Best Portable Fish Finders Reviewed and Compared
Whether you are on a very small boat, kayak, canoe, or just straight up don’t trust your buddy's equipment, a portable fish finder is always a fun device to have. These devices are small enough to take on vacation with you and are also great if you’re not looking to permanently mount anything. Although you can mount some of these devices, there are others that are handheld and others that are castable. Yep, you can throw them out into the water and download the app to see what’s happening on your phone. Choosing which design is best for you can be difficult. You’ll want to know the ins and outs, but especially look into their depth, accuracy, and water resistance.
In a Hurry? The test winner after 17 hrs of research
Accurate depth finder
Audible alarm for fish detection
Great price value
- NorCross HawkEye F33P
- Raymarine Dragonfly
- Lowrance Elite - 4X HDI
- Humminbird Piranhamax 176i GPS Combo
- Garmin Striker 4
- Garmin Striker 7sv
- Garmin Striker Plus 4
- Garmin Striker Plus 4Cv
- Venterior Portable Fish Finder
- Docooler Portable 3.5" LCD
- Criteria Used for Evaluation
- Other Factors to Consider
- Frequently Asked Questions
Top 10 Picks
1. NorCross HawkEye F33P
Accurate depth finder
Audible alarm for fish detection
Great price value
Poorly designed connection jack
This Hawkeye portable fish finder is considered one of the most portable options you will find anywhere, as well as one of the most affordable. For fishermen on kayaks or other smaller crafts, this is ideal.Read more
There are dozens of features on here that make it stand out, including the WeedID feature, that lets you see the exact fishes that are below you. In addition to that, you will be able to read down to 99 feet without any trouble, and always see everything because of the VirtuView LCD display.
A two stage fish alarm lets you know when something is approaching, while the superior side scanning adapter makes it possible to scan from side to side, making sure you never miss anything. That works through attaching the adapter to the end of a stick, or even your paddle if you want to have the easiest way of saving space. This will also let you get a good look at the shallow waters that you can get to with your smaller boats that let you get into places you otherwise wouldn’t ever find with a larger boat.
For a hand held option that is incredibly versatile and useful, you will be hard pressed to do any better than this, especially when you consider that it is powered by just 4 AAA batteries for up to 20 hours.
2. Raymarine Dragonfly
Great price value
Not as durable
This is a more expensive option, but you truly get what you pay for in this instance. The Raymarine Dragonfly FishFinder is a one of a kind sonar and GPS unit that will give you an unprecedented look at where you are and what is going on underneath your boat.Read more
To start with, there is an incredible 5.7” display that offers a photo-like look at the world below. With the CHIRP dual channel sonar you’ll be able to target both fish and the debris on the bottom without having anything to worry about. By including Navionics charts, they have also made it possible to constantly see your precise location and where you are going, without getting lost, but also with the opportunity to save your favorite fishing spots and make sure you can come back time and time again.
What is important here is the tilt/swivel quick release holder that attaches easily and lets you remove the unit as needed. Without being forced to install it in an in depth way, you will have the best opportunity to attach it to any kayak or smaller boat.
If you are looking for the absolute top of the line, highly detailed, highly portable option possible, you need to check this one out.
3. Lowrance Elite - 4X HDI
Easy to install
Programming is a breeze
Great price value
Not capable if displaying displaying DI the transducer correctly
There is an all new model from Lowrance known as the Elite 4x HDI. This is the top of the line for them, but it is also an incredibly useful one for people who want to have a portable option to take with them on the water.Read more
To start, there is a 4.3” display that is super bright and easy to read even in the brightest light, thanks to the powerful LED backlighting. There are 70% more pixels than you will find on any of the previous models in this line, too. With their exclusive method of Hybrid Dual Imaging, you’ll have two of the best technologies in the industry combined in a way that gives a highly detailed view of the current location of your craft along with a one of a kind look at the underside of the water.
In doing that, you won’t need to adjust any of the settings either, since the Advanced Signal Processing feature makes it easy to see everything and calibrate itself, without your input. With the TrackBack you’ll also be able to review recorded locations and see anything that you think you might have missed.
Finally, it stays portable and doesn’t take up much space at all. By being this light, you’ll benefit from it greatly and you'll be surprised how many more fish you start catching your first day of using it.
4. Humminbird Piranhamax 176i GPS Combo
Easy to use interface
One of the trends that we are seeing more and more on fish finders is the use of a color display. Color displays are certainly great if you want to get as detailed and clear of a view as you possibly can in the depths of the water that you're currently fishing in.Read more
There is no denying their power in these regards, but there is an area where these color displays act as a bit of a hindrance. That area comes in the form of shorter battery life. While you get more details and such with these color displays, they are also considerably more intense on your fish finder's battery pack. If you're someone who's more concerned about great battery performance, rather than having a color display, Humminbird's Piranhamax 176i GPS Fishfinder Combo is absolutely worth a look.
Fish Finder GPS unit is built directly into the fish finder, and it provides for very detailed and precise information regarding the area that you're currently in. Additionally, the interface that Humminbird has included is extremely easy to use, and should prove to be perfect for those who are the first time owners of a fish finder.
Finally, the included DualBeamTM sonar system allows you to get extremely detailed stats and data on the waters that you're in. This allows you to get detailed readings on not only fish, but anything else that's picked up in the waters below your boat.
5. Garmin Striker 4
Offers a keyed interface
Uses the waypoint map
Only navigates below your boat not around
The Garmin Striker 4 is known for its durability and its strong ability to map out below your boat so well. The high-frequency sonar shows near-photographic images with detailed representations of fish and objects below and some what around your boat.Read more
The Garmin Striker 4 offers a keyed interface that has dedicated buttons to turn on and off for the power. This device is very easy to use and easy to install.
This portable fish finder uses the waypoint map to easily view, mark and navigate to locations such as brush piles and helps you to know where you are located. You can use this portable fish finder to look for fish below your boat to a certain maximum depth-1,600 feet freshwater, 750 feet saltwater.
This Garmin Striker 4 is known for its wonderful durability. You can view your sonar data in the classic flasher format. This fish finder is very ideal for ice fishing or vertical jigging and is known for its portable size: 1.9 x 2.9 inches (4.9 x 7.3 cm); 3.5 inches diagonal (8.7 cm)
This fish finder sends a continuous sweep of frequencies which provides a wider range of information. It helps you to actually do its job as the CHIRP sonar is able to create crisper fish arches with better target separation.
6. Garmin Striker 7sv
Includes transducer for built-in Garmin CHIRP
The Garmin Striker 7sv with Transducer is a good high-quality portable fish finder that is known for its mapping software and long battery life.Read more
The Garmin Striker 7sv comes with a built-in flasher so you are able to view your sonar data in the Classic flasher format.
This portable fishing finder is ideal for ice fishing or vertical jigging.
This Garmin Striker 7sv shows you more of what is in the water around your boat such as in several directions. This high-frequency sonar gives near-photographic images with detailed representations of fish, structures or objects around the boat.
This fish finder is easy to use and easy to install. It is also available in 3.5-, 5- and 7-inch display sizes which makes it very useful
7. Garmin Striker Plus 4
Built-in Garmin quickdraw contours mapping software
This Garmin Striker Plus 4 with Dual-Beam transducer fish finder is great for expert or beginner fisherman. This portable fish finder comes with a built-in Garmin quickdraw contours mapping software that lets you create and store maps.Read more
This portable fish finder includes a dual-beam transducer with Garmin Chirp traditional sonar that helps give off crystal-clear images and remarkable target separation. It is known for being very accurate
This fishing finder works for every type of fishing environments including swamp, river, ocean, lake or even bays.
You want to make sure you are always able to see this fish finder so the bright, Sunlight-readable display helps out and comes in a 4.3” display and intuitive user interfaces.
This Garmin Striker Plus 4 comes with a built-in GPS that lets you mark waypoints, it allows you to create routes and view boat’s speed.
8. Garmin Striker Plus 4Cv
Built-in GPS lets you mark waypoints
Built-in Garmin Quickdraw Contours mapping software
Bright, sunlight-readable 4.3” display
This Garmin Striker Plus 4Cv with Cv20-TM transducer is known for being a high-quality portable fish finder which includes a transducer that was a built-in Garmin CHIRP traditional sonar plus CHIRP scanning sonar.Read more
The great features for the Garmin Striker Plus 4Cv include a built-in Garmin Quickdraw Contours mapping software that even lets you create and store maps with 1’ contours for up to 2 million acres.
This portable fish finder comes with a built-in GPS that lets you mark waypoints, you can create routes and even view boat’s speed
This Garmin Striker Plus 4Cv is known for its bright, sunlight-readable 4.3” display screen and its intuitive user interface.
This portable fish finder has a rugged design which makes it very effective for every type of fishing environment making it great for all types of fishing and bodies of water.
9. Venterior Portable Fish Finder
Comes with round transducer with 25 ft cable
This device is covered by a 2 Years Warranty
This Venterior Portable Fish Finder, Fishfinder with Wired Sonar Sensor Transducer and LCD Display is known for detecting and displays water depth.Read more
This portable fish finder helps you see the approximate fish location, even when there are short & tall weeds, or even sand & rocks on the seabed. There is even a backlight mode enables you to use the fish finder at night.
Applies to lake, river, sea and other fishing environment. The Venterior can be used for off-shore fishing, boat fishing, ice fishing, lake fishing, sea fishing and many more locations and fishing options.
This device is covered by a 2 Years Warranty which is great for you to try out the product and make sure it is durable enough for your uses.
This Venterior Portable Fish Finder also has an amazing water depth range from 3ft to 328ft.
10. Docooler Portable 3.5" LCD
Auto zoom bottom tracking and quick manual zoom
Bottom contour and water temperature indicator
This Docooler Portable 3.5" LCD Fish Finder Outdoor Sensor Fishing Finder Alarm Depth Locator which is known for being an amazing fish finder. It is specially designed for amateur and even professional fishermen to find fish location, depth and bottom contour of water. This fish finder is perfect to be used in the sea, river, lake and fantastic for detecting schools of fish.Read more
Comes with a multi-language menu settings including the following languages (English / Russian/ French / Chinese / Japanese / Finnish / Polish / German / Italian / Spanish / Dutch / Korean / Swedish / Greek / Danish). It also includes big and even small fish identification and fish depth indicator.
You have an option to use feet or meter reading and the audible fish and depth alarm is 3-99ft.
This portable fish finder comes with an auto zoom bottom tracking and quick manual zoom. There is also even a "Stop chart" at any time you are able to use.
800 watts maximum output power and has a 100 watts RMS power. Battery strength indicator. This portable fishing finder is perfect for the ocean, river, lake fishing,
Criteria Used for Evaluation
The type of sonar that is available in different fish finders will make it possible to find every single fish that is in the water. A dual band sonar system will make it possible to see both near and far at different detail levels, so that you can have the best view of what is going on underneath you, helping you catch more fish than ever.
You’ll also need to look into the angle of the sonar. You can find options that are up to 120 degrees, which will give you an incredibly wide view. Most will be somewhere in the middle of the range, but depending on how deep the water you are fishing in is, you will be able to make the rest decision.
When it comes to fishing, there are a slew of different gadgets and tools that you need to bring with you in order to have the most effective and successful fishing trip possible. While some people are perfectly fine hitting the open waters with nothing more than their pole and some bait, there are other folks out there who prefer to be a bit more prepared when it comes to embarking on the fishing trip of a lifetime.
Why is this though? When talking about fishing, people take on this hobby for a couple big reasons. One, the simply enjoy the peace and quiet that comes bundled with going on a fishing trip. Two, they are out there to catch as many fish as they possible can, either for sport or need. These are two very different schools of thought, and if you are someone who just likes fishing for the peace and quiet that it brings, you may not be entirely concerned about catching a boatload of fishing when you take your boat off the dock and into the water.
Fish finders are some of the most useful tools out there when it comes to fishing gear, and is also one of the most recognizable as well. Along with poles, boat motors, bait, and more, fish finders are one of the most essential tools that you can buy if you want to be the very best at fishing. This isn’t something that guarantees a great day of fishing, but it can go a long way in helping you scope out there very best spots in your area that you should be positioned at if you want the best chance possible to catch as many fish as you can in a small amount of time.
However, one of the biggest downsides to fish finders is their need for a constant power source. While this might not seem like that big of a deal right off the bat, if you put some thought into it, it could quickly turn into a bit of a hassle. For starters, if you’re on a smaller boat or something like a Kayak, you may be without a power source at all on your boat. If this happens to be the case, you’ll need to purchase a marine battery and construct your own DIY method of powering the fish finder of your choice. And, if you do have a power source on your boat, you need to ensure that the cords of the fish finder will be able to reach it in a way that won’t get in the way of your fishing. Either way you look at it, there’s some level of inconvenience that is involved.
It is vital that you are able to easily detach your fish finder and put it on and off without having to make major changes to the boat. When you are on a kayak, there won’t really be a way to install it permanently, which can be a problem for you. Quick Release options are the most common here, but you can find a variety of ways that companies figure out how to make it easier than ever. When you are on a kayak, you will no doubt have a shortage of space that you will have to deal with. All of your equipment will already be weighing down your kayak and you’ll have plenty of other things to take with you. When it comes to a fish tracker, every little bit of weight will make it harder to paddle, making you work harder, and make you more tired at the end of the day. A portable fish finder will be lightweight, compact, and make sure that there is simply one less thing to think about when you are out on the water and hunting the next big catch. Since you will be able to sneak around the water in a way like never before, you will see why kayaks are very great choices for fishing.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
Portable fish finders are easily some of the most interesting gadgets out on the market for fishermen of all types, and they really do bring a great source of convenience and ease of use that you simply cannot get from a traditional fish finder. Hopefully we covered all of your answers today, and now you can go out there and be confident in your purchasing decision! There a plenty of different portable fish finders to choose from, and hopefully you now have a better understanding of them when you come up with any possible questions.
Other Factors to Consider
While mounting a portable fish finder into one place might seem like you’re going against the whole idea of having a portable fish finder, this actually makes a lot of sense! Lots of folks purchase portable fish finders because they don’t want to have to deal with annoying wires or anything like that that gets in the way with traditional fish finders.
If you want to mount your portable fish finder to your boat, there are actually a number of ways to go about this – each one depending on the make and model of the portable fish finder that you have. Some fish finders can be mounted with the use of screws, while others can be mounted just with a suction cup system or with some sort of external grip/mount. There are really a number of different ways to go about this, so your choices are far from limited here.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: How are portable fish finders powered?
Since they don’t have a direct power source like traditional fish finders, portable fish finders get their power in a much different manner. Rather than having to be plugged directly into a power source, portable fish finders get their power from a couple of different ways. Depending on the model and variant that you choose, portable fish finders are powered either by internal battery packs or disposable batteries that you can purchase from virtually any store out there.
Both of these are effective manners when it comes to powering your portable fish finder, and one isn’t necessarily better than the other. Each one offers ample power, with the ones with built-in battery backs requiring you to charge it whenever it gets low on juice. The other option will require you to pop in new batteries each time it starts to run low, so deciding which of these options to go with ultimately comes down to personal taste and preference.
q: What are castable fish finders?
When looking up portable fish finders, you more than likely have come across something by the name of castable fish finders. Castable fish finders are an entire breed of their very own, but they still absolutely qualify as a portable fish finder. You see, castable fish finders – just like normal portable fish finders – don’t require to be plugged in for their power source.They run off of their own battery solutions that are built right into them, defining them as a type of portable fish finder. However, the form and function of them is quite different and unique when compared to everything else that is out there on the market.
Castable fish finders work pretty much exactly as the name would suggest. You tie these buggers to the end of your fishing line, and you then cast it into the water around you. They are activated once they come into contact with liquid, and they float just like a bobber when you cast one into the water.
With castable fish finders, you can either have it trail behind you as you slowly troll through an area, or you can cast and reel as many times as you would like to get an accurate reading of your entire surroundings in your area. It’s certainly a different take on the whole portable fish finder game, but with their popularity continually increasing, it’s important to know just what they are whenever you hear them mentioned. And, at the rate they’re increasing in popularity, you’re probably going to hear them mentioned much more often as time goes on.
q: Are portable fish finders less powerful than tradition fish finders?
Often times when talking about portable fish finders, some people jump to the conclusion that they are less powerful when compared to traditional fish finders. This is an understandable concern, as it can sometimes be hard to believe that a gadget without any wire can provide the same amount of power than one with wires can. Although not every portable fish finder out there is created to be the most powerful brute out there, portable fish finders aren’t any less capable or powerful than that of traditional fish finders. There are all sorts of makes and models available, with some being tailored towards beginners and others being made for the professional in mind. Just because it is portable doesn’t mean that it’s a wimp.
q: Can portable fish finders be used for ice fishing?
Absolutely! If you decide that you want to use your portable fish finder for ice fishing, we would suggest that you first drill a hole in a section of the ice that you’re on and then dip the fish finder into the water. However, if you don’t want to go through all of this hassle, it is possible to use a portable fish finder while ice fishing without having to first drill a hole.
In order to achieve this, you’ll first want to remove any snow that’s on top of the area that you’re going to can with your fish finder. Once you do that and you ensure that the surface you’re going to be scanning is as smooth as possible, pour some water on the ice prior to putting your sensor onto it. Once all this is done, you should still be able to get a pretty accurate reading of the area around you!
q: Are all portable fish finders waterproof?
Not necessarily. Although the vast majority of them are, not every single portable fish finder out on the market can withstand submersion of water. Being able to survive splashes of water is quite common, but being able to be fully submerged is less common. If this is important to you, you’ll definitely want to ensure that the portable fish finder you’re looking at is rated for some form of waterproofness. This might seem like a tedious thing to do at first, but it is guaranteed to save for a lot of potential headache in the future when you actually go about using your portable fish finder.
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