Whether an avid fisher or a new angler, a portable fish finder can make all the difference in your fishing experience. With a fish finder, you can find that sweet spot on a body of water, giving you a greater chance of enjoying your fishing trip. Of course, knowing what to look for in a good fish finder is important. Fortunately, the guide below highlights some decent choices for you to consider.
Table of Contents
iBobber Pulse with Fish Attractor
7.25 x 5 x 3.25
Deeper Smart Sonar PRO+
2.55 x 2.55 x 2.55
Humminbird 410060-1 Fishing Buddy MAX DI
4.2 x 2.7 x 5.8
HawkEye FT1PX FishTrax Portable
6 x 3 x 2
Garmin 010-01550-00 Striker 4
3.6 x 1.6 x 5.9
1,600 ft freshwater, 750 ft saltwate
Lowrance 000-12635-001 Hook-3X
3.8 x 1.9 x 6.5
Venterior Portable Fish Finder
9.6 x 2.2 x 5.9
FishHunter Directional 3D Wireless
1 x 1 x 1
Raymarine Dragonfly 4 Pro Sonar/GPS
13.8 x 13.8 x 13.8
When it comes to the best portable fish finder, you want to choose something that offers the greatest chance of catching fish. With the iBobbper Pulse, you might have that chance thanks to the added fish attractor, which is a built-in fish siren. The following are some of the features to pay attention to with this portable fish finder:
- Patented Sonar (I.D. Technology): Allows for improved fish finding from shore, kayaks, boats, docks, and piers. Also works with ice fishing experiences. Designed with work with wireless technology, the sonar works with both your Android and iOS device.
- Built-in fish attractor siren: The fish attractor pulses so that it draws more fish to the area. Bring this technology with you thanks to the portability of the iBobber and app. Useable by anglers of any skill, the attractor might be just the advantage you need over your fellow anglers.
- 4ft to 135ft Sonar readings: The iBobber is ideal for both shallow water and deep-water fishing thanks to its sonar depth capability of 4ft to 135ft. Enjoy fishing from the shore or from the comfort of your boat with this versatile, portable technology.
- Rechargeable battery: A rechargeable battery offers you at least 10 hours of use in between charges. Therefore, you can enjoy an entire day or night of fishing without worrying about recharging the battery. The convenience of a rechargeable battery allows you to save money on consistently replacing batteries.
The iBobber is an excellent choice for anglers who are more technologically inclined. With so many notable features, it is near impossible to go wrong. Not to mention that among portable fish finder reviews, theiBobber seems deserving of a spot among the top five fish finders.
Of course, you should also know of any drawbacks associated with this fish finder. Some of the drawbacks to be aware of are:
- Possible sync issues: Keep in mind that although the iBobber offer compatibility with Android and iOS devices, it may not support all devices. The trouble with individual devices may include failure to sync with the app and lengthy delays because of syncing issues.
- No included screen: The iBobber is a cast and catch fish finder, which means it does not come with a viewable display. Instead, you must have a compatible smartphone or tablet. For those who are not technologically inclined, this may seem like a letdown. Also, if you do not have a compatible device, you would have to spend the money to ensure that does work with it.
Despite the very few drawbacks, the iBobber seems like a worthwhile investment for new and avid anglers alike. It is rather simple to use despite all its technological features. Also, Pew Research Center reports that 95% of Americans own a cell phone, of which 77% are smartphone owners. Therefore, it is likely that you already own a compatible device.
When it comes to the iBobber vs Deeper portable fish finders, you will find that both offer many similarities, and yet they are each in a category of their own. Like the iBobber, the Deeper Smart Sonar Pro+ uses Wi-Fi connectivity via compatible iOS and Android devices.
You can enjoy fishing from any location, whether land or water. From fresh water to salt water and everything in between, you can take your Deeper Smart Sonar Pro+ with you on the go with features like:
- Castable Wi-Fi fish finder: With the Deeper Smart Sonar Pro+, you do not need cellular data or Internet to connect. The finder uses Wi-Fi connectivity to transfer data accurately to your tablet or smartphone. Thanks to the highly accurate GPS receiver inside the device, fish finding, and mapping virtually becomes much easier.
- GPS enabled bathymetric mapping both onshore and off: Part of what makes this fish finder such a smart choice is that it is the first of its kind to offer bathymetric fish mapping from an onshore location. Thanks to the technology, you can create a map and then analyze it via Lakebook on your PC.
- 330ft connection range: Do not hold back on your casting skills or fear deep waters thanks to a 330ft connection range. The Deeper Smart Sonar Pro+ can locate and mark fish up to 0.5 inches in size in water depths of up to 260ft.
Like the iBobber, this portable fish finder is ideal for more technologically advanced anglers. Thanks to connectivity to your Android or iOS device, you can enjoy feature-rich capabilities to make your fishing experience a better one. On top of mapping, tagging, and locating, this Bluetooth fish finder and its compatible app also offer you social media sharing among other quality features.
Drawbacks of the Deeper Smart Sonar Pro include:
- Connectivity issues: You may experience connectivity issues depending on the device you own. Although the product supports most iOS and Android devices, there is a possibility that your device may not sync correctly with the fish finder.
- Must have your device: The Deeper Smart Sonar Pro+ does not come with a screen, nor a compatible device. You must have your own iOS of Android device to use this product. For anyone that does not prefer technologically advanced products or the use of smartphones and tablets, this may not be the right product for you.
Like the iBobber, there are very few drawbacks associated with this fish finder. In fact, the consensus is that it seems like a useful product that does what it says it can do. Overall, anglers both new to the scene and seasoned pros alike might want to consider this as a worthwhile option.
Many anglers are familiar with Humminbird portable fish finder products. It is a popular brand name among those who enjoy a combination of feature-rich benefits and simplicity. The HumminbirdFishin’ Buddy is no exception. This fish finder features the following:
- 3.5-inch color display: Despite its small size, the 3.5-inch color TFT display offers detailed imaging. The display technology offers 240H x 320V pixel resolution and a 256 color range with LED backlight. Since the unit offers noticeable target separation, you will never wonder over the images appearing on your screen.
- Dual-beam technology: Anglers can enjoy 2D, dual-beam sonar technology combined with down imaging sonar readings. Because of the dual-beam technology, the HumminbirdFishin’ Buddy is capable of achieving 320ft DI and 600ft of imaging depth. You can opt between two dual-beam frequencies, which include 200/455 kHz or DI, which offers 455 kHz.
- Simplicity and Portability: This is a fish finder only, which means it does not include GPS mapping or navigation of any kind. Therefore, it is among the simplest of fish finders for angler of any skill level. Thanks to an included portable clamp, you can take this small, yet reliable fish finder anywhere. You can also skip the trial and tribulations of rigging and wiring.
- Surprising power: Enjoy 2400 Watts of PTP, which enables it to provide imagery from greater depths. It also allows you to enjoy the dual-beam technology without seeming as though it loses quality in deep waters. Thanks to the decent wattage, you might finally have a way out of speculating whether you have found a sweet spot or not.
Although the HumminbirdFishin’ Buddy seems like an all-around ideal fish finder, you should be aware of some of the drawbacks. The drawbacks include the following:
- No CHIRP technology: Many avid fishers now prefer the use of CHIRP technology. However, this fish finder does not use CHIRP technology. What it lacks in seemingly advanced technology, it more than makes up for with its dual frequencies and detailed imagery.
- Requires AA batteries: To run, this device requires eight AA batteries. Not all consumers enjoy the cost of replacing batteries. However, you must make sure you keep spare batteries with you always so you can enjoy your fish finder without interruption.
- Possible support issues: The included telescopic clamp holder may not provide that much support for the fish finder. The fish finder may sit loosely in the holder, which might not sit well with some potential purchasers.
None of the cons associated with the HumminbirdFishin’ Buddy are detrimental by any means. Considering all the excellent primary features it offers, they seem to outweigh the cons, hands down.
If you are looking for something simple that doesn’t require a tech guru to operate, the HawkEyeFishTrax Portable Fish Finder might be just what you need.When it comes to portable fish finder reviews, this one is deserving of a spot among the top five for many reasons. The Hawkeye portable fish finder offers features such as:
- VirtuView dot matrix LCD screen: The screen allows you to view either natural sonar data or your choice of FishTarget program information. FishTarget program gives you the ability to view icons of fish alongside detailed numeric depth information.
- Dual-frequency intelligent sonar FishTrax: Not only to you gain the capacityto enjoy dual-beam sonar, but you also have the additional benefit of acuteness modification up to 10 levels using different ranges of depth. Entry level anglers will find FishTrax right up their alley thanks to its ease of use.
- Detailed indicators: The fish finder comes with a multitude of features, yet remains a simple device to use. Features such as the Weed and Rock Indicators allow anglers to determine the underwater landscape so they can adjust their fishing skills accordingly. For instance, using a top float lure in areas with a lot of weeds.
- Built-in fish alarm: If you must keep a keen eye on your HawkEyedepthfinder while also trying to manage your fishing pole to catch fish, you have a problem. Fortunately, the HawkEyeFishTrax Portable Fish Finder has a built-in alarm that alerts you to the presence of fish. Enjoy fishing without having to check the LCD screen on your fish finder regularly.
Despite its simplicity, this handheld fish finder comes packed full of features that entry level anglers and seasoned pros alike will enjoy. That is not to say that everything about this fish finder is 100% perfect. Some things you might not like include:
- Batteries required: Not only do you have to supply the fish finder with batteries, but the battery life may also not be the best. Therefore, you will want to keep a supply of new batteries with you while you fish so you can replace them as necessary.
- Screen delays: When changing depths through the water, you may experience screen delays. The fish finder takes a little longer than some fish finders to adjust to changes in depth so that it provides accurate readings.
This is an excellent choice for those who don’t mind swapping out batteries and waiting a moment while the display updates with correct depth information. Given the fact that it is a feature-rich fish finder, its position among the top five is well-deserving.
Garmin is another one of the most recognized brands among anglers, which is why the Garmin Striker 4 is a good portable fish finder. It provides you with a sense of simplicity and ease of use while maintaining a feature-rich interface. Enjoyable features include:
- CHIRP sonar: Enjoy continuous sonar sweeps thanks to CHIRP sonar technology, which offers fish finding accuracy. Thanks to the CHIRP sonar technology, you receive crisp arches that target the locations of fish while maintaining targeted separation.
- Waypoint Mapping: Waypoint Mapping allows you to mark targeted locations for easier navigation. View and map areas such as rocks, weeds, stumps, docks, and more. With waypoint mapping, you can navigate the waters your boat with ease.
- Built-in flasher: If you are a fan of vertical jig fishing or even ice fishing, the built-in flasher might be just what you need. You can view sonar information in a classic flasher format, which is the preferences of many ice fishers.
- Optimal depth for deep water fishing: Enjoy depth readings of up to 1,600ft in freshwater and 750ft in saltwater. With impressive depth readings, you just may stand a chance of catching even the most elusive fish that often rest on the bottom of lakes, rivers, pits, and even ocean floors.
- 200 wattage: With 200 W (RMS) of power, you can locate fish using continuous sonar sweeps. Thanks to the wattage, you gain the benefit of better detail and clarity regarding fish finding and structure identification. The wattage even allows you to maintain visibility at high speeds.
Overall, the features of the Garmin Striker 4 work for veteran anglers and new anglers to the fishing scene. Despite offering a variety of seemingly advanced technological features, the interface is intuitive and easy to use by all. Of course, some cons you might want to consider include:
- Possible flasher issues: Depending on your fishing environment, you may experience problems with the built-in flasher. At times, it may not work as well as you want it to, so it is best to evaluate your fishing environment to determine if that is the issue rather than the flasher itself.
- Transducer placement: As the sensor reaches the bottom of lakes and other bodies of water, it may have problems keeping a horizontal position. Make sure to adjust your depth accordingly if transducer placement becomes an issue.
For the most part, the cons are not enough to outweigh the pros of this portable fish finder. The Garmin Striker 4 is a valuable consideration that should please even the most avid fishers.
If you’re looking for a basic fish finder that offers all the necessities at an affordable price, the Lowrance Hook-3X might be for you. It offers beyond just the basics to bring you a versatile tool that’s lightweight enough to bring on board any fishing vessel. Anglers can enjoy features such as:
- Backlit LED Color Display: A small 3.5-inch color screen displays images in crisp 320 X 240 resolution that can be seen in full sunlight and from almost any viewing angle. You can see any area in vivid detail by zooming in up to 4X with dedicated quick keys.
- Broadband Sonar Detail: The Lowrance Hybrid Dual Imaging (HDI) Skimmer® Transducer uses a Broadband Sounder to operate at depths up to 1,000 feet. You can easily find fishing targets and view underwater landscapes and well as thermoclines with the transducer's convenient built-in water temperature sensor.
- Advanced Signal Processing (ASP): There’s no need to distract yourself by adjusting your display manually since your sonar settings are automatically updated to give you the clearest picture of what’s beneath your boat. ASP constantly adjusts for speed, water conditions, and interference while blocking extraneous signals.
- Dual-frequency operations: Switching between 83 and 200 kHz allows you to see underwater with varying amounts of detail, allowing anglers to fish in both shallow and deeper waters. A frequency of 200 kHz provides up to 20 degrees of conical coverage, while 83 kHz provides up to 60 degrees.
- Affordable: The Lowrance Hook-3X model offers all of the essential features of a quality fish finder while remaining cheaper than other similar devices.
The Hook-3X offers everything that both beginners and experienced anglers need to find the best spot for hauling in a catch, but there are some drawbacks. Common issues with this model include:
- Inaccurate readings: At extreme depths and high speeds, this fish finder has trouble separating noise from relevant signals. It works best when used for fishing in lakes, rivers, and other shallow bodies of water.
- Weak base: You can easily adjust, disassemble, and reassemble the tilt and swivel bracket that holds the Hook-3 in place, but the unit isn’t able to withstand much wear-and-tear. The mounting system that holds the Hook-3X in place is weak in certain areas, particularly when frequently disconnected and reconnected.
Despite its drawbacks, the Hook-3X is a good choice for fishing in shallow to moderately deep waters. It’s small size and intuitive interface makes it easy to use just about anywhere.
The Venterior Portable Fish Finder is one of the best budget options available on the market, costing just $40. It offers a simple display that’s easy to read and ideal for beginners who are not yet looking to invest in pricier, more complex options. While it doesn’t offer the same features as some of the more complex fish finders out there, the Venterior model includes several great features, including:
- Highly portable: At just 2.2 x 9.6 x 5.9 in, the Venterior Portable Fish Finder is small enough to hold in the palm of your hand. You can take it with you in your pack or your pocket wherever you go, or you can wear it around your neck with the strap included in the box.
- Intuitive Display: With a simple black and white screen, this device shows you water depth, target fish location, underwater vegetation, and rock formations underneath your boat.
- Five sensitivity settings: While the Venterior Fish Finder can’t tell you how big fish are, different sensitivity settings can help you to find the catch you’re looking for. When sensitivity is high, you will see both big fish and small fish on the display screen. With low sensitivity, on the other hand, only larger fish will show up on screen.
- Removable transducer: A float with a 25-foot cable allows you to use your fish finder just about anywhere, whether you’re fishing from a boat, a dock, or ice fishing.
- Wide reading range: A beam angle of 45 degrees allows you to see fish and seabed both underneath and around your boat. You can also view objects as shallow as 2.3 ft below water level to as deep as almost 330 ft.
While this fish finder is an excellent choice for beginners, it may not be the best choice for more advanced anglers. The simple display doesn’t offer a lot of detail, and the sonar signal isn’t powerful enough to detect small catches or bait fish. Additional drawbacks include:
- Less effective at high speeds: If you’re planning on fishing from a motorboat or other high-speed vessel, then this fish finder might not be right for you. It works best under 5 mph, making it better for fishers who are stationary or slow moving.
- The receiver isn’t waterproof: Though the submersible transmitter is waterproof, the receiver unit of the Venterior Fish Finder is not. You can’t expose it to water or spray, or the display may stop working properly.
Despite its simplicity, the Venterior Portable Fish Finder offers all the basics that you need to find your next catch at an affordable price. It’s an ideal introductory fish finder for new anglers, and its compact design makes it easy to bring along on any fishing vessel, no matter how big or small.
This unique fish finder combines sonar with the power of smart technology to bring you a device that quickly connects with your mobile device. Aside from convenience, there are several features that make the FishHunter Directional 3D Fishfinder stand out from the crowd:
- Five powerful transducers: Get high resolution and five times the coverage area with tri-frequency transducers that work at 381 kHz, 475 kHz, and 675 kHz. You can see target fish and dangerous obstacles with greater clarity and in more extreme detail up to 160 ft below the surface and up to 200ft away.
- Five incredible sonar view options: You can create custom bathymetric and 3D maps of your favorite fishing spots. Directional casting shows you to where to cast your line relative to your sonar, increasing your chances of catching something, while 3D fishing shows you a realistic view of the seabed. Ice fishers can use the specialized flasher setting to see depth and fish through the ice.
- Wi-Fi connectivity: Built-in Wi-Fi allows the FishHunter Directional Fishfinder to connect seamlessly with your phone, allowing you to upload and save data with ease. The Wi-Fi has a range of up to 150ft and does not require cell phone tower reception.
While this fish finder offers cutting-edge technology to help you find fish, it can be slightly less reliable than other similar devices. Drawbacks of the FishHunter Directional 3D Fishfinder include:
- Connectivity issues: This fish finder is dependent on Wi-Fi to work, so it can become a major inconvenience when you are unable to connect to your smartphone or other device. The device occasionally has trouble establishing or maintaining a connection and can be slow to reconnect.
Tech-savvy anglers are sure to love the seamless integration of the FishHunter Directional 3D Fishfinder with their smartphone or tablet. Not only does the device help you to find the best fishing spots, but it also records data so that you can review and improve your performance.
As one of the more affordable models in the Dragonfly line, the Raymarine Dragonfly 4 combines GPS navigation with advanced CHIRP sonar to bring you a top-of-the-line fish finder for the avid angler. Its intuitive display is easy to use for anyone, even the less technologically inclined, and the device includes impressive features such as:
- A high definition LED display: An optically bonded 4.3-inch screen shows incredibly detailed, high-definition images that give you an accurate view of fish and floor structure around your vessel. The screen is weather resistant and won’t fog up in wet conditions.
- CHIRP DownVision: Wide-spectrum CHIRP technology allows you to enjoy a sharp, almost photographic underwater view. By transmitting across a wide spectrum of sonar frequencies simultaneously, you get a crystal-clear underwater view down to 600ft.
- Fish-Targeting Sonar: In addition to CHIRP DownVision sonar to provide seabed images, a second conventional CHIRP channel focuses on targeting fish.
- Wi-Fish mobile app: Connect with your friends, family, and other anglers with Raymarine’s social fishing app. You can save and share what you’ve caught throughout the day, or replay impressive catches later.
- Built-in maps: An internal GPS system helps you to navigate and track your movement through the water as you fish. You can choose between Navionics, C-MAP by Jeppesen or RaymarineLightHouse compatible charts of U.S. lakes, rivers, and coastal regions.
The Dragonfly 4 Pro uses the latest and greatest in sonar technology to help you make your fishing trip a success, but like all electronics, it doesn’t come without its drawbacks:
- No GPS sharing: Though the Dragonfly 4 Pro has Wi-Fi capabilities and a GPS system, you cannot use these in tandem to update others concerning your location.
- Limited mapped areas: Raymarine fish finders include maps and charts, but these are primarily centered around mainland and coastal regions of the United States. Some popular fishing areas, such as those around Puerto Rico, are not included.
This fish finder offers good value for your money, with advanced technologies that can help you to find the very best fishing spots in your area. It also offers a great way to connect with your local fishing community through social media.
Among all the portable fish finder reviews, all of them seemed deserving of their place on this list, and yet one really stood out from the competition. The Garmin Striker 4 was our top choice because of its highly sought after CHIRP sonar technology and waypoint mapping. Also, the fact that it comes with a built-in flasher means that it is a versatile choice.
With the flasher, the Garmin Striker 4 is useable by freshwater and saltwater fishers as well as ice fishers. Overall, it seems to offer the greatest versatility of all the fish finders on the list, thus earning it pick among all the great choices on this list.
If you have never owned a portable fish finder before, you likely do not know what features to consider. The features of a good fish finder can seem confusing to some, especially regarding sonar technology, screen types, sizes, and resolution.
Despite the complex language and features, understanding what each one means is important. You need to know what each feature does so you can select the right fish finder for your next fishing trip. You might spot a seemingly good deal on a fish finder, but if it lacks any essential features, the deal you are getting is not all that great after all.
With so many brands and models to choose from, it is not easy determining which one offers the best value. Fortunately, an understanding of the features allows you to pick a portable the best portable fish finder possible.
Fish finders often offer different frequencies, such as dual, single, and multiple. Dual frequency technology provides dual cones at 20 and 60 degrees. The frequency of your fish finder is a highly important factor. The higher the frequency, the more detailed the information on your screen. In general, most standardtechnologies offered by fish finders include frequencies between 50 and 200.
Higher transducer frequencies, such as 192 or 200 kHz are most suitable for use in shallow waters. Lower frequencies of around 50 kHz work great in deeper water. The higher the frequency, the narrower the cone beam, whereas the lower the frequency, the wider the cone beam will be. If you plan to fish both deep and shallow bodies of water, consider a portable depth finder with multiple frequencies.
You will find that your beam width, or cone angle, has a direct relation to the frequency of portable fish finders. Wider beams allow you to view a larger area, though you may experience frequency loss the deeper you go. Fish finders come with either a standard transducer that offers a single beam, or more advanced technologies with multiple beams.
If you are an avid fisher who prefers lakes and other large bodies of water with both shallow and deep water, you should opt for a multi-frequency, multi-beam finder. If you know you are going to stick to shallow waters, such as fishing from the shore rather than off a boat, you might do better with a high frequency, narrow beam fish finder. Otherwise, opt for something with a lower frequency and a wide beam.
You will find that portable fish finders offer different technological features. Familiarizing yourself with the differences in tech features can help you decide which fish finder you want.
CHIRP technology is among one of the most highly advanced forms of sonar technology. Fish finders with CHIRP perform continuous sweeps, which improves imaging and fish finding capabilities. CHIRP technologies also use multiple frequency ranges instead of a single pulse. For many years, the military used CHIRP technology before it became available for recreational fish finding use.
With the use of CHIRP technology, you can differentiate between clusters of fish and a potentially large catch. Because the feedback is so much more advanced compared to single frequency finders, you gain a clearer picture of what it is you can expect.
Broadband Sounder is a sonar technology that uses a single frequency to locate fish. The technology relies on the use of pings and responding echoes to track fish beneath the transducer. Broadband Sounder technology is an optimal choice for people who are looking to catch baitfish, which typically swim in schools.
Spotlight Scan is another popular choice. Fishers can use spotlight scan to detect fish in an area as they are approaching it from their boat. Simply steer the boat in the direction you wish to go, and it will angle the sonar technology in that direction. With Spotlight Scan, fishers have the potential of finding a sweet spot before the bring their boat to a stop.
Finally, you have your choice of StructreScan 3D and HD technologies. Structure Scan 3D offers the multi-beam technology that avid fishers enjoy. It contains several elements for receiving to ensure high-resolution, three-dimensional images of marine fish and structures. Structure Scan HD offers images akin to high-resolution, detailed pictures. The technology also views to the left and right, as well as the center of your current position.
You want to make sure you pay attention to the power settings on your fish finder. The greater the power rating, the faster you will receive display readings. Also, fish finders with higher power output can offer better readings in deeper waters. A fish finder seeks and finds fish by providing a constant power output, which you will find measured by wattage.
High frequency, narrow beam transducers often appear stronger than low frequency, wide beam transducers. That is because the power provided by the finder is transmitted into a much smaller area with a narrow beam transducer compared to a wide beam transducer. The power of the fish finder is often divided among multiple beam technologies and spread out among wider beams.
No matter what the cone angle and width of your beam, if you purchase a fish finder with a higher wattage, it will offer you greater depth return compared to those with a lower wattage. Make sure to pay close attention to the wattage on the fish finder of your choice. If you prefer deep water fishing, opt for something with a higher wattage.
Finally, the most important feature of any fish finder is the display. Even the best and most technologically advanced portable fish finder is nothing if it doesn’t have a great display. Keep in mind that you will have several display options available.
You can choose between standard definition, high definition, and 3D image displays. You also have the choice of either color or black and white screens. In general, you will find that a color display is the most common option, though there are still black and white screens available on fish finders.
Keep in mind that no matter if you go with black and white or color, it is the wattage and frequency that will impact the quality of your display images. The greater the power and the higher the frequency, the clearer and more detailed the image will appear. With all the features of a good fish finder in mind, it makes selecting the right one easier.