Best Portable Fish Finder. Portable fish finders are very suitable for someone who wants to catch fish efficiently. These devices can make the fishing experience enjoyable and fun.
You can use the portable fish finder for ice fishing, kayak fishing, boat fishing, and shore fishing. Their portability is the main focus for most people looking for a fish finder.
You must find the best portable fish finders to get accurate readings and depth.
In this article, we have carefully research and collect some accurate information about fish finders. We have come up with this buying guide for readers looking for the best portable fish finders. Check out our best portable fish finders comparison and review, so you can make the buying decision with confident.
Our Quick Overview
- Best For Beginner: Garmin 010-01550-00 Striker 4 with Transducer
- Best Budget: Lowrance FishHunter 3D
- Best Overall: Lucky Fish Finder Wired & Wireless
- Best for Shore Fishing: Humminbird 410170-1 PIRANHAMAX 4 PT
- Best for Advanced and Professional Anglers: Deeper Pro+ Smart Sonar Gps Portable
Our Top Picks
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|Garmin 010-01550-00 Striker 4 with Transducer||1,600 feet freshwater, 750 feet saltwater||$$$||4.7||9.0|
|Deeper Chirp Smart Sonar Phone Castable Wireless Fishfinder||330 feet||$$$||4.5||7.6|
|Humminbird 410170-1 PIRANHAMAX 4 PT Portable Fish Finder||320 feet||$$$||4.5||8.8|
|Humminbird 410210-1 HELIX 5 CHIRP GPS G2 Portable Fish Finder||2,500 feet||$$$||4.5||8.0|
|Venterior Portable Rechargeable Fish Finder Wireless Sonar Sensor Fishfinder||262 feet||$$||4.3||8.4|
|LUCKY Portable Fish Finder Wired & Wireless Portable Fishing Sonar||328 feet||$$$||4.1||8.2|
|Lowrance HOOK2 4X – 4-inch Fish Finder with Bullet Skimmer Transducer||300 feet||$$$||4.1||4.4|
|HawkEye Fishtrax 1C Fish Finder with HD Color Virtuview Display||300 feet||$$$||4.1||8.8|
|RCANK Fish Finder, Portable Wireless Fish Finder||650 feet||$$||3.8||8.2|
|Garmin Striker Vivid 4cv, Easy-to-Use 4-inch Color Portable Fish Finder and Sonar Transducer||1,600 feet||$$$||4.7||8.6|
What is a portable fish finder?
A fish finder is one electronic device used by boatmen or fisherman to locate and find fish in the sea or lake, or water. The Sound Navigation and Ranging or SONAR system is the backbone of a fish finder. If you are a fisherman, a fish finder is an essential device in the fishing process. The CRT or LCD digital screen will display fish location information.
Today’s fishfinder technology comes with GPS, electronic compasses, and radar. With these up to date technology, the fish finder device is reliable. The device is an echo sounder designed to detect the appearance of fish underwater. It also measures the depth of the water.
The device uses echolocation to echo electronic pulses off fish and converts this information into an LCD screen or graphic rendition. The screen displays individual fish with an icon to identify fish targets and lures or lowers the baits to the right depth. A fish finder transmits an electrical impulse that will be converted into a sound wave by a hydrophone or transducer attached to the hull’s underside. The transmission will be sent into the water.
While the boat is running, the fish finder displays fish underwater, their exact location, their size to the ocean floor. This device will provide efficiency and enjoyment as well as commercial and leisure fishing.
Benefits of a fish finder
If you have a smartphone or a GPS watch, you could just look up the temperature. But they can not show you the temperature of the water.
If you invest in a portable fish finder, you can detect natural features, including spring-fed creeks and underwater currents, and discover how the water temperature impacts the movement of fish.
One handy features of a good fishfinder is that it can show you underwater structure. The underwater structure, (structure of size) will hold fish at any time of the year.
When you discover good habitat, that would be a perfect spot to fish in. If you purchase an underwater fishfinder, you can see where the habitat is.
With mapping technology, some portable fish finder models can mark these for future research when you get home. You can see a fallen log, a shipwreck, or a rock. Discovering where habitat might be is handy features of a portable fishfinder.
From feeding fish, structure, channels or holes, a portable fishfinder can help you see what is on the bottom. You will have a better understanding of how deep your lures should be, how fast you should be paddling, and to know the right location to fish.
Find the bait
If you are a skilled angler, you will go after what the fish are going after. It will be easier for you to find your target fish if you know what the fish want.
You will find the fish if you have the right bait. A portable fishfinder helps you go away from fishing spots where there is no bait. It will tell you to look elsewhere.
If you discover large bait, there an opportunity that fish are lurking and waiting nearby.
Today’s portable fishfinders can plot a course and mark spots. You can save one spot for a later expedition. Its GPS will track your course and leave a trail into the device.
Unlike a cell phone which can also have this feature, a fishfinder is waterproof.
How to use a fish finder professionally
- All fishfinder models can operate using the Sonar system. During World War II, the technology was developed that uses sound waves to detect or discover or view objects located underwater. A fish finder uses a sound wave and sends the wave through the water. As the sound wave penetrates more in-depth, it spreads, creating a cone, or known as a beam.
- When it confronts an object within the beam, it will bounce back to the fish finder. It will calculate the distance of the item and draws the object on the display screen. The sound wave will reach the bottom if it does not encounter an object. A low signal will be reflected when the bottom is soft, like the mud. At the same time, hard bottoms will reflect a stronger signal back.
- The cone angle is the angular measured on the degree of the sonar beam. A 16-degree beam is not broader and does not cover more areas than a 24-degree beam. They are measured at -10db for consistency and accuracy of measurement from one transducer to another. That angle may vary by fishfinder manufacturer and model.
- Many models use one sonar beam. Few models have advanced multi-beam sonar technology that sends out two, three, or six sonar beams to cover a wider area with much better detail.
Types of portable fish finder
Portable or handheld fish finder
Portable fish finders are the most common fishfinder models in the market today. They are lightweight and larger than your hand.
It has a transducer that sends the sound wave readings to an LCD screen, and there are few buttons here and there that you can press to adjust the settings. These portable fish finder units are reliable, give accurate readings, hard to beat, and have good battery life.
You can use them easily when it comes to reading the graphs on-screen. You will not have any trouble carrying them if you have room in your bag.
Castable fish finder
Suppose you want to use a more futuristic fish finder devices that use wifi and Bluetooth to connect to your smartphone (Bluetooth fishfinder). The part that emits the sound waves appears like a ball and fits well in your hand.
You can analyze the readings on your smartphone, where most models work with Android smartphones or iOS devices. They are very portable and can fit well in your pocket!
If you have limited space inside your bag, the castable fish finder is the correct option to consider.
Mountable portable fish finder
You may find the mountable portable fish finder very hard to find. Their appearance is similar to any other portable fish finder.
They can be semi-permanently mounted or attached to a boat or kayak. Commonly these devices come with a c-clamp that you can loosen or tighten to adjust to the correct grip.
The mountable capability makes these devices suitable for canoe fishing, kayak fishing, or boat trips.
Factors to consider when purchasing a portable fish finder
There are many portable fish finder models to choose from that can make you feel lost at sea looking for the right portable fish finder device for your purposes. By knowing the features that you require and which devices not essential to find a fish finder device that meets your standards, you can discover the right fish finder!
The quality of the display
If your purpose is to get the best fishing experience, you must analyze the readings. A quality display is a must to get the right reading.
If you choose color graphs, it might help you understand better information about where the fish are. You may need a bigger screen because you have trouble seeing it!
You have to remember that if it is sunny for many of your fishing trips, you need a screen that will not get dark. On the other side, if you are fishing at night, you need a backlighted display screen.
A very crucial factor in selecting the right portable fish finder is durability. The fish finder device must work flawlessly and handle a lot of wear and tear from your fishing experience.
Ensure that your fish finder unit is securely mounted, does not break easily, and the longest-lasting model for the best results!
Portable fish finder brands
There are a number of fishfinder brands in the market. Not all of them provide the high-quality fishfinder units that you can rely on for premium depth finders. These quality brands offer a comprehensive product range, with sonars as well as GPS units.
The function may stay the same, but the technology becomes more advanced with each new model. There are downscan, sidescan, and modern 3D technology for more exact images to the screen. Here are the fish finder brands:
Furuno, Garmin, Humminbird, Raymarine, Lowrance, Simrad
The cone angle is about frequencies and transducers. Without the cone angle, bot transducers and frequencies can not function properly.
You can consider the cone angle that works hand-in-hand with its frequency. The cone angle refers to the width of the beam when going down the water.
Numerous portable fish finders will operate on a very high kilohertz or a very low kilohertz. The lower side of the spectrum tends to hover around 50 kilohertz. The range of a very high spectrum is from 192kHz to 200kHz.
The kilohertz is determined by the area that you are fishing in. The sonar that runs at around 50 kilohertz can penetrate deeper because water is capable of absorbing higher frequencies. These frequencies tend to have wider cone angles. Wider cone angles mean you will discover less definition and being distorted.
The higher frequencies tend to provide in shallower waters. These frequencies have less susceptibility to distortion and display a more excellent definition.
Choosing between low and high frequencies will depend on the area and location where you are fishing between deep or shallow water. You can pick fish fonder units that operate on low and high frequencies for deep and shallow waters.
The fish finder is powered using a disposable battery, rechargeable battery, or plugging the device into a 12-volt power source. It is up to you what kind of battery you want to use.
12-volt scanners are the cheapest and always be plugged into your boat’s power source. It will not be portable. It is recommended to purchase disposable batteries because it works best in the long run.
The transducer is the portion of the portable fish finder that sends out sound waves and provides information on what object is lurking in the water. The essentials in a transducer are the cone angle, the installation type, and the operating frequency.
A transducer can be attached or mounted in many locations. You can decide where to mount.
You can mount the part on a transom or a trolling motor, or in the hull of watercraft. The transducer you select depends on your cone angle.
We recommend you to select one that can accommodate the angle!
Any fish finder has a power rating in watts. Few models have a high rating, and others have a low rating.
The best fish finder has a high wattage because they can get accurate readings for higher depths. It is recommended to purchase the most powerful fish finder you can afford when going in-depth fishing.
In today’s technology, a fish finder can be paired with your smartphone. We think that it would be an excellent investment! You can share detailed information about your fishing experience with families or friends. With accurate map reading, you can analyze maps to plan before going.
LCD display screen
The LCD screen can show sonar information. It is probably the most crucial aspect of the portable fish finder.
LCD screens are measured in pixels. The more pixels give a clearer picture and better resolution.
While the FSTN displays deliver the best visibility and provide an easy reading in high contrast, these screen displays have black pixels instead of blue.
Grayscale technology can display more detail by showing the sonar image. This detail makes it easy to distinguish fish, structure, and bottom type.
Sonar update speed
Numerous fishfinder models receive and send a sonar signal at 60 feet of depth up to 40 times per second. The deeper the water, the slower update of the sonar, the shallower the water, the faster the update.
A fast sonar update will provide a better image and give more information on the display. Few models use single beam mode, while some fish finder models use several beams.
No matter how well these beams are, you can not make the speed of sound traveling in water any faster.
Global positioning system
Global positioning systems or GPS are something convenient in the water! GPS can help you map out ponds or lakes and find your way back. The highest fish densities spots can be marked.
Numerous fish finder models are equipped with GPS to help you with mapping. GPS is helpful and convenient, but you may not need this feature if you do not get the advantage!
GPS and fishfinder combination units can do depth sounding and chart plotting. The chart plotter continuously shows your location. No separate device is needed or relies on cell phone service to know your site.
A fish finder with GPS also allows for ease in entering various waypoints so that you can mark down fish. You revisit them at any time!
A fish finder can have two scanning methods: the downscan and the sidescan. A downscan allows you to see tiny detail and even spot fish within a structure.
These downscans are accurate but are too powerful for shallower waters and can result in a blur.
On the other side, sidescans can scan a very large amount of water. Moving your boat directly to the scan area will not be needed. You will not get great results in deep waters. Some fish finders can provide downscan and sidescan!
FAQ portable fish finder
Do you need a fish finder?
Yes, if you want to fish, you need one. A fish finder can detect water that has no active fish. You can also detect large baits in schools or nearby feeding fish. You can see what depth the fish. It can tell you what baits are most likely to work.
Do you need GPS for a portable fish finder?
If you are serious about fishing, you need GPS. If you are fishing from a small boat or kayak, you should have a GPS. With GPS you can mark hotspots and then return to the exact spots at a later day.
Do you need a transducer for a fish finder?
The transducer can help identify different types of underwater structures. These fish finders are suitable tools for reading depth, finding underwater features, and seeing the bottom contour.
Best Portable Fish Finders Reviews
We researched online to put together the top portable fish finders available on the market today. Combining mostly on consumer reviews and product information, we recommend our favorite products.
Best For Beginner
Garmin 010-01550-00 Striker 4 with Transducer
Average Ratings: 6.55
- We think that this Garmin Striker 4 fishfinder has an affordable price tag that is suitable for beginners and finds fish from small boats. The fish finder features built-in GPS, a user-friendly interface, and side-imaging. It4 is a small device with a 3.5-inch display that comes in a 480 x 320 resolution pixel matrix, a backlight, and an HVGA color display. You can read the display in direct sunlight.
- This fish finder will not be damaged by rain or water splashes or immersion of three-meter in freshwater because of its IPX7 waterproof. You can use a data cable to transfer waypoints between this device and any echoMAP device. You can mount the device using a tilt or swivel mount. This fish finder by Garmin is equipped with the 010-10249-20 transducer that is 77/200 kHz capable, two cones beams, and uses a four-pin connector.
- One 15° beam for 200 kHz and one 45° beam for 77 kHz. If you try to find fish in bigger depths, you can use a 50/200 kHz control unit transducer capable of only using Mid and High CHIRP. You can find fish and scan to a top depth of 228 meters in saltwater; while in freshwater, the top depth is 487 meters. If you use a 50 kHz transducer, it can scan to a top depth of 244 meters.
- The CHIRP sonar is powerful to provide a clearer picture, less clutter on the screen, a better view of the bottom, and better-defined targets. The powerful CHIRP has a great separation of targets. There are many useful functions, such as different alarms, Fish Symbol ID, A-Scope, UltraScroll, Flasher, Auto Gain, and Split-Zoom.
- The Fish Symbol ID adds different fish icons to the sonar and shows every target fish’s depth. The Flasher mode provides information on targets like the inner rings and outer rings found by the sonar beams. This Flasher mode function comes in handy for stationary fishing or ice fishing. The A-Scope provides information in a vertical layout of recent returns from the sonar.
- The Auto Gain function helps users allow the unit to filter out rejected noise with no need for manual adjustment. The Ultrascroll function can scan while moving at high speeds, faster scrolling, and deliver better image quality for under 40 Mph of speed. Striker 4 has a GPS module with high-precision that provides accurate coordinates to your recent location and tracks your boat’s speed.
Why we like it
|GTIN or UPC||753759147013|
|Transducer||77/200 kHz CHIRP|
|2D Sonar||200 kHz / 15° and 77 kHz / 45°|
|Resolution||480H x 320V pixel|
|Transmit Power||200 watt|
|Depth Capacity||228 meters in saltwater, and 487 meters in freshwater|
Lowrance FishHunter 3D – Portable Fishfinder Connects via WiFi to iOS and Android
Average Ratings: 6.1
- This FishHunter Directional 3D is a fish finder device with five highly reliable transducers to get comprehensive coverage and highly detailed images. The device provides a range of sonar view modes and a fish finder for the float tube.
- This portable depth finder or fish finder device comes with colored solutions to show well-defined images on the smartphone screen for a compelling cast to reel in the best fish. The FishHunter Directional 3D device yields the target and excellent resolution with the range from 381 kHz to 675 kHz.
- We think that you will catch fish easier, get transparent information and detailed images of the readings. You can create your lake maps with the FishHunter app.
- The FishHunter fish finder uses its WiFi (60-meter range), which syncs to your device, and there is no need for a phone signal and other connectivity. The five transducers create a 3D panoramic contouring to create a lakebed view, complete with the fish and the depths.
Why we like it
|GTIN or UPC||9420024169124|
|Transducer||675 kHz, 475kHz, and 381 kHz|
|Depth Range||Up to 160-feet|
|WiFi Range||Up to 200-feet|
|Max Trolling Speed||2-mph|
|Battery Life||Up to 10 hours|
|Operational Temp||-22°F to 95°F|
|Compatibility||Apple and Android tablets and smart phones|
|Dimensions||1.87-inches x 3.23-inches x 3.23-inches|
Lucky Fish Finder Wired & Wireless Portable Fishing Sonar For All Fishing Types
Average Ratings: 8.3
- This Lucky FF718LiC Fish Finder is a castable fish finder device that can provide ten-hours of continuous use with only one single charge. You can consider purchasing this device for saltwater and freshwater fishing. After analyzing, we think that this is one of the best portable fish finders.
- In many different situations, you can use the fish finder to scan deep and cast far. This Lucky FF718LiC Fish Finder provides a good casting range, with castable sonar to yield the best range than other models.
- It is easy to pick up the portable fish finder designed to be used by beginners. The portable fish finder is durable enough to withstand many uses, and it is reliable without any problems in the way. You can be sure about the versatility of this portable fish finder device. It is suitable for ice fishing, kayak fishing, shore fishing, and boat fishing.
Why we like it
|GTIN or UPC||696575676353|
|Display||2.8 inch LCD with 3 color tone|
|Depth Capability||Cable 328-feet (100-meter);
Wireless 147-feet (45-meter)
|Sonar Coverage||45 degrees beam angle in 200Khz(Cable);
90 degrees beam angle in
|Power||3.7 Volts rechargeable lithium battery|
|One replaceable CR2032 battery|
Best for Shore Fishing
Humminbird 410170-1 PIRANHAMAX 4 PT
Average Ratings: 8.9
- The Humminbird PiranhaMax 4 PT is a portable fish finder that comes with DualBeam sonar that can operate at 200 kHz or 455 kHz. Even with the DualBeam sonar, it can only run one beam at a time.
- It does not have Down Imaging sonar, but the standard (2D) DualBeam. We think that it is the best fish finder for shore fishing, so you can use it as shore fish finders. The portable fish finder is equipped with the basic XPT 9 28 T transducer and 6 meters of cable. The transducer can reach up to 600 feet or about 183 meters using the 200 kHz mode.
- When using the 455 kHz, the transducer can reach 320 feet 97.5 meters. The trolling speed is 10 MPH with a recommended boat speed between one to six MPH for getting the best Bottom reading and for a maximum of targets. Some functions include Whiteline, Bottom View, Selective Fish ID+, Structure ID, and several alarms.
- The Fish ID function replaces the fish with small fish icons. The Structure ID is a function that shows the strong returns dark pixels) and weak returns (light pixels). The Whiteline function shows the best sonar returns in white with a distinctive outline. The Bottom View function highlights the sonar’s view onto the Bottom. We think that you can get expected results when there is a detection of a small, medium, or large fish with the Fish Alarm when the Fish ID is on.
Why we like it
|GTIN or UPC||974567083977|
|Display||4.3″ LCD 256 Color|
|Display Picture Matrix||272H x 480V|
|Sonar Coverage||28° and 16° at -10dB|
|Depth-Sonar||320 ft (20) 455 kHz, 600 ft (20) 200 kHz|
|Water Surface Temp||Built-In Transducer|
|Gimbal Mount Dimensions||3.91-inches x 7.34-inches x 3.62-inches|
|Inside Hull or Transom|
|Depth Capability||600 ft (2D) 200 kHz; 320 ft (2D) 455 kHz|
Best for Advanced and Professional Anglers
Deeper Pro+ Smart Sonar Gps Portable Wireless Wi-fi Depth Fish Finder
Average Ratings: 7.7
- The Deeper Pro+ Smart Sonar is a castable and wireless fish finder device that is versatile and has a range of built-in features. You can use the portable fish finder remotely with a built-in GPS to find fish efficiently. It is a portable fish finder with GPS.
- The great thing about this fish finder is that you can make bathymetric maps from the shore. It is equipped with the dual-beam sonar frequency used by the device to casts down to 260 feet and cast up to 330 feet.
- You can connect the device with your smartphone, and uses its own wifi signal. You can see the maps you create on your smartphone with direct communication between the device and your phone.
Why we like it
|GTIN or UPC||765028540654|
|Good For||Advanced and professional anglers|
|Scanning Depth Range||330-feet|
|Scanning Cone/Angle||Three angles (47°, 16°, 7°)|
|Operating Temperature||-4°F to 104°F|
What does a portable fish finder use for?
1. Underwater fishing
Portable fish finders can display what is happening below the surface. It can help you see underwater. They are actually can not help you with underwater fishing.
2. Saltwater fishing
You will find your portable fish finder handy to give accurate sonar readings in saltwater. Almost all portable fish finders are adapted for saltwater fishing.
3. Sea fishing
Portable fish finders are portable scanners for sea fishing. It would be best to fish when the sea is calm. Because the waves may interfere with transducer readings. When you set up the scanner, turn on the side of the boat, the seats, and the floor.
4. Kayak fishing
Even though portable fish finders are popular during kayak fishing, not all models will work on a kayak. Find a fish finder that is rechargeable battery-powered or models that are 12-volt battery-powered.
You need to mount the portable fish finder on the kayak. Find a spot on the floor to set them up.
5. Ice fishing
For ice fishing, you need to start cutting a hole for the portable fish finder to find a good area. When the area is good, cut a new hole for your fishing line.
You can also place the fish finder on top of the ice sheet, but you need to ensure there are no cracks or bubbles in the ice. If the sonar readings confirm a good spot, cut a hole and go fishing.
6. Paddleboard fishing
Bring along only the SUP fishing gear basics since you do not have much storage space. When you are trying to find a good spot, you can only hold the fish finder and start scanning in the area. When you do no get the area, move to another area and start scanning until you find the best spot.
Bungee cords can be handy for securing your fishing rod and tackle. Bring along a paddle board anchor, in case you find a good fishing spot with your portable fish finder.
7. Rock fishing
Since you stand on rocks, you will not be able to use your fish finder. Your fish finder can not help you find the best fishing spot.
1. Fishfinder mount
Fish Finder Mount will help you have a successful fishing trip out on the water. A universal fishfinder mount will work with any brands such as Garmin, Lowrance, Simrad, and Humminbird fish finders and chart plotters. You can adjust it with just one hand.
Some models are constructed from marine-grade aluminum for durability. There is a hole pattern for easy installation.
The mount can be installed on the dash of a plastic boat. You can also replace it with an aluminum-plate cut to size. The sturdy fishfinder mount is the gimbal-mounted fish finder.
2. Sun covers and protection
You need to protect your fishfinder’s lens from damage, bumps, and scratches with a protective cover. Some models are made of neoprene material stretches to provide the protection and a cool look. You can roll or fold the cover to store it in small spaces.
Fishing boat equipments
Instead of a fish finder, there are parts of the boat to make a fishing boat ideal and suitable for catching fish. This is the list: