When you can’t permanently mount a fishfinder on your boat due to several reasons, then a portable fish finder is your best bet. This is a great solution for temporarily mounting your fish finder any time you want to. So what is a portable fish finder?
A portable fish finder is a regular fish finder that comes in a small size. It uses sonar technology to detect things underwater. Traditional fish finders need to be wired to a boat but that is not the case with portable fish finders. You don’t need to mount a portable fish finder on a boat to work yet, it can detect all kinds of fish in different sizes and generally work perfectly like the traditional fish finders. They are small and lightweight and the smallest ones can pair up with your phone and even fit your pocket.
There are many options available on the market when it comes to choosing the best portable fish finder, it can get confusing at times and this is exactly why we have put together this comprehensive guide of the best portable fish finders on the market. Whether you fish from small boats, shore, float, canoes or tube, there is a portable fish finder available to help make your fishing trips more successful. We have done the legwork to help you make a smart decision on which portable fish finder meets your needs and preferences.
Let’s dive right into it !
There are 3 main types of portable fish finders and they are portable units, castable and mountable.
The traditional style of portable fish finders are referred to as portable units. These types of portable fish finders typically come with a plastic mounting base, 3 to 7 inch screen, a small rechargeable 12v battery and a portable transducer with all these components held by a nylon carry case. They perform very well when used with small boats as compared to ice fishing or open water fishing.
This is a new generation portable fish finder. These types of portable fish finders work with a smartphone. They come with a small floating transducer and operate by communicating with an app on your smartphone via Bluetooth or WI-FI.
Mountable fish finders are the only fish finders that can work with a float tube. You can mount them to the side or transom of your small boat temporarily.
Portable Fish finders are lightweight and handy, making them very easy rod carry around and travel-friendly. This makes it easy to use them in a range of areas without having any troubles with your angling activities.
In order not to scare fish away, you need some level of covertness and this is exactly what a castable transducer does. You can position the transducer over a chosen fishing area without the need to move your boat.
In areas where moving your water vessel or boat has to be kept at a minimum, having a portable fish finder comes in handy. This is because most portable fish finders come with a castable transducer. The transducer will provide you with a better idea of the structure of the riverbed and help you determine whether or not there are actual fish to target after you've cast it in the exact spot you prefer.
Most portable fish finders come with sonar technology and as a result, they can withstand severely cold temperatures. This is very suitable for special fishing or angling practices like ice fishing.
1. Humminbird PiranhaMax
The Humminbird Piranhamax is one of the best portable fish finders on the market as it works very well. It’s a dual-beam sonar uses 200 and 455 kilohertz frequencies with a 28-degree cone at 200 kilohertz and a 16-degree cone at 455 kilohertz. With the Humminbird Piranhamax, it is easy to know the contour type as it has a multi-colored display and images are detailed. It has a Fish ID+ and an audible alarm which makes it easier to find fish.
The Humminbird Piranhamax can be used on even the smallest boats. Just put it in place and enjoy the quality visuals, backlight display and find fish easily with its great depth capacity and audible alarm
2. Ricank Handheld Portable Fish Scanner
The Ricank Handheld Portable Fish Scanner is an affordable device with a good depth capacity of 300 feet and can be used in both shallow and deep waters. Though it has a monochrome screen, it’s easy to read and understand what it displays.
Connected to its transducer is a yellow float, so no matter how deep it goes you’ll always have it in sight.This device lets you know exactly how deep the fish is and it emits a sound wave cone of 45 degrees. It’s scanner and transducer use rechargeable batteries which can last for up to 5 hours. What’s more, you can extend the battery life by turning on its battery saving setting.
3. Garmin Striker 4 Portable Bundle
This fish finder comes with a handheld monitor which displays information such as the battery life, bottom contour, fish size and location, water depth, temperature and other important information. You can opt for the information on temperature and depth to be displayed in both metric units and English. The OUTLIFE Fish Finder for small boats is easier to install than most other devices on the market.
This fish finder features a wireless connection which ranges up to 328ft while the sonar detection depth goes up to 147ft. Finally, it comes with a fish alarm. This is very suitable for small boats, sea, ice, bank, river and ocean fishing.
4. Humminbird Fishin’ Buddy MAX Fishfinder
This portable fish finder offers many features such as colour display,side-view option and 3.5-inch view screen found on much more expensive larger units at an affordable price point. As a small boat owner, this fish finder will provide you with very detailed information that will make your fishing expedition a successful one. For example, it will provide you with the information needed to detect the location of the fish you are targeting and also the bottom contour and structures that may attract them.
The Humminbird Fishin’ Buddy MAX Fish Finder is very portable as it comes at a weight of 8.3 pounds and this includes the telescopic transducer. At this weight, it becomes very easy to carry it around. The 3.5-inch color display is large enough to provide you with the necessary detail. In addition to this, the C-clamp style mount will allow a solid connection at almost any transom.
5. Lowrance Hook 3x
The Lowrance Hook 3x is an entry-level unit of the Lowrance fish finder brand. Although it is an entry-level unit, it comes with many features that are usually associated with intermediate-level fish finders and even better, it comes at an affordable price. It can be purchased with an optional portability pack. With this portable fish finder, you can quickly call up frequently used screens or functions and this is because it features very user friendly quick keys and intuitive keypad interface.
The Hook 3x is a dual-frequency unit and this means anglers can operate this fish finder at 200kHz when they want more detail and at 83 KHz for scanning wide areas. With this fish finder, you can easily discern bottom contours and spot fish as it comes with a full-color, backlit screen. You can use the Hook 3x to locate the thermocline and even determine things like the bottom hardness and structure details. You don’t need to know how to interpret arcs if you have the hook 3x and this is because it displays fish in icon form.
It is imoetsnt to go in for a portable fish finder with a rechargeable battery to reduce the chances of regularly replacing them.
If you choose to go fishing in deep waters, then you have to consider the fish finders power rating. It is important to note that a fish finder with more power rating means faster waves which then translates to accurate readings.
You want a fish finder unit that you easily bring to your favourite spot without any hassle. Make sure you always bring a portable kit along to store your equipment.
This is what sends out waves to collect data from under the water. It is perhaps, the most essential component in locating fish. You can tie your fishing line to the small holes that come with sonar transducers.
For an excellent resolution your target display should be at least 240 px X 160 px. It becomes even better if it can show the water temperature and it's depth range.
It is important that you opt in for a waterproof device. You can use ratings such as IPX or JIS to determine the portable fish finders resistance to water
Do portable fish finders work?
Yes. Portable fish finders deliver excellent results at determining water temperatures, locating fish, depths and offer great flexibility all at a lower cost compared to most permanently mounted fish finders.
Can a fish finder replace a map?
No, a fish finder cannot replace a map. If your fish finder doesn't come with integrated GPS, then a map will always be a must. However, if it does have a GPS system, the you can use your portable fish finder without it.
Do fish finders come with GPS systems?
Not all fish finders come with GPS systems but the ones which come with GPS Systems are quite expensive.
Are all fish finders waterproof?
It depends. Most are water-resistant but not waterproof . The cheap ones are not even water-resistant while the most of expensive models are waterproof.
How do portable fish finders work while ice fishing?
Portable Fish finders work the same way whether in water or in Ice. It is up to you take some extra precautions. For instance, to prevent the ice sheet from freezing out, you have to keep an eye out for the transducer when it's in Ice water.
It is always important to consider certain specific qualities in the portable fish finder you are looking for even before buying it. We hope that with the help of this guide, you have at least found some new information to help you find the right portable fish finder that meets your needs.