Table of Contents
Table of Contents
Garmin Striker 4
This 3.5" fish finder is color-monitored fish finder with GPS tracker. The Striker comes with a CHIRP sonar transducer, which allows the Striker to present clearer, and more accurate images on the screen. And with the easy to use, navigational panel, every user can simply mark the coordinates of fishing hot spots. And they can easily share their coordinates with friendly fisherman. And all of these features combines making the Garmin Striker 4 an excellent fish finder that's listed under $200.
This video will show you the Garmin Striker series, which includes more advanced models that can cost as much as $500. This would remove you from the $200 price point, but those advanced fish finders will have more advanced features for the semi-professional angler.
CHIRP sonar technology developed and used by the military for decades, before being used by small retailers. CHIRP is an acronym for Compressed High Intensity Radiation Pulse. This may sound foreign and uninteresting. But for the tech geeks, this means that CHIRP fishfinders transmit a longer pulse than traditional sonar. This puts more energy into the water column, with a true broadband frequency range of up to 117kHz.
Instead of pinging a single frequency like traditional 2D sonar, CHIRPing devices transmit a sweeping range of frequencies. With each pulse, the transducer starts vibrating at a low frequency, which is then modulated upward to a high frequency over the duration of the pulse (130 to 210kHz, for example). Which is one of the few reasons the Garmin Striker 4 is one of the better fish finder options on the market.
But aside from it's performance, it offers a wide range of features and controls for the end user. Garmin is renowned for their GPS capabilities. And the Striker 4 is packed with this feature. So no matter where you are, Garmin's high-sensitive GPS will identify where your coordinates on the water. And when you locate a high fish population, you can save those coordinates in the Striker's memory. So next time you're on the water, you can go back to your old fishing hole by pulling up your saved coordinates on your Garmin Striker 4.
If you're a stationary fisher, such as ice fishing, then you can use the built in Flasher. The value of the Flasher is that it can tell you how deep the ground level is. So when you're fishing with weighted bait, you can gauge how deep your lure needs to sink before grinding the water floor.
Overall, Garmin Striker 4 is a great fish finder for under $200. You get the value of GPS, with CHIRPS sonar, and some additional features to customer your fishing and boating route. Overall, the Striker 4 is an excellent fish finder option that nearly every fisherman should consider.
Hummingbird Piranha Max 4 Di
Hummingbird is one of the most well known fish finder makers in the world. And their Piranha Max 4 Di is one of their best selling fish finders under $200. This unit comes with features that are designed to help fishermen find and catch more fish.
The transducer emits a dual beam sonar, that offers a frequency range of 200 kHz to 445 kHz. This gives the user an option for a wide beam, or narrow beam discoveries. The wide beam will give a nice overview of the water floor beneath the boat. But the narrow beam will do a nicer job in more shallow water, and it'll give a more detailed view.
The Piranha Max 4 is designed with Down Imaging technology. The feature takes the vertical pulsations from the sonar, and transitions it into horizontal images. This gives the user a side perspective of the activity going on beneath the boat. The side perspective is much more familiar, and can help the fisherman make faster, more precise decisions. Here is a video explaining the feature:
This unit comes with a 4.3" LCD color screen. The sonar will display the depth of the water floor, as well as the distance as the swimming fish, helping the fisherman make better casting decisions. And the fish that are found won't go unnoticed when the user enables the Fish Alert feature.
In addition the tech features, the Piranha Max also has a nice tiltable mount. So whether you're standing on a pontoon, or sitting in a kayak, you can position this unit so that you can get a clear perspective of the features on the monitor.
What we don't like
Although the Hummingbird makes good products, the Piranha Max 4 Di is still missing features that other fish finders under $200 are offering. Firstly, there is no memory. So when you find that excellent fishing hole, you won't be able to program the coordinates into the unit. And one of the main reasons it doesn't support coordinates is because it doesn't have a GPS unit. And since you can find other devices, with similar or better sonar capabilities that doe come with GPS, the Hummingbird Piranha Max 4 Di might not be the best fish finder under $200.
Lucky 2 in 1 Wired or Wireless Fish Finder
When you browse online retails for fish finders under $200, the Lucky company will probably stick out due to the numerous fish finders they have available on the market. Their products have respectable reviews, and comparable specifications. But any interested individual should know that Lucky is a Chinese company. This may not sound like a big deal considering how many Chinese products enter America. But when you compare them to Hummingbird or Garmin, you'll notice an immediate difference in quality. But aside from these origination differences, Lucky's 2 in 1 Sonar Fish Finder is a great sample under $200.
This is a "2 in 1" edition, which means it can be used as a wired sonar, or a wireless sonar. When wired, the sonar's depth range can reach an impressive 328.' That's typically enough depth for any river or lake. But when you don't fee like unraveling a wire, you can use the wireless option. However, the sonar's depth won't be as extensive, only reaching 147.' That should still be enough for most rivers and lakes. But it might be too shallow if looking to use this in the ocean.
It comes with a bright 2.8" color display. And a control panel that gives the user options to turn fish alarms on or off. And options to adjust the colors, and remove specific fish from the screen. The depth of the water will no longer be kept a secret, when this Lucky fish finder displays how deep the nearest fish is, or the bottom of the water.
This device is a very generic fish finder. You won't get the GPS location tracking like Garmin offers. Nor will you get the Down Imaging technology that you'll find with Hummingbird. But what you will get is a dependable device, that will still function when exposed to aquatic environments, and still present reliable information.
HawkEye Fishtrax 1C Fish Finder
The HawkEye Fishtrax 1C fish finder is an excellent option under $200. It's features are rugged and reliable. Anglers can either mount the transmitter to the bottom of their boat, or allow it to bob with a wired connection. But no matter how it's assembled, HawkEye has the reliable reputation that will give every angler the cutting edge advantages.
The HawkEye Fishtrax 1C is comparable to the Lucky 2 in 1 Fish Finder. Its sonar frequency is in the same range, emitting a dual-beam sonar that alternates between a 200 kHz and 83 kHz reading. But it's depth range is a little shorter, only reaching 240'. But although shorter, it should still be enough to find the depths of almost every river, pond, and lake.
The HawkEye Fishtrax 1C does come with a nice display. It's screen is glare-free, offering high definition imaging and excellent readability. Its transmitter can display the water temperature, the depth of the water, and even the type of fish swimming beneath. Its internal alarms will alert the angler when there's a change in depth, or when those trophy fish swim below. The interface is simple, and easy to use. So when you're fingers are slick with worm mucus, it's still manageable to add your preferred settings and alerts.
The sonar sensor is portable. It can be mounted underneath the boat. Or, it can be trolled to reach your cast. And whether you want to hold the device by hand, or mount it on the boat, it comes with accessories to ensure that it has a strong mount.
But although this is a really nice fish finder under 200, it's difficult to compare it against the Garmin Striker 4. The Garmin Striker is simply one of the better available options, due to its GPS advantage. Because once again, although the HawkEye Fishtrax 1C fish finder is a nice device, it doesn't have the GPS feature.
Lowrance Hook2 4" Fish Finder
Fish finders under $200 are typically easy to use. They have basic housing units, with a quick-to-understand interface. But the Lowrance Hook2 Fish Finder proudly boasts itself as the easiest to use fish finder. And that maybe the case. It has a nice interface, reliable sonar features, and the portability that a solo-angler will prefer.
The first thing to notice is the Lowrance Hook 2 comes in a variety of sizes. And since we're specifically reviewing fish finders under $200, we'll want to focus on the 4" variety. The Hook 2 does come in a 5" ($230), 7" ($330), 9" ($800), and 12" ($1500) option.
One of the reasons they claim to be the easiest fish finder, is because of their auto-tuning capabilities. When you're changing seasons, water temperatures, depths, or environments, the Lowrance Hook 2 will make the adjustments for you. The benefit of this is that the angling outdoorsman can spend more time finding the fish, and less time fiddling with device settings.
Like the Garmin Striker 4, the Lowrance Hook 2 fish finder offers advanced CHIRP sonar capabilities. But it's sonar capabilities are wide-angled, giving the angler more perspective of what's swimming beneath him.
And the Lowrance Hook 2 comes with a 4" non-glaring screen. This feature can show a great perspective of the wide angled CHIRP feedback. The interface is simple, and easy to use. But what we like most about this is that, like the Garmin Striker 4, it comes with GPS capabilities. So the angler can mark waypoints, and track previous fishing holes so they can repeat the success from previous spots.
This 4" option does have GPS limitations. If you're looking for add-on mapping features, then you'll have to upgrade to one of the more expensive options that would bring your price point higher than $200.
Deeper Pro Smart Wireless Sonar Fish Finder
The Deeper Pro Smart Sonar is a unique fish finder. Instead of providing a screened device, it transmits all of the data onto your smart phone. You can use the GPS coordinates on your phone to plot waypoints, add notes to successful fishing spots, and display the bottom contours.
This powerful fish finder bobber will project a dual-beam sonar scan. The widest scan is projected at 55 degrees. Then, once a well populated fishing hole is discovered, the range can be reduced to 15 degrees. The reduced ranged can return greater details of what is actually swimming in that location.
The Deeper Smart Pro fish finder can scan as far as 260 feet. This makes it a great unit for rivers and lakes. And its casting range stretches to 330 feet in diameter. And even though it scans through a wide range, it sends 15 sonar scans per second. This provides excellent detail for both the fish, and the bottom contour.
What makes the Deeper Pro so powerful is that it utilizes the tools on your smart phone. The bobber doesn't come with GPS. But instead, it's wireless connectivity will pinpoint your location by using your phone's GPS. And through the Deeper App, you can mark locations, add waypoints, and documents locations and notes. And it's easy to document what you're seeing underwater, with the app's dual-screen mode.
The Deeper Pro is the first fish finder to attempt to become a smart fish finder. And it does this by connecting to your smart phone. To utilize your phone's smart capabilities, it needs to offer a dynamic, feature-rich app. And this app offers a large amount of features that will help you learn your courses, and discover the fish next time you cast. And all of your courses will be saved on Deeper's cloud. So you'll be able to access your routes anytime you change phones, or even from any internet connection. This also makes it easier to share waypoints and fishing holes with friends and family.
We really like the Deeper Pro. But one complaint that we do have is the price. You can normally find it on sale for less than $200. But when it's not on sale, it exceeds $200. Which doesn't make it that great of a deal when you realize you're only getting the bobber and software. The other devices, like the Garmin Striker 4 and the Hummingbird Piranha, come with their sonars and weather-proof handheld devices. So when you're using the Deeper Pro, you have to expose your smart phone to these elements. Which may or may not be desirable.