Best 8 Portable Fish Finders of 2020
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 units available online, it is easy to choose and purchase a fish finder that does not suit your needs. This blog will guide you on the features you need to 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.
Table of Contents
- 1 Quick Summary – Best Portable Fish Finders
- 2 Portable Fish Finder Buyer’s Guide
- 3 Types of Fish Finders
- 4 Best 8 Portable Fish Finders on the Market
- 5 Conclusion
Quick Summary – Best Portable Fish Finders
- Best Overall – Garmin Striker 4
- Best Castable – Deeper Pro Smart Sonar
- Best Mountable – Humminbird Piranhamax
- Best Value for Money – Venterior Fish Finder
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 purchase with confidence.
Having 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 of every obstacle they meet in their path.
The transducer then receives these waves. Once this data comes back, 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. For casual and enthusiastic fishers, a plastic transducer is an excellent choice for them. These transducers are well-suited for almost every type of boats.
If the transducer you are using 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 you can get multiple with more advanced units.
Some of these have a side beam, dual beam, and others have a triple beam and so on. 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
Color screens have, over the years, gradually become a standard in electronics. Color screens offer lots of 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 when there is 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 carry out fishing in deeper waters, find a fish finder having 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 a vital feature 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 then it might not be as crucial.
Best 8 Portable Fish Finders on the Market
I have gone through all of the best portable fish finders available at the moment to try and give you an explanation of the pros and cons of each model so that you can buy with confidence. I have only listed fish finders that are of a high enough quality to make this list.
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. Included is a rechargeable battery, transom and motor mount, and a cover. The portable carry case makes it 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 which earns the Garmin Striker 4 our highest recommended product.
- The power of simple - offers a keyed interface with dedicated buttons. The device is easy to use and easy to install. Available in 3.5-, 5- and 7-inch display sizes.
- Waypoint map - use the waypoint map to easily view, mark and navigate to locations such as brush piles, stumps and docks.
- Chirp sonar - chirp sends a continuous sweep of frequencies which provides a wider range of information. Chirp sonar is able to create crisper fish arches with better target separation.
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.
- ◆ Fishes and bottom contour readout: LUCKY fish finder portable detects and displays water depth, approximate fish location, short & tall weeds, sand & rocks on bottom. Fish finder portable design...
- ◆ The kayak fish finder suits for variety fishes fishing environments: It can be used for off shore fishing, kayak fishing, ice fishing, lake fishing, sea fishing and so on. You can also use...
- ◆Depth readout: The fish finder portable detector range is in a 45°cone underwater. The detection of depth range is from 3ft(1m) to 328ft (100m) below fishing sonar transducer. The water depth can...
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.
- Patented sonar fish identifier technology
- LED beacon
- Rechargeable battery and charge status indicator light
Venterior Portable Rechargeable Fish Finder
Another option is the Venterior which is 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.
- Wireless and castable: No more long & heavy cable for transducer. Clear Color Screen: it comes with clear color TFT LCD display (2 screen background colors selectable - black and white), which enables...
- It detects and displays water depth, water temperature, fish size (small/middle/big), fish depth, and bottom contour. It has Work and Simulation Mode. Measure units of depth and temperature can be...
- No need to drill hole in your boat hull to install the sensor any more. Two small holes on the wireless sensor allow you to tether with your fishing line and cast it onto water as far as you want.
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.
- Display Size Diagonal - 4 3-Inch
- Dual Beam Sonar
- 2400 watts PTP/300 Watts RMS
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.
- HIGHEST SPEC CASTABLE SONAR: casts further, scans deeper, more features than any other. Syncs with iOS/Android devices. Use for shore, boat, ice fishing
- INBUILT GPS: enables you to create bathymetric maps from the shore, Enjoy free access to Lake book, Deeper' s bathymetric management platform where you can save, review and analyze all of your maps on...
- ROCK SOLID CONNECTIVITY: Syncs to phone/tablet using WiFi (like a hotspot). NO INTERNET IS NEEDED. Turn OFF Cellular data for uninterrupted connection
Ricank Portable Fish Finder
Another entry level fish finder is the Ricank.
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.
- 【Fishes and Contour Readout】The fish finder portable detects and displays water depth, approximate fish location, fish size, short & tall weeds, sand & rocks on bottom.
- 【Suitable for Various Fishing Ways】It can be used for off shore fishing, kayak fishing, ice fishing, lake fishing, sea fishing , river fishing, and so on. It will be one of your best fishing...
- 【Depth Readout】 The fish finder portable detector range is in a 45°cone underwater. The detection of depth range is from 3ft(1m) to 328ft (100m) below fishing sonar transducer. The fishing sonar...
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.
- 🐟 【Multi-environment Adaptability, Outstanding Performance】 Joylog fish finder can provide stable support in cold winter, muddy waters and dark night.
- 🐟 【High resolution Digital Sonar Imaging】 It can conduct intelligent fish exploration at a depth of 0.6-40m underwater with powerful sonar function.
- 🐟 【Automatic Start-stop】 When the three probes are immersed in water, the device will start up automatically and shut down 30 seconds after leaving the water.
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 are looking for more information.
If you have used any of these portable fish finders yourself then please leave a comment below so that all of our readers can learn from your wisdom and experience. We love to interact with our audience.