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.
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 fish finder 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.
How does a fish finder work?
All fish finder 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 fish finder 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 fish finder 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. 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.
Features 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 fish finder brands in the market. Not all of them provide the high-quality fish finder 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:
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.
You can get a wider view of the sonar signal with a wider angle. A reference chart for the area covered by the particular cone angle:
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.
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. That would be an excellent investment!
You can share detailed information about your fishing experience with families or friends. With the 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 fish finder models receive and send a sonar signal at 60 feet of depth at 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 fish finder 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!
Fishing boat equipment
Instead of a fish finder, there are parts of the boat to make a fishing boat ideal and suitable for catching fish. These are the list:
FAQ portable fish finder
Do you need a fish finder?
A fish finder can detect water that has no active fish. You can also detect large baits 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.
Top 10 portable fish finder comparison chart
5 best portable fish finder reviews
1. Garmin Striker 4 with Transducer, 3.5″ GPS Fishfinder with Chirp Traditional Transducer Bundle
This Garmin Striker 4 fish finder comes with 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.
2. Lowrance FishHunter 3D – Portable Fish Finder Connects via WiFi to iOS and Android Devices
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.
This 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.
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.
3. LUCKY Fish Finder Wired & Wireless Portable Fishing Sonar
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.
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.
4. Humminbird 410170-1 PIRANHAMAX 4 PT Portable Fish Finder
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.
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.
You can know when there is a detection of a small, medium, or large fish with the Fish Alarm when the Fish ID is on.
5. Deeper PRO+ Smart Sonar – GPS Portable Wireless Wi-Fi Fish Finder for Shore and Ice Fishing
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 built-in GPS to find fish efficiently.
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.