Searching for the best fish finder under 500? Had you asked us this question a few years back, the options would be limited. But with the advancement in technology, the prices of marine electronics have reduced significantly. Today, a budget of $500 is good enough to get you all the necessary features that you would expect in the best fish finder.
However, the choices are still varied as different companies give importance to different features in the best fish finder under $500 category. For some, the display may be the priority; for others, it is the sonar features that take the front seat. It is for this reason that even the most experienced anglers struggle to zero down on one model.
To help you get the most value for your money, we at TrueBlueFishermen, did extensive research on the best fish finders under $500 and have consolidated a list of our top 6 choices. The selection is based on display, sonar, view options, maximum depth, ability to a mark location, and the ability to upgrade.
We will also give you a Buyer’s guide so that if you ever get confused between two models, you have a reference point to go back to. In case you are hard-pressed on time and don’t want to go through the technical review, mentioned below are our top pics under different categories of the best fish finder under $500.
|Product||Rating||Sonar||GPS||Down View||Side View||Display Size||Price|
Garmin Striker Vivid 7sv
|CHIRP/ ClearVü/ SideVü||Yes||Yes||Yes||7 inches||Check Price|
Best Overall Choice
Humminbird 410930-1 HELIX 7 GPS G3
|2D CHIRP with Low Q CHIRP transducer||Yes||MEGA Down Imaging||No||7 inches||Check Price|
|Yes||Yes||No||5 inches||Check Price|
Best Budget Buy
Humminbird HELIX 5
|Dual Beam PLUS CHIRP||Yes||Yes||No|
|5 inches||Check Price|
Best Fishfinder GPS Combo Under $500
Lowrance Hook Reveal
|CHIRP||Yes||DownScan||No||5 inches||Check Price|
Raymarine Dragonfly Pro
|Dual Spectrum CHIRP sonar||Ultra Wide CHIRP DownVision||No||7 inches||Check Price|
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The first model that we want to feature is perhaps the most famous in the “best fish finder under 500” category. The Garmin Striker 7sv features an outstanding 7-inch WVGA display that relays crystal-clear and vivid images of what is going on under your boat. The display is also bright enough and easy to see even in broad daylight. The interface is highly intuitive, which means even novice anglers can access its functions without looking at the manual. The next incredible feature of this best fish finder under $500 is its sonar capability.
The Garmin Striker 7sv features the CHIRP ClearVü and SideVü transducer to provide the most striking and lifelike images of the fish, vegetation, and the bottom structure of the area under and around your boat. Its CHIRP sonar uses a wide beam to relay back clear fish sweeps and helps to differentiate close targets.
Another feature that makes it one of the best fish finders under $500 is the built-in flasher which will come in handy for ice fishing or for vertical still fishing. The built-in GPS system further allows you to track your route and mark waypoints. You get the feature of creating your own custom maps with 1-foot contours, mark boat ramps, docks, fishing holes, etc.
This best fish finder under $500 also comes with in-built Wi-Fi and is compatible with the ActiveCaptian app that you can download on your smartphones to transfer waypoints and to receive smart notifications (including software updates). This app helps in improving your overall fishing experience and you can even access the Garmin Quickdraw community to share your data. Talking about the overall look and feel, this best fish finder GPS combo under $500 weighs less, has a compact profile, and is quite portable. It has a sturdy built and is also waterproof, making it suitable for different weather conditions. For a good screen size and side view imaging, the Garmin Striker 7sv is one of the best GPS fish finder under 500 price range.
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Coming from one of the most popular fish finder manufacturer’s in the market, our next best fish finder under 500 is the Humminbird Helix 7. Humminbird has built a reputation for itself for offering some incredible features at affordable rates. It is perhaps for this reason that two of its models have been featured in our best fish finders under $500.
Holding the baton of the third generation Humminbird fish finders, the Helix 7 is leading the charts for its excellent sonar and navigation capabilities. In fact, the Helix 7 G3 is the best fishfinder GPS combo under $500 that incorporates all the latest innovations from Humminbird. It is also Amazon’s choice for the best fish finder under $500 with the highest rating.
Similar to the Garmin Striker 7, this model also comes with a 7-inch TFT display. The wider display makes it easier to glance at the screen from a distance and focus more on your fishing. This best fish finder under $500 also allows the split-screen option so that you can read both GPS data and the sonar signals simultaneously. The Helix 7 also integrates backlighting which further makes it easier to read the data under direct sunlight or from different viewing angles. The functions can be accessed through the keypad and the interface is also kept beginner-friendly and intuitive.
Coming to the sonar capabilities of this best fish finder under 500 dollars, it comes with a Dual Spectrum CHIRP sonar and Mega Down Imaging feature. The Dual spectrum helps you choose between Full, Narrow (max detail), and Wide (max area) modes.
While the latter two modes have a fixed frequency range, the Full view frequency can be adjusted between 150-220kHz. Coupled with a Low Q CHIRP transducer, the Mega Down Imaging is much more powerful than the regular down imaging sonar and it lets you operate at a higher frequency in the range of 1075 to 1150 kHz. The down imaging mode can reach a depth of 350 ft. and the MEGA Down Imaging up to 150 ft. for incredible underwater clarity. The maximum scanning depth offered by Helix 7 is 1200 ft. in freshwater.
However, you can upgrade to 50kHz. transducer to be able to scan up to 3500 ft. This fish finder also allows you to check the water temperature, watch lure presentation, and access the built-in Basemap to check out the U.S. lakes and coastal areas. The AutoChart Live feature lets you create real-time maps of your fishing spots. You can also rope in Navionics maps and LakeMaster charts.
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Next up for the best fishfinder GPS combo under $500 is another Garmin product – the echoMAP CHIRP 54cv. As the name suggests, this unit is a fish finder and Chartplotter combo and features a 5-inch colored LCD screen. The echoMAP features a mid-band CHIRP transducer and uses different frequencies for traditional 2D CHIRP sonar and CHIRP ClearVü to provide clutter-free images and better target separation.
The transducer also has a built-in water temperature sensor and comes with a 30’ long cable. The maximum depth capability of this best fish finder under 500 dollars is 1800 ft. with 2D and 1000 ft. with ClearVü. However, it can be upgraded to reach 2300 ft. The other sonar functions offered by this unit include split-zoom, split-frequency, circular flasher, data graphs, and bottom lock.
Coming back to the GPS functionality of this best GPS fish finder under 500, the echoMAP integrates a 5 Hz built-in GPS that updates position and heading 5 times per second. It also displays the speed of your boat. This fish finder has preloaded BlueChart g2 HD maps that cover the coastal areas of the U.S., Bahamas, East and West coast, Gulf of Mexico, and the U.S. part of the Great Lakes. It also comes with the Quickdraw function that lets you create custom 1-foot contour maps based on your sonar readings. You can save up to 5000 waypoints and 100 routes and its trail recording function also lets you save 50,000 track points.
Another small but nifty feature that makes it the best fish finder GPS combo under $500 is that the cords plugin directly into the mount which makes it easier to unplug or unmount the device quickly. This fish finder also has a good battery back-up of up to 10 hours. The unit, however, lacks wireless connectivity, so the data needs to be transferred via cable or a micro SD card.
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If you prefer the Humminbird fish finders and are looking for a small screen fish finder under 500, then you can check out the Helix 5. This model is quite similar to the Helix 7 model, the only major difference being the display screen size. The Helix 5 has also been tagged as the best portable fish finder due to its robust and compact design. The reason why we have included this model in the best fish finders under $500 is that it offers excellent features that can be used both by beginner and professional anglers.
The Helix 5, as the name indicates, features a 5-inch colored LED display integrated with a backlight for easy day-time viewing. This unit also offers a split-screen mode to view both sonar and GPS data simultaneously, making it the best fishfinder GPS combo under $500.
The Humminbird Helix 5 features Dual Beam PLUS sonar with down imaging to provide greater image clarity for a depth up to 1500 ft. The SwitchFire feature lets you choose between Max mode and Clear mode to control how much detail you want to be projected on the screen. Whether you are fishing in freshwater, saltwater, or ice-fishing, the powerful CHIRP sonar can provide you with more detailed feedback on fish, structure, and hard surfaces.
Another reason why we consider Helix 5 the best GPS fish finder under 500 is that the in-built GPS system comes with a preloaded Basemap that lets you navigate more confidently and plot charts with built-in Anima cartography. The maps can also be upgraded using the micro SD card slot. The AutoChart Live feature allows you to create your own custom maps as you drive over the water. The intuitive interface and the sturdy structure make it easy-to-use and one of the best fish finder GPS combo under $500.
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Lowrance is quite popular for manufacturing sophisticated and technologically advanced fish finders that take the guesswork out of the fishing sport. Therefore, living up to its name is our next top-grade fish finder – the Hook Reveal with FishReveal functionality. This function makes it easier to find and identify fish as it uses the combined target separation of CHIRP sonar and the high-resolution images of the DownScan imaging.
Featuring a 5-inch colored display, the Hook Reveal allows you to enjoy crisp and clear underwater views in every weather condition. Its SolarMAX display offers incredible visibility even in direct sunlight. A crucial feature that makes it the best fishfinder GPS combo under $500 is that it comes preloaded with highly detailed 4000 U.S. inland lake maps. Additionally, the GPS plotter with Genesis Live feature lets you create detailed real-time custom contour maps. These maps can also be saved on a micro SD card.
Another truly outstanding feature that makes it worthy of the best fish finders under $500 is the Auto-tuning sonar. It means that the sonar can automatically change its settings depending on the fishing conditions to give you the best possible sonar feedback. This particular feature can enhance your fishing experience as you will have to spend less time fidgeting with the setting and you can focus more on enjoying the sport.
The SplitShot transducer of this best GPS fish finder under 500 can give you the best views from the wide-angle CHIRP sonar and the high-resolution images from the DownScan imaging on the same screen.
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The last candidate for the best fish finder under 500 is Raymarine’s Dragonfly Pro. To give you a quick introduction, Raymarine is one of the most prolific manufacturers of marine equipment, and it has also proved its mettle in the fish finder category by launching the Dragonfly Pro.
This best fish finder under 500 comes with a 7-inch glass and gel bonded display to give you an optimum viewing experience. The screen offers great visibility with sharper contrast even in bright sunlight, and the screen rarely fogs up. The Dragonfly Pro integrates the Dual Beam CHIRP sonar with Ultra Wide CHIRP DownVision to produce high-resolution images.
The dual-channel sonar can be switched between frequencies to offer more detail and better target separation. The DownVision, on the other hand, produces lifelike underwater views up to 600 ft. that can easily surpass ordinary sonar feedback.
The Dragonfly Pro is one of the best fish finder GPS combo under $500 that features a built-in GPS with Navionics+ charts for better navigation. The micro SD card slot also allows you to easily upgrade the maps to include Raymarine Lighthouse charts and Jeppsen’s C-Map. You can also create your own bathymetric charts using the Navionics SonarChart Live app. However, it does lack depth maps for inland waters but will suffice for navigation and fish finding.
The next useful feature that has earned it the tag of the top fish finder under 500 is the built-in Wi-Fi. You can connect the fish finder to your smartphones and can stream the data live through Raymarine Wi-Fish App. Plus, the Dragonfly Pro comes with large internal storage that lets you save up to 3000 waypoints and 15 routes. It also integrates a 3-axis compass and a barometric altimeter for user convenience.
Confused still? Don’t worry, we have you covered. Before you decide to shell out your hard-earned money for the best fish finder under 500, you must be aware of your fishing needs and preferences. This guide will help you sort that out. Take a look!
Colored displays work better in reading small details and can improve the accuracy of your catch. Also, choose a screen size that you are comfortable with. The display should be big enough so that you can glance at it in and out without having to put a lot of strain on your eyes. You must also consider the size of your boat while selecting a fish finder under 500. Smaller screens work better for kayaks or canoes.
The higher the frequency, the better will be the details. Higher frequencies work well in shallow waters and a low-frequency transducer is required for greater depths. The common frequency range offered by the fish finders is 50 kHz to 200 kHz. The best fish finder under 500 can also offer dual frequencies so that you can switch between them or display both simultaneously on the screen.
Though different companies call it with different names such as DownScan, Down Imaging, or DownView, it all means the same. Down imaging uses a wider sonar cone than the standard 2D sonar, producing sharper images of areas below your boat. The benefit of down imaging is a better target separation compared to the standard sonar.
If you can save up a little extra, we would definitely recommend going for the best fish finder GPS combo under $500 that offers side imaging. This advanced feature can come in handy if you are exploring a new area. Side imaging offers side-to-side coverage for 100 to 150 feet on either side of the boat.
You can easily find the best fishfinder GPS combo under $500. It is always better to go for a model that has a built-in GPS as you do not want to be struggling with another navigation device while you are on the waters. The GPS functionality also allows you to mark waypoints, hotspots, and routes in case you plan to fish in the same area again.
This is another crucial feature that you must look for in the best fish finder under 500. You can find models that come with preloaded maps while others come with micro SD slots for map upgrades. Some devices are even compatible with Navionics and LakeMaster maps.
If you are new to using fishing sonars, you can go for a Garmin model or Lowrance Hook as they are more basic and user-friendly. The Hook Reveal even has an auto-tuning function. If you know what you are doing, then Humminbird models offer more manual manipulation and customization of the sonar.
Electronic devices, especially those that you will use around water, must come with a warranty cover. Since fish finders don’t come cheap, always go with a model that comes with a warranty and also read the warranty terms carefully before making the purchase.
Fish finders can prove to be an effective tool to improve your fishing experience. They can aid you in viewing what is going on under and around your boat. They can define the fish and bottom structure and help you navigate the area with greater confidence. Fish finders can also help you locate large baits as well as save time by eliminating the areas that have no bait or active fish. You can even see at which depth the fish are so that you can decide your bait and presentations accordingly.
At this price, you can expect the fish finder to have basic capabilities such as CHIRP, GPS mapping, and down imaging. While they may not include all the features, you can expect them to have one of the features such as side imaging, Wi-Fi connectivity, flasher, built-in maps, chartplotting, etc.
As per our view, the best choice would be Garmin Striker 7. It is a power-packed device that features a fantastic 7-inch display with intuitive function keys. Its powerful CHIRP sonar with ClearVü and SideVü offers incredible lifelike images. It can reach a greater depth with greater accuracy. It has good built, GPS and Wi-Fi functionalities, and it allows you to draw custom maps with the Quickdraw mapping feature. It is for all the above reasons that we have featured it as the first contender for the best fishfinder GPS combo under $500.
In this budget, you can plan to buy a fish finder of some of the most reputable brands in the market. There are models from Garmin, Humminbird, Lowrance, Raymarine, and Deeper. The choice amongst these for the best fish finder under 500 dollars will ultimately depend on your fishing styles and needs.
In our opinion, the most user-friendly option in the best fish finders under $500 would be Lowrance Hook Reveal. The reason being, it has an auto-tuning sonar that adjusts itself as per the fishing conditions. You will not have to run back to the fish finder every time to adjust the settings.
Not necessarily. However, you can find a fish finder under 500 with an IPX waterproof rating. The transducer and all other parts that go below the water are always waterproof. Also, the castable fish finders are all waterproof as they need to put out in the water.
The conventional sonar sends out a single pulse of energy at a specific frequency into the water and waits for echoes to return. It then processes the feedback to create an image of the bottom, fish, and structure.
The CHIPR sonar, on the other hand, transmits ascending pulses that are 10 times longer with a broadband frequency. The transducer starts off with a low frequency and is modulated to reach a higher frequency over the duration of the pulse. As a result, the CHIRP sonars put more energy into the water columns, resulting in far more improved images that you see on the display unit.
Yes, the best fish finder under 500 dollars will have a temperature gauge embedded in the transducer. Such units can display the water temperature on the screen. The temperature can help you determine the type of fish that you are likely to spot in the area.
The side view capability in the best fish finder under 500 can give you the advantage of having a better point-of-view that will ultimately make fishing easier. The side view scans can cover a better side-to-side range to mark fish in shallow bays and creeks. In fact, they work better than down-view scans in shallow waters.
There are several options for the best fishfinder GPS combo under $500 and we have tried to list the best of the best in our detailed review. If you are looking for more budget-friendly options, you can also check out our review on the best fish finder under 200. However, the price range of $500 is good enough to get useful features such as CHIPR sonar, down and side view, GPS, chartplotting, Wi-Fi connectivity, etc. What features are a must-have will depend on how frequently you fish and what type of fishing you like to indulge in.
All six models mentioned above justify their price tag and offer some great functionalities. In case you are still confused, go back to our buying guide to make a well-informed choice. We wish you good luck and tight lines.