I have been a fishing enthusiast for many years now. One of the most revolutionary advancements in fishing equipment technology I have seen over the years is the development of the portable fish finder. Portable fish finders are a great companion for fishing enthusiasts on the go.
You can pack it in your backpack and set off to explore new fishing spots. Sometimes, even during the prime fishing seasons, you can wait for ages in your boat, but not a single fish comes your way—this can be very frustrating.
A fish finder can save you all that stress and give you a gratifying fishing experience. There’s a wide range of these devices on the market, though, characterized by different features and functions. How do you know which one is best for you?
- The Best Portable Fish Finder Reviews
- 5 Things to Consider Before Buying a Portable Fish Finder
- Final Thoughts
Our Top Pick
If you were to choose one portable fish finder, we would recommend the Garmin Striker 4. This GPS-enabled fish finder is one of the most affordable you can get on the market today. It features a full-color, 3.5-inch screen for easy visibility.
Another stand-out feature is the ability to detect fish at up to 1,600 feet in fresh water and 750 feet in saline water. The 11-pound device also features traditional CHIRP sonar technology allowing it to deliver highly-detailed images. It’s also versatile, in that you can use it on whatever size boat, or when fishing from a dock or on the ice.
The Best Portable Fish Finder Reviews
The Garmin Striker 4 Portable Bundle’s heart is a GPS-enabled fish finder. This device is user-friendly and features a color, 3.5-inch display. With the Striker 4, you can explore fish up to 1,600 feet and 750 feet in freshwater and salty water respectively.
- 3.5-inch color display screen
- High-sensitivity GPS for Waypoint
- Easy Keypad operation
- Boat speed display
- Waypoint map
- CHIRP sonar technology.
- Dedicated flasher circuit
Another remarkable feature of the Garmin Striker 4 is that it utilizes traditional CHIRP sonar technology enabling the device to give you highly-detailed pictures. If you want even more detailed images, consider choosing a unit that is equipped with Garmin’s CLEARVU scanning sonar.
This fish finder also features a dedicated flasher circuit. This design makes it an excellent choice for vertical jigging or ice fishing. At about 11 pounds, the Garmin Striker 4 is quite easy and convenient to carry around. It has a powerful transducer for a great fishing experience.
The Striker 4 is a versatile fish finder. You can use it on a boat, kayak, dock, and even on the ice. It comes with a padded carrying case, which protects it from damage and enhances portability.
What I like about this device is that it allows you to upgrade the CHIRP sonar technology to a higher-performing version. What I don’t like about it is that it comes with delicate cables, which are vulnerable to breaking but are quite expensive to replace.
- Great features at reasonable price
- Excellent build quality and functionality
- Lightweight, providing great portability
- Low-quality cables
- Somewhat complex user interface
If you’re looking for a lightweight, wireless fish finder that you can use virtually anywhere, the Deeper Smart Sonar PRO+ could be right for you. It works via WiFi connection allowing you to connect the device to your smartphone and carry it wherever you want to fish.
- 3.5 pounds – easy to carry around
- Compatible with at least iOS 11.0 and Android 4.4 devices
- WiFi connectivity, with a range of 330 feet or 100 meters
- In-built GPS receiver
- Dual beam sonar – 290 kHz (15°) narrow beam and 90 kHz (55°) wide beam
- Up to 15 scans per second Sonar scan rate
- Water temperature sensor
- 3.7 V Lithium rechargeable battery
- Works in both fresh and salt water
Whether you want to practice freshwater fishing or saltwater fishing, the PRO+ will be a reliable companion. Being a dual-frequency fish finder, it is a great choice if you are looking to fish in both shallow and deep water. You merely need to adjust the frequency based on where you want to fish.
The 3.7V rechargeable battery can last for a little over five hours with non-stop usage. That means a single charge would be enough for a full-day fishing expedition. With a 330 feet connection range, this fish finder allows you to mark objects up to 260 feet deep in the water.
What I like about this device is its reliable WiFi connectivity. It tends to be more accurate than those that use Bluetooth connectivity. Moreover, its real-time map-making capability allows you to create valuable navigation information that can help enhance fishing efficiency.
What I don’t like about the PRO+ is that you can’t replace the battery. If the battery becomes too weak, you’ll need to take the device back to the manufacturer for battery replacement.
- You can use your phone as a display screen
- Adjustable sonar sensitivity for unclear water
- Compact and lightweight – highly portable
- Fast charging capabilities and long battery life
- Connects easily with smart devices
- Low depth penetration
- The in-built battery can only be changed by the manufacturer
If you’re looking for a simple, portable fish finder that you can rely upon even in harsh weather, then you might want to see what the Humminbird PiranhaMax 4 PT has to offer. The PiranhaMax 4 PT is equipped with dual frequency sonar to give you an easy time finding fish.
It features an XPT 9 28 T transducer with a suction cup, rather than a transom or trolling mount. This utilizes two conical beams of 16° at 455 kHz and 28° at 200 kHz. With 200 kHz frequency, you can identify objects up to 600 feet deep in the water.
Conversely, the 455 kHz frequency can penetrate up to 320 feet in the water. Keep in mind that this transducer is not designed for high speeds. To get the best bottom reading and optimum targets with PiranhaMax 4 PT transducer, you would want to keep your boat speed below 6 MPH.
- Dual beam sonar – 200 kHz / 28° and 455 kHz / 16°
- Extreme condition resistant
- 4.3-inch color LCD display
- 600 feet or 183 meters depth capability
- Tilt and swivel mount to quickly adjust the viewing area angle
- Portable carrying case
This fishfinder comes with 7 AMP battery that can help you stay in the water for a long time. Its 256 color 480 × 272H, 4.3-inch display makes it easy to read and visualize fishing information. What I like about this fish finder is that despite being a basic device, it has several valuable features.
It has a fish alarm, which alerts you when a fish of specified size is detected. It also has a depth alarm, which notifies you when you hit a selected depth. What I don’t like about this unit is that it doesn’t have GPS connectivity. You will need to purchase a GPS device separately if you choose this unit.
- Good battery life
- High-quality components
- Wider and clearer display than the older PiranhaMax units
- Carrying case for easy transportation and protecting your device
- No upgrade capabilities
- Lacks some advanced features like GPS.
If you are into ice fishing, the Norcross HawkEye F33P would be a great portable fish finder for you. This device can work efficiently under 0 degrees Fahrenheit. It is a versatile device that you can use on the dock, boat, and the ice.
- Algorithmic programming prevents inaccurate depth readings
- 99.9 feet depth range
- Ultra-wide, 25- degree sonar beam angle
- 2.3-inch, 160 x 132 resolution display screen
- WEED ID feature helps to detect weeds and their heights
- Four-level sensitivity for regulating the details displayed on the screen
With perfect recursive programming, the Norcross HawkEye F33P can deliver reliable readings, so you don’t have to worry about getting false readings. You can use this fish finder in virtually any weather condition.
This fish finder is powered by four AAA batteries, which can last for up to 22 hours of non-stop usage. Another notable feature is the 2.3-inch LCD screen. This screen allows you to use the fish finder even in direct sunlight.
It is designed to prevent fog build-up, which can compromise visibility. Moreover, it has a soft-glow backlight so that you can use the device comfortably at night.
What I like about the F33P is the wide-angle sonar beam that allows you to explore an extensive area beneath the water. Its major shortcoming is that it has no scanning display.
- Compact – fits in the palm of your hand
- Accurate depth finder
- Highly user-friendly
- The display is easy on the eye
- No scanning display
- Unsuitable for kayak use
Marketed as the world’s fastest wireless portable fish finder, the FishHunter operates with a WiFi connection and has a casting range of at least 150 feet. You tap into it on your smartphone, and you are good to go.
It is also efficient for ice fishing use. With the capability to track a jig up to 100 feet, the FishHunter PRO can help you have a clear idea of what lies underneath. This makes it a reliable companion if you are looking to ice fish this winter.
- Compatible with at least 7000 iOS and Android devices
- 150 feet depth range
- 150 feet WiFi connection range
- Operates in both fresh and salt water
- Three view options – RAW View, FISH View, Ice Fishing Flasher View
- Rechargeable lithium polymer battery
Check out Lowrance’s vid on this model:
Being a tri-frequency fish finder, the Hunter PRO enables you to see objects in high resolution. Additionally, tri-frequency ensures that you get fast and accurate readings. With the rechargeable lithium polymer battery, this device can support a whole day’s fishing expedition. When fully charged, the battery can keep the device running for up to ten hours.
What I like about this device is its fast connection, which is quicker and more reliable than other fishfinders in its class. Its most notable shortcoming is that it tends to deliver false results on choppy waters.
- Strong, reliable connection
- Accurate depth readings
- Compatible with smart devices
- Highly portable
- Compromised accuracy in choppy waters
- Set-up may require some time to learn
5 Things to Consider Before Buying a Portable Fish Finder
It is important to choose the best portable fish finder available within your budget range. So, when shopping for a fish finder or when reading portable fish finder reviews, here are five things to look out for:
The transducer is an integral component of every fish finder. It transmits and receives sonar waves. Sonar waves bounce off various object after they are emitted into the water, and the transducer picks up these deflected waves.
The data generated from these waves is conveyed to the central unit, where it is processed into an image that you can see on the fish finder’s display screen. Transducers are equipped with different types of mounts.
You might want to choose a transducer with a transom mount as they are easier to install. However, this mount style may not be the right choice if you want something with more staying power. In that case, you should consider other options such as the thru-hull mount. View some other options here.
Another important feature to consider when choosing a transducer is the cone angle. Cone angle helps you determine the width of the beam that your fish finder emits into the water. The wider the cone, the larger the area that is covered.
Transducers are equipped with cones ranging from 9 degrees to over 60 degrees. However, most fish finders available on the market come with cones between 16 and 20 degrees. If you are looking for a cost-effective option that can help you explore fish in different water depths, consider going for a 20-degree cone.
Some fish finders are designed to get their power from the boat’s electrical system. However, the best portable fish finder would be one that is equipped with rechargeable batteries. You might not always be in your boat when using a portable fish finder.
A portable fish finder whose transducer uses an in-built rechargeable battery or AA batteries is a great option to ensure the versatility of your fish finder.
Portable fish finders come with either black and white or color displays. However, you might want to choose a color display. With this type of display, you’ll have an easier time reading and visualizing collages of fish, people, water depth, and other information critical to your fishing experience.
Resolution (number of pixels per inch) is another crucial aspect to look out for in a display screen. A good fish finder should have at least 240 x 160 resolution. The higher the resolution, the more vivid and clearer the images will be.
You should also consider the size of the screen. Portable fish locators display screens typically range from 2.5 inches to 6 inches, which helps to enhance portability and convenience. You can choose the screen size that works best for your needs.
The best portable finders are GPS-enabled to spare you the need to purchase a directional device separately. A GPS-enabled portable fish finder allows you to save fishing spots and routes that you would want to target or avoid.
You want a portable fish finder that is genuinely convenient to move around with. A good unit should be able to fit in the palm of your hand and should have a user-friendly interface. It should also be durable and water resistant.
Budget is especially important. For example, if you’ve set for yourself a ceiling price of $300 — it is advisable to compare lots of different brands and models priced below that amount. Then, you can choose a unit that offers the best price-to-feature ratio.
A practical approach is to pay attention to portable fish finder reviews before making a purchase decision. You can get a lot of insight from user reviews, which will help you choose the best portable fishfinder for your needs.
Fishing experts swear there are ideal times to catch fish. Trouble is nobody seems to agree when that best time is. Others bank on a secret fishing spot they wouldn’t share with their grandmother on her death bed. The easy answer, though, is to find a reliable fish finder—preferably the best portable fish finder.
A portable fish finder allows you to fish on your terms. It makes any time the best time to catch fish since it allows you to explore fishing spots on the go. If you are shopping for your first portable fish finder, we hope this portable fish finder review has helped you find the best unit for your needs.