Best Fish Finder for under $200 Best Fish Finder for under $200
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    Best Fish Finder for under $200
from Ken Dog  
2/19/2001 8:19:00 PM


 I have got to get a depth/fish finder SOON! What is the best unit for under 200 george washingtons? I was looking at Humminbird 200dx, various lowrance and Garmin and Bottom Line units. Which one would you reccommend? Thanks, fishard.

Ken Dog

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   Not a Hummingbird from rob (  2/19/2001 8:47:00 PM
 I have owned numerous sonar units of the Lowrance and Hummingbird varieties. The three humminbird units I have had have failed after short periods of use, but only after the limited warranty has run out. I currently have a Wide Vision graph on my new boat that only functions as a $400 speedometer and water temp sensor because it's display characteristics are pitiful. It also crashes when my speed exceeds 42 mph! It has to be removed from the bracket and reinserted. P.O.S. I have had a Jimmy Houston flasher - lasted about 366 days with a one year warranty, and an older LCR graph that was junk as well. Others may have had better luck with Humminbird; if so, I am proud for you. Lowrance on the other hand is the only brand of electronics that I will consider using. I have an x70 on my trolling motor, a flasher in my dash, a GPS, and on my old crappie boat, I have two cheap (under $200) Lowrance graphs that have never failed. They may not have high resolution, but they are dependable and accurate - don't buy the model that has the transducer and power cord wired together, nobody carries them and they are expensive to replace. Don't know about garmin, but bottom line has made good products in the past. Good Luck!

   garmin from JB  2/19/2001 9:35:00 PM
 for 200 clams the garmin 160 is a great deal. i own a pair of garmin 240's and i couldnt be more pleased with the performance. the 160 is the same thing with less resolution. i also will second the above sentiments about humminbird. i have owned two and both were junk.

   Agree Not Hummingbird from T-Boy (  2/20/2001 9:42:00 AM
 Have over $450 invested in a Wide Portrait with Wideside transducer,switch, and temp. It quit after 18 months. Mark Gibson from H/B emailed me and fixed it for free which was fantastic customer service. Mark is a credit to H/B. Now 6 months later it works sometimes and sometimes it doesn't. It will not show fish arches and you cannot see your lure while jigging under the boat. The fish ID will show fish. It will also show tree limbs as fish as I found out 20 lost jigging spoons ago.

What a waste of $450.

   Bottom Line 1200 from Chris Smith (  2/20/2001 10:24:00 AM
 Depends on where you plan to use it, but I just went through the same decision and decided on a bottom line tournament leader 1200 for the bow of my boat. With sidefinder and temp guage for $149 it is perfect for what I wanted, which was a decent model for use at the trolling motor. FYI, it no longer has speed capability, Cabelas told me when I ordered. Not a problem for me, but might be a consideration if using it at the console. My other fishfinder has speed, and it's useful.

   Garmin 160 from Cranky®  2/20/2001 1:22:00 PM
 get a Garmin won't go wrong with it...160 X 160 pixels and built in water temp sensor..I have a 160 and a 240 in a GPS 168/ Sounder..both have worked perfectly for 2 years now... Lowrance are good..but pricy for what ys get....Cranky®

   Very happy w/ X-49 from Chris (  2/20/2001 2:00:00 PM
 But by the many comments on this board the garmin seems to be better than the lowrance....

   No such thing. from Sal  2/20/2001 4:36:00 PM
 It makes no difference which brand you buy, if your only going spend $199.00,.....they are "ALL" junk. You can't even beguin to look for any type of quality for under $200. Youir only kidding yourself if you think you might find it. Believe me, i'v tried just about every different brand of sonar made. You only get what you pay for when buying a sonar,......$199.00 = junk, until you get into the high $300s [ like $379 minimum ], then, & "ONLY" then, will you see there is a definite difference between $199 junk [ & it is absolute pure junk ] & any thing that even beguins to have any quality. The people that own the cheap units, think they have found fish every where, even in their dr\iveways. Before you buy a $199 unit, look at a Furuno LS6000 for $379, & compare the difference, then you will know what i'm talking about. If you fish in a 20 ft deep fresh water lake, maybe a $199 unit might work for you, but if your a salt water fisherman, you will soon be buying something that works. A $199 unit is for the very beguiner, a novice that won't know the difference for a couple of years, then when he see's what the better units can see, that he hasen't seen with his junk unit, he will graduate to a unit that shows fish from trees & fish from clouds of mud that are drifting along. Do you think people go out & spend any where from $400 to $5,000 on sonar because they just feel like it,......nope, the more you spend, the more you get. My units on my commercial boats average $3,000 each. Enough said. Sal

   $$$ locator from 49er  2/20/2001 5:35:00 PM
 I almost have to agree with Sal. I've used a Hummin Wide Portrait for years, only fish symbols(?). Just got off the lake today trying out my new LCX-15. From what I can tell it definitly is going to be well worth the money.After watching this board for months, I would say spend alittle extra and go for the Garmin240. I've seen nothing but good comments about it. Good Luck

   Sal you the kind i like to hate from fullmoonpoon (  2/20/2001 9:38:00 PM
 When i hear comments like yours it brings out the redneck in me.

   Sal the spelling champ from Tony three fingers Finelli (  2/20/2001 11:59:00 PM
 Salvatore, beguin=begin, i'v=i've, every where=everywhere, If I spend $369 does that yet qualify for "uncheap"? So let me get it str8, I have to spend $379 canolli's in order for the fishfinder to work? oh , ok thanks Sal. I can die in peace now that you have spoken. "fugghedaboutit!!!

   hrm from R Lawrence. (  2/21/2001 2:20:00 AM
 Nice attitude, Tony.

I'm sure you have many many friends.


   Sal Is Right from Thom (  2/21/2001 12:51:00 PM
 With the possible exception of the Garmin 160 there simply is no depthfinder at $200 or less that is worth owning and in fact buying one only puts the poor fellow further away from having a useful device. The only thing that Sal got wrong was having to go all the way to $400 to get a good one. You can pick up a Garmin 240, a perfectly servicable machine by all accounts, for around two and a half as I understand it and that should be your benchmark. What Sal was absolutly right about, aside from the $200 or less problem, was that the next stop on the bottom box price list is at the $400 mark (or there'bouts) and even in that price range you can find all manner of junk - like virtually everything made who's manufactur's name starts with an "H."

As to the spelling ... first, is it spelling or typing; and second, what on earth does it have to do with a fellow taking the time out of his day to give good advice in a situation where he has absolutly nothing on this good green earth to gain by it?


   You all crack me up.... Hummingbird no good. Depends from Hawkeye1  2/21/2001 1:58:00 PM
 My dad has 2 hummingbirds. Both are 20 year old units. 1 is I think the model is CVS100 color CRT unit. It is about the size of 6 loafs of bread. I can tell you It is a fine unit. I can mark chum under the boat, tell you if the bottom fish are spot, trout or hardheads, 90% of the time. His other unit is a 4id and I dont think its that great but it still works after 20 years. I myself don't use Hummingbirds. I like the CRT's. Have the new genaration Sitex 106 mk2. HAd a Rayethon V300 amber CRT and it worked flawlessly also. But now days for 200$ you aint going to get much fish finder.

   Some people just don't want to hear the truth. from Sal (  2/21/2001 3:28:00 PM
 As far as my spelling ,.i typed it on my laptop & the keyboard is different from my desktop. Sure am sorry i didn't proof read it for some of you people. Guess i stepped on some novices toes, they must own some of the $199 specials, & think they really know where it's at. Hey, i'v only been using sonar [ for commercial & sport fishing ] for over 45 years, but what do i know. Only earned my living by using it on the Bering Sea, & Pacific ocean for longer then many of you have been alive. But then again, what do i know compared to these experts that have been using theirs for maybe 2 years. Sorry i took the time to try & help. Buy what you want, & learn from your own mistakes, but don't listen to anyone who's already been there. Sure hope my spelling & punctuation is correct, after all, this site is the English site isn't it ? Sal

   I can't see Sal's last responce????Nmsg from Hawkeye (  2/21/2001 7:13:00 PM

   Hum, now I can??? from Hawkeye (  2/21/2001 7:23:00 PM
 Sal you got me be 20 years. You got to remember a lot of people only put 50hr a year on there rigs and don't think they need much fishfinder for the little use. Plus the marketing of the cheaper units is pretty good. The make you think there units are all you need to 600'.

   Part of the problem from marinerman  2/21/2001 8:35:00 PM
 is that until you see a good fishfinder you don't realize that what you have is no good. I have a Lowrance GM2000 which at one time was Lowrance's top of the line chart plotter. I have the fishfinder module and thought it was OK. After buying a Furuno unit I now realize the fishfinder part of the GM2000 is a complete piece of shit. All that money down the drain. With a lesser quality fishfinder you are not seeing all that is there and the problem is that you have no way of knowing it. As someone once said "the joy of a cheap price is forgotten long after the pain of poor quality lingers on" or something like that.

   what type of water is Ken Dog fishing? from rob (  2/21/2001 9:42:00 PM
 If KD is going to run 30 miles offshore to fish wrecks and rigs, he may need a little more than a conventional depth finder. However, if he plans to do his fishing in freshwater impoundments and rivers, most of what he will need to see of the bottom is where the depth changes rapidly or there is some type of structure. Correct? If the latter is the case, I recommend that he spend not more than he wants to. For $200 you should be able to get something that will do those things. Hell, he may not even like to fish after he gets out there awhile and finds out it ain't like wathcing TV shows.

   Sorry guys... from Team9nine  2/22/2001 11:54:00 AM
 But Sal gets post of the month in my book. Not very tactful but no missing the point on that one. "The people that own the cheap units, think they have found fish everywhere, even in their driveways"...ROFLMAO. Tears in my eyes from laughing so hard on that one. Besides, he did concede that an inexpensive unit might work for shallow, freshwater uses.

   Try this... from Paul C (  2/22/2001 1:43:00 PM
 For $217 from Cabela's you can get an Eagle Ultra Classic. This is a 160x160 unit updated in '97 and now being phased out. It has all of the advanced features you'd like to have out of a basic unit and enough resolution for 99% of your advanced applications. The Gray Line bottom hardness is superb, bottom lock, one touch zoom, and enough alarms to wake up the neighborhood. It may not be a premier unit, but certainly has been a well tested reliable work horse for nearly a decade in it's various cases and configurations. I wouldn't hesitate to use one for tournament level usage, and did for many years. You can expect the unit to give you a solid 2 to 3 seasons of heavy use, (very good in my book.)

A new unit has caught my eye for entry level units. Bottom Line has a new unit, the 1100, that's got some really impressive features if you can make it past the display, for an unheard of price. The specs are of a mid grade unit, including bottom hardness, zoom, Fish ID if you care, with a 128 x 64 Super Twist Display. If you take this unit out of Automatic mode, then you won't have the screen resolution to clearly see the traditional fish arch. That said, you've got the resolution of many mid grade units for....(get this)..... $79.95 retail. Very hard unit to pass up if you're just getting into serious depth finder usage or simply don't need the upper end features. I think you'll find this one on many tournament boats as an affordable 2nd unit for the front deck.

And don't forget a trip to your local chain stores, (Wal-Mart, K-Mart, etc.) for these lower end units. Many times you can pick them up deeply discounted from even mail order prices if they are trying to close them out.

   Loved my $99 special.. from Local Motion (  2/22/2001 3:34:00 PM
 I would run offshore with that and a compass. No loran, no gps. At about 100 to 120 feet the $99 hummingbird would quit working and start blinking 'error'. 15 minutes of running time after I saw the error would put me directly over the structure I was looking for. This I knew from running out there on boats that had all the gadgets.

I caught plenty of fish with that method and toy of a fishfinder.

Then my next boat came with an old Sitex color crt commercial unit that was as big as a TV and had a thru-hull transducer almost as big as a red brick. The first time I actually marked something with this thing was a wreck. I couldn't believe what I was seeing, it showed the whole outline of the wreck, it actually looked like a boat. When this machine would mark fish I knew I was looking at fish and not just more seaweed. The $99 special could never show that kind of detail, if it showed me anything at all but the cheap unit showed me everything, which I soon learned to interpret and discard as nothing.

It is true the cheap units show fish EVERYWHERE. For some reason the more expensive units show you what is REAL. A better finder is worth the money no matter where you fish. The only thing the cheap units are really good for is watching water depth when navigating.

   yes but for fresh water use? from Jaws  2/22/2001 6:54:00 PM
 I find all the above comments very interesting and useful. I will be purchasing the garmin 240 and was wondering, in freshwater use, max depth 60' , will this unit be sufficient? I know that you get what you pay for especially in saltwater. I just hope that I'll be ok in freshwater with this unit which is less than 300 dollars. I found Sal's comments very helpful but was worried about the quality of a unit less than 300 dollars. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

   No problem jaws from Team9nine  2/22/2001 8:31:00 PM
 From everything I've heard on this board the 240 is a great unit. Do a search at the top of this board on "Garmin 240" if you want to read some of the feedback on this unit. Saltwater use has several variables which must be dealt with that freshwater users don't usually need to worry about. Like Thom said above (he knows his stuff), the 240 is the benchmark unit in that price range. I run comparable units in the Lowrance lineup and have no problem getting the detail I need at the ranges you mentioned.



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