The best portable fish finders have a rechargeable battery, GPS capability, and are waterproof.
The Garmin Striker 4 is my top choice because of its high-quality sonar at an affordable price range. It features built-in GPS technology, CHIRP sonar, IPX7 waterproofing, and portable design. It is ideal for anglers who want to move their fish finder between their boat and kayak.
Purchasing a fish finder can be an amazing idea, especially if you are involved in many fishing activities. For example, if you plan to go to the sea to fish, a fish finder will significantly help you determine the best place to cast your bait.
However, with the numerous online units, choosing and purchasing a fish finder that does not suit your needs is easy. This blog will guide you on the features you must look for when buying your fish finder.
We have put together a list of the best portable fish finders available on the market, but before we get to that let’s explore what all the key criteria are so you can make an educated decision.
I have gone through all of the best portable fish finders available to explain each model’s pros and cons so that you can buy with confidence.
- High-quality imagery from CHIRP Sonar
- IPX7 Waterproof can handle splashes
- GPS Waypoint Map
- Simple Keyed Interface
1. Garmin Striker 4
If there is one brand that is renowned for GPS it is Garmin, and their Striker 4 is an anglers dream.
It is available in multiple screen sizes. A rechargeable battery, transom, motor mount, and cover are included. The portable carry case is perfect for boating, kayaks, canoes, and ice fishing.
It has a 77/200 kHz sonar transducer that transmits 200 W RMS power or 1,600 W peak-to-peak.
It also provides water temperature and has a maximum depth of 1600 feet in freshwater or 750 feet in saltwater.
This is a high quality product at a reasonable price, earning the Garmin Striker 4 our highest recommended product.
- Garmin are renowned for high quality fish finders
- Extreme maximum depth can work in even the deepest lakes
- Rechargeable battery
- Just the price, but this is still value for money based on its performance
2. Humminbird PiranhaMAX
Another legend in the world of GPS technology is Humminbird. This is a high end mountable fish finder with a portable cover. The 4.3 inch color display shows depth, fish, and bottom features.
The frequency is adjustable which gives it a depth range of either 320 feet at 455 khz or 600 feet at 200 khz. The sensor can be attached to either he transom or hull.
The battery is rechargeable and comes with a wall charger.
A key feature is the dual beam sonar – which allows you to select between a wide 28 degree and a narrow 16 degree beam to help tell the difference between fish, structure, and contours.
- Humminbird are one of the top manufacturers in the world and produce the highest quality technology
- Dual beam sonar to switch between wide and narrow beams
- The price point can be an issue for a budget conscious angler
3. Lucky Handheld Fish Finder
If you are looking for a cheaper option than the Garmin, then Lucky make a wide range of fish finder options. This handheld model is mostly designed for stationary locations but can work up to 5 mph in a kayak.
This option reads up to 300 feet deep and comes with a 25 foot long cable.
The battery gives 4-5 hours of continuous use – so if you intend on fishing all day or over a multi-day trip then you will want to consider bringing some extra AAA batteries.
The sensor has a 45 degree signal at 200 khz. It also has a smaller 2 inch LCD display.
This is an entry level option at an entry level price.
- This gives good value for money because of its low price point
- Only 4 to 5 hours of battery life
- The LCD display is small at 2 inches
4. Reel Sonar iBobber Bluetooth
This castable fish finder is another model to consider. It uses bluetooth to link to your smart phone so you don’t need to carry much extra equipment. The bluetooth can link up to 100 feet between your phone and the sensor.
It also has a range of down to 135 feet, which needs to be considered based on your target fishing location.
It has a rechargeable battery that lasts for 10-15 hours.
The iBobber is a fantastic idea for a Christmas or birthday gift for any keen anglers.
- Good battery life of 10-15 hours
- Easy to use and carry with smart phone bluetooth connection
- Max depth of 135 feet needs to come into consideration depending on your lake location
5. Venterior Portable Rechargeable Fish Finder
Another option is the Venterior, a wireless, castable fish finder and comes with a handheld LCD screen. It shows depth, fish, water temperature, and bottom features.
It has a range of up to 130 feet and can be 260 feet between your screen and the sensor with 125 khz frequency. The sonar has a 105 degree angle.
The display and sensor both come with rechargeable batteries with 6-8 hours of battery life.
- Handheld LCD screen
- Shows depth, temperature, bottom features
- 130 feet max depth can be a problem
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6. Deeper Pro Smart Sonar
The Deeper Pro is the highest quality castable fish finder available on the market.
The inbuilt GPS allows you to create bathymetric maps from the shore and gain more insight about your fishing spot than ever before. It links to your smartphone so you don’t need to carry any additional displays.
Has a 260 feet deep range, so make sure you know the depth of your location. It also has a dual beam mode so you can swap between 55 degrees and 15 degrees depending on whether you want the general overview or detailed scanning.
All data is saved to the cloud so you can review it later.
The Deeper pro is ideal for fishing from the shore, the boat, or an ice fishing shack.
- Castable fish finder so you can see what’s on the bottom even away from your own location
- Data can be viewed afterwards via the cloud
- Dual beam sonar mode
- Doesn’t come with a dedicated screen
7. Ricank Portable Fish Finder
Another entry level fish finder is the Ricank. However, I would avoid this option – it is not a serious device.
With a 300 foot depth range and a 45 degree angle this will help you find better fishing spots. It has a 25 foot cable length and a 200 khz frequency.
The AAA batteries lasts for 4-5 hours so bring some spares if you intend to fish for longer than that.
Be warned – the screen is not waterproof so be very careful with where you store and use it.
- This is a value for money entry level option based on its price
- Battery only lasts 4 to 5 hours but you can carry spare AAA batteries
- The screen is not waterproof which is ridiculous for a piece of fishing equipment
8. Joylog Portable Wireless Fish Finder
The final option in our list is the Joylog fish finder. It is a wireless, castable, and portable fish finder.
With 130 feet depth range it is less than some of the other models, and has a 200 foot range between the sensor and your smart phone. The sensor only weighs 0.2 lbs so you can add it to your tackle box without weighing it down.
The sensor has 125KHz frequency with a 30 degree angle.
Cast this sensor out and start reeling – you’ll see fish location, size and suspended depth in addition to structure, vegetation and bottom contour.
The bottom of the device is equipped with four green lights, which can attract fish.
- Green lights on the sensor can help to attract certain species of fish
- Extremely lightweight and easy to store and transport
- 130 feet maximum depth can be a problem
Portable Fish Finder Buyer’s Guide
Before we go through the best portable fish finders available on the market it is worth understanding the key differences between them. I have put together this buying guide to help you understand exactly what all the marketing terms mean so that you can confidently purchase.
A fish finder with a suitable transducer is essential to getting good readings. The transducer is what emits and receives the sonar waves telling you whether there are fish nearby. Once these sonar waves are cast into the water, they bounce off every obstacle.
The transducer then receives these waves. Once this data returns, it is taken to the central unit, where these signals are processed into a picture shown on the display that you can see and understand.
Fish finder transducers come with dissimilar types of mounts. The transom mount is the easiest to install. If you prefer something more serious, or your boat is bigger, you can choose another type, such as the thru-hull mount.
The transducer material you will pick mainly depends on the type of boat you’ll use. A plastic transducer is an excellent choice for casual and enthusiastic fishers. These transducers are well-suited for almost every type of boats.
If the transducer you use has an in-hull mount or a thru-hull mount, metal hulls or fiberglass need plastic housing. Bronze housing is commonly used on boats having fiberglass of wood hulls.
Recreational users are catered for adequately, as most fish finders are already equipped with transducers with transom mounts or trolling motor transducers. These transducers work just fine with almost all kinds of boats, provided you follow the installation guidelines to the letter. You can choose between bronze and plastic if you are fascinated by the idea of a thru-hull transducer.
Beams and Cone Angles
When selecting a transducer, a key aspect that you should consider is the cone angle. The cone angle tells you the beam’s width emitted into the water from your fishing boat. The wider the cone, the larger the area covered. The cone angle expands as the beam goes down, but the sensitivity reduces as the beams reach the deeper waters.
Transducers’ cones range from 9 degrees to more than 60 degrees. Most of the available device’s cones tend to range between 16 degrees to 20 degrees. For starters, a 20-degree cone is a brilliant choice.
A remarkable feature of transducers is their ability to emit above one cone from one point. A conventional transducer has one beam but can get multiple with more advanced units.
Some have a side beam, dual beam, and others have a triple beam. Every new beam offers the potential to cover more area. For more extensive water bodies like lakes, more beams are ideal.
While other units come with lots of options, some have single beams. The number of beams determines a particular device’s price. If you are fishing in shallow waters, dual beams are much better than single beams as the cover more area.
Color Screens Versus Black and White Screens
Over the years, color screens have gradually become a standard in electronics. Color screens offer many details and millions of colors, while black and white screens only have 265 shades of gray. Information put out by the transducer will be much easier to read and understand on a color screen.
More colors enable you to see what’s happening much better. Besides, in direct sunlight, black and white displays are more challenging to read. Black and white displays also have limited readability during cloudy weather or darkness.
When choosing a fish finder, consider how many pixels and resolution, you need your screen to have. A pixel is simply a single dot on your screen. The more the pixels, the more details the display puts out.
Aim to purchase a fish finder with no less than 240 x 160 pixels. The screen’s resolution determines the picture quality you will get from your fish finder in the long run. When on the hunt for a fish finder, the purpose of buying the best quality and largest display you can afford.
That way, all the numbers and data will be shown on a bigger screen and in greater detail. Smaller screens may clutter up when there are numerous readings to display.
When hunting for a fish finder, you should consider its power. If you wish to have a unit with faster and deeper readings, find one with a higher wattage unit. The more the power available, the higher the waves’ speed, and the more the accuracy of the readings.
You won’t require as much power if you are going to fish in shallow water. However, if you will go fishing in deeper waters, find a fish finder with as much power as you can afford.
Aim to buy a fish finder with a higher frequency as it emits more sonar waves into the water, providing you with more details.
Types of Fish Finders
There are two types of fish finders – ones that you mount to your boat and ones that you cast the transducer into the water which sends a signal back to your smart phone or display.
Mountable Fish Finders
A mountable fish finder can be temporarily mounted to the transom or side of a small boat. They are also capable of working with a float tube.
These are preferable if you intend to troll behind your boat and need to see the information while you are in motion.
Castable Fish Finders
The castable fish finder utilizes your smartphone. It has a small floating transducer that communicates with an application on your smartphone via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. It is the best choice for bank fishing.
They are more difficult to be used when in motion.
Do You Need GPS?
If you are wondering if you need a GPS, the answer is yes. GPS is vital as it allows you to draw maps, create waypoints, and mark your favorite spots. Although if you intend to use the fish finder from the bank where there are obvious, visible markers, it might not be as crucial.
That brings us to the end of this guide – hopefully you have found a fish finder that meets your needs or at least found some new information that will help with your buying decision.
Using a fish finder is a great way to utilize new technology to catch more fish more quickly. I have spent hours fishing in a place that looks promising from the surface that a fish finder would’ve told me immediately doesn’t hold anything.
Humminbird also has a great guide to fish finders if you want more information.