, the Deeper PRO+ Smart Sonar scans fifteen times. Further, the transducer is capable of scanning both a narrow region and a wider area. It has a casting range of 330 feet and can scan 260 feet deep.
Deeper PRO+ Smart Sonar is Suitable For:
Although the Deeper PRO+ Smart Sonar is explicitly designed for shore anglers, it is perfectly capable of functioning for kayak or boat fishing.
Simply cast the sonar into the water, wait for a response, then move your fishing line toward the direction of the fish. You get free access to Lakebook, Deeper's bathymetric management platform.
Pros for Fish Finders Under $400
Benefits of CHIRP Sonar Over Traditional 2D Transducer
1. Compensates for the Limitation of a Traditional 2D Sonar
The CHIRP Sonar technology is a cover for the limitations of single-frequency broadband sonar. Both amateur and professional fishermen have displayed a massive disappointment with the traditional 2D Sonar. The old equipment works perfectly in one situation and fails totally in another.
The CHIRP Sonar sends electromagnetic waves with a wide range of frequencies underwater.
No matter the type of waterbody, it detects objects and sends back picture-perfect images for the fishermen to see. It has transformed the way modern fishermen detect fish.
2. Makes It Possible for Everyone to Become a Successful Angler
To operate a traditional flasher or a sounder, you need prior experience of fishing. A flasher does not come with an inbuilt navigation system. It measures the depth of the water and points you to the direction of the fish. An experienced angler might find it helpful, but it is surely not meant for a beginner.
Fishfinders with CHIRP technology come with a preloaded map of the waterbody. On top of that, you also have an option to plot one and save it for later use.
3. Small Target Separation
A traditional 2D does give you the exact location of the fish in the water. Some may also display their activity live on a digital screen. However, neither of them is capable of providing live information on the bait in the water.
Fish Finders enabled with CHIRP Sonar offer you the most accurate representation of the activity underwater.
The best fish finders have a target separation of less than an inch. Even the tiniest gaps between two fish or the fish and the bait can be discerned by a CHIRP Sonar.
How to Choose a Quality Fish Finder for Under $400?
Choosing the right fish finder that suits your fishing style can be quite challenging.
Not only do you need to be aware of the technical aspects of it, but there is also a concern about the price. Below I have listed the most critical factors you must consider before buying a fish finder.
A transducer (or also known as sonar) is the most crucial component of a fish finder. To locate fish and measure the depth of the waterbody, it sends electromagnetic waves underwater.
The reflections are represented on display mounted on the dashboard of the boat. There are two types of transducers: 2D and CHIRP. Make sure you pick the fish finder with the advanced CHIRP transducer.
2. Screen Resolution
Two types of fish finders are popular: mountable and portable. Portable ones do not come with a display device.
They get paired up with your smartphone. Hence, there is no question of screen resolution here. On the other hand, mountable fish finders come with a mountable (or sometimes, handheld) display device. The screen resolution should be 240 x 160 pixels or higher.
3. NavigationLastly, make sure the fish finder has the latest GPS navigation system. A GPS helps you locate your vessel while in the waterbody.
Some fish finders also let you mark hot spots on the map so you can keep track of your path. Devices like Deeper PRO+ also provide you free access to advanced mapping and navigation apps like Lakebook.
Fish Finders Under $400 Conclusion
If you wish to improve your fishing game, you can do so on the cheap. By no means, do you need to spend over $600 or anywhere near that.
Brands like Garmin, Humminbird, and Deeper offer affordable solutions for your fishing needs.