Best Fish Finder Under $500

Fish finders in the $500 price range offer a significant upgrade from entry-level units. At this price point, you can expect:

  • High-frequency sonar, which is capable of providing clearer images and better target separation.
  • Medium-sized screens, usually ranging between 5 to 7 inches, with more viewing space and better resolutions.
  • GPS and basic mapping capabilities that can help anglers mark fishing spots, follow trails, and navigate waters more confidently.
  • Down Imaging, an advanced sonar technology, is also accessible in this price range. It provides a nearly photographic view of what’s beneath the boat
  • Basic Side Imaging feature

This price range offers fish finders that are well-equipped for both fishing and boating. The best fish finders under $500 include:

  1. Humminbird Helix 7 CHIRP SI GPS G4
  2. Garmin Striker Vivid 7SV
  3. Lowrance HOOK Reveal 7x TripleShot with CHIRP, SideScan, DownScan & GPS Plotter
  4. HOOK Reveal 5 SplitShot with CHIRP, DownScan & US Inland charts
  5. Garmin Echomap plus 43CV

Best Fish Finders under $500 – Review

1. Humminbird Helix 7 CHIRP SI GPS G4

helix 7 chirp si display

The Helix 7 CHIRP SI from Humminbird is a versatile and feature-rich fish finder in the $500 price range. It comes with the 7-inch ultra-wide display that makes it easy to read the sonar images.

The Helix 7 CHIRP SI offers Dual Spectrum CHIRP sonar, Down Imaging, and Side imaging, making it a comprehensive unit for identifying fish-holding structures and locating fish. 

Dual Spectrum CHIRP sonar provides a more detailed and comprehensive view of the underwater environment by using a range frequencies. It provides the best possible sonar view to locate fish in deep waters, shallow waters, structures, or in open water.

The Side Imaging, operating at 455 kHz, can scan up to 800 feet. It provides an expansive view of the underwater environment, which is beneficial for locating structures and fish on either side of the boat. 

The inclusion of an internal GPS and Humminbird Basemap is a significant advantage, allowing anglers to mark waypoints, navigate routes, and view underwater terrains. 


  • 7-inch ultra-wide display
  • Side Imaging and Down Imaging
  • Dual Spectrum CHIRP sonar
  • Wide range of depth scanning
  • GPS and Mapping 
  • Premium maps compatibility


  • Side Imaging and Down Imaging is less detailed

2. Garmin Striker Vivid 7SV

Garmin Striker Vivid 7SV fish finder

The Garmin’s Striker Vivid 7SV is another excellent choice, especially for those who prioritize clarity in Down Imaging (ClearVu) and Side Imaging (SideVu). Its ClearVu and SideVu capabilities provide photographic-quality images of the structures and fish below and beside the boat. 

The depth capabilities are solid for its price point. Traditional sonar reaches 800 feet below the boat and SideVu has a range of 500 feet from one side to the other side of the boat. 

The 7-inch screen with an 800 x 480-pixel resolution ensures adequate image quality. 

While it has a GPS plotter for basic navigation and waypoint marking, it lacks detailed mapping.


  • 7-inch high-resolution screen
  • Good quality Side Imaging and Down Imaging
  • CHIRP Sonar
  • GPS Plotter


  • Not suitable for deep water fishing
  • No Mapping support

3. Lowrance HOOK Reveal 7x TripleShot with CHIRP, SideScan, DownScan & GPS Plotter

hook reveal 7x Triple Shot Split Screen View

Lowrance’s HOOK Reveal 7x TripleShot, priced under $400, offers a combination of CHIRP sonar, SideScan, and DownScan imaging. This array of sonar capabilities ensures detailed images of the underwater environment, making fish and structures easily identifiable. The 7-inch display provides enough screen real estate to view the sonar readings clearly. The inclusion of a GPS plotter is a significant advantage, allowing for basic navigation and marking of fishing hotspots.

HOOK Reveal 7x TripleShot is certainly worth considering, especially given its offering of SideScan (also known as Side Imaging) in just under $400. SideScan is typically a feature found in higher-end fish finders, and its inclusion in this price range provides excellent value for those on a budget.


  • Cheapest Side Imaging fish finder
  • Down Imaging (455/800 kHz)
  • High CHIRP (200 kHz) sonar
  • Fish Reveal
  • Auto-tuning sonar
  • GPS Plotter
  • Custom mapping option
  • Bright 7-inch screen with SolarMax display


  • Maps not supported
  • Low sonar frequencies not supported for deep water fishing
  • Only scan to maximum depth of 500 feet.

4. Lowrance HOOK Reveal 5 SplitShot with CHIRP, DownScan & US Inland charts

Lowrance hook reveal 5 SplitShot

The HOOK Reveal 5 SplitShot is a competitively priced fish finder under $400. Its compact and packed with features making it ideal for small boats.

The SplitShot transducer provides both High CHIRP sonar and DownScan Imaging. High CHIRP provides detailed and clear fish arches, while DownScan Imaging offers photo-like images of the underwater structures.

One of its standout features is FishReveal, which overlays CHIRP sonar on DownScan Imaging, providing a clearer view of fish targets. This is particularly useful when trying to differentiate between fish and structures.

Another user-friendly feature is the auto-tuning sonar. The fish finder automatically adjust the sonar settings, according to the conditions, to get the best sonar image.

The preloaded US Inland mapping is a significant advantage, providing detailed information on over 4,000 U.S lakes. This can be a game-changer when navigating unfamiliar waters or finding new fishing spots. 

Given its features, the HOOK Reveal 5 SplitShot offers good value for its price and is suitable for both fishing and boating on freshwater lakes and rivers.


  • Down Imaging (455/800 kHz)
  • High CHIRP (200 kHz) sonar
  • Suitable for freshwater fishing
  • GPS with Pre-loaded maps
  • Premium charts compatibility
  • FishReveal
  • Auto-tuning sonar
  • SolarMax display


  • No side imaging
  • Low sonar frequencies not supported for deep water fishing
  • Only scan to maximum depth of 500 feet.

5. Garmin Echomap Plus 43cv

garmin echomap plus 43cv unit

Garmin’s Echomap Plus 43cv, priced under $300, is another good option for fishing on small boats. 

Its 4.3-inch display is bright and sunlight-readable, ensuring clarity even under direct sunlight.

The fish finder comes with the Garmin’s GT20 transducer, which provides CHIRP and ClearVu scanning sonar. 

The unit operates on single-channel CHIRP with frequencies of 70/83/200 kHz. This provides a good balance between depth penetration (lower frequencies) and detail resolution (higher frequencies).

ClearVu operates at 260/455/800 kHz, offering detailed imaging of the underwater environment. The higher the frequency, the more detail is visible, but the depth penetration decreases.

An added advantage for boaters is the preloaded LakeVü g3 maps with integrated Navionics data, which covers over 17,000 lakes with detailed 1-foot contours. Plus, the built-in Quickdraw Contours mapping software allows users to create personalized fishing maps on-the-fly, a feature that’s particularly useful for fishing in uncharted waters.


  • CHIRP sonar and Down Imaging
  • Suitable for both deep and shallow water fishing
  • GPS with detailed maps
  • Custom mapping option


  • Small 4.3-inch screen
  • No Side Imaging

How to choose best fish finder under $500

CHIRP Sonar 

CHIRP (Compressed High-Intensity Radiated Pulse) Sonar emits a range of frequencies, rather than a single frequency as traditional sonar does. This provides a more detailed and clearer image of fish and structures.

In a $500 budget, look for the fish finder that offers both high and low CHIRP frequencies. This ensures versatility for both shallow and deep waters. 

For fishing in shallow waters, higher frequencies (like 200 kHz or more) are more effective. They provide better resolution and detail in shallower depths.

In deeper environments, lower sonar frequencies (like 50 kHz or 83 kHz) are preferred as they offer better depth penetration, though with slightly reduced resolution.

CHIRP sonar can be particularly effective in deep waters as it maintains target separation and clarity at greater depths.

chirp sonar down imaging side by side school of fish

Down Imaging

Down Imaging provides a detailed, nearly photographic view of the underwater environment directly below your boat. It’s useful for identifying structures, vegetation, and fish.

Fish Finders, in the $500 range, offer good resolution for Down Imaging in the 455/800 kHz range. This provides a balance between clarity and depth coverage. 

Down Imaging is particularly useful for fishing in environments rich in underwater structures like lakes, ponds, and rivers. It provides a detailed view of these structures and help anglers identify potential fish hiding spots.

Side Imaging

Side Imaging scans the waters horizontally, offering a view of the area to the sides of your boat. This is particularly useful for scanning large areas and identifying structures or fish schools.

Fish finders in the $500 range offer basic side imaging functionality that is good enough for recreational anglers. Higher-end Fish Finders have superior screen resolutions and high-frequency sonar which produce the best side imaging views. This makes it easier to differentiate between fish, structure, and vegetation.

GPS and Mapping

GPS allows you to mark waypoints, create routes, and navigate waters. Mapping features can show detailed charts of lakes, rivers, or coastal areas. 

GPS and mapping become critical in vast open water areas like the sea or large lakes. They help anglers mark productive fishing spots, navigate safely, and track their routes.

Ensure the fish finder GPS combo comes preloaded with maps relevant to your fishing area. The ability to update or add maps (e.g., via SD card) is a plus. Models within this price range offer features like creating custom maps based on your sonar logs.

C-MAP Contour+ features

Screen Size

A larger screen provides a clearer view of the sonar returns and maps, making it easier to identify targets and navigate.

In the $500 budget, expect screens in the 5 to 7 inches range. Opt for a model that offers a high-resolution, sunlight-readable display. Touchscreen functionality is not available at this price point, but it’s essential to ensure that the screen is visible in bright conditions and that the user interface is intuitive.

Fishing on Small Boat 

For small boat fishing, a fish finder in the $500 range should ideally be compact yet powerful enough to offer detailed underwater imaging. 

A small boat fish finder that combines CHIRP sonar and Down Imaging would be beneficial. The CHIRP sonar provides a comprehensive view of fish targets and structures, while Down Imaging gives a detailed, almost photographic view of what’s directly below. 

Given the confined space on a small boat, a screen size of around 5 to 7 inches with a high-resolution display would be suitable. 

GPS and mapping features are also essential, allowing anglers to mark productive spots, navigate waters, and even create custom maps based on their sonar logs.


When choosing a fish finder for kayak, considerations differ slightly from those for larger vessels due to space constraints, installation ease, and the type of waters typically navigated in a kayak.

Here is what you might expect from a $500 fish finder for kayak fishing:

  • Compact: In this price range, models are typically designed to be compact, which is ideal for the limited space on a kayak.
  • Good Sonar Capabilities: You can expect dual-frequency CHIRP sonar, Down Imaging, and basic Side Imaging.
  • Built-in GPS: Models in this range have GPS functionality, allowing you to mark waypoints and track routes.
  • Decent Screen Size: You’ll likely get a screen size in the range of 5 to 7 inches, which is adequate for kayak fishing.
  • Ease of Installation: Many models in this price range are designed for easy installation and removal, beneficial for kayakers.
  • Limited Advanced Features: Some of the more advanced navigation, networking, and sonar features available in high-end models might be absent.
  • Map Limitations: While basic mapping and GPS functionalities will be available, advanced mapping options or detailed charts might be limited.